An Open Letter to ‘Facing History and Ourselves’

To: Executive Director Margot Strom, Associate Executive Director Martin Sleeper, Board Chairwoman Tracy Palandjian

I am deeply offended and disappointed to learn that one of our nation’s foremost genocide education organizations—Facing History and Ourselves (FHAO)—has elected to “partner” with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to sponsor a panel discussion on “The New Anti-Semitism: A Contemporary Discussion in Historic Faneuil Hall” in Boston on Nov. 7, 2011. Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director, will be one of the panelists.

I respectfully urge you to withdraw FHAO from its partnership with the ADL for this event.

Mr. Foxman and the national ADL have denied the factuality of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-23 committed by Turkey. And they have used their considerable influence to actively assist the government of Turkey to defeat Armenian Genocide resolutions in the U.S. Congress. A political agreement two decades ago among Turkey, certain organizations such as the ADL, and Israel brought this about (see

Since the summer of 2007, due specifically to their disapproval of the ADL’s genocide denial and lobbying efforts against the Armenian American resolution, more than a dozen major Massachusetts cities and towns have ceased their affiliation ( with the ADL’s so-called “No Place for Hate” program.

In April 2008, for precisely the same reasons, the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA), which represents every city and town in the state, also severed ties with “No Place for Hate.”

The national ADL drew widespread condemnation from principled Jews, human rights advocates, editorialists, and others. These events made national and international news (see

To deflect growing criticism, on Aug. 21, 2007, Mr. Foxman issued a statement which masqueraded as an acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide. The statement not only used deceptive and dishonest language, such as “tantamount to genocide,” but also implied that the Armenian killings were not intentional but rather merely the “consequence” of Turkish “actions.” FHAO is aware that Article II of the United Nations Genocide Convention specifically requires “intent” for killings to be considered genocide. “Consequences” is, however, the opposite of “intent.”

Cities, towns, and the MMA weren’t buying Mr. Foxman’s act. They severed ties with the ADL’s “No Place for Hate” even after the ADL statement.

The ADL has yet to unambiguously recognize the Armenian Genocide. And Mr. Foxman continues to oppose passage of the Armenian Genocide resolution, contemptuously calling it a “counterproductive diversion.”

Neither Mr. Foxman nor the ADL has ever apologized to the Armenian people for their actions.

The ADL has stated that any diminishment of the Holocaust is anti-Semitic and constitutes hate speech. Yet the ADL has diminished the Armenian Genocide. By its own definition, therefore, the ADL is guilty of hate speech. Would FHAO partner with an organization and man that diminished the Holocaust and opposed the many Congressional resolutions on the Holocaust? Why, then, would you partner with the ADL? This is incomprehensible, especially as FHAO has long had an educational program on the Armenian Genocide (see

We know that the ADL’s and similar groups’ appeasement of Turkey—for example, Mr. Foxman presented Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan with a “Courage to Care Award” a few years ago—has failed dismally on an international level as well.

I am at a loss to understand why or how your partnership with Mr. Foxman has come about. One hopes that ADL members among FHAO’s donors and its treasurer, Elizabeth Jick, who is an ADL Executive Committee member, did not unduly influence your decision.

I respectfully call upon you to withdraw FHAO’s partnership with the ADL in the Nov. 7 event. I hope that when FHAO considers the facts and the long-term credibility of its programs and dedicated staff, it will do the right thing.

David Boyajian
Belmont, MA

Note: To ask Facing History and Ourselves to not partner with the ADL on Nov. 7, contact the organization by e-mailing; calling (617) 232-1595 or 1-800-856-9039 (toll-free); or writing to 16 Hurd Road, Brookline, MA 02445.

David Boyajian
David Boyajian is an Armenian American freelance journalist.


  1. David Boyajian’s strong reaction to Facing History’s participation on the panel with ADL is  understandable.  However, given the venue, it is likely that attendees will have not forgotten the resignation a few years ago of the ADL Regional Dir occasioned by controversy over inclusion of the Armenian Genocide in a curriculum.  A request that the Facing History representative on the panel bring the Genocide to the conversation…. is an opportunity for understanding between the Armenian and Jewish communities. Such a request would be more constructive and potentially productive for Armenian interests than the call for a boycott.

