Sun Sep 30, 2007, 08:52 PM EDT
Belmont, Mass. - On Sept. 17, the Board of Selectmen were asked to adopt the Belmont Human Rights Commission’s (HRC) unanimous recommendation to sever ties with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and its No Place for Hate Program. The Belmont HRC also recommended that the selectmen call upon the ADL to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide by supporting a non-binding resolution not requiring the signature of the President of the United States. That resolution, now pending in Congress is House and Senate Resolution 106, now supported by more than 200 Representatives to Congress and 30 Senators.
The ADL, whose goals are to oppose the crimes of hate and discrimination, now enters the political arena as a Turkophile. The National ADL opposes passage of these resolutions while preaching tolerance and opposition to hate crimes. The ADL has hypocritically waffled and flip-flopped between actual recognition of the Armenian Genocide as a National Organization, supported denial of the Genocide the same as their Turkish masters have suggested, and openly opposes passage of the resolution.
A full and complete discussion and presentation of the facts by Armenians of Belmont and surrounding communities resulted in the unanimous passage of the Belmont HRC recommendation.
However, this was not the apparent intent of the selectmen. This is because the selectmen operate under a different practice. This practice prevents any further discussion, debate or explanation. It turns the audience into nothing more than muzzled spectators with few exceptions. This practice prevented open, frank and vivid explanations of these issues. The apparent lack of knowledge by most selectmen was limited to materials that they had “read” in less than two weeks. This added to the frustration. The only bright spot and exception to this was an eloquent, riveting and point-by-point delivery made by Selectman Paul Solomon, who proved to be the lone supporter of the HRC’s unanimous recommendation.
Newly elected Selectman Dan LeClerc spearheaded the opposition to the recommendation on two grounds: first, on the “jurisdictional” ground that the town of Belmont had no business conditioning its recommendation on the passage of a Congressional House Resolution. Secondly, he asked, Who are we to force the ADL into a corner, specifically telling them that their continued existence in Belmont depended upon their open support, nationally, for HR/SR106, now pending in Congress? Angelo Firenze, the chairman of the Board of Selectmen, joined him in this sentiment.
Faced with what would appear to be a negative vote against recommending the unanimous recommendation of the HRC, close to 200 Belmont Armenians in the town hall erupted in justified outrage. On the one hand, they were muzzled by the practice of the selectmen to prevent discussion; on the other hand, there was no way for anyone to explain the shortcomings of their assumptions. Being deeply concerned about this situation, attendees simply voiced their opposition and outrage. They were met by Firenze’s announcement that he would adjourn the proceeding or re-schedule the proceeding at some future unannounced date. This raised further concern until Dr. Joyce Barsam masterfully took the microphone, calmed the audience, and suggested that it might be possible to “split” the recommendation into two parts and vote upon each part separately. This apparently met with the approval of the selectmen as well as the outraged audience.
The result? The first motion to sever ties with the Anti-Defamation League and its No Place for Hate Program passed unanimously. The second motion to condition ADL’s acceptance to continue operations in Belmont upon its open and unambiguous support of the resolution, and to drop its opposition, politically, to its adoption by the Congress, was defeated.
The ultimate judgment by the body upon the town of Belmont must therefore be that the glass is full, but only half full. Belmont has severed ties with the ADL and its No Place for Hate Program. Presumably, if the ADL should wish to continue operations in Belmont at some future time, another hearing would have to be held at which its stance would again be examined.
On the other hand, those who consider the glass half empty would base their judgment upon the refusal of the selectmen to specify the conditions upon which the ADL would be allowed to return to its normal operations. This not only side steps the issue; it puts final judgment off to some time in the future “when the heat is off.”
One other important result of this meeting was a statement that bushwhacked the hearing. This statement, an unsigned fax from only the ADL New England Region, only one of 29 regions in the nation, and a region that had not previously done so, sent at the last minute prior to the hearing read without corroboration or authentication, and unaccompanied by anyone who could have appeared at the selectmen’s hearing, stated in writing that they, for the first time, at least recognize the Armenian Genocide as a genocide and will continue to do so.
It will be up to the Armenian people in every “jurisdiction” to hold their feet to the fire and to expose this statement to ADL nationally, which has not apparently taken the same approach.
Gregory H. Arabian lives on Homer Road.
MICHAL LANDO, Jerusalem Post correspondent , THE JERUSALEM POST Sep. 29, 2007
In a meeting with representatives of the Jewish community, Turkey's prime minister rejected allegations that the massacre of Armenians during WWI was an act of genocide.
Speaking with officials from the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Congress and other groups, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said the genocide claims were not supported by any scientific or historical documentation.
Erdogan also reiterated Turkey's call to Armenia to establish a joint commission to study historical facts, and asked the Jewish representatives to continue to support good relations between Turkey and the US Jewish community, according to a statement released following the meeting.
After disagreement between its New England chapter and national headquarters, the ADL in August recognized the massacres of Armenians as "tantamount to genocide," reversing the organization's longstanding refusal to do so. ADL's recognition stopped short of supporting two congressional resolutions that would call on the US to formally recognize the genocide.
ADL national director Abraham Foxman reiterated Wednesday that the issue should not be the subject of congressional resolution, according to MSNBC.
"We believe that a matter between Turkey and Armenia related to history should be tackled between the two parties, not in the US Congress or the parliament of any other country," he said. "This is not a political matter and those in the Congress are not historians."
"I believe that we should focus on the future, not the past. If the Jewish community, the United States and the Congress are willing to assist, they should bring together Turkey and Armenia for the [sake of the] grandchildren of the two parties," Foxman said.
ADL's national policy-making body is expected to discuss the congressional resolutions at its annual meeting on November 1.
The leader of a major US Jewish group that last month endorsed Armenian claims of genocide at the hands of the late Otto-man Empire said on Wednesday that the US Cong-ress was not the right venue to discuss the issue.
"I believe this issue should not be debated at the US Congress or the French National Assembly," Abraham Foxman, chairman of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), told reporters after a meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in New York. He also said he hoped Armenians would somehow respond to calls from Turkey to set up a joint commission of academics to investigate what happened in the past.
The ADL last month reversed its long-held policy and decided to call events of the World War I era genocide, although it still says two resolutions pending in the US Congress endorsing the genocide claims would not help resolution of the disputes between the Turks and Armenians. The policy shift angered Turkey, which categorically rejects the genocide charges. Turkish authorities also appealed to Israel and warned that passage of the resolutions in the US Congress, which now seems even more probable because of the change of stance on the part of the ADL, would harm not only Turkish-US but also Turkish-Israeli ties.
Foxman said disputes between Turks and Armenians can best be settled between the two countries, not via resolutions passed in parliaments. "US congressmen are not historians. Therefore, they cannot judge what happened in history," he said. Commenting on his meeting with Erdoğan, he said it was very useful and asserted that "friendships are not ruined because of words."
Erdoğan said at the meeting that the Armenian genocide allegations had no basis and that they were not supported by any scientific or historical document, according to a statement released by the Prime Ministry after the meeting. "The prime minister said Turkey expected the Jewish community in the US to continue their support, as it has done to date," the statement said.
The meeting was attended by representatives from some 20 US Jewish groups, including the Conference of Presidents, the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the ADL, the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, Bnai Brith International and the UJA Federation.
SEZAİ KALAYCI NEW YORK
09/28 Watertown Tab: Former ‘No Place for Hate’ group urges ADL to change views on Armenian genocide
By Jillian Fennimore, staff writer
Thu Sep 27, 2007, 04:30 PM EDT
WATERTOWN, MA - Members of the town’s former “No Place for Hate” committee say that four months ago they were operating a successful anti-bias program without conflict under the Anti-Defamation League.
Now, those same members are taking a strong stance against the actions of the national ADL, urging the civil rights group to unequivocally recognize the Armenian Genocide.
In a letter to the ADL, Will Twombly, former co-chairperson of Watertown’s “No Place for Hate” committee and fellow co-chair Sgt. David Sampson of the Watertown Police Department made their message strong.
“It was impossible to continue our committee’s work, and to regain our credibility in the community, while affiliated with the ADL under these circumstances,” the letter reads. “We cannot fully believe the sincerity of the ADL’s stated goals – to work for the fair and equal treatment of all – until you have completely and wholeheartedly supported the Armenian people in their quest to have their history acknowledged by all nations of the world.”
The controversy, which continues to have international repercussions, began in Watertown. In July, Newton’s David Boyajian wrote a letterto the Watertown TAB & Press about the ADL’s stance, which some said amounted to denial that the World War I-era deaths of 1.5 million Armenians under the Ottoman Empire were “genocide.”
After much public debate and emotional outpouring from local Armenians and officials, ADL National Director Abraham Foxman changed the organization’s position in August by calling the consequences of the Ottoman Empire’s actions “tantamount to genocide.”
Foxman enraged many Armenians, however, by his organization’s continued opposition to a Congressional resolution making it the official U.S. view that the massacres of Armenians were genocide, that is to say a concerted government effort to annihilate an ethnic group.
“We want to see the ADL take what we feel would be critical step in endorsing the Congressional resolution [on the Armenian Genocide],” said Twombly.
