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State Treasurer Candidate Speaks out on Armenian Issues

Issues Statement to ANC of Massachusetts

Steve Grossman, the Democratic candidate for state treasurer of Massachusetts, issued a statement to the ANC of Massachusetts presenting his position on a number of issues of concern to the Armenian American community of the state.  In it, he notes his strong support for Congressional recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the outspoken role he has taken in criticizing the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for opposing the legislation. Grossman states that he would use his position as treasurer to promote trade between Armenia and Massachusetts and that he supported the construction of the Armenian Heritage Park on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The text of the full statement is below.

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Statement of Steve Grossman

There is perhaps no better illustration of philosopher George Santayana’s famous dictum, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” than the Armenian Genocide.

Steve Grossman

Not only did the world fail learn from the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks in 1915, far too much of the world has deliberately ignored or minimized the tragedy. We have seen far too many homicidal acts since then to let the deaths of the Armenians go unremembered or unrecognized.

As a Jewish-American I am, of course, mindful of the Holocaust. But let us not forget that genocidal acts have continued to this very day in places such as Darfur.

That is why I have always supported, and continue to support, action by the U.S. Congress to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide, and have been honored to stand with colleagues in the Armenian community to push for this long-overdue action. Failure to act is a shameful blot on the human rights record of the United States.

I have said repeatedly that I will not be afraid to use the “bully pulpit” of the Treasurer’s office to promote causes not directly under my jurisdiction, and I will urge members of Congress to vote to recognize the genocide as I have done in the past.

I was also proud to have publicly joined the Armenian National Committee and other Armenian organizations in criticizing the Anti-Defamation League and its President Abraham Foxman for refusing to acknowledge the genocide as genocide.

As some of you may know, I was an ADL board member when my dear friend Lenny Zakim was its New England regional director, and it troubled me to see this organization quite literally on the wrong side of history. I spoke out publicly in the news media and also worked behind the scenes to help members of the New England region push back against the national position. I also supported Andy Tarsy, the regional director at the time of the controversy, when he challenged the national policy.

That this issue still has not been resolved in a manner that is satisfactory to the Armenian community is a matter of great regret to me. But I have not given up the struggle.

I also supported the Armenian memorial on the Greenway, and was delighted to see it go forward, thanks in part to the work of Rep. Peter Koutoujian, who has endorsed my candidacy.

On another issue of concern to the Armenian National Committee – trade with Armenia – I will use my influence as Treasurer to promote economic ties between Massachusetts and Armenia.

I am running for this office because we face a grave economic crisis and as the owner of a 100-year-old, family-run business in Somerville my entire career has been all about creating jobs. My campaign platform is to protect the public’s money, create jobs, and boost small businesses. And in our global innovation economy, trade is a key ingredient of economic growth and job creation.

Given the strong personal relationships between Armenia and Massachusetts the two should forge extensive trade partnerships.

3 Comments on State Treasurer Candidate Speaks out on Armenian Issues

  1. avatar David Boyajian // August 31, 2010 at 3:42 pm // Reply

    Certainly Steve Grossman says some very welcome and principled things above and should be thanked.

    Mr. Grossman is a highly respected figure not only in Massachusetts but also throughout the country.   He is a man of enormous intelligence, accomplishments, and talents.

    For example, he was chairman of the Democratic National Committee
    from 1997 to 1999.   He was previously chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party from 1990 to 1992.

    Mr. Grossman was also chairman of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) from 1992 to 1997.  

    However, since the campaign against the genocide denials of the Anti-Defamation League began in 2007, I have had some concerns about AIPAC and Mr. Grossman but have not written about these concerns until now.


    In the June 8, 2010 issue of The Washington Times is an article by Eli Lake titled “American Jewish community ends support of Turkish interests on Hill.” It is essential reading: 

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jun/8/jewish-community-ends-support-turkey-capitol-hill/


    According to the article, AIPAC was asked by
    Turkey in the year 2000 to work to defeat the US House of Representatives resolution on the Armenian genocide.  AIPAC agreed and got right to work.

    Please see these two excerpts:

    “The Turks called up Keith Weissman, a senior researcher from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC], and asked him to intervene. Mr. Weissman said in an interview this week that AIPAC lit up the phones and managed at the last minute — with the help of the State Department — to persuade President Clinton himself to write a letter to Mr. Hastert saying a vote on the resolution would cause strategic damage to U.S. interests.”

    “Mr. [Barry] Jacobs [of the American Jewish Committee] and Mr. Weissman were in some ways the architects of the Jewish community’s support for Turkey in Washington that began at the end of the Cold War.   Both men led delegations of Jewish community leaders to Istanbul and Ankara. Mr. Weissman said AIPAC’s leaders even offered training to Turkish Americans on how to establish a successful lobby.

    One of several questions, therefore, that Armenians and human rights activists must ask is this:  did AIPAC oppose Armenian Americans and represent
    Turkey’s interests during Mr. Grossman’s tenure?   To what extent did AIPAC cooperate with Turkey before and after Mr. Grossman’s tenure (when, presumably, he was a leading AIPAC member)?

    I recall reading sometime back – though I cannot now recall where and when exactly (perhaps a reader would know) – that a member of AIPAC stated absolutely that the organization had never sided with
    Turkey on the Armenian genocide resolution issue. 

    We know now, from The Washington Times article cited above, that that is not true, to put it mildly. 

    The national ADL, AIPAC,  AJC, JINSA and similar organizations that have long worked with Turkey to deny the Armenian genocide and defeat Armenian genocide resolutions in the US Congress must not only unambiguously, publicly, and forthrightly acknowledge the Armenian genocide but also begin to repair the vast damage they have done by henceforth working vigorously and publicly to ensure passage of that resolution.  They must also publicly apologize to Armenian Americans. 

    (Please see http://www.NoPlaceForDenial.com for information about the ADL and similar groups’ genocide denials.)

    Despite The Washington Times article cited above, and similar articles that report Jewish and Israeli anger at Turkey, and despite the current tensions between Turkey and Israel, there is no convincing evidence that I have seen that would lead me to believe that, in actual practice, the aforementioned organizations (and several others) support Turkey and its genocide denials any less than before.

    There are many other questions that could be asked, but perhaps those are best left to another time. 

    I want to emphasize that I write the above with respect to our many, many
    principled Jewish friends and to Mr. Grossman.

    I believe that Armenian individuals and organizations in Massachusetts must now ask Mr. Grossman for clarification of his record at AIPAC and the latter’s ongoing record.  

    Other candidates for treasurer and statewide offices in Massachusetts should also be asked about their record regarding the Armenian genocide, and, for example, whether they had publicly supported the Armenian Heritage Park and opposed the  (presumably adjudicated) Turkish lawsuit against the Massachusetts Department of Education.

    As citizens, this is not only our right but also our obligation.

  2. Didn’t Obama say the same thing before the Zionist run State Department got to him?

  3. Well said Dave!  Thanks for bringing this up to our attention.

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