  2. A few years ago i participated in FHAO sponsored show with Liz Lerman Dance Company and Sayat Nova Dance Company that brought to Boston’s Majestic Theatre stage the stories of 2 genocides – Armenian and Jewish. Today I wonder if FHAO’s mission changed because the partnership with ADL in the upcoming “The New Anti-Semitism: A Contemporary Discussion in Historic Faneuil Hall” event in Boston on November 7, 2011 is about as ridiculous as it gets – it is UNACCEPTABLE for FHAO to be in any partnership with ADL while ADL betrays every victim of every genocide by its perpetration of lies and crime against humanity. ADL today is nothing but a self-appointed authority on “Jewish opinion” which in fact it is not. ADL’s positions are simply products of political games and prostituting principles for alliances and money. ADL is BULLYING Jewish and non-Jewish people who don’t agree with their positions because they can, because the budget they’re operating on every year allows them to do whatever the hell they want. Just like Turkey keeps spending hundreds upon hundreds of millions of dollars every year on the genocide cover up game around the world. It’s sickening! Is FHAO really going to shake hands with that?! I think FHAO should partner up with “Jewish Voice for Peace” ( instead so it’s really combating prejudice and hatred like its mission is implying …
    In case anyone doesn’t know what ADL is busy doing, educate yourself, start with “DEFAMATION” documentary shot by an Israeli Jew Yoav Shamir – here’s a short trailer of the film and you can watch the entire film on Netflix (possibly on youtube too, but it’s broken in separate parts there) 

  3. I think this article is OFF.  If it wasn’t for Facing History the Armenian Genocide would not be known by the larger public.  I know Armenian organizations do their work but the allies we have had out there have made this so public and we should be grateful.  The ADL did make their comment and then they also came out later and said they DO acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.  I think it is very dangerous to print an article that is not fully accurate.  

  4. Susan, feel free to share a link / reference to ADL’s alleged acknowledgement because clearly many of us are not aware of it. On a related note: you know what is really dangerous – “partnering” with an entity / individuals that’s bullying the very people it claims to represent first and foremost, Jews. Not the Jews who follow ADL like a cult and believe every word from Mr Foxman’s mouth, but the Jews who actually take the time to research and think independently and want to also be heard but don’t get such an opportunity because they get silenced by ADL. You should watch the documentary I recommended “Defamation” if you’re looking for an “ON” take on ADL

  5. well said Karina D (retort to Susan).

    and Susan, this statement  ‘If it wasn’t for Facing History the Armenian Genocide would not be known by the larger public.’  is merely your unsupported  opinion.

    There are many, many Armenian organizations that work diligently  to educate the public at large about the AG. Quite a few of them in fact. There is no doubt FHAO does excellent work.  However, there are quite a few others who do so as well.