Twombly said he hopes Foxman’s shifted outlook will begin a “badly needed healing process.”
“We would feel hollow if it were not followed by an endorsement of the Congressional legislation,” he told the TAB & Press.
Ruth Thomasian, a local Armenian and former member of the “No Place for Hate” committee, said the committee’s original thoughts were not to immediately leave the ADL, since their programs were running so smoothly in town.
“Originally we weren’t demanding to cut ties,” she said. “We wanted to stay part of system because it was a great program. But we can’t be hypocritical about diversity issues.”
Last month, Town Council members unanimously accepted a proclamation sponsored by At-Large Councilor Marilyn Devaney severing ties with the ADL.
Since then, Belmont and Newton have followed Watertown’s lead. Arlington, which had been seeking “No Place for Hate” certification, suspended its involvement in the program. Other cities and towns are also mulling whether to drop “No Place for Hate.”
Members of the dissolved “No Place for Hate” committee in Watertown are planning a public program about the Armenian genocide. Something will be scheduled in early November, according to Twombly.
The national ADL plans to revisit its policy toward recognition of the Armenian genocide in November.
When asked whether or not committee members would consider rejoining with the ADL if the Congressional legislation is passed, Thomasian said anything could be possible down the road.
“That legislation has been going on for over 20 years,” she said. “But, yes, that would have to be considered.”
Friday, September 28, 2007
ISTANBUL- TDN with wire dispatches
The extensive talks held by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in New York were marked Wednesday by the hot issue of planned energy deals between Turkey and Iran despite probable U.S. sanctions.
Erdoğan held a surprise meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, while Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan met with his U.S. counterpart Condoleezza Rice.
During the 30 minute Erdoğan–Ahmedinejad meeting, discussions on the preliminary natural gas agreements, Iran's nuclear program, and joint combat operation plans against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and its Iranian offshoot, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), were on the table. Neither side, however, was willing to talk about the details with the press after the meeting.
Energy cooperation with Iran was also on the agenda of Babacan – Rice meeting which came just a day after the U.S. House of Representatives adopted a bill to tighten economic sanctions against Iran in a step that might also severely hit Turkey. The House passed the bill Tuesday with a 397-16 vote that calls for mandatory U.S. sanctions against foreign companies investing more than $20 million in Iran's lucrative oil and natural gas sectors.
TheTurkish side, however, seems decided to go ahead with energy cooperation with Iran as Turkish and Iranian officials said the agreement naming the companies to take part in the natural gas deal will be signed in October.
The agreement, which will be the second stage of the gas deal, will be signed when Iranian Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari visits Ankara in October, the officials told Reuters yesterday.
No precise date has yet been fixed for the visit.
"The agreement to be signed will also determine where the future of natural gas coming to Turkey will be used and how the investments will be made," Ahmed Noorani, a senior official at the Iranian embassy in Ankara, told Reuters.
"In this agreement measures can be found for meeting the gas needs of eastern and southeastern Anatolia," he added.
Noorani said Turkish and Iranian companies will take on the construction work.
Under their preliminary agreement, Iran and Turkmenistan will pump 30 billion cubic meters of gas a year to Europe.
Ankara and Tehran have also agreed that the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) will produce 20 bcm natural gas in the three phases of Iran's South Pars gas field.
Turkey has said the Iranian and Turkmen gas can be used for the planned 4.6 billion euro ($6.3 billion) Nabucco project, which will carry gas across Turkey and the Balkans to central Europe and is backed by the European Union.
"Turkey needs Iranian natural gas. Nobody should say this gas must not be taken," Iran's Noorani said.
In a related development, a Turkish energy executive also confirmed Noorani saying Turkey considers Iran a key energy partner, as it needs Iranian gas to feed a rapidly growing energy demand.
"We cannot disregard Iran only for political reasons, we need Iran from a commercial point of view," said Hüseyin Saltuk Düzyol, general manager and chairman of the board of Turkish state-controlled pipeline company BOTAŞ, speaking on the sidelines of en energy conference in Milan Wednesday.
Botas, a partner in the international pipeline project Nabucco needs Iran's gas to fill the pipeline whose capacity is expected to reach 31 billion cubic meters (bcm) by 2020, he said.
"We need additional volumes to fill the Nabocco pipeline. Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan can produce 90 bcm together in 2020. Iran can produce it alone," he said.
Babacan meets Rice
Almost an hour later, this time in one of the other rooms of the UN building, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan came together. Official sources said the two ministers talked about Iraq, PKK terror, awaiting “Armenian Genocide” resolution at the U.S. House of Representatives, Cyprus and the Middle East Peace Process.
According to Turkish Foreign Ministry sources, Babacan stated that Iraq's territorial integrity is vitally important for Turkey in the meeting. He also asked for U.S. support to combat PKK terrorism. Secretary Rice, on the other hand, said that the U.S. government would never support any strategy or policy that will allow the disunion of Iraq.
Rice also clearly stated her administration is against passing the Armenian Genocide resolution from the Congress. Yet she warned Turkey about Iran. Iran's nuclear program is still a threat for the U.S., said Rice. The U.S. State Department reminded Ankara one more time that energy agreements with Iran are unacceptable.
Erdoğan asks for support from the Jewish Lobby
Another important meeting that Erdoğan attended on the third day of his NY visit was with the Jewish lobby. More than 20 high-ranking names of the Jewish lobby came to the meeting.
Erdoğan asked for the continuation of the Jewish lobby's long time support against the Armenia genocide allegations. Last month, one of the most influential organizations among the Jewish lobby, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) made a statement saying that Turkey's actions against Armenians between 1915 and 1918 "were tantamount to genocide."
Although ADL National Director Abe Foxman issued a statement saying that his words were misunderstood, Turkey still felt threatened by this move of the ADL. Foxman, who was also in meeting, talked to the press afterwards. This time he openly stated, “Neither the French parliament nor the American Congress is the place to discuss Armenian allegations.” Foxman also said that he hopes Armenians can call a commission into being to solve this long-standing problem with Turkey.
(Elif Özmenek from TDN New York contributed to this report)
The delegates also asked Erdogan to discuss regional issues.
NEW YORK - Turkey’s Prime Minister has used a meeting with representatives of the US Jewish community to reject allegations the Ottoman Empire committed an act of genocide against its Armenian citizens in 1915. Haberin devamı
Meeting with representatives of groups including the Conference of Presidents, the Appeal of Conscience, the Foundation, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Congress, and Bnai Brith International in New York late Wednesday Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the genocide claims as baseless. The allegations were not supported by any scientific or historical grounding.
“The Prime Minister also recalled Turkey’s call to Armenia to establish a joint commission to study historical facts, and stated that Turkey expected the Jewish community to confirm its support against the baseless allegations,” a statement issued after the meeting said.
Following the meeting, Abraham Foxman, the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), said that at times there could be disagreement between friends, referring to the League’s had accepted the events of 1915 as being tantamount to genocide. However, Foxman said that the issue should not be the subject of a resolution of the US Congress.
“We believe that a matter between Turkey and Armenia related to history should be tackled between the two parties, not in the US Congress or the parliament of any other country,” he said. “This is not a political matter and those in the Congress are not historians.”
“I believe that we should focus on the future, not the past. If the Jewish community, the United States and the Congress are willing to assist they should bring together Turkey and Armenia for the grandchildren of the two parties.”
By Eric Eid-Reiner
Thu Sep 27, 2007, 05:02 AM EDT
Lexington - Regarding the issue of the No Place For Hate committee’s ties with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in light of the national ADL’s refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide as a genocide, I have come to conclude that disassociation from the ADL’s No Place For Hate program is the right choice for our town to make.
As a Jew and citizen who values the ideals of the No Place For Hate program as well as the Lexington No Place For Hate committee’s work, and as someone who like the vast majority of genocide scholars and historians acknowledges the Armenian genocide as precisely that — a genocide — I have carefully considered both sides of this important and complex issue.
Some may feel that it is unnecessary to withdraw from this program simply because we disagree with the ADL’s position on the issue of the Armenian Genocide and want them to change it. But this is about more than that.
The way I see it, this is also a matter of choosing whether our town should have a connection to an organization that is advancing an inaccurate stand on the Armenian Genocide — a stand that hurts many of our friends and neighbors, and does a disservice to the general public, which ought to know the truth of this matter. Why would we want to maintain this connection?
It is fully possible for a committee in town to exist under a different name and do the same great work that the current No Place For Hate committee does. I hope that this will be the action that the town decides to take, given the valuable role that the committee has played in Lexington since its inception, consistently working to combat bias and prejudice through education and action in our schools and greater community.
In not acknowledging the Armenian Genocide, the ADL has not done justice to our Armenian friends and neighbors or to our town’s core values — nor for that matter have they really been consistent with the missions of the No Place For Hate program and No Place For Hate committee in Lexington when it comes to this issue.
Certainly, as individuals and as members of various communities and organizations, we do not always agree with all that organizations we are a part of do or say. However, combating genocide denial is so central to the mission of the ADL that its stance on the Armenian Genocide is inexcusable and disturbingly hypocritical. Genocide denial by a prominent organization lends credibility to a damaging and false position.
