09/13 Watertown Tab: MMA calls on ADL to recognize genocide

MMA calls on ADL to recognize genocide

Jillian Fennimore, staff writer

Thu Sep 13, 2007, 02:19 PM EDT

WATERTOWN, MA - At-Large Councilor Marilyn Devaney said fellow council member Jonathan Hecht has “sabotaged” the town’s efforts in sending a “No Place for Hate” message across the nation.

On Monday, the Massachusetts Municipal Association — a partner with the New England Region Anti-Defamation League and sponsor of the No Place for Hate program — came out with a statement “respectfully calling” on the national ADL to unequivocally recognize the Armenian Genocide by supporting a Congressional resolution.

But Devaney said that is not enough. She wants the MMA to completely cut its ADL ties.

Her finger is now pointed at Hecht, a District B councilor who also serves on the MMA’s board of directors.

“Jonathan [Hecht] recommended the very opposite of what Watertown voted for,” she said. “He helped draft a resolution that completely sabotaged our proclamation and the message that was sent all over the nation.”

In August, Town Council members unanimously pushed forward a proclamation — authored by Devaney — that ended the community’s relationship with the ADL and urged other “No Place for Hate” communities to follow suit.

The MMA should be doing the same, said Devaney.
“I believe it is important for the MMA to take a position regarding the ADL,” she said in a statement to the MMA Board of Directors. “I am requesting that the MMA withdraw from the ADL’s No Place for Hate until the National ADL expresses public support for the resolution pending in Congress recognizing the genocide.”

But Hecht said the MMA’s message alone is strong.
“The key thing is that we are all working for the same purpose here,” he said. “Individual communities are going to make up their minds whether to end their No Place for Hate committees or not.”

The controversy began after Newton’s David Boyajian wrote a letterto the TAB & Press in July, bringing light to the ADL’s stance, which some said amounted to denial of the World War I-era mass murders of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire.

Instead, National Director Abraham Foxman has called the massacres only “tantamount to genocide” and continued to oppose congressional legislation acknowledging it.

Geoff Beckwith, executive director of the MMA, said their statement speaks for itself in sending a “clear signal” to the national ADL.

In November, Beckwith said he hopes the national ADL will adopt the position of recognizing the Armenian Genocide like New England Regional Director Andrew Tarsy and the ADL’s New England Regional Executive Committee.

Until then, the MMA will “continue to review and monitor this matter” and subsequently re-evaluate its official sponsorship of the No Place for Hate program, despite their request to keep the programs running.

“This is a real opportunity to raise [the] level of awareness in Massachusetts and across the country,” said Beckwith.

Source: http://www.wickedlocal.com/watertown/homepage/x2033919145