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Open Letter to Senator Edward Markey


Ara A. Jeknavorian, Ph.D., MA, 30 April 2014

Dear Senator Markey:

I am writing on behalf of the Armenian National Committee of America, Merrimac Valley.

You are a long-time friend of the Armenian American community, particularly of Massachusetts.  On April 11, for example, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Resolution 410, which you co-sponsored.  It calls upon Turkey to acknowledge the Armenian genocide of 1915.

You are also a lawyer and a long-serving public servant who is scheduled to speak and receive a public service award at the Suffolk Law School commencement in Boston on May 17, 2014.  

You deserve this honor and much more, and we are sure that you have important things to tell the graduating students about the law, including international law.

We ask that you tell Suffolk University President James McCarthy that you will not attend its law school’s commencement unless he first withdraws the invitation to Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman to speak and receive an honorary law degree.

While you deserve the honor that Suffolk Law intends to bestow on you (including your honorary law degree from Suffolk twelve years ago), Mr. Foxman does not.

Mr. Foxman is the head of an organization that claims to support the civil and human rights of all people, regardless of ethnicity or religion.

Under Mr. Foxman, however, the ADL has not lived up to that ideal in important respects. On the contrary, for decades the ADL has denied the reality of the Armenian genocide. 

Moreover, the ADL has long worked directly with the Turkish government, which is a well-known human rights violator, to defeat resolutions brought before the U.S. Congress that recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Indeed, he and the national ADL oppose the very Armenian genocide resolution that you are co-sponsoring.

Denying the horrific murder of 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children from 1915-23 as well as the attempt to erase 3000 years of Armenian civilization from Asia Minor clearly parallels denial of the Jewish Holocaust.

No person or organization that truly upholds universal human rights would do such a thing.

Mr. Foxman certainly does not deserve an honorary law degree.

On August 21, 2007, Mr. Foxman perverted international law.   On that date, he issued an infamous statement that described the Armenian deaths of 1915 as “consequences” of wartime action.

As you and other lawyers know, under the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention, a perpetrator must have specific “intent” in order for an act to be considered genocide.  Mr. Foxman’s use of the word “consequences” was clearly meant to ensure that the murders could not be described as “intentional” and would, therefore, be ineligible for prosecution for genocide.

It is contradictory for a law school and lawyers to honor a man who sidesteps international law on a proven genocide, Armenian or otherwise.

The Massachusetts Municipal Association and a dozen Massachusetts cities, including Arlington, Belmont, Medford, Newton, Needham, and Somerville, recognized Mr. Foxman’s August 21 statement as an attempt to skirt international law.  In 2007 – 2008, they all severed ties with the ADL’s so-called “No Place for Hate” program.

During Mr. Foxman’s tenure, the ADL has also been widely reported to have engaged in illegal domestic surveillance.  In 2007, the police chief of Arlington, Massachusetts stated publicly that he could obtain intelligence information from the ADL that his police department could not otherwise obtain legally on its own.  No human rights organization would engage in such activity.

President McCarthy has stated that he is honoring Mr. Foxman for his “body of work.”   Much of that work, as you can see, is unworthy of being honored by Suffolk Law School.  By honoring Mr. Foxman, it is putting the prestige and good name of Suffolk University, as well as the honor of its faculty and students, in jeopardy.   The student chapter of the National Lawyers Guild at Suffolk Law agrees, as do a thousand others who have expressed their opposition to the invitation to Mr. Foxman.

We wish to emphasize that it is not a matter of our or your simply disagreeing with Mr. Foxman.   Rather, it is his and his ADL’s record and their disrespect for international law and settled historical facts.

Mr. Foxman does not deserve the honor of sitting on the same stage as you.  It is an insult to the U.N. Genocide Convention, and, we believe, to you.

Again, we respectfully ask that you not attend the Suffolk Law commencement unless the University first withdraws its invitation to Mr. Foxman.



Ara A. Jeknavorian, Ph.D.


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Foxman Invitation

While I am in concert with Messrs. Jeknavorian and Jololian in principle, I think their request will unfortunately fall on deaf ears for one obvious reason. Suffolk University President James McCarthy  cannot withdraw the Foxman invitation whatever the underlying reason for the invitation in the first place, because next year he will be on the street looking for a position. Ditto for Senator Markey: at the conclusion of the next senatorial elections he will be bidding his farewell to his seat in the senate.

This is an unfortunate but proven fact. Opposing any Zionist lobby initiative by an academic, or a politician is considered a political faux pas leading to the guaranteed demise of their carrier. However, what might impact far more profoundly Suffolk University president's reluctance to withdraw his invitation, and might serve as a display of far superior and laudable ethics, is the abstention of the National Lawyers Guild of graduating lawyers from participating in the commencement ceremonies.

After all, they had the mettle to ask the president to rescind his decision; they are in the limelight of the day all the while being free of any negative consequences of their decision. In this situation they are the "force majeure", and I hope they stand firm as a rock on the matter of principle rather than swim with the current. 

Genocide a Lightly Used Word

When are we going to learn to EDUCATE the uneducated about the coinage and meaning of the word GENOCIDE? It is being thrown around describing murders of individuals and relatively small number of innocent people and NOT what Raphael Lemkin intended and the UN passed a resolution on, half a century ago.

Let us also not forget that Churchill and the "NY Times" used the word 'holocaust' to describe what befell on the Armenian nation, long before Hitler committed his genocide and the word was appropriated by our Jewish brothers and sisters...

Open Letter To Sen. Markey

Thank you, Mr. Ara A. Jeknavorian. Well done. Abraham Foxman's name says everything. He is foxy.

Remember the Armenian saying: "The fruit doesn't fall too far from its tree"? Shame on foxy Foxman; shame on his background and on all his supporters.

Nicolai Romashuk Hairabedian

Letter Re: Senator Edward Markey & Abe Foxman

Dear Editor of Keghart,
Letter to the Editor:

Is U.S. Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts truly a friend of the Armenian American community?

Suffolk Law School in Boston has invited Markey to speak and receive an award at its commencement on May 17.

The problem is that Senator Markey will sit alongside Abraham Foxman, director of the Armenian Genocide-denying Anti-Defamation League.  Foxman will address the law school’s graduates and receive an honorary law degree, even though his statement of August 21, 2007 twisted the facts of the Armenian Genocide so that the latter could not legally qualify as genocide under the official United Nations Genocide law of 1948.

Honoring Foxman makes a mockery of the principles for which a law school should stand.  One wonders if Suffolk has invited Foxman as revenge against Armenian Americans and others because the Massachusetts Governor’s Council recently rejected attorney Joseph Berman – an ADL National Commissioner – to be a judge.

The National Lawyers Guild student chapter at Suffolk University and a thousand others have demanded that Suffolk President James McCarthy withdraw his invitation to Foxman.  Their reasons include Foxman’s anti-Armenian bias and his hypocritical opposition to the U.S. Congress’s Armenian Genocide Resolution.

Markey’s sharing the stage with Foxman would be an insult to international law.   Then again, Markey has never criticized Foxman and the ADL’s genocide denials.   Markey’s commitment to genocide recognition and prevention is in serious doubt.

Senator Markey should tell Suffolk’s president that he will not attend the commencement unless the invitation to Foxman is withdrawn.  I suggest readers call Markey’s office in Boston (617-565-8519) or Washington, DC (202-224-2742), or email him at http://www.markey.senate.gov/contact.  Please say that sharing the stage with Abe Foxman is unacceptable.


Berge Jololian
Watertown, MA 02472

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