As a Jew who is largely supportive of Israel and what the ADL does to aid it, disassociation — and the potentially negative publicity for the organization that it would inevitably garner — is a particularly troubling idea.
However, I keep thinking, “If an anti-prejudice group in town were affiliated with an organization that denied that the Holocaust was a genocide — an organization that argued that the Holocaust was not an effort to wipe out Jews and many other groups — could I support that group’s work?” For me, it would be extremely difficult to do so. And it would pain me deeply that my town would be willing to stay with this group despite their damaging view on the Holocaust, even if that group had done many wonderful things in the past in its overall anti-prejudice mission.
I think that if we want what to do what is right for all the citizens of Lexington, we should not hold our breath waiting for the ADL to change its viewpoint. We can and should take a stand immediately.
I urge you to join in taking the position that the citizens of Lexington strongly support the work of the No Place For Hate committee and will continue to do so, but we believe that the committee can successfully continue its anti-prejudice and related work without ties to an organization that denies that the Armenian Genocide was truly a genocide. I have complete confidence in the abilities of our town leaders, committee members, and community members to make such a transition. I feel that making this change and being active on this issue is in the best interests of the citizens of Lexington, and that while it may be tough, it really is the right thing to do.
Eric Eid-Reiner is a resident of Russell Road. He is in his first year at Wheaton College.
Group not ready to sever ADL ties
By Ian B. Murphy/Staff Writer
Thu Sep 27, 2007, 06:37 AM EDT
Lexington - The No Place For Hate committee still exists in Lexington. But it was clear Monday that a passionate and strong-willed Armenian-American community also exists in Lexington, and to them anything short of a full severance of ties between the town’s No Place For Hate committee and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is unacceptable.
That community showed up in force at the Selectmen’s Meeting Room in Town Hall this week, so much so that Chairman Jeanne Krieger had to call the meeting to order and then quickly adjourn to move the gathering to Cary Memorial Hall in order to accommodate the crowd of more than 130.
There, both Armenian-American and Jewish residents spoke out against the ADL’s ambiguous position on the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks in 1915. They pointed out that according to the ADL’s own guidelines, genocide denial is the final stage of genocide and that it is the highest form of hate-speech. Each speaker came back to the same theme: the ADL was a hypocritical organization that had lost its moral authority to back any program that seeks to promote diversity and squelch hate.
“Real tolerance is only possible when you don’t discriminate,” said Nairi Kachatourian, an Armenian-American senior at Lexington High School. “The ADL does.”
Jill Smilow, the chair of the No Place For Hate committee, gave a statement from the group’s steering committee saying it was not ready to recommend cutting ties to the ADL.
“While the Lexington No Place for Hate Steering Committee members recognize the Armenian Genocide of the early 20th century as one of the world’s greatest atrocities, the steering committee is not yet prepared to make a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen regarding severance from ADL and wishes to have further dialogue, discussion, and gather more information on this extremely important matter for our community before doing so,” she said.
Smilow pointed to the many good works No Place for Hate had done in the past, as well as its close affiliation with the New England regional ADL, which has publicly recognized the Armenian genocide. Smilow is a member of the regional ADL board of directors.
The Armenian-Americans were not concerned with No Place For Hate’s record. Most speakers acknowledged that the group had done excellent work in town, and that the group was important. They said No Place For Hate’s past deeds did not exonerate the ADL from denying the genocide, and many residents proposed that a new committee with the same mission be formed in town without the financial or moral support from the ADL.
“Clearly there is something worth preserving because of the work they have done,” said Noubar Afeyan, a resident of Sunset Ridge. “The real urgency of it is to take steps to make the program as uncompromised as it can be and it has always been, especially with its mission [of removing hate in the community]. It’s not urgent because Armenian Americans think it’s urgent; it’s urgent because it’s important to return to the uncompromised status of this very important program.”
Afeyan told the selectmen that both parties had a responsibility to act. Armenian Americans feel a responsibility because if they don’t speak out about what happened to their relatives, 1.5 million Armenians will have died for nothing. The Board of Selectman had to act because any program in town sponsored by a group that denied the genocide alienates an ethnic group of residents, Afeyan said.
“To be dependent financially, morally, or informationally (sic) on an organization that is compromised is wrong,” said Afeyan.
Jack Porter, the treasurer of the International Association of Genocide Scholars and Newton resident, urged the selectmen to take a position on the matter before the ADL’s November meeting, where he said the organization could be torn apart from within.
“In November, the ADL meets with its national executives,” said Porter. “If they don’t change their position on the Armenian genocide, one of two things will happen. Either (ADL national director Abraham) Foxman will have to retire, or the ADL will be torn apart. It’s an existential moment for the ADL. It’s do or die. Either it moves forward, or it goes under, and then the good work will just crumble away.”
Smilow’s husband, Howard Brick, who is also a member of the regional ADL board of directors, advised the selectmen to remember that part of the issue involved a bill in the U.S. Congress recognizing the genocide, and not to confuse this local issue with the geopolitical tangles involved with the resolution.
The selectmen took in all of the comments of the evening, but did not offer their own comments as the item was not on their agenda.
“I believe that we have an obligation to listen to the Armenian community, but I also want NPFH to have an opportunity to discuss how they are going to formulate themselves to continue to serve Lexington,” said chairman Jeanne Krieger.
The selectmen have not yet set a date to hold their own discussion about the issue.
“[Not discussing the issue isn’t] an attempt to duck anything,” said Selectman Hank Manz. “It’s not an attempt to marginalize the issue. It is an attempt to handle it correctly. We did not want to have to demand a speaker’s list. Obviously this is a huge issue.”
To learn more about HR 106, “An affirmation of the United States’ Record on the Armenian Genocide Resolution,” contact Rep. Edward Markey at 5 High St., Suite 101, Medford MA 02155 or call 617-722-1432. The full text of HR 106 is available at http://tinyurl.com/yrrcjb.
No Place for hate’s position
The following statement was made to Lexington’s Board of Selectmen by Jill Smilow, chairman of the Lexington No Place for Hate Steering Committee.
The members of Lexington’s No Place for Hate Steering Committee met last Friday with Armenian-American residents of our town who presented their request that the town disassociate from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), thus ending the No Place for Hate Program in Lexington.
A lengthy discussion among everyone present followed their presentation.
While the Lexington No Place for Hate Steering Committee members recognize the Armenian Genocide of the early 20th century as one of the world’s greatest atrocities, the steering committee is not yet prepared to make a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen regarding severance from ADL and wishes to have further dialogue, discussion, and gather more information on this extremely important matter for our community before doing so.
Thu Sep 27, 2007, 04:23 PM EDT
WATERTOWN, MA - Mr. Abraham Foxman, National Director
Mr. Glen S. Lewy, Chair, National Board
Dear Mr. Foxman and Mr. Lewy:
As Co-chairs of the former Watertown, MA “No Place for Hate” committee, we are writing to express both our thanks and our concern to you.
As you know, the Watertown Town Council withdrew its participation in the “No Place for Hate” program because of the national ADL’s position concerning the Armenian Genocide. The Town Council, the members of the local “No Place for Hate” committee, and a large percentage of the Town’s population found it unconscionable that an organization that works to educate the world about the Holocaust and other similar atrocities would turn a blind eye to the sad history of the Armenian people. Throughout the summer, many local individuals and groups, both Armenian and non-Armenian, expressed enormous resentment towards the ADL because of its choice to ignore such a clear moral imperative. It was impossible to continue our committee’s work, and to regain our credibility in the community, while affiliated with the ADL under these circumstances. Hopefully Mr. Foxman’s statement of Aug. 21 will begin a badly needed healing process. We appreciate this change of position.
However, to continue this process we strongly urge you to take the next critical step, by endorsing the Armenian Genocide legislation currently pending before Congress. We cannot fully believe the sincerity of the ADL’s stated goals – to work for the fair and equal treatment of all – until you have completely and wholeheartedly supported the Armenian people in their quest to have their history acknowledged by all nations of the world. If we are to prevent further atrocities from occurring, we must hold perpetrators, including Turkey, accountable for those that have taken place in the past. We believe that support of this legislation would be entirely consistent with the mission of the ADL as we understand it.
Thank you for your consideration.
Sgt. David Sampson
Watertown Police Department
Representing the former Watertown “No Place for Hate” committee
By Khatchig Mouradian - Sunday November 4 2007
When dealing with ethnic cleansing and genocide, it would be useful to ask: What would Lemkin do? Had world leaders and human rights organizations asked that question and acted based on the answer over the past 50 years, several mass murders and genocides could have been prevented or stopped in Europe, Africa and Asia.
Raphael Lemkin, a Polish-Jew, coined the term “genocide” in 1944 based on the planned extermination of the Armenians by the Ottoman Turks in 1915 and the Jews during World War II. He worked tirelessly to have the United Nations pass a law on the prevention and punishment of that crime. Finally, on Dec. 9, 1948, the UN General Assembly ratified the Genocide Convention. Remembering that moment, Lemkin, who lost 49 relatives during the Holocaust, wrote: “Somebody requested a roll call. The first to vote was India. After her ‘yes’ there was an endless number of ‘yeses.’ A storm of applause followed. I felt on my face the flashlight of cameras. … The world was smiling and approving and I had only one word in answer to all that, ‘thanks.’”
