Open Letter to “Facing History and Ourselves”

By David Boyajian, 24 October 2011
Readers are urged to contact "Facing History" at
http://www.facinghistory.org/contact?openform;
The below letter by journalist and human rights activist David Boyajian of Belmont, Massachusetts is addressed to Facing History and Ourselves Executive Director Margot Strom, Associate Executive Director Martin Sleeper and Board Chairwoman Tracy Palandjian.

I am deeply offended and disappointed to learn that one of our nation’s foremost genocide education organizations–Facing History and Ourselves (FHAO)–has elected to “partner” with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to sponsor a panel discussion on “The New Anti-Semitism: A Contemporary Discussion in Historic Faneuil Hall” in Boston on November 7, 2011.

By David Boyajian, 24 October 2011
Readers are urged to contact "Facing History" at
http://www.facinghistory.org/contact?openform;
The below letter by journalist and human rights activist David Boyajian of Belmont, Massachusetts is addressed to Facing History and Ourselves Executive Director Margot Strom, Associate Executive Director Martin Sleeper and Board Chairwoman Tracy Palandjian.

I am deeply offended and disappointed to learn that one of our nation’s foremost genocide education organizations–Facing History and Ourselves (FHAO)–has elected to “partner” with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to sponsor a panel discussion on “The New Anti-Semitism: A Contemporary Discussion in Historic Faneuil Hall” in Boston on November 7, 2011.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, will be one of the panelists. I respectfully urge you to withdraw FHAO from its partnership with the ADL for this event. Mr. Foxman and the national ADL have denied the factuality of the Armenian genocide of 1915–1923 committed by Turkey. And they have used their considerable influence to actively assist the government of Turkey to defeat Armenian genocide resolutions in the U.S. Congress. A political agreement two decades ago among Turkey, certain organizations such as the ADL, and Israel brought this about.
Since the summer of 2007, due specifically to their disapproval of the ADL’s genocide denial and lobbying efforts against the Armenian-American resolution, more than a dozen major Massachusetts cities and towns have ceased their affiliation  with the ADL’s so-called “No Place for Hate” program.
 
In April of 2008, for precisely the same reasons, the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA), which represents every city and town in the state, also severed ties with “No Place for Hate.” The national ADL drew widespread condemnation from principled Jews, human rights advocates, editorialists, and others. These events made national and international news.
To deflect growing criticism, on August 21, 2007 Mr. Foxman issued a statement which masqueraded as an acknowledgment of the Armenian genocide. The statement not only used deceptive and dishonest language, such as “tantamount to genocide,” but also implied that the Armenian killings were not intentional but rather merely the “consequence” of Turkish “actions.” FHAO is aware that Article II of the United Nations Genocide Convention specifically requires “intent” for killings to be considered genocide. “Consequences” is, however, the opposite of “intent.” Cities, towns, and the MMA weren’t buying Mr. Foxman’s act. They severed ties with the ADL’s “No Place for Hate” even after the ADL statement.

The ADL has yet to unambiguously recognize the Armenian genocide. And Mr. Foxman continues to oppose passage of the Armenian genocide resolution, contemptuously calling it a “counterproductive diversion.”

Neither Mr. Foxman nor the ADL has ever apologized to the Armenian people for their actions.

The ADL has stated that any diminishment of the Holocaust is anti-Semitic and constitutes hate speech. Yet the ADL has diminished the Armenian genocide. By its own definition, therefore, the ADL is guilty of hate speech. Would FHAO partner with an organization and man that diminished the Holocaust and opposed the many Congressional resolutions on the Holocaust? Why, then, would you partner with the ADL? This is incomprehensible, especially as FHAO has long had an educational program on the Armenian genocide

We know that the ADL and similar groups’ appeasement of Turkey–for example, Mr. Foxman presented Prime Minister Erdogan with a “Courage to Care Award” a few years ago–has failed dismally on an international level as well.

I am at a loss to understand why or how your partnership with Mr. Foxman has come about. One hopes that ADL members among FHAO’s donors and its treasurer, Elizabeth Jick, who is an ADL Executive Committee member, did not unduly influence your decision.

I respectfully call upon you to withdraw FHAO’s partnership with the ADL in the November 7 event. I hope that when FHAO considers the facts and the long-term credibility of its programs and dedicated staff, it will do the right thing.

Sincerely,
David Boyajian
Belmont, MA
cc: Media; genocide scholars.

Note: To ask Facing History and Ourselves to not partner with the ADL on November 7, contact FHAO by e-mail, phone: 617-232-1595, toll-free 800-856-9039; mail: 16 Hurd Road, Brookline, MA 02445.

