After Years of Denial, Foxman Recognizes Genocide

The ADL's National Director Abraham Foxman


BOSTON—After years of equivocation, Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman has publicly acknowledged that the Turkish massacres of the Armenian people constituted genocide.

This recognition comes after a seven-year campaign in which the Armenian and Jewish communities, as well as human rights activists and local officials, demanded that the ADL affirm this historical truth.

In remarks delivered at Suffolk University Law School’s commencement on May 17, Foxman stated, “Had there been people of courage to act in 1915 when the Armenian genocide was taking place, had there been international intervention when massacres in Cambodia, Bosnia, and the genocide in Rwanda were happening, innocent lives in great numbers could have been saved.”

The announcement that Foxman would deliver the keynote address and receive an honorary degree unleashed widespread criticism that the university planned to honor a man who refused to issue a clear statement on the Armenian Genocide and who actively lobbied against its recognition.

Groups including the Suffolk chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, Suffolk student organizations, the Armenian Bar Association, Suffolk alumni, and others called on Suffolk to rescind its invitation. When Suffolk refused, several faculty members carried small Armenian flags in silent protest onto the stage where Foxman spoke.

Foxman’s Suffolk remarks stand in contrast to the ADL’s 2007 statement that the “consequences” of the Turkish government’s actions were “tantamount to genocide.” The Armenian community and its supporters rejected that statement as its qualifiers circumvented the intent required by the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention.

An ADL statement one year later that alleged it had “referred to those massacres and atrocities as genocide” was likewise rebuffed as it only “referred” to the unacceptable 2007 statement. Recent claims by Foxman and the ADL that this 2008 release clearly and unequivocally acknowledged the Armenian Genocide are false.

Since that time, human rights activists have continued to press the ADL for an unequivocal acknowledgement, as well as an end to its lobbying for the Turkish government to prevent passage of a Congressional Resolution affirming the Armenian Genocide.

“Abe Foxman’s reference to the Armenian massacres as genocide, without any qualifiers, is a welcome change,” stated Herman Purutyan, Massachusetts chair of the Armenian Assembly of America. “Even though Foxman continues to assert that he had previously acknowledged the genocide, the basis for his claims are a chain of statements, at the root of which is the 2007 statement full of qualifications, intended to obfuscate the question. We expect that Foxman’s statement at Suffolk is not only his personal view, but that it also reflects ADL’s official position. ADL should confirm this by publishing an unequivocal statement on its website, and joining in the efforts to have the U. S. Congress recognize the Armenian Genocide by passing the resolution currently before it.”

Foxman’s remarks reflected growing support by Jewish organizations for recognition of the Armenian Genocide. In March, ADL New England Regional Director Robert Trestan was quoted stating that the ADL “now fully recognizes the Armenian genocide without reservation.”

The following month, the American Jewish Committee issued a release that read, “We pause in mournful tribute to the memories of the estimated 1.5 million victims of the Meds Yeghern, the Genocide of Armenians, committed in the final years of the Ottoman Empire.” Describing the genocide as “an unspeakable crime against humanity,” the AJC called upon the Turkish government to confront the truth. ”

Finally, the Israeli Knesset discussed recognition of the Armenian Genocide at a plenum on May 13. A motion by the left-wing Meretz party to recognize the genocide before its 100th anniversary next year received support from across the political spectrum, including from the rightist coalition government.

“These reversals of position by major Jewish organizations are quite significant for all those committed to recognition of the genocides of the past century,” stated Dikran Kaligian, chairman of the Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts. “No longer will Turkey be able to exploit the differences between the positions of these organizations’ leadership and their membership — the vast majority of whom want nothing to do with Turkey’s genocide denial campaign.”

Locally, the Coalition to Recognize the Armenian Genocide was established in 2008 to foster communication between the Armenian and Jewish communities and to raise awareness of the Armenian Genocide within the Jewish community. Its objectives include advocating for official recognition of the genocide by the United States government. Coalition members include representatives from the Armenian National Committee of America and the Armenian Assembly of America.

The coalition facilitated contacts between Armenian activists and members of the ADL and created an online petition calling on Congress to recognize the Armenian Genocide that has gathered over 21,000 signatures to date.

Laura Boghosian is a member of the Coalition to Recognize the Armenian Genocide.


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  1. Danoog said:

    The check from the National Bank of Turkey must have bounced.

  2. Lus said:

    To the hell with Foxman and his ‘recognition’… worthless for me…

  3. GB said:

    Foxman admit that he never research Armenian Genocide in depth! I wonder when he is going to submit his “new” research file to Israeli Knesset!

  4. jda said:

    AIPAC and the rest of the Lobby has authorized this statement as part of a series of statements by pro-Israel American Jewry and their allies first warning, then chastising Turkey due to friction and dischord betw. Israel and Turkey.

    Tom Lantos in 2005 was the first person to make this kind of about-face on the orders of the Lobby,and Abe has been given his orders to carry out. Big whoop.

    This is all a reflection of the Israel-Turkey relationship, it is not done to serve history or truth. When the Lobby and its allies say there was an Armenian Genocide, they do so solely to embarrass Turkey; the very same process [sans Israelis] is going on today in the state media of Egypt and Syria, which suddenly found out there was an Armenian Genocide, right on the heels of friction they have with Erdogan. .

    Once the Kemalists take over Turkey and make full peace with the Israelis, a new synthesis will be announced by the same Lobby, and the Israelis and the Lobby will silently undermine Hai Tahd because it costs Israel nothing and makes Turkey obliged to Israel.

  5. Daron said:

    And this takes us closer to get our occupied lands back. Thank you Mr. Foxman, Armenian community owes you so much. This is a great victory for the Armenian cause, and it should be celebrated as a national holiday for the Armenian community world wide. We are almost there people, we are getting back our lands. This victory calls for a fund raising campaign, lets open our pockets wide and donate to the organizations that worked so hard to achieve this Monumental victory.

  6. Pingback: After years of denial, Foxman recognizes Armenian Genocide | Public Radio of Armenia

  7. Boghos said:

    This is a significant step that would not have happened had it not been for persistent grassroots activism. On this issue, some have said we should not confront those entities who are major power brokers on the world scene and thus stir the hornet’s nest. By extension, does that mean we should also cease resisting Turkish denials for the same reason? Congratulations, activists.

  8. Arto said:

    He may recognize it officially but will he stealthily work against recognition in Congress? Remember Jane Harmon.

  9. helen takessian said:

    of coarse he recognizes the Armenian genocide now. too too late mr. foxman. your just playing your same old dirty tricks. Your legacy remains standing with murderers ,robbers, rapists for all the world to see forever. .

  10. Zareh Sahakian said:

    The title of this article can best be described as a practice in self-delusion. Laura Boghosian should realize that when Foxman says “I’ve always recognized the the Armenian genocide” it is a reaffirmation of his earlier
    call for calling what happened in 1915 “was a tantamount to a genocide”. In other words, it did not start as genocide but was a consequence of deterioration of the situation.

    When we’ll we learn not to fall in traps? Mr. Foxman was, is, and so far gives all the indication that he will not stop working against genocide recognition in the US, or elsewhere.

  11. Pingback: Αναγνώριση της γενοκτονίας των Αρμενίων από Anti-Defamation League | ΕΜΠΡΟΣΘΟΦΥΛΑΚΑΣ | έπαλξη κοινωνικής πάλης

  12. Dino said:

    The Jewish groups should make amends by making sure the policy of the united states government is full recognition of the Armenian Genocide and get the ball rolling on the International Court case against the Republic of turkey for the expressed purpose for reparations and restoration of the Armenian people on it’s historical lands in Western Armenia/eastern turkey, the revocation of the treaties of Kars and Moscow as null ab intio, the restoration of the First Armenian Republic’s borders and the borders of the Wilson Arbitral Award. Naturally, extra punitive damages in money and land for the 100 years that the Armenian people were denied living in their homeland.

  13. Vatche said:

    The ADL must still withdraw its denialist 2007 statement and issue a formal statement of unequivocal recognition of our genocide and must pay reparations, in part, by lobbying FOR the Armenian genocide resolution.

    By the way, I am curious, what Armenian activists helped the Suffolk protesters bring this about?

  14. karakeuz said:

    This is a politically inflated gas bag of a statement. Did Foxman see the light on the road to Damascus ? Some turks or their motives must have got under Foxman’s skin and he decided to retaliate by chastising turkey. I do not believe Foxman has recanted , or changed his stance vis a vis the Armenian genocide. Foxman reserves the use of that word only for his kith and kin.

  15. Pingback: Después de años de negación, Foxman Reconoce Genocidio | Rey de reyes -Tigran el grande

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