ADL’s Abraham Foxman Recognizes Armenian Genocide

By Laura Boghosian

BOSTON—After years of equivocation, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) National Director Abraham Foxman this month publicly acknowledged that the Turkish massacres of the Armenian people constituted genocide.

This recognition came after a seven-year campaign in which the Armenian and Jewish communities, as well as human rights activists and local officials, demanded that the ADL affirm this historical truth.

In remarks delivered at Suffolk University Law School’s commencement on May 17, Foxman stated, “Had there been people of courage to act in 1915 when the Armenian Genocide was taking place, had there been international intervention when massacres in Cambodia, Bosnia, and the genocide in Rwanda were happening, innocent lives in great numbers could have been saved.”

The announcement that Foxman would deliver the keynote address and receive an honorary degree unleashed widespread criticism that the university planned to honor a man who refused to issue a clear statement on the Armenian Genocide and who actively lobbied against its recognition.

Groups including the Suffolk chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, Suffolk student organizations, the Armenian Bar Association, Suffolk alumni, and others called on the university to rescind its invitation. When Suffolk refused, several faculty members carried small Armenian flags in silent protest onto the stage where Foxman spoke.

Foxman’s remarks at Suffolk stand in contrast to the ADL’s 2007 statement that the “consequences” of the Turkish government’s actions were “tantamount to genocide.” The Armenian community and its supporters rejected that statement as its qualifiers circumvented the “intent” required by the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention.

An ADL statement one year later alleging it had “referred to those massacres and atrocities as genocide” was likewise rebuffed as it only “referred” to the unacceptable 2007 statement. Recent claims by Foxman and the ADL that this 2008 release clearly and unequivocally acknowledged the Armenian Genocide are false.

Since that time, human rights activists have continued to press the ADL for an unequivocal acknowledgement, as well as an end to its lobbying for the Turkish government to prevent passage of a Congressional Resolution affirming the Armenian Genocide.

“Abe Foxman’s reference to the Armenian massacres as genocide, without any qualifiers, is a welcome change,” stated Herman Purutyan, Massachusetts chair of the Armenian Assembly of America. “Even though Foxman continues to assert that he had previously acknowledged the genocide, the basis for his claims are a chain of statements, at the root of which is the 2007 statement full of qualifications, intended to obfuscate the question. We expect that Foxman’s statement at Suffolk is not only his personal view, but that it also reflects ADL’s official position. ADL should confirm this by publishing an unequivocal statement on its website, and joining in the efforts to have the U. S. Congress recognize the Armenian Genocide by passing the resolution currently before it.”

Foxman’s remarks reflected growing support by Jewish organizations for recognition of the Armenian Genocide. In March, ADL New England Regional Director Robert Trestan was quoted as stating that the ADL “now fully recognizes the Armenian Genocide without reservation.”

The following month, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) issued a release that read, “We pause in mournful tribute to the memories of the estimated 1.5 million victims of the Meds Yeghern, the Genocide of Armenians, committed in the final years of the Ottoman Empire.” Describing the genocide as “an unspeakable crime against humanity,” the AJC called on the Turkish government to confront the truth.

The Israeli Knesset discussed recognition of the Armenian Genocide at a plenum on May 13. A motion by the left-wing Meretz Party to recognize the genocide before its 100th anniversary next year received support from across the political spectrum, including from the rightist coalition government.

“These reversals of position by major Jewish organizations are quite significant for all those committed to recognition of the genocides of the past century,” said Dikran Kaligian, chairman of the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of Eastern Massachusetts. “No longer will Turkey be able to exploit the differences between the positions of these organizations’ leadership and their membership—the vast majority of whom want nothing to do with Turkey’s genocide denial campaign.”

Locally, the Coalition to Recognize the Armenian Genocide was established in 2008 to foster communication between the Armenian and Jewish communities and to raise awareness of the Armenian Genocide within the Jewish community. Its objectives include advocating for official recognition of the genocide by the United States government. Coalition members include representatives from the Armenian National Committee of America and the Armenian Assembly of America. The coalition facilitated contacts between Armenian activists and members of the ADL and created an online petition calling on Congress to recognize the Armenian Genocide; it has gathered over 21,000 signatures to date.

Laura Boghosian

Laura Boghosian

Laura Boghosian is a writer and activist. She received her master's degree in journalism from the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied under Ben Bagdikian. She is a former editor of The Armenian Weekly, and a co-founder of the Coalition to Recognize the Armenian Genocide.