 

17 comments
  1.  The Message

    Below is the message I have sent:

    Permit me to second David Boyajian’s well-argued objection to the joint program with the ADL on Nov. 7.  For any organization to pair itself with the ADL–in the name of any sort of genocide denial–is a disgrace. The ADL obviously wants help in fighting the denial of the genocide of the Jews (however legitimate) but is itself a leading denier of the Genocide of the Armenians. I ask, rhetorically, what would the ADL reaction be if an Armenian organization enlisted the aid of David Irving in a program about genocide?

  2. David’s open letter

    Dear editor,

    Anyone, especially Foxman, has no moral right to speak of genocide. He either does not know or conveniently forgets the fact that the term GENOCIDE was coined by his co-religionist, Rafael Lemkin, based on what took place in 1915 (Armenians), 1933 (Assyrians), and WWII to his own people, the Jews of Europe.

    The time has come that the likes of Foxman should be widely exposed for being double-faced, and certainly for Israel to finally acknowledge the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide, based on which Hitler and Nazi Germany planned and executed the Holocaust.

  3. In God we Trust

    Shouldn’t we take lesson from this, as it has happened many times, that in our genocide speeches, during April Commemorations many of our hivant leaders mention or make a note about what happened during the 2nd world war? It is as if our leaders are puppets, and now as always you get this and many anti-Armenian actions. 

    Why should we talk about their problem and commercialize in every speech we make, when they deny ours.

    Let us not forget and for a moment ask ourselves, after all who were Ataturk and others?

    Thank you

  4. My Letter to FHAO sent today (Oct 25)

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I was extremely disappointed to learn that FHAO will be partnering with ADL and that ADL’s national director Mr. Foxman will be a panelist for the discussion of “The New Anti-Semitism: A Contemporary Discussion in Historic Faneuil Hall”.

    While ADL’s stance on Anti-Semitism and dealing with consequences of Holocaust is commendable, their denial of the Armenian Genocide is that much more hypocritical, since by nature of their activities they are very well aware of devastating effects of genocides, genocide denial and the importance of dealing with consequences.

    Selective genocide denial is not only hypocritical (how can some genocides be condemned and others vigorously denied by a human rights organization?), but is also highly immoral, considering Holocaust was modeled after the Armenian Genocide. When it comes to the Armenian Genocide, ADL takes its selective genocide condemnation even a step further – it undermines any attempts of its recognition in the House of Representatives and makes a great deal of efforts to make sure that no genocide resolution passes the Congress. How can someone fight for human rights, yet at the same time participate in abusing human rights in a significant manner?

    U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C still displays Adolf Hitler’s sadly infamous quote “Who, after all, speaks to-day of the annihilation of the Armenians?” which was part of his speech a week before his attack on Poland and the start of the campaign of exterminating all Jews. The quote shows what most genocide scholars agree with as well, that Jewish Holocaust was modeled after the Armenian Genocide. Mr. Fox who has been diligently working on Jewish Holocaust and Anti-Semitism related issues for many years is very well aware of that, yet continues his immoral stance.

    Respected organizations like FHAO should not put their reputation on the line in partnering with unethical and immoral entities like ADL. FHAO must continue being an uncorrupted leader in human rights issues.

    Respectfully,
    Nerses Zurabyan

  5. “Facing History and Ourselves” partnering with ADL

    My shock at Facing History’s partnership with ADL has shaken my trust  in FHAO. The Armenian Genocide has been clearly acknowledged by reputable historians.  Foxman’s non-admission of the Genocide by manipulating words was issued after pressure by Jewish organizations that recognize the Genocide, to admit the truth. More importantly, ADL continues to oppose a Congressional resolution to acknowledge the Genocide by bowing to Turrkey’s threat that Turkey cannot guarantee the safety of Jews in Turkey if ADL does not continue (and succeed) in opposing the resolution.

    I have no doubt that FHAO is clearly aware of all of the above; therefore, their action puzzles me. I ask that they remember Henry Professor’s words:

    "Deniers operate as agents of the original perpetrators [of the Genocide], pursuing and hounding victims through time. Through these agents, the perpetrators reach once again into the lives of the victims long after their escape from the perpetrator’s physical grasp." 

    ADL wears the mantle of agents of Turkey. FHAO must not allow that mantle to sully its impeccable reputation through its association with ADL.

    For the sake of all that is good, please do not let ADL infiltrate FHAO.

    Respectfully,

    Dr. Shahkeh Yaylaian Setian

  6. Re: Open Letter to “Facing History and Ourselves”

    A few years ago I participated in FHAO sponsored show with Liz Lerman Dance Company and Sayat Nova Dance Company that brought to Boston’s Majestic Theatre stage the stories of 2 genocides – Armenian and Jewish.

