09/06 Bedford Minuteman: Armenian group urges No Place For Hate action

Armenian group urges No Place For Hate action
Patrick Ball
Thu Sep 06, 2007, 11:34 AM EDT

Bedford, Mass. - By Patrick Ball

Staff Writer
The present state of Anti-Defamation League affairs, regarding the organization’s national stance on the Armenian genocide, has some residents pushing for Bedford to revoke its ADL-sponsored No Place For Hate designation to become no place for denial.

A group of area Armenian-American advocates at-large Tuesday urged the Violence Prevention Coalition, which also serves at the No Place For Hate advisory committee, to server ties with the Anti-Defamation League until the organization unambiguously acknowledges the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during WWI was a genocide and supports Congressional affirmation of the genocide as such.

The committee No Place For Hate “should not wait for the ADL” to reevaluate their stance at their Nov. 1 meeting, because “waiting is showing tolerance toward hate,” said Berge Jololian, a Cambridge resident who’s followed this issue since July.

The Violence Prevention Coalition is a local advisory committee and No Place For Hate is one of the programs it advises on. Therefore, it is not within the committee’s purview to withdraw from No Place For Hate, said Committee Chairwoman Sue Baldauf. Any decisions regarding No Place For Hate would have to be made by the selectmen and Town Manager.

Baldauf, who is also the director of Bedford Youth and Family Services, informed the advocates she has been talking with the ADL about the issue, and that she would “love to have a local program to educate the community about the Armenian genocide.”

After discussion the Armenian appeal, the VPC voted to recommend selectmen to reconsider Bedford’s status as a No Place For Hate community because of the ADL’s ambiguous stance on the Armenian genocide.

“This is an emotional issue, and there is no precedent for a local group like this to take a stand on an international issue that I know of,” Baldauf said.

The No Place For Hate program’s stance relative to the ADL puts it in a precarious position, said Baldauf, emphasizing that the committee’s decision is “not a statement against the No Place For Hate program at all.”

A group of Bedford residents first came together after finding out the Armenian genocide issue would be discussed and “got the ball rolling based on the events in surrounding communities,” said Stephen Dulgarian, of Bedford.

The group is circulating a petition requesting that the No Place For Hate leadership “issues a public statement opposing Turkey’s state-sponsored campaign to deny the Armenian Genocide and call on its sponsor, the Anti-Defamation League, through its National Director Mr. Foxman, to openly and unequivocally acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and support congressional affirmation of this crime against humanity.”

Dulgarian said he is “pretty sure” the group plans to get on the selectmen’s Aug. 17 agenda.

From 1915 to 1923, Ottoman Turks massacred as many as 1.5 million Armenians. The Turkish government rebuffs the genocide label Armenians, historians, and some European nations use to characterize the killings.

This issue was brought to light by a July 6 letter in the Watertown Tab. Just over a month later, the Watertown Town Council decided to pull out of the No Place For Hate program in protest of the ADL’s refusal to recognize the massacre as genocide.

Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director, has flip-flopped on the issue in recent months. First, he refused to recognize the massacre as genocide and fired Andrew Tarsy, ADL’s New England regional director, for publicly opposing the organization’s national stance. Then, less than two weeks later, he acknowledged the Armenian Genocide and rehired Tarsy. Still, Foxman adamantly opposes a Congressional resolution. In an Aug. 21 press release, he said such a resolution would be a “counterproductive diversion” that could put both the “Turkish Jewish community and the important multilateral relationship between Turkey, Israel and the United States” at risk.

Source: http://www.wickedlocal.com/bedford/homepage/x942962286