National ADL changes stance on Genocide
BOSTON, Mass – August 22, 2007 – Host Intro: The unexpected reversal of a
long held policy on the Armenian genocide is the subject of today’s
Anti-Defamation League New England board meeting. The ADL is now calling the
killing of more than a million and a half Armenians by Ottoman Turks in the
early 1900’s –genocide. It’s still unclear if Andy Tarsy, the Regional
Director who was fired for challenging the national policy, will be
reinstated as many local Jewish leaders want. WBUR’s Monica Brady-Myerov
reports on reaction to the changed policy.
Text: The news of the reversal was applauded by local Jewish leaders. Former
ADL board member Steve Grossman commended national director Abraham Foxman
for taking the moral high ground.
STEVE GROSSMAN: I was very pleased that nationally the ADL recognized that
their position was no long tenable and no longer the morally acceptable
position to take. I give Abe Foxman a lot of credit it takes a distinguished
leader to recognize a mistake and to recognize that a position has to
The sudden reversal was sparked by a controversy that started in Watertown.
Last week the town council voted to withdraw from an anti-bigotry program
sponsored by the ADL because it refused to recognize the Armenian genocide.
ADL Regional Director Andy Tarsy broke ranks and called on the national
organization to acknowledge the genocide. He was fired. Rabbi Ronne Friedman
of Boston’s Temple Israel commends Tarsy for holding his ground.
RONNE FRIEDMAN: I think the regional board did absolutely the right thing I
can only image given their position that they must have gone through an
extraordinary difficult period trying to persuade the national director and
the national board to modify its position.
The national ADL did not change its position on a Congressional Resolution
that would recognize the World War I era killings as genocide. The ADL said
yesterday they don’t support the resolution because its quote "a
counterproductive diversion." Rabbi Friedman says the ADL should support the
RONNE FRIEDMAN: I think its half way there it was incomplete in my eyes in
that if we recognize a genocide as a genocide then as citizens of this
country we have an obligation to stand in support of the recognition of that
historical fact by our American government.
This also bothers many Armenian Americans, who say they don’t feel satisfied
with the change in policy.
Yesterday at an Armenian bakery in Watertown, where 8,000 Armenian Americans
lives, Lauren Arakelian was skeptical about the quick turn around.
LAUREN ARAKELIAN: The ADL seems to be flip flopping about their position and
I don’t understand how they can say now that they agree and acknowledge the
genocide which they all agreed they support and yet they won’t support the
Watertown resident and Eastern Chairman of the Armenian National Committee
Dikran Kaligian says without supporting the resolution in Congress, the
reversal isn’t complete.
DIKRAN KALIGIAN: Its not a reversal, this is participating in genocide
denial and the very phrasing they use it the same phrasing used by Turkish
government in arguing why this resolution should not be considered.
The ADL says it fears supporting it may put the Turkish Jewish community at
risk and hurt the relationship between Turkey, Israel and the United States.
It’s unclear if the regional board will further press the national
organization to support the resolution. In a letter to board members,
Regional Board Chair James Rudolph said the group still has much work to do.
For WBUR I’m Monica Brady-Myerov