ANCEM Letter to the Watertown Tab: Published on August 3, 2007

Letter: Foxman links a noble group with genocide denial
Submitted: July 27, 2007

The editorial, opinions, and letters to the editor over the last few weeks regarding the inclusion of “No Place for Hate” in our community are not only interesting, but also an important part of ensuring a world free of genocide.The Web site of the New England office of the Anti-Defamation League explains that the No Place for Hate Program “empowers communities to respect diversity and prevent and respond to hate crimes in their towns.”

Recent statements, however, by the ADL’s national director Abe Foxman opposing U.S. Congressional recognition of the Armenian Genocide — and worse, Foxman’s use of euphemistic language to deny the Armenian Genocide — runs counter to the fundamental tenets of No Place for Hate.

They also run counter to the ADL’s own charter, which, according to the ADL’s Website states that the ADL’s “ultimate purpose is to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike and to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens.”Genocide — whether committed by the Ottoman Turkish government in 1915, Germany’s Nazi Regime in 1939 or the Sudanese Government today — is the most extreme example of hate crime. For the parent organization of No Place of Hate, or rather the national director of that organization, to deny genocide, goes against the basic concepts of tolerance and respect for diversity the organization is working so hard to promote in our communities.

For the sake of its own program credibility in Watertown and throughout the Boston area, the No Place for Hate leadership must speak clearly against genocide denial by properly recognizing the Armenian Genocide and condemning genocide denial in all forms.Foxman does a disservice to the ADL in associating this noble organization with genocide denial. We can only hope that Boston’s No Place for Hate program leadership will not allow itself to follow in the same disgraceful path.

Sharistan Melkonian
Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts
Nichols Avenue
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2007.07.26 -- Watertown Tab: Letters to the Editor Published on July 26, 2007

The Watertown TAB
Watertown, MA

July 26, 2007

Letter: ADL: Issue of genocide is for Turkey and Armenia to resolve

Your editorial “Keep ‘No Place for Hate’” (July 20) is an important statement for why the Watertown community should retain and benefit from the Anti-Defamation League’s program for rejecting hate and bigotry. Watertown is one of hundreds of cities and towns across America that pledged to ADL to be a community where there is “No Place for Hate,” and there is deep commitment to promoting respect and understanding.

Unfortunately, the editorial mischaracterizes ADL on the issue of the Armenian Genocide Bill now before the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. Neither ADL nor our national director, Abraham H. Foxman, has lobbied against the legislation. Rather, when asked by media, we expressed an opinion that the issue was one to be resolved between the two countries — Armenia and Turkey.

There may be disagreement with our opinion, but, as you rightly say, getting rid of “No Place for Hate” is not the answer.

Andrew H. Tarsy
New England Regional Director
Anti-Defamation League

Letter: Good intentions sometimes fail

I respectfully disagree with your editorial “Keep ‘No Place for Hate’” (July 20). While the intentions of the Town Council were honorable when they adopted the Anti-Defamation League program, there is no way of avoiding that in doing so, they are also supporting that organization and its leader, Abraham Foxman.

His active role in blocking our country’s long-overdue recognition of the Armenian Genocide was an egregious act against Armenians, and it resonates particularly in this community. Watertown has been an “Ellis Island” for Armenians, and current census figures do not account for the thousands in surrounding towns and intermarriages that have ties to our town and the Armenian-American community.

The Town Council reaffirmed its participation in the program when the debate was free speech, and I surely hope that their good intentions have not painted them into a corner. Now that we know that this slogan salts the wounds of not just a small vocal minority, but a very large number in our community, why would we want to continue to inflict that pain?

Keeping the program actually creates or, at least, contributes to hate where there was none. The question is no longer whether the program is a good one, but whether we will stubbornly continue to hurt more people than we help.

Robert Fantasia
Main Street


Letter: 'No Place for Hate' does important work

I am writing today to highlight the important work of our local No Place for Hate program. No Place for Hate has worked collaboratively with the Watertown Youth Coalition Peer Leaders for more than two years to sponsor Diversity Day held annually at Watertown High School. Specifically, No Place for Hate provides funding, support, photography and displays, including video interviews with Watertown residents and a large historical, photographic display of Armenian people.

On March 28, the second annual Diversity Day was held at Watertown High School. The Watertown Youth Coalition peer leaders, No Place for Hate, Watertown High School, the Armenian Club at WHS and Wayside Multi-Service Center sponsored the event. More than 23 different languages were listed on a survey given that day, including Cantonese, Punjabi, Serbian, Arabic, Thai, Tibetan, Albanian, Turkish, Japanese, Armenian, French, African, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Vietnamese.

