BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
I didn’t expect to ever be that close, but after the Wednesday December 8th LA World Affairs Council event, at which the infamous DAF (Denier Abraham “Abe” Foxman) of the Anti-Defamation League spoke, we ended up in the same hotel elevator as I was chasing a parking validation.
DAF asked how I was, to which I replied I’d have been much better if his answers had been different, i.e. expressing a willingness to change. Another gentleman in the elevator said that I had to admit he answered my question(s) well. My retort: the response was disingenuous.
But that’s the end of this particular bit of the ongoing Foxman/ADL saga. The whole evening served to really clarify how Foxman was using his oh-so-reasonable-sounding disingenuousness to mask his denialism. Here’s how.
The event was about DAF’s book, Jews and Money: The Story of a Stereotype. It’s ironic that some of the points Foxman cited in addressing the topic are similar behaviors/positions to what he’s doing regarding the Armenian Genocide. I have to say, I learned quite a bit from his presentation. It’s too bad he undermines everything he says and does with his denialism.
Upon completion of DAF’s presentation, I was able to ask the first question, naturally about his denialism. Interestingly, a woman subsequently asked a follow-up, saying she didn’t know much about the Armenian-Turkish situation, and would he clarify. Here’s what came out of Foxman’s mouth between his responses to the two queries.
DAF twice denied denying the Armenian Genocide. Hmmm, saying that it is “tantamount” to genocide isn’t denial? To me it is. And this is the first example of his disingenuousness.
DAF denied working against passage of a Congressional Armenian Genocide resolution. Even if we take him at his word, how are we to account for/explain his stating that he doesn’t believe passage of such a resolution would help things on the Armenian-Turkish front? Or that it is a painful issue that won’t be addressed by such a piece of legislation? And this is our second example of disingenuousness.
DAF seemed to be seeking empathy when he bewailed being “forced” to use a term, “the Armenians’ term”, to describe 1915-1923. The poor man! He was soooooo frustrated, saying “we don’t force anyone to call our experience Shoah”. He also emphatically said he’d called it “massacres” and “atrocities”, and, that it was every bit as horrible as Armenians say it was. But golly, if that’s the case why not use the proper, correct, precise legal description? We may choose to call the Turkish implemented plan “Medz Yeghern”, but that doesn’t change that it is a case of genocide, as was the Holocaust, as are the cases of Rwanda, Cambodia, and Darfur. I wonder what Foxman’s reaction would be if someone contended the Holocaust wasn’t a case of genocide? And this is our third example of disingenuousness.
DAF must have imbibed of the “reconciliation” koolaid. He lauded the meetings between the presidents of Armenia and Turkey. He contended that dialog leads to reconciliation. I guess the Protocols fiasco isn’t on Foxman’s radar screen. He pointed out that Jews resolved their own relations with Germans. Oh really? The fact that Germany lost WWII and was in an international context that forced it to do the right thing had nothing to do with the “resolution” of that relationship? And this is our fourth example of disingenuousness.
DAF extolled his own call for Turkey to look at its past and deal with the issue. At one point, he mentioned a Holocaust conference that is held in different locations each time that was going on the very same week, in Turkey. It seemed to me that was an attempt to mitigate Turkey’s current vileness. His comment, in responding to the woman’s question, that he’s not an historian, he’s just read some stuff about “it”, reeks of the Turkish government’s line about “leaving history to historians” and not involving Congress or any other agency. The evasiveness and deflecting of attention are telling. And this is our fifth example of disingenuousness.
DAF, during his discussion of the stereotype his book addresses, mentioned that there’s denial in Europe that anti-Semitism exists. He attributes it to a lack of awareness. Can he not see that what he’s doing relative to the Armenian Genocide is exactly the same thing? And this is our sixth example of disingenuousness.
DAF raised an interesting point about “good people” and their role in combating, or not, stereotypes such as the one he was speaking to. He contended, rightly, that most people fall into this category and just need to be made aware of what is going on. Now, old Abe, he’s a smart guy, and should easily be able to see that the “good people” argument, and engaging them in fighting denial, is something that fits his doings perfectly. If he’s a good person, he should be fighting denial, not avoiding countering it (at best) or participating in it (closer to reality). And this is our seventh example of disingenuousness.
Is it possible that Abe Foxman is just that disingenuous? Given his history in fighting anti-Semitism and for Israel, I think not. Rather, it is his way of masking the unconscionable path he has chosen. The bottom line is, Abraham Foxman is, and is making the Anti-Defamation League a party to, Armenian Genocide denial. In my eyes he is no different than revisionists/denialists of the Holocaust such as David Irving and his ilk.
And just to not miss an opportunity, let me add that DAF should welcome Kobe Bryant into the community of deniers, since the latter’s contract with Turkish Airlines is nothing but a means for Turkey to whitewash its crimson image. If Bryant doesn’t pull out of the deal or take the actions requested by the AYF, I for one will advocate a boycott of the Lakers.
Meanwhile, you might consider contacting the ADL and letting them know how disappointed you are in their behavior, i.e. allowing Foxman to retain his position in the organization.