An Open Letter to ‘Facing History and Ourselves’

Facing History and Ourselves

BY DAVID BOYAJIAN

To: Executive Director Margot Strom, Associate Executive Director Martin Sleeper, Board Chairwoman Tracy Palandjian

I am deeply offended and disappointed to learn that one of our nation’s foremost genocide education organizations—Facing History and Ourselves (FHAO)—has elected to “partner” with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to sponsor a panel discussion on “The New Anti-Semitism: A Contemporary Discussion in Historic Faneuil Hall” in Boston on Nov. 7, 2011. Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director, will be one of the panelists.

I respectfully urge you to withdraw FHAO from its partnership with the ADL for this event.

Mr. Foxman and the national ADL have denied the factuality of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-23 committed by Turkey. And they have used their considerable influence to actively assist the government of Turkey to defeat Armenian Genocide resolutions in the U.S. Congress. A political agreement two decades ago among Turkey, certain organizations such as the ADL, and Israel brought this about (see www.noplacefordenial.com/2007/08/press-kit-history-of-lobbying-against.html).

Since the summer of 2007, due specifically to their disapproval of the ADL’s genocide denial and lobbying efforts against the Armenian American resolution, more than a dozen major Massachusetts cities and towns have ceased their affiliation (www.noplacefordenial.com) with the ADL’s so-called “No Place for Hate” program.

In April 2008, for precisely the same reasons, the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA), which represents every city and town in the state, also severed ties with “No Place for Hate.”

The national ADL drew widespread condemnation from principled Jews, human rights advocates, editorialists, and others. These events made national and international news (see http://npfdnews.blogspot.com).

To deflect growing criticism, on Aug. 21, 2007, Mr. Foxman issued a statement which masqueraded as an acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide. The statement not only used deceptive and dishonest language, such as “tantamount to genocide,” but also implied that the Armenian killings were not intentional but rather merely the “consequence” of Turkish “actions.” FHAO is aware that Article II of the United Nations Genocide Convention specifically requires “intent” for killings to be considered genocide. “Consequences” is, however, the opposite of “intent.”

Cities, towns, and the MMA weren’t buying Mr. Foxman’s act. They severed ties with the ADL’s “No Place for Hate” even after the ADL statement.

The ADL has yet to unambiguously recognize the Armenian Genocide. And Mr. Foxman continues to oppose passage of the Armenian Genocide resolution, contemptuously calling it a “counterproductive diversion.”

Neither Mr. Foxman nor the ADL has ever apologized to the Armenian people for their actions.

The ADL has stated that any diminishment of the Holocaust is anti-Semitic and constitutes hate speech. Yet the ADL has diminished the Armenian Genocide. By its own definition, therefore, the ADL is guilty of hate speech. Would FHAO partner with an organization and man that diminished the Holocaust and opposed the many Congressional resolutions on the Holocaust? Why, then, would you partner with the ADL? This is incomprehensible, especially as FHAO has long had an educational program on the Armenian Genocide (see www.facinghistory.org/resources/collections/armeniangenocide).

We know that the ADL’s and similar groups’ appeasement of Turkey—for example, Mr. Foxman presented Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan with a “Courage to Care Award” a few years ago—has failed dismally on an international level as well.

I am at a loss to understand why or how your partnership with Mr. Foxman has come about. One hopes that ADL members among FHAO’s donors and its treasurer, Elizabeth Jick, who is an ADL Executive Committee member, did not unduly influence your decision.

I respectfully call upon you to withdraw FHAO’s partnership with the ADL in the Nov. 7 event. I hope that when FHAO considers the facts and the long-term credibility of its programs and dedicated staff, it will do the right thing.

Sincerely,
David Boyajian
Belmont, MA

Note: To ask Facing History and Ourselves to not partner with the ADL on Nov. 7, contact the organization by e-mailing www.facinghistory.org/contact?openform; calling (617) 232-1595 or 1-800-856-9039 (toll-free); or writing to 16 Hurd Road, Brookline, MA 02445.

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6 Comments

  1. Peter N said:

    What the ADL should do — to behave like a true human rights organization and earn universal goodwill — is to NOT JUST PROCLAIM to cease working against the passage of the Armenian Genocide resolution, but actively, openly work towards the passage of it … in Israel, on the international stage and the Beltway, with media outlets and among its own ranks! Apologizing for working against the resolution would help, too.

    Until then, I too will raise objection when widely-considered-to-be human rights educators such as Facing History work with hypocritical entities such as the ADL.

  2. manooshag said:

    Are we Armenians as the Jews of Israel?? On again/of again with other nations from time to time… the false alliances are obviously and truthfully an open page to the world to know that honesty is lacking within such Israelis – who follow Foxman, who lies consistently as does his ally, Turkey. Obviously, playing his games together with the Turkeys! Foxman’s obvious denials of the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian peoples then too, was ‘aped’ – a mere twenty (20) years later… The HItler Genocide of the Jews, and many others. Since the Jews have received their reparations, now over these years, a Foxman now finds that he is capable of allying himself/his followers with a nation which is, historically,
    guilty of the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation – yet, actually DENIED by both Turks and Foxman – allied in the continuing cycle of Genocides – today, 2011, When if truths were honored all the Genocides shall have ended – actually been recognized and ended – with the efforts of our USA President Woodrow Wilson’s efforts for reparations and more for the Armenians. Foxman, then your HItler Genocide of the Jews SHALL NEVER BEEN…. HISTORICALLY,

  3. Norin Radd said:

    The ADL is an abomination of what itself claims to be. The only matters of “human rights” they are interested in are those that serve their own agenda, beyond that, nothing else matters. When it suits their agenda they push for “human rights” issues outside the context of the Holocaust, when it does not suit their interests, such as the case of the Armenian Genocide, they shamelessly help genocide perpetrators in denying any wrong doing.

    When he breathes his last breath, there is a seat in hell at the head of the table for Mr. Abe Foxman.

  4. Takwee said:

    Facing History has climbed in bed with the ADL and Foxman. Facing History is just going to get the same reputation as the ADL. I don’t understand why it would do this. It makes no sense to me. There is no gain and all pain

  5. Naz said:

    For a high-minded organization such as Facing History and Ourselves to be partnering with the discredited ADL tarnishes the good reputation of Facing History. Being at the forefront of human rights education, Facing History is in the prime position to show Abe Foxman how and why he should correct his misguided views and policies! We look to you, Facing History, to do so, rather than to shield and therefore enable Foxman’s evasive and disingenuous acts!

  6. MK said:

    The above “response” from Facing History & Ourselves does not address the concerns raised in Mr. Boyajian’s Open Letter, and provides empty lip service to a very concerned Armenian community. To abet those who engage in genocide denial is “tantamount” to genocide denial! (I hope my choice of wording is not lost on those who are intimately familiar with this scandal.)

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