Keep the ADL

I’ve written that the ADL’s position on the Armenian Genocide is objectionable and should be changed. The Armenian Genocide is a historical fact (as an off and on resident of Fresno for a period spanning 35 years, I’ve heard plenty of first-hand accounts). To say that it’s an open question whether genocide occurred is not different from Holocaust denial, and it simply cannot be justified.

However, there are those who wish to use this issue — and the stubbornness of ADL head Abraham Foxman — to destroy the institution. And despite statements like this one,

Ultimately, it is the seductive appeal of the ADL’s dark visions that most threaten us. American Jewry enjoys privileges undreamed of in Jewish history: we are a more accepted, more integral part of our country than any Jewish community ever has been. We have entered unprecedented territory in Jewish history, and the enticements and possibilities of this new era should be setting our souls alight.

Foxman’s ADL justifies its existence by beckoning us backward, encouraging us to hide from the ever-present Cossacks in a psychological shtetl. It’s a dark vision that serves the ADL’s interests, but not ours. — Joey Kurtzman, ‘Fire Foxman’

the reality is that antisemitism in the US is not going away, fueled by Arab and Iranian oil money. Mearsheimer and Walt and Jimmy Carter are more sophisticated than David Duke-style Jew-bashing (although there’s plenty of that still around), but the very improvement in the situation of the Jews in America — and Kurtzman is correct that it is historically unprecedented — has made them a target.

Keep in mind that anti-Israel forces believe that US policy is strongly pro-Israel and that this is a result of the ‘Jewish lobby’ (they are incorrect on both counts, but this is the topic of another article). They believe that anything that weakens US Jewry is to their advantage, and that includes antisemitism in America.

The ADL is the one organization which carefully documents and tracks antisemitic activitities in the US. When a holocaust denier, a neo-Nazi, or Muslim extremist gives a lecture, the ADL is there. Kurtzman and others who find the ADL embarrassing and old-fashioned would throw the baby out with the bathwater.

In the case of the Armenian Genocide the ADL seems to have felt that they were doing the Turkish Jewish community a favor by appeasing the Turkish government — and not, as Kurtzman suggests, ‘exploiting’ the Turkish Jews. Nevertheless, the policy was tactically wrong (as appeasement usually is) and morally unsupportable.

What needs to happen is that the ADL needs to retract its statements about the Armenian Genocide, not its “dark vision” of antisemitism, which is unfortunately pretty well justified.

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