Susan Galleymore interviews writer-activist David Boyajian

June 16, 2008 – Raising Sand Radio Host
Susan Galleymore interviews writer-activist David Boyajian

Topic: Anti-Defamation League
Denies the Armenian Genocide?

Interview air date: Monday, June 16, 2008.

The following is the transcript of the interview titled
`Anti-Defamation League Denies Armenian Genocide?’ on host Susan
Galleymore’s weekly Raising Sand program over radio station KZSU,
90.1FM, Stanford, California.

This interview can be heard at:

Audi o Length: 59:24

For general information on the campaign against the Anti-Defamation
League’s denial of the Armenian Genocide, please see

Excerpts:

`Groups like the ADL, for political reasons, have backed Turkish
denials of the Armenian Genocide and have worked with Turkey to try to
defeat these Armenian Genocide resolutions in Congress.’

`Because Turkey felt it did not have enough lobbying power in the
United States, it asked Israel if the Jewish American Lobby, the top
Jewish lobbying groups, and just some of them and by no means all
Jewish American groups, they asked if the Jewish lobbying groups could
weigh in on the side of Turkey on all matters, not just the Armenian
Genocide. And, unfortunately, those Jewish groups, such as the ADL,
agreed to do so.’

`Turkey is sometimes called a loyal ally. What kind of a loyal ally
in NATO, for example, would make threats against the United States
like Turkey has?’

`The European Union, the European Parliament, countries like France,
the Netherlands, Argentina, Russia, Lebanon, Greece have all
acknowledged the Armenian Genocide, and nothing except token
retaliation has taken place by Turkey against those countries or the
European Union. So Turkey’s threats are basically bluffs.’

`[The national ADL] came out with a statement on August 21, 2007 that
was a very carefully worded statement that some people think was an
acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide, but it wasn’t. It actually
was very cleverly worded to actually contravene the official
definition of genocide in Article Two of the UN Genocide Treaty of
1948.’

`You cannot be a human rights group, as ADL claims to be, and deny a
genocide and work with Turkey to defeat Armenian Genocide resolutions.
And this is an organization whose bread and butter issue is the
Holocaust. `

`It’s been very satisfying to see all the friends, all the good
people, all the principled human rights activists, Jewish Americans,
many Jewish groups, come out and support us. And, so far in
Massachusetts, of the some 60 towns that have been officially
designated by the Anti-Defamation League, we’ve had 13 sever ties with
No Place for Hate in protest of the ADL’s genocide denial.’

`Raphael Lemkin, although a survivor of the Holocaust himself who
later came to America, actually cited the Armenian Genocide as the
reason he became interested in genocide and coined the word. This is
in a 1949 CBS television interview.’

`Though I’ve criticized the ADL and American Jewish Committee here, by
no means do they represent the Jewish community in regard to the
Armenian Genocide. We have just had so much support from scholars on
this issue. The International Association of Genocide Scholars, which
has many, many Jewish academicians in it, has also officially
recognized the Armenian Genocide. And they’re the preeminent group in
the world, experts on genocide.’

`So the Turkish government knows this is a losing battle, I think.
They’re just trying to hold on by their fingernails.’

`This campaign is continuing not just in Massachusetts. There are ADL
programs such as World of Difference and No Place for Hate throughout
the country in New York, California, particularly Santa Barbara. And
Armenians in Santa Barbara are now targeting the University of
California at Santa Barbara because it has a No Place for Hate
program. Orange County has schools that are designated as No Place
for Hate. Pennsylvania, Colorado, Texas, they all have No Place for
Hate. And I hope people speak up when they see an ADL program and
call the ADL and write their local newspapers and let them know about
this issue, that they disapprove of the ADL’s genocide denial.’

###

Program:

ANNOUNCER: You’re in tune to KZSU Stanford. It’s time for another
edition of Raising Sand.

GALLEYMORE: Welcome to another edition of Raising Sand Radio. I’m
your host, Susan Galleymore. And the music heard is Armenian Duduk by
Djivan Gasparyan, `A Cool Wind is Blowing.’ Today we’ll talk to David
Boyajian about a campaign he started questioning the Anti-Defamation
League’s reluctance to call the Armenian Genocide just that, a
genocide. We will spend the hour exploring this issue and learn more
about Armenia, Armenians and the work to pass a resolution defining
massive numbers of Armenian deaths in that region as a genocide. I
asked David to describe the campaign.

