09/12 Needham Times: Sticking to a mission, even when others don’t

Sticking to a mission, even when others don’t

Wed Sep 12, 2007, 03:27 PM EDT

The predicament came to the forefront when the ADL, with a mission is to “secure justice and fair treatment for all,” refused to back legislation acknowledging the Armenian Genocide, which saw the murder of 1.5 million Armenians from 1915-1923 under the Ottoman Empire.

How can a program designed to combat hate, sponsored by an organization conceived to eliminate bigotry, not acknowledge the Armenian people’s painful history?

That’s what the Human Rights Committee set out to discuss after the ADL fired its regional director, Andrew Tarsy, for going against its national credo and publicly recognizing the genocide.

Though Tarsy was later rehired, and the national director, Abraham Foxman, issued a statement indicating the events of 1915-1923 were “tantamount to genocide,” the Human Rights Committee decided that simply wouldn’t suffice.

So, the committee drafted a letter to the ADL (see page 17), requesting it begin backing its own mission, or Needham would consider severing ties with its “No Place for Hate” program.

It seems like the right, even obvious, thing to do. So far, Watertown and Arlington have done so, and Newton voted this week to follow suit.

But over the course of the past several weeks, while the ADL’s policies have come under fire, residents have come forward demanding the town immediately end its association with the organization.

The Human Rights Committee, however, decided not to act rashly. It made a statement — indicating it will not tolerate such immoral behavior — and chose to give the ADL time to react, if it so chooses.

As Rabbi Jay Perlman pointed out last week, “The machinations of policy change in a large organization are moving. Instead of being punitive, I believe it’s more important to let the ADL have its discussions.”

The decision is a wise one. Though the ADL’s policy with regards to the Armenian Genocide was abhorrent to many, it’s more important to convince the organization change is necessary going forward than punish it for the mistakes of the past.

Source: http://www.wickedlocal.com/needham/opinions/x2033917699