Abe Foxman: Genocide denier?

My regular readers here know to what lengths I go to combat Holocaust denial on the Internet. It’s a fairly regular topic on this blog, as is rebutting the lies Holocaust deniers routinely spout. Not surprisingly, Holocaust deniers like to try to portray me as either Jewish or somehow in the thrall of the ADL, much as alternative medicine aficionados like to try to paint me as being a shill for big pharma. (Hey, big pharma and all you Jews out there controlling the New World Order, where are my checks? You guys owe me several years of back payments for my online efforts to undermine the supplement and alternative medicine industries and to try to hide the “truth” about the Jews! Hint for Holocaust deniers: That’s sarcasm.)

Despite all that, I’ve never been particularly comfortable with the Anti-Defamation League. Indeed, its leader, Abe Foxman, has said and done some things that are so stupid and beyond the pale in his knee-jerk reaction to see anti-Semitism where it is and, all too often, where it isn’t, that I’ve come to see him and his fellow reactionary William Donohue of the Catholic League, who’s known for attacking “anti-Catholicism” at the drop of a hat (or at the creation of a chocolate Jesus). Despite all this, given the ADL’s extreme (and justified) sensitivity when it comes to Holocaust denial, you’d think that it would be supportive of other victims of genocide, given the Jewish experience in Nazi Germany last century.

You’d be wrong.

Longtime blog friend and fellow traveler in the fight against Holocaust denial Andrew Mathis has pointed me to a story that reveals the utter hypocrisy of Abe Foxman and the ADL on this issue. I had heard rumblings about this a few days ago, but had been so busy that I never got around to following up on it. Andrew provides the links and the commentary, and I can’t resist putting my two cents in as well about the story, which was first reported almost three weeks ago:

WATERTOWN — As far as town proclamations go, the one that declared Watertown a No Place for Hate community in July 2005 seemed like a pretty innocuous one. The goal was to celebrate diversity and challenge bigotry. And the program, in place in 67 Massachusetts communities and hundreds of others nationwide, has generated very little controversy elsewhere.

But that has not been the case in Watertown. In recent weeks, the town that bills itself as No Place for Hate on a sign outside Town Hall is abuzz with anger and frustration, especially among the large Armenian population. At issue is not the program itself, but the group behind it, the Anti-Defamation League, and in particular the ADL’s refusal to acknowledge the Armenian genocide at the hands of Turks during World War I.

Ultimately, the Watertown Town Council unanimously voted to pull out of the No Place for Hate initiative in protest of the ADL’s refusal to acknowledge the Armenian genocide and pressure has started building on other nearby communities to pull out of the initiative as well. If you think this might be an overreaction, please sample a taste of the ADL’s position on the Armenian genocide, take a look at these statements:

According to Armenians and many historians, the Turks systematically killed as many as 1.5 million Armenians living under the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923. A Polish-Jewish lawyer later coined the term genocide, citing the Armenian experience. But the Turkish government has never acknowledged their history as such, leading to decades of anger and frustration among Armenians.

Foxman said he is surprised that he has become a target of Armenians. The ADL, a group founded in 1913 to fight anti-Semitism, has no official position on the Armenian genocide, he said.

“I’m not going to be the arbiter of someone else’s history,” he said in the interview, adding that he does not believe that Congress should either. When asked specifically if what happened to Armenians under the Ottoman Empire was genocide, he replied, “I don’t know.” The ADL only takes positions, he said, on current events, not on something that happened in the past.

Or, how about this gem from Foxman:

“This is not an issue where we take a position one way or the other,” Foxman told JTA, referring to the longstanding feud between Turkey and Armenians over the issue. “This is an issue that needs to be resolved by the parties, not by us. We are neither historians nor arbiters.”

Not take positions on genocide? How disingenuous can you get? Foxman’s never been shy about making pronouncements about Jewish history particularly any history relating to Germany or the Holocaust. Moreover, the ADL has not been in the least bit shy about pushing for hate crimes legislation. I have to wonder how would Foxman react to a statement from an organization–any organization–that the Holocaust is “not an issue where we take a position one way or the other”? Indeed, perhaps the best quote of all about Foxman’s hypocrisy came from Joey Kurtzman, who said, “Unless Jewish Americans are comfortable for others to remain similarly agnostic about whether the Holocaust took place, we ought to be every bit as furious with Foxman as are Armenian Americans.”

If all Foxman had said is that he doesn’t think it’s appropriate for Congress to pass a resolution demanding that the Turkish government acknowledge the Armenian genocide because he thinks it’s inappropriate, although I would probably disagree with him, I could at least understand a principled position that government resolutions like that may be useless or counterproductive. However, couple the ADL’s resistance with its refusal to use the dreaded “g” word with respect to the Armenians, and the whole thing takes on a more sinister cast. Look at the ADL’s response to the controversy, as the ADL falls all over itself to avoid the “g” word:

ADL has acknowledged and never denied the massacres of hundreds of thousands of Armenians — and by some accounts more than one million — at the hands of the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1918.

