UC Santa Barbara Students Confront ADL’s Genocide Denial


 

Students Protest Anti-Defamation League’s Involvement in UCSB Matter

Students Protest Anti-Defamation League’s Involvement in UCSB Matter

 

 

Almost two years ago, a group of outraged students at UC Santa Barbara banded together.  They united, just as  citizens in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts had done before them, to get campus and community entities to  disassociate themselves with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and its No Place For Hate (NPFH) program.

The students came together in response to the immoral and callous decision by the ADL to issue a statement that they were against the passage of a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide and were actively lobbying against it in the halls of Congress. Armenian Americans and humans rights advocates alike believed then and now that the ADL forfeited any moral authority to sponsor NPFH once it took a stance so inconsistent with such a profound human rights issue.

The road to get campus and community groups to disassociate themselves from the ADL’s NPFH program has  encountered many obstacles and bureaucratic hurdles. Berj Parseghian, now a UCSB alumnae, and Garo Manjikian,  former community organizer in Santa Barbara and current ANCA Legislative Affairs Director, began the campaign  with an intense letter writing campaign aimed at encouraging a handful of campus organizations, which the ADL  listed as participants of the NPFH program, to disassociate. Their hard work resulted in two major  organizations, the University Religious Center and Empowerment Works, immediately cutting ties with the ADL.

The leadership of the campaign grew to include Amy Kaladzhyan and Shant Karnikian. These two students  presented the issue at the Sacramento Issues Awareness Caucus of 2008 and gained the support of legislators  such as Assemblymember Pedro Nava and Assemblymember Anthony Portantino, Chair of the Higher Education  Committee. Back in Santa Barbara, Parseghian and Manjikian brought the issue to the attention of Chancellor  Henry Yang of UCSB, who in turn urged them to continue the campaign and raise awareness of the issue among  students because he “expects every community member to adhere to a set of values that include mutual respect,  tolerance and civility.”

Fueled by the thoughtful words of encouragement from the Chancellor, a meeting was arranged between the  leadership of the campaign and the Dean of Students, Assistant Dean, and the Director of Judicial Affairs,  which lists ADL as a resource for students. The students took the opportunity to educate the UCSB  administration about various issues surrounding the Armenian Genocide, as well as the importance of  disassociating the university from an organization which, because of its opposition to the recognition of a  crime against humanity, has no place on a college campus. The Armenian Student Association (ASA) organized a  panel discussion to raise campus awareness about this issue and allow the ADL to present its side of the  story. The panel was comprised of Shant Karnikian on behalf of the ASA, Antranig Kzirian from the Armenian  National Committee-Western Region, and Chris Villavicencio on behalf of STAND: An Anti-Genocide Coalition. The  ADL turned down the invitation to be a part of the panel. Oddly enough, the event was hosted at the Multi- Cultural Center, a campus organization that was formerly associated with the NPFH program. The deliberate and  well-planned efforts of the students at UCSB have been effective. Presently there are no campus entities that  are seeking certification from NPFH.

While the UCSB community has expressed grave concern with the ADL’s hypocritical stance on the Armenian  Genocide, with many departments no longer seeking to renew their membership with the NPFH program, the issue  has become one that is no longer focused on just the Armenian Genocide. In early March, Abraham Foxman, the  national director of the Anti-Defamation League, invited a number of school officials and faculty members to a  meeting to urge university officials to investigate charges of anti-Semitism against Professor William  Robinson, a sociology professor who drew comparisons between Israeli soldiers in Gaza and the Nazi siege of  Warsaw, Poland. The ADL was quick to respond to this incident in an attempt to limit academic freedom and yet  they were nowhere in sight when the Muslim Student Association was victim to a print attack in the school  newspaper, The Daily Nexus, by David Horowitz accusing them of being a part of the Muslim Brotherhood.

It is important now, more than ever, to fight against the ADL’s involvement in academic or even community  affairs, especially in the Santa Barbara area. The students of UC Santa Barbara will continue to work to keep  the genocide deniers at the ADL off their campus. These students, who are dedicated to human rights, are  determined to set an example for other student groups, Armenian Americans and other minorities alike, to take  action when they are marginalized by a more powerful entity.

