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Armenian, Jewish Leaders Launch Grassroots Petition for Genocide Recognition (Updated)

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Coalition Describes ‘Historical Commission’ as a Turkish ‘Ploy’ to Advance Ankara’s Denial

BOSTON, Mass.—A broad coalition of Boston-area Jewish and Armenian groups and community members launched a campaign this week urging U.S. officials to stand up to Turkey’s multi-million dollar campaign of genocide denial, specifically calling on Congress and President Obama to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of Massachusetts (ANC-MA).

The Coalition to Recognize the Armenian Genocide’s online petition declares, “We believe universal human rights and historical truth must guide American foreign policy.”

“This initiative is important because it demonstrates how on a grassroots level, in both the Jewish and Armenian communities, there is a demand for justice for the Armenian Genocide,” said ANC member and coalition co-chair Laura Boghosian. “It is vital that the powerful in Washington, whether they are in the State Department or in lobbying organizations, realize that they will be called to task when they sacrifice principle and historical truth for political expediency.”

The online petition, hosted on change.org—a prominent activism portal created following the election of President Obama—provides a simple form to take action, as well as a link to resources and background on the Armenian Genocide, Turkey’s denial of that crime against humanity, and why denial of the Armenian Genocide endangers everyone.

The petition’s letter to members of Congress and President Obama states, “As we confront the specter of genocide and its denial in the 21st century, our government has a duty to ensure that the lessons of the past are not forgotten.  The time is long overdue for the United States to stand up to Turkish pressure and join the 43 individual U.S. states and numerous countries and international bodies that have affirmed the Armenian Genocide.”

The campaign draws special attention to international condemnation of Turkey’s calls for a “historical commission” regarding the Armenian Genocide—most recently incorporated in the Turkey-Armenia protocols.  Genocide scholars have long expressed skepticism about any initiative calling for a “historical commission.”

“Because Turkey has denied the Armenian Genocide for the past nine decades, and currently under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, public affirmation of the genocide is a crime, it would seem impossible for Turkey to be part of a process that would assess whether or not Turkey committed a genocide against the Armenians in 1915.  Outside of your government, there is no doubt about the facts of the Armenian Genocide, therefore our concern is that your demand for a historical commission is a political sleight of hand designed to deny those facts,” noted a November 2009 letter signed by seven former presidents of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (Helen Fein, Roger W. Smith, Frank Chalk, Joyce Apsel, Robert Melson, Israel W. Charny, and Gregory Stanton).

The coalition is an outgrowth of a dialogue between members of the Boston-area Jewish and Armenian communities that was initiated by Rabbi Howard L. Jaffe of Temple Isaiah, Lexington, Mass., in reaction to the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) lobbying for the Turkish government against affirmation of the Armenian Genocide.  Rabbi Jaffe first advocated recognition of the Armenian Genocide in October 2007, when he told the New York Times that he must do what is “right and righteous.”  In 2008, he co-authored an article with Boghosian that condemned the ADL’s lobbying and called upon the Jewish community to join in efforts to recognize the Armenian Genocide.  He also invited the local Armenian community to participate in a joint Genocide-Holocaust commemoration at the temple, inviting Dr. Richard Hovannisian to speak on the parallels between the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust.

Joining Rabbi Jaffe and Boghosian on the steering committee of the dialogue group were Rabbis Ronne Friedman and Elaine Zecher of Temple Israel in Boston, ANC member Dikran Kaligian, and Temple Isaiah members Howard Cohen and Alan Millner.

Individuals and activists representing a impressive collection of Boston-area anti-genocide and community organizations signed on and participated in dialogue meetings over the past year.

The effort was supported by the ANC-MA, the Armenian American Action Committee of Massachusetts (ARAMAC-MA), and Investors Against Genocide, a broad-based coalition formed as a result of the grassroots “No Place for Denial” campaign spotlighting the ADL’s denial of the Armenian Genocide.  Although the ADL has stated that the death of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turkish government was “tantamount to genocide,” it continues to aggressively lobby against U.S. affirmation of that crime against humanity.  Complete details of the campaign can be viewed a www.noplacefordenial.org.

To sign the petition, visit http://www.change.org/actions/view/tell_congress_to_recognize_the_armenian_genocide.

To learn more about the initiative and the Armenian Genocide, visit http://www.recognizearmeniangenocide.org.

9 Comments on Armenian, Jewish Leaders Launch Grassroots Petition for Genocide Recognition (Updated)

  1. The support of the Jewish leaders is not needed.  All is asked is that Jewish leaders stop actively blocking recognition of the Armenian genocide.  Just stop being complicit with genocidal Turkey.  Perhaps Jewish organizations should clean up their house from genocide deniers such as Abraham Foxman.