  1. A major breakthrough…. long overdue. Congratulations to all who worked to make it happen.

  2. I think this paragraph from Ms. Vanadzin’s article* perfectly summarizes what Mr. Foxman’s smoke & mirrors magic show is all about:

    {Much has been made of Foxman’s calculated mention of the Armenian genocide in his Suffolk address, which reeked of insincerity. A fleeting reference in a commencement address is no substitute for a formal and unambiguous statement issued by the ADL, which itself would be meaningless unless combined with the absolute cessation of the ADL’s insidious pro-Turkish lobbying.}

    “…reeked of insincerity.”

    Quite so.

    Mr. Foxman wants to be on record as supposedly having recognized the AG, so that Armenian-Americans and others ‘leave him alone’.
    He will go on to the speaking circuit after leaving his post at ADL, so wants ‘peace and quiet’ to rake in fat speaking fees unmolested by ‘pesky protesters’ hounding him every time he shows up in public (….as every AG denialist should be).

    If he is sincere, ADL must make an official announcement to that effect, repudiate their past denialism of AG, stop all pro-Turkish lobbying, and go on record unequivocally urging US Congress to have US officially recognize the Armenian Genocide.

    As Dr. Akcam wrote @AW: “Sorry, But We’re No Longer Impressed: We’ve Changed.”

  3. I’m not impressed either. This is too little too late, and the damage has already been done, both for the Armenian Genocide recognition process and the reputation of the ADL and its leading henchman.

    What always was, is also today.

  4. Good news. Has Barbra Streisand recognized the Armenian Genocide? She should be the next priority.

  5. Mr. Foxman knew he was wrong denying the Armenian Genoside and not to admit the truth.ON the other hand we dont know what sort of Agreements he had with the present turkish denyer and lying Govenment members. TO ME Mr. FOXMAN IS NOT THE PERSON YOU CAN TRUST

  6. Some of these foreign agents, who have also their paws on the US govt, try to hide their Genocide denying predisposition by occasionally throwing a curve ball to throw their critics off.

    For example, they’ll patronize the Armenian Genocide recognition on one hand and act against it by using their money and influence to see to it that the Armenian Genocide does not get recognized on the other.

    And if that tactic does not work, with their allegiance to a foreign country and in the guise of acting for “American Interests”, their next tactic is to use their weapon of choice to silence their critics: “you are an anti-semite”.

    That’s the “Anti Defamation League” in a nutshell, but ‘Pro Defamation League’ is more fitting.

  7. Don’t believe and don’t trust any of these Zionist weasels. Their track records have shown they are two-faced and double-talking con artists. When their relations are good with genocidal Turkey and feel they can use Turkey for their own selfish pursuits in the region they will deny the Armenian Genocide. When their relations sour with Turkey, such as it has due to the Mavi Marmara incident, they will use the Armenian Genocide to blackmail and get back at Turkey. They are playing Ping-Pong with our murdered nation with no respect or regard to their memories.

    Another example of their insincere con games was in the 1980s when, as they say, they hit two birds with one stone by selling weapons to both Iran and Iraq, both sworn arch enemies of their Zionist state, to make money on the one hand and to weaken both their Holocaust-denying nemesis on the other. I don’t need to remind you of the billions of dollars’ worth of weapons they have recently been selling to one of our arch enemies and artificial state to the east. This is not how a nation that was subjected to a genocide treat another nation that met the same fate not only about a quarter a century before but that the world’s silence toward its genocide was used as a blueprint to commit theirs.

    Other than this game they play with the Turks and the Armenians, I highly doubt they will ever come clean and do the right thing to properly and formally recognize the Armenian Genocide and that’s because they need to be the focal point of victimhood from the world’s point of view and they need to monopolize or copyright if you will, in a diabolical and sick fashion, the genocide label with the Jewish people primarily and that’s why their cunning leaders keep comparing the number of Jews murdered vs. the number of Armenians so as to diminish the significance of the Armenian Genocide when in fact the term “genocide” refers to the intention to exterminate partially or fully a group or a race of people without any mention of the enormity of this crime in terms of numbers. They need to grab the lime light as the only true victims of genocide, without any competition, so they can continue to rob American taxpayers blind year after year to subsidize their Zionist state.