Clearly, no one benefits when the sponsor of a community program diminishes a crime against humanity and  denies the historical truth of any genocide. The ADL’s position as deniers of genocide is untenable.  In  southern California, the ADL has learned, the hard way, that they will enjoy no safe haven to practice  genocide denial on the campus of UC Santa Barbara.

9 Responses

for “UC Santa Barbara Students Confront ADL’s Genocide Denial”

  1. Musings says:

    It looks to me like the ADL is beholden to Israeli politics. The Israelis enjoy good relations with Turkey. In fact, Turkey probably has some military strategic value to Israel. Since Turkey would be offended by anyone reminding the world that they committed genocide against about a million Armenians, Israel has passed the word on to its representatives abroad that genocide is their own registered trademark, not to be infringed by Armenians. I think that this is it in a nutshell. Clearly, the ADL does not stand for universal human rights, and has no intention of offending those who have committed offenses if they are their friends. I consider this the moral low ground, and applaud those who will be persistent in pointing it out. It is certainly true that Jews were victims of genocide, but so were the Armenians. ADL and its programs don’t deserve the time of day, unless they change their policy.

  2. vadim says:

    It’s good news that these organizations have dissociated with ADL.

    It’s bad news that they did it not because of their recognition that programs and organizations like ADL are incompatible with American values, but because ADL did not want to share their success in suppressing free speech with yet another group (why suppressing free speech? because that’s all ADL does, it has no other function).

    Political correctness is scam in any form, and should be eradicated in all forms, whether it covers Jews or Armenians. It has not place in free society.

  3. Gordy says:

    Yes, excellent work by UCSB students and ANCA. Congrats. However, we should note that UCSB’s University Religious Conference (URC) still lists itself and many other local groups as “No Place for Hate” on its web site. Please go here to see: http://www.urcsb.org/news/20051018.htm. Therefore, I would like to see a formal statement by the URC that it hs dissociated itself from the ADL. Otherwise, how can we be sure?

    There are also scores of schools and institutions in California – for example, in Santa Barbara and Orange County – that are still designated by the ADL as No Place for Hate.

    I do not think that the Armenians of southern California, a powerhouse of a community, should let those schools – (they’re often public schools and thus supported by tax money) – get away with their affiliation with the genocide denying ADL.
    And that’s not all. There are many other programs in the state that are creatures of the ADL and that are teaching our children the wrong things. For example, the ADL’s World of Difference program. That program was tossed out of Glendale’s Hoover High School over a year ago when ANCA and the community found out that it was trying to get into that school. Good work, again, by ANCA and the Armenian community, but there are other many such ADL programs throughout the state, and indeed the entire US.

    Armenian American organizations should be going after all of them. Massachusetts Armenians did a great job doing exactly that, but surely their activism can be emulated everywhere throughout the US, especially in major cities such as NY and Philadelphia.

    Do a web search for “No Place for Hate”. You will be shocked that it is not only created by the ADL but in many cases is funded by TV stations, newspapers, and companies such as Blue Cross Blue Shield (the latter in Boston and Philadelphia). Your health care money is going to fund ADL programs!

  4. Shant Karnikian says:

    Gordy,
    The press release from the URC that you mention is from 2005. If you read the third line, it clearly indicates that it was published “Tuesday October 18, 2005 .” The website doesn’t seem to ever have been updated since 2005 anyway. The efforts undertaken by the students mentioned in this article occured mainly during 2008. It is unreasonable to expect the students that worked on this campaign to somehow get organizations to ‘retroactively disassociate’ from the ADL by going back and erasing any paper-trail of affiliation they once had with the ADL or its programs.

  5. Gordy says:

    Shant, the URC web page I referred to, contains an article dated 2005 that says that URC is No Place for Hate. It is a promiment part of the website and the article is all about how wonderful ADL and NPFH are.

    Anyone going to URC’s website is going to think URC is still pro-ADL and pro-NPFH. It obviously should be removed. If URC does not care enough to disassociate itself from NPFH by simply removing an article that is now misleading, then it is not serious.

