A U.S. Jewish group has fired its New England regional director after he said he wants the organization to recognize the World War I killing of Armenians as genocide, according to a published report Saturday.
The Anti-Defamation League, primarily known for fighting anti-Semitism, fired Andrew Tarsy on Friday, the Boston Globe reported. Tarsy told the newspaper that the organization's stance is "morally indefensible."
His firing has prompted a backlash among local Jewish leaders against the ADL's leadership and its national director, Abraham Foxman, the newspaper reported.
"My reaction is that this was a vindictive, intolerant, and destructive act, ironically by an organization and leader whose mission - fundamental mission - is to promote tolerance," Steve Grossman, a businessman and former ADL regional board member, told the paper.
Historians estimate up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by genocide scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey, however, denies the deaths constituted genocide, saying that the toll has been inflated and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.
In a three-page response, Foxman and Glen Lewy, who is national chairman of the ADL, said the organization has acknowledged "the massacres of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire and called on Turkey to do more to confront its past and reconcile with Armenia." The organization also must "protect the interests of the Jewish community in Turkey, work for Israel's safety and security, and combat extremism," the letter stated.