    Today I wonder if FHAO’s mission has changed because of the partnership with ADL in the upcoming “The New Anti-Semitism: A Contemporary Discussion in Historic Faneuil Hall” event in Boston on November 7, 2011. It is as ridiculous as it gets – it is UNACCEPTABLE for FHAO to be in any partnership with ADL while ADL betrays every victim of every genocide by its perpetration of lies and crime against humanity. 

    ADL today is nothing but a self-appointed authority on "Jewish opinion" which in fact it is not. ADL’s positions are simply products of political games and prostituting principles for alliances and money. ADL is BULLYING Jewish and non-Jewish people who don’t agree with their positions because they can, because the budget they’re operating on every year allows them to do whatever the hell they want. Just like Turkey keeps spending hundreds upon hundreds of millions of dollars every year on the genocide cover up game around the world. It’s sickening!

    Is FHAO really going to shake hands with that?! I think FHAO should partner up with "Jewish Voice for Peace" instead. They are really combating prejudice and hatred like their mission states.

    I suggest everyone who doesn’t know what ADL is busy doing, educate yourself, start with "Defamation" documentary shot by an Israeli Jew Yoav Shamir. You can watch the entire film on Netflix.  Here is a short trailer of the film on youtube too, but it’s broken into three separate parts:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5jsiLWXGYQ

     

  7. Message to FHAO

    I suppose one could dismiss Facing History and Ourselves Executive’s decision to partner with Abraham H. Foxman as one of life’s anomalies. But the misconceived decision is too harmful to human rights and to justice to be ignored.

    Mr. Foxman is a discredited individual who should have been replaced by the ADL a long time ago. I understand he is considered, within the ADL, as divisive presence. Mr. Foxman is a politician and propagandist rather than a humanist. One of his most shameful acts has been his long history of conspiring with the Turkish government to deny the veracity of the Genocide of Armenians from 1915 to the early ‘Twenties. Among the 1.5 million Armenian civilians slain by their Turkish government were my grandparents and most of my extended family. However, Mr. Foxman has fought tooth-and-nail against the recognition of the Genocide of Armenians by the U.S. government. It’s safe to say that Mr. Foxman is one of the most effective agents of the Turkish government in the United States. The man even awarded Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan something called the "Courage to Care" Award: the same shrill, war-mongering, Islamist, and Holocaust-minimizing Erdogan who has been persecuting Kurds, shrinking Turkish women’s rights, threatening Israel, blockading Armenia and partnering with Iran.
     

    The FHAO association with Mr. Foxman is inexplicable to any person who condemns genocide. The ignoble partnership naturally reduces the credibility of your organization. Since you must be concerned in the public perception of your respected organization, I would strongly advise that FHAO withdraw from the Nov. 7 panel discussion on the new anti-Semitism where Mr. Foxman is scheduled to be a panelist. Otherwise, in the future it would be hard to take the FHAO seriously.

  8. A Call for Principled Cooperation

    The outrage of the writer and the accompanying comments are on target.  The Armenian genocide stands as the most horrendous human tragedy of the 20th century–notwithstanding the claim to the "uniqueness" and "exclusivity" of the Jewish holocaust by certain sectarian segments.  Armenians were decimated as a nation living in their historic homeland in an act of comprehensive genocide.  Yet ADL has so far opposed the recognition of the Armenian genocide and diminished its significance on every occasion.  With no malice or animosity, we have expressed our disagreements with the ADL leadership’s policy regarding this central issue in our history on numerous occasions to no avail.

    Our advice to our Jewish friends should be to resolve the problems of perennial anti-Semitism within their own ranks.  Armenians are not suffering, nor have they ever suffered from anti-Armenianism except among their declared enemies.  They have no problem with the world and need to target their energies on improving the conditions of their own communities in the diaspora.  Most importantly, they must be circumspect and avoid being used by third parties for ulterior motives. 

    Our history offers numerous lessons in this regard.

  9. Email to Facing History

    I sent an email to FHAO saying that I do not want it to co-sponsor dishonest Foxman.  I want FHAO to do more.

