TOWN ENDS TIES WITH NO PLACE FOR HATE
By Christine Pazanese, Globe Correspondent
August 15, 2007
Watertown targets group’s sponsor
Under pressure from its Armenian residents, the Town Council in
Watertown voted last night to rescind its participation in the No
Place for Hate program.
The council’s 8-to-0 vote (one councilor was absent) was a response to
objections by Armenian Americans who say the Anti-Defamation League,
one of the program’s sponsors, refuses to acknowledge what many
consider a genocide committed against Armenians by the Turks from
1915 to 1917.
"We cannot join with the ADL when they refuse to acknowledge the
[Armenian] genocide," said Councilor Marilyn Petitto Devaney, who
introduced the proclamation to withdraw from the program.
Watertown, with one of the largest populations of Armenians in the
country, was one of 67 communities in Massachusetts to adopt the
program. It joined No Place for Hate in July 2005 and reaffirmed its
participation in June.
Andrew Tarsy, regional director of ADL’s New England office, last
night condemned as "distortions and rhetoric" suggestions that the
ADL has denied a genocide occurred and has been working against
congressional legislation to formally acknowledge the slaughter.
Thirteen members of the town’s No Place for Hate committee met Monday
with Tarsy to "ask for clarification on the ADL’s position" and to
"express our strong objections to its stance," said Will Twombly,
the committee’s cochairman. "We find the ADL’s position unacceptable,"
Despite his attempt to clarify the ADL’s position, Tarsy was taunted
last night as he defended the success of the program throughout
"We believe Turkey needs to do more," said Tarsy, who added that ADL
leadership has been using its relationship "to push Turkey to confront
its role in a meaningful way."
David Boyajian of Newton, who first alerted Watertown officials of the
ADL’s position on the genocide in early July, applauded the council’s
decision. "I hope the next step is for No Place for Hate to sever its
ties with the ADL and to encourage the ADL to lobby for recognition
of the Armenian genocide," he said.
It was not clear last night whether Armenians plan to lobby other
towns to drop out of the program.
"We regret the controversy, but we cannot remain silent on a blatant
issue of hypocrisy," Grace Kulegian, a Watertown resident and member
of the Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts, told
last night’s gathering.
Many in the crowd implored the council to cut ties with the ADL and
suggested the good works begun under No Place for Hate could continue
"I don’t think the ADL has a monopoly on battling intolerance,"
said Narini Badalian of Watertown.