2007.08.23-- Boston Globe: Letters to the Editor

08/23 -- Boston Globe: The ADL's unfinished business

IN 1951, six years after the end of World War II, at the urging of Raphael Lemkin, the United Nations adopted a five-point definition of genocide. It wasn't just the Holocaust that led Lemkin to demand that the world recognize as a crime systematic cultural and racial annihilations and atrocities, it was also the massacre of more than 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks that occurred between 1915 and 1921. Has Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, not learned anything from history ("ADL chief bows to critics: Foxman cites rift, calls Armenian deaths genocide," Page A1, Aug. 22)?

It would behoove him to educate himself on the moral, as opposed to the political, issue of genocide by reading Samantha Power's Pulitzer Prize-winning book "A Problem from Hell," which chronicles the moral corruption of American foreign policy when it comes to taking a stand in such places as Rwanda, Cambodia, Serbia, and now Darfur.

Foxman is dissembling when he says, "On reflection, we have come to share the view . . . that the consequences of those actions were indeed tantamount to genocide," and then describes the proposed congressional resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide as a "counterproductive diversion." This "political" position is morally reprehensible.


WHILE THE recalcitrance of the national ADL in acknowledging the Armenian genocide was troubling, the fact that some politicians and Armenian groups have responded to Abraham Foxman's capitulation with further hostility is equally troubling.

Watertown Councilor Marilyn Pettito Devaney, the Armenian Assembly of America, and US Representative Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who introduced the genocide resolution in the House, may believe strongly in declaring the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians a genocide, but it is unfair to unilaterally declare support of a particular piece of legislation to be a litmus test that another organization must submit to in order to prove itself.

Does the NAACP have a position on the resolution? How about the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or the National Council of La Raza? Has anyone thought to ask them? Or is an organization devoted to fighting anti-Semitism the only anti-hate group held to such a standard?