08/31 Daily Mail: The Armenian massacre that inspired Hitler

The forgotten Holocaust: The Armenian massacre that inspired Hitler

When the Turkish gendarmes came for Mugrditch Nazarian, they did not give him time to dress, but took him from his home in the dead of night in his pyjamas.

The year was 1915, and his wife, Varter, knew that she was unlikely to see her husband alive again. Armenian men like him were being rounded up and taken away. In the words of their persecutors, they were being "deported" - but not to an earthly place.

Varter never found out what fate her husband suffered. Some said he was shot, others that he was among the men held in jail, who suffered torture so unbearable that they poured the kerosene from prison lamps over their heads and turned themselves into human pyres as a release from the agony.

Heavily pregnant, Varter was ordered to join a death convoy marching women and children to desert concentration camps.

She survived the journey alone - her six children died along the way. The two youngest were thrown to their deaths down a mountainside by Turkish guards; the other four starved to death at the bottom of a well where they had hidden to escape.

Varter herself was abducted by a man who promised to save her - but raped her instead. Eventually, she was released to mourn her lost family, the victims of Europe's forgotten holocaust.

The killing of 1.5m Armenians by the Ottoman Turks during World War I remains one of the bloodiest and most contentious events of the 20th century, and has been called the first modern genocide.

In all, 25 concentration camps were set up in a systematic slaughter aimed at eradicating the Armenian people - classed as "vermin" by the Turks.

Winston Churchill described the massacres as an "administrative holocaust" and noted: "This crime was planned and executed for political reasons. The opportunity presented itself for clearing Turkish soil of a Christian race."

Chillingly, Adolf Hitler used the episode to justify the Nazi murder of six million Jews, saying in 1939: "Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"

Yet, carried out under the cover of war, the Armenian genocide remains shrouded in mystery - not least because modern-day Turkey refuses to acknowledge the existence of its killing fields.

Now, new photographs of the horror have come to light. They come from the archives of the German Deutsche Bank, which was working in the region financing a railway network when the killing began.

Unearthed by award-winning war correspondent Robert Fisk, they were taken by employees of the bank to document the terror unfolding before them.

They show young men, crammed into cattle trucks, waiting to travel to their deaths. The Turks crowded 90 starving and terrified Armenians into each wagon, the same number the Nazis averaged in their transports to the death camps of Eastern Europe during the Jewish Holocaust.

Behind each grainy image lies a human tragedy. Destitute women and children stare past the camera, witness to untold savagery.

Almost all young women were raped according to Fisk, while older women were beaten to death - they did not merit the expense of a bullet. Babies were left by the side of the road to die.

Often, attractive young Armenian girls were sent to Turkish harems, where some lived in enforced prostitution until the mid-1920s.

Many other archive photographs testify to the sheer brutality suffered by the Armenians: children whose knee tendons were severed, a young woman who starved to death beside her two small children, and a Turkish official taunting starving Armenian children with a loaf of bread.

Eyewitness accounts are even more graphic. Foreign diplomats posted in the Ottoman Empire at the time told of the atrocities, but were powerless to act.

One described the concentration camps, saying: "As on the gates of Dante's Hell, the following should be written at the entrance of these accursed encampments: 'You who enter, leave all hopes.'"

So how exactly did the events of 1915-17 unfold? Just as Hitler wanted a Nazi-dominated world that would be Judenrein - cleansed of its Jews - so in 1914 the Ottoman Empire wanted to construct a Muslim empire that would stretch from Istanbul to Manchuria.

Armenia, an ancient Christian civilisation spreading out from the eastern end of the Black Sea, stood in its way.

At the turn of the 20th century, there were two million Christian Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire. Already, 200,000 had been killed in a series of pogroms - most of them brutally between 1894 and 1896.

In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered World War I against the Allies and launched a disastrous military campaign against Russian forces in the Caucasus. It blamed defeat on the Armenians, claiming they had colluded with the Russians.

A prominent Turkish writer at the time described the war as "the awaited day" when the Turks would exact "revenge, the horrors of which have not yet been recorded in history".

Through the final months of 1914, the Ottoman government put together a number of "Special Organisation" units, armed gangs consisting of thousands of convicts specifically released from prison for the purpose.

These killing squads of murderers and thieves were to perpetrate the greatest crimes in the genocide. They were the first state bureaucracy to implement mass killings for the purpose of race extermination. One army commander described them at the time as the "butchers of the human species".

On the night of April 24, 1915 - the anniversary of which is marked by Armenians around the world - the Ottoman government moved decisively, arresting 250 Armenian intellectuals. This was followed by the arrest of a further 2,000.

Some died from torture in custody, while many were executed in public places. The resistance poet, Daniel Varoujan, was found disembowelled, with his eyes gouged out.

One university professor was made to watch his colleagues have their fingernails and toenails pulled out, before being blinded. He eventually lost his mind, and was let loose naked into the streets.

There were reports of crucifixions, at which the Turks would torment their victims: "Now let your Christ come and help you!"

Johannes Lepsius, a German pastor who tried to protect the Armenians, said: "The armed gangs saw their main task as raiding and looting Armenian villages. If the men escaped their grasp, they would rape the women."

So began a carefully orchestrated campaign to eradicate the Armenians. Throughout this period, Ottoman leaders deceived the world, orchestrating the slaughter using code words in official telegrams.

At later war crimes trials, several military officers testified that the word "deportation" was used to mean "massacre" or "annihilation".

Between May and August 1915, the Armenian population of the eastern provinces was deported and murdered en masse.

The American ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Henry Morgenthau, said: "Squads of 50 or 100 men would be taken, bound together in groups of four, and marched to a secluded spot.

"Suddenly the sound of rifle shots would fill the air. Those sent to bury the bodies would find them almost invariably stark naked, for, as usual, the Turks had stolen all their clothes."

In urban areas, a town crier was used to deliver the deportation order, and the entire male population would be taken outside the city limits and killed - "slaughtered like sheep".

Women and children would then be executed, deported to concentration camps or simply turned out into the deserts and left to starve to death.

An American diplomat described the deportations or death marches: "A massacre, however horrible the word may sound, would be humane in comparison with it."

An eyewitness who came upon a convoy of deportees reported that the women implored him: "Save us! We will become Muslims! We will become Germans! We will become anything you want, just save us! They are going to cut our throats!"

Walking skeletons begged for food, and women threw their babies into lakes rather than hand them over to the Turks.

There was mass looting and pillaging of Armenian goods. It is reported that civilians burned bodies to find the gold coins the Armenians swallowed for safekeeping.

Conditions in the concentration camps were appalling. The majority were located near the modern Iraqi and Syrian frontiers, in the desert between Jerablus and Deir ez-Zor - described as "the epicentre of death". Up to 70,000 Armenians were herded into each camp, where dysentery and typhus were rife.

There, they were left to starve or die of thirst in the burning sun, with no shelter. In some cases, the living were forced to eat the dead. Few survived.

In four days alone, from 10-14 June 1915, the gangs 'eliminated' some 25,000 people in the Kemah Erzincan area alone.

In September 1915, the American consul in Kharput, Leslie A. Davis, reported discovering the bodies of nearly 10,000 Armenians dumped into several ravines near beautiful Lake Goeljuk, calling it the "slaughterhouse province".

Tales of atrocity abound. Historians report that the killing squads dashed infants on rocks in front of their mothers.

One young boy remembered his grandfather, the village priest, kneeling down to pray for mercy before the Turks. Soldiers beheaded him, and played football with the old man's decapitated head before his devastated family.

At the horrific Ras-ul-Ain camp near Urfa, two German railway engineers reported seeing three to four hundred women arrive in one day, completely naked. One witness told how Sergeant Nuri, the overseer of the camp, bragged about raping children.

An American, Mrs Anna Harlowe Birge, who was travelling from Smyrna to Constantinople, wrote in November 1915: "At every station where we stopped, we came side by side with one of these trains. It was made up of cattle trucks, and the faces of little children were looking out from behind the tiny barred windows of each truck."

In her memoir, Ravished Armenia, Aurora Mardiganian described being raped and thrown into a harem. From a wealthy banking family, she was just one of thousands of Armenian girls to suffer a similar fate. Many were eventually killed and discarded.

In the city of Malatia, she saw 16 girls crucified, vultures eating their corpses. "Each girl had been nailed alive upon her cross, spikes through her feet and hands," Mardiganian wrote. "Only their hair blown by the wind covered their bodies."

In another town, she reports that the killing squads played "the game of swords" with young Armenian girls, planting their weapons in the ground and throwing their victims onto the protruding blade in sport.

Elsewhere, bodies tied to each other drifted down the Euphrates. And in the Black Sea region, the Armenians were herded onto boats and then thrown overboard.

In the desert regions, the Turks set up primitive gas chambers, stuffing Armenians into caves and asphyxiating them with brush fires.

Everywhere, there were Armenian corpses: in lakes and rivers, in empty desert cisterns and village wells. Travellers reported that the stench of death pervaded the landscape.

One Turkish gendarme told a Norwegian nurse serving in Erzincan that he had accompanied a convoy of 3,000 people. Some were summarily executed in groups along the way; those too sick or exhausted to march were killed where they fell. He concluded: "They're all gone, finished."

By 1917, the Armenian 'problem', as it was described by Ottoman leaders, had been thoroughly "resolved". Muslim families were brought in to occupy empty villages.

Even after the war, the Ottoman ministers were not repentant. In 1920, they praised those responsible for the genocide, saying: "These things were done to secure the future of our homeland, which we know is greater and holier than even our own lives."

The British government pushed for those responsible for the killing to be punished, and in 1919 a war crimes tribunal was set up.

The use of the word "genocide" in describing the massacre of Armenians has been hotly contested by Turkey. Ahead of the nation's accession to the EU, it is even more politically inflammatory.