    Even though today we may need the support of the world at large to bring justice to our nation, since our enemy has had a century to form false alliances and to scheme against us, I still strongly believe our salvation is in our own hands.

    • “Ararat”, I guess you did not read the article stating all the Jewish organisations who want the ADL to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide. Or perhaps you are not aware of the good work of Jewish historian Israel Charny, to name one, on behalf of the Armenians. Furthermore your misunderstand Zionism (who’s goal was to create a Jewish homeland…done… and vigorously preserve the Jewish identity), something we should look up to and emulate. Armenians like you, with your ignorant anti-Jewish rants, make me sick and ashamed. The real “weasels” here are us the Armenians who are more interested to fund morally bankrupt, mainly empty churches with a crook at its head, corrupt Armenian government funds, and childish diasporan political parties and organisations that are more interested in “kef” than meaningful, well-funded, activism, education, and cultural maintenance. Why blame anybody else other than ourselves for the lack of interested in the genocide when we only have a handful of full-time professional activists on the job? Finally, please “Armenian Weekly” do not publish letters that have such racist, bigoted wording such as “Zionist weasels” – I mean common! – and this is definitely not the first time.

    • Re: post by Van
      “you misunderstand Zionism”

      On the contrary, he understands Zionism perfectly. It is you who does not understand it. You obviously are not well versed in history, or you are not who you claim you are. In the US there are more non-Jewish Zionists than there are Jewish Zionists.

      There are also Jews against Zionism, and plenty of them – does that mean they are anti-Jewish? Having a homeland for Jews is a good and honorable goal, but when in order to achieve it an extremist agenda is behind it which brings harm to everyone in the region, including Armenians, then that goal is not only bad, but downright evil.

      The Zionists have plenty of work to do if they want to be valid. For starters they can stop their hypocrisy and recognize the Armenian Genocide and next stop their bigoted anti-Armenian activities in joining forces with a genocidal state like Turkey to bring harm to the Armenian community and its pursuit of justice. And that would only be a start. You are confusing Zionism with being Jewish, the dream of every Zionist.

      Finally, the Armenian Weekly is doing nothing wrong. This is a site for Armenian issues, and as most posters are Armenian, they have a right to express their opinion. There are a lot more posts being published here which are anti-Armenian by a bunch of shills pretending to be Armenians, but I don’t see you complaining about them, or trying to silence them or feeling “sick and ashamed” by them. Your supposed “concern for humanity” is hollow.

  8. JDA, for the most part, our diasporan political ORGANIZATIONS today are too weak to form meaningful coalitions and direct action initiatives with compatible victim groups. And you may be right when you say that our political ORGANIZATIONS in the diaspora may avoid certain activities (demonstrating for Palestine or for Ukrainian secession, for example) because they fear losing access to Jewish or Russian leaderships/lobbies. However, I know many Armenian INDIVIDUALS who do not support Ukrainian secession and yet who are not Russophiles. I also know Armenian INDIVIDUALS who attend Holodomor commemorations. The positions taken by our ORGANIZATIONS never stopped INDIVIDUAL Armenians from supporting victim groups and pursuing activistic goals. In spite of the positions taken by some ORGANIZATIONS, that is what came into play when INDIVIDUAL activists continually called the ADL out on its immoral activities. Collective action is a preferred mode of operation. But if organizational leaderships fail to serve the community on some level, individuals should reserve the right to fill the void.

  9. The Jewish community is well aware, in sad detail, of the Armenian Genocide. Hans Morgentuau, the US ambassador to the Turkish government, did the most he could to publicize the massacres and secure Western assistance.
    However, official statements on the Genocide, coming from Jewish organizations or from the Israeli government, can only endanger the tiny Jewish minority in Turkey today. These few Jews are, in effect, hostages, and Western Jews dare not put them in danger, something that Armenians should understand all too well.

    • Susan:

      I hate to be so blunt, but please do not insult the intelligence of Armenians in general, or the Armenian-American community in particular.
      I do not peak for the rest of the community, but I doubt anyone in the community expects Israel or Jewish-American diaspora to _support_ Armenians’ efforts towards worldwide AG recognition.
      We are thankful for the Jewish-American support we get, from e.g. our Reps in California Schiff, Brad Sherman, Howard Berman, and US Senators Boxer and Feinstein, and principled, brave Israelis like Doctor Israel Charny.

