ANCEM: Newton HR Comm. Emergency Meeting Sends Strong Message to ADL

Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts
47 Nichols Avenue
Watertown, MA 02472
[email protected]


August 22, 2007
Contact: Sevag Arzoumanian
Tel: 617-233-3174

Arlington, MA `No Place for Hate’ Suspends Ties with ADL

NEWTON, MA, AUGUST 22, 2007: On Tuesday, Aug. 21, hours after the release
of a statement by Anti-Defamation League (ADL) recognizing the Armenian
Genocide but opposing the Genocide Resolution pending in Congress, the
Newton Human Rights Commission sent a strong message to ADL executive
director Abraham Foxman that anything short of the unambiguous recognition
of the genocide and full support of the Congressional resolution would
result in Newton’s withdrawal from the ADL-sponsored No Place for Hate
(NPFH) program, reported the Armenian National Committee of Eastern
Massachusetts (ANCEM).

Newton’s reaction comes a day after the Arlington NPFH Commission voted to
suspend its ties with the ADL for its denial of the Armenian Genocide.

Over 40 community members attended the special meeting that was called to
discuss the issue. `The small side chamber in City Hall could not hold the
number of audience members present for that evening’s meeting,’ reported the
Newton Tab. `Residents of Newton, Watertown, Cambridge, Needham and other
surrounding communities squeezed into that meeting room and trickled out
into the hall.’

Reacting to Foxman’s statement, Newton Mayor David Cohen said, `Whenever I
saw the word Armenian, in my mind I substituted the word Jewish. And
whenever I saw the word genocide, I substituted the word Holocaust. And I
said, would I be satisfied if this were the response of my leaders? And the
answer was no!’ In order for Newton to be satisfied and continue with the
NPFH, said Mayor Cohen, the National ADL has to `do the right thing,
recognizing the Armenian genocide and advocating for its recognition as they
would any other genocide.’

Watertown Town Council vice president Mark Sideris was also in attendance
and thanked the City of Newton for standing in solidarity with Watertown.
Addressing the Commission, he said, `I want to applaud your committee and
the Mayor for the stand that you’re taking. … I think a message has been
sent and we should be working together not only with Newton and Watertown
but with many communities to continue the pressure on the ADL. Mr. Foxman
took a step today but I don’t think it’s far enough.’

The Commission acknowledged that progress has been made but that the ADL’s
proclamation does not go far enough. Commissioner Sona Petrossian said that
the Human Rights Commission has to be comfortable under the umbrella of the
ADL. At present, she said, this was not the case.

`There’s no one here that would not support NPFH 100 percent, but with the
[ADL’s] backing, it’s becoming hypocritical,’ said Commissioner Peter Brown

Members of the audience were then invited to address the Council. Anatol
Zukerman, candidate for alderman in Newton, said, `Withdrawing from the
program is the minimum that we can do to put the pressure on ADL because the
ADL has been doing this for years and I don’t think Mr. Foxman is going to
move another step forward toward the resolution of this crisis.’
Commissioner Brenda Krasnow agreed, saying, `If it becomes a swell and more
than one town withdraws, then I think you’ll see some action.’

David Boyajian, the Newton resident whose letter to the Watertown Tab
ignited the NPFH/ADL controversy, commended the commissioners for sending a
firm message to the ADL. `We’re not asking this just for ourselves,’ he
continued, `but for the sake of genocide prevention in general and as a
human rights issue.’ He went on to restate the two basic demands of the
Armenian community: that the ADL leadership unambiguously acknowledge the
Armenian Genocide and that it work for Armenian Genocide Resolutions in
Congress. `We don’t want the ADL to continue to lobby under the radar,’
Boyajian stated. `We want an explicit statement by them so that members of
Congress understand where the ADL stands. An injustice has been done for a
number of years by the ADL in stopping Armenian Genocide resolutions in
Congress, and in working with Turkey over the years, against Armenian
issues. If this doesn’t happen we do request that the NPFH sever ties with
the ADL. But we hope it won’t come to that.’