BOYAJIAN: This campaign that I kind of initiated with a letter, an
article and then others joined in is that I’ve long known, and
Armenians have known, and even Jewish Americans and Israelis admit
that certain top-level Jewish American lobbying groups, some people
call it the Jewish lobby, some call it the pro-Israel lobby,
Anti-Defamation League, and groups such as American Jewish Committee,
B’nai B’rith, AIPAC and JINSA, they made a deal with Turkey to work on
their behalf in the United States because of the close relationship
between Israel and Turkey. Armenians have been trying for years to
get a detailed Armenian Genocide resolution through the US Congress,
and they’ve been stymied. And these groups like the ADL, for
political reasons, have backed Turkish denials of the Armenian
Genocide and have worked with Turkey to try to defeat these Armenian
Genocide resolutions in Congress. So this has been known for a long
time what they’ve been doing. What happened last July in
Massachusetts was that I noticed that the Anti-Defamation League was
sponsoring a program, I read about this in The Boston Globe, a program
known as No Place for Hate. It’s an anti-bias program initiated and
sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League. Now, No Place for Hate is
actually a Federally registered trademark of the ADL – it owns it. No
Place for Hate is in many towns in Massachusetts, including Watertown.
When I read it was in Watertown, and Watertown is right next to where
I live, I wrote a letter to the paper there, the Watertown Tab. And I
said to them, you know, the town should not be sponsoring an anti-bias
program affiliated with the Anti-Defamation League because the
Anti-Defamation League denies the Armenian Genocide. This is a
violation of No Place for Hate’s own charter. No Place for Hate is
supposed to stand against bias and in favor of human rights, and so is
the ADL according to what it says. So what happened from there is
things just snowballed. The No Place for Hate group in Watertown
started to question the Anti-Defamation League. The Anti-Defamation
League weighed in on this, the Armenian community and Jewish Americans
weighed in on our side and against the Anti-Defamation League’s
genocide denials, and things just took off from there. It became a
major issue in Boston papers such as The Boston Globe and Boston
Herald and area papers, and soon it became an international issue.
The Turkish ambassador to Israel had to fly back to Israel. He was
out of the country. He had to fly back for consultations. And things
have just snowballed from there.

GALLEYMORE: Now, as I understand it, the regional offices of ADL are
willing to negotiate or willing to look at this issue again, but the
national tends to be harder core, is that right?

BOYAJIAN: Well, partly. What happened is that there are many regional
offices of the ADL all throughout the country. The one out here is
the New England Regional ADL. And, when this broke, at first they
defended themselves. They said that this was not the stand of the ADL
to deny genocide. I think they were either being disingenuous or,
perhaps, at the local level they really didn’t know what the National
Anti-Defamation League and its head Abe Foxman were up to. So they
acknowledged the genocide. However, this was not sufficient for any
of us because the National ADL is the one that really lobbies against
us in Washington. So what happened is that Abraham Foxman, head of
the National ADL, fired the New England regional head. And there was
a big furor over that. He got reinstated at some point a couple of
weeks later but then he had to, eventually he resigned. The heat was
too much. But other regional Anti-Defamation Leagues outside New
England, no, as far as I know they have not weighed in on this at all.
And that is a disappointment.

GALLEYMORE: OK. Yeah. What benefit is there to deny this genocide?

BOYAJIAN: Well, actually, let me put it this way. There is no real
benefit for anyone to deny this genocide. Turkey is nervous over it.
Of course, it doesn’t like to be accused of having committed genocide,
but it’s a moral issue. It’s a moral issue. And the United States
should pass a genocide resolution. Now, what happened between Israel
and Turkey is a bit of a long story but, in a nutshell, the
relationship between Turkey and Israel actually goes back decades.
But it really took off in the 1990s with a series of trade agreements,
military agreements, and intelligence agreements between the two
countries because they each have a special relationship with the
United States. Of course, Turkey being in NATO, Israel being a very
favored nation. One of the deals there – and this is admitted to
publicly by analysts, including the Anti-Defamation League and the
American Jewish Committee – the deal there was that because Turkey
felt it did not have enough lobbying power in the United States, it
asked Israel if the Jewish American Lobby, the top Jewish lobbying
groups, and just some of them and by no means all Jewish American
groups, they asked if the Jewish lobbying groups could weigh in on the
side of Turkey on all matters, not just the Armenian Genocide. And,
unfortunately, those Jewish groups, such as the ADL, agreed to do so.
And they’ve been doing this for a long time. It’s not a secret. It
hasn’t been talked about all that much in the mainstream press, but it
has been talked about somewhat. So that’s where we’re at today. And
what happened is when I brought this issue up in Watertown, it
resonated with people because it was at a very local level and people
started questioning – wait a second – what is going on with the
Anti-Defamation League? How can it sponsor No Place for Hate, an
anti-bias group? So things just took off from there.

GALLEYMORE: So it’s not a question of in Armenia people asking for
property back or asking for land back or anything like that. Does
this have any relationship to what’s going on in Armenia at this time?

BOYAJIAN: Well, not exactly. Armenia itself has no claims or demands
against Turkey except that it asks that Turkey acknowledge the
Armenian Genocide. Present day Armenia, independent since 1991 from
the Soviet Union, has no land demands and has no demands for
reparations because of the genocide. However, I have to say that
these demands are in the background. They have been ever since the
First World War, ever since the genocide, and ever since a document
called the Treaty of Sevres which would have taken what is now part of
Eastern Turkey called the Armenia Plateau, it would have made those
part of an Armenian state and a Kurdish state, actually. But we see
this as a moral issue mainly. Turkey has to come to terms with this
because for it not to come to terms is destabilizing in the region and
is also a continuing threat to Armenia. Imagine if Germany were
located next to Israel and it had never admitted the Holocaust. Would
not Germany then be a danger to Israel? Of course it would. So it’s
not really much different.

GALLEYMORE: I wanted to start talking about the actual genocide
itself, but first you mentioned that the Israeli military and the
Turkish military have some work together.

BOYAJIAN: Yes, they definitely work together. They hold naval
exercises together with the United States each year in the
Mediterranean.

GALLEYMORE: Mediterranean?

BOYAJIAN: Yes. Israel has large contracts with Turkey, for example,
to upgrade Turkish fighter jets. Turkey, in turn, lets Israeli pilots
train over the very large land space of Turkey. It is also said that
Turkey lets Israel make spy flights, listening flights along Turkey’s
southern border with Syria, Iraq and Iran in order to gather
intelligence from those countries. I cannot confirm that. I don’t
know. That is what is often said, though. But there is a very deep
tie there militarily. And, in fact, one could also say that the
relationship between Turkey and Israel is defined at a military and
intelligence level. An economic one, too, but this is something that
the Turkish military holds quite dear to itself, the relationship with
Israel.

GALLEYMORE: I know during the era of the Shah in Iran the Israelis
were working very closely with Iran at that point. Of course, that’s
apparently stopped now. But I didn’t know about the connection with
the Turks so that’s very interesting.

BOYAJIAN: Yes. It’s widely admitted, actually. I know that some
people think that because Turkey is a Muslim populated country now –
of course, it wasn’t always that way – there were millions of
Christians there until the Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians, until the
early 20th century when Turkey basically wiped them out – but people
think that because Turkey is a Muslim country that somehow it wouldn’t
be friendly with Israel. But this is not the case, you see, because
of the dynamics going on there. Turkey and Israel see the Arab
nations and Iran as common adversaries so they’ve kind of joined
together in this sense to oppose those countries. They don’t always
talk about it openly but, for example, Syria. Now, if Syria tries to
make a move against Israel, it’s very hesitant to do that because
Syria is more or less boxed in on the north by Israel’s friend,
Turkey. So if the Turks try to aid the Israelis then the Syria would
have to fight a two-front war there, and that would be very difficult.
So that’s one of the subtexts of the relationship, and it’s very
important.

GALLEYMORE: The other thing is that there are lots of Armenians in
Syria and also in Lebanon. I was in these two areas in 2006 and
actually had quite a lot of contact with Armenians in Lebanon. The
little town of Anjar, for example, is predominantly Armenian. So when
the Diaspora happened during the genocide, people just scattered,
those that were not killed just scattered all into the region, didn’t
they?

BOYAJIAN: That’s true. Actually, Armenians have lived throughout that
area for hundreds of years. But it’s true that after the genocide a
lot of them, the survivors did find a home, a very welcome home in
places like Lebanon and Syria and Iraq and Iran and then Palestine.

GALLEYMORE: In Palestine, too?

BOYAJIAN: Yes. Absolutely.

GALLEYMORE: I know in the old city of Jerusalem there is an enclave of
Armenians. But in Palestine, for example, in the West Bank, is that
what you’re suggesting?

BOYAJIAN: I’m not sure about the West Bank but certainly Jerusalem and
in Israel proper today.

GALLEYMORE: OK. Interesting. And, yet, let’s go back to Turkey for a
moment saying that one of the reasons they don’t want to stir up this
hornet’s nest, and that’s my language, is that they don’t want to
destabilize the Jewish communities in Turkey.

BOYAJIAN: You mean the pro-Israel lobby here has a fear of that?

GALLEYMORE: That’s what they’re saying, yes, that if they talked about
this as a genocide, there’s a possibility of endangering the Jewish
communities.

BOYAJIAN: Yes. This has been claimed by the Anti-Defamation League,
but it is absolutely untrue. Jewish groups here do not particularly
fear that. In fact, Jewish groups here, such as the ADL, have given
awards to Turkish leaders over the years for being tolerant, for being
democratic, supposedly. Now, if it were true that the pro-Israel
groups here such as ADL and American Jewish Committee were fearful of
what would happen to the Jews living in Turkey, one would think that
they would have spoken out about this before. For example, Abraham
Foxman and the ADL always speak out very strongly against
anti-Semitism in any country. And they are very critical of those
countries. And they don’t seem to fear retaliation about Jews,
against Jews, for example, in Iran. The ADL, the United States, all
the Jewish groups are very critical of Iran and its alleged
development of a nuclear capability. There are many Iranian Jews.
And, yet, the ADL doesn’t seem to fear that. No, this is just an
excuse. It’s a cover for a political agreement between Turkey, Israel
and the pro-Israel lobby here.

GALLEYMORE: And there is also some truth to the notion that genocide
itself is such a hot button word. I mean we saw what happened in
Rwanda, for example. The Clinton Administration decided they were not
going to label what was going on there a genocide simply because it
sounded like they didn’t want to send in any troops to quell that
aggression.

BOYAJIAN: Right. Well, of course, that was a current genocide. The
Armenian Genocide happened years ago, and so there’s no such question
of sending in troops or anything like that.

