After official Ankara’s expressed disappointment regarding last week’s statement issued by the Anti-Defamation League recognizing the Armenian Genocide, the ADL and its national director Abraham Foxman, through announcemen’s and articles, sought to create an unusual “balance” as to not offend the Turkish government.
In its statement, the ADL pushed forward the notion that the discussion of the Armenian Genocide, within the context of the both resolutions pending in the US House of Representatives and Senate would “put at risk the Turkish Jewish community and the important multilateral relationship between Turkey, Israel and the United States.”
The post-recognition campaign also included a letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in which Foxman’said: “I feel deeply sorry over discussions that erupted after the Anti-Defamation Leaguechanged its stance on the incidents of 1915.”
"We have utmost respect for you and the Turkish people. We had no intention to put the Turkish people or its leaders in a difficult position. I am writing this letter to you to express our sorrow over what we have caused for the leadership and people of Turkey in the past few days," told Foxman in his letter.
Foxman added in his letter that "the ADL will work to strengthen relations with Turkey. It makes our pain worse to see that the recent discussions have caused tension in our friendly ties".
In response Erdogan declared that the ADL had corrected its “mistake” by issuing another statement.
"We are disappointed to see the ADL – under public pressure from the Turkish government – seek to back away from its recognition of the Armenian Genocide by further distancing itself from the Armenian Genocide Resolution," said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. "Recognizing this crime while at the same time opposing its recognition by Congress simply makes no sense. The ADL should, in the interest of morality and its own credibility, take a principled stand in support of the Armenian Genocide Resolution"
In an announcement issued on Thursday, Foxman and ADL National Chairman
Glen S. Lewy called on Turkish and Armenian “reconciliation” over the Genocide issue.
“We must encourage steps to create an atmosphere in which Armenia will respond favorably to the several recent overtures of Turkey to convene a joint commission to assist the parties in achieving a resolution of their profound differences,” began the statement.
“The proper role of those of us who deeply believe the controversy must be resolved is to promote and support Turkey and Armenia in efforts to bring them together to begin the process of reconciliation,” added the statement.
“ADL and the American Jewish community should focus their attention on supporting efforts to urge Turkey and Armenia to make this happen,” concluded the statement.
The following day, August 24, the Boston Jewish Advocate published an op/ed piece authored by Foxman, who went to great length to explain the machinations of the ADL decision-making process, almost to a point of justifying the recognition of a historical truth.
In the article, titled “Original Mission, But New Position,” Foxman discusses the ADL’s mission of protecting Jews across the world, while at the same time securing “justice for all citizens alike.”
“;when issues beyond the Jewish community face us which have the potential for conflict between our wider agenda and our goal of protecting Jews, we know where our starting point and focus must be,” explained Foxman.
He added that for years, the organization has been urging the Jewish community in Turkey to urge the government to come to grips with its past.
“In light of the heated controversy that has surrounded the issue in recent weeks, and because of our concern for the unity of the Jewish community at a time of increased threats against the Jewish people, we decided to revisit the tragedy that befell the Armenia’s. On reflection, we have come to share the assessment of former Ambassador Henry Morgenthau Sr. that the consequences of the painful events of 1915-1918 were indeed tantamount to genocide. While we continue to firmly believe that a Congressional resolution on such matters is a counterproductive diversion and will not foster reconciliation between Turks and Armenia’s, we will not hesitate to apply the term genocide in the future,” stated Foxman in his article.
“We believe that we have been true to who we are in our approach. As long as ADL is an organization committed first to the safety and security of the Jewish people, we cannot in good conscience ignore the well-being of 20,000 Jews in Turkey. We will, however, continue to push the Turkish government in the right direction,” added Foxman.