10/05 Armenian Weekly: Will it Still Be (Turkish) Business as Usual for Foxman?

Will it Still Be (Turkish) Business as Usual for Foxman and the ADL? I Believe So.

By Michael G. Mensoian

"The Armenian Weekly", Volume 73, No. 40, October 6, 2007

On Nov. 1, Abraham Foxman and the leadership of the National ADL will hold a meeting in New York ostensibly to respond to the demands of the several towns in Massachusetts that have either withdrawn or have threatened to withdraw from the ADL’s No Place for Hate program. These towns will reconsider their participation in the program if the ADL recognizes the Armenian genocide without qualification and agrees to publicly support the resolution before Congress recognizing the genocide. The stakes are high. What will be considered at this Nov. 1 meeting far outweighs the importance of the No Place for Hate program. That is ancillary to the stinging rebuke Turkey would suffer if the ADL unequivocally recognizes the Armenian genocide and publicly supports the Congressional resolution recognizing it.

Whatever decision Foxman and the National ADL leadership agree upon will not be made with the events in Massachusetts as their primary focus. Namik Tan, the Turkish Ambassador to Israel, was extremely blunt when expressing Turkey’s position to the Israeli Foreign Office: “Israel should not let the Jewish community [ADL] change its position” from non-recognition of the Armenian genocide, he said. Even more telling with respect to the influence Israel exerts on the National ADL is his continuing comment that “[t]his is our expectation… On some issues there is no such thing as Israel cannot deliver.” This expectation by the Turkish government is not based on supposition but on a realistic understanding of the relationship that the Israeli government has with the Jewish diaspora.

The fact that the New England Region ADL broke ranks with the National ADL and came out in support of the Armenian genocide and the recognition efforts in Congress reminds me of the “good cop-bad cop routine.” It would be surprising if the Regional ADL has sufficient clout to influence the National ADL. Until now it hasn’t been apparent. Pragmatically, the position crafted by the National ADL has international implications and as such will always take precedence over any position that a regional affiliate may take. If necessary, it would not be surprising for the National ADL to sacrifice their No Place for Hate program in those few communities where Armenians were able to muster a sufficient response to influence the outcome. Already, letters to the editor column of various local papers have published letters by people either lamenting the fact that they will be denied the opportunities that the No Place for Hate program provides or extolling its worthiness within the community. This is all part of a calculated campaign to influence public opinion to support the program. To expect a significant number of towns to join Watertown, Newton, Belmont and Arlington in withdrawing or threatening to withdraw from the program is unlikely. Presently, there are more than four dozen communities in Massachusetts that participate in this program.

The ADL New England Regional director Andrew H. Tarsy, who was reinstated to his position, was forthright in recognizing the Armenian genocide several days after the Watertown Town Council’s vote. However, he was critical of Mayor David Cohen’s decision to have Newton withdraw from the program.

In a similar vein, Nancy Kaufman, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, was also upset with Mayor David Cohen’s decision to withdraw from the program. Yet she claims that “…as an American Jew…nothing would be worse than someone saying the Holocaust didn’t happen.” I agree with her completely and appreciate her honesty. But what both individuals seem to overlook is that this is exactly what Foxman and the leadership of the National ADL have said with respect to the Armenian genocide. Another fact that Kaufman and Tarsy overlooked is that the creditability of any program is determined by the creditability of the sponsoring organization and its creditability is determined by the creditability of its leadership—namely its director, Abraham Foxman. The program may be valuable, but it is a creation of a national organization whose leadership has neither the moral authority nor the necessary courage to acknowledge the basic truths in carrying out its stated mission.

How can the No Place for Hate program have any credibility when it fails to address the most grievous wrong imaginable: the Armenian genocide? Then, to say that recognizing the Armenian genocide or influencing Congress in these matters is not the mission of the ADL becomes pure fabrication. The ability of the National ADL to speak out on the mass killing of ethnic minorities as a political solution has been its principal strength and perhaps its most significant contribution to the elimination of hate and prejudice. With respect to the Holocaust, the message has been, “Never Again.” Unfortunately, the leadership of the ADL in the person of Abraham Foxman, a determined ally of Turkey, must believe that “Never Again” begins with the Holocaust. Given that fallacious reasoning he sees no need for the Armenian genocide to be recognized.

A rereading of the message delivered by Turkish Ambassador Namik Tan is instructive. It is inconceivable that Abraham Foxman’s anti-Armenian position was taken without the tacit approval of the Israeli government. It is the most efficacious position for the National ADL to have with respect to the Armenian genocide given the Israeli-Turkish rapprochement.

I strongly disagree with individuals who believe that opposition to the Congressional resolution is weakening. To believe that the local “victories” will translate into a national movement that can effectively challenge the ADL and its program and “force” acquiescence by the ADL leadership is somewhere on the margins of wishful thinking. At the cost of being labeled overly critical, the events of the past several weeks are akin to the proverbial “tempest in a teapot.” No one should doubt the tremendous pressure Turkey will continue to exert on an already compliant Bush administration and on members of Congress as well. Has it already been forgotten that the Clinton Democrat administration was also pro-Turkish?

As a side thought, please consider that there are only two non-Arab Islamic countries within that great expanse of states stretching from Egypt to Afghanistan that have the potential to dominate the region: Turkey and Iran. Presently, it serves the interests of Israel and the United States to assist Turkey in remaining the dominant state. Success would contribute to the misconceived global strategy of the United States to challenge Russia in the Caucasus and Central Asia as well as maintaining its dubious Middle East policy. Israel, for its part, would continue to have a significant military ally within the region. The effect this would have on Armenia or the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is not difficult to imagine. Recognizing the Armenian genocide makes no positive contribution to any of these objectives.

Source: http://www.hairenik.com/armenianweekly/com10060701.htm