I think the importance of this event is summed up in the words of students. Their many wishes for the future included: “I think people should just get along, I wish everyone could look past all these things, say something when intolerance is used, don’t ignore it, tell people that racism is wrong, appreciate differences and see the good, interesting things people can contribute to society and community.” One student summed up Diversity Day by saying simply: “get along.”

In closing, the Watertown Youth Coalition Peer Leaders developed a rich community collaboration with the local No Place for Hate program and worked hard to create a successful Diversity Day at Watertown High School, making WHS a more welcoming environment for young people and contributing to the warmth and openness of the entire Watertown community.

Becket Rhodes
Youth Coalition
Peer Leadership Advisor


Letter: 'No Place for Hate' should sever ADL ties

By denying the Armenian Genocide, the Anti-Defamation League supports attempts to minimize and cover up this tragedy. Genocide is an internationally recognized hate crime. The No Place for Hate organization should sever its relationship with the ADL until the ADL practices what No Place for Hate preaches.

Joseph Dagdigian


Letter: 'Potato Famine' was really the 'Irish Holocaust'

I read with interest the letter to the editor from Mr. David Boyajian of Newton about the “Armenian Genocide” (July 6, “ADL works against recognition of Armenian genocide.”) I belong to the Ancient Order of Hibernians and several years back we organized, with several other ethnic groups, to pass a bill to teach in the Massachusetts school system the truth and recorded history of the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust and the “Potato Famine” of Ireland.

The bill was greatly helped at that time by state reps. Steve and Warren Tolman. The bill was unanimously approved by both committees and sent on to the then Speaker of the House, Tom Finneran. However, the Speaker of the House said he would not approve the bill to be mandatory, even though the vote of both committees was unanimous. It was passed only with the stipulation that if a local School Committee wanted it as part of their curriculum, they could use it. So there it sits, and no one is teaching the truth about these historical events.

Now to me as being of Irish ancestry, when people refer to the greatest human tragedy of the 19th century, where 1 million people died as a “famine” is an insult. We choose to call it “An Gorta Mor” or The Great Hunger. In 1845, a blight hit the potato crop in Ireland, the main food of the Irish table. This blight also hit the main continent of Europe. However, there was enough food in Ireland to feed 4 1/2 times the population, which was about 8 million plus.

Why did the Irish population not get this food that was available? Because it was exported out of the country and mostly to England. This was often done at gunpoint. People were literally dying in the street by the thousands. They couldn’t bury them fast enough. Most were buried in a common grave and lime was poured over them and then covered. Over 1 million died and more than 2 million more left Ireland for foreign countries, out of total desperation. Tens of thousands died on the “Coffin Ships” that sailed the Atlantic. Many who made it here to the United States were sent to quarantine stations where they perished.

Locally, Deer Island is a mass burying place where many are buried in common graves. The population of Ireland at that time was a little over 8 million and it was reduced to a little over 4 million because of An Gorta Mor, and it has never recovered to this day, where the population is still less than 5 million.

This was an “Irish Holocaust” not to be taught in the Massachusetts school system. This is a state where the Irish ancestry is the largest in the USA per capita. It represents about 25 percent of the population. In addition, this state has the second largest Armenian population next to California. It is a shame that both ancestries, Irish and Armenian, are not taught the truth and are ignorant of recorded history. It should be mandatory to teach the truth.

Dick MacDonald
Former Watertown resident


Letter: 'No Place for Hate' is an autonomous local group

In recent weeks, the No Place for Hate Program in Watertown has been the subject of many letters, as well as an editorial in this newspaper (July 20, “Keep ‘No Place for Hate.’) Some of the letters raise important questions about the program, which we would like to clarify.

The No Place for Hate program, originally established in 1999 by the New England Chapter of the Anti-Defamation League in partnership with the Mass. Municipal Association, now includes 65 cities and towns across the state. However, it is very much a local initiative. All program decisions are made within each individual community. In Watertown, we have a broad-based NPFH committee of residents, town officials and community groups.

In planning our programs, we seek to collaborate with other town organizations wherever possible. We have received program grants from Blue Cross Blue Shield through the ADL, from the Watertown Rotary Club and from the Helen Robinson Wright Fund of the First Parish Church. Some of our projects have included: a video and traveling exhibit celebrating multiculturalism in Watertown; assisting the Watertown High peer leaders in presenting their diversity days at the school; co-sponsoring the annual Unity Breakfast on Martin Luther King Jr. Day; and working with the World in Watertown to present two very successful forums on immigration issues.

