ADL to reconsider its opposition to Armenian genocide bill

Foxman won't say whether ousted regional director will be reinstated.

Armenian genocide 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file] )
Armenian genocide 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file] )
NEW YORK-A congressional bill that calls for the Bush administration to recognize the Armenian genocide will be put on the national policy making agenda of the Anti-Defamation League, despite the ADL's previous objection to such a resolution. The decision to consider the resolution came after ADL head Abraham Foxman's dramatic about-face where he recognized the massacres as genocide, after previously firing an official who said the same thing. But Foxman asserted the organization's continued opposition to such a resolution, calling it "counterproductive." But the New England regional board decided on Wednesday in favor of the bill, and Foxman said the organization's national policy making body would consider the issue at its next meeting on November 1. Placing the issue on the agenda is nothing more than a matter of internal ordinance, Foxman told The Jerusalem Post sThursday. "If the regional board chair would have picked up the phone and asked for it, we would have said yes," said Foxman. Foxman said he was no less adamant that the matter of recognizing the Armenian massacre at the hands of the Ottoman Turks almost 90 years ago as genocide does not belong in Congress and should be resolved by the two communities. More than that, Foxman said, he continued to be concerned that Jews were being "dragged" into a debate "that isn't ours." "This is not a Jewish issue, and I don't understand why so many in the Jewish community feel it's a Jewish issue," said Foxman. "Sure, we care about the treatment of people, but it still needs to be resolved between the Armenians and the Turks. "The Turkish community has repeatedly asked us not to get involved, and they are right," said Foxman. "We are responding because there are local communities involved, but at the end of the day this is not central to Jewish life." Steven Grossman, former chairman of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC and a former ADL board member, said he believed the issue of a congressional resolution would receive a fair hearing at the national meeting in November, but it would be up to the New England leadership to make a convincing case to move forward. "If the only ones supporting it are from New England, it won't pass, but it's up to the New England region to make a case that the moral high-ground and the effectiveness of ADL would be enhanced by changing their policy," said Grossman. Foxman will "undoubtedly" express his concerns that supporting the resolution may put the Jewish community at risk, said Grossman, "but many other Jewish members of congress with equally deep concerns for the Jewish people think it's the right thing to do." Such a change in policy would best be brought about by building a consensus, said Grossman, "which means something in the order of two-thirds majority. This change is warranted and long overdue." At its Wednesday meeting, the New England board also voted to bring back regional director Andrew Tarsy, who was fired after telling the press he did not agree with national ADL opinion on the matter of the Armenian genocide. Foxman declined to say whether Tarsy would be reinstated. "It's a management decision, and you will hear about it when we decide."