Los Angeles, CA – A broad spectrum of Los Angeles area community groups have joined with national organizations in speaking out in support of Congressional legislation recognizing the Armenian Genocide and in voicing their disappointment over the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) ongoing opposition to this human rights legislation, reported the Armenian National Committee – Western Region (ANC-WR).
The comments come in response to the ongoing controversy surrounding ADL National Director Abraham Foxman’s recent statements regarding the Armenian Genocide in which he publicly opposed House and Senate Armenian Genocide resolutions (H.Res.106 /S.Res.106). H.Res.106 enjoys the broad bipartisan support of over 225 cosponsors in the House, a clear majority of its membership, while S. Res. 106 currently has 31 cosponsors.
UCLA History Professor David Myers argued that, “Foxman should follow the logic of his own statement and take the essential next step of supporting HR 106″. The well-respected scholar went on to urge the Southern California ADL Board to “either announce its support for H. Res. 106 – if not here in the heart of the Armenian Diaspora, then where? Or else renounce the organization’s declared mission ‘to secure justice and fair treatment for all.’”
Jewish World Watch Founding President Janice Kamenir-Reznik and Executive Director Tzivia Schwartz-Getzug concurred, stating that “as a community with first-hand knowledge and experience of the ravages of genocide, we have a particular moral obligation to stand up and ask our government to recognize what we know as true: that 1.5 million Armenians were systematically slaughtered in a government-sponsored campaign of genocide against them. The Anti-Defamation League’s announcement that it would finally recognize the Armenian Genocide as genocide is clearly a step in the right direction. However, we believe that the ADL, the premiere Jewish anti-discrimination agency in this country, must go a step further and join in asking our government to do the same.” Similarly, Progressive Jewish Alliance Executive Director Daniel Sokatch noted. “‘Never Again’ applies to all people everywhere.”
These Southern California Jewish American leaders and organizations added their voice to a broad range of organizations which have called for passage of Armenian Genocide legislation, including the American Federation of Jews from Central Europe (New York, NY), the American Jewish World Service (New York, NY), Americans for Peace Now (Washington,D.C.), the Center for Russian Jewry with Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (New York, NY), the Jewish Social Policy Action Network (Philadelphia, PA), Jewish War Veterans of the USA (Washington, D.C.), Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (Wyncote, PA), the Union for Reform of Judaism (Washington, D.C.), Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring (New York, NY) and the Zionist Organization of America (New York, NY)
Earlier this week, the Jewish community of Armenia joined the global call for ADL to support the Congressional Armenian Genocide Resolutions. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), the Chairwoman of the Armenia’s Jewish Community, Rimma Varzhapetian-Feller stated that the failure to recognize the Armenian Genocide paved the way for the Holocaust and stressed that a Congressional resolution could help prevent future genocides.
Leaders in California’s prominent Greek American community also voiced serious concern over the ADL’s morally unjustified position. “Abraham Foxman’s refusal to support passage of H. Res. 106 properly acknowledging the facts of the Armenian Genocide betrays the years of service that the ADL has devoted to educating the world about the facts of the Jewish Holocaust. Being selective when it comes to proper genocide acknowledgement is simply absurd. Hundreds of thousands of Greeks living in the Ottoman Empire were massacred alongside the Armenians. We urge the ADL to take the moral high ground and support this critical piece of legislation in respect for all victims of genocide,” remarked Aris Anagnos, Vice President of the American Hellenic Council of California.
Local leaders in the Armenian community also expressed strong disappointment over the ADL’s lack of support for Armenian Genocide recognition legislation. “The ADL’s position is extremely unfortunate – opposing the resolution is completely illogical and unacceptable,” remarked Glendale ANC Executive Director Elen Asatryan. We applaud Rep. Schiff for his efforts to bring the ADL National leadership to the right side on this core human rights issue, we can only hope that Mr. Foxman will take Congressman Schiff’s advice to heart by supporting Armenian Genocide recognition and returning to his organization’s true mission of fighting racism and bigotry.”
“Watertown has set a strong example of standing up for the truth – and standing up against both individuals and groups that, sadly, preach tolerance while practicing division and denial,” remarked La Crescenta ANC Chairman Arick Gevorkian. “The resolution is a critical component of the process of acknowledging and recognizing truth that deserves the support of all groups who are working to end genocide,” he added.
Darfur activists also spoke out urging the ADL to support the resolutions. “To recognize the Genocide and to stop short of supporting the Resolution turns a noble quest for justice into a game of politics. The Armenian Genocide is not up for debate, and therefore, the Resolution must be passed in order for justice to be served for all victims of genocide and mass-atrocities,” stated Pastor Vazken Movsesian, Priest at Saint Peter Armenian Church and Youth Ministry Center in Glendale, California. Movsesian is also the Director of In His Shoes Ministries, a mission and movement which rallies support for those suffering from genocide and human rights atrocities in the world, and has traveled to Africa to help end the cycle of genocide.
Sarah Czuleger, member of the University of California, Santa Barbara Chapter of STAND, an anti-genocide student coalition, stated that, “as an organization committed to ending the cycle of genocide, we call upon the ADL and all community and civic organizations to support the Armenian Genocide resolutions in Congress.”
“The Darfur Action Committee of UC-Irvine strongly supports the passage of H. Res. 106. In solidarity with worldwide Save Darfur Coalitions, the Darfur Action Committee understands the moral and humane importance of recognizing the first genocide of the 20th century. In order to take action and provide aid for the people of Darfur, the international community must first heal the past. Our hearts and efforts stand with the Armenian community in this incredibly imperative issue,” stated Anita Issagholyan, co-chairwoman of the Darfur Action Committee at the University of California, Irvine. We urge ADL to join us in solidarity of human rights, genocide recognition and justice for all mankind by supporting the Armenian Genocide resolution,” she added.
The ADL controversy was sparked by Foxman’s April statements in the Los Angeles Times denying the Armenian Genocide and opposing Congressional Armenian Genocide legislation. These statements precipitated a groundswell of civic activism in Watertown, Massachusetts, leading to the unanimous August 14th Town Council decision to disassociate from the ADL’s “No Place for Hate” tolerance program. Within 48 hours, the New England Regional ADL called on the national leadership to speak truthfully and honestly about the Armenian Genocide and support Congressional Armenian Genocide legislation. Foxman, who had claimed ignorance of the facts of the Armenian Genocide and opposed its Congressional reaffirmation in subsequent interviews with the Boston Globe and a number of Jewish American publications, fired Tarsy, precipitating the resignation of several ADL New England Regional Board Members. Following widespread outrage by the New England area civil rights activists, Foxman issued a “Statement on the Armenian Genocide” where he concluded that the crimes perpetrated against the Armenian people in 1915 were “tantamount to genocide” but said that the ADL remained opposed to Armenian Genocide legislation. Soon thereafter, he rehired Tarsy and pledged that the ADL would review its position on the legislation during a November national meeting.
New England “No Place for Hate” communities, unsatisfied with both Foxman’s statements and his continued opposition to the Armenian Genocide Resolution, continue to call for ADL support for this legislation and to urge towns to suspend or sever their ties with NPFH until the ADL revises it position.
For complete coverage of this controversy, visit: http://www.noplacefordenial.com
The Armenian National Committee – Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots public affairs organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANC-WR promotes awareness of issues of concern to the Armenian American community.