    As I said before, I have yet to see a *formal statement* by URC that it is no longer NPFH. What I *do* see, instead, is an article on its web site that it is NPFH. That is, someone looking at URC’s web site is going to get the opposite impression as to the truth. Why did the URC issue a statement that it is NPFH and post it on its website and yet when it allegedly severed from NPFH, there is no formal statement on its website? What it is the problem there? It should be simple to do. Is URC not willing to do this? Why not?

    This is not a “paper trail”, Shant. It’s a *current* web page that one clicks on. There is a difference. It is reasonable to see a paper trail, as you put it, that says that URC *has* severed ties with NPFH and why. That is more than reasonable. It is a necessity. URC has staff and several churches that are members. It can’t do this? Something is wrong there.

    I would also like to mention that ADL has come back onto campus recently trying to have its way over the Prof. Robinson affair. As soon as that happened, UCSB Armenians should have jumped all over that. The article above claims that, “The students of UC Santa Barbara will continue to work to keep the genocide deniers at the ADL off their campus.”

    Shant, that is apparently not true. I saw no Armenians at UCSB speak out specifically against ADL in the Robinson matter. What should have happened is that Armenians both on and off campus should have told the university that although it was fine for the campus itself to debate the Robinson controversy, the ADL has no standing – due to its denial of the Armenian genocide – to come back onto campus as it did. Indeed, the most vehement critic of Robinson was none other then genocide denier Abe Foxman, the national director of ADL.

    Armenian students should have been the first to use the national PR over the Robinson issuey to flood the campus with flyers and send letters to the Daily Nexus. This was a great opportunity for public relations that was missed.

    Instead, Shant, the one letter I saw in the Daily Nexus was from an out-of-state person.

    You and the other UCSB Armenian students did a good job, Shant, but ADL/NPFH/World of Difference is not a one-shot issue. Continuing vigilance is needed. What are other Armenians on California campuses and in schools doing about the ADL issue? The ADL has yet to unambiguously acknowledge the genocide and continues to oppose the genocide resolution The ADL is powerful, opposes us, and is not sleeping. It should be criticized whenever and wherever it raises its head. I do not see that happening. This is not just the responsibility of UCSB students. It is the responsibility of all of us.

  6. Armine Amy Kaladzhyan says:

    Gordy-

    Although I do agree with Shant and do not think that the URC should hide their former status as NPFH certified, I do believe that they should update their website but the fact that the website has not been updated in YEARS concerning anything that the URC does, gives me the feeling that it is not a top priority for them. However, with that said, I do feel that you are discounting the efforts of those who have been working for 2 years on this campaign. Our goal was for our campus to cut their ties with the ADL and we have accomplished that goal. We have been more silent than those in Mass. because we saw that we were getting a more positive response by dealing with it as an internal matter. We were, on a couple occasions, even told by certain campus entities that they would no longer seek certification because of the issues the students brought to their attention but that they wished to do so quietly- i.e. without their organizations name being published in articles such as this one. As a student in the Global Studies department here at UCSB, I have seen first hand how disturbing Foxman’s involvement in the “controversy” with Prof. Robinson and have a clear understanding of why the departments asked for us to be discreet and I wouldn’t dare disrespect the wishes of such cooperative campus entities.
    With that said, the URC disassociated with the ADL not only because of the Armenian issue but also because of ADL’s campaign against Iran. They disassociated with the ADL formally in early April 2008 and asked to be taken off any listings of both past NPFH certified organizations as well as current listings. Anyone that is concerned about that may contact the ADL or URC directly to verify.

    As far as the Daily Nexus is concerned, both Shant Karnikian and myself submitted letters on the day that I first found out about the issue. It is up to their discretion what they print and unfortunately ours did not make the cut but I am glad that your letter was published. You are correct to say that it is not just our responsibility- like I mentioned in the article, this is not just an Armenian issue and it never really has been just an Armenian issue. The Committee on Academic Freedom has taken up this issue and I am extremely thankful for that since a majority of the students originally involved at UCSB have graduated and moved away from the Santa Barbara area.

    Make no mistake in thinking that the students, myself included, have stopped working on this matter. If you have suggestions on how the Armenian students and the Committee on Academic Freedom should handle this in the future, please feel free to forward us your thoughts and we will take them into consideration. We welcome any suggestions.

