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The perversity of denying genocide

THE CAMPAIGN sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to combat bigotry and celebrate diversity ("No Place for Hate") has sparked bitter resentment in Watertown, Mass., a Boston suburb whose 8,000 Armenian-Americans make up nearly 25 percent of the population. Local Armenians do not object to the initiative, rather to the group behind it, the ADL and its director, Abraham Foxman - whom they charge, correctly, with denying the ugly established legacy of the World War I era Armenian genocide.

Under the authoritarian Young Turk (Ittihadist) regime, the bulk of the Armenian population from the territories of the Ottoman Empire - some 1 million to 1.5 million Armenians - were purged by violent and lethal means, which reproduced the historic conditions of a classic Islamic jihad: deportation, enslavement, forced conversion and massacre.

Mr. Foxman maintains that dismantling a program designed to fight hatred simply because the ADL does not share what he refers to as the "Armenians' viewpoint" would be "bigoted." Moreover, Foxman and the ADL, who have spoken out in recent times against ethnic cleansing of Muslims in the Balkans and the genocide against the syncretist black African Animist-Muslims in Darfur, are, in effect, oddly "neutral" on the Armenian genocide: "We're not party to this, and I don't understand why we need to be made party."

But even this morally challenged "neutrality" is disingenuous. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency ("Turks want genocide commission," April 23), Mr. Foxman and the ADL are lobbying against legislation recognizing the Armenian genocide in the U.S. House (HR 106) and the Senate (SR 106), including the presentation of letters from the Jewish community of Turkey complemented by, "their own [i.e., the ADL's] statement opposing the bill."

Interviewed for a Nov. 19, 2003, story in The Christian Science Monitor, following the bombing of Istanbul's two main synagogues by indigenous Turkish jihadist groups, Rifat Bali, a scholar, and Turkish Jew, acknowledged the chronic plight of Turkey's small, dwindling Jewish community, whose social condition remains little removed from the formal "dhimmi" status of their ancestors.

Dhimmis were those non-Muslims, including Jews, subjugated by jihad and forced to live under Islamic law as non-citizen pariahs, physically segregated, often in squalid ghettoes, as was the case for the Jews of Istanbul. Discriminatory regulations limited their most basic rights, vis--vis Muslims, with regard to penal law, taxation and religious practice. Bali's informed remarks echoed the chronic, unresolved concerns that led to the mass exodus of 40 percent of Turkey's Jews to Israel within two years of its creation in 1948, and the dual 2003 Istanbul synagogue bombings transiently illuminated a largely marginalized society, whose shrinking numbers and "other problems" were deliberately downplayed by community leaders:

The Turkish Jews have not been fully integrated or Turkified, and they have had to limit their expectations. A kid grows up knowing he is never going to become a government minister, so no one tries, and the same goes for positions in the military.

Amoral denial of the Armenian genocide by Foxman and the ADL abets the exploitation of beleaguered Turkish Jews as dhimmi "lobbyists" for the government of Turkey.

Also, since 1950, both the Turkish press and Islamic literature have steadily increased their output of theological Islamic anti-Semitism - based upon core anti-Jewish motifs in Islam's foundational texts - the Koran, hadith and sira. This theologically-based anti-Jewish animus grew steadily in stridency, and from the 1970s through the 1990s, was melded into anti-Zionist and anti-Israel invective by Turkey's burgeoning fundamentalist Islamic movement.

The Armenian genocide denial "strategy" of Mr. Foxman and the ADL has succeeded, perversely, in further isolating Jews, while failing, abysmally, to alter a virulently anti-Semitic Turkish religious (i.e., Islamic), and secular culture - the latter perhaps best exemplified by the wildly popular and most expensive film made in Turkey, Valley of the Wolves (released in February 2006), which features an American Jewish doctor dismembering Iraqis supposedly murdered by American soldiers to harvest their organs for Jewish markets.

Prime Minister Recep Erdogan not only failed to condemn the film, he justified its production and popularity. This is the same Mr. Erdogan who, serving in 1974 as president of the Istanbul Youth Group of the Islamic fundamentalist National Salvation Party, wrote, directed and played the leading role in a play entitled Maskomya, staged throughout Turkey during the 1970s. Mas-Kom-Ya was a compound acronym for "Masons-Communists-Yahudi [Jews]," and the play focused on the evil, conspiratorial nature of these three entities whose common denominator was Judaism.

As a Jew, I find the efforts by Mr. Foxman and the ADL to deny recognition of the Armenian genocide morally repugnant, ignorant and particularly inappropriate for an organization geared to reducing, as opposed to abetting and fomenting, anti-Semitism and other forms of irrational hatred.

-- Andrew G. Bostom, M.D., is an associate professor of medicine at the Brown Medical School and author of The Legacy of Jihad (2005) and the forthcoming The Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism (2007) (

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look at haaretz today the turkish govt is going ape over israeli recognition of the armenian holocaust.a holocaust is a holocaust is a holacaust whether by that or any other name.jews know to deny it to them or to others is obscene and runs the everpresent risk of it happening again as usual ignored as in darfur.foxman and the adl prove we learn from history that we dont learn from history

Posted by michael k on 2007-08-24 08:41:27 GMT

I can understand Israel not commenting on the Armenian genocide as it has military and diplomatic ties with Islamic Turkey and it needs to consider the safety of Turkish Jews. That is real- politik. However for Foxman to lobby against the US recognising the Armenian genocide is wrong and diminishes the credibility of the ADL in its anti-discrimination work. In the US, the ADL should speak out forcefully against the Turkish suppression of all non-Turks and more importantly, the US needs to speak out against all nations that deny their history. Turkey is the main one such nation, Japan and Islamic nations are among others. Admitting guilt and apologising are signs of democracy and national maturity.

Posted by paul2 on 2007-08-21 15:21:24 GMT