ADL the Big Bully on the Block

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Anti-Defamation League: Big Bully on the Block

By David Boyajian

April 2011

This article first appeared in the Arlington Advocate (MA), Belmont Citizen-Herald (MA), and Watertown TAB (MA), followed by USA Armenian Life, Keghart, Massis Weekly, Noyan Tapan, The Armenian Mirror Spectator, and other newspapers.


Like a recurring nightmare, the Anti-Defamation League is back, this time with over 100 billboards in Greater Boston promoting the group’s “anti-bullying” program. As we’ll see, the real bully is the national ADL. It has long conspired with Turkey – which bullies its ethnic and religious minorities, journalists, and dissidents – to deny the Armenian genocide of 1915-23 committed by Turkey, and to bully Congress into not bringing an Armenian genocide resolution to a fair vote.

Recall that a few years ago the ADL’s alleged anti-bias program, “No Place for Hate,” was tossed out (NoPlaceforDenial.com) by Watertown, Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Easton, Lexington, Medford, Needham, Newburyport, Newton, Northampton, Peabody, Somerville, Westwood, and the Massachusetts Municipal Association.

They said that due to its stance against Armenians the national ADL lacked the necessary credibility on human rights to sponsor an anti-bias program. The ADL’s anti-bullying curriculum suffers from a similar problem: A bully cannot credibly tell young people not to bully.

The national ADL still refuses to unequivocally recognize the Armenian genocide. While ADL director Abraham Foxman’s statement of August 21, 2007 used the word “genocide,” it also implied that the murder of 1.5 million Armenians was not intentional. For mass homicide to be genocide, however, the U.N. Genocide Treaty requires intent by the perpetrator. Fortunately, the Mass. Municipal Assoc. and several cities threw out “No Place for Hate” even after Foxman’s statement because they saw through his hocus-pocus.

Why had the ADL jumped into bed with Turkey? Jewish political commentators admit that in the 1990s Israel and Turkey, which then had excellent relations, made a deal: A few leading Jewish American organizations, including the ADL, would act, in effect, as Turkey’s lobby.

The ADL hasn’t denied its efforts against Armenians. Indeed, several years ago the U.S. Holocaust Museum’s chief of staff, William Parsons, told me that the ADL had been working against recognition of the Armenian genocide.

There’s also a troubling link between the ADL and the controversial American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The Jewish Daily Forward [Sept. 2, 2006] reported that AIPAC “quite actively supported Turkey … to prevent the so-called Armenian genocide resolution from passing.” And last year former AIPAC official Keith Weissman admitted to the Washington Times [June 8] that it had “lit up the phones” to defeat the Armenian resolution. Incredibly, Derrek Shulman, the N.E. ADL’s new head, is a former “political director” of – you guessed it - AIPAC. It’s another disturbing sign that the ADL’s anti-Armenian policies remain essentially unchanged.

Many principled Jewish Americans have, however, asked the ADL to undo the damage it has done and support the genocide resolution. And several Jewish organizations such as the Jewish American World Service have supported the Armenian resolution. Jewish and non-Jewish genocide historians overwhelmingly recognize the Armenian genocide, as do the International Association of Genocide Scholars, 40 U.S. states (including Massachusetts), the European Union Parliament, more than 20 countries (including Canada, France, Sweden, and Argentina), the Vatican, and World Council of Churches. Yet the national ADL persists in its contrarian stance.

The ADL, of course, promotes Holocaust recognition and reacts vociferously against perceived acts of anti-Semitism. Yet it displays gross insensitivity by collaborating with a major human rights violator, Turkey, to block recognition of another ethnic group’s genocide. Can such an organization be trusted to design humane, fact-based programs, whether about anti-bullying or called “No Place for Hate”? The answer is obvious.

And suppose a school system adopts the ADL’s alleged anti-bullying curriculum. Sooner or later, students and parents will discover that it was created by a group that doesn’t practice what it preaches. Duplicity is not a value that schools should be teaching.

Moreover, ADL school programs are frequently taught by visiting ADL employees. They all know that the bullying Abraham Foxman fired Derrek Shulman’s predecessor, Andrew Tarsy, for finally deciding to say that the Armenian genocide is a fact. “If we stray from Foxman’s political line or tell the truth about the Armenian genocide,” ADL instructors must be asking themselves, “will we be fired like Tarsy was?”

Let’s be frank: The ADL has a political agenda. Fortunately, since every Massachusetts school district was required to adopt an anti-bullying curriculum by January 1, the state has many fine such programs that, unlike the ADL’s, aren’t politically motivated.

The anti-bullying billboards that Stephen Ross, president of Clear Channel Outdoor Boston Division, provides free of charge to the ADL should display the names of those other programs. Clear Channel should remove the ADL name and logo.

And is it fair that the PeaceofArt.org human rights group must pay for its two Clear Channel billboards about the Armenian genocide, while the hypocritical ADL gets 100 billboards for free?

Finally, if the anti-bullying movement is to be credible to parents and young people, it must disassociate itself from the ADL. If not, the movement will be seen to be as insincere and hypocritical as the ADL.