Lemkin referred to the Armenian genocide on numerous occasions. In an article in the Hairenik Weekly (later the Armenian Weekly) on Jan. 1, 1959, he wrote that the suffering of the Armenians had paved the way to the ratification of the Genocide Convention: “The sufferings of the Armenian men, women, and children thrown into the Euphrates River or massacred on the way to [the Syrian desert of] Der-el-Zor have prepared the way for the adoption for the Genocide Convention by the United Nations. … This is the reason why the Armenians of the entire world were specifically interested in the Genocide Convention. They filled the galleries of the drafting committee at the third General Assembly of the United Nations in Paris when the Genocide Convention was discussed.”
At the end of the article, Lemkin asserted, “One million Armenians died, but a law against the murder of peoples was written with the ink of their blood and the spirit of their sufferings.”
Fast forward to 2007. The Anti-Defamation league, an organization that has tirelessly spoken out and acted against Holocaust denial, as well as more recent acts of genocide from Eastern Europe to Darfur, continues to speak with ambiguities about the Armenian genocide and oppose Congressional legislation affirming the historical record, considering it “counterproductive.”
Days after the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, was confronted on the issue, he wrote a letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan “to express our sorrow over what we have caused for the leadership and people of Turkey in the past few days.”
Countless Jewish organizations, scholars, journalists, bloggers and activists have come out fiercely to criticize the ADL’s hypocrisy. They have all asked the right question – What would Lemkin do? – and have come up with the right answer, thus honoring Lemkin’s legacy.
Perhaps rather than rushing to appease the Turkish government, the ADL would do well to ask the right question, too.
Khatchig Mouradian is an Armenian journalist, poet and translator based in Boston. He is the editor of the Armenian Weekly.
By JENNIFER MANN
The Patriot Ledger
SCITUATE - A Scituate selectman has called for the town to withdraw from the Anti-Defamation League’s No Place for Hate program because of the group’s position on the Armenian genocide.
If a majority of the selectmen agree, Scituate will become the latest local community to pull out of the No Place program to rebuke the ADL, which has not explicitly denounced as genocide the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks. That killing began during World War I.
Last week, Newton became the fourth Massachusetts community to sever ties with the league.
Scituate Selectman John Danehey raised the issue during the selectmen’s meeting Tuesday night. Because it was not an agenda item, selectmen limited the discussion and decided to vote on the matter in two weeks.
Danehey, whose children are part-Armenian and whose wife’s Armenian grandmother survived the genocide, said sending a message was important.
Scituate joined the No Place for Hate program within the last two years. The program asks local communities to take steps against hate crimes and bias.
‘‘I’m not saying we should not have a No Place for Hate program, but I think we should continue it in our own way,’’ Danehey said.
Armenian leaders have called on communities to separate themselves from the ADL until the organization recognizes the mass killings.
Under mounting public pressure in recent weeks, the league’s national director, Abraham Foxman, called the massacre ‘‘tantamount to genocide.’’ The group stopped short of endorsing a congressional resolution calling it genocide.
Transmitted Wednesday, September 26, 2007
By Steven Ryan
Tue Sep 25, 2007, 01:13 PM EDT
Needham - Dialogue between the Human Rights Committee and local Armenian-Americans apparently broke down at a meeting Thursday night, Sept 20.
Frustrated descendents of the Armenian Genocide walked out on the committee when it appeared unlikely it would recommend suspending ties with the Anti-Defamation League before the national organization discusses its stance on the genocide at its annual meeting in November.
“A month has gone by, and we’re no further along,” said Charles Sahagian of Hunting Road, before walking out. “We, the discriminated, sit here for word from the perpetrator. For shame what has transpired. [The committee] has forfeited its right to represent me on human rights issues.”
The Needham Human Rights Committee sent a letter in early September expressing the town’s intention to end participation in ADL programs — including No Place for Hate, which the organization co-sponsors with the Massachusetts Municipal Association — if the organization doesn’t unequivocally recognize the Armenian Genocide and support Congressional legislation doing the same.
The genocide, which the Turkish government denies, saw the mass deportation and murder of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during the World War I era. The ADL has yet to respond to the letter.
“We have to give other people time to respond,” said committee member Sandra Walters. “It’s a process.”
The committee agreed to follow up with the ADL to confirm receipt of the letter and to send a second letter clarifying that the November meeting would be the tipping point for when they would make a decision on whether they would sever ties.
There was also a motion before the committee, set forth by committee member Mark Smith, to instead suspend ties with the ADL until November and re-evaluate the situation then.
“The letter was the right thing to do,” Smith said. “Not hearing back, we should take the next step and not wait until November. My little No Place for Hate sweatshirt — I just can’t wear it anymore.”
The motion was voted down, with Smith and committee member Olly Harari casting dissenting votes.
“Is this a practical issue rather than a moral issue?” Harari said. “We need their programs, but they need us to be in their programs. We are a human rights committee, and we must listen to the people whose rights have been violated.”
Needham’s main involvement with No Place for Hate revolves around student-led activities at the high school during the month of March. The town also works with the ADL through the World of Difference anti-bullying program at Pollard Middle School.
Before the vote, the meeting teetered on the brink of chaos, as those in attendance interjected comments during the board’s discussion, believing eye contact and rhetorical questions from committee members were cues to respond.
“We agree with you on everything, except severing ties,” said committee Chairwoman Debbie Watters, which elicited groans from those in attendance. “We’re neighbors. This is the first time we’re dealing with something this controversial.”
Then, after offering to read the initial letter sent to the ADL for those who did not attend previous meetings, more people walked out.
“You can tell this is difficult for us,” Watters later said. “We would appreciate your respectful presence.”
After the meeting, Needham Armenian-Americans vowed not to attend the next Human Rights Committee meeting, tentatively scheduled for Oct. 10, and to appeal directly to the Board of Selectmen.
“This committee is not doing what it’s supposed to do,” said Dorothy Esperian of Great Plain Avenue.
The Massachusetts Municipal Association, the other co-sponsor of No Place for Hate, designated Needham a No Place for Hate town in 2000 through the Board of Selectmen. Selectmen could end that designation with or without input from the Human Rights Committee. Members of the board said they would not consider taking such unilateral action.
In the past two weeks, Newton and Belmont dropped out of the No Place for Hate program. Watertown, where the issue first took hold, was the first community to end ties, while Arlington, which had not yet been designated a No Place for Hate community, pulled out of the certification process.
“Are we going to be one of the last ones?” said Gary Najarian, of Lexington Avenue, before the committee voted Thursday night. “Are we going to fall in line or are we going to be leaders?”
Over the past couple of months, the ADL fired Regional Director Andrew Tarsy after he publicly acknowledged the Armenian Genocide. He was rehired on Monday, Aug. 27. In between the firing and rehiring, the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, issued a statement claiming the “consequences” of the tragic events of more than 90 years ago were “tantamount” to genocide. Armenians feel the wording circumvented acknowldegement of the genocide, and the ADL has not budged on not supporting the Congressional legislation.
Steven Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE DRAFT BILLS BROUGHT BEFORE THE US CONGRESS
24 Eylül 2007, Kaynak : ERAREN
The Congress is back in session after summer recess. It remains unknown whether or not the draft bills foreseeing the recognition of the so-called Armenian genocide introduced into both houses of Congress will take their place on the current affairs agenda. Certain Armenian sources state that the draft bills will be dealt with towards the end of this year.
Those supporting the draft bill at the House of Representatives have reached 226. Since 218 amounts for an absolute majority at the lower house, if the bill is brought to the floor many believe its adoption will be inevitable. By way of two separate endeavors, efforts have been exerted to preclude such a development from materializing.
In the first instance, Turkey has been persuading members of Congress and the American government (particularly White House circles) that the adoption of the bills in question would have an adverse effect upon Turkish-American relations. Apart from diplomatic channels, Prime Minister Erdogan and previous Foreign Minister Gul, alongside various establishments which have certain competences in the economic sector have also supported and directed efforts towards this end. To the best of our knowledge, there are no establishments nor distinguished personalities in Turkey who do not oppose these bills. Generally speaking this also follows suit for those liberal intellectuals who generally support Armenian views.
In the second instance, Jewish organizations in the U.S. have taken a stance against the bill in question. As a matter of fact, some of the most prominent of these organizations sent a letter to Congress stating that they do not support this bill. However, in an unforeseen turn of events, this letter could not preclude the bill from attaining an absolute majority and subsequently the support of 226 members. In other words, the endeavors undertaken by the Jewish community were not of much use. In the meantime as a result of a campaign launched by certain members of the Anti-Defamation League who joined hands with the Armenians, the chairman of the League Foxman stated that the events of 1915 were “tantamount to genocide”. That Foxman did not substantiate his words uttered to the end that the Jews in Turkey would be negatively affected if the bills were to be passed set off wrong impressions about Turkey and gave those supporting the bill a new trump card.