Currently, the NPFH Committee, in partnership with Project Literacy, has embarked on a new translation project. The goal of this initiative is to provide essential information about local services for non-English-speaking residents, translated into a variety of languages. Information will range from how to get help in an emergency to how to navigate the MBTA. Today in Watertown, there are more than 25 different languages spoken in the homes of public school students, and Project Literacy’s services are in great demand, with long waiting lists of eager students.

Watertown has always been a welcoming community, as witnessed by our large and well-established Armenian and Greek populations, among others. In 1912, the Abraham Lincoln House was established in the East End to provide educational services to immigrants, and particularly to newly arrived Armenians. The No Place for Hate program is one of the ways in which we may continue this tradition, making sure that we remain open and welcoming for our hard-working and highly motivated new neighbors. They are here to stay, and our town will be stronger, richer and more peaceful if every citizen feels valued and respected.

Hopefully hate crimes will not occur in Watertown, but we must work to prevent them. Hatred often arises from fear, and that fear grows from unfamiliarity and lack of understanding. An important role of the NPFH program is to promote interaction and friendship between individuals and groups who otherwise might remain strangers, thus helping everyone to feel included in the community.

No Place for Hate is about basic human decency, about treating one another with respect, and about making an effort as a community to be welcoming to all. It is our hope that we may move forward together in Watertown, united by this vision, with a commitment to making all of our neighbors, regardless of where they are from or how long they have lived here, feel respected and valued. This is the true spirit of community that has, and will continue to make Watertown such a special place to live.

A number of recent letters to the TAB and Press have alluded to the Anti-Defamation League’s position with regard to the Armenian Genocide. The Watertown No Place for Hate Committee, as an autonomous local group, fully recognizes the indescribable tragedy of this horrific event. Our hearts go out to every family member of genocide victims. We hope that all who are inspired by their courage will work locally to prevent hate, and globally to combat and end further devastation in Darfur and other turbulent parts of the world.

For further information about the program, please call 617-926-8130, or Sgt. David Sampson at 617-972-6529.

Will Twombly
Sgt. David Sampson
Watertown No Place for Hate Committee
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2007.07.19 -- Watertown Tab: Letters to the Editor & Editorial Published on July 19, 2007

Watertown TAB & Press
Watertown, Massachusetts

July 19, 2007

The Anti-Defamation League is hypocritical to tout the Jewish genocide while denying the Armenian genocide. This makes all Jewish groups look hypocritical in regards to their Holocaust. Abraham Foxman and his genocide denying ADL are clearly racist and anti-Armenian, with total disregard to issues concerning human rights other than those concerning Jewish.
“No Place for Hate” needs to act rather swiftly before it loses credibility nationwide.
With deep sorrow,

Berge Jololian


I don’t understand how the Town Council can continue to support the controversial group known as “No Place for Hate” now that we know it is sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League (July 6 letter, “ADL works against recognition of Armenian Genocide”).
The Anti-Defamation League accuses people who deny the Holocaust of “hate;” but the ADL itself is guilty of the same type of hate when it helps Turkey to cover up the Armenian genocide.
It is blatant hypocrisy.

Lily Ordoubeigian
Concord Road


I was disappointed to learn that Watertown’s “No Place for Hate” organization is sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, which helps Turkey deny the Armenian genocide (July 6 letter “ADL works against recognition of Armenian genocide.”)
This violates everything that “No Place for Hate” claims to stand for.
It is also offensive to all citizens of Watertown, including its thousands of Armenian Americans. I believe that the Town Council must reconsider its endorsement of the “No Place for Hate” organization if it is going to serve as a front for another organization which has selective and contradictory goals.

Levon Karageuzian
Duff Street


Editorial: Watertown should keep ‘No Place for Hate’
July 19, 2007

It appears that the national head of the Anti-Defamation League lobbied against Congressional recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
And, understandably, this has stirred up some strong feelings right here in Watertown.

As you can see from a surge of letters to the editor, as seen on the opposite page, the action by the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, has some residents so furious that they are calling for an end to the Watertown’s participation in the ADL-sponsored “No Place for Hate” program.

Town councilors recently reaffirmed Watertown’s participation in the program, which aims to “provide communities with a solid framework for promoting an inclusive environment while fighting all forms of hate and bigotry,” according to its Web site.

But now, some say Watertown must respond to Foxman’s action by pulling the town out of “No Place for Hate.”

More than 8 percent of Watertown residents trace their heritage back to Armenia, according to the Census. The actual number may be higher. Certainly Watertown became a sanctuary for Armenians fleeing the World War I-era attempt by the Turkish government to wipe them out.

