A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…[August 19, 2007, to be exact]
I wrote my first Facebook note, taking aim at the Anti-Defamation League for firing a local leader named Andrew Tarsy. Why? For carrying out the ADL’s mission in Watertown, MA, of “secur[ing] justice and fair treatment for all.” In this case, the Armenian community, which had declined to take part in the ADL’s programs because Abe Foxman, the head of the ADL, continued to insist that the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of Turks in 1915 did not constitute a genocide. Given that the ADL is expert at such things, you would imagine it would stick up for the historically harassed Armenians, whose quest for justice has been roundly trivialized. But, no such luck. In fact, the ADL roundly fought hard against any efforts on part of the Armenians to have the historical record corrected.
Why? Because Turkey, in 2007, was a friend to Israel. And friends of Israel can never do wrong. Foxman “consulted Elie Wiesel” and invoked Morganthau the Senior in performing the bee-like dance that required him to help our Turkish friends avoid the Genocide label. [Of course, never mind that Raphael Lemkin, the originator of the term “genocide”, was motivated by the…, um, genocide of the Armenians to invent the word “genocide”. Lemkin, by the way, was a Jew whose life would be horribly affected by a genocide against his own people. The whole brutal story can be read in A Problem from Hell by Samantha Power.]]
Which brings me to current events, and we can now guess where this is heading. Fast forward to June 2010, and here we have Turkey, who has been acting in a rather hostile way toward its old friend Israel. The Gaza flotilla, for example, was Turkish in origin; the IHH which ran the operation is Turkish; and Turkish PM Recip Erdogan, rather than wondering how Turkish citizens sailed off for a hostile encounter with an ally, is making serious threats.
So, who knows how this will play out. But what interests me is the integrity of our Jewish-American institutions, like the ADL. And, gee, what do you think would be the position of the ADL on the Armenian genocide today? Hmmmm…:
Today, far from being an asset for Turkey, the American Jewish community appears to becoming a potent foe of Turkish interests in Washington.
On Tuesday for example, the Anti-Defamation League issued a press release calling on the State Department to designate the IHH, the Turkish charity that helped organize the free-Gaza flotilla as a foreign terrorist organization. In Turkey, the IHH has been praised as a group of peace activists and humanitarians.
“In terms of the Jewish community and Israel, neither one of us wants to throw it away and hope it is not over,” Mr. Foxman said. “But every day there is another provocation. Every day the Turkish government goes out of its way to be insulting to Israel and another link is broken.”
Morris Amitay, a former executive director of AIPAC who has also represented Turkey, was more blunt.
“If someone asked me now if I would try to protect Turkey in Congress, my response would be, ‘You’ve got to be kidding,'” he said.
So, watch out for the Armenians now getting Congress to finally recognize their genocide by the Turks in 1915. Because, for the ADL, truth and justice only means being on the right side of Israel. And Peter Beinart is dead right: our American Jewish institutions have failed us.