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Ethnic tensions flare over governorís judicial nominee
bostonglobe.com ^ | November 21, 2013 | Michael Levenson

Posted on 11/21/2013 2:13:39 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe

Tears were shed and Hitler was quoted on Wednesday, as ethnic tensions erupted at the State House and threatened to derail Governor Deval Patrick’s nominee for a seat on the Superior Court.

The charged struggle centers around the leadership role that the nominee, Joseph S. Berman, has played in the Anti-Defamation League, a national organization dedicated to combating anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination.

Berman’s nomination stirred opposition because, for years, the organization refused to label as genocide the slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turks between 1915 and 1923, a stance that angered the Armenian community. But in 2007, the organization reversed course and called the slaughter “tantamount to genocide,” quieting the controversy until it flared again around Berman’s nomination.

A commercial litigation lawyer from Weston, Berman has been a national commissioner of the organization since 2006, and a member of its regional board and executive committee.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the Governor’s Council, the elected eight-member panel that approves judicial nominations, Councilor Marilyn M. Pettito Devaney led the opposition to Berman, saying she had the five votes needed to reject his nomination.

Devaney, a Democrat from Watertown, home to a large Armenian community, stood and denounced Berman’s affiliation with the Anti-Defamation League, as the governor looked on, chagrined.

“In 1939, Hitler, carrying out his horrific mission to exterminate the Jews, said, ‘Who remembers the Armenians?’” Devaney said, her voice trembling and eyes filling with tears. “I do. And many others do, too.”

Devaney said if she belonged to “a group who denied the Holocaust,” she would resign. Several other councilors agreed that Berman’s ties to the Anti-Defamation League are a concern, while raising their own separate objections.

Patrick, who chairs the Governor’s Council, postponed the vote on Berman’s nomination until Dec. 4, forestalling an embarrassing political defeat. The governor called Berman “more than ready to serve” on the Superior Court.

“I’m going to work hard to get the votes,” Patrick told the councilors. “I haven’t had an opportunity to do that. I’m not ready today.”

Several councilors strongly objected to the delay and urged Patrick to allow them to vote immediately on Berman’s nomination.

“We’re not going to change our minds,” Devaney said. “To prolong this serves no purpose.”

Councilor Terrence W. Kennedy agreed, saying that even though he supports Berman, a delay will not save the nomination.

“It’s a democracy, and I don’t think the vote is going to change,” he told Patrick.

Typically, the lieutenant governor would chair meetings of the council, a fractious and often rebellious panel that dates to the Colonial era. But because Timothy P. Murray resigned as lieutenant governor in May, Patrick has had to fill that role.

The fight over Berman’s nomination harkens back to the bitter controversy over the Armenian genocide that engulfed the Anti-Defamation League six years ago.

In 2007, the organization fired its New England regional director, Andrew H. Tarsy, after he broke rank with national leadership and said it should acknowledge the genocide.

The organization had expressed concern that doing so could harm Israel’s relations with Turkey, a rare Muslim ally.

Many Jewish and Armenian leaders in New England criticized Tarsy’s firing and urged the organization to recognize the genocide. After several days of outcry, the national director, Abraham H. Foxman, issued a statement in 2007 calling the massacre of Armenians “tantamount to genocide” but stopping short of labeling it an actual genocide.

Anti-Defamation League leaders said Wednesday that that phrase is not meant to obscure the historical suffering of Armenians.

“ADL policy right now is crystal clear: that we recognize the Armenian genocide,” said Robert O. Trestan, director of the New England Anti-Defamation League. “We’re on the record making that recognition more than five years ago, and we’ve moved on from the issue, and it doesn’t seem appropriate, more than five years later, to bring this up in light of a judicial nomination.”

Reached by phone on Wednesday, Berman declined to discuss the issue.

Councilors have also objected to Berman because he donated about $110,000 to Democratic candidates over the last decade, contributions that they say make it appear as though his nomination was a reward for his financial support. In addition, at least one criticized his nomination because he once represented a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay.

Jeffrey S. Robbins, the chair of the board of the New England Anti-Defamation League, was among those who testified in support of Berman at his nomination hearing last week.

“The assault on Joe Berman is particularly egregious” because Berman was one of the most vocal and effective voices within the organization urging it to acknowledge the massacre as a genocide, Robbins said.

“That’s the kind of courage and principle that should be rewarded, and not penalized,” he said.


TOPICS: US: Massachusetts
KEYWORDS: adl; armeniangenocide; chicago; devalpatrick; illinois; massachusetts; turkey
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1 posted on 11/21/2013 2:13:39 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Did not know Armenians had a population in MA. Astounding.


2 posted on 11/21/2013 2:17:50 PM PST by Viennacon
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To: Viennacon

“Did not know Armenians had a population in MA. Astounding.”

There are some here in NJ as well; I guess they had to go somewhere. Overall, a positive addition to the US: hardworking, traditional Christian people (Armenia was the first Christian country in the world).