To counter these bills Turkey was unable to resort to scholarly studies proving that the events of 1915 do not amount to genocide. The main reason accounting for this situation is that the American general public believes in these genocide allegations as a result of the continual endeavors on the part of Armenians. Studies have been conducted and continue to be conducted in Turkey discrediting these allegations. Nonetheless they have not been published nor debated in foreign countries.
In conclusion, it appears that precluding the adoption of these bills is dependent upon the members of the U.S. Congress in particular acknowledging that such a development would deal a decisive blow to Turkish-American relations.
September 24, 2007
THE FIRST PARK parcel dedicated on the Rose Kennedy Greenway isn't a park in the conventional sense, but a plaza intended to serve as a gateway to Chinatown and a venue for dragon dances and other festive events. Chinatown residents wanted a plaza of decorative - but very hard - concrete with two raised swaths of greenery. That's what they got when it opened Sept. 12.
A different kind of hardening is taking place farther to the north in the central core of the Greenway, on a small parcel between the North End and Faneuil Hall Marketplace. If the Armenian Heritage Foundation gets its way, a memorial will be established that will be harder to alter than all the concrete in the Chinatown park.
A neighborhood meeting in the North End Wednesday laid out the difficulties of designing this space. Less than half an acre in size, it is supposed to be the pedestrian link between the new wharf district parks to the south, the existing Christopher Columbus Park, the North End, Quincy Market, and the proposed Boston Museum to the north.
People at the meeting were happy that plans for the parcel no longer included a building, as originally envisioned several years ago. They wanted green space, even though the North End will soon have the benefit of two new parks facing Hanover Street just north of the museum site. These are scheduled to open in October.
The Turnpike Authority is in charge of building all the Greenway parks, mainly because it had control of the space as it oversaw construction of the Central Artery tunnels, and because the City of Boston ducked an opportunity to take over the greenway once the artery was finished. In 2000, the Legislature ordered the authority to find a spot for the Armenian memorial somewhere in Boston, and with North End residents clamoring for a park on Parcel 13, it seemed a logical choice, especially since the Armenian Heritage Foundation would pay to build it.
But in June, Ian Bowles, the state secretary of energy and environmental affairs, said that the authority hadn't followed the proper procedures in selecting the foundation for the site, so the community meeting was held last week as part of a new approval process.
Based on remarks Wednesday, neighborhood residents like the memorial concept, which would create a labyrinth in the center of the park flanked by benches, a fountain, and an abstract sculpture commemorating the Armenian genocide. Some thought it would be attractive to children, others thought it would be a place for reflection, and no one spoke in opposition.
Somewhere in Boston, there ought to be a remembrance of this act of mass murder against Armenians in what is now Turkey. This need is highlighted by the recent controversy over the refusal by the Anti-Defamation League to acknowledge the genocide. (The national ADL director changed his mind after protests by Armenian-Americans.) But the issue of siting is another question. Parcel 13 is not the place for this memorial.
As the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy suggests, an Armenian memorial would set a bad precedent for any other groups that might want to put their stamp on the Greenway. The conservancy, which will take over maintenance of the parks in a few years, wants these open spaces welcoming to everyone, not divided into enclaves.
There's another reason to look twice at the proposal. For all the support it has initially gathered, no one knows how the park on Parcel 13 will really be used, and how the Armenian Heritage Foundation proposal will complement those uses. Will children play on the labyrinth, or will it be just a shortcut from the North End to downtown Boston? Will the proposed dodecahedron-shaped sculpture have enduring appeal or come to be widely disliked?
How will the memorial fit in with the abutting Boston Museum, an ambitious project to commemorate the history of eastern New England that requires enormous amounts of fund-raising? And if that doesn't get built, what will replace it, and how will Parcel 13 jibe with this alternative use? Once the foundation invests money and emotion into this site, is it reasonable to expect it would welcome any changes?
Nobody was asking these questions at the meeting Wednesday. The Turnpike Authority, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, and the Mayor's Artery Completion Task Force are trying to devise a compromise that will let the foundation build the park, but deemphasize some of the Armenian elements. Before they strike a deal, they all ought to remember that Parcel 13 and all the surrounding open spaces are a work in progress. No agreement should prohibit the park from a reconfiguration years or decades in the future if changes will result in a better Greenway.
The Chinatown Park, with its durable surface, seems set for eternity, and it is well designed to serve as a formal meeting space for the community. But perhaps at some point the neighbors will prefer a more conventional park. In the 1980s, the city took jackhammers to Copley Square to replace a hard, sunken pit with a greener space. Closer to Parcel 13, Christopher Columbus Park was rebuilt seven years ago to make it more inviting. Parks are meant to evolve, and there are no open spaces in greater flux than those at the heart of the Greenway, just where Parcel 13 is located. The Armenian genocide should be commemorated unambiguously in Boston. Just not here.
Genocide stance is called too weak
By Christina Pazzanese, Globe Correspondent September 23, 2007
Watertown Councilor Marilyn Petitto Devaney, who has pressed neighboring towns to drop out of the Anti-Defamation League's No Place for Hate program, is turning up the heat on a fellow councilor she says has not been tough enough with the ADL for its stance on the Armenian genocide.
Devaney is calling out fellow town Councilor Jonathan Hecht for his role in the Mass. Municipal Association's decision to remain associated with No Place for Hate, rather than sever ties with the program, as Belmont, Newton, and Watertown have done.
"Coming from Watertown, it's a shame he didn't push to withdraw" from the No Place for Hate program, she said. "The whole goal of this is to get the communities to withdraw."
Hecht, who represents District B on the Town Council and sits on Watertown's No Place for Hate committee, also serves on the MMA's executive committee and 35-member board of directors, and is vice president of the Mass. Municipal Councillors' Association, a panel under the umbrella of the MMA that is a co-sponsor with the ADL of No Place for Hate.
Hecht is also a researcher and manager of an international law program on human rights in China at Yale Law School .
The MMA executive committee recently drafted a statement that was voted by the board on Sept. 11, calling for the ADL's national leadership to recognize the killing of 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923 as genocide, and to support a resolution before Congress that officially acknowledges the slaughter as genocide.
The board stopped short, however, from ending its involvement with No Place for Hate. Instead, the board said it would "review and monitor" and "reevaluate" its sponsorship of the program in light of the actions the league takes in the coming months.
"It sends a very strong message what the MMA is expecting of the ADL," said Hecht, who acknowledged that some communities have taken a more aggressive stance in recent weeks, a decision he attributes to a difference in strategy.
"We're on the same side and we're all pushing for the same thing," he said.
Hecht said if the ADL has not "unequivocally" recognized the genocide and supported the congressional resolution after its national board meeting on Nov. 1, he will ask the board to consider ending its partnership altogether. " 'Tantamount to genocide' is not going to cut the mustard," Hecht said, quoting a characterization of the genocide made last month by ADL national head Abraham Foxman. Critics have called Foxman's statement inadequate.
"It's weak, it says nothing, and if you talk to the Armenian organizations, they are outraged," said Devaney, who tried twice to get the MMA board to sever ties completely and who believes Hecht "spearheaded" the MMA's statement. "This recommendation is not consistent" with what Hecht's fellow councilors and what other towns have done, she said.
Hecht denied taking any lead role in crafting the MMA statement.
He was out of town on Aug. 15 when the Watertown council voted to sever ties with the No Place for Hate program, but said he fully supports the town's actions and would have voted with his colleagues. "Watertown did the right thing," he said.
Hecht said the controversy has brought more attention to the No Place for Hate program and its benefits, and he hopes the town will find a way to continue the activities, even if under a different banner. "This is an opportunity to do it even better than before," he said.
The program isn't just some "feel-good, everyone sitting around singing 'Kumbaya' " affair, said Hecht, but an important part of community policing. "For me, that's what No Place for Hate is. It's real function is to improve public safety, to prevent violence and property damage," and to build communication between groups, he said. "It's very practical and that's why the MMA has been supportive."
Hecht said he doesn't deserve any special recognition for his part in what is a complicated dispute, adding, "This is an issue everyone should be coming forward and working to settle."
Christina Pazzanese can be reached at email@example.com.
CHICAGO - Turkey's strategic partnership with the United States are facing risks from the terrorist threat posed by the outlawed PKK in Iraq and resolutions pending in the US Congress on Armenian claims, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan has said.
Babacan, on a visit to the United States, said it was not possible to explain to the Turkish people why the PKK still launches attacks on Turkey from its Iraqi bases. There are at least 3500 PKK terrorists in Iraq and no single PKK militant has been captured or arrested by the US or Iraqi authorities.
"We expect the United States and the Iraqi government to take urgent and concrete steps in handing over the PKK terrorists to justice," Babacan said in a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs on Thursday, according to excerpts published by the Anatolia news agency.
Ankara has long been pressing the United States to take action to eliminate the PKK presence in Iraq and the lack of steps so far despite Turkish appeals is straining the two countries' decades-old alliance.
The situation is further complicated by two resolutions pending in the US Congress that urge the US administration to recognize Armenian claims. Armenians name the 1915 communal clashes as genocide while the Turks argue the reverse. According to the Ottoman archives more than 520.000 Turkish, Kurdish and Jewish civilian people were massacred by the Armenian nationalist groups during the First World War. Turkey accepts the Ottoman State's responsibility for the bad results yet Ankara has never accepted the genocide claims.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said a third party should not play the judge in a dispute like this and reminded that Armenian allegations have never been confirmed legally or historically.
