LOS ANGELES—The Armenian Bar Association on Tuesday addressed a letter to James McCarthy, President of Suffolk University, expressing the organization’s opposition to the scheduled appearance as the commencement speaker Proceedings of Suffolk’s Law School, and the bestowing of an honorary Juris Doctor onto Abraham Foxman, an Armenian Genocide denier revisionist.
Foxman, who is the president of the Anti-Defamation League, has gone on record numerous times to deny the Armenian Genocide and has actively lobbied against Congressional resolution calling for the recognition of the Genocide.
Below is the text of the Letter
Dear President McCarthy:
The Armenian Bar Association has learned that Suffolk University Law School has decided to honor Abraham Foxman by selecting him as the keynote speaker at the university’s May 17, 2014 commencement proceedings, and by conferring upon him an honorary Juris Doctorate degree.
While undoubtedly well-meaning, we ask that you reconsider those decisions and we respectfully request that Mr. Foxman’s name be withdrawn from such commendable positions of stature which would as a foundation, at a minimum require his unimpeached and unassailable integrity. Unfortunately, the historical record and Mr. Foxman’s own portfolio show that he falls woefully short on both counts. This, because one cannot be festooned with ribbons on one hand, for being a champion of the memory and meaning of the Jewish Holocaust, while also being a deft and dangerous denier of the Armenian Genocide.
It is widely known that after using his Anti-Defamation League leadership, access, and institutional muscle to work against the recognition, study, and education of the Armenian Genocide, Mr. Foxman begrudgingly and resentfully conceded that the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians from 1915-1923 may have been “tantamount” to genocide. We submit that the heinous acts of the SS and Adolph Hitler, more than being merely “tantamount” to a holocaust, were actually Holocaust. Had Mr. Foxman made a similar play-of-words denigrating the Holocaust, we trust that you would not have even considered him as your honoree.
The Armenian Bar Association is the largest organization of judges, law professors, attorneys and law students outside of the Republic of Armenia. For the past twenty-five years, we have had at our core mission, the protection of human rights, the development of the rule of law, and as descendants of survivors of the Armenian Genocide, an unbridled commitment to public education and recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
For a university whose motto is “Honestas et Diligentia,” the selection of Mr. Foxman shows a painful disregard for an honest assessment of one of the darkest chapters of human history and a blatant failure of diligence, in considering whether the selection of Mr. Foxman would offend a large portion of Suffolk’s student body, its distinguished alumni, and a large segment of Boston’s citizenry.
In his capacity as National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Mr. Foxman has repeatedly opposed legislative resolutions commemorating the Armenian Genocide and has refused to publicly acknowledge that the acts committed against the Armenians were genocide. When the New England area director of the ADL opposed Mr. Foxman’s revisionist position, the truth-talker was promptly fired by Mr. Foxman, sending a chilling message of retaliation to those who dare to oppose his reprehensible position.
By trying to squash and distort both historical facts and the Armenian past, thus trying to crush our right to heal and to recover (as the Holocaust survivors were rightfully allowed to do), Mr. Foxman has not elevated the Jewish mantle of righteousness. He has, instead, besmirched the martyrdom, sacrifice, and ultimate resilience of his own people’s remarkable character.
Mr. Foxman’s statement and actions fly in the face of Polish-Jewish legal scholar Raphael Lemkin, who coined the word “genocide” for the purpose of describing the systematic annihilation of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire between 1915-1923. Mr. Foxman’s statements and actions are betrayed by the accounts of Henry Morgenthau, Sr., a Jewish-American and the United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, who through his memoirs chronicled the clear intent and motive of the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide.
Mr. Foxman’s statements and actions are an abomination to truth and decency and are the welcome tool of the denialist Turkey’s angst and indigestion against the uniform findings of hundreds of genocide scholars who have concluded that what was wrought upon the Armenians was genocide.
Finally, it is a stark contradiction to the United States Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, which just this week passed Senate Foreign Relations Committee Resolution 410 calling on the United States Senate to recognize the Armenian Genocide and make its historical fact an essential part of US foreign policy.
Continued persecution of Armenians continues to occur today. Within the last several weeks, the international community has witnessed attacks by heavily armed forces who were granted passage and crossed the border from Turkey, attacking the Armenian community of Kessab in Syria, and unleashing a barrage of death and destruction in their path. They drove 2,500 Armenian inhabitants from their homes with only the clothes on their backs. Yet again, Armenians once more are forcibly displaced from the communities where they have lived for millennia.
We are outraged at the thought that a genocide denier or relativizer – which is as offensive as an outright denial – like Mr. Foxman, is being pegged for recognition and honor by your university. In deciding to do so, you have already insulted our ancestors’ dignity and memory. Failing to correct this morally-bereft act will only serve to encourage and condone acts of historical revisionism, which have no place in an institute of higher learning, even if, and especially when done so in the misplaced name of academic freedom.
Therefore, we urge you to take the high road and withdraw the conferment of the honorary Juris Doctorate degree on Mr. Foxman, and we call on you to replace him as your commencement speaker on May 17th, 2014, at your university’s law school.
Garo B. Ghazarian, Chairman
Armenian Bar Association
Edvin Minassian, Chairman Ex-Officio
Armen K. Hovannisian, Vice-Chair
Harry Dikranian, Vice-Chair
Sara Bedirian, Treasurer
Hovanes Margarian, Secretary
Vicken I. Simonian, Chairman Emeritus
Executive Committee of the Board of Governors
Armenian Bar Association
Armenian Bar Association, Board Member
Armenian Rights Watch Committee, Chair