08/21 Boston Globe: Anti-Defamation League reverses course, recognizes Armenian genocide

Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Anti-Defamation League reverses course, recognizes Armenian genocide
By Keith O'Brien, Globe Staff

The national office of the Anti-Defamation League reversed its long-held position today and acknowledged the Armenian genocide of 1915, saying in a statement that the mass killings of that era at the hands of the Ottoman Turks "were indeed tantamount to genocide."

However, the statement reaffirms the national ADL's belief that the legislation pending in Congress to recognize the genocide is "a counterproductive diversion."

The ADL's statement, released to the Globe and on the group's website this afternoon, came "in light of the heated controversy," which began weeks ago in suburban Watertown, where more than 8,000 Armenian-Americans call home. Days earlier, the ADL's national director, Abraham H. Foxman, fired the regional director of the New England ADL for making a similar statement.

It was not known just yet how Foxman's statement today would affect Andrew H. Tarsy, who was fired last week, or how it would influence a regional board meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning.

The controversy came to a head last week when the Town Council in Watertown voted unanimously to pull out of an ADL program called No Place for Hate because the league did not acknowledge the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks starting in 1915 in what is today Turkey.

Tarsy had initially defended the national ADL's position. After the vote, Tarsy changed course -- calling the massacre genocide -- and was fired by the national ADL.

In an open letter earlier this week, the ADL called the bill pending in Congress "counterproductive" and said the organization, founded in 1913 to fight anti-Semitism, worried what effect it would have on Jews in Turkey.

Posted by the Boston Globe City & Region Desk at 02:11 PM