"Slanders targeting Turkey have always showed up in the political arena," Babacan said in his speech.
"We want the US Congress to not take any side in historical matters like this and we want common sense to win in the end. This is a matter between Turks and Armenians and can be resolved by frank and sincere dialogue between the two sides."
Turkey's hopes that the resolutions will be blocked in the Congress received a major blow last month when an influential US Jewish group, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), revised its long-standing stance and said the World War I events amounted to genocide. Other Jewish groups still stick to their position of not supporting the Armenian claims.
In Chicago, Babacan met with representatives of US Jewish groups including the ADL and the American Jewish Federation. In the meeting, Babacan reiterated that passage of the resolutions would harm both Turkish-US relations and Turkish-Israeli relations. Representatives of the Jewish groups, including those of the ADL, insisted at the meeting that they were against the resolutions in the Congress. They also raised concerns over Iran's nuclear program, while Turkey said its recent energy deal with Iran should be considered as part of its policy of diversification of energy sources. In his speech at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Babacan said Turkey has been urging Iran to be transparent about its nuclear program and said Ankara could play a role in passing the international community's messages to Iran as well as Syria, emphasizing that isolating these two countries would be wrong.
The foreign minister also gave assurances that Turkey would continue its efforts to become a member of the European Union, saying Turkish membership will prove the clash of civilizations thesis to be wrong. He also said Turkey was in a process of fast transition, emphasizing that it is seeking to become the tenth biggest economy of the world by 2023 and that people are already speaking of Turkey as "Europe's China."
22 September 2007
Belmont and Newton Sever Ties with ADL
"The Armenian Weekly", Volume 73, No. 38, September 22, 2007
BELMONT, Mass.—On Sept. 17, the Belmont Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to sever ties with the No Place for Hate (NPFH) program and its sponsor, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The decision came after the Belmont Human Rights Commission (BHRC) met on Sept. 6 and formally recommended that the Board sever the town’s ties with the ADL.
The action by the Belmont Selectmen follows similar decisions by Watertown, Arlington and most recently Newton, which have also ended their involvement with NPFH. On Sept. 18, Newton mayor David Cohen decided to cease participation in NPFH following the recommendation of his own town’s human rights commission.
“We applaud the town of Belmont for standing up for truth and human dignity by rejecting ties with the ADL—an organization which has sadly disqualified itself as an effective spokesman for tolerance education through its position on the Armenian Genocide,” stated ANC Eastern Massachusetts spokesperson Dr. Aram Kaligian.
BHRC chairwoman Laurie Graham presented the Commission’s findings to the Selectmen at the Sept. 17 town hall meeting, which attracted over 100 local residents of Armenian, Jewish and diverse backgrounds. Graham stated that “although No Place for Hate in and of itself is a positive program with a commendable mission statement, we cannot justify supporting it if the program’s creator and sponsor, the ADL, continues to support what we regard as genocide denial.”
Graham emphasized that the “tip of the pyramid of hatred” is genocide. In the BHRC letter to the ADL Graham asked, “How can we, in good faith, ask our community to work at the base of this same pyramid while the No Place for Hate sponsor is actively working against congressional, international recognition of the Armenian genocide?”
The Board of Selectmen decided to break the BHRC’s recommendation into two parts: the first, unconditionally severing ties with the ADL, was passed unanimously; however, the second part, asking the ADL to support HR106 as a condition for reinstatement was defeated 2-1, despite vocal support for the measure.
Selectman Paul Solomon spoke adamantly about the importance of urging support for Congressional Armenian Genocide reaffirmation. “This is where it all starts; this is what the grassroots is all about. If we have enough communities petitioning not only the Congress but representatives of national organizations, they will listen,” explained Solomon. “That’s why I would not be in favor of deleting the last part of the statement [asking ADL to support H.Res.106]. I strongly urge that my colleagues go along with it.”
Two of the Selectmen, Chairman Angelo Firenze and Selectman Dan Leclerc, disagreed. Leclerc said that he wasn’t elected to comment on “our senators’ and congressmen’s jobs.” “It’s above my pay-grade, so to speak,” he said.
The mayor of Newton issued the following statement:
On Sept. 11, the Newton Human Rights Commission had unanimously approved a motion recommending that the City of Newton to “cease participation in the NPFH program until national ADL takes definitive action consistent with the objectives stated in the Commission’s letter to Mr. Foxman dated August 24, 2007.”
After careful consideration I will adopt the Newton Human Rights Commission’s recommendation. I will ask the Human Rights Commission to meet in November, after the national ADL meeting, to determine whether their objectives have been met.
The recognition of the Armenian Genocide is an important step along the path of freedom and justice, and crucial in combating other genocides now and in the future.
The City of Newton recognizes all that the New England chapter of the ADL has done to bring about a change national ADL policy on the Armenian Genocide, and we stand behind their efforts to change their policy at the national ADL meeting in November.
Over the last seven years, the ADL’s No Place For Hate program has helped bring informative forums and events to our citizens that have strengthened our ties with one another, and made our City a better place. We hope for the day when national ADL leadership fully and unequivocally embraces the objectives stated in the August 24th letter, and the City of Newton can again participate in the No Place For Hate program.
David B. Cohen
Mayor of Newton
Fri Sep 14, 2007, 04:14 PM EDT
WATERTOWN, MA - Devaney to host public meeting on ADL Thursday
An open letter to the citizens of Watertown: I am inviting you to a public meeting, which I am hosting at the Watertown Middle School on Thursday, Sept. 27, at 7:30 p.m. Please note this meeting has been changed from Wednesday with respect to the Jewish holiday. This meeting is intended to follow up on the proclamation (to withdraw from the ADL’s “No Place for Hate” program), which I presented to the Town Council on Aug. 14, 2007. I am thankful for the Council’s vote. I am grateful to all who attended, to those who eloquently spoke and for the beautiful cards and calls I have received. I extend my heartfelt thanks to each one of you.
Communities who have accepted the No Place for Hate program are invited, as well as Andrew Tarsy, ADL New England regional director. The day after the proclamation was adopted, the Council received a letter from him. In his letter, he expressed his strong opposition to the proclamation. In his letter he stated: “The people of Watertown, their children and grandchildren will no longer benefit from this well-respected and highly successful national program created by ADL to promote the reduction of prejudice, bias, bigotry and hatred of all kinds.” (I do want to recognize Mr. Tarsy for his reversal in accepting the reality of the Genocide.)
It is ironic, in recalling Mr. Tarsy’s letter — it is the ADL that has been practicing prejudice, bias and bigotry for years by denying the Armenian Genocide and, most egregiously, opposing resolutions before Congress to recognize this atrocity. The National ADL recently stated that if there was a word for genocide at that time, it would be tantamount to genocide, but it would be counterproductive to have a resolution passed in Congress.
Years ago, when a resolution was passed in Congress recognizing the unthinkable extermination of 6 million Jews, who would say that it was counterproductive? The systematic, premeditated and deliberate murders of more than 1.5 million Armenians must finally be recognized by a Congressional resolution. The Armenian people have been deprived of a right to their history.
Some have said that communities should stay with the ADL and that this is an Armenian issue — that the Armenians should revisit this issue with the Turks. Would we ask the Jews to revisit with the Nazis?
My goal in writing the proclamation was threefold:
1. To work to get all 59 communities who are in the ADL’s No Place for Hate to withdraw from the program.
2. To have the Mass Municipal Association, which was established to advocate for towns and citizens, withdraw its sponsorship with the ADL until such time as the National ADL publicly supports the resolution in Congress. (The ADL has been working behind the scenes to defeat past resolutions through the years.)
3. The most important goal — is that we all have “one united voice” demanding that the National ADL stand with us for successful passage of the pending resolution in Congress. Anything less is unacceptable. This is the year we can prevail.
By Bryan Mahoney/Staff Writer
Fri Sep 21, 2007, 11:28 AM EDT
Lexington - Lexington’s No Place for Hate Committee is expected to make a report to the Board of Selectmen Monday after being asked by Armenian residents to break ties with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
Though no decision was made by the No Place for Hate Committee Friday, some members said they would lean toward discontinuing that affiliation while others were reluctant to do so without further investigating the ramifications of that decision.
“Being sponsored by the ADL is inconsistent with your mission to combat bias and hate,” said resident Laura Boghosian as she read from a statement. “While we applaud the efforts of those within the ADL working to overturn a despicable policy, we believe it is an internal matter for that body. Our town should not be involved in the internal politics of outside groups.”
Until Friday, the No Place for Hate Committee had not formally addressed the ADL’s partial acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Turks in the World War I era, or the ADL’s stance on a resolution in Congress to designate the genocide as such. Several surrounding communities have either suspended or severed their ties with the ADL’s No Place for Hate program since ADL regional director Andrew Tarsay was fired for acknowledging the massacre as genocide. He was later reinstated by national ADL director Abraham Foxman.
