Foxman: Armenian massacre was genocide

Foxman: Armenian massacre was genocide
Herb Keinon , THE JERUSALEM POST Aug. 22, 2007

An Anti-Defamation League (ADL) statement on Tuesday saying that Turkey’s
actions against Armenians between 1915-1918 "were tantamount to genocide"
could negatively impact Turkey’s close relationship with Israel, Turkish
sources said Tuesday night.

"This might impact the relationship because the Jewish community and the
lobby in Washington have supported Turkey in the past, and countered the
Armenian lobby," the sources said. "This could have a negative impact."

ADL National Director Abe Foxman issued a statement Tuesday, saying that "in
light of the heated controversy that has surrounded the Turkish-Armenian
issue in recent weeks, and because of our concern for the unity of the
Jewish community at a time of increased threats against the Jewish people,
ADL has decided to revisit the tragedy that befell the Armenians.

"We have never negated, but have always described the painful events of
1915-1918 perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians as
massacres and atrocities," the statement read. "On reflection, we have come
to share the view of Henry Morgenthau, Sr. [the US ambassador to the Ottoman
Empire during World War I], that the consequences of those actions were
indeed tantamount to genocide. If the word genocide had existed then, they
would have called it genocide."

Amid turmoil in his organization over the firing of the ADL regional
director in Boston for saying publicly that the group’s policy line on this
issue was "morally indefensible," Foxman said in the statement that he had
consulted with "my friend and mentor" Elie Wiesel and other respected
historians, "who acknowledge this consensus. I hope that Turkey will
understand that it is Turkey’s friends who urge that nation to confront its
past and work to reconcile with Armenians over this dark chapter in

The ADL and some other Jewish organizations have long been opposed to moves
in Congress to adopt a resolution characterizing the events of that period
as genocide. Foxman said that the ADL "firmly believes that a congressional
resolution on such matters … will not foster reconciliation between Turks
and Armenians, and may put at risk the Turkish Jewish community and the
important multilateral relationship between Turkey, Israel and the United

In an interview with *The Jerusalem Post, * Foxman said he did not think
that this new position should impact relations with Turkey, since the ADL
still believes that congressional action on this matter would be

Turkey’s position has long been that judgment of the events from this period
should not be made in parliaments around the world, but rather by

Foxman told the *Post * that he and Wiesel were "ready to call for an
international conference of scholars, both Turkish and Armenian," to deal
with the issue.

Foxman, who has excellent contacts both in Ankara and Jerusalem, said he had
not consulted with either capital city before issuing his statement.

Neither Jerusalem nor Ankara had any official comment on the matter, with
the respective foreign ministries taken completely by surprise by the

Turkish authorities have said plainly that one of the reasons for Turkey’s
close ties with Israel is the Jewish lobby in Washington and the help
various Jewish organizations have given Ankara in fending off potentially
detrimental legislation over the years.

The ADL’s position on this matter has also been motivated in the past by a
concern for the Jewish community in Turkey. Asked whether he was worried
that this position would now lead to a backlash against the Jewish community
in Turkey, Foxman said, "I hope not, because we have not changed our basic
position" against congressional legislation on this matter.

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