BOSTON, Mass.—A petition campaign created by a broad coalition of Boston-area Jewish and Armenian groups and community members has surpassed its original goal of 10,000 signatures and continues to gain support. The online petition hosted by Change.org urges 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.
While the organizers are based in Boston, the petition has spread throughout the country reaching every state and hundreds of cities. “When you look at the diversity of those who signed the petition, it is clear that there is a strong demand by Americans throughout the country that the United States recognize the Armenian Genocide. It demonstrates that this is not simply an Armenian issue, but a powerful call to align America’s foreign policy with human rights and historical truth,” said ANC member and coalition co-chair Laura Boghosian.
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 10,000-signature mark comes just weeks after President Obama refused to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide. “Even though President Obama failed to honor his pledge this past April 24th, we will continue to fight for truth and justice. Through generating a groundswell of public support that we know exists, we will lead our elected officials to do the right thing and recognize the Armenian Genocide,” said Ara Nazarian, co-chair of the Armenian National Committee of Massachusetts.
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, Massachusetts, in reaction to the Anti-Defamation League’s 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 Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) 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 Holocaust-Genocide commemoration at the temple, inviting Dr. Richard Hovannisian to speak on the parallels between the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust.
Joining Rabbi Jaffe and Ms. 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. Others active in the work of the coalition are Herman Purutyan of the Armenian Assembly, women’s health advocate Judy Norsigian, and Eric Cohen, chair of the Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur.
Individuals and activists representing an impressive collection of Boston-area anti-genocide and community organizations participated in dialogue meetings over the past year, and groups elsewhere have endorsed the work of the coalition.
The effort was supported by the Armenian National Committee of Massachusetts (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 speak out against U.S. affirmation of that crime against humanity. Complete details of the campaign can be viewed at www.noplacefordenial.com.
To learn more about the initiative, the complete list of co-sponsors, and the Armenian Genocide, visit: http://www.recognizearmeniangenocide.org.