ADL Cries Uncle: Okay, Okay, It Was Genocide

The Anti-Defamation League paid a heavy price of late for refusing to call Turkey’s slaughter of its Armenian population a genocide. First, its No Place for Hate program was booted from the heavily Armenian town of Watertown, Mass. Then the ADL fired its New England director Andrew Tarsy for criticizing his organization’s position. And the chorus of criticism within the Jewish community grew by the day.

Now the ADL has issued a mea culpa (sort of):

Is this a day late and a dollar short? Will it satisfy critics of Foxman and the ADL? Will Andrew Tarsy get his job back?

Either way, there’s egg on Foxman’s face. He fired Tarsy for taking a stance that he then turned around and largely embraced only days later. Indeed, the whole affair was handled pretty abominably by the ADL. The ADL says it has no position on the House bill to recognize the genocide, but any claim to neutrality on the matter is belied by the fact that Foxman has publicly criticized it and the ADL’s decision to forward the Turkish Jewish community’s objections on to Congress. Note that even in its latest statement recognizing the genocide, the ADL persists in saying that “a Congressional resolution on such matters is a counterproductive diversion.” You can’t be neutral and be a critic at the same time.

It’s true that the Turkish government has placed the ADL and other Jewish groups in a difficult position, effectively blackmailing them, leading them to fear that their actions on this issue will have repercussions for Israel and the Turkish Jewish community. But couldn’t Foxman at least have found a way of conveying to the Armenian community that he feels their pain? We’re talking here about a people that was slaughtered en masse more than nine decades ago, and since then has fought an uphill battle for recognition of the crimes that were committed against them. But Foxman, in his public statements on the matter, seemed to display remarkably little sympathy for the Armenian community’s feelings. And when Armenians complained, he cast the ADL as the victim.

The upshot of the whole affair is that Turkey’s efforts to enlist the Jewish community in its bid to block congressional action ended up backfiring. By embroiling the ADL in this matter, they’ve only raised the issue’s profile, which can only benefit the Armenian community’s struggle for recognition and justice.

And now that the ADL has called a genocide a genocide, we will have to wait and see whether Turkey’s bite is as bad as its bark.

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ADL Cries Uncle: Okay, Okay, It Was Genocide

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