11/14 Bedford Minuteman: ADL debate continues

ADL debate continues

By Patrick Ball, Staff Writer

Wed Nov 14, 2007, 02:26 PM EST

Bedford, Mass. - The “No Place For Hate” debate resumed last week, when the Violence Prevention Coalition unanimously voted last Tuesday to recommend to selectmen that Bedford suspend participation in the No Place For Hate program.

This decision came in the wake of The National Commission of the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) annual meeting, during which the ADL decided “to take no further action on the issue of Armenian Genociade,” according to a statement released Nov. 2.

“We are hoping that eventually something will change. We feel that this is a position that the ADL has taken that is contrary to their own mission statement and contrary to their values,” said Cathy Cordes, the selectmen’s liaison to the VPC. “This is not taking sides in a political issue – this is being true to our own mission.”

There was no discussion during the meeting about complete withdrawal from or severing ties from the program, according Cordes. “They asked for action. They didn’t ask for specific action. At the end of the meeting, they thanked us, and told us that they were pleased that we had listened to them,” she said.

“We’re very happy [with the VPC’s forthcoming recommendation],” said Michael Bahtiarian, a Bedford resident of Armenian descent who attended the VPC meeting last Tuesday. “My perception was that when they saw the nature of the ADL’s response, that it was time to take action.

“I was very proud that the town took such an apolitical solution. There was no ‘Let’s ask more questions. Let’s wait,’ Bahtiarian said. “I’m very happy, and I think it’s a great message.”

This issue is not new to Bedford, nor is it unique to the town.

Between 1915 and 1918, 1.5 million Armenians were systematically slaughtered by the Ottoman Turks. Much of the world has come to recognize this tragedy as genocide, but some, including the Anti-Defamation League, have not.

Communities throughout the state have withdrawn from or suspended participation in the ADL-sponsored No Place For Hate program. They oppose the ADL’s national stance that the systematic slaughter was “tantamount to genocide,” and the league’s opposition to a congressional resolution on the issue. In Bedford, residents of Armenian descent claim these actions are contrary to the mission of the No Place for Hate program.

On a national scale, however, the momentum built up earlier this year of the movement to gain recognition WWI massacre of Armenians came to a halt when the ADL on Nov. 2 issued a statement saying, “The National Commission of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today, at its annual meeting, decided to take no further action on the issue of Armenian Genocide.” Also, House Resolution 106, cited as the “Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide Resolution,” has been tabled.

Al Gordon, a spokesman for the New England Region of the ADL, said, “Since the national commission met, the ADL is having ongoing talks with officials in many communities.”

While the conversations proceed, Gordon said, the ADL will not comment publicly. “When there’s something to announce we’ll announce it,” he said.

Source: http://www.wickedlocal.com/bedford/homepage/x1149886250