The official Turkish position remains that 600,000 or so Armenians died as a result of war. They deny any state intention to wipe out Armenians and the killings remain taboo in the country, where it is illegal to use the term genocide to describe the events of those bloody years.

Internationally, 21 countries have recognised the killings as genocide under the UN 1948 definition. Armenian campaigners believe Turkey should be denied EU membership until it admits responsibility for the massacres.

Just as in the Nazi Holocaust, there were many tales of individual acts of great courage by Armenians and Turks alike.

Haji Halil, a Muslim Turk, kept eight members of his mother's Armenian family safely hidden in his home, risking death.

In some areas, groups of Kurds followed the deportation convoys and saved as many people as they could. Many mothers gave their children to Turkish and Kurdish families to save them from death.

The Governor-General of Aleppo stood up to Ottoman officials and tried to prevent deportations from his region, but failed.

He later recalled: "I was like a man standing by a river without any means of rescue. But instead of water, the river flowed with blood and thousands of innocent children, blameless old men, helpless women and strong young people all on their way to destruction.

"Those I could seize with my hands I saved. The others, I assume, floated downstream, never to return."

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/worldnews.html?in_article_id=479143&in_page_id=1811

08/31 Zaman: Şensoy warns Israel could be hurt by genocide debate

Şensoy warns Israel could be hurt by genocide debate

Though the Turkish government is strongly opposed to any congressional action by the United States, the Turkish Jewish community has nothing to fear -- but Turkey’s relations with Israel and the US would probably not survive such a resolution unscathed, said Turkish Ambassador to the US Nabi Şensoy in remarks to the New York-based Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA).

“I cannot really dismiss that if this resolution does pass, there will be certain impacts on certain relationships. There is no doubt about it,” Şensoy was quoted as saying in an interview with the JTA this week.

Last week, the US-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reversed its long-time policy concerning the killings of Anatolian Armenians in the early 20th century and said the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks “were indeed tantamount to genocide.”

Armenians claim up to 1.5 million of their kinsmen died in a systematic genocide campaign by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, but Ankara categorically rejects the label, saying that both Armenians and Turks died in civil strife during World War I, when the Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia and sided with Russian troops that were invading the crumbling Ottoman Empire.

Şensoy also voiced uneasiness over certain emphasis by the ADL on concerns over safety of the Jewish community in Turkey. “I’m very disturbed to hear this kind of remark coming from anywhere. They seem to be forgetting the history of Turks and Jews, which goes back at least 500 years. We’ve always had the best of relations between Turks and Jews and the Turkish Jewish community is part-and-parcel -- and an integral part -- of the Turkish community,” he said.

Similar remarks reflecting Ankara’s uneasiness on the same point were delivered by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Levent Bilman last week when he reacted against the ADL statement. “The Jewish community in our country is a part of our society and there isn’t any particularity that they should fear concerning developments related to the Armenian allegations,” Bilman said.

“We are expecting the American Jewish organizations to be neutral about this. Although we’re aware of the fact that this is a very sensitive issue for the Israeli people and the Jewish community, what we have to seek is the truth,” Şensoy told JTA.

ADL complains about The Jewish Advocate

An article penned by ADL National Director Abraham Foxman and published in a Boston newspaper, The Jewish Advocate, on Monday was widely interpreted in Turkey as an apparent show of determination in the ADL’s stance, vowing that they will “not hesitate to apply the term genocide in the future.” The fact that Foxman’s article was published after he last week sent a letter addressing Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, saying that the ADL has huge respect for the Turkish people and has never desired to put the Turkish people and their leaders into a difficult situation, led to that particular interpretation.

Yet, ADL directors told Turkish officials that the article by Foxman was actually posted to The Jewish Advocate as of last week, not after Foxman’s letter to Erdoğan, a senior Turkish diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Today’s Zaman on Thursday. The same ADL directors expressed uneasiness over the choice of the newspaper to publish the article as if it were a brand-new article and asked the newspaper to remove the article from their Web site, the same Turkish diplomat said.

The diplomat reiterated Ankara’s expectation of a “rectification” of their statement by the ADL. Earlier this week, when asked by Today’s Zaman to elaborate on how a “rectification” could be made by the ADL, Bilman said the right address for consulting such controversial matters was historians and that the ADL should refer to historians after making such an assertive allegation and then review its statement. “The issue is not closed for Ankara until such a review and rectification is made. We expect the ADL to rectify its statement because it is obvious that there is no consensus among historians on how to qualify the 1915 incidents, contrary to what the ADL has claimed,” he said.


Source: http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/detaylar.do?load=detay&link=120856

08/31 Watertown Tab: Watertown leaders look for more from Anti-Defamation League

Watertown leaders look for more from Anti-Defamation League

Jillian Fennimore, Staff Writer

Thu Aug 30, 2007, 12:13 PM EDT

WATERTOWN, MA - As a former “No Place for Hate” community, Watertown’s future with the Anti-Defamation League’s tolerance program is uncertain.

It’s also up in the air whether ADL support of a U.S. Congressional resolution to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide could patch up their sour relationship with Watertown.

“We need to continue going on without bringing [No Place for Hate] back right away,” saidAt-Large Councilor Mark Sideris. “There are still a lot of people that think the ADL should go further.”

The controversy began after Newton’s David Boyajian wrote a letterto the Watertown TAB & Press in July, bringing light to the ADL’s stance, which some said amounted to denial of the World War I-era mass murders of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire.

But after much public debate and emotional outpouring from local Armenians and officials, the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, changed the organization’s position by calling the consequences of the Ottoman Empire’s actions “tantamount to genocide.”

In the same letter, however, Foxman said that a Congressional resolution is a “counterproductive diversion.”

Sideris said he is working with Newton Mayor David Cohen to hold a public rally sometime in September outside Newton City Hall, in orderto show solidarity and underscore the importance of recognizing the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish government in 1915.

“We feel we need to keep the pressure going,” he said. “I don’t think just jumping back into the program is really necessary. We need to build on what is happening here.”

Local officials are doing just that.
On Thursday, Aug. 30, state Rep. Rachel Kaprielian, D-Watertown, and Boston City Councilor Michael P. Ross were scheduled to take to the State House steps with survivors of the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide to demonstrate the cohesion between Jewish and Armenian-American communities.

On Monday, Aug. 27, just 10 days after ADL regional director Andrew Tarsy was fired for breaking ranks by publicly recognizing the genocide, he was reinstated.

“I am proud that ADL has made a very significant change confronting a moral issue and acknowledging the Armenian Genocide for what it was,” Tarsy said in a statement. “The Anti-Defamation League has important work to do on such vital concerns as anti-Semitism, hate crimes, civil rights, immigration reform and interfaith relations, and I look forward to helping ADL make the world a better place.”

But these back-and-forth actions have had many Watertown officials saying that it is not enough.

At-Large Councilor Marilyn Devaney, who authored and pushed forward the proclamation severing ties with the ADL, said the 60-plus other “No Place for Hate” communities need to join in making a statement to the national board.

Residents in Newton, Belmont, Somerville and Arlington are rethinking the program.

In Newton, members of the Human Rights Commission have postponed their decision to withdraw from a long-standing program in the city. For more on developments in Newton, please see page 3.

Devaney has booked the Watertown Middle School on Sept. 26 and is in the planning stages to host an event to foster support of the pending Congressional resolution.

“You have to get people together,” Devaney said. “Maybe this is the year [the resolution] will prevail. The goal with all of this is to stay positive.”

Sharistan Melkonian, chairperson of the Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts — based in Watertown — said bringing back the “No Place for Hate” program is not the way to go.

“The Armenian National Committee welcomed the ADL’s announcement ending its unfortunate longtime complicity in Turkey’s state policy denying the Armenian Genocide,” she said in an e-mail sent from Armenia. “However, we are extremely disturbed that the ADL’s national leader, Abe Foxman, continues to insist on working to prevent our own Congress from displaying an equal commitment by adopting the Armenian Genocide resolution. Until the ADL comes to terms with the fact that its own leader has played a hand in helping Turkey cover up the Armenian Genocide, it cannot serve as an honest sponsor of an anti-hate campaign.”

Jonathan Hecht, Watertown’s District B councilor, said the ADL still needs to come to terms with what they stirred up over the past month.

Having a “No Place for Hate” committee in town, which he was a member of, was vital for Watertown in becoming part of a network both state and nationwide.

“I think there is a lot of support in town for what ‘No Place for Hate’ was doing,” he said. “[The committee] was always something that came from Watertown and was for Watertown.”

But restoring the committee may not be the answer now, he said, although maintaining its programs is.

“I think that’s really where need to put our focus locally,” Hecht said.

Will Twombly, former “No Place for Hate” committee co-chairperson, agreed, and said many of their projects will continue and flourish.

Ruth Thomasian, a former “No Place for Hate” committee member who is herself Armenian, said Watertown has sparked an “incredible movement” that will continue for years to come.

“This would never come up, and we would have never pushed the envelope,” she said about the ADL debate. “The community here cares about diversity in general.”

Source: http://www.wickedlocal.com/watertown/homepage/x1185657777

08/31 JPost: Fighting the good fight

Fighting the good fight, and living to tell the tale

Erik Schechter , THE JERUSALEM POST Aug. 29, 2007

It is a rare thing for a public figure to sacrifice himself for a principle. It is even rarer for one who did so to get a second chance at a career. Yet that's what happened to Andrew Tarsy.

A couple of weeks ago, the New England regional director for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) lost his job after he criticized his organization for refusing to recognize the Armenian genocide. The firestorm that followed forced the ADL to jettison its policy of denial, but no one really expected Tarsy would return. Then, on August 27, the brave community leader was reinstated to his former post.