`I’m here as a former ADL employee, someone who worked in the national
office in New York and someone who is frankly very disturbed by what’s
happening to a great organization with a really misguided national leader,’
said Jonathan Shapira of Newton. `It’s going to take a lot of pressure on
the national leadership and support for the regional board to get a change
to happen.’

The ADL must promote the Genocide Resolution, urged Narini Badalian of
Watertown. `When a country like America endorses Turkey’s denial of the
genocide, it is sending a message to the world that genocide remembrance is
selective and that private interests outweigh morality,’ she said.

In calling the meeting to a close, Cohen stated, `Everyone in this room is
united by one common thread, that is, they want to see justice for the
Armenian people, they want to see a full and complete recognition of the
Armenian genocide by the ADL and the ADL becoming one of the active
supporters of legislation to have the U.S. recognize the historic fact of
the Armenian Genocide. We are all prepared to go as far as we need to make
sure that those things are realized.’

The Newton Human Rights Commission postponed a vote on the status of the No
Place for Hate program and decided instead to wait for the outcome of the
regional board meeting of the ADL to be held the next day.

The commission voted instead to unanimously support a letter sent to Abraham
Foxman by Mayor Cohen in which he states: `I am in full support of the
actions taken by the New England Regional Board of the ADL … in recognizing
the Armenian Genocide. I am also in full support of the legislation
introduced by U.S. Representative Adam Schiff calling on the United States
to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide.’

`The City of Newton, much like the Town of Watertown, has stepped up to the
plate and put the ADL on notice that there is no room for ambiguity or
waffling when it comes to this issue,’ said ANCEM representative Joshua A.
Tevekelian of Watertown. "The general public has spoken and will not
tolerate politics over principle. The ADL must practice what it preaches and
support the Genocide Resolution."

Arlington `No Place For Hate’ Applauds New England ADL Calls for
Armenian Genocide Recognition; Support for Congressional Resolution

During an emergency meeting of the Arlington `No Place for Hate’ Commission
held Monday, August 20th, Committee Chairwoman Cindy Friedman and the 12
member Executive Board members voted to suspend the ongoing ADL NPFH
certification process, citing the ADL’s Armenian Genocide denial. In a
written statement issued following the meeting, the commission noted that
`while we agree with the program’s goals, we feel that recent statements and
actions of the national leadership have undermined its integrity and ability
to be effective.’ The letter went on to praise former Regional Director
Andrew Tarsy and the New England ADL `for their courage in standing up to
the national organization’s position. We support them in their efforts to
resolve this matter so that the Armenian genocide is rightfully acknowledged
and the integrity of the No Place for Hate program can be restored.’ Tarsy
was recently fired by the ADL National for recognizing the Armenian Genocide
and supporting Congressional adoption of the Armernian Genocide resolution.

The Arlington decision follows in wake of a letter from the ANCEM urging the
NPFH Committee to reconsider their affiliation with the ADL. The August
20th letter, delivered to Board Member Joseph A Curro, Jr. by Arlington
resident Lucine Zadoian-Kouchakdjian and other ANCEM activists minutes
before the briefing, stated that `affiliation or acquiescence with Mr.
Foxman and the ADL National’s unconscionable position on the Armenian
Genocide seriously undermines the credibility of the NPFH in its efforts to
battle against bigotry and intolerance in Arlington.’ The letter went on to
urge the `Arlington NPFH leadership to sever its ties with the ADL until
such time as the ADL National leadership issues a public statement
acknowledging the Armenian Genocide and calling for the adoption of
Congressional legislation recognizing this crime against humanity.’

`The Armenian community and the Armenian National Committee would like to
thank Mayor Cohen, the Newton community and the Arlington `No Place For
Hate’ Board for the outpouring of support it has shown calling for the
proper characterization of the Armenian Genocide by the ADL. We have worked
together for years to ensure that human rights violations, past and present,
are not allowed to go unrecognized and unpunished, and the success we have
had is encouraging,’ reiterated Dikran Kaligian, chairman of the Armenian
National Committee – Eastern Region.

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most
influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in
coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout
the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA
actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad
range of issues.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS