2822) Lewy Lawsuit Against Southern Poverty Law Center: Genocide Debate: Blood Libel?

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Update: Southern Poverty Law Center Apologizes To Professor Guenter Lewy Over Armenian Genocide Charges

The perennial dispute over an Armenian genocide recognition is now taking place in multiple arenas.

President Barack Obama is weighing whether to antagonize Turkey by issuing a genocide commemorative statement; or, in the alternative, he could antagonize Armenian-American voters by breaking his apparent** campaign pledge and avoiding use of the term.

Meanwhile, in U.S. District Court this week, the Turkish American Legal Defense Fund is battling it out with the Southern Poverty Law Center. Led by attorneys Bruce Fein and David Saltzman, . . the Turkish American group has filed a defamation suit on behalf of author Guenter Lewy. An 85-year-old emeritus professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Lewy says the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report libeled him when it wrote, in part:

“Lewy is one of the most active members of a network of American scholars, influence peddlers and website operators, financed by hundreds of thousands of dollars each year from the government of Turkey, who promote the denial of the Armenian genocide….”

The wrangling this week, before U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, is procedural. Some of the questions, in part, appear to deal with what kind of media the Intelligence Report is and whether the District of Columbia is the right place for this legal action. Stated the Southern Poverty Law Center:

"The 'act' complained of – publication of an allegedly libelous article – occurred in Alabama and Georgia. SPLC publishes the Intelligence Report in Alabama and Georgia."

Beyond the Southern Poverty Law Center lawsuit, Fein said the Turkish American Legal Defense Fund is preparing for a potential defamation lawsuit against one-time Ohio congressional candidate David Krikorian. Krikorian evidently declared that his GOP opponent, Rep. Jean Schmdt "has taken $30,000 in blood money to deny the genocide." Stated Krikorian:

"Both sets of my grandparents are survivors of this first Holocaust of the 20th century...most of their family members at the time were murdered...The only deniers of this great tragedy which led to the Holocaust of the Jews by Nazi Germany are the Turkish government and certain members of the United States Congress like Jean Schmidt."

In preparation for the upcoming defamation suit, Fein has already filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission; in an interview, he said this complaint was designed to flesh out the facts that will be the underpinning of the defamation suit.

"We want to try to send a signal to Armenian-Americans that the time for bullying has come to an end," Fein said.

**But see the appended material in the comments section, showing clearly that candidate Obama made a definitive pledge to issue an Armenian genocide commemoration.

I am attaching a link to source material (9 docs and one video) on Barack Obama's record in support of Armenian Genocide recognition, including his January 2008 statement, posted for more than a year on his campaign website, stating "...as President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide."

Also included is his October 2008 statement: "Barack Obama strongly supports passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 and S.Res.106) and will recognize the Armenian Genocide."

This leads me to a few journalism question for you:

On what basis are you describing Barack Obama's pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide as "an apparent campaign pledge."

What then is your definition of a campaign pledge?

When, in your view, should journalists report a campaign pledge simply as a campaign pledge without qualifiers such as "apparent"?

I appreciate your writing and journalistic ethics and look forward to learning of your thoughts on this matter.

Aram Hamparian
March 25, 2009

Here's the link:

by: Aram Hamparian | March 25, 2009

Should Armenians be filing defamation suits against Turks and Turkish institutions which deny Genocide?
by: A.G. | March 25, 2009

I wouldn't take kindly to being called a liar or a bully.
by: A.G. | March 25, 2009

I take your point; I had used the word 'apparent' because the way I heard Obama's comments on the YouTube Q&A, I thought he had actually stopped a little short of explicitly promising that he would declare a genocide commemoration. I did not recall seeing his October 2008 declarative statement that he "will recognize" genocide. From the information you present, it surely is the case that as a candidate Obama did make the pledge.
by: Mike Doyle | March 25, 2009

This is great! This libel suit is identical to the one filed by David Irving against Deborah Lipstadt. And we all know the outcome of that case: Irving was found to be a Holocaust denier, an anti-Semite and a racist. bring it on, bullying genocide deniers!
by: Dany Beylerian | March 25, 2009

Thanks Aram for helping out.
In many cases information that is not exactly correct or lacking key information is needed by writers and Jounalists.

The ones that are open minded and seek truth, will and are receptive.

Thanks Mike Doyle. Does this mean your going to make a correction, or change your wording?
by: Rich | March 26, 2009
March 25, 2009

Related Post
Prof Guenter Lewy Sues Southern Poverty Law Center And David Holthouse


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