Hank Manz, the Board of Selectmen liaison to the committee, said the Armenian group would be first up during the public comment of Monday’s selectmen’s meeting. He said the board would first like to hear from the No Place for Hate Committee on its meeting and what will be its next steps.
Committee member David Horton felt this group should give a recommendation whether it should remain active with the ADL or cut its ties. The Board of Selectmen gave the official approval for the No Place for Hate committee in 1990.
“I’m tilting toward leaving ADL,” Horton said.
No Place for Hate chairman Jill Smilow, who has been with the group since its inception, has said there is no “death grip” from the national ADL on the issue. As such, No Place for Hate can still carry on its human-rights mission without severing a relationship that has many benefits, she said.
Olga Guttag, also a member of No Place for Hate, had misgivings about a local organization’s affiliation with any national one — not just the ADL — if it means a local group must adopt national positions.
“Local is local. We don’t want to inherit anybody’s agenda,” she said.
The Board of Selectmen meets Monday, Sept. 24 in the Selectmen’s meeting room at Town Hall, 1625 Massachusetts Ave.
A fourth Massachusetts town has broken with the ADL because of its position on the Armenian genocide.
The mayor of Newton, David Cohen, announced Tuesday that his city was withdrawing from the Anti-Defamation League-sponsored No Place for Hate program until the organization definitively recognizes the World War I massacres of Armenians as genocide, the Boston Globe reported. Newton is an affluent suburb with a large Jewish population.
The ADL reversed its longstanding position on the genocide question last month under intense pressure from its New England regional leadership. After years of claiming it could not make a judgment on whether the massacres constituted a genocide, ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said the consequences of the massacres were indeed "tantamount to genocide." The ADL continues to oppose a congressional resolution recognizing the genocide.
Communities in Boston's western suburbs, home to one of the country's largest Armenian communities, have reacted with outrage. Three Massachusetts towns -- Watertown, Arlington and Belmont -- moved to sever ties with No Place for Hate, an anti-bigotry program.
On Sept. 11, the Newton Human Rights Commission voted unanimously to recommend ending their city's participation. The ADL is scheduled to reconsider its position at a national meeting in November.
By Steven Ryan
Thu Sep 20, 2007, 12:00 AM EDT
The Needham Human Rights Committee’s letter to the Anti-Defamation League criticizing the national organization’s controversial stance on the Armenian Genocide spoke volumes, according to members of the Board of Selectmen.
“I think it was an exceptional letter,” said Selectman John Bulian.
Selectman Jack Cogswell felt the Human Rights Committee’s letter to the ADL was a strong course of action, expressing the town’s feeling that the ADL must back Congressional legislation recognizing the mass deportation and murder of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during the World War I era, as genocide.
“In our opinion, the longer the national board waits, the more credibility the organization loses, and the more difficult it is for us as a committee for human rights to carry on our work with the ADL,” wrote Human Rights Committee Chairwoman Debbie Watters.
Needham’s main involvement with No Place for Hate revolves around student-led activities at the high school during the month of March.
“I support precisely what it was [Watters] said in the letter,” Cogswell said.
The Board of Selectmen, which has the final say on Needham’s involvement with the ADL-co-sponsored No Place for Hate program, has no plans to overstep the Human Rights Committee in their handling of the controversy, according to board members.
The Massachusetts Municipal Association, the other co-sponsor of No Place for Hate, designated Needham a No Place for Hate town in 2000 through the Board of Selectmen. Selectmen could end that designation with or without input from the Human Rights Committee. Members of the board said they would not consider taking such unilateral action.
“We’re not going to,” Cogswell said. “We’re waiting for a recommendation from the Human Rights Committee.”
The ADL first came under fire in Watertown, where the Town Council ended its involvement with No Place for Hate, citing the ADL’s alleged denial of the Armenian Genocide. The Turkish government rejects the characterization of events as genocide.
Over the past couple of months, the ADL fired Regional Director Andrew Tarsy after he publicly acknowledged the Armenian Genocide. He was rehired on Monday, Aug. 27. In between the firing and rehiring, the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, issued a statement claiming the tragic events of more than 90 years ago were “tantamount to genocide,” a statement many in the Armenian-American community feel falls short. The ADL does not support the Congressional legislation.
“What does ‘tantamount to genocide’ mean?” said Charles Sahagian, of Hunting Road, at a meeting of the Human Rights Committee earlier this month. “Isn’t it genocide?”
Bulian said the Human Rights Committee is “taking the right course,” reiterating his personal view that “there absolutely was a genocide.”
“I support the Congressional resolution,” Bulian said.
Selectman Jerry Wasserman, who is on the board of the MMA, believes the Human Rights Committee’s approach could be more effective than just taking immediate action and severing ties with the organization. The national ADL will hold its annual meeting in November, at which it plans to discuss the organization’s position on the Armenian Genocide and on the legislation.
“The advantage of not pulling out before then is it puts more pressure on them to change their position,” Wasserman said. “Needham, combined with the MMA and other communities [taking this course of action] will have that influence.”
The MMA issued a proclamation last week supporting the Congressional legislation on the Armenian Genocide, calling it “an essential act to heal and bring parties together.” But the MMA didn’t sever ties with the ADL, saying it would “subsequently re-evaluate its official sponsorship of the No Place for Hate program after the national ADL determines whether to adopt the position taken by the Executive Committee of the New England Region.”
Selectman Dan Matthews joined his fellow selectmen in throwing his support behind the Human Rights Committee, feeling the committee is “taking a sound approach” with its letter.
“The town’s approach is patient but persistent,” Matthews said. “The issue is new to us in town government. [The ADL] is a national organization, a good organization. It’s a good organization that made a bad decision.”
Steven Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Massachusetts Municipal Association
Whereas the Massachusetts Municipal Association believes that in order to build and nurture strong and vibrant communities throughout the commonwealth and our nation, it is essential that all people strive to promote and protect basic human rights, understanding and reconciliation; and
Whereas this applies to both historical and present-day events, as each affects and guides the future:
Therefore the Massachusetts Municipal Association hereby resolves the following:
· The tragic events and horrible crimes against humanity initiated against the Armenian people by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 must be recognized by all as genocide;
· The MMA applauds and supports the position of the New England Regional Director and New England Regional Executive Committee of the ADL for their leadership in calling for the unequivocal recognition of the Armenian Genocide and support for the Congressional Resolution before the U.S. House and Senate;
· The MMA partnered with the New England Region of the ADL as a founding sponsor of the NPFH Program because of the region’s demonstrated expertise and commitment as a human rights organization that provides high-quality community-based programs that unite people;
· The MMA applauds the success of the No Place For Hate Program in 60 communities in Massachusetts and expresses its desire that the program and its good work promoting tolerance, understanding and reconciliation, fighting hatred, racism, ethnic and religious discrimination, and engaging in both community-building and pro-active efforts to protect all members of the community, will be able to continue and flourish;
· The MMA recognizes and appreciates the national ADL’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the reinstatement of the New England Regional Director, a respected, dedicated, compassionate and skilled leader and partner in community-based work, yet sees these as steps in addressing the issues that have been raised during the past month, not final actions;
· The MMA respectfully calls on the national ADL to support the Congressional Resolution as the essential act to heal and bring all parties together; and
· The MMA will continue to review and monitor this matter, guided by the wishes and policies of our members and the participating communities, recognizing that while progress has been made, the MMA will subsequently re-evaluate its official sponsorship of the No Place for Hate program after the national ADL determines whether to adopt the position taken by the Executive Committee of the New England Region.
By Ian B. Murphy/Staff Writer
Thu Sep 20, 2007, 05:43 AM EDT
To date, Lexington’s No Place for Hate committee has not formally addressed the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) partial acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Turks in the World War I era, or the ADL’s stance on a resolution in Congress to designate the genocide as such.
That will change Friday morning, when Lexington’s No Place for Hate committee meets for the first time since their summer adjournment in June. The committee, made of more than a dozen citizens and members from various community organizations, will hear from Armenian residents who want the committee to cut its ties with the ADL.
In the last month, several surrounding communities including Belmont, Arlington and Newton have either suspended or severed their ties with the ADL’s No Place for Hate program because of the ADL’s stance.
“Until the ADL advocates recognition for the Armenian genocide in the U.S. congress, I would advocate severing ties,” said Roger Hagopian, an Armenian-American resident who has lived in Lexington for 16 years. “This is something that should be acknowledged.”
Hagopian, an amateur filmmaker that has created several documentaries on the subject, is a member of a group of Armenian-Americans living in Lexington that feel the No Place for Hate program’s affiliation with the ADL are no longer appropriate. They recognize the great work that No Place for Hate has done in town, but cannot reconcile the ADL’s position on the genocide.
“They really have done great work over the years,” said Michael Kouchakdjian, another Armenian-American resident. “The problem is not with No Place For Hate. … It’s just that link [to the ADL] that has really given rise to the hypocrisy. I would have expected the No Place for Hate committee, once this issue came up, to quickly do an evaluation and see that the link with ADL is inappropriate considering the mission of the committee and do something about that.”
