Daily News Tribune, MA
Milford Daily News, MA
MetroWest Daily News, MA
Aug 19 2007
Mazzaglia: Independence needed to define ‘hate’
By Frank Mazzaglia, Local columnist
Last week the Watertown Town Council voted 8-0 to terminate its
relationship with the No Place for Hate program which is sponsored by
the Anti-Defamation League.
The vote was prompted by the indignation of Watertown’s Armenian
population over the ADL’s refusal to recognize the Armenian genocide.
The genocide took place between 1915 and 1923 when the Turks
systematically killed an estimated 1.5 million Armenians living under
the Ottoman Empire.
Despite indisputable historical documentation, the Turkish government
refuses to acknowledge that dark period of its past.
Now it should be noted that anger comes in two forms. There’s the
kind of anger that flares up and then just as quickly fades and
diminishes into nothingness. Then there is the kind of anger which
not only lingers, but makes you even angrier the more you think about
it. Unfortunately, the kind of anger being directed at the
Anti-Defamation League these days falls into the latter category.
It’s too bad too, because the ADL has done some terrific work since
it was founded back in 1913 to fight anti-Semitism. Over the years
the ADL earned respect by standing as an effective human rights
organization and speaking out against bigotry wherever it reared its
Now there are those who are wondering whether the time has come for a
new and more independent anti-defamation organization without
political strings to inhibit its decisions.
Hesitancy to speak out clearly about Turkey comes as a result of that
country’s close relationship with Israel and its strategic importance
in the fight against terrorism. All of that may be true, but beside
the point. Nation’s do change. Modern Turkey’s democratic government
leaders have nothing in common with the tyrants of its past Ottoman
Decent people everywhere would be enraged to hear that efforts to
enact U.S. legislation affecting Germany would be counterproductive
to the goal of having Germany come to grips with its Nazi past. Yet,
substitute the word Turkey for Germany and that is precisely the
argument the ADL makes for standing silent on the matter of the
Although individual Jewish leaders have expressed sincere personal
anguish, the ADL itself feels unfairly singled out since other Jewish
organizations have taken similar stands concerning Turkey’s role in
the genocide. There is, of course, an obvious difference. Those other
organizations are not specifically organized to fight discrimination.
Watertown’s sharp rebuke may be just the beginning of ADL’s troubles.
Other communities are now questioning whether they want to continue
the No Place for Hate program so long as it is sponsored by the
Anti-Defamation League. That would be a shame since the No Place for
Hate program has a value worth maintaining in some troubled
Whatever happens, one thing is clear. The reputation of the ADL has
been indelibly stained by this self-inflicted wound. Sure, every
organization makes mistakes, but sometimes serious errors can cripple
an organization’s future effectiveness. The ADL would do well, even
at this late hour, to replace its personal anguish with justice.
There is a powerful lesson here. The need obviously exists for a more
authentic and independent civil rights organization whose leadership
is comprised of people representing all faiths, races, and ethnic
backgrounds. This would be a bold effort to stand up against hate and
defamation regardless of political consequences.
The seed for such a national organization has already been planted in
Watertown. It could be the spark to light up a new and exciting
movement. Hopefully, the time and energy needed to fight the No Place
for Hate program in other communities will be used instead to create
a new and powerful anti-discrimination organization. Corporate
America may well provide the resources to insure independence.
Can it be done? Judging from the outcry of people from so many
diverse backgrounds, all that’s needed now is the will to get it
Frank Mazzaglia can be reached at [email protected]
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress