ADL Recognizes Armenian Genocide, But Remains Opposed To Armenian Ge

23.08.2007 21:39

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), under pressure from a national
campaign of protests initiated by the Armenian National Committee of
Eastern Massachusetts, backed nationally by the Armenian National
Committee of America (ANCA), and supported by leading voices in
the Jewish American community, reversed its longstanding policy of
complicity in Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide.

In a statement ADL National Director Abraham Foxman formally recognized
the Armenian Genocide but – in what appeared to be a gesture intended
to appease the Turkish government – voiced the organization’s continued
opposition to legislation before Congress (H.Res.106 / S.Res.106)
marking this crime against humanity.

"The ANCA welcomes the Anti-Defamation’s League’s decision to
finally end its longstanding complicity in Turkey’s international
denial campaign by properly recognizing the Armenian Genocide. We
remain deeply troubled, however, that elements of its national
leadership seek to prevent the United States from taking this very
same principled step by adopting the Armenian Genocide Resolution
currently before Congress," said ANCA Executive Director Aram
Hamparian. "Much work remains, both in bringing the ADL fully to the
right side of this issue and on the broader challenge of achieving
proper U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide. But we are, today,
gratified by this step forward, and want to offer our thanks to all
the many Armenians and Jews who cooperated together on this issue on
the basis of our shared values of tolerance, truth and justice. We
further urge the ADL leadership to review its unfair and unjustified
decision to fire New England Regional Director Andrew Tarsy, who had
the courage to speak truthfully on this key human rights issue."

The ADL’s actions come in the wake of a growing controversy stemming
from the decision last week by the Watertown, Massachusetts Town
Council to end its association with the ADL’s "No Place for Hate"
program due to the ADL’s denial of the Armenian Genocide. This decision
led to sharp divisions within the ADL, with Foxman firing New England
Regional Director Andrew Tarsy for his public recognition of the
Genocide, a move that precipitated the resignations of two regional
board members.

The ADL National’s heavy-handed response was greeted by a groundswell
of support by the Jewish American community for Tarsy and for ADL
National recognition of the Armenian Genocide and its reaffirmation
by Congress. The Boston Globe reported today that "Nancy K. Kaufman,
executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater
Boston, e-mailed a letter yesterday to some 40 prominent Jewish leaders
in Massachusetts, asking them to support the ousted director [Tarsy]
and to recognize the genocide against Armenians. . . Within hours of
sending the letter, Kaufman said that 11 groups had signed and that
more were expected to do so shortly."

Members of Congress also added their concerns about the ADL’s
Genocide denial and its effects on its credibility as a civil
rights organization. In a statement issued yesterday, Congressional
Armenian Genocide Resolution lead sponsor Adam Schiff (D-CA) condemned
Tarsy’s firing, stating that "this decision does not reflect well
on the organization and compound’s the error of failing to speak
candidly about the past with firing someone who did." Rep. Schiff
compared the move to the State Department’s decision to fire former
U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans for properly characterizing
the Armenian Genocide."

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) stated that "The Armenian Genocide is not
an historic dispute or a rhetorical argument over semantics. The
failure of the international community to deter and, if necessary,
stop genocide by use of force, has only served to embolden those
who seek to do evil. . . As a friend of the ADL, I encourage the
national organization to reconsider its position and recognize the
Armenian Genocide, and I also commend the New England region for its
principled decision on this important issue."