GALLEYMORE: It’s really symbolic, isn’t it, in a lot of ways.

BOYAJIAN: It’s symbolic and it’s a necessary thing, really, because if
the United States, which claims to have a very moral foreign policy,
does not acknowledge a well-known genocide, what does that do to its
credibility? How can it then go out and tell other countries to
reform in terms of human rights if the United States is being so
hypocritical about the Armenian Genocide? This is not to say that US
policy would be perfect just because it acknowledged the Armenian
Genocide. No, absolutely not, of course. But it would help. But for
the US to not acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, and the last two
administrations, Clinton and George Bush have not done so, it’s a
political thing. And it really hurts US credibility, even more than
it is hurt already.

GALLEYMORE: That’s already down.

BOYAJIAN: So on October 10, 2007, the House Foreign Affairs Committee
voted 27 to 21 to bring the 1915 genocide resolution to a vote on the
floor. And at that point Turkey responded with anger. And, in fact,
it never came up, did it, never went anywhere?

GALLEYMORE: No, it didn’t. Nancy Pelosi could have brought it up for
a vote, but there was so much controversy at the time with Turkish
threats that it was decided that it was best to leave it for another
time. So it is still pending and it will be brought up again. I
don’t know when, perhaps soon. We don’t know. But let me say this
about Turkish threats. Turkey is sometimes called a loyal ally. What
kind of a loyal ally in NATO, for example, would make threats against
the United States like Turkey has? For example, it said it would shut
down air bases and it would —

GALLEYMORE: In fact, it actually did at the beginning of the invasion
of Iraq, didn’t it, refuse the United States air space?

BOYAJIAN: It did. During the run-up to the war, it actually kept US
ships waiting off the coast for weeks or months and then finally
decided that it would not allow the US to use it as a transit point.
It didn’t actually shut down the bases. It just denied them air
space.

GALLEYMORE: And, in fact, the United States went along with it.
Turkey subsequently retracted that. And I think the United States is
busy in there at this point, isn’t it?

BOYAJIAN: Yes, US aid to Iraq does go through Turkey. Let me say
something, though, about the Turkish threats here, Susan, that the US
is the super power here and Turkey cannot go through with any of the
threats it makes to the United States in terms of shutting down the
Incirlik Air Base or closing the border with Iraq. The United States,
if it puts its foot down, is simply too powerful to let Turkey do any
of those things. Turkey depends so much on the United States for
weaponry, military aid, economic aid through the World Bank and
International Monetary Fund, and US backing for Turkish membership for
the European Union. Turkey is massively dependent on the United
States.

GALLEYMORE: The United States does this every now and again. It
certainly bends backwards for Israel. And it seems like Turkey might
be another one of those client states.

BOYAJIAN: Well, it does. I must say, Turkey has a habit of throwing
temper tantrums against the United States. But, you know, let me
point to the fact that the European Union, the European Parliament,
countries like France, the Netherlands, Argentina, Russia, Lebanon,
Greece have all acknowledged the Armenian Genocide, and nothing except
token retaliation has taken place by Turkey against those countries or
the European Union. So Turkey’s threats are basically bluffs.
Actually, in many cases, after those countries acknowledged the
genocide, trade between Turkey and those countries went up. So Turkey
really needs those countries more than those countries need Turkey.
And it will not go through with the threats it makes, but other
countries have to be firm with Turkey and say, look, we’re going to
acknowledge the genocide, and we’re sorry if you don’t like it, but
it’s a moral issue, and we’re going to do it and we’re not going to
allow you to retaliate.

GALLEYMORE: And is it likely that if they did not acknowledge this
genocide they would not be admitted into NATO, in the EU, excuse me?

BOYAJIAN: Well, what I can tell you is that the European Union
Parliament voted that, I believe it was in 1987, it was a nonbinding
vote, but it did say this: It said that Turkey must admit – must
acknowledge – the Armenian Genocide before it can get into the
European Union. So, in other words, this is a condition that they
have placed. Now, it’s not legally binding. It was advisory on the
part of the European Parliament. However, it still stands. And the
European Parliament has since passed similar resolutions, so there is
pressure on Turkey to do this.

GALLEYMORE: That’s kind of a conundrum for Turkey, in that case,
because they desperately want to get into the EU.

BOYAJIAN: What they’re counting on, unfortunately, is European Union
weakness in regard to not just the Armenian Genocide issue but the
issue of Turkish internal reforms, freedom of speech, not having the
military intrude into civilian political affairs, for example.

GALLEYMORE: Let me remind our listeners that we’re talking with David
Boyajian about the letter that he wrote to a local newspaper in
Watertown, Massachusetts in which he took to task the Anti-Defamation
League’s position on No Place for Denial.

BOYAJIAN: No Place for Hate. No Place for Denial, actually, is the
activist website, It’s a nice website. It
gives the whole history of the campaign. I hope people visit it.

GALLEYMORE: So, David, you started this thing that has really grown.
And how is that for you? Is this something that you’re pleased with
or is it something that you feel overwhelmed by at this point? I mean
it’s pretty heavy stuff.

