Monday, September 24, 2007

Continued Fallout from ADL Position on Turkish Genocide of Armenians

It continues to sadden me to see what's happened on the suburbs of Boston in relation to the ADL's position on the Turkish Genocide against the Armenian population during WWI. To recap, see my earlier post.

Since then a lot has happened. Let me shortcut it:
* Andrew Tarsys, Director of New England chapter of the ADL, breaks with the ADL party line and calls the killing of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during WWI genocide
* ADL fires Tarsys
* After much pressure from various groups in the American-Jewish community, the ADL reverses itself and Abraham Foxman, Executive Director of the ADL calls the actions of the Ottoman Empire "tantamount to genocide".
* ADL re-instates Tarsys

All of this happened in a matter of little more than a week.

Now you would have thought that the actions of the ADL, and especially the defiant stand taken by Tarsys would have had a significant impact on relations between the Armenian-American community in Watertown and the ADL. But instead, the Town of Watertown decided not to re-join the "No Place to Hate" initiative that was started by the ADL to promote racial unity and make neighborhoods safer and nicer. What's worse is that Newton, an affluent neighboring town with a large Jewish community, also pulled out of the "No Place to Hate" program.

It disturbs me on two levels. First, the action by Watertown to pull out of the "No Place to Hate" program had its intended effect -- the ADL changed it's position to be essentially in line with what the community has been asking for, actually for decades. This was a huge deal for a prominent national organization like the ADL to reverse itself so quickly. But apparently it was not enough. I personally think that it's unreasonable to have expected more. Certainly there was fallout for the ADL, Israel and the Jewish community in regards to it's relations with Turkey, one of the few Muslim nations that has good relations with Israel. To have gotten what you wanted and then still walk away seems disingenuous.

That leads me to my second point. The results of these recent weeks is that a program that was designed to bring different groups together is now being used to drive wedges between them. I have read that leadership from both sides are trying to work things out together and re-build bridges, but I don't buy it. I think it's a shame that the divides between the Jewish and Armenian communities in the suburbs of Boston seem to be getting wider.

No comments: