The Anti-Defamation League (ADL)-sponsored campaign to combat bigotry and celebrate diversity (“No Place for Hate”) has sparked bitter resentment in Watertown, MA—a small town whose 8,000 Armenian-Americans comprise nearly 25% of the population. Local Armenians do not object to the initiative, rather the group behind it, the ADL and its director, Abraham Foxman—whom they charge, correctly, with denying the ugly established legacy of the World War I era Armenian genocide. Under the authoritarian Young Turk (Ittihadist) regime, the bulk of the Armenian population from the territories of the Ottoman Empire—some 1 to1.5 million Armenians—were purged by violent and lethal means, which reproduced the historical conditions of a classical Islamic jihad: deportation, enslavement, forced conversion, and massacre.
Mr. Foxman maintains that dismantling a program designed to fight hatred simply because the ADL does not share what he refers to as the “Armenians’ viewpoint”, would be “bigoted.” Moreover Foxman and the ADL, who have spoken out in recent times against ethnic cleansing of Muslims in the Balkans and the genocide against the syncretist black African Animist-Muslims in Darfur, are in effect oddly “neutral” on the Armenian genocide: “We're not party to this, and I don't understand why we need to be made party.” But even this morally-challenged “neutrality” is disingenuous. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (4/23/07, “Turks want genocide commission”), Mr. Foxman and the ADL are actively lobbying against the Armenian genocide recognition legislation in the Congress (HR 106) and the Senate (SR 106), including the presentation of letters from the Jewish community of Turkey complemented by, “their own [i.e., the ADL's] statement opposing the bill.”
Interviewed for a November 19, 2003 story in The Christian Science Monitor, following the bombing of Istanbul’s two main synagogues by indigenous Turkish jihadist groups, Rifat Bali, a scholar, and Turkish Jew, acknowledged the chronic plight of Turkey’s small, dwindling Jewish community, whose social condition remains little removed from the formal “dhimmi” status of their ancestors. Dhimmis were those non-Muslims, including Jews, subjugated by jihad, and forced to live under Islamic Law as non-citizen pariahs, physically segregated, often in squalid ghettoes, as was the case for the Jews of Istanbul. Discriminatory regulations limited their most basic rights, vis a vis Muslims, with regard to penal law, taxation, and religious practice. Bali’s informed remarks echoed the chronic, unresolved concerns which lead to the mass exodus of 40% of Turkey’s Jews to Israel within two years of its creation in 1948, and the dual 2003 Istanbul synagogue bombings transiently illuminated—a largely marginalized society, whose shrinking numbers and “other problems” were deliberately downplayed by community leaders:
The Turkish Jews have not been fully integrated or Turkified, and they have had to limit their expectations. A kid grows up knowing he is never going to become a government minister, so no one tries, and the same goes for positions in the military.
Amoral denial of the Armenian genocide by Foxman and the ADL abets the exploitation of beleaguered Turkish Jews as dhmmi “lobbyists” for the government of Turkey.
Also, since 1950, both the Turkish press and Islamic literature have steadily increased their output of theological Islamic Antisemitism—based upon core anti-Jewish motifs in Islam’s foundational texts—the Koran, hadith, and sira. This theologically-based anti-Jewish animus grew steadily in stridency, and during the 1970s through 1990s, was melded into anti-Zionist and anti-Israel invective by Turkey’s burgeoning fundamentalist Islamic movement.
The Armenian genocide denial “strategy” of Mr. Foxman and the ADL has succeeded, perversely, in further isolating Jews, while failing, abysmally, to alter a virulently Antisemitic Turkish religious (i.e., Islamic), and secular culture—the latter perhaps best exemplified by the wildly popular, and most expensive film ever made in Turkey, “Valley of the Wolves” (released February, 2006) which features an American Jewish doctor dismembering Iraqis supposedly murdered by American soldiers in order to harvest their organs for Jewish markets. Prime Minister Erdogan not only failed to condemn the film, he justified its production and popularity. This is the same Mr. Erdogan who in 1974, then serving as president of the Istanbul Youth Group of the Islamic fundamentalist National Salvation Party wrote, directed, and played the leading role in a theatrical play entitled Maskomya, staged throughout Turkey during the 1970s. Mas-Kom-Ya was a compound acronym for “Masons-Communists-Yahudi [Jews]”, and the play focused on the evil, conspiratorial nature of these three entities whose common denominator was Judaism.
Yet ADL ignores the plight of Turkish Jews, defends Erdogan, and apparently still believes Erdogan’s “moderate Islamic” regime remains a committed ally of Israel. Is this silence on Turkish Antisemitism, and the immoral denial of the Armenian genocide Foxman’s Faustian bargain for Turkey’s dubious “support” of Israel?
As a Jew, I find the ongoing efforts by Mr. Foxman and the ADL to deny recognition of the Armenian genocide morally repugnant, ignorant, and particularly inappropriate for an organization geared to reducing, as opposed to abetting and fomenting Antisemitism, and other forms of irrational hatred.
Andrew G. Bostom, MD, MS, Associate Professor of Medicine, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Author of "The Legacy of Jihad" (2005) and the forthcoming "The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism" (2007), www.andrewbostom.org