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  • 14

    Genocide stance clouds future of 'No Place for Hate' program
    News; Posted on: 2007-08-14 13:37:04 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    "The subject ‘strikes the heart of every Armenian’"

    By Jillian Fennimore, Staff Writer
    GateHouse News Service

    Town Council may sever or suspend Watertown’s ties to the “No Place for Hate” program amid questions about the stance toward the Armenian Genocide of the program’s co-sponsor, the Anti-Defamation League.

    According to Will Twombly, co-chairperson of Watertown’s “No Place for Hate” committee, all options are on the table, including removing its services from the town altogether.

    Twombly said his committee would be meeting with members of the ADL soon to ask some “very serious questions.”

    “We are certainly very disturbed with what we perceive to be the ADL’s stance on the [Armenian] genocide,” he said. “We do feel the need to take some decisive action. The question is what.”

    Controversy began last month when the TAB & Press published a letter that highlighted statements from ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, that Congress should play no role in recognizing the Armenian Genocide. Some have classified his words as “genocide denial” regarding what most historians agree was a campaign waged against ethnic Armenians by the Ottoman government during and after World War I. As many as 1.5 million Armenians died from 1915 to 1923.

    ADL representatives said the group has never denied the Armenian Genocide.

    “ADL has never denied what happened at the close of the First World War,” read a statement from ADL Regional Director Andrew Tarsy and Regional Board Chairman James Rudolph. “There were massacres of Armenians and great suffering at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. We believe today’s Turkish government should do more than it has done to come to grips with the past and reconcile with Armenians. We have said that to Turkish officials and we have said it publicly. ADL continues to believe this is the best way to proceed.”

    But there are many who are taking a stance against the ADL. A Web site — www.noplacefordenial.com — was created by an ad-hoc group of “Armenian-American activists” around town. The site has a petition for both “No Place for Hate” and Foxman to recognize the genocide publicly.

    Sharistan Melkonian, chairperson of the Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts, said Foxman’s statements on the Armenian Genocide are “disappointing and unconscionable.”

    “For the national director of the ADL, an organization with a 94-year history of dedication to eradicating anti-Semitism, bigotry and extremism, to plead ignorance about the Armenian Genocide is unfathomable,” she wrote in an e-mail. “.…if ADL is unwilling to publicly and unequivocally renounce its agenda, the Watertown Town Council should insist that NPFH sever its ties with ADL in order that NPFH continue the good work that is mandated without the unworthy baggage of Foxman’s unfortunate position.”

    State Rep. Rachel Kaprielian, D-Watertown, said she had a different opinion on the matter before hearing Foxman’s public statements.

    “I was deeply disturbed,” she said in response to the recent controversy. “I am now taking a position that we should divorce ourselves from [ADL]. [The Armenian Genocide] is a major subject that strikes the heart of every Armenian in the world. It’s my lifeline and my heartstrings. This has affected my family.”

    Full Article
    News Source: townonline

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