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August 24, 2007

ADL Has Never Denied The Armenian Massacre

In an August 17 opinion column, Leonard Fein appears to be misinformed on the Anti-Defamation League’s position, as he seemingly relies only on what has been said and written in the news media and the blogosphere (“On Armenian Genocide, Politics Trumps Truth”). As a result, his contribution is yet another distortion of our position, and that of other major Jewish organizations, on this complex issue.

First of all, let us be clear: We have fully acknowledged — and never denied — the massacres of hundreds of thousands of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire in 1915 through 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, and we will continue to do so.

Yet we also believe that legislative efforts outside of Turkey are counterproductive to the goal of having Turkey itself come to grips with its past. We therefore have taken no position on what action Congress should take on House Resolution 106. This is for many reasons, including the concerns from the Jewish community in Turkey about the impact of congressional action on them. We are also keenly aware that Turkey is a strategic ally and friend of the United States and Israel, and that in the struggle between Islamic extremists and moderate Islam, Turkey is the most critical country in the world.

We are deeply saddened that the Watertown, Mass., town council has rescinded its partnership with the ADL’s No Place for Hate program over a matter that involves complex and competing moralities. While the Armenian community reserves the right to disagree with our position, their strategy of attempting to intimidate and punish us for not coming around to their point of view is unacceptable. It is sad that such an important program as No Place for Hate, which provides a framework for fighting hatred and bigotry, has been mired in a controversy that is not of its own making, and that has absolutely no bearing on its goals and objectives.

Abraham Foxman
National Director
Anti-Defamation League
New York, N.Y.

Stay Out of Oregon Case

It is appalling that the American Jewish Congress, as an official institution representing Jewish interests, has inserted itself as a party in a custodial dispute between two parents and a child regarding circumcision (“Religious Rights on Trial as Circumcision Case Reaches Oregon’s High Court,” August 17). It seems that when it comes to that particular form of genital mutilation, Jews simply lose their minds.

Kudos to the Anti-Defamation League for staying out of a case that should not involve any official Jewish organization. More generally, it is high time Jews come to grips with the fact that identity is carried in the mind and not in the penis.

Ari Zighelboim
New Orleans, La.

Aid to Jenin Misguided

How ironic that Jenin, a virulent hotbed of jihadist terrorism, is to receive untold financial aid in order to give jobs to Arabs (“Along Green Line, Both Sides Try To Work It Out,” August 10). Will such a project be forthcoming to provide help to the poor, innocent Jewish residents of Sderot and other towns that the Palestinian terrorists shoot at daily?

Julie Sager
Director of Campus Activities
Zionist Organization of America
Los Angeles, Calif.

Unions Against Boycott

The Forward correctly portrays the American labor movement’s position on the British boycott issue, one that follows a long-standing and clear stance (“U.S. Unions Organize Against British Boycott,” July 27). The list of union leaders signing the “Statement of Opposition to Divestment From or Boycotts of Israel” has, in fact, grown extensively, to 41, since the article was published.

We do, however, have to set the record straight on two items in the story and accompanying editorial that directly involved the American Federation of Teachers (“Don’t Mourn, Organize”).

When the article appeared, I was heading the American Federation of Teachers delegation attending the Education International World Congress in Berlin. As I was there, I can tell you that any speculation about a University and College Union effort to introduce an Israeli boycott resolution is simply not true. No such attempt was ever made.

Also, the article seems to suggest that the American Federation of Teachers has already made a decision on whom to support for general secretary of Public Services International. This also is not the case.

There are two candidates running for the leadership of Public Services International, Keith Sonnet and Peter Waldorff. The American Federation of Teachers has not yet decided whom we will support.

To discern the positions of both candidates on an extensive range of issues — including, but not limited to, their views on boycotting Israel — we sent each a questionnaire. We have also had the chance to speak directly with both of them.The decision on whom to support will be based on their responses.

Edward J. McElroy
American Federation of Teachers
Washington, D.C.

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