The showdown over the genocide began in Watertown, Massachusetts. Since 2005, the municipality had cooperated with the ADL in running an education program called No Place for Hate. But beginning in May, some local conservatives began to fear that the initiative would penalize politically incorrect speech; one Watertown resident even flew a Confederate flag in protest.

Of course, a few peevish right-wingers posed no real threat to the ADL program. But all bets were off when, in early July, an Armenian-American resident of nearby Newton entered the fray. Writing a letter to the Watertown Tab and Press, he charged the ADL - so eager to lecture others about hate crimes and Holocaust denial - with refusing to acknowledge the Armenian genocide.

Once more, all his claims were true.

During World War I (and later, in 1920-1923), the Ottoman Turks murdered as many as 1.5 million Armenians. Few reputable historians deny this was genocide, but American Jewish groups have discouraged Congress from recognizing it as such. Indeed, when forced to discuss this blood-red chapter in history, the ADL would use comparatively anemic words like "massacres." Shocked by the revelation, the citizens of Watertown began to reconsider No Place for Hate. After all, who needed tolerance tips from hypocrites?

REALIZING WHAT was at stake, Andrew Tarsy did his best to defend a morally indefensible position. Still, no letter to the editor could hide the fact that, since the Israel-Turkey entente of the early 1990s, the ADL has served as Ankara's lobby in the US.
On August 14, Tarsy pleaded for understanding from the Watertown Town Council, arguing that Turkish Jews and Israel would suffer a backlash if the ADL recognized the Armenian genocide.

Unimpressed by appeals to political expediency, the council voted 8-0 to cut ties with the No Place for Hate program. Two days later, the New England ADL director himself criticized his group's stance on the issue.

Tarsy would later explain that even as he defended the official ADL line in Watertown, he did not agree with it. Now it was time to make amends for the hurtful things he said. He told The Boston Globe: "I regret at this point any characterization of the genocide that I made publicly other than to call it genocide. I think that kind of candor about history is absolutely fundamental."

For the New England director to publicly criticize the national ADL was no easy thing. Informed sources say Abe Foxman runs his organization like a Ba'athist dictatorship, eliminating any and all challengers. He has replaced numerous civil rights and regional directors and, in 2001, fired a beloved Pacific Southwest leader without breaking a sweat. By taking on Foxman, Tarsy put his career in jeopardy.

And as expected, the dissenting ADL regional director was promptly canned.

However, Tarsy's sacrifice for what was right and good inspired people. The Boston Jewish community rallied behind him; two local ADL board members resigned in protest, and former critics heaped praise upon him. "I booed Tarsy at the Watertown council meeting, but now I cheer him on," said John DiMascio, a conservative columnist for The Watertown Tab and Press. "He showed courage."

MEANWHILE, leading Jewish personalities like Alan Dershowitz and Deborah Lipstadt took aim at the ADL. The blogosphere even called for Foxman's ouster. Clearly, the ADL leadership had underestimated how unpopular genocide denial was among the people it supposedly represents.

Four days after Tarsy was fired, the organization reversed course on the Armenian tragedy. Well, sort of. Rather than simply state its new position, the ADL's public letter on August 21 engaged in weird convolutions. It said "the consequences" of what the Ottomans did to the Armenians were "tantamount to genocide. If the word genocide had existed then, they would have called it genocide."

The vagueness of the letter troubled many. For others, the problem remained that the ADL still opposed Congressional recognition of the genocide.

Still, the statement was a positive first step. Six days later, Foxman took another by rehiring Tarsy.

Does this put an end to the ADL's troubling attitude toward the first genocide of the 20th century? No. But it was a rare, little victory for everyone who believes that truth is more important than politics. And how much sweeter is that victory now that Tarsy, the man who won it, is back.

Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1188392492660&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

08/31 Jewish Journal: We should speak out for HR 106

We should speak out for HR 106

By Steven M. Goldberg

Notably absent from the disagreement over whether Jewish organizations should support HR 106, the congressional resolution recognizing the genocide of almost 2 million Armenians in the early 20th century, is any debate about the truthfulness of the resolution. Virtually every historian acknowledges that this genocide is an irrefutable fact. Instead, the controversy swirls around the question of whether it is in the interest of the Jewish community to take a position that might provoke anti-Semitism in Turkey or harm Turkish-Israeli relations.

HR 106 already has 227 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and is supported by a majority of Jewish senators and congressmen across the nation, including Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), and Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles), Howard Berman (D-Van Nuys), Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) and Jane Harman (D-Venice). Most of the Jewish organizational establishment, however, is either waffling or desperately trying to avoid the issue. The facts are embarrassing.

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, initially declined to take a position on whether the Armenian genocide occurred. When the ADL's executive director in Boston publicly criticized the refusal to acknowledge the Armenian genocide and called it "morally indefensible," Foxman fired him. Shortly thereafter, two ADL board members resigned in protest.

As a result of the ensuing criticism, Foxman modified his position to acknowledge that "there was an Armenian genocide," but continued to refuse to support the congressional resolution that "there was an Armenian genocide."

His rationale was that the congressional resolution is a "counterproductive diversion" that would offend Turkey's government and people, which could lead to violence against Turkish Jews and damage to Turkish-Israeli relations.

The ADL is not the only Jewish organization that has vacillated or is paralyzed by fear of exacerbating anti-Semitism. The reason these organizations have chosen to remain silent has nothing to do with the merits of the congressional resolution. It has everything to do with their being intimidated by anti-Semites, in this case Muslim extremists.

It is a tragic truth of Jewish history that there is nothing unusual about the inclination of Jewish leaders toward such appeasement. In the years leading up to and during World War II, the Jewish establishment - led by Rabbi Stephen S. Wise - refused to protest the Roosevelt administration's failure to take action to rescue the Jews of Europe.

They castigated and marginalized as extremists Jewish activists, such as Peter Bergson and Ben Hecht, who publicly demanded that the government take action to stop the ongoing Holocaust. The Jewish establishment was fearful that it would make things worse to antagonize the Nazi leadership and to embarrass the American government by publicizing the terrible events unfolding in Europe.

In the 1970s, when the oppression of Soviet Jewry became an issue of moment, the Jewish establishment again demonstrated its lack of nerve. Most Jewish leaders were fearful of participating in large public demonstrations and eschewed taking a position on the Jackson-Vanik legislation that was designed to punish the Soviets unless they relaxed their restrictions on Jewish emigration. The rationale was that aggressive action would inflame Soviet anti-Semitism. Once again the policy of timidity was proven to be wrongheaded.

More recently, Jewish, Israeli and American leaders opposed implementing federal law requiring that the U.S. Embassy in Israel be moved to Jerusalem because of fear of provoking Arab terrorism. Despite this capitulation to Muslim pressure, both Israel and the West have experienced a dramatic increase in terrorism.

If a Christian leader were to refuse to acknowledge the Holocaust out of fear of antagonizing Germany, Jews everywhere would justifiably be outraged. We would reject as unacceptable the excuse that "the Holocaust is only a Jewish issue."

The failure of the Jewish establishment to support congressional recognition of the Armenian genocide is similarly shameful. Given our history, the Jewish people should be in the forefront of speaking out against genocide.

Jewish leaders should refuse to be blackmailed by Muslim extremism. Turkish threats of retribution against Israel and Turkish Jews must be confronted and condemned.

History teaches that flinching in the face of anti-Semitism is cowardly, unprincipled, ineffective and dangerous. As Winston Churchill observed, "Those who appease the crocodile will simply be eaten last."

Steven M. Goldberg, an attorney, is vice chairman of the board of the Zionist Organization of America, Southern California Region.

Source: http://www.jewishjournal.com/home/preview.php?id=18117

08/31 Jewish Journal: ADL's decision doesn't go far enough

ADL's decision doesn't go far enough

By David N. Myers

Last week's news that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) had reversed course and decided to recognize the Turkish massacres of Armenians between 1915 and 1923 as a genocide is a necessary step forward for that organization.

Unfortunately, it does not go far enough in rectifying the ADL's mystifying policy on this question. For while acknowledging that the massacres were a genocide, the ADL and its national director, Abraham Foxman, continue to refuse to support the congressional resolution (HR 106) that officially recognizes the Armenian genocide.

This points to a logical inconsistency, as well as lingering obduracy, on the part of the ADL. There is also a certain disingenuous quality to the ADL's half-shift.

For years Foxman has repeatedly stated, when asked why his organization holds to its stance, that the issue of whether there was a genocide of Armenians should not be decided by American Jewish communal leaders but rather left to historians. And yet, he has repeatedly ignored the opinion of an overwhelming majority of historians that the Turkish massacres were a genocide. Moreover, his decision last week to acknowledge the genocide was based less on any serious and sober consultative process (precisely what he should have engaged in years ago) than on a hurried decision to avoid intense public pressure and calls for his resignation.

What precipitated this abrupt change of course was a spiraling set of developments in the Boston area several weeks ago. Controversy had been brewing for some time in Watertown, Mass., home to a large number of Armenians, over the ADL's sponsorship of its No Place for Hate program in that town.

A groundswell of popular concern led the Watertown town council to sever its relationship with the No Place for Hate program in light of the ADL's refusal to recognize the Armenian genocide. Throughout this controversy the ADL's regional director, Andrew Tarsy, heeded the ADL line that Armenians did not suffer a "genocide," ‹ until on Aug. 16 when he broke with the organization's declared position and decried it as "morally reprehensible."

For this brave act of conscience Tarsy was summarily fired, prompting several members of the ADL's New England board to resign in protest. Shortly thereafter on Aug. 21, Foxman issued a statement asserting that "the consequences of those (i.e., Turkish) actions were tantamount to genocide." However, he continued by proclaiming that "a congressional resolution on such matters is a counterproductive diversion."

But how, in light of the first statement, could acknowledgement of a genocidal atrocity be a "counterproductive diversion?" And why should Tarsy, whose courage and conviction set in motion the ADL's shift, be the victim of his own organization's bad judgment?

These questions push to the surface a set of larger and troubling concerns about American Jewish organizational life.

First, the ADL's clumsy and insensitive handling of the Armenian question exposes the way in which shortsighted political goals can easily cloud the moral judgment of the organized Jewish community. Foxman and others who resist HR 106 fear that the resolution will antagonize the Turkish government and prompt it to rethink its military alliance with Israel and the United States.

Yes, Turkey is Israel's best friend in the Muslim world. But apart from the improbability of that country severing its relations with either Israel or the United States, we must ask whether supporting those who falsify and distort the historical record is ever in our or their interests.

Moreover, do not Jews, of all people, have a special responsibility to raise their voices at the sight or prospect of genocide? The answer, as groups such as Jewish World Watch make patently clear, is that we can never abdicate our responsibility to act against ethnic cleansing or genocide, whether committed by friend or foe.

Second, this episode reminds us of how detached and undemocratic our Jewish communal leadership is. No referendum has ever been held in the Jewish community on the question of the Armenian genocide or, for that matter, on any other major issue of substance. And yet, Foxman and his counterparts at other national Jewish organizations routinely adopt policies and speak on behalf of the community based on their own sense of what is best for the Jews.

Often, and surely in this case, their judgment rests on what they deem to be in the best interests of the State of Israel. But who appointed or elected them to speak in our name ‹ either on the question of what's in Israel's best interests or of whether to recognize the Armenian genocide? The time has come to scrutinize anew the power that these communal leaders arrogate to themselves.

Finally, this episode raises serious doubts about the leadership of Foxman at the helm of one of the country's most venerable Jewish organizations.

There can be no question that Foxman has fought tirelessly against anti-Semitism over the course of his career. For that he is to be commended. But he has also grown imperious and detached, playing the role of defender-in-chief of the Jews with a somewhat dictatorial air.

He has brusquely pushed out colleagues in the ADL, such as Tarsy in Boston and David Lehrer in Los Angeles, talented and devoted community leaders who dared to speak their mind. He has created an organization in his own image, one that breeds obeisance rather than independence.

As the Armenian genocide debate makes so clear, what is needed from our Jewish communal leaders is a different set of qualities than those evinced by Foxman ‹ open-mindedness, nuance, historical knowledge and fealty to core Jewish values. Enough is enough. We deserve better.

Foxman should follow the logic of his own statement and take the essential next step of supporting HR 106. Further, he should admit the error of his abrupt action and restore Tarsy to his position.

In parallel, our local Anti-Defamation League board should either announce its support for HR 106 --if not here in the heart of the Armenian diaspora, then where? -- or renounce the organization's declared mission "to secure justice and fair treatment to all."

David N. Myers teaches Jewish history at UCLA.

Source: http://www.jewishjournal.com/home/preview.php?id=18125

08/31 Salem News: Our view: Armenian genocide deserves formal recognition

Our view: Armenian genocide deserves formal recognition

Salem News

Consistency matters.

That is the message the Newburyport Commission for Diversity and Tolerance is sending to the Anti-Defamation League regarding its continuing refusal to acknowledge that the slaughter of more than 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks between 1915 and 1924 was genocide.

The local commission is still considering withdrawing from the ADL-sponsored No Place for Hate program unless the organization unambiguously acknowledges the Armenian genocide and lobbies Congress to do the same. Several other communities have already withdrawn, including Watertown earlier this month.

This is a worthy and important message to send. The major reason for the ADL's existence is to recall the genocide against Jews committed by Nazi Germany and to make sure it never happens again. An organization like that should be at the forefront of acknowledging and condemning similar acts against any other ethnic groups.

There have been some positive signs in response to the recent publicity this issue has generated.

The director of the Boston ADL chapter, Andrew Tarsy, was recently reinstated after the national organization fired him for agreeing that the killing of the Armenians should be called a genocide. Abraham Foxman, the national ADL director, has acknowledged those events which took place during Ottoman rule in Turkey was "tantamount to genocide."

But that, as Americans of Armenian descent and their supporters say, is deliberately ambiguous. They also want the ADL to stop opposing legislation in Congress that would formally recognize the genocide.

This is not simply about putting a label on something, of course. The ADL is in a difficult position - caught between the pressure from Armenians and the fact that it does not want to jeopardize Israel's alliance with Turkey.

But acknowledging and condemning horrific acts by a country nearly a century ago does not put blame on the present-day citizens of that country any more than modern-day Germans are to blame for the atrocities committed under Hitler.

Acknowledging the sins of the past is one small way to prevent similar tragic chapters in the future. The ADL ought to vigorously support that. Those who are putting pressure on the organization to do so are doing a favor for the group and future generations of the world.

Source: http://www.salemnews.com/puopinion/local_story_243094104?keyword=secondarystory

08/31 Newburyport: Port commission takes right course in challenging ADL

Port commission takes right course in challenging ADL

Daily News of Newburyport

Consistency matters.

That is the message the Newburyport Commission for Diversity and Tolerance is sending to the Anti-Defamation League regarding its continuing refusal to acknowledge that the slaughter of more than 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks between 1915 and 1924 was genocide.

The local commission is considering withdrawing from the ADL-sponsored No Place for Hate program unless the organization unambiguously acknowledges the Armenian genocide and lobbies Congress to do the same. Several other communities have already withdrawn, including Watertown earlier this month.

This is a worthy and important message to send. The major reason for the ADL's existence is to recall the genocide against Jews committed by Nazi Germany and to make sure it never happens again. An organization like that should be at the forefront of acknowledging and condemning similar acts against any other ethnic groups.

There have been some positive signs in response to the pressure. The director of the Boston ADL chapter, Andrew Tarsy, was recently reinstated after the national organization fired him for agreeing that the killing of the Armenians should be called a genocide. Abraham Foxman, the national ADL director, recently acknowledged it was "tantamount to genocide."

But that, as Americans of Armenian descent and their supporters say, is deliberately ambiguous. They also want the ADL to stop opposing legislation in Congress that would formally recognize the genocide.

This is not simply about putting a label on something, of course. The ADL is in a difficult position - caught between the pressure from Armenians and the fact that it does not want to jeopardize Israel's alliance with Turkey.

But acknowledging and condemning horrific acts by a country nearly a century ago does not put blame on the present-day citizens of that country any more than modern-day Germans are to blame for the atrocities committed under Hitler.

Acknowledging the sins of the past is one small way to prevent similar tragic chapters in the future. The ADL ought to vigorously support that. Those who are putting pressure on the organization to do so are doing a favor for the group and future generations of the world.

Source: http://www.newburyportnews.com/puopinion/local_story_243094032

08/30 Needham Times: Is Needham still No Place For Hate?

Is Needham still No Place For Hate?
Steven Ryan
Thu Aug 30, 2007, 12:00 AM EDT

Needham - Remembering the past
Gulnar Sahagian, who grew up in Istanbul, Turkey, remembered her grandmother’s stories of the Armenian Genocide, which saw the mass deportation and murder of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during the World War I era.

“She cried every single night in prayer,” the Hunting Road resident said, with her son, Luder Tavit Sahagian, by her side. “Her eyes witnessed so much horror. The way she described the stories every night, I was there.”

Gulnar Sahagian, who came to the United States in 1979, said her grandmother, Arusiak Hajinian, was on the cusp of adulthood when tragedy changed her life. At the time, she was married with a child, while pregnant with a second. Arusiak Hajinian died at 110.

Gulnar Sahagian said Turkish forces came to her grandmother’s home “collecting soldiers” and took away her husband, whom she never saw again. Her brothers-in-law were killed, and her sister-in-law was raped and brutalized, dying shortly thereafter.

In the chaos, her grandmother took the family’s gold and put as much as possible in a pillowcase before hiding the coins in the wall of a chicken coop. Hajinian, with others, was eventually captured and taken into the desert, where she had little food or water for her young child.

“She told me, ‘The baby is getting nothing from me,’” Gulnar Sahagian said. “The baby finally died, and she buried it. She did not even put a stone on top [of the grave], so nobody disturb it.”

Gulnar Sahagian said Hajinian also lost the unborn child when a Turkish soldier put a bayonet into her stomach. After the traumatic event, she woke up in a Turkish soldier’s house. She was recovering there before becoming a prisoner when she refused to become the man’s new wife. She was chained to the basement.

One day, the chains were improperly placed, and Hajinian was able to break free, climbing through a small window wrapped with metal wire. Years later, she returned to her home and found the gold she hid in the chicken coop. There, she connected with the man who became her second husband, Gulnar Sahagian’s grandfather.

“We’re here because my grandmother escaped through that window,” she said.

Seeking acknowledgement
The Anti-Defamation League’s stance on the Armenian Genocide, which some said was the outright denial of the tragedy, created a furor in nearby Watertown. The Watertown Town Council severed ties with the ADL and the No Place for Hate program — which was created through a partnership of the Massachusetts Municipal Association and the ADL — after a letter highlighting the ADL’s controversial stance was published in the Watertown TAB and Press. The government of Turkey rejects the characterization of events as genocide.

“My personal view is it needs to be identified as a genocide clearly,” Selectman Jerry Wasserman said, noting he is speaking for himself, not the board. “To do otherwise would be wrong.”

In Newton, members of the Human Rights Commission have postponed their decision to withdraw from the long-standing program in the city. The Arlington “No Place for Hate” program steering committee decided Monday night, in an emergency meeting, to suspend its involvement. Needham’s Human Rights Committee is holding a meeting Thursday, Aug. 30, to discuss the fallout.

“We’re having a special meeting to talk about the incidents of the past couple of weeks,” said Debbie Watters, chairwoman of the Needham Human Rights Committee.

