08/22 Newton Tab: TAB Editorial: No place for politics

Wed Aug 22, 2007, 12:00 AM EDT

Newton -
When Newton resident David Boyajian wrote a letter to our sister publication, The Watertown TAB and Press, he probably had no idea that he was sparking a national news story with international repercussions. Objecting to the Anti-Defamation League’s opposition of the recognition of the Armenian genocide of the early 20th century, he pointed out that the ADL’s dishonest representation of history conflicts with the very principles that the organization’s “No Place for Hate” espouses.
Since that letter was published on July 5, Watertown has pulled out of the No Place for Hate program, and ADL regional director Andrew Tarsy took a position in direct conflict to the national organization’s stance. Tarsy was subsequently fired; two ADL board members resigned; and ADL National Director Abraham Foxman “revisited” his organization’s view of the tragedy.

Here in Newton, Mayor David Cohen released a letter he sent to Foxman appropriately calling upon the ADL to rehire Tarsy and to recognize the genocide, correctly stating that failure to do so does a disservice to people all over the world who have suffered from discrimination and injustice.

As of the TAB’s deadline, the Newton Human Rights Commission had yet to meet to discuss what stance the group would take regarding the No Place for Hate Program, but they were scheduled to do so Tuesday night.

Also on Tuesday, media outlets were claiming that Foxman had reversed his position, but, in fact, his statement merely said that the massacre was “tantamount to genocide.” And, he maintained that the ADL could not support the congressional legislation recognizing the genocide because of fear it would risk the safety of Turkish Jews, along with the relationship between Turkey, Israel and the U.S.

In fact, what Foxman did not say is as telling as what he did say. The deliberate killing of 1.5 million people either is genocide or it isn’t. Calling the massacre “tantamount to genocide” is wishy-washy and weak. Foxman is playing political games that are tarnishing all the good work the ADL has done over the years. He has not gone far enough.

Unless or until Foxman dramatically revises his position and reinstates Tarsy, we urge the Newton Human Rights Commission to follow Watertown’s lead and withdraw from the ADL-sponsored No Place for Hate Program. As a community, we can continue to endorse the values the program sets forth without ladening ourselves with hypocrisy.