ANC Responds to Watertown Town Councilor’s Remarks on ADL Assurances

WATERTOWN–The Armenian National Committee of Massachusetts has asked Watertown Town Council President Clyde Younger to clarify his remarks in the Boston Globe suggesting that he is “comfortable with assurances from the Anti-Defamation League’s national leader, Abraham H. Foxman, that the organization recognizes the Armenian genocide."

In a Sunday, October 19 article, entitled, “ADL fight appears over,” the Boston Globe reported that Younger has had a “change of heart” after receiving an October 3 letter from national ADL director Abraham Foxman.


Below is the ANC letter to Younger:

Dear Chairman Younger:

We were shocked to discover in today’s Boston Globe that you now feel "comfortable with assurances from the Anti-Defamation League’s national leader, Abraham H. Foxman, that the organization recognizes the Armenian genocide." And imagine our surprise when we read that the “ADL fight appears over!” It was particularly disappointing that this was the way by which the Armenian community first learned of the letter you received from Mr. Foxman addressing an alleged change in the ADL’s policy regarding the Armenian Genocide.

Would you please share this letter with us, as we have not found any evidence of a new ADL position anywhere in the public arena?

As you agreed at the September 23, 2008 Watertown Town Council meeting, the ADL’s August 2008 statement, as well as its August 2007 statement, do not qualify as an unambiguous acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide.

A careful reading of the ADL’s insincere August 22, 2008 letter, which was buried deeply on its web site and has since been removed, reveals that the ADL states only that is has “referred” to genocide; it is by no means an unequivocal acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide. Rather, it reads, “ADL has never denied the tragic and painful events perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenia’s, and we have referred to those massacres and atrocities as genocide.” Moreover, this letter provocatively accuses those who are working to end genocide denial of “demonization.”

This letter apparently refers to the only other public – and now infamous – ADL statement of August 21, 2007, which read, “the consequences” of the Turkish massacres and atrocities were “tantamount to genocide.” That statement was clearly not an acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide.

As you know, the ADL carefully crafted its August 2007 statement to contravene the international legal definition of genocide. The phrasing circumvents the “intent” required by the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention by suggesting that Armenia’s died simply as a “consequence” of World War I conditions and not from a planned program of extermination–which just happens to be Turkey’s position.

Judging the August 21, 2007 statement inadequate, Massachusetts cities and towns, the Massachusetts Municipal Association, human rights commissions, the Jewish community, and the Armenian community called on the ADL to issue an unambiguous affirmation of the Armenian Genocide at its national meeting in early November 2007. The ADL refused to do so, releasing instead a dismissive one-sentence statement reaffirming the ADL’s national policy that read, “The National Commission of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today, at its annual meeting, decided to take no further action on the issue of the Armenian genocide.”

As you also know, The Massachusetts Municipal Association and 12 of the 13 Massachusetts communities that dissociated from the ADL’s No Place for Hate program did so after the ADL’s August 2008 statement, judging it unacceptable.

The ADL not only has refused to explicitly acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, but has for several years actively lobbied on behalf of the Turkish government to deny the Armenian Genocide and to prevent passage of a Congressional resolution formally recognizing the Armenian Genocide. It continues to publicly voice opposition to a Congressional resolution.

Although nation-states have national security and realpolitik considerations when formulating policy, a human rights organization simply cannot put politics above universal rights. Yet this is exactly what the ADL does whenever a human rights issue conflicts with the perceived interests of the state of Israel.

Mr. Foxman has admitted as much. In an interview with the New Jersey Jewish Standard, published October 26, 2007, he explained his reasoning regarding the Armenian Genocide:

“It was also very clear to me that after the United States the most important ally Israel has is Turkey. It’s a country that not only has promised to provide Israel with water until moshiach comes, but it’s a country that permits Israel’s pilots to do maneuvers over its land. And, so, to me, it was very clear that there are two moral issues, but one trumps the other. And it was clear to me that I cannot save one Armenian human being, not one. But if I do what the Armenia’s want me to do, I will put in jeopardy the lives of Turkish Jews and Israeli Jews.”

The ADL continues to engage in other forms of genocide denial as well. It has, for instance, repeatedly endorsed Turkey’s proposal for a joint commission of Turkish and Armenian scholars “to investigate what happened in the past.”

In June 2008, the internationally respected anti-hate group Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) issued an extensive intelligence report documenting Turkey’s campaign of genocide denial (, and condemned such calls for a “historian’s commission.” The SPLC pointed out that “a lie isn’t the other side of any story. It’s just a lie.” The report quoted Torben Jorgensen of the Danish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies as saying, “When it comes to the historical reality of the Armenian genocide, there is no ‘Armenian’ or ‘Turkish’ side of the question, any more than there is a ‘Jewish’ or ‘German’ side of the historical reality of the Holocaust. There is a scientific side and an unscientific side–acknowledgment or denial.”

Human rights are universal and they must be respected and protected for all people. Discrimination against any person or group on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or disability must never be tolerated. And historical truths must be upheld.

We would welcome a sincere, unambiguous acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide by the Anti-Defamation League. Rather, what we have observed is an organization engaged in a double game: issuing disingenuous statemen’s that do not actually recognize the Armenian Genocide but are crafted in such a way as to mislead the public, while continuing to engage in genocide denial by promoting Turkey’s agenda with regard to a historical commission and Congressional recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

We would appreciate the opportunity to discuss this with you at your earliest convenience.

Sharistan Melkonian
Armenian National Committee of Massachusetts


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