Suffolk Law School’s administration invited Abraham Foxman, the long-time director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to be the commencement speaker, igniting resentment of the School’s student body.
“Few would expect a survivor of the Holocaust to be the face of genocide denial. Abraham Foxman, the long-time director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an organization dedicated to eradicating anti-Semitism and bigotry and protecting civil rights, seems a figure beyond reproach. Yet Foxman has invited controversy to Suffolk University for his unwillingness to recognize the 1915 Armenian Genocide — an event which saw an estimated 1.5 million Armenians massacred by the Turks — and his campaign to defeat Congressional acknowledgement of said genocide. Criticism of Foxman has centered on this disconnect, that a man who lived through the attempted extermination of an entire race now denies that truth of another. Many at Suffolk are unwilling to participate in that hypocrisy,” Asbarez reported.
Shortly after Foxman was announced as their 2014 speaker, Suffolk Law students rejected the decision. Amy Willis, President of the university’s National Lawyers Guild chapter, told the Boston Globe that “Suffolk claims to embody diversity and be a place for all people, but this clearly is a speaker who does not embody those values.”
This stance was reflected in a petition to remove Foxman as the keynote speaker, as well as to deny him the honorary juris doctorate he is slated to receive. The petition states that Foxman’s presence “not only insults students and their families, but also insults the very foundation of Suffolk Law as a safe place of diversity and acceptance.” As arguments for his removal, the petition enumerates Foxman’s refusal to explicitly label the Armenian Genocide as a genocide as well as his support for racial profiling of Muslim-Americans in the interest of “national security.”
“Because Turkey was the first nation in the Middle East to establish diplomatic relations with Israel and remains an instrumental ally of the West, the United States is unwilling to rock that political boat. Even when a resolution was proposed by the 110th Congress to recognize the Armenian Genocide, then President George W. Bush publicly opposed the measure. He was not the first, and current President Barack Obama’s silence on the issue suggests he will not be the last.
And this has been Abraham Foxman’s dilemma. His public opposition to Armenian recognition has been out of loyalty to Israel. “Our focus is Israel,” he has said. “If helping Turkey helps Israel, then that’s what we’re in the business of doing.” Unfortunately for Suffolk Law School, and all those who expect the ADL to uphold its own morality, Abraham Foxman represents a willful blindness – to look the other way on a hundred-year-old crime – for the sake of political expediency.
It is the opinion of Suffolk University President James McCarthy that Foxman, despite students’ protests, “is well deserving of recognition.” Moreover, it is the University’s hope that Foxman’s “life of public service will inspire our graduates as they embark on their professional careers.”
This does beg the question of what recognition the Syrian desert’s uncounted dead deserve, or what their lives may have inspired, but the answers are unlikely to be found in Foxman’s commencement speech,” Asbarez said.