Aug.22-Aug.28 -- Letters to the Editor

08/22 -- Newton Tab: Keep Leonard Zakim’s message intact

In 1999, as a seventh-grader at Brown Middle School, I attended the sixth annual Team Harmony event at the Boston FleetCenter. The event featured local sport and political figures speaking to Massachusetts students about standing up against bigotry.

The event, sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, was co-founded by Leonard Zakim, then the executive director of the ADL of New England. Zakim, a former Newton resident, succumbed to cancer less than a month after the 1999 event.

Lately, the Anti-Defamation League has been suffering an identity crisis. Last Friday, Aug. 17, the New England ADL director, Andrew Tarsy, was fired for his vocal challenge to the national organization’s stance on the Armenian genocide. The ADL has firmly refused to recognize the tragic Ottoman slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 as genocide. Instead of embracing an issue that is at the core of what ADL stands for, Abraham Foxman, ADL’s national director, has twisted the matter into a question about organizational loyalty.

How sadly coincidental that at the same time that the integrity of the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge has been questioned, the legacy that Zakim established faces collapse. At Team Harmony, Zakim called for students to ally with disenfranchised members of society. The organization’s demand for such conformity from its members is an embarrassment to those who once supported the ADL’s message about challenging bigotry no matter the source.

Yet, local officials have reassured residents that, for now, the bridge is safe. Community members must continue to speak out against ADL’s narrow-mindedness to ensure that Zakim’s message remains intact.

Josh Wessler
Central Street

08/24 -- Boston Herald: Lemkin's legacy lives

Missing from the conversation about recognition of the Armenian genocide is the position of Raphel Lemkin, who coined the word "genocide" and drafted the legal standard by which genocide is defined- the 1948 Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide ("Watertown remembers what the ADL chooses to forget," Aug. 20).

Lemkin, a Polish Jew who lost 49 members of his family during the Holocaust, was unequivocal on the subject of the treatment of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Throughout his writings, the mass killings serve as an exemplar of the crime he sought to outlaw – the crime of genocide. The legal instruments he drafted after the 1930s were meant specifically to include the atrocities suffered by Armenians at the hands of the Young Turks. He hoped that those legal instruments would help to prevent horrors similar to the ones experienced by the Armenians, whether they were European Jews, Bosnian Muslims, Cambodians, Hutus or Darfurians.

- Adam Strom
- Dan Eshet
Facing History and Ourselves, Brookline

08/24 -- Belmont Citizen-Herald: Belmont should rescind ‘No Place for Hate’

I would like to call on the Belmont town officials to rescind their support for ADL’s “No Place for Hate” program, until the ADL has properly acknowledges the Armenian Genocide and has taken concrete steps to support their new position vis a vis the passing of the House and Senate Resolution 106.

Mr. Tarsy is to be congratulated for his decision to follow his convictions and not the official ADL National Office line. Unfortunately, he lost his position as the New England Regional Director, yet he gained much kudos and many new supporters for his principled approach towards the unequivocal acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide.

ADL 's ultimate purpose is “to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike and to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens,” per its charter. These words and ideals, as noble as they may be, apparently fall on deaf ears within the walls of ADL National Office, demonstrated by their actions to stifle constructive and principled dissent.

How can one person ask another to fight abuses of human rights, bigotry and genocide/holocaust denial, when he is not willing to do so himself, no matter what the excuse. It is up to us all as proud American citizens, to let Mr. Foxman know that we do not stand for bigoted ideology, especially when it's cloaked under the proud name and tradition of the ADL.

Ara Nazarian

08/28 -- Boston Herald: Atrocities unforgettable

In response to Joe Fitzgerald's excellent column ("Watertown remembers what the ADL chooses to forget," Aug. 20), the overwhelming support being extended to the Armenians in their efforts to gain recognition for the Armenian genocide is heartening, and serves to bring attention to the atrocities and crimes against humanity being perpetrated by
Turkey up to the present day.

It is ironic that Abraham Foxman and the national Anti-Defamation League seek to placate Turkey considering the widespread anti-Semitism that has accompanied the rise of fundamentalism in Turkey. During the spring of 2005, Hitler's "Mein Kampf" was a best seller in Turkey, and a film with anti-Semitic and anti-American overtones was a box office smash at Turkish cinemas. During World War II, members of the Jewish
community in Turkey shared the fate of their Greek and Armenian neighbors, and were devastated by a discriminatory tax that was imposed on non-Muslims and were depor
ted into Anatolia from which many never returned.

Theodore G. Karakostas