No synonyms for genocide

The Boston Globe Editorial
Globe Editorial

No synonyms for genocide

August 18, 2007

ONE SHOULDN’T play geopolitics with genocide. The executive committee of the
Anti-Defamation League for New England showed sound moral judgment this week
when it acknowledged that, just like the destruction of the Jews in Europe
and the Tutsis in Rwanda, the slaughter of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire
was a horrific crime against humanity.

All three genocides had particular historical characteristics, but they have
universal significance as a recurring evil that needs to be identified
properly so that humankind recognizes its early stages and takes action to
prevent mass slaughter.

But the national ADL apparently thinks that it can pick and choose among
genocides. Yesterday it fired Andrew Tarsy, the regional director, for
urging the national organization to acknowledge the reality of what happened
from 1915 to 1917 in what is now Turkey. The ADL plans to run an
advertisement in the Globe and other newspapers explaining its position.

In a telephone interview yesterday, James Rudolph, the regional ADL
chairman, called Tarsy an extraordinary leader. Indeed, Tarsy was acting in
the best ADL tradition of trying to unite people of different ethnic groups,
in this case Jews and Armenians, to promote human rights.

The national ADL, in its ad, does condemn the killing of hundreds of
thousands of Armenians but can’t quite describe this crime for what it was:
genocide. The ADL says it is worried about the fate of the Jewish community
in Turkey and Turkey’s strategic relationships with the United States and

But Turkey’s treatment of its Jewish minority and its foreign policy
shouldn’t depend on a historical lie. If the national ADL doesn’t
acknowledge the genocide, it is complicit in a coverup.