We should be thanking the Anti-Defamation League for allowing its officials to use the term "genocide" when referring to the extermination of the Armenians in 1915, or so we are told by Michael Sheetz, the Needham resident who represented the ADL before the town's Human Rights Committee ("Town weighs break with ADL program," GlobeWest, Dec. 2).
Mr. Sheetz argues that it is wrong for a town to break ties with the ADL just because of a disagreement over the "wording of a press release." But the issue is unfortunately much more profound than mere semantics.
Since the Anti-Defamation League's ambiguous statement on the Armenian genocide this summer, ADL representatives have met with Turkish officials to assure them of the organization's continuing support for their efforts blocking recognition of the Armenian genocide by the US Congress.
In September of this year, the ADL's national director had no qualms about attending an event honoring Tayyip Erdogan, a meeting where the Turkish prime minister engaged in blatant denial of the Armenian genocide.
The ADL's decision in early November "not to take further action on the issue of the Armenian genocide" means that it has, in fact, decided to continue to oppose US recognition of the genocide.
The ADL presents itself as a human rights organization touting its "Darfur Resource Center" as a totem of its commitment to universal human rights but, giving precedence to geopolitical interests, has chosen to work on behalf of a foreign government against the recognition of another people's genocide. In this sense at least, I agree with Mr. Sheetz that "there is no ambiguity in the organization's policy toward the Armenians."
US Jewish leaders lose credibility in refusing to acknowledge genocideAlthough no one called the slaughter of Armenians genocide because the word was not coined until 20 years later, the word "holocaust" has been widely used since the 17th century.
Before World War II the word "holocaust" was used by Winston Churchill and others to describe the Armenian genocide.
Raphael Lemkin, a lawyer of Polish-Jewish descent, created the word "genocide" to describe what had happened to the Armenians. Lemkin explained that the Turks committed genocide with intent to annihilate.
The Anti-Defamation League's recent alleged acknowledgment of the Armenian genocide, describing it as a "consequence" of World War I and "tantamount to genocide," implies that Turkey did not intend to kill Armenians. The ADL knowingly contravened the United Nations' official 1948 definition of genocide, which uses the word "intent" not "consequence."
The world doesn't take seriously what American Jewish leaders have to say about the 6 million Jews killed during World War II, not when it sees the same Jewish leaders lobby the US Congress against acknowledging the Armenian genocide and quiet everyone over the murders of 1.5 million other innocents.
Rabbi Hillel said it best: "If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?"