Gulnar Sahagian plans to be at the Needham meeting.
“It would only be right for the Needham Human Rights Committee to do the right thing and cut ties with the ADL,” said Luder Tavit Sahagian, 27.

Needham’s main involvement with No Place for Hate revolves around student-led activities during the month of March. Superintendent Dan Gutekanst declined to comment on the controversy, saying he didn’t know enough about it. He did speak positively of the No Place for Hate event at the high school.

“At the high school level, it was very well done, well thought-out,” Gutekanst said. “It brought a new awareness of bigotry. It served its purpose.”

Town Manager Kate Fitzpatrick believes the status of No Place for Hate in Needham “warrants thoughtful conversation.”

“No Place For Hate was founded … as a resource to address hate crimes and discrimination,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s something Needham hopes to do whether with No Place for Hate or not.”

There is legislation before the U.S. Congress which would formally recognize the deaths as genocide, but the ADL currently doesn’t support the legislation. Over the past two weeks, the ADL fired Regional Director Andrew Tarsey after he publicly acknowledged the Armenian Genocide. He was rehired on Monday, Aug. 27. In between the firing and rehiring, the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, issued a statement that the tragic events of more than 90 years ago were “tantamount to genocide.”

Describing Foxman’s statement as “wishy washy,” Gulnar Sahagian believes the ADL needs to take more significant steps.

“Apologize for the Armenian Genocide and support us in Washington, D.C.,” Gulnar Sahagian said. “Why can’t we go back on the right track? It’s the only way to have authentic human rights activists.”

Steven Ryan can be reached at sryan@cnc.com.

Source: http://www.wickedlocal.com/needham/news/x766806385

08/30 Boston Globe: Jewish, Armenian leaders strive for healing

Jewish, Armenian leaders strive for healing
By April Simpson, Globe Staff August 30, 2007

Political and religious leaders from the Jewish and Armenian communities will launch a concerted effort today to heal rifts opened by complaints that the Anti-Defamation League did not recognize Armenian genocide.

The leaders will join survivors of both the Jewish and Armenian genocides in a display of solidarity at the State House this afternoon. Organizers said they want to send a message that the slaughter of Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks in 1915 is acknowledged by many Jews as genocide, despite decades of refusal to do so by the ADL.

"In our community we use the phrase, 'never again and never forget,' and that doesn't just refer to the Jewish community," said Councilor Michael P. Ross, a member of the Boston City Council who organized the event with state Representative Rachel Kaprielian of Watertown. "It refers to the acknowledgment of all humanity and all genocide and all intolerance. So it's very important that we show the Armenian community that there's support."

It's an important step, organizers said. "The most significant way to stop genocide is to acknowledge it," said Representative Peter J. Koutoujian of Newton, a Democrat whose grandparents immigrated to the United States from Armenia to flee the massacres there.

The ADL found itself embroiled in controversy after the Town Council in Watertown -- home to one of the largest concentrations of Armenian-Americans in the United States, with about 8,000 -- voted this month to withdraw from the league's No Place for Hate program. Watertown officials cited the league's refusal to recognize the Armenian genocide.

When the ADL's regional executive director, Andrew H. Tarsy, defied the national organization and publicly acknowledged the genocide, he was fired. Then this week the ADL's national leader, Abraham H. Foxman, reinstated Tarsy and acknowledged that the mass killings were genocide.

Today's press conference at 5:30 on the State House steps is intended to soothe ongoing animosities. But Watertown officials, citing ongoing ADL resistance to an Armenian genocide resolution in Congress, said they are not prepared to rejoin No Place for Hate.

Clyde L. Younger, president of the Watertown Town Council, said that he will work to continue a similar program under a different name and that he plans to contact local civic organizations and students for help.

So far, the Town Council does not intend to rejoin the ADL program, he said, because the league must do more to support the Armenian community, including encouraging Congress to pass a genocide resolution.

"That's one reason why we revoked our association with the ADL," Younger said. "They've done some wonderful things in the past . . . but what has happened now is a very significant issue for this community."

Another council member, Angeline B. Kounelis, said Watertown will continue as a tolerant and diverse community without the ADL program.

"The town of Watertown, the councilors, have enough to do without having to delve into the national and international politics of the ADL," Kounelis said.

Foxman, the ADL national director, maintained this week that the genocide was an issue that Turkey and Armenia should address, not anyone else.

Kaprielian said her Watertown constituents are deeply troubled by the ADL's refusal to support the congressional resolution.

She said many people in her community know Armenian genocide survivors. The league's acknowledgement of the genocide is a step in the right direction, she said.

"To have that wholesale affirmation as we feel we've gotten has been a positive turn of events on an otherwise bleak subject," Kaprielian said.

Steve Grossman, a former ADL board member and a recognized leader in the Jewish community, said today's event will confirm ties between the groups.

"Both of our peoples have been through genocides in the 20th century," he said, "and those experiences bind us more closely than ever before."

April Simpson can be reached at asimpson@globe.com.

Source: http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/08/30/jewish_armenian_leaders_strive_for_healing/

08/30 The Beacon: Local group weighs ADL move

Local group weighs ADL move
Christian Schiavone
Thu Aug 30, 2007, 06:53 AM EDT

Acton, Mass. - Members of the Acton No Place for Hate group were poised earlier this week to become the second such group in the state to cut their ties to the Anti-Defamation League because of the League’s refusal to acknowledge the killing of over a million Armenians as genocide.

The decision came just hours before the ADL issued a statement reversing its position and using the word “genocide” to refer to the massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Muslim Turks following World War I.

The controversy began two weeks ago when the town councilors in Watertown, which has a large Armenian population, voted to end the town’s participation in the No Place for Hate program because of the ADL’s stance on the issue. Days later, the ADL fired its New England regional director, Andrew Tarsy, for breaking with the policy by saying the killings amounted to genocide.

Tarsy was rehired on Monday.
Acton would have been the second town to cut its ties to the ADL, a national organization that fights discrimination.

“We really felt like it was important for ethical reasons to take a stand,” said Lauren Gilman, one of three co-chairs the Acton’s No Place for Hate group.

Gilman said group members had been uneasy with the ADL’s position on the Armenian genocide before, but felt that because their group’s efforts are locally focused that they could continue their affiliation.

“When it got to the point that the regional director took a stand and got fired, we thought it had gone to far,” said Gilman.

Gilman and the other members agreed to draft a letter formally seeking to suspend their affiliation with the ADL until the League changed its position. Gilman said the group would not go forward with suspending their affiliation because of the change in policy.

The ADL had previously condemned the killings of Armenians as an atrocity, but stopped short of calling it genocide.

Following a wave of outcry after Tarsy’s dismissal highlighted the issue, Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director, issued a statement Tuesday reversing the League’s position.

“[T]he consequences of those actions were indeed tantamount to genocide. If the word genocide had existed then, they would have called it genocide,” he wrote.

Foxman added, however, that the ADL does not support a congressional resolution to recognize the killings as genocide, citing risks to the relationship between Turkey, the United States and Israel that such a move could create.

State Rep. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, who is a second co-chair of the local No Place for Hate group and a candidate in the race for the 5th Congressional District, said if elected, he would support such a resolution.

“Any holocaust, any genocide needs to be recognized so it never happens again,” said Eldridge, pointing to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and the current mass killings in the Sudan. “I really felt like we had to take a stand.”

While Acton does not have a large Armenian population, Eldridge said it was important for the town to push for recognition of the massacres of Armenians as genocide.

“It’s an important issue for any community that’s committed to civil rights,” he said.

Eldridge also praised Tarsy for breaking ADL policy regarding the massacres of Armenians.

Acton’s No Place for Hate group holds an annual Martin Luther King Day breakfast, and has worked to highlight the needs of the town’s growing Brazilian population.

Gilman said that the work of the Acton group, which has been in existence for about five years, is important as the town’s population becomes more diverse.

“I’ve seen huge change in terms of the community and languages I hear just standing in line at the grocery store,” she said.

Christian Schiavone can be reached at 978-371-5743 or at cschiavo@cnc.com.

Source: http://www.wickedlocal.com/acton/homepage/x1136425708

08/30 Jewish Advocate: Fallout from ADL's position elicits international response

Fallout from ADL's position elicits international response
By Raphael Kohan - Thursday August 30 2007

Andrew H. TarsyTurkey calls on Israel to keep Jewish organizations in line

Now that the Anti-Defamation League has reinstated Andrew H. Tarsy to its New England Region, ADL leaders say they want to move past the issues that have divided them in recent weeks, even as the organization is faced with international fallout.
“The ADL has confronted a very important issue and done a significant thing for acknowledging the Armenian genocide,” said Tarsy in a meeting on Monday with the Advocate and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL’s national director. “But now we go forward.”
Foxman fired Tarsy on Aug. 17 after he spoke out publicly against ADL’s official position at the time.
The events of the past month, which stemmed from a debate surrounding recognition of the Armenian massacres during World War I as genocide, have raised serious questions about the relationships of local chapters to national organizations, as well as the relationships of morally-concerned American Jews to the political realities facing the state of Israel and the Jewish Diaspora.
“It’s a much bigger issue than the community here may realize,” said Foxman. “These are two moral imperatives that come into conflict, and one has to make a choice.”
Upon learning of Foxman’s reversal on the term “genocide” last week, diplomatic officials in Jerusalem expressed disbelief, the Jerusalem Post reported. One senior Foreign Ministry official even declined to comment because he did not believe the authenticity of the statement.
One of the issues the controversy highlights is how Boston Jews overwhelmingly responded in support of Tarsy and recognizing the Armenian genocide, regardless of what political repercussions may follow in the Middle East.
“It is relatively easy to say this in Massachusetts, bordered by Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York,” reporter Herb Keinon wrote in the Jerusalem Post. “American Jews can take the high moral ground on issues such as these, because there is no real consequence; they don’t have to pay any tangible cost.”
Consul General of Israel to New England Nadav Tamir said there is an understandable difference between policy-makers in the Jewish state and Jewish organizational heads in the Bay State.
“They have their own interests and issues,” Tamir said of American Jewish groups. “Sometime they have to be more ideological. They don’t have realpolitik like countries have.”
Even as the ADL has held steadfast that a congressional resolution on the genocide would prove “counterproductive,” Turkish officials have been angered by the human rights organization’s shift last week.
“Turkey expressed chagrin that we had to take sides on this issue,” said Foxman. “How would you feel if you woke up in the morning and the newspaper headline read, ‘Jewish lobby stabs Turkey in the back?’”
The question remains, however, of how an organization’s ideological stance impacts another country’s political agreements, like the Turkish-Israeli alliance, which is precisely what seems to be hanging in the balance.
Foxman’s reversal set off alarm bells in Turkey that not even statements reinforcing Israel’s unchanged position on genocide recognition could pacify.
Turkish Ambassador to Israel Namik Tan, who cut short his summer vacation after learning of ADL’s position change, told the Jerusalem Post: “Israel should not let the [U.S.] Jewish community change its position. This is our expectation and this is highly important.”
Despite the role of American Jewish organizations in lobbying on Israel’s behalf, the Jewish state does not set their agenda, according to Tamir.
“They’re not getting dictates from Israel,” he said. “We will try to explain to the Turks that Jewish organizations are not representing the Israeli government necessarily.”
For all the international implications encompassed by the events of the last few weeks, Jonathan Sarna, professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University, said there may be fallout that also impacts the dynamic of Jewish organizational life.
“This will be remembered as a very unusual episode where a rebellious chapter managed to transform the parent organization,” said Sarna. “My sense is we’ll see other examples of chapters rebelling in different ways against the dictates of the center.”
Yet others maintain it is precisely the international relationships fostered by a national headquarters that allow it to be best informed on diplomatic concerns, which fall outside the jurisdiction of local chapters.
“The issue for the ADL is not whether or not there was genocide against the Armenians – there clearly was,” Grand Rabbi Y. A. Korff said in a statement. “Rather the real issue for the ADL is, after considering all the complexities, competing interests, and the consequences, what their official policy should be and how, or by whom, that decision should be made.”
With Foxman expressing one view and local Jewish groups expressing another, the national ADL head said the public attacks against him and ADL proved most upsetting to him.
“I found it personally disheartening that good people in the Jewish community were not willing to give us the benefit of the doubt that we were acting in good faith in the best interest of the Jewish community,” said Foxman.
For now, Foxman and Tarsy are both looking to put this ordeal behind them so they can move forward in promoting new initiatives on the organization’s agenda.
“I hope it will be a learning experience for us all,” said Foxman. “We paid a high price for it, but it brings the community a better understanding of what’s at stake.”

Source: http://www.thejewishadvocate.com/this_weeks_issue/news/?content_id=3596

08/29 Zaman: The power of NGOs


The power of NGOs

There were several reactions in Turkey after an influential Jewish NGO in the United States declared that the events of 1915 under the Ottoman Empire qualified as “genocide.” The Turkish government was the main actor responding, which is in fact absurd.

Numerous NGOs, associations and think tanks all over the world, including in the US, conduct research, publish reports or make statements about foreign countries and societies. These declarations are not necessarily positive. After an ethnic or religious NGO’s declaration, interrogating a state with the same ethnic and/or religious affiliation as the NGO also is ridiculous. In other words, it is meaningless to ask Israel “What’s going on?” simply because the Jewish lobby in the United States makes a negative statement about Turkey.

NGO activities in Turkey are a relatively new phenomenon and that is why society and the government’s experience with such work is limited. The general feeling is that every NGO is supported by at least one government and that those in the US don’t favor Turkey, anyway. This feeling is related to Turkey’s own democratic traditions. Nevertheless, there are some people who certainly know that an NGO declaration will result in Turkey contacting the Israeli government. They also know that when the “Armenian genocide” issue arises, the Turkish government will absolutely respond. When one puts the genocide issue and the Jewish NGO together, it is obvious that somebody wants Turkey to analyze this issue as an interstate affair.

There are several facts prompting Turkey to consider the “genocide” issue an interstate problem. As this subject is debated in the parliaments of many countries and recognition laws are adopted, it becomes easier to take this as a “state” problem. That’s why Turkey has drawn away from the essence of the debate and has focused on designating which country develops hostile policies toward Turkey with genocide rhetoric. The people of Armenian origin living in different countries have diverging external or domestic motivations and sensibilities, but this “interstate” atmosphere completely avoids those.

One can even think that the actual state of affairs, which has existed for a very long time, is exactly what is needed by all parties. Maybe the “irresolution” process of the issue is more beneficial than its resolution process. Once before the US Congress, the genocide issue will affect relations between the Democrats and Turkey at a moment when everybody thinks the Democrats will accede to power after the next presidential election. That’s why Turkey, not a good ally of the Bush administration given the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) issue and Iraq policy, will also have doubts about the next Democratic administration. That’s why it would be reasonable for Turkey to trust the current administration. But as the trust between Turkey and the US influences directly Turkey’s relations with the Middle East and Russia, Turkey will also have to approach other allies of the United States. Thus we will have to stop avoiding Israel and establish new dialogue.

The rapprochement between states or societies, especially between Turkey and Israel, is appropriate. However, there is an irony in that the Armenian diaspora pushes Turkey against the wall, making Armenia more dependent on Russia, consolidating its isolation, and encourages Turkey’s rapprochement with Israel and the United States. It’s obvious that there are some people designing their policies through Turkey’s reactions. That’s why the genocide issue is not used as a matter encouraging societies to engage in a dialogue, but as a tool to orient states’ foreign policies.


Source: http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/yazarDetay.do?haberno=120601

08/29 Forward: Of Genocide and Morality

Of Genocide and Morality

Wed. Aug 29, 2007

History usually passes from one era to another in a slow, glacial process, too gradual to be discernible until the change is complete. There are times, though, when the change happens in an instant, like a flash of lightning splitting a summer night. Such was the birth of the atomic age at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 62 years ago this month. Such was the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of communism, when Boris Yeltsin stood on a tank in Moscow and defied the tyrants, 16 years ago last week. And such, we may learn to our sorrow, is the end of the post-Holocaust era in Jewish history. That age may have evaporated last week in a haze of wrenching moral contradictions, as the imperatives of remembering and resisting genocide collided with the needs of Israeli security.

If the collision had happened once, it would be merely a crisis. But it happened twice in one week, in two dramatic and unrelated crises. One was a confrontation between Israel and American Jews over recognition of the 1915 genocide of Armenians at the hands of the Turks, which Israel fears would alienate an essential Muslim ally. The other was the agonizing sight of Israeli troops expelling a group of Darfuri refugees who had crossed vast deserts, fleeing the genocide in their homeland, to seek refuge in the Jewish state. Two crises, unrelated yet reflecting the same moral dilemma, suggest that something larger is under way — perhaps something as large as a tectonic shift in the ground under our feet.

Since the end of World War II, the accepted narrative of Jewish history has been a simple, linear one: from Holocaust to redemption; Israel as the retort to Auschwitz. In a deeper sense, the post-Holocaust era brought with it a new mission for the chosen people — to bear witness to the horrors of genocide, to see to it that memory would be preserved and that never again would such horrors be permitted. For the past 60 years, Jews everywhere have seen the rise from the ashes of a reborn Jewish state as the symbolic and physical embodiment of that mission. For most of us, remembering the Holocaust and cherishing Israel have been the two interlocking pillars of modern Jewish identity.

Last week those two pillars collided, in the most literal and dramatic way possible, shaken loose from their moorings by the shockwaves of genocide in two of the world’s hot spots. Israel found itself — or placed itself — on the side of the deniers, and Jews around the world were left standing in numb disbelief.

One incident began in Watertown, Mass., a small town with a large population of Armenian Americans. The good people of Watertown know, as many Jewish activists know, that the murder of Armenians by Turkey on the eve of World War I was one of the first mass atrocities of the 20th century and helped inspire Hitler. Yet Armenians have struggled for almost a century to wrest even the barest acknowledgement from Turkey of their tragedy. Turkey denies it, and much of the world stays silent, fearing Turkish wrath.

Earlier this month, Watertown decided to drop its participation in an anti-prejudice program of the Anti-Defamation League, because the league has refused to acknowledge the Armenian genocide or to endorse an upcoming congressional resolution on the subject. The ADL, like most Jewish organizations, fears — correctly — that speaking on Armenia’s tragedy will create tension between Israel and Turkey. However, after an ugly confrontation between the ADL’s national office and its Boston chapter, the league finally issued a statement acknowledging that the Armenian massacres were “tantamount to genocide.” The statement promptly touched off the feared diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Israel. The crisis has yet to be resolved.

The other crisis, involving Darfur, erupted just days after the first one. On August 17, Israeli police arrested a group of 50 Africans, most of them from Darfur, who were trying to enter Israel from Egypt. They had fled their homeland and trekked across the Sinai Desert, hoping to find refuge in the Jewish state as some 1,500 other Africans have done in recent months. Two days later, Israel announced that it would no longer grant refuge to African refugees — including those from Darfur — and would henceforth return all future migrants to Egypt, starting with the 50 arrested on the 17th. The expulsions raised a chorus of protests from a broad cross-section of Israelis, spanning the political spectrum. It drew criticism, too, from human rights groups around the world. Ironically, some of the American Jews who had led the Save Darfur campaign from the outset were quick to spring to Israel’s defense, citing its unique security concerns.

