Anti-Defamation League urged to reconsider stance
By Ian B. Murphy and Shauna Staveley/Staff Writers
GateHouse News Service
Wed Aug 22, 2007, 07:25 PM EDT
A political firestorm over the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) denial of the
Armenian genocide of 1915 ripped through neighboring communities this week,
but Lexington’s No Place For Hate committee, which is sponsored by the ADL,
remains silent because several members are on vacation.
Last week, Watertown cut its ties to No Place For Hate after intense
pressure from its sizeable Armenian community, and on Monday Arlington’s No
Place For Hate committee voted unanimously to suspend its ties to the ADL
after the organization continued to work with the Turkish government in
Congress to deny the murder of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the
Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1918.
"Everyone in the committee felt clearly as the Watertown (program ending),
and following stories (about the controversy) were happening that we had to
do something about this," said Cindy Friedman, chairwoman of the Arlington
No Place for Hate Committee. "We didn’t want to wait and not respond."
Friedman said the committee analyzed and discussed an array of information,
including a written letter from the Armenian community and Arlington
activists, as well as gathered information on the ADL.
Another influential occurrence was a reported divide in perspective between
the regional and national ADL leaders. According to published reports, two
New England board members resigned after New England Regional Director
Andrew Tarsy was fired over his push to acknowledge the Armenian genocide.
"At the very least, the ADL can acknowledge the New England Regional chapter
and their stance – to call the genocide a genocide," Friedman said. "And
think they should reinstate Andrew Tarsy. They should reinstate whom they
fired, call it a genocide and support the position of the New England
chapter. That’s what they could do."
Tuesday afternoon, the ADL released a statement in an attempt to save some
face under growing pressure from both Armenian and Jewish communities,
according to Lexington’s Alan Seferian, an Armenian-American and Town
Meeting member who has been following the developments.
"What is forcing this change on the ADL is not the Armenians but the
national Jewish community who stood up and said ‘This is wrong what you’re
doing,’" said Seferian. "The ADL has lost its moral authority to tell people
not to hate, and it hasn’t quite regained it yet."
In a statement, National Director of the ADL Abraham H. Foxman said "on
reflection, we have come to share the view of Henry Morgenthau, Sr., that
the consequences of those actions (on 1915-1918) were indeed tantamount to
genocide. If the word genocide had existed then, they would have called it
Bob Wolfson, the ADL Associate National Director for Regional Operations,
said he hoped this would start the healing process of the Armenian
"The Watertown action was based on the notion that we were denying the
genocide, which we never did," Wolfson said. "The use of that term was
problematic for very complicated political reasons, so we decided to change
our policy and use the term. And I believe and hope the Armenian community
will applaud it and I hope the good work with the program in places like
Arlington will continue."
The problem for residents, however, is the bottom paragraph of the "ADL
Statement on the Armenian Genocide," where Foxman stated the following about
congressional resolutions such as 106:
"We continue to firmly believe that a congressional resolution on such
matters is a counterproductive diversion and will not foster reconciliation
between Turks and Armenians and may put at risk the Turkish Jewish community
and the important multilateral relationship between Turkey, Israel, and the
Seferian said that the release didn’t do much to fix the problems the ADL
"Not only did [Foxman] qualify it by saying tantamount to genocide =85 but
they’re still collaborating with the Turkish government to deny it in
Congress," said Seferian.
Attempts to contact members of the Lexington No Place For Hate community
were unsuccessful before deadline. Hank Manz, the selectmen liaison to No
Place For Hate, said he had received no communication from committee
members, but sent a brief personal statement to the Minuteman via e-mail.
*"There are many examples of parent organizations sometimes frustrating
local chapters with work done at the national level, but that does not
remove the need to comment on that fact when it happens," said Manz. "I
applaud the steps the national leadership of the ADL has taken so far to
correct their actions in firing a local official. I hope that they continue
their reexamination of their position on the Armenian genocide so that No
Place for Hate can continue to contribute to our community."*
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress