Barry Jacobs, Director of Strategic Studies of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), has been making denialist remarks in recent years about the Armenian Genocide. However, what he said last month goes far beyond denialism, as reprehensible as that is, and borders on anti-Armenianism.
After Jacobs finished delivering a lecture on the topic of Israeli-Turkish Relations on February 21, in Washington, D.C., Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), asked the following question:
"Your efforts to score points in Ankara at the expense of the Armenian Genocide issue is a transparent transaction that, I think, squanders the moral capital of the Jewish community, undermines our collective efforts to fight Holocaust denial, and, if the ADL [Anti-Defamation League] experience of the last few months is any indication, is very far outside of the mainstream of your own community, and it’s just so painful to come and hear you echo those same themes again."
Jacobs gave the following rambling and disrespectful answer: "It’s not about the position of the American Jewish Committee and the American Jewish community. It’s not about — we are not historians, which is a polite, bullshit way of saying we’re not going to take responsibility, we are not going to make a decision on 1915. But the relationship between United States and Turkey, if we want to, I don’t know where you are, whether you are right or left, if you’re left in the United States and want to get out of Iraq, well, look at the map — Brits have pulled out of Basra, there are only two ways to get out of Iraq, you have to go south, you have to go north, and if you go north you got to go through Turkey. So the argument that finally persuaded Congress, and I know this is not ‘s I’m looking for a strong enough word ‘s [unintelligible] but, the message was that the bilateral relationship between the United States and Turkey will suffer greatly if this [Armenian Genocide] resolution is passed. The Jewish Community believed that also, and that’s been our position. And the world is not made up of choices between good and bad, at least not in the Foreign Service when I was in it, it’s made up between choices between bad and worse. So we take practical positions, and the position of all the Jewish organizations, including ADL, was not to have a position on the facts of what happened, or not taking a public position on what happened in 1915, we did not think, do not think, that the United States Congress is the place to settle this. And that’s all I can tell you. And that’s the real world and that’s the position of United States Government and of the Government of Israel."
Jacobs’ response infuriated not just Armenia’s, but also many Jews who do not share his crass position to the loss of millions of human lives. Joey Kurtzman, in his blog — Jewcy.com — ridiculed Jacobs and called his position "morally bankrupt and a public disgrace to American Jews." Furthermore, Kurtzman wrote: "All this will continue until enough members and donors call up these organizations [ADL and AJC] and say, "please don’t waste your time calling me, or mailing me anything, or requesting my donations or support, until you’ve made the decision to stop supporting this campaign of genocide denial."
A reader named Steve posted the following comment on the blog: "More Jews need to speak out and publicly engage AJC and other abettors of Genocide denial. It is a disgrace that such a large and otherwise respected organization tarnishes the morality of an entire people."
Another reader, Saul, wrote: "This same issue poisoned the well for the ADL last year when they tried to deny the Armenian genocide. I am quite confidant that the leadership of AJC is either ill informed or in the pocket of the Turkish government. Denying the Armenian genocide only emboldens the neo Nazis to continue their campaign to deny the Holocaust. We are bad stewards of the memory of the Holocaust and insult our ancestors when we make our moral decisions so shamelessly."
Dr Katz wrote: "I’ll make sure that the AJC does not receive a penny from me so long as idiots like Barry Jacobs are in charge."
Dozens of similar commen’s were posted on Jewcy.com blog, most of them highly critical of both the AJC and Barry Jacobs. No one has given Jacobs the right to represent either the views of all Jews or those of the AJC. There are many righteous AJC leaders who disagree vehemently with Jacobs’ mischaracterization of the Armenian Genocide.
It is high time that the Jewish community and the AJC disassociate themselves from Jacobs who is getting paid to fight anti-Semitism and defend Jewish rights, but in reality he incites anti-Semitism and harms Jewish interests.