The next chapter in the ADL story is splayed on the front page of the Boston Globe today. Keith O'Brien reports: "The national Anti-Defamation League fired its New England regional director yesterday, one day after he broke ranks with national ADL leadership and said the human rights organization should acknowledge the Armenian genocide that began in 1915."
Andy Tarsy, the regional director who did the right thing, has now taught the public an additional lesson: Sometimes doing the right thing costs you personally, at least in the short run. But I predict and hope that Andy will not have to worry for long.
The action by the national ADL organization now turns the focus on the board members of the local ADL affiliate. Presumably Andy had the support of his local board in taking the action he did. A former board member commented to the Globe: "I predict that [these] actions will precipitate wholesale resignations from the regional board, a meaningful reduction in ADL's regional fund-raising, and will further exacerbate the [national] ADL's relationship with the non-Jewish community coming out of this crisis around the Armenian genocide."
Local board members really have no choice but to resign over the firing of their hand-picked executive director. But these are highly committed volunteers and community leaders who strongly believe in the mission of the ADL. What's for them do to in support of that mission?
The clear answer is to resign, rescind any philanthropic commitments they have made to the national ADL, immediately create a new regional organization with precisely the same mission, hire Andy back, and go to work rebuilding support throughout New England for the important programs they have been running.
[Disclosure: Andy's father is a member of the faculty at BIDMC, but I have not consulted with him on any of these blog postings.]
Addendum on August 19. In writing this, I didn't mean to suggest that local board members who choose to stay on the board and try to work changes in the national ADL should be faulted at all. That is an alternative approach that deserves a lot of credit. It is, however, a long row to hoe -- and until it all gets worked out, I am guessing it will be hard to find a person willing to be a successor for Andy at the New England regional branch.