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Sunday, August 19, 2007

A shout out to Andy Tarsy, former New England regional director for the Anti-Defamation League. Andy was canned on Friday for breaking with Abe Foxman and the home office by stating publicly that the group should recognize the Armenian Genocide. I have met Tarsy in the past and been impressed with him. This incident does nothing to dampen that. JR Telegraph, a blog which has been highly critical of Tarsy in the past but also praises Tarsy for this principled move, points to the Boston Globe story on the firing: ADL local leader fired on Armenian issue

The national Anti-Defamation League fired its New England regional director yesterday, one day after he broke ranks with national ADL leadership and said the human rights organization should acknowledge the Armenian genocide that began in 1915.

The firing of Andrew H. Tarsy, who had served as regional director for about two years and as civil rights counsel for about five years before that, prompted an immediate backlash among prominent local Jewish leaders against the ADL's national leadership and its national director, Abraham H. Foxman.

"My reaction is that this was a vindictive, intolerant, and destructive act, ironically by an organization and leader whose mission -- fundamental mission -- is to promote tolerance," Newton businessman Steve Grossman, a former ADL regional board member, said yesterday.

"I predict that Foxman's actions will precipitate wholesale resignations from the regional board, a meaningful reduction in ADL's regional fund-raising, and will further exacerbate the ADL's relationship with the non-Jewish community coming out of this crisis around the Armenian genocide."

Tarsy, 38, said he had been struggling with the national position for weeks and finally told Foxman in a phone conversation Thursday that he found the ADL's stance "morally indefensible."...

Here's the crux:

...Tarsy's firing -- and the national office's rebuke of the local office's independence -- marked the latest twist in a debate that began weeks ago in Watertown, home to more than 8,000 Armenian-Americans. Residents there became angry when they learned that the ADL was the sponsor of the town's anti-bigotry program "No Place For Hate" and, on Tuesday this week, the Watertown Town Council voted unanimously to pull out of the program...

Andy Bostom wrote last Wednesday on The perversity of denying genocide. According to his article:

Mr. Foxman and the ADL are lobbying against legislation recognizing the Armenian genocide in the U.S. House (HR 106) and the Senate (SR 106), including the presentation of letters from the Jewish community of Turkey complemented by, "their own [i.e., the ADL's] statement opposing the bill."

ADL is responding with An Open Letter to the New England Community taken out in the Boston Globe and The Jewish Advocate which states in part:

... ADL has acknowledged and never denied the massacres of hundreds of thousands of Armenians — and by some accounts more than one million — at the hands of the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1918.

We believe that the Turkish government must do more than it has to confront its history and to seek reconciliation with the Armenian people. We have said that to the Turkish government and its officials, we will continue to do so, and we take this opportunity to repeat it publicly. We will continue to work to convince Turkey to pursue recognition and reconciliation, and we will seek ways to encourage this process.

We believe that legislative efforts outside of Turkey are counterproductive to the goal of having Turkey itself come to grips with its past. We take no position on what action Congress should take on House Resolution 106. The Jewish community in Turkey has clearly expressed to us and other major American Jewish organizations its concerns about the impact of Congressional action on them, and we cannot ignore those concerns. We are also keenly aware that Turkey is a key strategic ally and friend of the United States and a staunch friend of Israel, and that in the struggle between Islamic extremists and moderate Islam, Turkey is the most critical country in the world...

It's a sticky wicket. You have a small, dhimmi community and a country that's an important...friend...of Israel. Even Armenia itself understands the calls of realpolitik and avoiding issues where you don't have to take a stand. On the other hand, truth is truth.

Update: 2 members of regional ADL board quit



6 Comments

I'm with Tasry. You have do what's right.........

BHG

Much as this issue is a sticky wicket, there is still the general question of whether legislatures should pass laws or even resolutions about matters of historical truth. And given the sheer amount of Saudi money available to the Falsehood Lobby, I'd advocate keeping this out of legislatures entirely, with all due respect to the Armenian people.

Hmmmm. I think I'll largely hold my tongue on this one, though am very sorely tempted, especially so given Abe Foxman's well evidenced agendas, which have not been simple, anti-anti-Semitism and anti-bigotry agendas, though he's practiced in cloaking himself in that mantle no matter the initiative he's engaged in. But this is freighted with too many potentially volatile pitfalls and misunderstandings. I will note that no one is suggesting truth be legislated in the manner some European countries have done, will also note that there's a very long history of legislatures passing symbolic resolutions, proclamations, etc. Symbolism is, or certainly can be, important. Not in this case, not for Abe Foxman.

"Much as this issue is a sticky wicket, there is still the general question of whether legislatures should pass laws or even resolutions about matters of historical truth."

It is not a "Sticky wicket."

Unfortunately it is not about our not promoting recognition it is about the ADL lobbying against the recognition -- in OUR names.

I just sent my resignation to ADL until this is cleared up. At our local chapter it has come up that ADL has been more forceful in Washington than Ankara has on this issue! Haaretz and the Jpost have covered this a lot. Essentially the big opponent of recognition is not Turkey but our own lobbying groups!

Today Mr. Foxman issued a statement saying that ADL recognizes the Armenian Genocide but it is not in favor of any congressional resolution regarding this matter. does he really believe a statement without appropriate action is worth anything?!?

Omri: Are you saying that the US Congress should not pass resolutions recognizing the Jewish Holocaust or condemning the Genocide in Darfur? Because Congress HAS passed such resolutions. Why are the Armenians any different? Think about why such mass crimes against humanity occur time and time again. Because we allow them to. The US should follow the lead of most of the rest of the world and put an end to Turkey's disgusting attempt to rewrite history.

Moeover, the ADL, the American Jewish Committee and any other organizations that supposedly support human rights should take a firm stand supporting this legislation. History repeats itself and what is happening now to the Armenians will happen again to other victims of genocide.

"Syme: It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. You wouldn't have seen the [Newspeak] Dictionary 10th edition, would you Smith? It's that thick. [illustrates thickness with fingers] The 11th Edition will be that [narrows fingers] thick. Winston Smith: So, The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect? Syme: The secret is to move from translation, to direct thought, to automatic response. No need for self-discipline. Language coming from here [the larynx], not from here [the brain]" -1984 (film)


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