BOYAJIAN: It is because it’s considered, in some circles, in the
mainstream media, for example, and among elected officials, they
hesitate to critique groups like the ADL. Of course, it’s been very
satisfying to see all the friends, all the good people, all the
principled human rights activists, Jewish Americans, many Jewish
groups, come out and support us. And, so far in Massachusetts, of the
some 60 towns that have been officially designated by the
Anti-Defamation League and by the town government themselves – that’s
a stipulation that the ADL makes, that the government has to approve
the placement of No Place for Hate in the city or town – of those 60
towns, we’ve had 13 sever ties with No Place for Hate in protest of
the ADL’s genocide denial. So we’re very pleased with that. Also,
just recently, the Massachusetts Municipal Association, which is a
trade association of all the cities and towns in Massachusetts, itself
is a sponsor of No Place for Hate, and it voted to sever ties with No
Place for Hate. So this was a big blow to the Anti-Deformation League
and genocide denial. And the campaign continues here.

GALLEYMORE: And what are they doing in response to this, the ADL?

BOYAJIAN: Well, the ADL tried to argue at first that it did not do any
of the things we said it was doing. It claimed that it did
acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and so forth. Actually, it isn’t
true that they ever acknowledged it. And they came out with a
statement on August 21, 2007 that was a very carefully worded
statement that some people think was an acknowledgement of the
Armenian Genocide, but it wasn’t. It actually was very cleverly
worded to actually contravene the official definition of genocide in
Article Two of the UN Genocide Treaty of 1948. That article says that
in order for an event to be genocide, the perpetrator has to have the
intent – that’s the key word – has to have the intent of committing
genocide, but the ADL statement did not use the word or even imply the
word intent. Rather it said – this is a quote – the consequences of
those actions by Turkey were tantamount to genocide. By using the
word consequences, they made it seem as if the deaths, the murders of
Armenians were simply a consequence of war and not an intentional act
by Turkey. Now, this is well-known. I don’t know how the ADL ever
thought it could get away with making such a legalistic statement like
that. It wasn’t an acknowledgement. I call it an
anti-acknowledgement. And it was roundly criticized for that. So,
even to this day, it has not acknowledged the Armenian Genocide. In
general, Susan, the ADL has been very inarticulate in combating us
because we really have the arguments on our side. You cannot be a
human rights group, as ADL claims to be, and deny a genocide and work
with Turkey to defeat Armenian Genocide resolutions. And this is an
organization whose bread and butter issue is the Holocaust. And for
it to ask everybody, as is proper, to acknowledge and commemorate The
Holocaust and, yet, at the same time deny another genocide that
preceded The Holocaust and that many consider was a model for Nazi
Germany to kill Jews in The Holocaust, they considered this just, it’s
just unacceptable. It’s very hypocritical. And the same goes for the
other groups I mentioned, American Jewish Committee, which is almost
as bad, if not worse, than the ADL, actually.

GALLEYMORE: David, why do you say that it was almost modeled by the
Turkish Genocide against the Armenians?

BOYAJIAN: Yes. Well, there are a few reasons. I would cite two.
First of all, Hitler knew about it because Germany and Turkey were
allies in World War I. Hitler was in Germany while certain trials
were taking place of Armenians who had assassinated former Turkish
officials who had conducted the genocide. Hitler also spoke of the
Armenian Genocide before he invaded Poland. He referenced that. The
other reason, Susan, and this is very interesting, listeners may not
know this but the word genocide was coined only in 1944 by a
Polish-Jewish lawyer named Raphael Lemkin. Lemkin, although a
survivor of the Holocaust himself who later came to America, actually
cited the Armenian Genocide as the reason he became interested in
genocide and coined the word. This is in a 1949 CBS television
interview and it’s in a documentary video by Andrew Goldberg. And
it’s very revealing. So, yes, if the person who coined the word
genocide thinks it’s a genocide and used the Armenian Genocide as a
model then, yes, that’s a connection with Nazi Germany.

GALLEYMORE: Interesting. I know that, for example, the Kurds also
participated in the deaths of the Armenians, though, didn’t they?

BOYAJIAN: Yes, very much, both the Turks and Kurds did as the Armenian
death marches took place. Armenian men, women and children were lead
through the mountains under terrible conditions. The Turkish guards
would let the villages – Turkish and Kurdish villages – ravage the
caravans, carry off the women or murder them or steal from them. I
will say this, some Kurdish groups have apologized, in the current day
have apologized for what their compatriots did in 1915, and that’s
appreciated. And even some individual Turks, some Turkish groups, and
now increasingly Turkish historians do recognize that there was a
genocide, but the Turkish government will not recognize that.

GALLEYMORE: There’s also another piece to do this for the Armenians
which is to, correct me if I’m wrong here, but psychologically to have
this recognized as something perpetrated against your people and to
acknowledge the suffering of your people is a big thing, too, isn’t
it?

BOYAJIAN: Yes. You know, there’s a genocide scholar who lists what he
calls, I believe, the eight stages of genocide. One of those stages
is denial itself. In other words, he says that it psychologically
damages the survivors and their descendents when you tell them that
the genocide never occurred. So the Turks are not even really
allowing the Armenians the memory of this. They’re trying to kill the
memory.

GALLEYMORE: Now, David, your parents, your family is Armenian.

BOYAJIAN: Yes.

GALLEYMORE: When did they come to the United States?

BOYAJIAN: Actually, my family, both sides of my family, were fortunate
enough to arrive in the United States well before the genocide, in the
late 19th and early 20th century. My father’s mother did go through
the 1890s massacres, however. There were terrible massacres. Up to
300,000 Armenians were killed in the 1890s. This was 20 years before
the actual big genocide in 1915. I am told that my grandmother – I
was too young to know this at the time – I’m told my grandmother used
to wake up here screaming in the middle of the night because of
nightmares she would have about what she experienced.

GALLEYMORE: And what stimulated those attacks?

BOYAJIAN: Well, Armenians were very much oppressed in that era. There
were periodic massacres, onerous taxation. The Turkish government
would let the Kurds come into town and rob and pillage Armenians. So
what happened in the 1890s was that there arose Armenian revolutionary
movements and self-defense movements, and the Turks came down even
harder on Armenians.
And there were massive occurrences of massacres at that time. So, in
effect, massacres had taken place before the revolution. Then, when
Armenians tried to defend themselves, and actually they tried very
much through the central government to enact reforms, there was an
Armenian Constitution declared in the Turkish Empire. This is what
we’re talking about, Armenians within the Turkish Empire, Ottoman
Empire. But the Armenian Constitution, the Ottoman Armenian
Constitution was never put into effect. So Armenians were subject to
massacres. And when they protested and tried to defend themselves
there were even more massacres.

GALLEYMORE: But, at that point, they weren’t driven from the land or
the towns?

BOYAJIAN: Well, they were. There were deportations. Entire villages
would be destroyed and Armenians would have to move out if they
survived. In order to decrease the population of Armenians in certain
regions where there are a lot of Armenians, what would happen is that
the Turks would deport Armenians to other areas because they did not
want an Armenian majority anywhere because they were concerned, they
knew that the Armenians were indigenous people and that they had a
claim to that land. Therefore, the Turks wanted to disperse Armenians
as much as possible.

GALLEYMORE: So, when you were growing up, you were aware that you had
this history. Did people talk about it?

BOYAJIAN: Well, it was talked about in the family. One would often go
to lectures given by academicians about the subject. Many Armenians
had, and still have some very old survivors who would relate their
stories of what actually happened during the genocide. Yes, it was
talked about in my family quite a bit.

GALLEYMORE: What I’m going to do is play some clips from videos where
a couple of survivors – now, these must have been very young children
at the time – talk about the 1915 to 1923 massacres.
Now, here is audio testimony from survivors of this genocide presented
at the Arlington, Massachusetts town meeting in October 2007 when
Arlington’s Board of Selectmen met to discuss the town’s association
with the ADL. The meeting concluded with the board voting unanimously
to sever ties with the Anti-Defamation League citing the ADL’s failure
to unambiguously acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. The first clip
shares a testimony of an Armenian survivor speaking at the meeting.

