Monday, September 10, 2007

An Open Letter to Abraham H. Foxman, National Director, ADL

Armenian Weekly, MA - Sep 7, 2007

The purpose of this letter is to discuss the oft mentioned desire of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to encourage Turkey and Armenia to begin the process of reconciliation by confronting their shared past. I am not sure that the ADL fully understands what prevents this meaningful sharing from taking place.

The Armenian genocide is a historic fact that has been extensively and impartially studied and accepted by eminent international historians and genocide scholars. However, Turkish leaders have chosen to turn a blind eye to this dark and sorry chapter in their modern history. Not only has the Turkish government refused to see what happened, but they have resorted to a continuous and well-financed campaign of denial and historic revisionism to hide their guilt. The ADL cannot be unaware of the litany of lies and deceptive statements that Ankara has authored these many years.

The ADL must have decided that the independent eye-witness accounts of depravity, the photographs depicting the numerous acts of brutality and the pages of official documents that speak to an Armenian genocide were irrelevant when it declared that the genocide only merited its qualified recognition. Then in the same breath, so-to-speak, the ADL hedged its position by saying that it would not support the resolution before the United States Congress to recognize the Armenian genocide. How can the ADL recognize the Armenian genocide—albeit partially—and then simultaneously go on record that it does not want Congress to recognize the Armenian genocide? Isn’t that counterproductive?

The position crafted by the ADL is nothing less than a tacit acceptance of the egregious lies and deceptive statements that serve as the basis for Turkey’s policy of denial and historic revisionism. This position by the ADL only encourages Turkish intransigence. I cannot allow myself to believe that this is the intent or purpose of the ADL.

I have served as co-chair and participant in Holocaust Observances in the City of Newton, Mass., while a commissioner on the Newton Human Rights Commission. I hold dear a letter from Lenny Zakim, then-New England director of the ADL, thanking me for my efforts. His death was a severe loss to the entire community. I mention this because I have always respected the mission of the ADL. Unfortunately, the series of recent episodes by the ADL has been regrettable.

Armenians have never had any fear of confronting their shared past with the Turkish people. On the contrary, it has been the fear of the Turkish government, for obvious reasons, to confront its shared past with the Armenian people that prevents rapprochement. On this most significant of issues—recognition of the Armenian genocide—the ADL has failed. This was the opportunity for the ADL to forcefully and forthrightly speak out against genocide, holocaust and ethnic cleansing as political solutions. Unfortunately, the ADL for whatever reasons preferred not to seize the moment. The vacillation and equivocation amply demonstrated by the current leadership during these past several weeks has not enhanced the credibility of the ADL.

Michael G. Mensoian

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.

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