BREAKING NEWS

Watertown, Mass -- On Tuesday Sept 23, 2008, the Watertown Town Council voted to pass a resolution calling on Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts to ends its endorsement of the Anti Defamation League's (ADL) No Place for Hate program due to the ADL's refusal to unambiguously acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and to end its active opposition to Congressional affirmation of the Armenian Genocide.

The resolution, introduced by Councilors Marilyn Petitto Devany, Stephen Corbett, and Mark Sideris, was unanimously adopted, following the reading of a statement and a question and answer period with Blue Cross Blue Shield's Jay Curley, who was present at the Council's request.

Read the ANC Press Release: Watertown Town Council Calls on BCBS to Dissassociate with Controversial ADL Program.

Read the Open Letter from the Armenian American Community to Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Read the ANC Press Release: Blue Cross Blue Shield Defies Watertown Town Council Unanimous Call to Cut Ties with Controversial ADL Program.
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ACTION ALERT: CALL ON BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD TO END ITS SPONSORSHIP OF THE ADL NO PLACE FOR HATE PROGRAM!

Read the Open Letter from the Armenian American Community to Blue Cross Blue Shield!

Are you outraged that Blue Cross Blue Shield health care premiums are being used to deny the Armenian Genocide? Should denial of any genocide be stopped?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, please send an e-mail right now to Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of Massachusetts Chairman and CEO Cleve L. Killingsworth and ask that BCBS stop supporting genocide denial.

Click here if you are you a Blue Cross Blue Shield subscriber. Click here if you are not a Blue Cross Blue Shield subscriber, but are offended by genocide denial.

Call on Blue Cross Blue Shield to end its corporate sponsorship of the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) No Place for Hate (NPFH) program because the ADL refuses to fully acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and actively opposes Congressional affirmation of this genocide.

By engaging in genocide denial – which is considered hate speech – the ADL does not have the moral authority to sponsor tolerance programs in our communities. By co-sponsoring the NPFH programs, BCBS has become complicit in this violation of human rights.

The human rights community and the political leadership of Massachusetts no longer consider the ADL to be a legitimate human rights organization. Over a dozen Massachusetts cities and towns, as well as the Massachusetts Municipal Association, have ended their participation in No Place for Hate.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts needs to hear from Massachusetts residents – subscribers and non-subscribers alike – that this is unacceptable.

Send an e-mail right now!

Does your employer subscribe to Blue Cross Blue Shield? If so, write your employer a letter and ask them to contact Blue Cross Blue Shield as well.

Dear _________:

I am writing to voice my concern regarding the association of our company with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and to request that you contact Blue Cross Blue Shield and ask them to disassociate themselves from the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) No Place for Hate (NPFH) program.

Blue Cross Blue Shield is using our health care premiums to financially support the ADL’s NPFH program. While the work of NPFH is valuable, its affiliation with the ADL is a major scandal.

The ADL engages in genocide denial by its refusal to unambiguously acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and its continued active opposition to Congressional efforts to affirm this genocide.

Although the ADL places genocide denial at the peak of its hate speech pyramid, it has been guilty of this basic human rights violation for many years by its active denial of the Armenian Genocide.

The human rights community and the political leadership of Massachusetts no longer consider the ADL to be a legitimate human rights organization. Over a dozen municipalities in our Commonwealth have withdrawn from the NPFH program.

In April, the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA), an umbrella organization representing all the cities and towns of Massachusetts, unanimously voted to rescind its sponsorship of NPFH, stating, “unequivocal recognition of the Armenian Genocide is both a matter of basic justice to its victims as well as essential to efforts to prevent future genocides.”

Therefore, I ask that our company convey its disapproval to Blue Cross Blue Shield for their financial support of an organization that engages in genocide denial.

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BACKGROUND:

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has for many years refused to acknowledge that the systematic, planned massacre of 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923 was genocide. Moreover, the ADL continues to actively oppose Congressional affirmation of the Armenian Genocide.

Only after intense pressure that started in Watertown, Massachusetts last summer did the national ADL issue a “Statement on the Armenian Genocide” on August 21, 2007.

Referring to the events of 1915-1918, the statement read, “The consequences of those actions were indeed tantamount to genocide.” Aside from the fact that the Armenian Genocide began in 1915 and continued through 1923, the statement was not a full, unequivocal acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide.

Not only was the qualifier “tantamount” inappropriate, but the use of the word “consequences” was a clear attempt to circumvent the international legal definition of genocide by avoiding any language that would imply intent, a crucial aspect of the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention definition.

The ADL remains on record opposing Armenian Genocide legislation (H.Res.106 / S.Res.106) pending in Congress, arguing that short-term geopolitical considerations related to Turkey-Israel-US relations should take precedence over the moral imperative of condemning genocide whenever and wherever it occurs.

Despite numerous calls to clarify its position on the Armenian Genocide at the organization’s national meeting in New York City in early November 2007, the ADL issued a one-sentence press statement upon the meeting’s conclusion that declared, “The National Commission of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today, at its annual meeting, decided to take no further action on the issue of the Armenian genocide.”

