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  • 20


     
    Mass: Antibias effort stirs anger in Watertown
    News; Posted on: 2007-08-03 00:31:33 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    Debate focuses on genocide

    One For The Haters

    By Keith O'Brien, Globe Staff | August 1, 2007

    WATERTOWN -- As far as town proclamations go, the one that declared Watertown a No Place for Hate community in July 2005 seemed like a pretty innocuous one. The goal was to celebrate diversity and challenge bigotry. And the program, in place in 67 Massachusetts communities and hundreds of others nationwide, has generated very little controversy elsewhere.

    But that has not been the case in Watertown. In recent weeks, the town that bills itself as No Place for Hate on a sign outside Town Hall is abuzz with anger and frustration, especially among the large Armenian population. At issue is not the program itself, but the group behind it, the Anti-Defamation League, and in particular the ADL's refusal to acknowledge the Armenian genocide at the hands of Turks during World War I.

    "It's kind of the worst hatred to deny genocide," said Nayiri Arzoumanian, a woman of Armenian heritage who has lived in Watertown for eight years. "It's the worst kind of hypocrisy."

    The debate began in letters to the editor of the Watertown Tab newspaper and has pitted Watertown Armenians against the ADL's national director, Abraham H. Foxman. Now what was once considered a positive civic effort, declaring Watertown No Place For Hate, finds itself at the center of a debate burdened by divisive international history and politics.

    For decades, Armenians have fought to get the Turkish government and other world leaders to recognize the deaths of as many as 1.5 million Armenians during World War I as genocide. The refusal of the ADL to support the Armenians, especially as they lobby Congress to recognize the genocide, has fueled the local war of words.

    Sharistan Melkonian -- chairwoman of the Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts, based in Watertown -- accused Foxman of engaging in "genocide denial" in an interview with the Globe. She said she will call for the Watertown No Place for Hate program to sever its ties with the ADL unless it denounces Foxman's position and acknowledges the genocide.

    Full Article

    Mass: Watertown man wants no part of "No Place For Hate" program
    News Source: Boston Globe

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