Turkey’s government continues to deny that the mass deaths of Armenians were the result of government policy. To Turkey’s great shame, it is still a crime to “insult Turkishness” by calling it what is clearly was: genocide. More than a million ethnic Armenians died in what was without doubt a program by the Turkish government to eradicate Armenians. Hitler publicly admired Turkey’s methods.

The Armenian Genocide bill, House bill 106, is now in the House Foreign Affairs Committee. There’s a similar bill in the Senate. The new Democratically controlled Congress appears to offer the best chance in years of putting the U.S. government on record as calling Turkey to account for its systematic campaign to eliminate Armenians.

So why in the world would the head of the ADL, an organization with a proud history of fighting anti-Semitism and racism, argue against U.S. government recognition of the Armenian Genocide?

Here’s what Foxman said, according to the L.A. Times:
“I don’t think a bill in Congress will help reconcile this issue. The resolution takes a position. It comes to a judgment. The Turks and Armenians need to revisit their past. The Jewish community shouldn’t be the arbiter of that history. And I don’t think the U.S. Congress should be the arbiter, either.”

It boggles the mind that the head of the ADL could actively work against recognition of a genocide, given the centrality of the Holocaust to the ADL’s work.

But Foxman’s line of thought isn’t different from that of other public figures from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to a wide range of members of Congress: As a moderate Muslim state, Turkey is an important U.S. ally. And Turkey may be the closest thing to an ally that Israel has among states with a Muslim majority. Pushing recognition of the Armenian Genocide could result in Turkey taking actions against U.S. and Israeli interests.

This “realpolitik” way of thinking envisions Turkish hardliners retaliating by, for instance, shutting down U.S. military bases in Turkey. The thinking goes: Israel still faces an existential threat from its neighbors, so keeping Turkey friendly is a greater good than righting a historical wrong.

But these considerations of geo-politics should be removed from the discussion about whether Watertown should participate in “No Place for Hate.”

While “No Place for Hate” has attracted a vocal minority of people who make the specious claim that it somehow muzzles free speech, the program itself is a good one. It’s a public statement that Watertown stands against bigotry and hate.

“No Place for Hate” was created by the ADL New England Region, in partnership with the Massachusetts Municipal Association. It has virtually nothing to do with Foxman’s national organization.

“The local ‘No Place for Hate’ is very committed to efforts to reinforce tolerance,” said Will Twombly, co-chairperson of the program’s Watertown committee. “We are not in any way part of efforts to deny the Armenian Genocide.”

Watertown shouldn’t pull out of “No Place to Hate” over Foxman’s hypocritical decision to work against governmental recognition of the Armenian Genocide. To do so would be “throwing the baby out with the bath water.”

The goals of “No Place for Hate” track well with the moral imperative to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Put another way, when our friends disappoint us, the solution isn’t to stop being friends. It’s to work to bring our friends around.

Putting pressure on Foxman to reverse his stance is a good thing.

Getting rid of “No Place for Hate” in Watertown isn’t.
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2007.07.06 -- David Boyajian's Letter to the Watertown Tab

The Watertown TAB
Watertown, Massachusetts

Friday, July 6, 2007

Letter: "Anti-Defamation League works against recognition of Armenian genocide"

“No Place for Hate” (NPFH) programs, such as Watertown’s, are tarnished by the fact that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has authored and sponsored them. The ADL, you see, has made the Holocaust and its denial key pieces of NPFH while at the same time hypocritically working with Turkey to oppose recognition of the Armenian genocide of 1915-23.

This has been known for years.

The Los Angeles Times (April 21, "Genocide resolution still far from certain") for example, reports that ADL’s National Director, Abraham Foxman, opposes Congressional affirmation of that genocide.

Yola Habif Johnston of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs acknowledges that “the Jewish lobby has quite actively supported Turkey in their efforts to prevent the so-called Armenian genocide resolution from passing.”

One underlying reason is the Israeli - Turkish alliance.

Opposing affirmation of the Armenian genocide is an affront to all fair-minded people.

How would NPFH and the ADL react if Armenian organizations blocked acknowledgement of the Holocaust?

I say these things with deep sorrow. After all, many distinguished Jewish individuals and organizations, such as the Jewish War Veterans of the USA, support Armenian genocide recognition.

But the ADL’s dishonest policies toward Christian Armenians and their genocide violate NPFH’s own principles.

NPFH is, therefore, ethically obligated to sever its ties to the ADL.

David Boyajian
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