Monday, August 20, 2007

ADL Shakeup Over Armenian Genocide

Appearing at The Blogging Curmudgeon, My Left Wing, and the Independent Bloggers' Alliance.



From The Boston Globe:

At least two prominent board members of the regional Anti-Defamation League have resigned in protest over the national ADL's decision to fire the regional director for acknowledging the slaughter of Armenians during World War I as genocide.

Former chairman of the Polaroid Corp., Stewart L. Cohen, and City Council member Mike Ross told the Globe yesterday they could no longer be part of an organization with national leaders who refused to acknowledge the Armenian genocide and fired regional director, Andrew H. Tarsy, on Friday for taking a position in support of Armenian-Americans.

. . .

The resignations -- which may be the first of others to come -- were announced as members of the local Jewish and Armenian-American communities praised Tarsy and the regional board for taking stands recognizing the Armenian genocide and criticized the ADL's national director, Abraham H. Foxman, for taking a position out of step not just locally, but perhaps nationally.

If Foxman does not change his position and acknowledge the genocide, George Beilin, a past president of the North Shore Council of the B'nai B'rith Organization, called on the national leader to "resign immediately for the sake of the Jewish community in the United States and the world."

A brief history lesson (expurgated text from here):

For three thousand years, a thriving Armenian community had existed inside the vast region of the Middle East bordered by the Black, Mediterranean and Caspian Seas. The area, known as Asia Minor, stands at the crossroads of three continents; Europe, Asia and Africa. Great powers rose and fell over the many centuries and the Armenian homeland was at various times ruled by Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and Mongols.

. . .

In the eleventh century, the first Turkish invasion of the Armenian homeland occurred. Thus began several hundred years of rule by Muslim Turks. By the sixteenth century, Armenia had been absorbed into the vast and mighty Ottoman Empire. At its peak, this Turkish empire included much of Southeast Europe, North Africa, and almost all of the Middle East.

As the Ottoman Empire crumbled, the Armenians began a push for reform, but the Sultan Abdul Hamid's response resulted in the massacre of over 100,000 Armenians. Armenian hope was renewed with the ascendancy of the Young Turks, who pressed for a constitutional government and human rights protections. But, when three of the Young Turks seized the levers of power, and embarked on a nationalist push for a new "Turanism," the problems for the Armenians began in earnest. The new government seized the weapons from the Armenian population and Armenian members of the Turkish military were reassigned to "slave labor battalions."

The decision to annihilate the entire population came directly from the ruling triumvirate of ultra-nationalist Young Turks. The actual extermination orders were transmitted in coded telegrams to all provincial governors throughout Turkey. Armed roundups began on the evening of April 24, 1915, as 300 Armenian political leaders, educators, writers, clergy and dignitaries in Constantinople (present day Istanbul) were taken from their homes, briefly jailed and tortured, then hanged or shot.

Next, there were mass arrests of Armenian men throughout the country by Turkish soldiers, police agents and bands of Turkish volunteers. The men were tied together with ropes in small groups then taken to the outskirts of their town and shot dead or bayoneted by death squads. Local Turks and Kurds armed with knives and sticks often joined in on the killing.

. . .

Then it was the turn of Armenian women, children, and the elderly. On very short notice, they were ordered to pack a few belongings and be ready to leave home, under the pretext that they were being relocated to a non-military zone for their own safety. They were actually being taken on death marches heading south toward the Syrian Desert.

Roughly 75 percent of the million plus Armenians marched through the desert died of starvation, dehydration, and other causes; many of them children and elderly. In the end an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were determined to have been killed by massacre and march. The Turkish government continues to deny the genocide of the Armenian people.













Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formation in readiness -- for the present only in the East -- with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space [Lebensraum] which we need. Who, after all, speaks to-day of the annihilation of the Armenians?

-- Adolf Hitler

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