  7. gordy says:

    Amy, I think you missed the points I made in my post.

    The point of going after the ADL is not necessarily to do things “quietly.” It is to do it so that everyone knows about it, and that others are inspired and that the media write about it, and that other campuses in the country and the other NPFH’s in Santa Barbara and Orange County public schools get the message and ACT.

    The ADL has to be taken to task not quietly but publicly. Do you see all the articles that Massachusetts people brought about worldwide? Do you think they did that “quietly”?

    Who told you that you should do things “discreetly”? Does ADL do things discreetly? Did not ADL oppose our genocide resolution quite openly and publicly?

    Amy, did ANCA and Garen Yeghparian go after radio jock Bill Handel quietly? No.

    Did ANCA go after Cong. Cohen in Tennessee quietly? No. Did ANCA go after Cong. Jane Harmon discreetly? No.

    The fact remains that there is a public paper trail of UCSB and URC joining ADL/NPFH, and there is no paper trail that I have seen of their having left ADL/NPFH.

    There is also no sign that, except for the ADL’s World of Difference program being kicked out of Glendale’s Hoover High, that LA Armenians, the alleged powerhouse of all Armenian powerhouses, has done much of anything about going after ADL. Why is that? Anyone in the US have an answer for that?

    Amy, now and in the Fall, flyer the UCSB campus and let students and faculty know that you will not allow ADL to come onto campus and tell you or Robinson what to do. Expose Foxman. Expose the ADL’s lies and hypocrisy.

    Get your fellow Armenians on other campuses and in Santa Barbara public schools to sever ties with all other ADL programs. You need help for this. Ask Armenian organizations – you know who they are – that you need help to do this. If they won’t, ask why and let everyone know.

  8. Gordy says:

    Amy, I think you missed the points I made in my post.

    A\lso, the point of going after the ADL is not necessarily to do things “quietly.” It is to do it so that everyone knows about it, and that other Armenians get the message and are inspired, that the media write about it, and that other campuses in the country and the other NPFH’s in Santa Barbara and Orange County public schools get the message and ACT.

    The ADL has to be taken to task not quietly but publicly. Amy, do you see the hundreds of articles that Massachusetts people brought about not just in the US but worldwide? Do you think they did that “quietly”? Who told you that you should do things “discreetly”? Does ADL do things “quietly”?

    Did not ADL oppose our genocide resolution quite openly and publicly? Amy, did ANCA and Garen Yeghparian go after radio jock Bill Handel “quietly”? No. Did ANCA go after Cong. Cohen in Tennessee “quietly”? No.

    Did ANCA go after Cong. Jane Harmon “discreetly”? No. One of the benefits of campaigns is precisely to NOT remain quiet. I am astounded that anyone would think otherwise.

    The fact remains that there is a public paper trail of UCSB and URC’s joining ADL/NPFH, and there is no paper trail that I have seen of their having left ADL/NPFH. That is a big hole that must be filled in. Who is going to do that for you? Does Massachusetts have to do everything?

    There is also no sign that, except for the ADL’s World of Difference program being kicked out of Glendale’s Hoover High – a good job, by the way – that L.A. area Armenians – the alleged powerhouse of all Armenian powerhouses – has done much of anything about going after ADL. Amy, why is that? Anyone in the US have an answer for that? Duh.

    You asked for advice. Now and in the Fall, flyer the UCSB campus and let students and faculty know that you will not allow ADL to come onto campus and tell you or Robinson what to do. Write an oped for the campus paper. Get other Armenians to write letters to the campus paper saying that the ADL has not forthrightly acknowledged the genocide and is against US recognition of the genocide. Expose your campaign to the light of day. Expose Foxman as a hypocriate.

    Then try to get your fellow Armenians on other campuses and in Santa Barbara public schools to sever ties with all other ADL programs. Write letters to Santa Barbara papers. You do need help for this, clearly. You can’t do it all alone, though you can do some of it. Tell Armenian advocacy organizations – you know who they are – and the Armenian community that you need help to do this. If they won’t help, ask why and let everyone know. Do not be quite and do not be discreet.

  9. Steve says:

    It’s hard to find knowledgeable people about this topic, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

Leave a Reply