Judicial Nomination Exhumes ADL Fiasco;


[ Part 2.2: “Attached Text” ]

by Nanore Barsoumian/ The Armenian Weekly25 Nov 2013

Councillors Condemn ADL Complicity in Armenian Genocide Denial Click
on image for a larger version [IMG_9085.jpg]

The statement signed by five councilors, declaring that if the vote
had taken place as expected on Nov. 20, the undersigned would have
voted ‘No.’ Superior Court Nominee Faces Opposition for Failing to
Act in Face of Genocide Denial

BOSTON, Mass. (A.W.)-“I don’t enjoy voting no, but it is the right
thing to do,” Councilor Marilyn M. Pettito Devaney told the Armenian
Weekly during an interview, as she explained why she opposes a
Superior Court judicial nomination that would put a member of the
Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on the bench. “They have bullied Congress
into defeating [Armenian] Genocide resolutions, and they continue to
deprive the Armenians of their history,” she said.

Devaney is leading the opposition in the Governor’s Council against
Gov. Deval Patrick’s nomination of attorney Joseph S. Berman to the
position of Associate Justice of the Superior Court. Devaney deems
problematic Berman’s involvement with ADL-an organization that claims
to combat anti-Semitism and discrimination but refuses to unequivocally
recognize the Armenian Genocide- and his failure to resign from the
organization’s Board when it became clear that ADL had been lobbying
Congress against the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Berman would need the support of five of the eight councilors to be
confirmed for the judgeship. Berman’s public hearing took place on
Nov. 13, during which he was questioned for a span of four hours. On
Nov. 20, the vote was postponed by an eager Governor, after it became
clear that five councilors would instead oppose Berman’s nomination.

The ADL fiasco took center stage in arguments against his nomination.

“I received a letter asking, what does a 100-year-old Armenian
Genocide by the Turks have to do with the nomination of a Justice
for the Superior Court? Simple answer: Justice for all,” Devaney told
the panel.

Devaney was referring to the ADL’s refusal to recognize the Armenian
Genocide, and the organization’s lobbying efforts against Congressional
resolutions recognizing the Genocide.

Berman, a partner at the Looney & Grossman law firm in Boston, has
been a national commissioner for ADL since 2006, and a member of its
New England Board and Executive Committee.

Devaney told the panel that when she was a Watertown Councilor At
Large, she urged towns to cut ties with the ADL’s “No Place for Hate”
program in 2007. That year, she also authored a Watertown Town Council
proclamation that was passed unanimously, severing ties with the
organization. Watertown was followed by eleven other Massachusetts
municipalities (Belmont, Newton, Arlington, Northampton, Bedford,
Lexington, Westwood, Medford, Needham, Newburyport, and Peabody) in
severing ties with the ADL program, following broad-based community
opposition as part of the “No Place for Denial” Campaign lead by the
Armenian National Committee of Massachusetts.

Berman ADL’s New England Regional Director Andrew Tarsy then called
on the organization to recognize the Armenian Genocide; ADL responded
by firing him.

“At the Governor’s Council hearing, when Councilor Jubinville asked
why he didn’t withdraw his membership from ADL, Mr. Berman answered:
‘I wrote a resignation letter in my head but didn’t write it because
of all the good things the ADL does,'” recounted Devaney before the
Council on Nov. 20.

“I asked Mr. Berman if he belonged to an organization who denied the
Holocaust, would he remain as a member because of all the other good
things they do. I said I would resign,” added Devaney.

“The refusal of the ADL to properly acknowledge the Armenian Genocide
and its long-time opposition to Armenian Genocide resolutions in
Congress is deeply offensive to the Armenian-American community and
discredits an organization that claims to defend human rights,”
Dikran Kaligian, Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of
Eastern Massachusetts, told the Armenian Weekly.

“Complicity in the Turkish Government’s international denial campaign
must be condemned by those who believe in justice for those subjected
to crimes against humanity. Press statements by ADL officials this
week show that they still don’t get it.”

In 2007, once the scandal around ADL’s policy on the Armenian
Genocide had erupted, the organization issued a “Statement
on the Armenian Genocide,” declaring that “The consequences of
those actions were indeed tantamount to genocide.” Many found the
statement unsatisfactory, as the wording placed the issue of intent
under question-a main factor in the 1948 UN Genocide Convention
definition-and sneaked a qualifier before the word genocide.

Armenian Weekly contributor Michael Mensoian was one such critic. he
wrote: “The belated backtracking of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
in acknowledging the planned, systematic massacre of 1,500,000
Armenian men, women and children as ‘tantamount to genocide’ is
discouraging. Tantamount means something is equivalent. If it’s
equivalent, why avoid using the term? For the ADL to justify its
newly adopted statement because the word genocide did not exist at
the time indicates a halfhearted attempt to placate Armenians while
not offending Turkey.”

