The ADL needs the moral high ground

I am embarrassed by the way the ADL continues to dig itself deeper into a moral morass by opposing legislation recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

Here is part of a letter by Andrew H. Tarsy, New England regional director of the ADL, reponding to a critical article in the Jewish Advocate:

We don’t understand why you are singling us out. ADL’s position on this issue is in line with that of a number of other major American Jewish organizations, who believe, like us, that efforts in Washington to enact legislation on the Turkey-Armenian question are counterproductive to the goal of having Turkey itself come to grips with its past. That is why we have taken no position on what action Congress should take on the measure.

We continue to believe this is the best way to proceed, particularly because Turkish Jews have expressed concerns about the impact on them of a U.S. Congressional resolution, because Turkey is a key strategic ally and friend of the United States, because Turkey is a critical friend of Israel and because Turkey is the most critical country in the world in the life and death struggle between Islamic extremists and moderate Islam. We also believe that legislative efforts outside of Turkey will continue to be counterproductive.

A few points:

First, any implication that this view is shared by a majority of Jews in the US is false. Yes, the ADL and a few other organizations took this position, but others did not, including some of the largest. The ‘singling out’ is because they are in the minority, not the majority.

Second, the only mitigating circumstance is the question of the Turkish Jews. The ADL and others took their position after meeting with a delegation from the Turkish Jewish community, who expressed anxiety about possible reprisals if they didn’t succeed in getting support for the Turkish government’s stance against the resolution. This sort of issue has tormented Jewish leaders for 2000 years. Most of the time, appeasement of tyrants has been a poor strategy, and doesn’t result in better treatment for a Jewish minority in the long run. This is one of the reasons for the existence of the State of Israel.

Third, the argument that efforts to force the Turks to accept the truth will be ‘counterproductive’, that one is somehow preventing them from “coming to grips with their past” by supporting such resolutions — please. This argument is disingenuous, and is enough to make me blush on behalf of Tarsy and the ADL.

But having said that, I am horrified by the venom being poured on the ADL by leftwing critics, who are using this as a club to beat the steadfastly pro-Israel ADL.

The ADL is a unique organization whose lack would be sorely felt. But it can only be effective from the moral high ground. If it are to keep from being regarded as just another pressure group, it must firmly renounce its  indefensible position on this issue.

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