Letter to the New England ADL Board Sent by the National ADL

The following was in the print edition of the Boston Globe (Aug 18), but did not appear in the online edition.

From a letter to the local Anti-Defamation League board sent yesterday by Glen. S. Lewy, national chairman of the ADL, and Abraham H. Foxman, national director:

“At times, we are faced with painfully difficult choices. The dispute between Armenians and Turkey is one such issue. We believe it is necessary for us to protect the interests of the Jewish community in Turkey, work for Israel’s safety and security, and combat extremism. At the same time, we have acknowledged the massacres of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire and called on Turkey to do more to confront its past and reconcile with Armenia. We will continue to press Turkey, publicly and privately…

A Regional Board, advisory in nature, is not authorized to act by publicly advocating a policy contrary to ADL’s national position on a substantive issue…

The Armenian controversy was thrust upon ADL, we did not seek it out. Whatever the heartfelt position people may have on this difficult issue, there can be no compromise on how national policy is set…

ADL’s employees are not required to abandon their personal beliefs on all the positions they hold…But individuals employed by the ADL are not free to publicly challenge a policy. No enterprise, particularly an advocacy and policy organization such as ours, can survive without the ability to have its employees carry forward its positions and agenda.

Being unwilling to support and defend our policies, or worse, speaking publicly against a particular policy, challenges the very organization that is home to that employee. If his r her position is honestly held, and employee facing this dilemma should resign…No organization can or should tolerate such an act of open defiance.

The New England Regional Board Executive Committee’s actions present two immediate challenges. The first resolution, expressing unconditional support for the New England Regional Director and calling him to retain his position would require ADL to adopt a position in opposition to our very ability to operate effectively. That is an impossible request to honor.

The second resolution, stating a policy that is at odds with a national ADL position of long standing is not the appropriate method provided through the by-laws and practices of the ADL to consider policy issues. This has been discussed with the leadership in Boston. The executive Committee in Boston did not even give 24 hours for us to respond. By publicly announcing its dissent in the Boston Globe it has, regrettably, made the resolution of these issues much more difficult.”