  6. I agree that Foxman does not live up to the moral equivalency he demands of others – and that, in itself is a disgrace – especially to Jews who DO care, and SHOULD care about the very principle of discrimination. I am a Jew – and I very strongly abhor the political pandering Foxman resorts to.
    I regularly comment the Jerusalem Post, EVERY time any subject on Erdogan or Turkey is published, and I can assure you, that there are many Israeli and Greek comments repeatedly referring to the Armenian and Greek genocide, on a daily basis. Erdogan is a treacherous and dangerous thug, who hides behind many masks – and it has taken Israelis a long time to see through his double -speak and motives, as well as his dark and dangerous ambitions to revive an Islamic caliphate – and for him to succeed he viciously set about gaining acceptance from the hostile Arab nations surrounding Israel – with a population of 650,000 Jew hating islamists to every 1 Israeli. When he started provoking and defaming Israelis – it was for the sole purpose of gaining credibility and approval from the Arabs. No different from the Ottoman Turks – who – to disguise their motives – enlisted Armenians in the Ottoman army ………and we all know how they innocently followed orders, not realizing that they were signing their death warrants. The Turks appeased the Kurds, and got them to do the dirty work against the Armenians, the Greeks from Pontus, Thrace, Marmara, Anatolia and Smyrna – and we all know the tragedy that followed this barbaric crime against humanity. It did not stop there. When the Turks were ‘scolded’ by their German “friends” in ww2, for being “nice” to Jews – the Turks ruthlessly set adrift a ship full of death camp refugees from the holocaust – and watched as 700 death camp survivors drowned on the STRUMA. Since the Erdogan ambitions for acceptance by the Arab enemies of Israel started developing, and the paid IHH terrorists posturing as “peace activists” on the Mavi Mavara violated Israels legal blockade of the terrorist controlled Gaza incident – Israelis have started taking a very hard look at Erdogan and his criminal associates. The Kurds also, have understood that NO MINORITY is safe on Turkish (stolen) lands. Foxman panders to the liberal left wing – just as Obama and Hillary Clinton do. We all remember Obama’s LIES to the Armenian community – when he was desperate for donations and votes from Armenian voters. He and Nancy Pelosi, along with Hillary – are from the same moral cesspool – which now openly embrace Erdogan, and his genocidal ambitions – and Israel is finally smelling the coffee. Connecting the points. I am ashamed, deeply ashamed – of the behavior and hypocracy of the current, ignorant, incompetent administration – and DISGUSTED at the corruption and zero morals of the “so called” Nobel prize recipient – who is nothing but a fraud. Jews who support him – are sleeping in the same bed, I am horrified to discover. IT WAS GENOCIDE AND ALWAYS WILL BE GENOCIDE, just as the Turk’s assault on the sovereign soil of CYPRUS – where today, since 1974 – mothers and children of 1,619 Greek Cypriot POWS – are still demanding to know what happened to their loved ones – who “disappeared” whilst in Turk custody. They were MURDERED whilst in Turk custody – and the commission in Switzerland has concluded the report – but the  Turks have furiously been “lobbying” the commission (bribing) to STOP the report from being published, which clearly indicates violations of the Geneva Convention, mass murder and landtheft. As a Jew I can say, and will say that I am DISGUSTED with Foxman, and hypocrites like Molly Freeman, who betray the very horror and tragedy inflicted on mankind – the genocide of the Jews in Europe – was NO DIFFERENT from the Armenian genocide. Neither morally or otherwise. The first “pilot” death camps and concentration camps were INVENTED by the British – during the 1st & 2nd Anglo-Boer war – ( operation scorched earth) – Google LIZZIE VAN ZYL, to see the horror of British animals, who deliberately starved hundreds and thousands of women and children in British concentration camps – and I should know – because my grandparents were victims of the first British genocide against defenceless farmers. If my grandfather had not survived, and not written down his memoirs, I would not have have known. As a Jew, with conscience and moral inventory – I cannot stand by and not denounce hypocrites like Foxman – for not having the courage to call a SPADE – a SPADE. For him to honor Erdogan, a criminal thug who has blood on his hands – HRANT DINK and HRANT’s Attorney, par example – is like giving Hitler a Nobel prize for peace. I see NO difference in moral bankruptcy. How do these people sleep at night?  Finally I will say that many, many Israelis have called for recognition of the Armenian and Greek genocide, in the media, and that debates have started increasing, as have readers who consistently comment and defend Armenia against Turk denialists and Turk paid bloggers. Israel should, and will realize the deceptive and nefarious ambitions of Turkey and their partners in crime, Azerbeidjan – the pieces are falling into place – and with wisdom & conscience comes the courage to defend justice.
    G-d bless Armenia, keep up the fight, never relent. One voice of truth will defeat a million cowards and liars. 

  7. One can only wonder how Mr. Foxman really feels now that that Mr. Erdogan has chosen to sever diplomatic ties with Israel…and better yet has even “dared” to call Shimon Peres a “baby killer” in public!
    A tip for Mr. Foxman: Appeasing bullies only serves to embolden them! Keep doing it and. before you know it, they will bite the hand that feeds them!

  8. powerful post Rebecca. Very courageous. Sadly, there are too few like you.

    And unfortunately righteous Jews like you are not running things in either Israel or Jewish lobby groups such as ADL or AIPAC here in the US. Israel, like any other country, has the right to be allies with Turkey and Azerbaijan (…as shortsighted as that may be).

    However, when they run interference for them and work against the recognition of the AG  – they have crossed a line. Jews of all people. We don’t expect them to help us, but working for the Denialists is really some new level depravity.

  9. Facing History has climbed in bed with the ADL and Foxman.   Facing History is just going to get the same reputation as the ADL.  I don’t understand why it would do this.  It makes no sense to me.  There is no gain and all pain.

  10. The above “response” from Facing History & Ourselves does not address the concerns raised in Mr. Boyajian’s Open Letter, and provides empty lip service to a very concerned Armenian community. To abet those who engage in genocide denial is “tantamount” to genocide denial! (I hope my choice of wording is not lost on those who are intimately familiar with this scandal.)

  11. I have heard that the FHAO has recently decided to host an event with the ADL. I wanted to bring to attention and express concern regarding the steps Abraham Foxman, the ADL National Director, has taken to block resolution of the Armenian Genocide in the U.S. Congress. As a student born and raised in France, human rights has always been on the forefront of both the political agenda and personal moral concern. The action taken by Abraham Foxman to prevent genocide awareness has deeply offended both the Jewish and Armenian communities alike. I ask that the the FHAO consider revoking their affiliation with an organization that openly prohibits the global awareness of key historical events relating to hate crime.

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