08/23 Watertown Tab: Watertown’s stand on ‘No Place for Hate’ sparks national effects

Watertown’s stand on ‘No Place for Hate’ sparks national effects
Jillian Fennimore, Staff Writer
Thu Aug 23, 2007, 12:10 PM EDT

WATERTOWN, MA - The past month has been a whirlwind for Watertown, but according to local officials, there is more work to be done in recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

Former “No Place for Hate” Committee Chairperson Will Twombly said he plans to work with local Armenians on a public program about the genocide. At-Large Councilor Marilyn Devaney said she is organizing a meeting in September with all other “No Place for Hate” communities to seek their support on an Armenian Genocide resolution pending in Congress.

Within the past week, the Anti-Defamation League’s regional director, Andrew Tarsy, was fired for breaking ranks by publicly recognizing the genocide. The ADL sponsors the “No Place for Hate” program.

A few days later, the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, changed the organization’s position by calling the deaths of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire “tantamount to genocide.”

To think it all sparked from one man’s letter to the Watertown TAB & Press in July, bringing light to the ADL’s former stance some said was outright denying the World War I-era mass murders of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire.

After Town Council members unanimously pushed a proclamation forward earlier this month, Devaney — who authored the decree severing ties with the ADL — said the 60-plus other “No Place for Hate” communities need to join their ranks in making a statement to the national board. Right now, local residents in Newton, Belmont, Somerville and Arlington are rethinking the program.

In Newton, members of the Human Rights Commission have postponed their decision to withdraw from a long-standing program in the city.

The Arlington “No Place for Hate” program steering committee decided Monday night in an emergency meeting that they would suspend their involvement with the committee.

“This is the first step,” said Devaney. “I’m so proud of Watertown that we took the lead.”

Twombly said a meeting will be held next month with the former “No Place for Hate” committee to begin planning their new direction.

On Tuesday, the national ADL came out with a statement widely accepted as recognizing the Armenian Genocide. But Twombly said it would be take the ADL changing its stance over the U.S. Congress formally recognizing the deaths as genocide to make their message stick.

“Personally I’m delighted that Foxman has recognized the Armenian Genocide, but the ADL has to go a step further,” he said. “It’s unjust that Tarsy was terminated for speaking his conscience.”

In a letter to James Rudolph, chairperson of the New England Region ADL, Council President Clyde Younger reiterated the importance of keeping the “No Place for Hate” concept.

“The town is committed to the concept espoused by the ‘No Place for Hate’ program and will provide all necessary resources to continue this important program,” Younger’s letter read.

Devaney said next month should prove to be positive in a growing anti-denial campaign.

“I think that [the ADL] saw the handwriting on the wall,” she said. “We have to keep remembering.”

Source: http://www.wickedlocal.com/watertown/homepage/x1376440456