NEW YORK (Combined Sources)–One day after two major organizations publicly declared the Ottoman Empire’s slaughter of Armenia’s a genocide, the Jewish community’s main umbrella body on Israel affairs is debating whether or not to take a position on the issue and a related congressional resolution.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations held a conference call early Wednesday to discuss adopting a position. The call came a day after the Anti-Defamation League dramatically reversed its own stance, using the genocide term to describe the massacres.
Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice-chairman of the Conference of Presidents, confirmed that member organizations were discussing the matter. Sources said that during the conference call, the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, defended his organization’s new position.
Despite their public statemen’s on Tuesday, both the ADL and the AJC continue to oppose a proposed congressional resolution that would declare the massacres genocide. Foxman has cited concerns about harming Israeli-Turkish relations and the security of the Jewish community in Turkey. David Harris dismissed those worries, but says a congressional resolution could end up hurting U.S. strategic interests and its ties with Turkey, which adamantly rejects the genocide label.
Morton Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America, told the Jewish Telegraphic [news] agency that his organization thinks that it is "imperative for Jews to acknowledge the truth of the Turkish genocide against Armenia’s, notwithstanding Turkey’s relationship with Israel." He also voiced support for the congressional resolution.
"Acknowledging that truth of a century ago doesn’t indict the present Turkish people or the present Turkish government, just like acknowledging the Holocaust doesn’t indict the present German people or the present German government," Klein said. He added: "It’s high time for Turkey to acknowledge that truth of history and move on."
Back in Massachusetts, on Tuesday hours after the release of the ADL statement, the Newton Human Rights Commission sent a strong message to ADL
executive director Abraham Foxman that anything short of the unambiguous recognition of the genocide and full support of the Congressional resolution would result in Newton’s withdrawal from the ADL-sponsored No Place for Hate (NPFH) program, reported the Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts.
Newton’s reaction comes a day after the Arlington NPFH Commission voted to suspend its ties with the ADL for its denial of the Armenian Genocide. More than 40 community members attended the special meeting that was called to discuss the issue.
“The small side chamber in City Hall could not hold the number of audience members present for that evening’s meeting,” reported the Newton Tab. “Residents of Newton, Watertown, Cambridge, Needham and other surrounding communities squeezed into that meeting room and trickled out into the hall.”
Reacting to Foxman’s statement, Newton Mayor David Cohen said, “Whenever I saw the word Armenian, in my mind I substituted the word Jewish. And whenever I saw the word genocide, I substituted the word Holocaust. And I said, would I be satisfied if this were the response of my leaders? And the answer was no!” In order for Newton to be satisfied and continue with the NPFH, said Mayor Cohen, the National ADL has to “do the right thing, recognizing the Armenian genocide and advocating for its recognition as they would any other genocide.”
During an emergency meeting of the Arlington “No Place for Hate” Commission held Monday, August 20,Committee Chairwoman Cindy Friedman and the
12 member Executive Board members voted to suspend the ongoing ADL NPFH certification process, citing the ADL’s Armenian Genocide denial. In a written statement issued following the meeting, the commission noted that “while we
agree with the program’s goals, we feel that recent statemen’s and actions of the national leadership have undermined its integrity and ability to be effective.” The letter went on to praise former Regional Director Andrew Tarsy and the New England ADL “for their courage in standing up to the national organization’s position. We support them in their efforts to resolve this matter so that the Armenian genocide is rightfully acknowledged and the integrity of
the No Place for Hate program can be restored.”
Tarsy was recently fired by the ADL National for recognizing the Armenian Genocide and supporting Congressional adoption of the Armernian Genocide resolution.