Sassounian: NY Times Ad Depicts Obama as ‘Liar’

The Centennial commemorations of the Armenian Genocide were marked with unprecedented, and sometimes unexpected, developments.

One such occasion was the full-page ad placed in the New York Times on April 18 by well-known and controversial Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (founder, the World Values Network) and the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee (AGCC) Eastern U.S., harshly criticizing President Obama for not keeping his campaign promise on the Armenian Genocide.

A knowledgeable source told the California Courier that the ad had upset some White House officials. The placing of the ad coincided with the efforts of the U.S. National Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Centennial to convince reluctant administration officials to participate in the commemorative events in Washington, D.C., on May 7-9.

Nonetheless, Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power attended the Ecumenical Prayer Service at the National Cathedral on May 7, in Washington, but neither delivered remarks, nor was their presence acknowledged. Surprisingly, both officials wore the “forget me not” pin, the official logo of the Armenian Genocide Centennial. Also in attendance were President Serge Sarkisian, Catholicos Karekin II, and Catholicos Aram I.

The paid ad featured a young boy holding a placard stating, “Pres. Obama why did you lie to us?” This was followed by the title of the ad in large bold letters: “1.5 million Armenian victims cry out from their grave: How long will you deny our genocide just to appease the Turkish tyrant?”

The paid announcement strongly criticized both Obama, for not keeping his campaign promises, and Ambassador Power, for remaining silent after condemning U.S. indifference to genocide in a book she wrote before assuming her government post (A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide). The ad also targeted Turkish President Erdogan, calling him a “bully” and “quasi-dictator who has dismantled Turkish democracy.”

Furthermore, the ad quoted from a news report by CNN’s Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper: “For the sixth year in a row President Barack Obama has broken his promise to the Armenian community, made when seeking their votes as a senator and a presidential candidate, to use the word ‘genocide’ to describe the massacre of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire a century ago. He did this in deference to the government of Turkey.”

The ad reminded readers that Tapper was referring to then-Senator Obama’s 2008 statement: “The Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable. … As President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.”

The authors of the ad went on to state: “Seldom has an American President misrepresented himself so brazenly on an issue of such profound moral importance. Pres. Obama’s willful moral blindness stands in stark contrast to the courageous statement by Pope Francis last week calling for the world’s recognition of ‘the first genocide of the twentieth century.’”

In the ad, the rabbi and AGCC posed this question to Ambassador Power: “As a leading voice against genocide, will you stand by your principles or will you become yet another who, after entering office, silences her voice and becomes part of the ‘problem from hell?’”

A second newspaper announcement reminding Obama of his promise on the Armenian Genocide appeared in the Los Angeles Times on April 24. The three-quarter page ad, placed by Ed Muradliyan, a California businessman from Orange County, asserted: “It’s time for you to be the leader you promised to be. On this 100 year anniversary Mr. President, it’s time to fulfill the promise you made.” Muradliyan’s ad featured a picture of Obama; a copy of U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau’s cable to the State Dept., dated July 16, 1915; and the headline of a news report from the New York Times, dated Dec. 15, 1915. The announcement ended with: “It’s Time to Recognize the Armenian Genocide.”

If one or both of these ads caused some discomfort to White House officials, it was well worth the money!

The ads should have included Obama’s own words from his book, The Audacity of Hope: “Say one thing during the campaign and do another thing once in office, and you’re a typical, two-faced politician.”

Although the commemorative events in Washington were organized with utmost professionalism, there was one major shortfall. When special honors were being awarded at the May 9 Centennial Banquet to prominent individuals, organizations, and representatives of countries that had recognized the Armenian Genocide, it would have been only fitting to pay tribute to John Evans, the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia (2004-06), whose diplomatic career came to an abrupt end when the Bush Administration recalled him for publicly acknowledging the Armenian Genocide. The organizers of the banquet assured the California Courier that “no slight was intended,” and that it was simply “an oversight.”

