22 August 2007

22 August 2007 - Recognizing genocide

The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith reversed its unconscionable stance of denial of the Armenian genocide yesterday, following pressure by the Armenian-American community and American Jews. Propaganda around the issue had accused the ADL of actively lobbying against a Congressional bill forcing the U.S. to acknowledge the genocide, but the ADL denied this; it has yet to back the bill.

The ADL had held out against recognizing the 1915-18 genocide as such because of fears that doing so would endanger Israel’s relationship with Turkey and might prompt reprisals against Jews living there. This, frankly, does not add up to a legitimate excuse and is a sort of shtadlanut by proxy. However, the ADL deserves to be commended for its change of heart, a rare phenomenon in the political world.

Last night, before knowing the ADL had adopted a new position, I watched clips of the debate in the Watertown, Massachusetts council, where the town decided to withdraw its participation in the ADL-affiliated “No Place for Hate” program. The cause may have been just but the atmosphere was that of a witchhunt. Everyone, including the American Anti-Arab Discrimination Committee (ADC), took potshots.

The spat between the ADC and ADL is about much more than this issue alone. The two organizations have taken opposing positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with the ADC declaring “The illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land is the foremost obstacle to peace.,” while the ADL’s position is that Palestinian terror and Arab/Muslim rejectionism is the fundamental cause of the continuing conflict.

Closer to the region itself, I am confident that in spite of all the violence, failed dialogue and hatred, something like a consensus is emerging about a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A perusal of the articles in the most recent Palestine-Israel Journal (and I’m not just plugging it because I’ve got an article in it) suggests broad support for the two-state solution and some sort ot confederation.

I think the question at this stage must be less about specific solutions but about methods and approaches to a solution, all of which might be secondary to the issue of leadership on both sides. There is a possibility that we might see a breakthrough this fall. Hopefully both Israelis and Palestinians can then get down to building their future, and those of us in the two diasporas can bicker a little less.

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