09/27 Lexington Minuteman: Town must break from the ADL

Commentary: Town must break from the Anti-Defamation League
By Eric Eid-Reiner
Thu Sep 27, 2007, 05:02 AM EDT

Lexington - Regarding the issue of the No Place For Hate committee’s ties with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in light of the national ADL’s refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide as a genocide, I have come to conclude that disassociation from the ADL’s No Place For Hate program is the right choice for our town to make.

As a Jew and citizen who values the ideals of the No Place For Hate program as well as the Lexington No Place For Hate committee’s work, and as someone who like the vast majority of genocide scholars and historians acknowledges the Armenian genocide as precisely that — a genocide — I have carefully considered both sides of this important and complex issue.

Some may feel that it is unnecessary to withdraw from this program simply because we disagree with the ADL’s position on the issue of the Armenian Genocide and want them to change it. But this is about more than that.

The way I see it, this is also a matter of choosing whether our town should have a connection to an organization that is advancing an inaccurate stand on the Armenian Genocide — a stand that hurts many of our friends and neighbors, and does a disservice to the general public, which ought to know the truth of this matter. Why would we want to maintain this connection?

It is fully possible for a committee in town to exist under a different name and do the same great work that the current No Place For Hate committee does. I hope that this will be the action that the town decides to take, given the valuable role that the committee has played in Lexington since its inception, consistently working to combat bias and prejudice through education and action in our schools and greater community.

In not acknowledging the Armenian Genocide, the ADL has not done justice to our Armenian friends and neighbors or to our town’s core values — nor for that matter have they really been consistent with the missions of the No Place For Hate program and No Place For Hate committee in Lexington when it comes to this issue.

Certainly, as individuals and as members of various communities and organizations, we do not always agree with all that organizations we are a part of do or say. However, combating genocide denial is so central to the mission of the ADL that its stance on the Armenian Genocide is inexcusable and disturbingly hypocritical. Genocide denial by a prominent organization lends credibility to a damaging and false position.

As a Jew who is largely supportive of Israel and what the ADL does to aid it, disassociation — and the potentially negative publicity for the organization that it would inevitably garner — is a particularly troubling idea.

However, I keep thinking, “If an anti-prejudice group in town were affiliated with an organization that denied that the Holocaust was a genocide — an organization that argued that the Holocaust was not an effort to wipe out Jews and many other groups — could I support that group’s work?” For me, it would be extremely difficult to do so. And it would pain me deeply that my town would be willing to stay with this group despite their damaging view on the Holocaust, even if that group had done many wonderful things in the past in its overall anti-prejudice mission.

I think that if we want what to do what is right for all the citizens of Lexington, we should not hold our breath waiting for the ADL to change its viewpoint. We can and should take a stand immediately.

I urge you to join in taking the position that the citizens of Lexington strongly support the work of the No Place For Hate committee and will continue to do so, but we believe that the committee can successfully continue its anti-prejudice and related work without ties to an organization that denies that the Armenian Genocide was truly a genocide. I have complete confidence in the abilities of our town leaders, committee members, and community members to make such a transition. I feel that making this change and being active on this issue is in the best interests of the citizens of Lexington, and that while it may be tough, it really is the right thing to do.

Eric Eid-Reiner is a resident of Russell Road. He is in his first year at Wheaton College.

Source: http://www.wickedlocal.com/lexington/opinions/x428367763