Anti-Defamation League Reverses Course, Recognizes Armenian Genocide

By Keith O’Brien, Globe Staff

by the Boston Globe City & Region Desk
Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The national office of the Anti-Defamation League reversed its
long-held position today and acknowledged the Armenian genocide of
1915, saying in a statement that the mass killings of that era at
the hands of the Ottoman Turks "were indeed tantamount to genocide."

However, the statement reaffirms the national ADL’s belief that
the legislation pending in Congress to recognize the genocide is
"a counterproductive diversion."

The ADL’s statement, released to the Globe and on the group’s
website this afternoon, came "in light of the heated controversy,"
which began weeks ago in suburban Watertown, where more than 8,000
Armenian-Americans call home.

It came just days after ADL’s national director, Abraham H. Foxman,
fired the regional director of the New England ADL for making a
similar statement.

It was not known just yet how Foxman’s statement today would affect
Andrew H. Tarsy, who was fired last week, or how it would influence
a regional board meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning.

The controversy came to a head last week when the Town Council in
Watertown voted unanimously to pull out of an ADL program called
No Place for Hate because it did not acknowledge the slaughter of
1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks starting in 1915 in what is
today Turkey.

Tarsy had initially defended the national ADL’s position. After the
vote, Tarsy changed course and called the massacre genocide and was
fired by the national ADL.

In an open letter, the ADL has called the bill pending in Congress
"counterproductive" and said the organization, founded in 1913 to fight
anti-Semitism, worried what effect it would have on Jews in Turkey.