IT IS important to clarify the issue regarding the controversy over the plan by Suffolk University to award an honorary degree to Abraham Foxman (“Suffolk students criticize choice of Abraham Foxman for speaker,” Metro April 22). The issue is not whether the Anti-Defamation League, which he leads, has done good things. It has.
The main point is Foxman’s resistance to recognizing the killing of Armenians in Ottomon Turkey for what it was — genocide. The vast majority of historians recognize that the massacres in 1915 meet the United Nations definition of that terrible word.
In 2007 Foxman fought against passage a congressional resolution that would have acknowledged the genocide. The Turkish government refuses to accept the reality of the events of 1915 to the point of lobbying governments, including our own, to avoid using the word. Turkey has been an informal ally of Israel, and because of that relationship, Foxman did not want to offend Turkey. After intense controvery, Foxman issued a statement calling the killlings “tantamount to genocide.”
The Anti-Defamation league was founded in 1913 to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all.” Genocide is the ultimate injustice. People, organizations, and countries at times make morally wrong decisions because of political expedience, but for Foxman to do so in this case — and only modify his stance under pressure — is extremely offensive because of the organization he represents.