Later, when ADL National Director Abe Foxman was confronted, he
reportedly retorted, “No one can dictate to you to use the word that
you want us to use. We will use the words that we feel comfortable

Devaney said she expected Berman, who had held a prominent position
in the organization, to have done more. “Joseph Berman could have
made the difference by collecting signatures of all the members of
the New England ADL chapter and presenting them to the National ADL
to support the recognition of the Genocide,” she told the Council.

At his hearing, Berman had said he had chosen to stay, since he was in
agreement with ADL on all issues except for the Armenian Genocide, and
he believed that it would be more effective to change the organization
from within.

During her interview with the Armenian Weekly on Nov. 22, Devaney said
the issue was important to her especially since she had heard about
the atrocities that took place during the Genocide from survivors
themselves. She remembered how in 2007, Genocide survivor Areka
Derkazarian, whom she calls a friend, accompanied her as she appeared
before the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) to urge them to
withdraw sponsorship from ADL’s program. The MMA unanimously voted to
end its affiliation with the ADL program in April 2008, following the
“No Place for Denial” action campaign and a petition signed by over
30 local churches and organizations.

The statement signed by five councilors, declaring that if the vote had
taken place as expected on Nov. 20, the undersigned would have voted
‘No.’ Devaney said that soon after news of her opposition to Berman
got out, she began getting hate mail from Berman supporters. “I’ve
never experienced in my tenure getting hate mail for doing the right
thing,” she said, shaking her head. Then, leaning forward, she added,
“This has been really misunderstood… The ADL has been working hard
to prevent the Armenians from having their history.”

Earlier, at Berman’s hearing on Nov. 13, councilors also criticized
ADL for sending letters to U.S. Senate Judiciary Committees before
candidate hearings, which according to Councilor Jennie Caissie, amount
to “bona fide litmus tests.” “I don’t want ideologues on the bench,”
added Cassie. Councilor Jubinville, too, had noted that Berman’s
involvement with ADL raised concerns regarding his ideology. In
response, Berman said that he was not going to assume the position
of an “ADL judge,” and that he would “decide cases based on the facts.”

Berman’s ‘Contributions campaign’

Berman’s campaign contributions were another sore point during the
hearing on Nov. 13. After his 2004 bid to a judgeship were rejected by
the Judicial Nomination Committee-a body appointed by the Governor to
oversee judicial nominations-Berman’s campaign contributions increased,
surpassing $110,000 in ten years.

Among the state candidates receiving Berman’s donations were Gov.

Patrick, Congresswoman Katherine Clark, Attorney General Martha
Coakley, State Treasurer Steven Grossman, Senator Elizabeth Warren,
and others. All the recipients were Democratic candidates.

When grilled about whether he contacted any of those elected officials
on behalf of his judicial nomination, Berman acknowledged that he
had contacted Katherine Clark that morning and asked her to call
Councilors Albano and Jubinville.

“After he applied for a judicial appointment in 2004 and was rejected,
he started his contribution campaign and donated $110,000 total,
giving the appearance he was going to buy his way to a judgeship,”
Devaney later told the Weekly, adding, “In my tenure, I’ve never seen
any nominee contributing so much.”

“I don’t look for a political activist/fundraiser as a quality in a
judge,” Devaney told the panel on Nov. 20.

Berman’s “demeanor” and “behavior” were also bothersome to Devaney,
who found some of the attorney’s responses arrogant and short.

In addition, Berman’s lack of criminal trial experience-he specializes
in commercial litigation- and his interest in “time standards” in
the courtroom were also raised as points of concern.

Vote postponed

Only one of the councilors, Terrence W. Kennedy, voiced his support
of the attorney.

Disappointed with the councilors’ position vis-a-vis his nominee,
Gov. Patrick said he would postpone the vote, indicating that in the
coming days he would work to sway the votes in favor of Berman.

“This Council will have the opportunity… to vote on this nominee. I
am going to work hard to get the votes. I have not had an opportunity
to do that, and I am not ready today,” said the Governor, adding,
“I appreciate that some of you have views that had been hardened.

But I think that this is a candidate who is more than ready to

“We are not going to change our minds,” said Devaney. “We are going
to stand by the vote. I want you to know that.”

Anticipating the Governor’s move, Councilor Robert L. Jubinville had
prepared a typed statement declaring that if the vote had taken place
as expected on Nov. 20, the undersigned would have voted “No.” The
document was signed by Jubinville, Devaney, Oliver P. Cipollini, Jr.,
Jennie L. Caissie, and Christopher A. Iannella, Jr.

“We put on the record our objection to continuing the vote on Mr.

Berman’s confirmation,” further read the statement.

The vote is expected to take place on Dec. 4. However, it is also
possible that the nomination would be withdrawn before that date.

See also:



You may also like