  10. In God We Trust

    Ճիշտ  է նշված, որ միշտ պէտք է  հիշել Աթաթուրքի, լենինի, Գորբաչովի  ջհուդ լինելը  և հայկական կոչվող ջհուդների  եկեղեցին , որն  ինչ որ ձևով մասնակից է եղել  հայկական դպրոցները  փակելուն, Հայաստանը մասնատելուն, Հայոց մշակույթը ոչնչացնելուն , Թուրքիայում  և Գորբաչովի նախկին երկրում: Այս  մասին  միշտ էլ ասել  են Հռոմի  պապի մարդիկ հազարավոր մարդկանց առջեվ:

  11. The above “response” from

    The above “response” from Facing History & Ourselves does not address the concerns raised in Mr. Boyajian’s Open Letter, and provides empty lip service to a very concerned Armenian community. To abet those who engage in genocide denial is “tantamount” to genocide denial! (I hope my choice of wording is not lost on those who are intimately familiar with this scandal.)

  12. ADL and Foxman

    The above "response" from Facing History & Ourselves does not address the concerns raised in Mr. Boyajian’s open letter, and provides empty lip service to a very concerned Armenian community. To abet those who engage in genocide denial is "tantamount" to genocide denial! (I hope my choice of words is not lost on those who are intimately familiar with this scandal.)

  13. FHAO & ADL

    I was deeply disturbed to learn that your organization is planning to invite Mr. Foxman, national director of the ADL, to participate in a panel discussion of “The New Anti-Semitism: A Contemporary Discussion in Historic Faneuil Hall” in Boston on November 7, 2011.

    While the ADL brands itself as “the nation’s premier civil rights/human relations agency”, it has consistently and ardently lobbied against recognition of the Genocide of Armenians in Turkey. If the ADL accepts the role of human rights advocacy, can it pick and choose which humans will have their rights defended and which will have their rights trampled? Yet, this is where we find the ADL today. I would hope that you would not want to tarnish the good reputation of FHAO by association with the ADL, an organization that appears, shall we say, less than fully committed to human rights.

  14. I was very surprised and disappointed

    I was very surprised and disappointed to learn about the upcoming partnership between FHAO and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). My concern largely arises with FHAO’s affiliation with ADL’s National Director, Abraham H. Foxman, who has spear-headed the opposition to the Armenian genocide resolutions in the U.S. Congress. As an organization that actively promotes awareness of the Jewish Holocaust, its stand against the recognition of the Armenian Genocide is not only hypocritical, but also insulting to decedents and humanists personally affected by the atrocities of genocide/holocaust.

    Is it not Adolf Hitler himself who exclaimed, "After all, who remembers the Armenian genocide?" prior to his invasion of Poland? This instance alone is direct evidence that neglecting the past is just one way of ensuring history is repeated, as I imagine an organization entitled "Facing History and Ourselves" is fully aware of. With close ties to both the Armenian and Jewish communities, I have met with members of both communities that have expressed concern over this partnership.

    The FHAO has, no doubt, done wonders to bring instances of racism, genocide, and prejudice to the attention of the public. Therefore, my comment of concern is brought about not by the immoral and ironic stance the ADL takes on the Armenian Genocide, but more so the fear of the effect such a partnership would have on the integrity of a reputable organization like the FHAO.

  15. Foxman offends both Jewish and Armenian Communities

    I have heard that the FHAO has recently decided to host an event with the ADL. I wanted to bring to attention and express concern regarding the steps Abraham Foxman, the ADL National Director, has taken to block resolution of the Armenian Genocide in the U.S. Congress.

    As a student born and raised in France, human rights has always been on the forefront of both the political agenda and personal moral concern. The action taken by Abraham Foxman to prevent genocide awareness has deeply offended both the Jewish and Armenian communities alike. I ask that the the FHAO consider revoking their affiliation with an organization that openly prohibits the global awareness of key historical events relating to hate crime. 

  16. FHAO in ADL’s pocket?

    The fox has struck again!

    ADL’s Foxman shall spare no effort to exploit opportunities, no matter how hypocritical and devious they might be to quell the Armenian Genocide. This time he has flummoxed FHAO to further  his unethical, irresposible and immoral stance.

    However, what’s more deplorable is the fact that FHAO has succumbed to Foxman’s ill-intended advances to become a bed-fellow with a conniving  partner. FHAO should have accpeted the invitation with a hefty doze of askance knowing very well that,  rather than  indicting the culture that spawned these heinous crimes, Foxman’s machiavellian tactics are to spurr further interest in the Holocaust: his holocaust.  
    One wonders what sort of prevailing winds oriented FHAO’s sails. 

  17. We Should Respect

    We should respect and praise every writer–like Peter Balakian–who understands our pain and is able to ignite the souls of our martyrs of the Genocide. "Genocided is a new verb in my vocabulary–it describes people who are killed and turkified ( have lost their identity) through the centuries (1064-1923). The Genocide continues today everywhere states suppress its recognition.

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