Foreign Policy Journal
June 17 2016
An Armenian American Group Caves in to the Anti-Defamation League
by David Boyajian
June 17, 2016 1
The ADL’s hypocrisy on the matter of the Armenian genocide is breathtaking.
For several decades, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and other
leading Jewish American organizations (AIPAC, AJC, B’nai B’rith, and
JINSA) have deliberately colluded with Turkey and Israel to defeat
U.S. Congressional resolutions on the Christian Armenian Genocide and
to diminish the factuality of that genocide.
Yola Habif Johnston, a director at JINSA (Jewish Institute for
National Security Affairs), once admitted that “the Jewish lobby has
quite actively supported Turkey in their efforts to prevent the
so-called Armenian genocide resolution from passing.”
The hypocrisy is breathtaking given these organizations’ loud, endless
demands for recognition of, and legislation on, the Jewish Holocaust.
Starting in 2007, Armenian Americans in Massachusetts and elsewhere
made international news by exposing the national ADL’s hypocrisy. In
disgust, 13 Massachusetts cities and the umbrella Massachusetts
Municipal Association kicked out the ADL’s alleged anti-bias program,
“No Place for Hate.” Human rights advocates and many honest Jews
supported those efforts. The Turkish government raged that its
collaboration with Israel, the ADL, and other Holocaust hypocrites had
been blown wide-open.
But in mid-May, a small group of Armenian Americans in
Massachusetts—including the politically ambitious Sheriff of Middlesex
County Peter Koutoujian and a few members of the Armenian Assembly of
America (AAA) and the Armenian National Committee of America
(ANCA)—struck a horrible “deal” with the two-faced ADL.
For his part of the “deal,” ADL National Director Jonathan Greenblatt
casually “blogged” that his organization now “unequivocally”
acknowledges the Armenian Genocide and “would support” (not “do
support”) American recognition of that genocide.
Even Andrew Tarsy, former Director of the New England ADL, termed the
pact “inadequate.” The ADL “ought to lead the conversation about
reparations for these [Armenian] families … assets, land … everything
that Holocaust reparations … has represented should be on the table.”
Of the many things wrong with this “deal,” let’s list a few.
The Horrible “Deal”
The “deal” was concocted behind the backs of the Armenian American
community and the hundreds of activists—Armenian and non-Armenian—who
started the campaign in 2007 and have battled the ADL since. Why
haven’t the verbal or written details of the negotiations and “deal”
been made public? Why the lack of transparency?
Greenblatt (former Starbucks VP and Special Assistant to Pres. Obama)
isn’t the ADL’s highest official and may not have the authority to set
policy. Have the ADL’s National Commission and National Executive
Committee (its “highest policymaking bodies”) formally approved of
Greenblatt’s “blog” post? We don’t know.
The ADL has long played word games with the Armenian Genocide. In
2007, for example, it disingenuously dubbed it “tantamount to
genocide” but not genocide. Greenblatt’s conditional claim that “we
The Armenian American activist website “NoPlaceForDenial.com” demands
that the ADL “support U.S. affirmation of the Armenian Genocide, as it
does with the Holocaust.” I authored those last six words years ago.
They mean that as partial atonement the ADL must work as hard for
acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide as it has for the Holocaust.
Nothing in Greenblatt’s statement remotely suggests that the ADL would
For three decades or more, the ADL has attacked Armenian Americans and
worked with Turkey and Israel to defeat U.S. recognition of the
Armenian Genocide. Yet the ADL has never apologized for its atrocious
conduct. Ironically, the only ADL apology came in 2007 when National
Director Abe Foxman apologized to Turkey because publicity surrounding
the Armenian issue had embarrassed that country. The failure to obtain
an apology from the ADL is scandalous.
Americans deserve to know the details of the ADL’s longtime
Genocide-denial pact with Turkey and Israel. Where are the documents,
and why was their release not part of the “deal”?
The Berman Affair
Armenian Americans won a major victory in 2014 when Attorney Joseph
Berman, an ADL National Commissioner, lost his bid to become a
Massachusetts Superior Court judge. Governor Deval Patrick had
nominated him in 2013. I testified against Berman.
Following a widely publicized fight, the eight elected Governor’s
Councilors refused to confirm Berman. His leadership position in the
hypocritical ADL was one reason why Councilors opposed him.
While I was in close touch with several Councilors, an incident
occurred that has never before been made public.
A Councilor who opposed Berman told me of receiving several calls
asking that the Councilor vote for Berman. One such caller was Sheriff
Peter Koutoujian, an Armenian American prominent in the recent ADL
“deal.” I remain deeply troubled by that call. Why would Koutoujian do
such a thing? I think I know, but only Koutoujian can answer that
question. He did not return my recent call asking about his past
activities in the campaign against the ADL.
The final Council vote on Berman was 4 to 4. Had the Councilor voted
as Koutoujian asked, the ADL’s candidate and the ADL would have
triumphed, and Armenian activists would have been defeated.
That and other significant incidents raise questions as to whether the
recent ADL “deal” was negotiated in the tough, adversarial way
required to defend Armenian interests.
Failing to Confront
When a few activists and I launched the battle against the ADL in July
2007 and events were moving quickly, AAA and ANCA initially delayed
even issuing a statement. Perhaps they were concerned about
retaliation or being called anti-Jewish.
The following year, moreover, several activists and I became convinced
that these organizations were not fully committed to the ADL fight. At
one point, we were told that at least one of the organizations would
no longer try to convince cities to sever ties with the ADL.
In 2015, even the NoPlaceForDenial.com website, an essential news
resource maintained by ANCA persons, disappeared. It reappeared after
I persisted in complaining about its removal.
Indeed, the ADL came under renewed pressure months ago only because I
informed ANCA and a pro-AAA person that Newton, MA had, perhaps
unintentionally, invited in the ADL after having booted it out in
Sheriff Koutoujian himself has long been very close to various Jewish
organizations. He once received an award from the Jewish Community
Relations Council of Greater Boston. He has taken two trips to Israel.
The second one, last year, concerned “counter-terrorism.” It was
organized by the ADL and funded by Israel’s Gal Foundation, which
sponsors ADL programs. Of the 14 Massachusetts law enforcement
personnel on the trip, Koutoujian was the only sheriff. Koutoujian
later co-narrated a slideshow of the trip at a synagogue in
Burlington, MA. Koutoujian has also spoken at other Jewish venues.
He recently wrote this on his Facebook page: “Thank you to the ADL and
the Boston Globe for recognizing this terrible moment [Armenian
Genocide] for what it is.” So after three decades of the ADL’s
conspiring with Turkey to abuse Armenians, defeat Armenian Genocide
resolutions, and damage the cause of genocide prevention, the ADL is
thanked and all is forgiven, while hundreds of Armenian American
activists get no thanks whatsoever? Incredible.
It’s well known that Americans often interact with powerful Jewish
American political organizations in two related ways. First, a person
may hesitate to publicly disagree with such organizations due to
concern about retaliation and being labeled anti-Jewish. On the other
hand, being friendly and deferential to these organizations may
advance one’s career in politics, academia, business, and other
This question must be asked: Could these two types of interactions
have adversely affected the post-2007 Armenian American campaign
against, and the recent “deal” with, the ADL?
The Anti-Human Rights ADL
The ADL has an appalling anti-Armenian record. Despite this, recent
stories about the “deal” in the Boston Globe and an Armenian American
newspaper depicted the ADL as now somehow virtuous. Neither told
readers about the ADL’s three decades of hypocrisy and collusion with
The ADL claims to be “the nation’s premier civil rights/human
relations agency [which] protects civil rights for all.” What
nonsense. If that were so it would never have been in the business of
covering up genocide. Nor can acknowledging the Armenian Genocide
magically now make the ADL a human rights organization. Indeed, the
Armenian issue is just one of many that have unmasked the ADL.
The ADL, therefore, is not about civil or human rights. It’s just a
Jewish political organization. For instance, it lobbied for an oil
pipeline from Azerbaijan to Turkey. Human rights organizations don’t
do that sort of thing.
What about nice-sounding ADL programs such as “No Place for Hate,”
“World of Difference,” and “Combatting Bullying”? They’re covers. The
ADL uses them to penetrate schools, colleges, corporations, and
communities to enhance its visibility and political influence.
So that’s the organization that some Armenian Americans just made a
“deal” with—a deal that was fatally flawed from the day it was
conceived. True human rights advocates and perceptive Armenians reject
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