Newburyport Commission for Diversity and Tolerance Letter to Abraham Foxman and the ADL

August 31, 2007

An open Letter to Abraham Foxman and the ADL,

The members of Newburyport’s Commission for Diversity and Tolerance are distraught and dismayed by Mr. Foxman’s and the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) stance on the Armenian Genocide. Not only has the ADL failed to support the Armenian people by advocating for congressional recognition with HS 106, but also, in fact, it has lobbied against the legislation.

The ADL’s charter states in part, “Its ultimate purpose is to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike and to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens.” There is nothing either fair or just in ADL’s failure to recognize the horrific events of 1915 to 1918 and again from 1920 to 1923 as anything but genocide.

We find that the ADL’s logic that led to the statement that “Congressional resolution on such matters is a counterproductive diversion and will not foster reconciliation between Turks and Armenians and may put at risk the Turkish Jewish community and the important multilateral relationship between Turkey, Israel and the United States” fatally flawed, and contrary to the spirit of “Never Again.”

Raphael Lemkin coined the word genocide in 1944. By his definition, it means the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group. Genocide is directed against the national group as an entity, and the actions involved are directed against individuals, not in their individual capacity, but as members of the national group. Mr. Foxman’s recent statement regarding the actions of the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians “the consequences of those actions were indeed tantamount to genocide” is ambiguous and insufficient. Those actions were not tantamount to genocide, they were genocide.

Because of the ADL’s and Mr. Foxman’s actions and failure to act, the Newburyport Commission for Diversity and Tolerance is currently discussing an end to our participation as a No Place for Hate community.

The following actions on the part of the ADL will greatly influence our decision:
• Complete support for HS 106 Resolution acknowledging the Armenian Genocide.
• Public acknowledgement in unambiguous terms that events of 1915-1918 and 1920-1923 perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenian people were genocide.

In “Never Again” Mr. Foxman is described as a person who “fights against the menace of intolerance every day.” The question is will he fight today?

About the Commission for Diversity and Tolerance

The Commission for Diversity and Tolerance supports community based efforts to promote peace, diversity and tolerance. The commission was established by Newburyport City ordinance in September, 2006. The nine member commission is charged with fulfilling its mission of “promoting a sense of welcome, inclusion and worth for all and to eliminate prejudice, intolerance, discrimination, and acts of hate in our community,” by developing events and recognition of individuals and organizations in the community supporting these ideals. The Commission subsumed the former Partnership for Peace which began the Peace prize and Mini-grants more than 10 years ago. It also replaced the No Place for Hate Committee efforts which began in 2000, when Newburyport was qualified by the Anti-defamation League (ADL) as a “No Place for Hate” Community.


Rev. Beth Horne
Lt. Rick Siemasko
Jan DeSantis
Sam Szabo
Kathleen Shaw