There’s no doubt that collisions between fighting genocide and defending Israel cut the heart of Jewish identity in the post-Holocaust era. What, we may ask, is the point of fighting for a Jewish state if it will not act in a Jewish manner — that is, serve as a beacon to us and the world? Wasn’t that supposed to be the promise of Israel?

Well, no, it wasn’t. The promise of Zionism, from Herzl to Ben-Gurion to today’s Israel, was to normalize the Jewish condition — to remove the Jewish people from its rootless, luftmentsh status as a scattered nation with no ground to stand on and no responsibility for the implications of its beliefs. It was to bring the Jews back into the rough-and-tumble of history, of real-life struggles as lived by sovereign nations. The idea of Israel as somehow exempt from the rules of realpolitik, from the tough moral choices faced by other nations, was an invention to make the Zionist revolution comprehensible to those of us who did not undergo the revolution. It was an Israel we invented for ourselves.

Still, while it’s tempting to portray these crises as reflecting the differences between Israel and the Diaspora — or between ordinary American Jews and the organizations that have become slaves to Israeli policy — that conclusion is unfair to Israelis, to the organizations and to ourselves. For all the demands of realpolitik, many Israelis — including 63 members of Knesset, a majority — demanded in vain that their government not expel the Darfuris. As for the Armenian tragedy, as real as we know it to be, the fact is that Israel desperately needs the friendship of Turkey, its most important ally, and that friendship comes with a painful price tag. Remembering genocide is important, but not as important as saving lives today.

If anything, the genocide collisions of August should make us re-examine the moral principles we have created for ourselves in the wake of the Holocaust, and consider whether they reflect the realities of today’s cold, hard world. In the end, political ethics based on slogans and theories, with no recognition of the ugly choices required in navigating this hard world, are no ethics at all. The task of the post-post-Holocaust era is to forge a new ethic for our new world.

Source: http://www.forward.com/articles/11496/

08/29 Newburyport: Commission considers leaving over Armenian genocide view

Commission not tolerant of ADL stance; Commission considers leaving over Armenian genocide view

By Dan Atkinson , Staff Writer
Daily News of Newburyport

NEWBURYPORT - The city Commission for Diversity and Tolerance can only tolerate so much.

The commission will send a letter to the Anti-Defamation League stating that it is "seriously considering" withdrawing from the ADL-sponsored No Place For Hate program unless the league unambiguously acknowledges the Armenian genocide and lobbies Congress to do the same.

The approval to send the letter was made at yesterday's meeting after several speakers encouraged the commission to cut its ties with the ADL.

Police Lt. Richard Siemasko originally proposed suspending ties with No Place For Hate, but the commission decided to wait and see how the ADL continues to handle the controversy.

Chairwoman Beth Horne said the commission's next meeting on Sept. 11 is not an official deadline for the ADL, but the panel will take up withdrawal again at that time.

"We want to put some pressure on (the ADL)," Horne said.

Newburyport joins several other area communities in withdrawing or threatening to withdraw from No Place For Hate. Earlier in the month, Watertown withdrew from the tolerance-promoting program after a letter to the local paper pointed out that the ADL does not recognize the Armenian genocide of 1915 to 1924, in which Ottoman Turks killed more than 1.5 million Armenians.

The town's Armenian community protested and the director of the Boston ADL chapter was fired after agreeing that his organization should recognize the genocide.

After more outcry, national ADL director Abraham Foxman released a statement saying the consequences of the Turks' actions were "tantamount to genocide" and Boston director Andrew Tarsy was reinstated.

But many Americans of Armenian descent and their supporters say Foxman did not fully acknowledge the genocide. They demand that the ADL stop opposing legislation in Congress that would formally recognize the genocide.

Watertown resident David Boyajian, the man who wrote the original letter complaining of the ADL's policy, came to yesterday's meeting to urge the commission to withdraw and show dissatisfaction with the ADL.

"Your breaking ties with them would put pressure on them from the bottom up," he said.

Newburyport resident Judy Mouradian supported disassociating from No Place For Hate. She said the ADL only backtracked as far as it did because of public pressure, so Newburyport should keep the pressure on. And the denial of one genocide could only encourage further denials, she said.

"As an Armenian, I find it offensive," Mouradian said. "As an American citizen, I find it really horrifying and it could negate other atrocities."

Former City Councilor John Pramberg agreed and asked if the ADL would treat the Holocaust as it does the Armenian genocide. He said the commission does not need No Place For Hate to continue its own mission of promoting tolerance.

"We don't need this distraction," Pramberg said. "Your work can be done without association with this group."

The goals of the commission, formed by city ordinance in 2005, include raising awareness of diversity, providing anti-bias education and promoting a welcoming community.

Unlike other communities, Horne said, Newburyport is not entirely dependent on No Place For Hate for its tolerance efforts, although No Place For Hate does supply materials.

She and other commission members praised the program but were dismayed by the ADL's stance, a position Horne outlined in a letter to the organization last week. And although the commission rarely gets involved in politics, it would have to support the congressional resolution if it were going to call for the ADL to acknowledge the genocide, said member Sam Szabo.

"We can't debate one without the other," Szabo said.

Superintendent Kevin Lyons, the commission's incoming school liaison, did not vote on sending the letter but approved of its contents.

"We don't want to be associated with (the ADL) if they don't get their act together," Lyons said.
The commission's next meeting is Sept. 11 at 3 p.m. at the police station. The panel will hear comments from the public at the beginning of the meeting.

Source: http://www.newburyportnews.com/punews/local_story_241094012

08/29 Zaman: Turkey expects ‘rectification’ as ADL insists on ‘genocide’ label

Turkey expects ‘rectification’ as ADL insists on ‘genocide’ label

In an apparent show of determination, the leader of the US-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has insisted that the organization made an appropriate decision by revising its policy concerning the killings of Anatolian Armenians in the early 20th century, vowing that they will "not hesitate to apply the term genocide in the future."

An article penned by ADL National Director Abraham Foxman -- who last week said the killings of Armenians by Muslim Turks "were indeed tantamount to genocide" -- was published in a Boston newspaper, The Jewish Advocate, on Monday.

"While we continue to firmly believe that a Congressional resolution on such matters is a counterproductive diversion and will not foster reconciliation between Turks and Armenians, we will not hesitate to apply the term genocide in the future. We believe that we have been true to who we are in our approach. As long as ADL is an organization committed first to the safety and security of the Jewish people, we cannot in good conscience ignore the well-being of 20,000 Jews in Turkey. We will, however, continue to push the Turkish government in the right direction. We hope people of goodwill understand our perspective, but even if they do not, we deeply believe that we are being true to the core values of our organization which have served Jews and the broader society so well for many years," said Foxman in the article.

Following strong reaction from Turkish political leadership against the ADL's announcement, Foxman last week sent a letter addressing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, saying that the ADL had huge respect for the Turkish people and has never desired to put the Turkish people and their leaders into a difficult situation. Foxman then expressed deep regret over what the Turkish people had to go through in the past few days since it agreed to recognize the alleged genocide, reversing a long-held policy.

"The letter was pleasing to us," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Levent Bilman told Today's Zaman on Tuesday. "However, the wrong step has not yet been corrected. We expect the ADL to rectify its statement because it is obvious that there is no consensus among historians on how to qualify the 1915 incidents, contrary to what the ADL has claimed," Bilman added.

When asked to elaborate on how a "rectification" could be made by the ADL, Bilman said the right address for consulting such controversial matters was historians and that the ADL should refer to historians after making such an assertive allegation and then review its statement. "The issue is not closed for Ankara until such a review and rectification is made."

Armenians claim up to 1.5 million of their kinsmen died in a systematic genocide campaign by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, but Ankara categorically rejects the label, saying that both Armenians and Turks died in civil strife during World War I, when the Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia and sided with Russian troops that were invading the crumbling Ottoman Empire.


Source: http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/detaylar.do?load=detay&link=120674

08/29 Yediot Ahronot: Testing Israel's Diplomacy

Testing Israel's diplomacy

The ADL's recognition of the Armenian genocide raises questions on relations between Israel and Diaspora Jewish organizations
Yaakov Lappin

Turkey was, predictably, infuriated by the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) 180 degree turn-around on the ultra-sensitive issue of the Armenian genocide because Ankara , Israel's closest Muslim ally in the region, relies heavily on Israel and Jewish organizations to support its claim that no genocide took place.

Israeli diplomats were flooded with angry messages from the Turkish capital, calling on Jerusalem to 'reign in' the ADL.

Despite attempts by Jerusalem to explain that it did not control American Jewish organizations, Turkey's Ambassador to Israel, Namig Tan, told the Azeri Press Agency this week: "Turkey has always approached positively the Jewish lobby of America and Israel.

However, in the aftermath the statement of Anti-Defamation League, the approach towards Israel is going to change, and it is not going to be positive. I think in this situation the Israeli Foreign Ministry should address this diplomatic crisis and demonstrate its power and influence to the Jewish lobby in the US, so that such events between the two friendly peoples and states are not repeated in the future."

The crisis was only partially defused after President Shimon Peres telephoned the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to calm the storm, and a statement was released by the Israeli embassy in Turkey, urging Jews not to take sides between Turkey and Armenia, while acknowledging the "horrible events" and "terrible suffering" of the Armenians.

The diplomatic incident has raised a question mark over Israel's relationship with high-profile American Jewish political organizations - what happens when Jerusalem and Diaspora Jewish organizations find themselves on different sides of the fence?

According to a source in a well - known Jewish American organization, such situations are not new in Israeli history. "This incident with Turkey is not the first time this has happened," the source said. "Jewish organizations have been involved in the State of Israel since before it was set up. They didn't always see eye to eye with Israel. Sometimes, Jewish organizations like AIPAC go against the wishes of the country. For example, when George Bush Senior wanted to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, AIPAC went against that, not necessarily with the Israeli government's approval, and that caused friction," he added.

