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Armenian National Committee Letter to Senator Markey regarding Suffolk Law School commencement, Abraham Foxman

by Ara A. Jeknavorian, Ph.D., Co-Chair, Armenian National Committee. April 30, 2014.

Posted: Sunday, May 04, 2014 at 09:57 PM UT


U.S. Senate Resolution 410 Armenian -Genocide/U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Resolution 410 on April 11, 2014.

U.S. Senate Resolution 410 (PDF)

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Resolution 410 on April 11, 2014.

Armenian National Committee, Merrimack Valley
142 Liberty St.
Lowell, MA 01851

April 30, 2014

Dear Senator Markey:

I am writing on behalf of the Armenian National Committee of America,  Merrimac Valley.

You are a long-time friend of the Armenian American community, particularly of Massachusetts.  On April 11, for example, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Resolution 410, which you co-sponsored.  It calls upon Turkey to acknowledge the Armenian genocide of 1915.

You are also a lawyer and a long-serving public servant who is scheduled to speak and receive a public service award at the Suffolk Law School commencement in Boston on May 17, 2014.  

You deserve this honor and much more, and we are sure that you have important things to tell the graduating students about the law, including international law.

We ask that you tell Suffolk University President James McCarthy that you will not attend its law school’s commencement unless he first withdraws the invitation to Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman to speak and receive an honorary law degree.

While you deserve the honor that Suffolk Law intends to bestow on you (including your honorary law degree from Suffolk twelve years ago), Mr. Foxman does not.

Mr. Foxman is the head of an organization that claims to support the civil and human rights of all people, regardless of ethnicity or religion.

Under Mr. Foxman, however, the ADL has not lived up to that ideal in important respects.  On the contrary, for decades the ADL has denied the reality of the Armenian genocide. 

Moreover, the ADL has long worked directly with the Turkish government, which is a well-known human rights violator, to defeat resolutions brought before the U.S. Congress that recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Indeed, he and the national ADL oppose the very Armenian genocide resolution that you are co-sponsoring.

“Denying the horrific murder of 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children from 1915-23 as well as the attempt to erase 3000 years of Armenian civilization from Asia Minor clearly parallels denial of the Jewish Holocaust.”

— Ara A. Jeknavorian, Ph.D., Co-Chair, Armenian National Committee, Merrimack Valley.

Denying the horrific murder of 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children from 1915-23 as well as the attempt to erase 3000 years of Armenian civilization from Asia Minor clearly parallels denial of the Jewish Holocaust.

No person or organization that truly upholds universal human rights would do such a thing.

Mr. Foxman certainly does not deserve an honorary law degree.

On August 21, 2007, Mr. Foxman perverted international law.   On that date, he issued an infamous statement that described the Armenian deaths of 1915 as “consequences” of wartime action.

As you and other lawyers know, under the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention, a perpetrator must have specific “intent” in order for an act to be considered genocide.  Mr. Foxman’s use of the word “consequences” was clearly meant to ensure that the murders could not be described as “intentional” and would, therefore, be ineligible for prosecution for genocide.

It is contradictory for a law school and lawyers to honor a man who sidesteps international law on a proven genocide, Armenian or otherwise.

The Massachusetts Municipal Association and a dozen Massachusetts cities, including Arlington, Belmont, Medford, Newton, Needham, and Somerville, recognized Mr. Foxman’s August 21 statement as an attempt to skirt international law.  In 2007 – 2008, they all severed ties with the ADL’s so-called “No Place for Hate” program.

During Mr. Foxman’s tenure, the ADL has also been widely reported to have engaged in illegal domestic surveillance.  In 2007, the police chief of Arlington, Massachusetts stated publicly that he could obtain intelligence information from the ADL that his police department could not otherwise obtain legally on its own.  No human rights organization would engage in such activity.

President McCarthy has stated that he is honoring Mr. Foxman for his “body of work.”   Much of that work, as you can see, is unworthy of being honored by Suffolk Law School.   By honoring Mr. Foxman, it is putting the prestige and good name of Suffolk University, as well as the honor of its faculty and students, in jeopardy.   The student chapter of the National Lawyers Guild at Suffolk Law agrees, as do a thousand others who have expressed their opposition to the invitation to Mr. Foxman.

We wish to emphasize that it is not a matter of our or your simply disagreeing with Mr. Foxman.   Rather, it is his and his ADL’s record and their disrespect for international law and settled historical facts.

Mr. Foxman does not deserve the honor of sitting on the same stage as you.  It is an insult to the U.N. Genocide Convention, and, we believe, to you.

Again, we respectfully ask that you not attend the Suffolk Law commencement unless the University first withdraws its invitation to Mr. Foxman.

Sincerely,

Ara A. Jeknavorian, Ph.D.

Co-Chair



Editors' Note: 
The 8 Stages of Genocide — 1. Classification, 2. Symbolization, 3. Dehumanization, 4. Organization, 5. Polarization, 6. Preparation, 7. Extermination, and 8. Denial

This is an official telegram sent by Henry Morgenthau Sr. on July 16, 1915 to what he describes a process of 'race extermination' in regards to what was happening to the Armenians at that time. Morgenthau served as the United States ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1913-1916. (Source: United States State Department)

This is an official telegram sent by Henry Morgenthau Sr. on July 16, 1915 to what he describes a process of 'race extermination' in regards to what was happening to the Armenians at that time. Morgenthau served as the United States ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1913-1916.
(Source: United States State Department)

PRESS RELEASE
Anti-Defamation League

New York, NY, August 21, 2007: Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) statement:

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. On reflection, we have come to share the view of Henry Morgenthau, Sr. that the consequences of those actions were indeed tantamount to genocide. If the word genocide had existed then, they would have called it genocide.

I have consulted with my friend and mentor Nobel Laureate 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 history.

Having said that, we continue to firmly believe that a Congressional resolution on such matters is a counterproductive diversion and 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 States.

New York, NY, August 21, 2007: Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) statement on the Armenian Genocide.

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