08/31 Newburyport: Port commission takes right course in challenging ADL

Port commission takes right course in challenging ADL

Daily News of Newburyport

Consistency matters.

That is the message the Newburyport Commission for Diversity and Tolerance is sending to the Anti-Defamation League regarding its continuing refusal to acknowledge that the slaughter of more than 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks between 1915 and 1924 was genocide.

The local commission is considering withdrawing from the ADL-sponsored No Place for Hate program unless the organization unambiguously acknowledges the Armenian genocide and lobbies Congress to do the same. Several other communities have already withdrawn, including Watertown earlier this month.

This is a worthy and important message to send. The major reason for the ADL's existence is to recall the genocide against Jews committed by Nazi Germany and to make sure it never happens again. An organization like that should be at the forefront of acknowledging and condemning similar acts against any other ethnic groups.

There have been some positive signs in response to the pressure. The director of the Boston ADL chapter, Andrew Tarsy, was recently reinstated after the national organization fired him for agreeing that the killing of the Armenians should be called a genocide. Abraham Foxman, the national ADL director, recently acknowledged it was "tantamount to genocide."

But that, as Americans of Armenian descent and their supporters say, is deliberately ambiguous. They also want the ADL to stop opposing legislation in Congress that would formally recognize the genocide.

This is not simply about putting a label on something, of course. The ADL is in a difficult position - caught between the pressure from Armenians and the fact that it does not want to jeopardize Israel's alliance with Turkey.

But acknowledging and condemning horrific acts by a country nearly a century ago does not put blame on the present-day citizens of that country any more than modern-day Germans are to blame for the atrocities committed under Hitler.

Acknowledging the sins of the past is one small way to prevent similar tragic chapters in the future. The ADL ought to vigorously support that. Those who are putting pressure on the organization to do so are doing a favor for the group and future generations of the world.

Source: http://www.newburyportnews.com/puopinion/local_story_243094032