An Armenian-American Group Caves in to the Anti-Defamation League

In a follow-up to his earlier article, David Boyajian discusses the willingness of some Armenian-Americans to compromise on the issue of recognizing the genocide, in return for “access” and political advancement.

An Armenian-American Group Caves in to the Anti-Defamation League

by David Boyajian

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 President 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 would support U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide” is similarly suspect. Why not just “we support“?
  • The Armenian-American activist website “” 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 do that.
  • 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 fight against ADL. 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 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 2007.

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 endeavors.

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 Turkey.

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 it.

The author is an Armenian-American freelance journalist. For his activism and writing on the ADL issue he has been honored by Armenian-American organizations, and has won commendations from the Massachusetts Governor’s Council, Watertown (MA) Town Council, and the Newton Tab newspaper. Many of his articles are archived at

Previous posts by David Boyajian:

2015   Apr   1   The Allies At Gallipoli: Defeat In 1915, Disgrace In 2015
2016   May   21   The ADL and the Armenian Genocide: It’s Not Over Until It’s Over

5 thoughts on “An Armenian-American Group Caves in to the Anti-Defamation League

  1. Please see Jerusalem Post columnist Isi Liebler’s scathing op-ed on the ADL.
    I don’t know about the history of the ADL vis a vis the Armenian Genocide, but Israel and Turkey were very close before Erdogan, so I’m not surprised that there were diplomatic constraints which caused realpolitik to override morality (what a shock!).
    Turkey has since become an increasingly autocratic Islamist hellhole, so that probably explains the shift with the ADL, and Israel and Turkey did normalize relations recently (I guess Erdogan needs another friend besides Obama).
    Reading Isi’s columns, one gets the impression that the ADL has gone off stage-left in palling around with the despicable J-Street, and should not be taken too seriously.

    • jewdog,

      Thanks for the link. It’s very interesting.

      Apparently, the ADL was colluding with the Israel and pro-Israel lobbies to downplay the Armenian genocide, largely to cement Israel-Turkish relations.

      Now, the ADL is collaborating with J Street, a strongly anti-Israeli Jewish (or pseudo-Jewish) organization. So, we see a separation between Israel and some influential Jewish organizations. So, what is the agenda, then, of the ADL?

      My view is more and more strongly that the US, the Jewish community, and the left have a strongly co-dependent relationship with Israel. One defining feature of a co-dependent relationship is that both parties act, or react, from emotional wellsprings rather than from reason and self-interest.

      The co-dependent relation explains how the US can supply a large amount of foreign aid to Israel, but yet create a major diplomatic incident over the construction of some apartment buildings in disputed areas. The co-dependent relationship of the world with Israel explains how the UN is constantly trying to pass sanctions against Israel, with the support of countries like Britain and France, for actions that are normal and mild for countries born in war.

      I think for a rational approach, the existence and safety of Israel is a base interest of the US. Why? Israel is a strong, stable country with well-defined and guarded borders in an unstable region. Neither ISIS nor Turkey nor Iran are going to go near Israel’s borders, thus hampering the flexibility of present and future enemies. Plus, Israel provides a lot of first-class technology to societies, like the US, that have the sophistication to use it.

      But, the national interests of the US does not include allowing Israel to make US foreign policy, nor to contribute to its political campaigns, nor to steal its secrets, nor to continue unearned foreign aid. The US pays for a lot of military technology from Israel, which is fine. Giving foreign aid for no return is not. Israel is a modern economy. Like every other independent country, it needs to allocate its resources according to its own priorities.

      In short, the US needs to continue to block the constant pressures for international boycotts of Israel, and continue a limited collaboration in military technology with Israel. The US also needs to treat Israel lobby groups as any other foreign lobby groups. If I had my way, it would be a felony for any politician to receive any funds from foreign governments or foreign groups. The US should wean Israel from US foreign aid, sooner rather than later. Most important, if Israel has any influence on the disastrous US actions in Syria or Libya, (and possibly Iraq), the US needs to end collaboration with Israel foreign policy and make its own.

      I think once Israel is recognized as an independent state with its own interests, the Armenian question will be less of a political football and revert to its original status as a moral question.

  2. The ADL is an “old-stock” “Jewish organisation” that is very much a part of the problem, IMHO.

    This Israel-supporting Jew doesn’t like these types very much.

  3. Here in Israel, ADL is seen as very ‘American’ in that it does nothing constructive for Israel and Jews worldwide. I is also seen as exploiting the Shoah for its own purposes.

    The Armenian Genocide was exactly that, no different from the Jewish genocide and no different from the genocides currently happening in Iraq and Syria.

  4. The Turks’ unrepentent attitude for the Armenian Genocide should surprise no one who undertstands Islamic supremacism. Adherents of the Master Faith need never apologize.
    That is why it is essential that we infidels to unabashedly call out Muslims whenever the situation requires moral clarity, because then we are true to ourselves, and if we don’t, the Muslims will never grow up.
    A while back I wrote to my Senator, Leahy (D-Vt), to pass the Armenian Genocide resolution in Congress. He wrote back and told me that calling it genocide was doubtful, and that Turkey was an important ally.

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