08/22 Newton Tab: Send a message to the ADL

By Neal Fleisher, Independent Perspective
GateHouse News Service
Wed Aug 22, 2007, 08:51 AM EDT

Newton -

You may have read about the ongoing battle within the Anti-Defamation League. Recently, there has been an outcry by the Armenian population calling for a recognition of the atrocities against them at the hands of the Ottoman Empire (1920s). With an estimate of 1.5 million people murdered, they want to call it for what it was — genocide. There aren’t too many arguing the killings took place, but for some reason, groups like the ADL don’t want to describe it as genocide.

Watertown has a large Armenian population, and the people have been pretty upset with the ADL. In fact, the town decided to disassociate itself from the ADL-sponsored “No Place for Hate” program in its public schools because of it. They still want to continue with a program along those guidelines, but not the ADL-supported one. They wanted to send the ADL a message.

Sounds like a really good idea to me. The ADL has lost its direction. They have become just another organization pursuing political agendas. Originally conceived to identify and fight discrimination against all groups, it now finds itself on the losing end of a PR battle, and it will only get worse. In my opinion, that is good. The ADL needs to rid itself of those who are responsible for their current policies. The president of the ADL, Mr. Foxman, fired the New England regional director, Andrew Tarsy, this past week for having broken ranks with the national organization and recognizing the atrocities against the Armenians as genocide.

In fact, much like any other business, the national organization sent out a memo last week, directing all those within the organization that it was against policy to publicly disagree with the national policy. Yikes; the ADL is not just some business, it is supposed to be, above and beyond all else, the “keeper of the truth.” The message to its employees — don’t speak out — defies every principle the ADL is founded upon.

It took Mr. Tarsy a while to come to this position, which resulted in his firing. As recently as two weeks ago, Mr. Tarsy was professing the party line, refusing to identify this as genocide. Thankfully, Mr. Tarsy couldn’t in good conscience continue. So, last week he took that fateful step, defied the national organization, and was promptly let go.

This self-inflicted damage to the ADL is tangible and will grow over time. The ADL has lost its moral authority to speak out. They are quickly becoming just another organization, fulfilling its goals for a limited constituency; instead of being a beacon of light, illuminating a proper moral direction.

There are few things we as a community can do. But, we can send a message. By dropping our association with the ADL’s program, No Place for Hate; we are telling them something. We should continue a program in the same vein, but show our displeasure with the ADL. We need to do this now, not six months from now. Pressure is building; there have been a number of resignations within the organization. They need to hear from the communities, that all they have worked for will be lost, because they have lost their way.

Neal Fleisher can be reached at N. Fleisher@comcast.net.