Jewish-Armenian Coalition Launches Armenian Genocide Recognition Eff

By Laura Boghosian and Howard Jaffe, Guest Commentary

Watertown TAB & Press
76893655/Jewish-Armenian-coalition-launches-Armeni an-Genocide-recognition-effort
March 4 2010

WATERTOWN — In 2007, Massachusetts residents learned that the
Anti-Defamation League was denying the Armenian Genocide and lobbying
for the Turkish government to prevent Congressional recognition of
this crime against humanity. Fourteen communities, led by Watertown,
as well as the Massachusetts Municipal Association, subsequently
withdrew from the ADL’s No Place for Hate program in protest.

Many in the Jewish community were shocked that the ADL and other
national Jewish organizations would actively work to deny another
people’s genocide. Members of Lexington’s Temple Isaiah and Boston’s
Temple Israel decided to act, and with Boston-area Armenians, formed
the Coalition to Recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Coalition members cite the double standard of the Holocaust being
universally recognized, while affirmation of the Armenian Genocide
is subordinated to politics. To combat this injustice, the coalition
has launched an online petition urging Congress and President Obama
to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama proclaimed "a principled
commitment to commemorating and ending genocide" that "starts with
acknowledging the tragic instances of genocide in world history,"
pledging, "As President, I will recognize the Armenian Genocide." He
reiterated the Armenian Genocide is "a widely documented fact
supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts
are undeniable. An official policy that calls on diplomats to distort
the historical facts is an untenable policy."

Yet President Obama, like those before him, acquiesced to Turkish
threats and refused to employ the word "genocide" in his remarks
last April 24, the day on which Armenians worldwide commemorate the
victims. By appeasing the Turkish government, which orchestrates
a multimillion-dollar campaign of denial, the United States makes
itself complicit in this last stage of genocide.

Some may view the Armenian Genocide as ancient history and wonder
why it is so vital to affirm the historical record. Genocide denial
endangers all humanity, as it fuels ongoing genocide and emboldens
those who would commit future mass murders. The International
Association of Genocide Scholars considers the Armenian Genocide the
template for all the 20th-century genocides that followed. Indeed,
on the eve of the Holocaust, Adolph Hitler observed, "Who, after all,
speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, under indictment by the
International Criminal Court for atrocities in Darfur, has allied
himself with Turkey, which, in turn, supplies him with weapons and
denies Sudan is committing genocide. This cycle of genocide must
be stopped!

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will vote on a bill to recognize
the Armenian Genocide in early March; if passed, it will advance to
the full House. Turkey and its apologists are hard at work to prevent
this resolution from passing. Sadly, the ADL is still speaking out
against Congressional acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide, and
is, instead, advocating Turkey’s call for a historical commission to
study the events. Seven former IAGS presidents, including Helen Fein,
Israel Charny and Gregory Stanton, have condemned this proposal as
"a political sleight of hand designed to deny" the Armenian Genocide.

As citizens, we must ensure that universal human rights and historical
truth guide American foreign policy. How we act defines us as a
people. If we insist that other nations uphold human rights, we must
do so as well. And we must be consistent and not sacrifice the rights
of some for political expediency.

Forty-three U.S. states and numerous countries and international bodies
have affirmed the Armenian Genocide. The time is long overdue for
the United States government to join them. Please sign our petition
calling for U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and ask your
family and friends to do so as well.

To sign, go to:

Laura Boghosian is a resident of Lexington. Howard L. Jaffe is rabbi
of Temple Isaiah, Lexington. They are co-founders of the Coalition
to Recognize the Armenian Genocide.

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