2007.08.21 -- Letter to ADL/Pennsylvania by Rep. Daylin Leach

August 21, 2007

Barry Morrison, Regional Director
Anti-Defamation League
1617 John F Kennedy Blvd Ste 1160
Philadelphia , PA 19103
(215) 568-2223

Dear Barry:

I just returned from Boston where I attended a family funeral. While up there I read the extensive coverage the Boston press was giving to the firing of Andrew Tarsy, who was the ADL’s New England Regional Director, by Abe Foxman, the ADL’s National Director. As I am sure you know, Mr. Tarsy was fired for publicly breaking with the national ADL over the issue of recognizing the Armenian Genocide at the hands of Turkey .

As a life-long practicing Jew and the husband of an Armenian, I was shocked to learn the full-extent and depth of the National ADL’s Armenian Genocide Denial under the leadership of Mr. Foxman. The National ADL has gone so far as to oppose the resolution pending in Congress which would recognize the Armenian Genocide. How can an organization dedicated to fighting on the side of truth in one context, reject the truth in another?

I am aware that Mr. Foxman and his supporters point to the relationship between Turkey and Israel , the vulnerability of Turkish Jews and (as Mr. Foxman charmingly put it) the wishes of unnamed “donors”. But the ADL as an organization wants to have credibility when it demands recognition of and reparations for the holocaust, it cannot be in league with genocide deniers in any context.

We don’t give or withhold recognition of genocide based on whether it’s convenient but whether it’s true. At the end of the day, regardless of our relationships with other countries or the wishes of a given interest group, a lie is a lie. And denial of the Armenian Genocide is a lie.

When preparing the final solution, Hitler said “Nobody remembers the Armenians”. We do no service to our common creed “Never Again” by joining with those who deny the truth. The Turkish government says it never happened. But it did happen. You and I know it, my wife’s grandparents who witnessed the massacre first-hand know it, the Turkish government knows it and Mr. Foxman knows it. His denial of the plain facts brings shame to the venerated organization you work for.

In Boston , after Mr. Tarsy was fired, at least two other board members resigned in protest. I do not know what other regional chapters are doing, but I would like to take this opportunity to urge you to speak out on behalf of the region you head. I think it would be “morally indefensible” in the words of Mr. Tarsy, to do anything other than publicly and explicitly reject Mr. Foxman’s position, express recognition of what happened to the Armenians and urge congress to pass the Genocide Recognition Resolution.

I feel quite certain that this issue is going to become a major national controversy. I also feel that Mr. Foxman’s position is not sustainable in the long run. Each of us, as individuals and as Jewish leaders is going to have to speak up on this. I am hopeful that our region will join New England in showing early leadership on this issue. I thank you in advance for any efforts you may have already undertaken and I look forward to hearing from you regarding what the local ADL’s position is on the Armenian Genocide.

Very Truly Yours,

Representative Daylin Leach
149th District