Jill Smilow, the committee’s chairman, said the group’s response has not been quick because it does not want to rush to judgment. According to Smilow, the committee has been communicating internally and gathering as much information as possible.
“There is a lot of conversation and questions going back and forth [between the committee],” said Smilow. “We’re trying to be deliberate to figure out how best to have dialogue [with community members], and how to respond, and to do what’s right for our community.”
Smilow is also on the regional board of directors for the ADL. She said people should look at the fact that the New England regional ADL has acknowledged the genocide, a move that got its director, Andrew Tarsay, fired (he was later reinstated after much public pressure on the ADL). She also said other communities, such as Duxbury, have reaffirmed their support for the No Place for Hate program.
Smilow doesn’t believe that ADL’s national policy needs to affect how Lexington’s No Place For Hate committee conducts its business.
“The idea that there is the sort of death grip on all of us from national ADL is false,” said Smilow. “I don’t feel it. What I do feel is the need to hear from our Armenian residents. I’m grateful for the Armenians in Watertown who brought this to the forefront. On the flip side, I’m so sad that there isn’t No Place For Hate in their community [anymore].”
Without speaking for the rest of the group, Smilow felt Lexington’s committee could provide a forum for community discussion and education about the Armenian genocide.
“At the heart of it is this incredible moral issue, and that to me the most important thing is that in Lexington our community understands why this is such an issue and why it hurts our Armenian-American neighbors,” she said.
Hagopian has tried to educate Lexington about the genocide through his films. Last April, he showed a documentary called “Memory Fragments from the Armenian Genocide” to a group of 500 students at Lexington High School.
Hagopian and Kouchakdjian both appreciate that the regional ADL has acknowledged the genocide, and that Tarsay is to be commended for his stand against the national position. However both still feel that any connection to a national organization that denies the genocide is unacceptable.
“I am very pleased with the support we have received from the Jewish community and beyond on this issue,” said Hagopian. “[But the ADL] is not willing to go far enough and put themselves on a line where the country of Turkey can see them as a supporter of recognition of this in front the Congress. Tarsay is a good man, but the regional group is tied to ADL, and the organization has not gone far enough.”
Kouchakdjian feels that No Place for Hate in Lexington can continue with its successes without its connection to the ADL.
“[Lexington has] got so many good people, and it’s such a progressive town,” he said. “I’m not sure what ADL supplies here. It’s not organizations, it’s people [that do the good work].”
The group will meet at 8 a.m. Friday, Sept. 21 in the Selectmen’s Meeting Room at Town Hall.
Thu Sep 20, 2007, 06:00 AM EDT
Lexington - This Friday, Lexington’s No Place for Hate steering committee will host its first official meeting since August, when Watertown severed its ties with No Place for Hate, a program sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), over the league’s ambiguous position on the World War I-era massacre of 1.5 million Armenians in present-day Turkey.
Since then Arlington, Belmont, and other Massachusetts communities have suspended or nullified their involvement in the No Place for Hate program.
The Lexington committee will meet this week with representatives of Lexington’s Armenian population, who have asked the town also cut its ties with the ADL. While there are benefits to the association with the ADL, it doesn’t need that association to be effective.
The No Place for Hate committee is most effective on the local, grassroots level. It can continue that without the troubling association with the ADL.
Lexington’s No Place for Hate group started eight years ago. Its steering committee is a dynamic mix of lay leaders, clergy, elected officials and residents. Lexington was one of the first communities to participate in the program, according to Jill Smilow, chairman of Lexington’s No Place for Hate committee.
It has helped secure about $7,000 in grants for diversity training workshops, civil discourse training and programs recognizing Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Each year, the Lexington steering committee participates in a regional conference of No Place for Hate groups, allowing it to hear about regional issues.
Smilow said its agenda is to be sure everyone has a voice. It has held study circles to address challenges and issues specific to Lexington and its ability to foster and promote dialogue within town is paramount to its value here. It also provides a somewhat intimate forum for people from all walks of life — a police chief, a minister, a selectman, a housewife — to share ideas and talk about the issues of the day.
It is in this local role that No Place for Hate serves the town best. Its inclusive, non-partisan forum fills a communication hole left when regular folks are too busy or too timid to bring social issues to the forefront of Lexington’s larger committees, or Board of Selectmen, or Town Meeting. It has a more active role in promoting tolerance than other groups handling the myriad issues expected of government.
Speaking just for herself, Smilow said the fact there was genocide is “unequivocal.” But Smilow, an active member of the regional ADL, says there is value in remaining with the ADL’s network and the best way to affect change is to remain within its ranks.
Lexington’s very lucky to have her working to achieve that. It does not, however, need the entire committee to remain with the group in order to accomplish this. By not suspending its involvement or cutting it completely, the No Place for Hate committee could promote the type of rift in town it is supposed to prevent.
By Laura Boghosian
Thu Sep 20, 2007, 05:40 AM EDT
Lexington - Can a program that combats hate crimes be sponsored by an organization engaged in genocide denial?
Not according to Boston-area No Place for Hate communities that have cut ties with the program sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, due to that organization’s refusal to recognize unambiguously the Armenian Genocide.
Last month, Watertown’s Town Council voted unanimously to withdraw from the NPFH program. Arlington’s NPFH steering committee also voted to suspend its involvement.
Belmont’s Human Rights Commission next voted unanimously to recommend their Board of Selectmen sever ties. Likewise, Newton’s Human Rights Commission voted unanimously “to immediately cease participation” until the ADL “unequivocally recognizes the Armenian Genocide and actively supports” a congressional resolution affirming the genocide.
Several other communities are debating withdrawing.
Concerned town residents are asking Lexington also sever its association with the No Place for Hate program.
During “the first genocide of the 20th century,” 1.5 million Armenians were massacred beginning in 1915 by the Ottoman Turkish government; survivors were exiled from their ancient, ancestral homeland. Many of the genocide’s perpetrators later held high government positions in the new Republic of Turkey. Turkey denies it committed genocide against the Armenians.
Yet the word “genocide” was coined by Rafael Lemkin, a Polish-Jewish lawyer, who said he “became interested in genocide because it happened to the Armenians” and the Turkish “criminals were guilty of genocide and were not punished.” This travesty emboldened Hitler: he justified his invasion of Poland by asking his generals, “Who today, after all, speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
In 1997, the world’s foremost organization of genocide experts, The International Association of Genocide Scholars, unanimously passed a formal resolution that affirmed the Armenian Genocide. Responding to a 2005 call by the Turkish prime minister for “impartial study by historians,” the IAGS branded this not scholarship, but propaganda, in order “to absolve the perpetrator, blame the victims, and erase the ethical meaning of this history.”
Numerous countries, including Canada, France, Russia, Sweden, Italy, Argentina, Lebanon, and Germany have formally recognized the Armenian Genocide; in Switzerland, it is a crime to deny it.
Currently, there are resolutions before Congress to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Similar resolutions have been blocked for years by Turkey and American Jewish organizations, including the ADL.
Numerous reports in the Jewish press detail the ADL’s lobbying against recognition, including efforts earlier this year after meeting with Turkey’s foreign minister.
As the ADL’s position on the Armenian Genocide became widely known, the local Jewish community and others engaged in human rights work strongly supported Armenians. Pressure from the ADL’s New England region and its director forced the ADL to reevaluate its stance on the genocide.
Thus, on Aug. 21, the ADL announced, “We have never negated but have always described the painful events of 1915-1918 perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians as massacres and atrocities ... the consequences of those actions were indeed tantamount to genocide.”
This cleverly worded statement, however, is not an acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide. First, there is the qualifier “tantamount.” More critical, however, is the word “consequences.” The international legal definition of genocide rests upon “intent.” Turkey acknowledges many Armenians died as a consequence of World War I conditions. It denies, however, there was an intentional policy of genocide. With its duplicitous phrasing, the ADL abets Turkey’s genocide denial.
Further, the ADL reiterated its refusal to support the congressional resolution recognizing the genocide, calling it “a counterproductive diversion.”
On Aug. 23, echoing Turkey’s call for “impartial study,” the ADL suggested “further dispassionate scholarly examination” of the genocide. Would the ADL advocate this with Holocaust deniers?
Clearly, the ADL has not changed its egregious behavior.
In fact, the Turkish press reports the ADL wrote to Prime Minister Erdogan, expressing its sorrow for the discomfort the so-called acknowledgement caused Turkey’s leadership and people. Erdogan announced, “The wrong step that has been taken is corrected … They said they shared our sensitivity and expressed the mistake they made [and] will continue to give us all the support they have given so far.”
Which brings us back to Lexington and its No Place for Hate program. There can be no doubt that Lexington’s group of dedicated volunteers has done extremely valuable work in our community.
Yet this crucial work is compromised by its ADL association. Genocide denial is the final stage of genocide. An organization that engages in genocide denial does not have the moral authority to sponsor a human rights organization. After all, rights must be for all, not just for some.
Lexington is a caring community that abounds with intelligent, active citizens. There is no reason we cannot independently, through a town-sponsored committee, continue human rights work without the baggage that comes with ADL sponsorship. Lexington should do the right thing and join our neighbors in severing ties with the ADL.
Laura Boghosian is a resident of Russell Road.