NORIAN: My name is Kevork Norian, and I am a survivor of two
genocides. But history, if it’s not that great, is fiction. And the
value of history is its accuracy. So where do we go to learn the
truth of a Turkish general who is blackmailing American Congress for
discussing the Armenian Genocide and telling that there will be grave
consequences if they recognize – they destroyed two other nations –
what several nations recognized. Hitler, in one of his speeches,
said, who talks about Armenian Genocide today, meaning that Jewish
Genocide also will be forgotten soon. Even Hitler admitted. Henry
Morgenthau was an American Ambassador from 1914 to 1916 in Istanbul,
and he was an eyewitness and saw everything that happened there. And
he wrote a book, and the title of the book is Henry Morgenthau’s
Story. In his book he explains what happened, why it happened, how it
could be prevented. Now, there were several missionaries working in
Turkey with Armenians. They founded seven colleges, a theological
seminary, and a missionary hospital. In 1915, when the Turks entered
the war, they returned home. On their way, they met the Ambassador
and told him what they saw, all those heinous atrocities that were
being committed towards Armenians. Mrs. Morgenthau day after day
listening to these stories became so nervous she couldn’t take
anymore. She left her husband and came to New York. So the
Ambassador remained one year away from his wife. In his book, he also
mentions that The New York Times was printing daily events what was
going on in Turkey. An Armenian historian, Mr. Peter Balakian, goes
to the Library of Congress and studies those written about Armenians
and writes this book The Burning Tigris. It is about Armenian
Genocide and the American reaction. In those days, Americans were
very sympathetic to Armenians. The missionaries with Armenians came
from Boston, and in Boston Faneuil Hall they founded a relief
committee. Then the committee moved to New York City and it was
headed by Mr. Franklin Roosevelt, so they get $5 million and saved
6,000 orphans and many Armenians who had lost everything. And in this
book also I have a picture, I wish everyone saw it. They gave this
picture to the Sunday school children to collect money, and it is
right here. I have given a copy of this book, one to Boston Library
and the other one to the Robbins Library. Anyone who is interested
can read this book and get a good idea what happened to Armenians.
Now, the two Jeune [Young] Turks in the military, when they lost the
war, they escaped to Germany. And an Army captain named Mustafa Kemal
declares himself the president of Turkey. He continued the same
policy, ethnic cleansing policy toward the Armenians. In 1918, the
war ended and the British came to the Southwestern part of Turkey,
which the Armenians called it Giligia. And they remained there eight
months. During those eight months, Armenians had prosperity and
peace, but it did not last long. During the War, the British and the
French were allies. After the War they became enemies, so the British
moved out and the French moved in. When the British rule was moving
out they gave weapons to the Turks and told them to fight the French,
but they couldn’t fight the French. They turned to Armenians who had
survived the genocides. I was born in Aintab. Now they changed the
name to Gaziantep, which means victorious. Can anyone meet the Turk
Ambassador and ask him, why did you change this name?
Now, two Armenian heroes in Aintab, they decided they are going to
defend the people. So all the Armenians united, and they defended
themselves for eleven months. After eleven months, the Turks ran out
of ammunition and food so they asked ceasefire. The Turks in turn see
this ceasefire as a victory. Armenians were not fighting for victory.
Armenians were fighting for self-defense. Armenians were happy that
the war ended, but it did not last long. From Paris came order to the
French general to move out of Turkey and settle in Syria, so we moved
to Syria. We came to the United States, they accepted us, they
treated us with respect and dignity, and they saved us from havoc.
So, thank you, United States, for saving us. A lot of our relatives
are still living in hell. Give a good hand to this noble nation, the
United States of America. [APPLAUSE]

GALLEYMORE: The second shorter clip shares Kevork Norian, also of
Arlington, Massachusetts recalling escaping the Armenian Genocide.

NORIAN: My father, in 1915, when the Turks entered the War, because he
was in manufacturing clothing, and the Turks, having two million
soldiers, they needed clothing, they took my father from Aintab and
took him to Haleb [Aleppo, Syria] for the production. So, for three
years, he worked for the government. And the families of those who
were working for the government were exempt from deportation. So that
was the first genocide that we were saved. And the second genocide
was in Aintab when they were going to kill everyone, Armenians made
self-defense. So that’s the second genocide, which was minor compared
to the first one. So they saved my life. I owe my life to those two
great leaders.

MAN: And then your family was forced, you were forced to move to Syria
after that, correct?

NORIAN: Well, Syria, when we came to Syria, Haleb was an old city and
a small city. About 100,000 Armenians came there. There was no
housing and a lot of people built some of the small shacks. They
lived there for 20, 25 years. And about a hundred or more families
with one bathroom, and you had to stay in line because there was no
sewer. In the bathroom you had to hold your nose, it was so stinky.
A lot of Armenians would, when they left Turkey, they came and lived
in these conditions.

MAN: What would you tell to someone who doesn’t know what happened?

NORIAN: You know, the world does not understand our pain. We were so
hurt. We needed some people to understand us so that you could feel
better. But too many people do not care, you know, or they side with
the denials. Where did ADL get its information, that they are
denying?

GALLEYMORE: Two other Massachusetts towns, Lexington and Westwood,
voted on the same day, Monday, October 15th, to break ties with the
Anti-Defamation League and its No Place for Hate program due, as we
heard from David Boyajian, to the ADL’s failure to unambiguously
acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. In addition, two days later, the
Medford Human Rights Commission unanimously voted to suspend ties with
the ADL. As you heard from David, this has started a chain reason
around the country and the No Place for Hate, which you may even have
in your neighborhood. I know I do. On another note, the House
Foreign Affairs Committee passed the measure 27 to 21 Wednesday
evening, though President Bush and key figures lobbied hard against
it. In the end, the resolution was not passed. President Bush
reiterated his opposition to the resolution saying its passage would
be harmful to US relations with Turkey. David, the issue here is not
that the genocide has not been confronted, for it is being confronted.

BOYAJIAN: It is being confronted, actually. For example, I think it
was 1997, 126 Holocaust scholars signed a petition affirming the
Armenian Genocide. In fact, I have to say, even though I’ve
criticized the ADL and American Jewish Committee here, by no means do
they represent the Jewish community in regard to the Armenian
Genocide. We have just had so much support from scholars on this
issue. The International Association of Genocide Scholars, which has
many, many Jewish academicians in it, has also officially recognized
the Armenian Genocide. And they’re the preeminent group in the world,
experts on genocide. So, you know, it’s really silly for Turks and
their friends to deny the genocide at this point.

GALLEYMORE: And yet it happens, and it happens with such vehemence.

BOYAJIAN: It does, but they are losing the battle. More and more
countries are recognizing it. Scholars are recognizing it. You know,
it’s interesting, just very recently a scholar by the name of Donald
Quataert who is an expert on Turkish history, he was a top member of
the Institute for Turkish studies in Washington funded by the Turkish
government. He just acknowledged that the Armenian Genocide occurred.
This was in a book review he was doing. Because he acknowledged the
genocide the Turkish government fired him. So the Turkish government
knows this is a losing battle, I think. They’re just trying to hold
on by their fingernails.

GALLEYMORE: And the archives in Turkey must contain some of this
history surely.

BOYAJIAN: They do, actually, although we feel that they have probably
been cleansed of the most incriminating documents. However, the
scholars that have been able to get in there have uncovered very
incriminating material. And, in the United States archives, there is
plenty of material because the United States had an ambassador there,
Henry Morgenthau, and it had also representatives in other parts of
the Turkish Empire, including the Armenian part. So it is known in
American archives and in other archives exactly what happened.

GALLEYMORE: David, where can people go to find out more online? Do
you have a website? You’ve mentioned NoPlaceForDenial.com.

BOYAJIAN: Yes, that’s for the campaign itself against ADL genocide
denial. I would also suggest Armenian-genocide.org. That’s Armenian
dash genocide dot org. They have lots and lots of documentation on
that website. It’s the website of an Armenian-American think-tank and
study group in Washington. And if they go, by the way, to the No
Place for Denial dot com website, I would also like them to note that
this campaign is continuing not just in Massachusetts. There are ADL
programs such as World of Difference and No Place for Hate throughout
the country in New York, California, particularly Santa Barbara. And
Armenians in Santa Barbara are now targeting the University of
California at Santa Barbara because it has a No Place for Hate
program. Orange County has schools that are designated as No Place
for Hate. Pennsylvania, Colorado, Texas, they all have No Place for
Hate. And I hope people speak up when they see an ADL program and
call the ADL and write their local newspapers and let them know about
this issue, that they disapprove of the ADL’s genocide denial.

GALLEYMORE: David, I want to thank you for being with us. That’s
David Boyajian today. And, again, if you’re listening and you have
some comments about this, send me an email at
[email protected] And if we have people who, in fact, do
write in, I’m going to invite you back, David, to see what we have
going on, you know, where people’s concerns are, what they have to say
for themselves.

BOYAJIAN: Thanks so much, Susan. I really appreciate being on your
program.

GALLEYMORE: That was David Boyajian on his campaign to have the
Anti-Defamation League unequivocally recognize the Armenian Genocide.
On a final but related note, Canadian Prime Minister Steven Hopper
apologized June 11, 2008 to Canada’s native people for, as he put it,
a sad chapter in our history acknowledging the physical abuses and
cultural damage they suffered during a century of forced assimilation
at residential schools. Over more than a century, about 150,000
native Canadian children were sent to boarding schools run by churches
and the government to, as they put it, civilize and Christianize them.
Expressions of native heritage were also outlawed and many children
suffered sexual and psychological abuse and grew up with neither
traditional roots nor mainstream footing, their ties to family and
community unraveled. Steven Hopper said, today we recognize that this
policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm and has no
place in our country. The government now recognizes that the
consequences of the Indian Residential Schools Policy were profoundly
negative and that this policy has had a lasting and damaging impact on
aboriginal culture, heritage and language. The apology was billed by
the government as a chance to redress a dark chapter in Canadian
history and to move forward in reconciliation. On February 14, 2008,
Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, made a formal apology for a
century of taking aboriginal children from their families and forcing
them into institutions far from their homes. Reading from a motion
that was unanimously accepted Wednesday by lawmakers on behalf of all
Australians, Rudd said, we apologize for the laws and policies of
successive parliaments and governments. Australia’s apology was
directed at tens of thousands of aborigines who were forcibly taken
from their families as children under now abandoned assimilation
policies. To the mothers and fathers, the brothers and the sisters,
for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry. And
for the indignity and degradation that’s inflicted onto proud people
and a proud culture we say sorry. So apologies are not that
far-fetched. And that’s our show for today. Thanks for listening to
Raising Sand Radio and KZSU Stanford. And, as always, if you want to
listen to any of our archived shows, visit our website at
The website and archive presents our shows
according to themes and you can search the site for show topics. You
can also visit our blog at where
you can comment on our shows. And you’re invited to email me at Susan
at Raising Sand Radio and suggest shows you’d like to hear in the
future. Again, if you have any comments about today’s show, send me
an email, [email protected] And, if there is enough of a
conversation, we can bring David Boyajian back in and continue this
conversation. Meanwhile, if you want to know more about the Armenian
Genocide, visit the website David mentioned, Armenian Genocide, that
is or the blog NoPlaceForDenial.com. PBS
also created a DVD called the Armenian Genocide that you can find at
Music we’ve heard today is from Life Aid Armenia and
the album is called `I Will Not Be Sad In This World.’ It’s Duduk
music from Armenian Djivan Gasparyan, dedicated to his people killed,
injured or made homeless by the December 1998 earthquake in that
region. The first piece we heard was `A Cool Wind is Blowing’ and
we’ll go out with the piece called `I Will Not Be Sad In This World.’
[END]

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