The controversy first came to light on July 6, 2007 when the Watertown Tab published a letter by Armenian-American activist David Boyajian pointing out that it was hypocritical for the ADL to be sponsoring the town’s No Place for Hate (NPFH) tolerance program while simultaneously lobbying against Congressional recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The letter asked the local No Place For Hate chapter to disassociate itself from the ADL.

Later, an Armenian National Committee-sponsored community petition called on the Watertown No Place for Hate committee, "in keeping with its principles," to urge the ADL to unambiguously acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and support Congressional affirmation.

Watertown then became the first town to end its relationship with the No Place for Hate program by a unanimous vote of the Town Council.

Watertown was followed by twelve other Massachusetts municipalities including Belmont, Newton, Arlington, Northampton, Bedford, Lexington, Westwood, Medford, Needham, Newburyport, Peabody, and Somerville.

On April 9, 2008, the Massachusetts Municipal Association voted unanimously to end its sponsorship of NPFH, stating that “unequivocal recognition of the Armenian Genocide is both a matter of basic justice to its victims as well as essential to efforts to prevent future genocides.”

The human rights community and the political leadership of Massachusetts thus no longer consider the ADL to be a legitimate human rights organization.

For complete information about the ADL controversy surrounding the Armenian Genocide visit http://www.noplacefordenial.com/

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SAMPLE LETTERS

Letters should be sent to:
Cleve L. Killingsworth, Chairman and Chief Executive
Blue Cross Blue Shield
Landmark Center
401 Park Drive
Boston, MA 02215-3326
Killingsworth@bcbsma.com

Copies should be sent to:
Fredi Shonkoff, Senior Vice President for Corporate Relations
Blue Cross Blue Shield
Landmark Center
401 Park Drive
Boston, MA 02215-3326
fredi.Shonkoff@bcbsma.com

Jarrett Barrios
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation
Landmark Center
401 Park Drive
Boston, MA 02215
jarrett.barrios@bcbsmafoundation.org


If you are a Blue Cross Blue Shield subscriber:

I am outraged to learn that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, my health care insurer, sponsors and funds No Place for Hate, a program created and operated by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

The ADL engages in genocide denial by refusing to forthrightly acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and actively opposing U.S. recognition of that genocide. The ADL cannot be trusted with promoting tolerance and diversity because it engages in the ultimate form of hate speech: genocide denial.

Blue Cross Blue Shield has become complicit in this violation of human rights by its association with this ADL program.

The human rights community and the political leadership of Massachusetts no longer consider the ADL to be a legitimate human rights organization. Over a dozen Massachusetts cities and towns, as well as the Massachusetts Municipal Association, have ended their participation in No Place for Hate.

I therefore ask that Blue Cross Blue Shield follow their principled lead and cease its affiliation with No Place for Hate. I do not want my health care provider to be indelibly associated with genocide denial.

If you are not a subscriber:

I am writing to ask Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts to ends its sponsorship of No Place for Hate, a program created and operated by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

The ADL engages in genocide denial by refusing to forthrightly acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and actively opposing U.S. recognition of that genocide. The ADL cannot be trusted with promoting tolerance and diversity because it engages in the ultimate form of hate speech: genocide denial.

Blue Cross Blue Shield has become complicit in this violation of human rights by its association with this ADL program.

The human rights community and the political leadership of Massachusetts no longer consider the ADL to be a legitimate human rights organization. Over a dozen Massachusetts cities and towns, as well as the Massachusetts Municipal Association, have ended their participation in No Place for Hate.

I therefore ask that Blue Cross Blue Shield follow their principled lead and cease its affiliation with No Place for Hate. Otherwise, the company risks being indelibly associated with genocide denial.




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VIDEO UPDATES: Rally in Front of ADL National Headquarters in NYC


Armenian/Jewish solidarity rally held on November 2 in front of ADL national headquarters in NYC. Followed by highlights from the following public meetings on ADL/NPFH: Newton #2, Arlington, Needham, Newton #1, Belmont, Watertown. Related links:
1)Read Arthur Nersesian's speech, "Auschwitz & Righteous Gentiles" delivered at the Rally.
2)Read about the LA protest against Foxman and the Glendale school boycott of ADL program.
3)Read the "No Place For Denial" Statement.
4)Read the Letter presented to ADL by Armenian community of Massachusetts.
5)Watch video of Genocide survivor speaking at Arlington, Mass meeting.


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ADL - "NO PLACE FOR HATE" MEETING HIGHLIGHTS


Highlights from public meetings held to discuss the future of the ADL sponsored No Place For Hate program in various Massachusetts towns and cities. This sequence of YouTube clips includes: Watertown Town Council, Newton HRC #1, Belmont HRC, Newton HRC #2, Needham HRC, Arlington Selectmen...

