THE CAMPAIGN sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to combat bigotry and celebrate diversity ("No Place for Hate") has sparked bitter resentment in Watertown, Mass., a Boston suburb whose 8,000 Armenian-Americans make up nearly 25 percent of the population. Local Armenians do not object to the initiative, rather to the group behind it, the ADL and its director, Abraham Foxman - whom they charge, correctly, with denying the ugly established legacy of the World War I era Armenian genocide.
Under the authoritarian Young Turk (Ittihadist) regime, the bulk of the Armenian population from the territories of the Ottoman Empire - some 1 million to 1.5 million Armenians - were purged by violent and lethal means, which reproduced the historic conditions of a classic Islamic jihad: deportation, enslavement, forced conversion and massacre.
Mr. Foxman maintains that dismantling a program designed to fight hatred simply because the ADL does not share what he refers to as the "Armenians' viewpoint" would be "bigoted." Moreover, Foxman and the ADL, who have spoken out in recent times against ethnic cleansing of Muslims in the Balkans and the genocide against the syncretist black African Animist-Muslims in Darfur, are, in effect, oddly "neutral" on the Armenian genocide: "We're not party to this, and I don't understand why we need to be made party."
But even this morally challenged "neutrality" is disingenuous. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency ("Turks want genocide commission," April 23), Mr. Foxman and the ADL are lobbying against legislation recognizing the Armenian genocide in the U.S. House (HR 106) and the Senate (SR 106), including the presentation of letters from the Jewish community of Turkey complemented by, "their own [i.e., the ADL's] statement opposing the bill."
Interviewed for a Nov. 19, 2003, story in The Christian Science Monitor, following the bombing of Istanbul's two main synagogues by indigenous Turkish jihadist groups, Rifat Bali, a scholar, and Turkish Jew, acknowledged the chronic plight of Turkey's small, dwindling Jewish community, whose social condition remains little removed from the formal "dhimmi" status of their ancestors.
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