Fortunately, this gross error was somewhat mitigated when the “oversight” was brought to the attention of the master of ceremonies, attorney Mark Geragos, who acknowledged from the podium the presence of Ambassador Evans. The 2,000 guests at the Centennial Banquet gave the righteous ambassador an enthusiastic standing ovation and thunderous applause! Needless to say, Evans deserves far more than mere applause for having sacrificed his career in defense of the Armenian Cause!

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Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh $917 million of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, since 1989 (including its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He has been decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

4 Comments

  1. Could it be that something important to the U.S. In this world has priority over this issue to the President, as it has with every other President before him? Maybe before self serving Rabbi Boteach shoots off his mouth( which he hasn’t done with previous presidents by the way) he should find out what it is, or perhaps, think! Calling Obama a liar for this rabbi is his customary self serving mode of placing himself in the spotlight.

    • Dr. Levine: would you say the same thing if President Obama had, in effect, denied the Jewish Holocaust (…after he became POTUS) ?
      Using similar weasel words to avoid saying ‘Jewish Holocaust’ that he used to avoid using the expression ‘Armenian Genocide’.
      Would it be OK if ‘something important’ to US necessitated that State Dept, you know, said something like: “….in order not to hurt the feelings of our NATO ally Germany, and the many German veterans of WW2 still alive in Germany, the Holocaust will henceforth officially be referred to as the great tragedy of Shoah: generally, non-Jewish peoples do not know the word and do not associate Shoah with Germans, so the Waffen SS veterans in Germany will not be offended: everybody happy (expect Jews)”.
      “We can all sing Kumbaya now”.

      So what exactly is it that Rabbi Boteach said that you object to ?
      Didn’t Pres Obama in fact lie ? When running for President he did pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide once elected.
      After he was elected, he started using weasel words: so, yes, he did lie.
      So what part of lying by President Obama, which Rabbi Boteach cited, is self-serving on his part ?

      Sir: Isn’t your objection to the “Armenian Genocide” due to the fact that it _is_ “Armenian” and it _is_ “Genocide” ?

    • 1) By your logic, the U.S. should always take the ‘practical’ position over the moral position, because ‘practical’ interests will always “ha[ve] priority” over moral interests that give no immediate material benefit. So I guess you would be okay with the U.S. denying the Holocaust if it meant that a good nuclear agreement with Iran could be finalized? Right? Come out and say it.

      2) Even assuming the above is true, it would be in the U.S.’s practical interest to tell the truth about the Armenian Genocide, for many reasons. For one thing, it would show that the U.S. stands up for itself, and does not buckle to threats from its ‘allies’. This is important, because if the U.S. is seen to capitulate to threats from its ‘allies’, imagine how it would capitulate to threats from its enemies. If the U.S. can’t stand up even to Turkey, how can it stand up to Iran, or Russia, or North Korea? Second, keeping America’s promise about the Armenian Genocide would enhance the credibility of future promises that the U.S. makes to the world–a credibility that badly needs to be restored after that embarrassing Syria “red-line” debacle. And third, it would show that the U.S. does not whitewash jihad–which the genocide was. This is necessary to raise American’s low moral standing and help it recruit allies in the war against the Islamic State. Especially since America’s denial puts it on a collision course with the Pope, Christians all around the world have every reason to be suspicious of America’s resolve against today’s Islamist evil.

  2. Dr. Levine,
    While you have the right to disagree with or dislike Rabbi Shmuley, you make several factual and judgmental errors of your own:
    1) Not all US presidents have had the same position on the Armenian Genocide. Pres. Reagan acknowledged it on April 22, 1981 in a Presidential Proclamation.
    2) Do you think it is proper to deny a genocide to appease a fanatical Turkish dictator and offend the moral sensibility of people around the world? Can you think of a valid reason that would justify denial of the Jewish Holocaust?

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