Friday, August 24, 2007

Turkey Attacks the ADL for Acknowledging the Armenian Genocide

Turkey doesn't appreciate the fact that the Anti-Defamation League has reversed course and acknowledged the Armenian genocide:

The Turkish government, reacting to a controversy that started in Watertown, yesterday condemned the Anti-Defamation League's decision to call the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a genocide.

"We consider the statement of the ADL as an injustice to the unique character of the Holocaust, as well as to the memories of its victims," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "We expect it to be rectified."

Burak Akcapar, first counselor of the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C., said Turkey has registered its concerns with Israel, the United States, and "friends everywhere."

The councilors were protesting the Anti-Defamation League's refusal to state that the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians, beginning in 1915, was genocide.

After the vote, the League's New England director, Andrew H. Tarsy, defied the organization's policy and agreed to use the term. He was fired the next day.

Jewish leaders in Boston and beyond protested, pointing out that Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, among others, have recognized the Armenian genocide.

Under mounting pressure, the Anti-Defamation League released a statement on Tuesday saying that the killings were "tantamount to genocide," but it stopped short of supporting a congressional resolution recognizing the genocide, saying it was counterproductive.

The Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish groups had raised concerns that passage of the resolution could jeopardize the safety of Turkey's Jews.

Yesterday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry stated its continued opposition to the resolution, but said the League's concerns that it could lead to retaliation against Jews was unfounded.

"The Jewish community in Turkey is part of our society, and its members do not have any reason to worry," the ministry said in a statement.

Let's hope not. Bizarrely, the ADL has acknowledged the Armenian genocide but continues to oppose a Congressional resolution that would do the same:

Yesterday, the Anti-Defamation League released a statement reiterating that it does not support congressional efforts to recognize the Armenian genocide.

"The force and passion of the debate today leaves us more convinced than ever that this issue does not belong in a forum such as the United States Congress," the League said yesterday. "The proper role of those of us who deeply believe the controversy must be resolved is to promote and support Turkey and Armenia in efforts to bring them together to begin the process of reconciliation."


The Anti-Defamation League's unwavering stance angered some Armenian leaders.

"It's an attempt to appease the government of Turkey by backtracking away from their position and [to] avoid supporting the legislation," said Aram Suren Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee, an advocacy group in Washington. Hamparian called it "patently illogical" for the League to acknowledge the genocide and not ask Congress to do the same.

The ADL's position may make tactical sense: acknowledge the genocide to placate the Armenian community, but oppose the Congressional effort in an attempt to minimize the offense to Turkey. But Hamparian is correct when he calls this position "patently illogical." Imagine someone opposing a Congressional resolution to recognize the Holocaust on the grounds that a better course would be to promote reconciliation between Israel and Germany. Then there's the whole idea that a "forceful and passionate" debate would be inappropriate in the US Congress. It'll interesting to see how this all plays out.

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