San Francisco Jewish Organization Supports Genocide Recognition

SAN FRANCISCO–The Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, and Alameda Counties has re-iterated its previous support for official recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
As the Jewish community’s public affairs arm, the JCRC represents more than 80 Jewish organizations across the Bay Area. The organization overwhelmingly approved a policy statement re-issuing a 1989 letter to Armenian community leader Bishop Aris Shirvanian, expressing support for the Armenian Genocide resolution pending in the US Senate at that time. Senate Joint Resolution 212 sought to designate April 24th as a national day of remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.
JCRC’s position is particularly significant in light of recent statemen’s by Barry Jacobs, Director of Strategic Studies for the American Jewish Committee, expressing the AJC’s official opposition to U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and claiming that this position represents the view of the entire Jewish American community.
JCRC’s new policy statement was approved by a vote of its member organizations in November, approximately a month after the House Committee on Foreign Affairs passed House Resolution 106 recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The statement reads in part, "Our historical experience as victims of the Nazi Holocaust, only two decades after the tragedy meted out to the Armenian people, propels our sense of moral duty to recognize and acknowledge genocide suffered by any people as well as to oppose current acts of genocide targeting any ethnic population."
The Bay Area Armenian National Committee, which met with the leadership of the JCRC on several occasions after the introduction of House Resolution 106 recognizing the Armenian Genocide, applauded the JCRC’s position.
"The JCRC’s policy statement is welcomed and encouraging, especially at this time of intensified denial of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey and the US administration’s willingness to support Turkey’s dangerous policy of denial," said Bay Area ANC Chairperson, Roxanne Makasdjian. "When genocide denial begins to make its way into our nation’s public and political discourse, it becomes critical for responsible civic organizations to publicly affirm their recognition of the truth."
The JCRC’s position reflects the broad majority of opinions encountered by members of Jewish-American organizations, she explained as she expressed hope that the JCRC’s action would act as a moral beacon for Jewish American organizations in Washington, DC.
Last October, the Bay Area ANC joined the JCRC, the Holocaust Center of Northern California, and The Genocide Education Project in hosting a joint community discussion about the history of the Armenian Genocide and issues surrounding its recognition and denial.
The JCRC’s statement quoted from a letter sent by its 1989 chairman, Ephraim Margolin, who wrote that the Senate resolution was "long overdue," and that "being singled out for genocide is a horror that, fortunately has been visited upon very few peoples. We in the Jewish community realize that no bill or even official recognition of the attempt at genocide can ever truly ease the pain of that period in our history. But, for the sake of those who died and for the sake of future generations, to forget would be the ultimate tragedy. We applaud the efforts of the Armenian community to educate those in this country about ‘the forgotten genocide.’ A bill such as Senate Joint Resolution 212 is an important step in the public education about the attempts at Armenian genocide."

The Following is the JCRC’s full statement as well as the text of its original letter of support.

Approved by the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma and Alameda Counties, November 13, 2007:
In 1989 the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties (JCRC) sent a letter to the Armenian Bishop of San Francisco supporting U.S. Senate Joint Resolution 212 which designated April 24, 1990, as a National Day of Remembrance for the genocidal attacks of 1915-1923 on the Armenian population by the Ottoman regime of the time.
In recalling the tragic events that occurred almost a century ago, it is not our intent to harm or discredit the current government and people of Turkey. We greatly value our relationship with the Turkish community here and abroad. We also recognize and respect the long history of the Jewish community in Turkey.
Our historical experience as victims of the Nazi Holocaust, only two decades after the tragedy meted out to the Armenian people, propels our sense of moral duty to recognize and acknowledge genocide suffered by any people as well as to oppose current acts of genocide targeting any ethnic population. We must do whatever we can to prevent such catastrophes from happening again.
Therefore, we strongly reiterate our 1989 position expressed in our letter to the Armenian Bishop of San Francisco supporting efforts to educate Americans about the tragic events of 1915-1923.

The Right Reverend Bishop Aris Shirvanian
Armenian Apostolic Church
St. John’s Etchmiadzin
275 Olympia Way
San Francisco, CA 94131

November 21, 1989

Dear Bishop Shirvanian:

On behalf of the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, the Peninsula and Marin and Sonoma Counties (JCRC), which represents over 60 synagogues and community organizations in the greater Bay Area, I wish to offer our support for Senate Joint Resolution 212, Congressional Legislation to designate April 24, 1990 as a "National Day of Remembrance of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923." At our last Metropolitan JCRC meeting, a resolution was unanimously adopted to communicate to the Armenian community in San Francisco not only our support for this long overdue legislation, but for continued public education about the tragedy which befell the Armenian people in the early part of this century.
We have also written to Senators Cranston and Wilson, thanking them for their co-sponsorship of this legislation.
Nearly all nations have been victimized during the course of history. Yet being singled out for genocide is a horror that, fortunately, has been visited upon very few peoples. We in the Jewish community realize that no bill or even official recognition of the attempt at genocide can ever truly ease the pain of that period in our history. But, for the sake of those who died and for the sake of future generations, to forget would be the ultimate tragedy. We applaud the efforts of the Armenian community to educate those in this country about "the forgotten genocide." A bill such as Senate Joint Resolution 212 is an important step in the public education about the attempts at Armenian genocide.
Please convey to the leaders of the Armenian community our most sincere support for this measure.

Sincerely,
Ephraim Margolin
Chairman

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