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Kick the ADL out of Watertown, Massachusetts

Tonight the city council of Watertown, Massachusetts, will debate whether a local diversity-education program called "No Place for Hate" should be kicked out of town. The problem with the program is that it is supported by the Anti-Defamation League. And … Read More

By / August 14, 2007

Tonight the city council of Watertown, Massachusetts, will debate whether a local diversity-education program called "No Place for Hate" should be kicked out of town. The problem with the program is that it is supported by the Anti-Defamation League. And the problem with that is that the ADL has promoted a hate-campaign against 20 percent of the population of Watertown. So you can understand why the townsfolk are perturbed.

I say "hate-campaign" because I assume that "hate" is how the ADL would normally characterize genocide denial, which is precisely what Abe Foxman's ADL has promoted at the expense of the Armenian community, which includes one in five Watertown residents. The Armenian Genocide, the murder of up to 1.5 million Armenians from 1915-1923, is a historical fact. As Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt puts it, “It's not a matter of debate. There is an overwhelming consensus among historians that work in this area that there is no question that this is a genocide. You can't deny this history."

Yet as I’ve written before, Abraham Foxman, head of the ADL, has sought to please his Turkish friends by announcing that i
t is not the place of the Jewish community, nor the place of the U.S. Congress, “to be the arbiter of other people’s history.” The Armenians and Turks need to work out their own history, he says.

This is a novel approach to the study of history. Normally, believe it or not, historians determine historical truth, and we expect the warring parties to accommodate themselves to it. Thus, we don’t expect Bosnian Muslims and Serbs to decide between themselves what took place at Srebrenica. But in this case, Foxman bypasses the historians and asks the Armenians to negotiate their history with those who both perpetrated the genocide and deny the genocide.

For Jews, of course, Foxman takes the more traditional approach to history. He has no time for those who reject the historical record of the Holocaust, and hasn’t yet asked Jews to negotiate a compromise with such people.

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