09/22 Armenian Weekly: Belmont and Newton Sever Ties With ADL
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