ANC Calls For ADL National Leadership To End Genocide Denial

21.08.2007 19:50

Turmoil in the New England Regional Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
continued this weekend with two Board Members resigning following
the firing of Regional Director Andrew H. Tarsy, for public calls
on ADL National Director Abe Foxman to reverse policy and properly
characterize the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National
Committee of Eastern Massachusetts (ANC-EM).

"We are disappointed and outraged to hear that Mr. Tarsy was
removed from his position simply for speaking openly and honestly
about the Armenian Genocide," stated ANCEM chairperson Sharistan
Melkonian. "Mr. Foxman and the ADL National Leadership are clearly
out of step with their own membership, who have rightly concluded that
genocide denial is morally indefensible and will only serve to diminish
the credibility of this once-respected civil rights organization."

Reports of Tarsy’s firing and the resignations by Stewart L. Cohen
and Boston City Councilman Mike Ross came just days after the New
England ADL Board voted to call on the ADL National leadership to
reverse their position, properly characterize the Armenian Genocide as
‘genocide,’ and support Armenian Genocide legislation (H.Res.106 /
S.Res.106). According to an August 17th Boston Globe article, Tarsy
told reporter Keith O’Brien, "I strongly disagree with ADL’s national
position. It’s my strong hope that we’ll be able to move forward
in a relationship with the Armenian community and the community in
general." Just 48 hours prior, Tarsy had defended the ADL National’s
genocide denial position at the Watertown Town Council. Tarsy,
clearly uncomfortable in his remarks before the capacity crowd at the
Council meeting, was challenged when he evaded the word ‘genocide’
in describing the murder of over 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman

Turkish government from 1915-1923. A myriad of Watertown residents
urged the Town Council to take action, including ANC-EM spokesperson
Grace Kehetian Kulegian, who stated "on behalf of Watertown’s Armenian
community – and our century-long history of service and sacrifice for
our town – we call upon the Town Council to dissociate itself from
the ADL until such time that: The Anti-Defamation League, through its
National Director, Mr. Foxman, openly and unequivocally acknowledges
the Armenian Genocide and supports congressional affirmation of this
crime against humanity.

The Watertown Town Council voted unanimously that evening to cut ties
with the ADL, by disassociating with their "No Place for Hate" program.

Following the New England ADL’s public call for ADL National to
reverse their position, the National ADL posted an "Open Letter to
the New England Community," refraining from characterizing the events
of 1915-1923 as ‘genocide.’ The letter also claimed that the ADL
"takes no position" on Armenian Genocide legislation (H.Res.106 /
S.Res.106) while stating "We believe that legislative efforts outside
of Turkey are counterproductive to the goal of having Turkey itself
come to grips with its past."

"Mr. Foxman is sadly reading from a page in the Turkish government’s
genocide denial playbook," stated Melkonian. "Instead of helping
Turkey confront this dark page in human history, the ADL is enabling
its continued genocide denial a decision which comes at the expense
of its own reputation." The ADL statement comes as additional towns
in Massachusetts prepare to follow Watertown’s lead in ending their
association with the ADL and Armenian Genocide denial.

Foxman’s claims of neutrality regarding Armenian Genocide legislation
contradict earlier published statements in the Boston Globe and Los
Angeles Times, where Foxman noted "The Turks and Armenians need to
revisit their past. The Jewish community shouldn’t be the arbiter
of that history. And I don’t think the U.S. Congress should be
the arbiter either." According to press reports, Foxman joined the
American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith and JINSA in forwarding a
letter from Turkey’s Jewish Community citing concerns about Armenian
Genocide legislation to Members of Congress. According to an April
27th Jewish Telegraphic Agency article by Ron Kampeas, the ADL and
JINSA "added their own statements opposing the bill."

The Watertown – ADL controversy erupted in recent weeks, with Boston
area civil rights advocates, and local Armenian and Jewish American
community members expressing disappointment and outrage at recent
statements by ADL National Director Abe Foxman denying the Armenian
Genocide. Editorials and community letters in the local Watertown Tab
and Boston Globe cast a shadow on the credibility of the anti-racism
program, "No Place for Hate", due to its affiliation with the ADL.

Reporter Keith O’Brien first reported Tarsy’s firing in a front-page
Boston Globe article on August 18th. The news was accompanied by a
strongly worded Globe editorial, titled "No Synonyms for Genocide,"
arguing that the national ADL should not "pick and choose among
genocides," and stating "if the national ADL doesn’t acknowledge
the [Armenian] genocide, it is complicit in a cover-up." An op/ed
coauthored by Massachusetts State Representative Rachel Kaprielian and
Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, published in the Boston Globe
on the same day, noted "For any organization or official to believe
that there are differing sides to the Armenian Genocide is as much
an outrage as it would be for Germany to say that the work of Jewish
scholars, witnesses, and victim testimonies represented merely the
"Jewish side" of the Holocaust." Kaprielian and Dershowitz went on to
praise the New England Regional ADL for taking a principled stand,
noting that the "regional chapter was courageous and correct in its
decision to affirm its position that the [Armenian] genocide was fact."