11/08 Watertown Tab: ADL to take no action on Armenian Genocide

ADL to take no action on Armenian Genocide

By Jillian Fennimore, Staff Writer

Thu Nov 08, 2007, 12:08 PM EST

WATERTOWN - Last week the Anti-Defamation League decided to take no further action on the issue of the Armenian Genocide. But in Watertown, many are moving forward on educating and bringing light to the issue.

Former “No Place for Hate” Committee Co-Chairperson Will Twombly said there are no plans to rejoin with the regional or national “No Place for Hate” program, an umbrella organization under the ADL. The ADL has been under major public scrutiny for failing to unequivocally recognize the World War I-era deaths of 1.5 million Armenians as genocide.

Many local Armenians are airing their concerns about the national ADL’s decision, which was taken last week at a meeting in New York.

“It is disappointing,” said Sharistan Melkonian, chairperson of the Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts, which is based in Watertown. “Frankly, if the ADL didn’t purport to be a human rights organization whose mission is ‘to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike,’ they would be considered like any other narrowly defined advocacy organization. But they claim to be a human rights organization and as such, have come into our schools and towns. They teach our children. Yet they are certainly not securing justice and fair treatment for Armenian citizens.”

Since Watertown ended its ties with “No Place for Hate” in August, members of the former committee have joined forces with the World in Watertown — a local human rights group — to host a public forum on Nov. 28 called “Understanding Genocide and Its Impact.”

Twombly said the idea is to provide history, hear the words of survivors, realize the
effects of denial and discuss the current genocide crisis in Darfur.

“We want to give ideas of what people can do now,” he said.

The controversy over the ADL’s stance, 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.

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 then-Ottoman Empire’s actions “tantamount to genocide.”

But Foxman enraged many Armenians 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.

Source: http://www.wickedlocal.com/watertown/homepage/x481179685