      But we absolutely insist that Jewish NGOs and intellectuals do not _support_ Turks in their AG denialist campaign.
      You do not have to support our enemy: you can remain neutral.
      And you are quite correct: both Turkish Jews and Turkish Armenians are hostages, and Turks are not shy about letting us both know they in fact are.

      Turkish Jews (from Wiki):
      In Israel 77,000: safe and secure.
      In Turkey 26,000 Jewish hostages.

      There are about 60,000-70,000 Turkish Armenian hostages in Turkey.
      And we have had quite a few Turkish Armenians murdered in recent years because they were Armenians.
      How may Jews have been murdered in Turkey because they were Jews in recent years ?
      Sorry, but the lives of 26,000 Jewish hostages in Turkey are not worth more than the lives of about 3 million Armenians of RoA and NKR whose lives are under existential threat by Turkey and Azerbaijan: by proactively supporting AG Denialism, Turkophile Denialist Jews are in fact endangering the lives of 3 million Armenians in Caucasus.
      Therefore, we will absolutely, positively not keep quiet about it.

      As to the ‘hostages’:

      The fact that there are 60K-70K Armenian hostages in Turkey does not stop us in the rest of the world from seeking justice for our AG victims.
      Israel assaulted a Turkish flag ship in International waters and killed 9 Turks (the 10th died recently).
      If Turks did not harm Turkish Jews after Israeli Jews killed* 10 Turks, then I doubt very much any will be harmed if some confused Jews did not carry the water for Denialist Turks.

      * Turks call it murder.

    • We understand quite well the Turkish use of hostages because the Armenian community is also a hostage to violence,theft and death. However, this has absolutely nothing to do with AIPAC and the Lobby’s caving in to Turkey on the AG.

      When Jews in Turkey are threatened, as they were in Mavi Marmara incident, AIPAC did nothing. Yet, before the Kemalists were thrown out, oppression of Turkish Jews was almost as bad as it is now. The two most common Turkish insults are to call a man a Yehudi Korkak [Jewish coward] or simply, “Armenian.” Israel and AIPAC did nothing.

      The truth is that the Lobby and Israel have written off T Jews who do not exercise their “right to return” in Israel.

      The Lobby has protected Turkey from US recognition of the AG because of Israel’s strategic reliance on Turkey, which is eroding post 2002. Israel’s help costs Israel nothing. Interestingly, once the Kemalist military, which is the source of the Israeli alliance, began losing influence in 2003, and Erdogan more and more started making bellicose anti-Israeli statements, Israel and the Lobby started losing their desire to help deflect the AG. The first signal of this came in 2005 when Tom Lantos, a professed AG Agnostic switched his vote on the H R recognizing the Genocide.

      So here is what we have: The Turkish state learned between 1894 and 1923 that it could kill its [Christian] citizens en masse with impunity using modern communications and control techniques. The protests of world leaders in 1915 that such actions were crimes against humanity were never enforced.

      Hitler learned this lesson and applied it to Jews, Slavs, you name it. He got away with it. By the time of his death he and his antion had killed all 6M. Like the Turks, he succeeded. Both the Turks and the Germans acted as quickly as possible to prevent any disruption of their plan.

      Now we have this irony: modern Jewish organizations, otherwise opposed to Genocide and anti-semitism, who support a Turkish state that still employs and defends Genocidal violence, even though the Jews, after the Armenians, were the victims of Turkish Genocide, a Genocide directed first by Turks against Christians, and then adapted by Germans to Jews and Slavs.

      What the Israelis will end up with is war with Turkey some day soon.

    • “These few Jews are, in effect hostages.” That’s ridiculous! First of all, the most endangered group of people in Turkey are the Armenians; however, they aren’t hostages. If any Armenian wishes to leave Turkey, he or she can leave anytime they want. This therefore means that all of the other minority group peoples in Turkey can not possibly be hostages. As a matter of fact, truthfully speaking, Turkey would be delighted if all of its minority group peoples leave the country.

      The reason for the Israeli government not recognizing the Armenian Genocide up to now, is due to the business partnership it has had with Turkey for many years. As for the major Jewish organizations, they did not recognize it in all these years, because they obviously wanted to establish their genocide as being more important than the Armenian Genocide (history’s first modern genocide). Anyway, as of very recent, all of this has changed. These major Jewish organizations are now reversing their previous position on the Armenian Genocide.

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