3 posted on 11/21/2013 2:23:00 PM PST by kearnyirish2 (Affirmative action is economic war against white males (and therefore white families).)
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To: kearnyirish2

Joe Mannix was of Armenian descent.


4 posted on 11/21/2013 2:45:56 PM PST by MUDDOG
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To: MUDDOG
Joe Mannix was of Armenian descent.

Mike Connors (born Krekor Ohanian August 15, 1925) is what the locals call a "Fresno Indian," which is indeed Armenian. The fictional character Joe Mannix is presumably of Irish origin, since that's where the surname Mannix comes from. Interestingly, so does the name Connors.

5 posted on 11/21/2013 2:52:58 PM PST by FredZarguna (The sequel, thoroughly pointless, derivative, and boring was like all James Cameron "films.")
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To: MUDDOG

Interesting; didn’t know that.


6 posted on 11/21/2013 3:02:17 PM PST by kearnyirish2 (Affirmative action is economic war against white males (and therefore white families).)
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To: FredZarguna
As the series went on, they got into Mannix's background, and made him of Armenian descent as well.

I liked the show. Contemporary with it was another good detective show, "Cannon," with Wiliam Conrad.

7 posted on 11/21/2013 3:14:12 PM PST by MUDDOG
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To: kearnyirish2

The Kardashians... on the lower side of the cultural scale== Armenians. Christian last names ... -ian on name ending is common Armenian... example: Hovanesian, Nazarian,Torosian... Who could forget the Dolphin’s Garo Yepremian, the wrong way runner on a blocked kick— he still laughs about it today and great guy.


8 posted on 11/21/2013 3:15:57 PM PST by John S Mosby (Sic Semper Tyrannis)
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To: MUDDOG

Interesting. I used to watch the show and didn’t recall that. In any event, Mannix is not an Armenian surname.


9 posted on 11/21/2013 3:17:23 PM PST by FredZarguna (The sequel, thoroughly pointless, derivative, and boring was like all James Cameron "films.")
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To: John S Mosby

Cher is also Armenian, too bad the Turks missed her ancestors.


10 posted on 11/21/2013 3:18:00 PM PST by dfwgator (Fire Muschamp.)
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To: John S Mosby
And of course, Cherilyn Sarkisian, which is 1960's for "Kardashian."
11 posted on 11/21/2013 3:19:36 PM PST by FredZarguna (The sequel, thoroughly pointless, derivative, and boring was like all James Cameron "films.")
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To: FredZarguna

True. And we never would’ve known he was Armenian if the show had been cancelled after season one ;^)


12 posted on 11/21/2013 3:22:53 PM PST by MUDDOG
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To: kearnyirish2; Viennacon; Impy; fieldmarshaldj

Watertown, where I live, has the second highest concentration of Armenians in the USA (SF being the first).


13 posted on 11/21/2013 4:01:30 PM PST by GOPsterinMA (You're a very weird person, Yossarian.)
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To: FredZarguna

That’s how we Irish are, we’ll take anybody.


14 posted on 11/21/2013 4:30:07 PM PST by jocon307
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To: John S Mosby

Yes, I’d heard that about the ending of their names.


15 posted on 11/21/2013 5:39:41 PM PST by kearnyirish2 (Affirmative action is economic war against white males (and therefore white families).)
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To: GOPsterinMA

I don’t think we have any concentration of them here in NJ; the ones I;ve met are mixed with everyone else (they don’t cluster like Indians or other Asians).


16 posted on 11/21/2013 5:40:46 PM PST by kearnyirish2 (Affirmative action is economic war against white males (and therefore white families).)
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To: kearnyirish2

Interesting. Here they’re very concentrated, not that that’s a bad thing.


17 posted on 11/21/2013 5:53:00 PM PST by GOPsterinMA (You're a very weird person, Yossarian.)
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To: GOPsterinMA

“Interesting. Here they’re very concentrated, not that that’s a bad thing.”

They probably arrived at the same time; many of the Portuguese and Spanish here in northern NJ were the same way. The first generation raised here moves out to live among “the English”.


18 posted on 11/21/2013 6:04:18 PM PST by kearnyirish2 (Affirmative action is economic war against white males (and therefore white families).)
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To: kearnyirish2

“The first generation raised here moves out to live among “the English”.”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


19 posted on 11/21/2013 6:05:19 PM PST by GOPsterinMA (You're a very weird person, Yossarian.)
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To: GOPsterinMA

Thanks; living in NJ, the Amish were the only other isolated pocket I could think of...

In one of our towns along the Hudson River they had to pass a law requiring 1/2 of each sign be in English; they were all Asian alphabets, and firemen couldn’t respond to calls in a timely manner because they couldn’t read business names. Their chamber of commerce meetings are held in Korean, and neighboring Fort Lee has been re-named “Fort Ree” by haters...


20 posted on 11/21/2013 6:10:55 PM PST by kearnyirish2 (Affirmative action is economic war against white males (and therefore white families).)
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