Skip to comments.Ethnic tensions flare over governorís judicial nominee
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 Patricks 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.
Bermans 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 Bermans 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 Wednesdays meeting of the Governors 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 Bermans 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 Bermans ties to the Anti-Defamation League are a concern, while raising their own separate objections.
Patrick, who chairs the Governors Council, postponed the vote on Bermans nomination until Dec. 4, forestalling an embarrassing political defeat. The governor called Berman more than ready to serve on the Superior Court.
Im going to work hard to get the votes, Patrick told the councilors. I havent had an opportunity to do that. Im not ready today.
Several councilors strongly objected to the delay and urged Patrick to allow them to vote immediately on Bermans nomination.
Were 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.
Its a democracy, and I dont 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 Bermans 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 Israels relations with Turkey, a rare Muslim ally.
Many Jewish and Armenian leaders in New England criticized Tarsys 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. Were on the record making that recognition more than five years ago, and weve moved on from the issue, and it doesnt 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.
Thats the kind of courage and principle that should be rewarded, and not penalized, he said.
Did not know Armenians had a population in MA. Astounding.
“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).
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.
Interesting; didn’t know that.
I liked the show. Contemporary with it was another good detective show, "Cannon," with Wiliam Conrad.
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.
Interesting. I used to watch the show and didn’t recall that. In any event, Mannix is not an Armenian surname.
Cher is also Armenian, too bad the Turks missed her ancestors.
True. And we never would’ve known he was Armenian if the show had been cancelled after season one ;^)
Watertown, where I live, has the second highest concentration of Armenians in the USA (SF being the first).
That’s how we Irish are, we’ll take anybody.
Yes, I’d heard that about the ending of their names.
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).
Interesting. Here they’re very concentrated, not that that’s a bad thing.
“Interesting. Here theyre very concentrated, not that thats 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”.
“The first generation raised here moves out to live among the English.”
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...