According to the source, "Israel sometimes uses world Jewish organizations for roles that it couldn't do. It didn't want to criticize another country with (good) relations, but it will get Jewish organizations to criticize the country. You can have your cake and eat it too."

When it comes to the ADL, however, an independent stance is a top priority, the organization's spokesman, Ar i eh O'Sullivan, told Ynetnews. "There is a very close relationship between the ADL leadership and the leadership of Israel. We've worked together on various topics. But the ADL is an independent organization. Everyone from the ADL will tell you we have our own positions. Most of the time they jive with Israel, and sometimes they don't," O'Sullivan said.

Can such an independent voice - however legitimate, cause serious damage to Israel's diplomatic relations with other nations?

"It is strange for the action of a US Jewish group stating that Turkey committed genocide against the Armenians during World War One to damage Turkey - Israel relations. After all, there are many groups which take the opposite stance and Israel is hardly responsible for the ADL's decision," said Professor Barry Rubin, an expert on Turkey and the Middle East.

"However, there are two reasons why it is damaging," Rubin, the director of the Global Research for International Affairs at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, explained. "First, the issue is an incredibly sensitive one in Turkey. Aside from pride and patriotism, there are also real material reasons for Turkey to feel so strongly. Historically, Armenian groups have claimed parts of Turkey. If Turkey were to admit guilt it would face demands for massive reparations and perhaps territorial concessions," Rubin said.

"Second, the current government - which has an Islamist past and some Islamist elements despite being relatively centrist - is not friendly toward Israel and welcomes an excuse to reduce relations. It will use the issue in a demagogic way to promote antagonism toward Israel in Turkey," he added.

"Can American Jewish pressure groups damage Israeli relations with other countries? Perhaps but this is an unusual case. One also remembers how American Jewish pressure groups helped press Israel toward a greater activism to free Soviet Jewry in a very beneficial way," Rubin said. "What can the Israeli government do? Only point out that this is not its stand and that it is not responsible for the ADL's actions," he added.

And that is precisely what the government is doing. Speaking to Ynetnews, Mark Regev, the Foreign Ministry's spokesman, said: "We work very closely with American Jewish organizations, but ultimately they are independent actors." Regev preferred to focus on the "strong relationship with American Jewish communities," which he described as "unique."

AIPAC's role

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) proudly displays a quote from the New York Times on its website, describing AIPAC as "the most important organization affecting America's relationship with Israel."

Could the main pro-Israel lobby group ever find itself at odds with Israel? According to David Kreizelman, a foreign policy associate at AIPAC's Jerusalem office, the question is not relevant.

"Most American Jewish organizations are dedicated to some sort of ideas. They have clear opinions on subjects, certainly on a subject on like this (the Armenian genocide)," Kreizelman explained. "AIPAC, unlike other organizations, is totally non-ideological. There are a lot of moral and ethical issues that Jews are concerned about in the US. The100,000 members of AIPAC are only asked to be part of an agenda with one issue, and that is the strengthening of the Israel - American relationship, or more specifically the strengthening of relations between the democratically elected governments of America and Israel," he said.

"Translating that on the issue of Turkish - Armenian issue, AIPAC is not - and I can say this unequivocally - not lobbying on this issue at all... Unlike the ADL which has a very clear message on interracial inter-ethnic issues," Kreizelman said.

Debunking Walt and Mearsheimer

Next week, American Jewish organizations will be attacked in a book published by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, in which the American academics will expand on their essay, "The Israel Lobby," published in the London Review of Books earlier this year. According to Walt and Mearsheimer, the Jewish lobby in the US has hijacked American foreign policy to benefit Israel, to the detriment of American interests.

The ADL - Turkey incident serves as an excellent example of why Walt and Mearsheimer's conspirational claims of a Jewish cabal are false, the ADL's O'Sullivan explained. "There is no such thing as a Jewish cabal. The raison d'etre of the ADL is to show that this theory is just bigotry. The events involving the ADL and Turkey only goes to show that we don't always see eye to eye, and is proof in itself that there is no cabal," O'Sullivan said.

AIPAC's David Krazelman said his organization did not view the book as a new development, and drew parallels between Mearsheimer and Walt's claims to rhetoric espoused by Charles Lindbergh in the 1930s. Lindbergh, the first pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic, was an anti-Semitic political activist, who forms a central character in Philip Roth's recent novel, The Plot Against America, which offers an alternative scenario where Lindbergh becoming president and leads America to a pro-Nazi administration.

Krazelman said he was struck by the similarity of Lindbergh's letters to the claims of Mearsheimer and Walt, adding: "There is a core group, a small group of people, who say that Jewish influence is detrimental to the US. You can see that the vast majority of Americans do not feel this way. AIPAC looks at this type of situation and says, look, we're talking about steadfast group of people always talking about the same kind of thing. Why should we be sidetracked?"

Speaking to Ynetnews, an Israeli government source, who asked to remain anonymous, agreed. "By making a lot of noise over the book, we would play into the hands of the authors," he said.

Source: http://www.ynetnews.com/Ext/Comp/ArticleLayout/CdaArticlePrintPreview/1,2506,L-3443592,00.html

08/29 Turkish Daily News: US Jewish group sticks to 'Armenian genocide' recognition

US Jewish group sticks to 'Armenian genocide' recognition
Wednesday, August 29, 2007

'We will not hesitate to apply the term genocide in the future,' says the ADL's Foxman

WASHINGTON - Turkish Daily News

The U.S. Jewish group Anti-Defamation League has confirmed its commitment to the recognition of World War I-era Armenian killings in the Ottoman Empire as genocide, shortly after its top official sent a letter to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, expressing his organization's "deep sorrow" for causing pain to Turkey's leaders and people.

In a controversial shift in position last Tuesday, the ADL's National Director Abraham Foxman announced that his group had come to the understanding that the Armenian killings "indeed were tantamount to genocide." But he added the ADL remained opposed to efforts to pass genocide resolutions in the U.S. Congress, saying such moves would be counterproductive.

The ADL's move was a huge disappointment for the Turkish government and caused public anger, prompting Foxman to send a letter to Erdoğan Friday, voicing his wish for the continuation of good relations with Turkey.

"I am writing to you at this very difficult time to express deep regret for any pain we have caused to you and the Turkish people in these past few days," Foxman said in the letter provided by the ADL to the Turkish Daily News. "It was certainly not our intent to hurt or embarrass the Turkish people and their leaders."

But in a Monday article published by The Jewish Advocate, a Jewish weekly newspaper serving the greater Boston area, he said that the ADL will stick to the term genocide in reference to the Armenian killings.

'Congressional resolutions counterproductive'

"While we continue to firmly believe that a congressional resolution on such matters is a counterproductive diversion and will not foster reconciliation between Turks and Armenians, we will not hesitate to apply the term genocide in the future," Foxman said.

He referred to the ADL's contacts with Turkish Jews and the group's larger moral foundations in explaining the new position.

"We have heard repeatedly from [the Turkish Jewish community's] leaders how concerned they are about the impact of American Jewish involvement in efforts to label as genocide Turkish actions against Armenians during World War I... For us, as a Jewish defense organization, such concern cannot go unheeded," he said.

"Still, we had a dilemma. As an organization committed to educating people on the dangers not only of anti-Semitism but of hatred of all kinds, we could not ignore the terrible tragedy that befell Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire," Foxman said. "And we have not. In meetings with high-level Turkish officials, we have pressed them to come to grips with the past and speak about what happened. We have done that again and again and we will continue to do so," he said.

He added: "We think the Turkish government should address the moral implications of its history with the Armenians, particularly because Turkey occupies the critical spot in the great struggle of our time, the effort to see a moderate Islamic model triumph over Islamic extremism."

Turkey seeking Israel's help

The recognition of the Armenian killings as genocide was the right move, Foxman said.

"As long as the ADL is an organization committed first to the safety and security of the Jewish people, we cannot in good conscience ignore the well being of 20,000 Jews in Turkey," he said. "We will, however, continue to push the Turkish government in the right direction."

In an effort to prevent a spillover to other U.S. Jewish groups, Turkey has been urging Israel to use its influence on them.

"Israel should not let the [U.S.] Jewish community change its position. This is our expectation and this is highly important, highly important," Namik Tan, Turkey's ambassador to Israel, was quoted as saying by the Jerusalem Post Monday.

An Armenian genocide resolution pending in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congress' lower chamber, may be brought to a floor vote and pass any time after Congress returns from recess in early September. The measure now has the backing of 226 lawmakers in the 435-seat House.

Controversial official reinstated

In a related development, the ADL has reinstated its New England regional director a week after he was fired for publicly saying the group should change its national policy by recognizing the Armenian genocide claims, the Associated Press reported.

Andrew Tarsy got his job back Monday after talks with Foxman.

Foxman said in an interview with The Boston Globe Monday that he and Tarsy "see eye to eye" after talks held over the last week. "And after our conversation, I decided to take him back, to reinstate him. And I'm delighted he's back."

Tarsy's firing came at a time when the ADL had not recognized the genocide claims.

The ADL's regional board had unanimously asked Foxman to bring Tarsy back.

Foxman, in his last Tuesday statement, admitted that the ADL's shift in position had also stemmed from an effort to prevent disruption of Jewish unity.

Israeli Foreign Minister calls Gül

Meanwhile Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni called Abdullah Gül on Monday to reiterate Israel's support, the Turkish Daily News learned. Lvini said Israel will continue to do its utmost so that the American Jewish organizations' stance remained unchanged despite the statement of the ADL, according to diplomatic sources. Israeli President Shimon Perez and PM Erdoğan spoke on the phone last week, the former pledging that he will step in to ask the ADL to reverse its position. Perez talked to ADL's National Director Foxman, who then send a letter to Prime Minister Erdoğan expressing sorrow.

Source: http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/article.php?enewsid=82022