  2. Hye, all good wishes for your endeavors to join together, requesting  Congress to pass the current bill HR 252 for recognition of the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation. 
    For all these years,  Jews  could not see beyond their own pains, could  not step up and speak out against other Genocides, even the Turkish Genocide of Armenians – which followed less than a generation later.
    Too, Jews employed in the State Department , even to this day, maintain their affinity to Turkish leaderships - thus agreeing with Turks in their denials of their Genocide of the Armenians!
    How does a State Department of the United States of America still maintains this stance when  43 of the 50 states of the United States of America, to date, have recognized the guilt of the Ottomans and their subsequent leaderships in perpetrating the Genocide of the Christian Armenian nation?   The political aspect outdoes the morally correct – a nation that ‘bows’ to the likes of a Turkey.  Is the State Department determining policies – even against the  majority of the voting citizens of the USA? 
    Manooshag

  3. Why now?  – is it because of recent Turkish politics towards the State of Israel?
    Has the ADL, AJC, and other shameful Jewish organizations stopped blocking the Armenian holocaust recognition in the US Congress?
    How about the Jewish organizations opposition to the Armenian holocaust memorial in the city of Boston – should we now forget those deeds?  Is the Armenian holocaust-denier Abraham Foxman is still leading the ADL?
    Rabbi Hillel said it best: “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”

  4. When I think that I helped little Ani Douglas do a paper on her Armenian heritage for school on the island of Bermuda, then we are each an embassy that needs to be opened for the business below.
    The Tell Congress to Recognize the Armenian Genocide started four days ago with a goal of 10,000 letters, will crest 2,000 letters any moment now. Taking 45 minutes, I the 150+ pages of those who make up the 2,000 demonstrates how well this effort  is working.

    Respondents are now from 48 states and has actually seeped out to bring responses from 13 foreign countries (Armenia, Austria, Austrailia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, United Kingdom).

    WE are all potential mavens, must get the message out and reinforce two things:
    1. That each of us should send this to our email list of friends (my list went  out to over 1,700)
    2. Let people know that they can add a photo and write their own personal comments, (I learned I could have after I signed on but just look at these below that make up just over 2% of the respondents):

    Words can not express the feeling one receives to see a friend from work or school or fellow war veteran adding their name and especially those letters going to house and senate districts which have yet to sign on or co-sponsor. 
    It is time we open up to our friends, colleagues, clients and our organizations’ members yo just give them all this one clear and collective opportunity to express that which may have resided in their heart for decades.
    Courage,
    Manoog

  5. Dear Armenians

    You “must” start collaborating with Jews and Israel.
    Complacency on the Armenian side is causing havoc amongst you Armenians.
    A chance lost for you Armenians, is a chance gained for terroristic turkey.
    Every people and every nation on planet earth know quite well turks bloody history, wherever they went, blood followed.
    Berj, “politics makes strange bedfellows,” is what the Americans say, am I right? What does it matter what the ADL or Foxman said in the past, now is the time to mend fences and start new. The more Armenians complain, the faster the turks feel in the gaps, and thus they are ahead of Armenians not by one step but 100.
    In private Jews will tell you that turks are “unreliable” partners,  not a surprise for us Kurds and Armenians, since we have known the turks for centuries. And turks will tell you that Jews are turkey’s worst nightmare, and that they will strike Israel if they have/had the chance.  The moral of this post: Armenians unite, Armenians make inroads into Israeli/Jewish politics. Make friends with Jews wherever they might be. Antagonizing the Jews will make all of our goals go to nowhere.
    I hope Armenians will swallow their pride an move on the offensive and start building friendship bridges with world Jewery and the state of Israel.
    Ferhat

  6. avatar Berge Jololian // February 7, 2010 at 3:50 pm // Reply

    There is no policy change from heads of the Jewish organizations such as JINSA, AJC and the ADL.  The heads of these genocide-deniers continue to deny and block formal acknowledgment of the Armenian genocide in the US Congress.
    Before Jewish individuals join in a grassroots effort with Armenians; they need to ask their leaders to change policy on denial of the Armenian genocide.  Otherwise what’s the point?

  7. Berge
    In politics, relations do not end abruptly. Even though most Turks hate Jews, Armenians, Americans and Kurds, Israel and the Jewish diaspora cannot change 50 years of strategic alliance with one stroke of a pen. I too am disgusted with the Jewish lobby’s anti-Armenian stance, but it will change soon, very very soon. Israel will not stay silent for long. The anti-Israel rhetoric of tuirkish politicians and the rise of Islamic fascism is on the rise. Remember the garbage coming from erdogans mouth, and the murder of Christian Turks on the hands of these so called grey dogs?
    Besides the US needs military installations in the middle east, and occupied Kurdish territories are used for that purpose.
    I hope and pray that the weapons supplied by Israel to the turks won’t be used against Armenia.
    I hope that Israel has some kind of contingency plans to subdue turkish hooliganism if and when it gets out of order. Only Israel can teach turkey a well deserved lesson. We pray for that day..
    Until then, it is a wait and see situation.
    Ferhat

  8. Political solutions can only go so far but spirituality can heal the deepest wounds that a person or a nation has Every nation has its share of hate but love and compassion can build bridges of peace that will not collapse It  good that  Jews and Armenians  come  together and share their collective pain We know that human beings are capable of  the  most despicable crimes against their fellow humans but we also know that human beings are capable of unselfish acts of altruism  History is replete with both examples We are in the 21st century and now is the time to realize that we are one world family thus treating one another with love and respect because that is the only way to end war and have peace and prosperity

  9. Silliness by construct. If they want to form a coalition, form a protest to go after Israeli and Jewish opposition to the recognize of the Armenian Genocide. Expose the Jewish hypocrisy for what it is: epidemic
    Israel denies the Armenian Genocide because doing so benefits their policy goals. Their decision is unprincipled and decades old. US Jewish Groups should stand up against Israeli policy and demand recognition of the Armenians.
    But only after Turkey showed signs opposing Israeli Gaza blockade do we see Israeli and Jewish groups show interest in the Armenian Genocide. No principle, purely political and vindictive. Unworthy of trust.
     
     

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