Posted by: Lister | August 19, 2007

The ADL and Armenia

I’m sure the ADL’s decision regarding recognition of the Armenian Genocide is more politics than racism. Armenians in Watertown (understandably) see it differently:

A Massachusetts town council unanimously voted to end its partnership with the Anti-Defamation League’s anti-bigotry program.

In an 8-0 vote, the Watertown Town Council moved Tuesday to rescind its participation in the No Place for Hate program, the Boston Globe reported. The move came under immense pressure from the town’s large Armenian community, which is angry over the ADL’s unwillingness to acknowledge the killings of Armenians during World War I as genocide.

The ADL says it does not deny the genocide, it just isn’t willing to affirm it.

And the ADL (though not Foxman) may be changing its stance. ADL local leader fired on Armenian issue:

The national Anti-Defamation League fired its New England regional director yesterday, one day after he broke ranks with national ADL leadership and said the human rights organization should acknowledge the Armenian genocide that began in 1915.

The firing of Andrew H. Tarsy, who had served as regional director for about two years and as civil rights counsel for about five years before that, prompted an immediate backlash among prominent local Jewish leaders against the ADL’s national leadership and its national director, Abraham H. Foxman.

[…] Tarsy, 38, said he had been struggling with the national position for weeks and finally told Foxman in a phone conversation Thursday that he found the ADL’s stance “morally indefensible.”

The regional board’s executive committee backed Tarsy and, according to a source familiar with the discussion, even went a step further, resolving to support legislation now pending before Congress to acknowledge the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians during the World War I era as genocide.

The national office’s three-page response — which it provided yesterday to the Globe — did not mention the local office’s intent to support the legislation. But it made clear just how far apart the two sides were on an issue with local, national, and international implications.

The letter, signed by Foxman and Glen S. Lewy, the ADL’s national chairman, said “we have acknowledged the massacres of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire and called on Turkey to do more to confront its past and reconcile with Armenia. We will continue to press Turkey, publicly and privately . . .” But the letter also makes clear that the national ADL feels the safety of Israel, which considers Turkey a rare Muslim ally, is paramount.

[…] Critics say this position is hypocritical. Foxman “should understand that the truth of any genocide is not conditional upon political relationships,” said Aram Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America in Washington, D.C. Rather, he said, it should be dictated by “truth” and “history.”

[…] “I have been in conflict over this issue for several weeks,” Tarsy said. “I regret at this point any characterization of the genocide that I made publicly other than to call it a genocide. I think that kind of candor about history is absolutely fundamental.”

Both the Jewish and Armenian-American communities rushed to Tarsy’s defense yesterday in the wake of his firing and applauded him for taking the stand that ultimately cost him his job.

Finally, an article with an agenda: Fire Foxman. (Originally, via JSF)

Abdullah Gul needed a favor. It was February 5 of this year, and the Turkish foreign minister was fighting a push in the U.S. House of Representatives to recognize the Turkish murder of over one million Armenians during World War I. In past years the House had placated Turkey by dropping similar resolutions. But now, with the American-Turkish alliance weakened by the Iraq war, the resolution had found renewed support. Gul summoned representatives from the Anti-Defamation League and several other Jewish-American organizations to his room at the Willard Hotel in Washington. There he asked them, in essence, to perpetuate Turkey’s denial of genocide.

[…]

It’s long and not particularly balanced. Neither of which makes it wrong.

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Responses

  1. The ADL is reversing its position. Jpost:

    An Anti-Defamation League (ADL) statement on Tuesday saying that Turkey’s actions against Armenians between 1915-1918 “were tantamount to genocide” could negatively impact Turkey’s close relationship with Israel, Turkish sources said Tuesday night.

    […] “We have never negated, but have always described the painful events of 1915-1918 perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians as massacres and atrocities,” the statement read. “On reflection, we have come to share the view of Henry Morgenthau, Sr. [the US ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during World War I], that the consequences of those actions were indeed tantamount to genocide. If the word genocide had existed then, they would have called it genocide.”

    […] The ADL and some other Jewish organizations have long been opposed to moves in Congress to adopt a resolution characterizing the events of that period as genocide. Foxman said that the ADL “firmly believes that a congressional resolution on such matters … will not foster reconciliation between Turks and Armenians, and may put at risk the Turkish Jewish community and the important multilateral relationship between Turkey, Israel and the United States.”

    In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Foxman said he did not think that this new position should impact relations with Turkey, since the ADL still believes that congressional action on this matter would be counterproductive.


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