I have to admit, I didn’t expect this blog to be political when I started, but on issues of social justice I make exceptions and the ADL issue is one of those rare cases.
The ADL is still embroiled in a PR disaster of their own making and today they released yet another proclamation from Foxman that “reiterates support for efforts to reconcile Turkey and Armenia” (source). That’s nice…but the problem is that the issue is about Armenian Americans demanding a stop to the industry of hate that Turkey is funding in the way of Armenian Genocide denial. ADL is still oblivious.
Of course, it was only a matter of time before some people stepped forward to support ADL’s byzantine and evolving (shall we say flip-flopping?) position on the Armenian Genocide. Alan Wolfe at The New Republic‘s Open University blog is the most blatant in his endorsement of ADL’s stupidity, though the editors at Foreign Policy also chime in with their own two cents.
On this issue, the ADL’s stance is the correct one. At best, such a resolution is pure symbolism, and the last we thing we need is more symbolic politics. More likely, passage of the resolution would infringe on free speech, as hate crime legislation often does, and encourage defensive nationalism in Turkey when we in the United States should be supporting democratic movements in that country, even if those movements are religious. (source)
There are a few problems with Wolfe’s words:
- If symbolism is meaningless, then why did the US build a Holocaust Museum fifty years after the fact? In my opinion, it is about educating people about history, not symbolism. Facts are facts and they teach us things.
- Free speech? Hate crime legislation? Turks don’t have that luxury (ask assassinated Istanbul editor Hrant Dink) and the only way to oppose hate and ignorance is by strong words that reiterate facts. Hate crime legislation? I don’t think I’ve ever heard any Armenian American mention hate crime legislation in the States, the European Armenians have pushed for those in their own countries, not here though.
- Why is there no discussion of the fact that ADL allows Turkish Jews to be pawns at the whim of Turkey? If Turkish Jews are equals in Turkey, then why must they be protected by lies? One “leading” Turkish Jewish businessman wrote a letter that was published today in the Turkish press (and the Jerusalem Post), in which he proclaims “…Turkish people, who deserve your praise for their centuries-long tradition of compassion and their culture of humanity and cohabitation that remains an example to the world.” How about asking Greeks, Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians and Arabs if they think Turkey is a model of compassion?
Also, people talk about Armenians like we’re all foreign nationals. Most of us are proudly American, and there are over a million Armenian Americans in the country. So shouldn’t American interests come before Turkey’s interests in this case? Shouldn’t all Americans be offended that Turkey is falsely accusing its fellow citizens of lying and distorting the truth?
At the request of ADL’s New England Board (frankly, I’d like to hug each and every one of them) the issue of whether to support the Armenian Genocide resolution before Congress will go to the ADL National board on November 1–probably a move partially engineered by Foxman to defuse the criticism directed at him.
Today’s Jerusalem Post points out that the Nov. 1 outcome is far from certain:
Steven Grossman, former chairman of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC and a former ADL board member, said he believed the issue of a congressional resolution would receive a fair hearing at the national meeting in November, but it would be up to the New England leadership to make a convincing case to move forward.
“If the only ones supporting it are from New England, it won’t pass, but it’s up to the New England region to make a case that the moral high-ground and the effectiveness of ADL would be enhanced by changing their policy,” said Grossman. (source)
Now is the time to voice any and all concerns directly to ADL and its leaders (ADL contact form).
The issue is certainly not over…the Massachusetts town of Arlington has pulled out of the ADL program, neighboring Belmont is considering it, and other towns may follow.
Also, controversies like this always have a way of airing other dirty laundry about an organization and it’s leaders. One writer at Bay Windows, New England’s largest LGBT newspaper, says that he’s not surprised with the Armenian Genocide controversy since ADL’s relationship with the gay & lesbian community has long been contentious and rocky.