We believe that the Turkish government must do more than it has to confront its history and to seek reconciliation with the Armenian people. We have said that to the Turkish government and its officials, we will continue to do so, and we take this opportunity to repeat it publicly. We will continue to work to convince Turkey to pursue recognition and reconciliation, and we will seek ways to encourage this process.

David Irving speaking about the Holocaust couldn’t have said it better. Indeed, Holocaust deniers frequently say things like, “We don’t deny that many Jews were killed or that many Jews died in camps.” What they do deny is that there was a systematic plan by the Nazis to exterminate the Jews of Europe; i.e., that the Holocaust was genocide. As Andrew points out, there are five main criteria in the U.N. definition of genocide:

  1. Killing members of the group.
  2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
  3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.
  4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.
  5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

The Armenian genocide met all these criteria and then some:

The Armenian genocide meets all five of these criteria. Armenians could only save their own lives (and even then it was a stretch) if they agreed to abandon the Armenian language and adopt Islam as their faith (an action that should, under no circumstances, be considered “typical” of Islam as a faith). Armenian children were given to Turkish families. Forcible relocation always (not sometimes, but always) results in deaths of the “relocated” groups.

As Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt points out, “It’s not a matter of debate. There is an overwhelming consensus among historians that work in this area that there is no question that this is a genocide. You can’t deny this history.” It’s also tempting to point out here that in August 1939 Adolf Hitler justified his plan to destroy Poland and create a new order by asking, “Who still talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?

But why would the ADL be so reluctant to back this bill or even use the word genocide when referring to what the Turks did to the Armenians? Here’s the real reason that the ADL is unwilling to go to bat for the Armenians on this issue:

We believe that legislative efforts outside of Turkey are counterproductive to the goal of having Turkey itself come to grips with its past. We take no position on what action Congress should take on House Resolution 106. The Jewish community in Turkey has clearly expressed to us and other major American Jewish organizations its concerns about the impact of Congressional action on them, and we cannot ignore those concerns. We are also keenly aware that Turkey is a key strategic ally and friend of the United States and a staunch friend of Israel, and that in the struggle between Islamic extremists and moderate Islam, Turkey is the most critical country in the world.

So, in other words, the ADL doesn’t want to piss off the Turks because the Turks are key allies and friends of Israel. Now that the heat is on, it’s reacting in a downright Stalinist manner to suppress the dissent in its ranks that this issue has caused. For example, the ADL recently fired its local New England regional leader Andrew H. Tarsy. Tarsy’s crime? He spoke out against the ADL’s stand and publicly said that the ADL should recognize the Armenian genocide. His firing has lead two prominent ADL board members in New England to resign in protest.

After the hypocrisy of Abe Foxman for refusing to acknowledge history in order to avoid causing offense to the Turks, the thing that bugs me about this is that Holocaust deniers are having a field day with it. Over in The Cesspool (a.k.a. alt.revisionism), for example, Holocaust denier and rabid anti-Semite Waldo in a thread entitled, “Why would Foxman and the ADL Deny the Armenian Genocide?” thinks he knows why the ADL won’t use the term genocide to refer to the Armenian slaughter:

There are those who make a compelling case that the leadership of the “Young Turks” and the “Committee of Union and Progress”, who orchestrated the genocide, was in fact composed largely of Jews and crypto-Jews (Jews who were masquerading as Muslims) many of these hailing from the Jewish/Crypto-Jewish community of Salonika, Greece. It is alleged that these Jews were Zionists all, and their intent was to weaken and then dissolve the Ottoman Empire so that their Zionist dream of a Jewish homeland in Palestine might be fulfilled – the Armenian Genocide being a necessary part of that plan. These further allege that the entire revolution and subsequent genocide was bankrolled by Jewish Italian bankers and further by the Rothschilds, and that Jews/Crypto-Jews have been in defacto control of Turkey ever since.

[…]

Lets face it: It simply wouldn’t do to have Jews – the world’s “ultimate victim class” fingered as the culprits of a mass genocide in the twentieth century. Imagine the stigma and the possible repercussions on the Jews of Turkey, on the Zionist movement, and on Jews in general!

Imagine what might happen to that festering Kosher boil on the face of the Middle East if the world were to learn not only of the true culprits of the Armenian Genocide, but that its birth required the Bolshevik Revolution, World Wars one and Two, and countless more incidents of betrayal, intrigue, back-stabbing and skulduggery?

Of course, the obvious response would be to point out that Abe Foxman does not represent all Jews (or probably even all that many of them) and that members of the leadership of his very own organization strongly disagree with his stand, one of them strongly enough to be fired over it and two strongly enough to resign in protest. Foxman, in his hypocrisy, gives these morons a brush with which to attempt to smear all Jews and justify their own Holocaust denial. Talk about self-defeating stands.

More:

How do you sleep? (Well worth reading in its entirety, as Andrew Mathis explains just why Foxman’s stand is so reprehensible.