Related links:
1)Watch in YouTube window.
2)Read the No Place for Denial Statement & Demands.
3)Watch video of Lexington Selectmen meeting.
4)Watch video of Genocide survivor speaking at Arlington meeting.


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ANCA: Turkey Hires Lobby Firm to Sway Jewish American Groups

Armenian National Committee of America
1711 N Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Tel. (202) 775-1918
Fax. (202) 775-5648
Email.anca@anca.org

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
October 21, 2008
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Tel: (202) 775-1918

TURKEY HIRES FORMER BUSH ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TO SHORE UP RIFTS WITH JEWISH AMERICAN GROUPS; FIGHT ARMENIAN GENOCIDE RECOGNITION

WASHINGTON, DC –
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) revealed today that the Turkish Government has hired former Bush Administration official, Noam Neusner, to harness Jewish American support for a pro-Turkey agenda in Congress, with defeat of the Armenian Genocide Resolution as his top priority.

"If Turkey had a credible case to make to the Jewish American community - which has grown weary of Ankara's pressure to deny the Armenian Genocide - it wouldn't need to be spending this kind of money in a misguided attempt to manipulate Jewish American opinion," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "Sadly, it seems that for $8,500 a month from a foreign government, Neusner Communications is putting at risk the well-deserved reputation of the Jewish American community as a powerful opponent of all genocides and a defender of universal human rights."

This revelation came as part of a September 30, 2008, mandatory U.S. Department of Justice (U.S. DOJ) Foreign Agent Registration Act filings by Neusner Communications, LLC, a Washington, DC public relations firm that has been on the Turkish Government payroll since September, 2007. The initial registration document submitted by the firm cites "policy goals" including "U.S. Jewish efforts to promote a pro-Turkey agenda in the U.S. Congress." Neusner Communications LLC is tasked to ensure "regular emails and phone calls to Jewish leaders highlighting Turkey's relationship with Israel" and facilitating the "creation of working relationships between U.S.-based Jewish and Turkish community groups."

Neusner's filings reveal that the first order of business for the public relations firm was, in September and October of last year, to contact top Jewish-American organizations regarding pending Armenian Genocide legislation, H.Res.106. Beginning with a phone conversation with AIPAC Director of National Affairs and Development Jon Missner on September 17th, Neusner personally contacted groups, including JINSA, the American Jewish Congress, Anti-Defamation League, B'nai B'rith, Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs some 23 times over the next four weeks regarding H.Res.106. The House Foreign Affairs Committee adopted the Armenian Genocide Resolution on October 11th by a vote of 27 to 21.

The U.S. DOJ filings note subsequent emails by Neusner with the ADL's Director of Government and National Affairs Jess Hordes regarding "ADL action on HR 106," and ADL Director "Abe Foxman's visit to Turkey" in May, 2008. Neusner continued to hold meetings with AIPAC's Jon Missner and National Political Director Rob Bassin regarding the Armenian Genocide Resolution, including one on November 29th. Seven months later, Neusner held a follow up meeting with Missner and AIPAC Director of Research and Information Rafi Danziger to discuss "Turkish concerns about Armenian issue; lack of support on the Hill from Jewish orgs." The meeting came just one day after the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a two- hour hearing on the South Caucasus region, with specific focus on Turkey's ongoing blockade of Armenia. In total, in the span of one year, Neusner Communications contacted or met with Jewish American groups at least 100 times – 32 times specifically to discuss Armenian Genocide legislation or Armenian American concerns.

Neusner is well-known to Jewish American leaders, having served as President Bush's liaison to the U.S. Jewish community from 2002 through 2005, in addition to his capacity as Special Assistant to the President for Economic Speechwriting. Neusner's DOJ filings indicate that he was hired by the "Embassy of the Republic of Turkey through DiNovo Strategies and Fleishman Hilliard." DiNovo Strategies partner Jay Footlik served as Clinton Administration liaison to Jewish Americans and to European and Mediterranean groups, including the Armenian American community.

According to the Foreign Agent Registration Act, a firm must register within ten days of agreeing to become an agent and before performing any activities for the foreign entity. It is unclear why Neusner Communications' filings were submitted over one-year after it began lobbying for Turkey, a lapse that may represent a violation of U.S. DOJ registration guidelines. FARA also mandates that all communications from public relations firms must conspicuously cite any connection to a foreign government. Copies of email communications submitted by Neusner Communications to the U.S. DOJ make no reference to his firm's representation of the Turkish Government.

Neusner Communications, Inc. is one of four public relations firms currently representing the Government of Turkey, including DLA Piper, Fleishman Hilliard, and the Gephardt Group, who together receive over $3 million a year for their services. Neusner Communications is currently paid $8,500 a month by the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey. Leading the campaign to clean up Turkey's image in the United States are former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt and House Majority Leader Dick Armey. Former House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bob Livingston ended his eight- year, $13 million lobbying stint with Turkey earlier this year, after which he picked up a lucrative $2.4 million contract with Libya.

Neusner Communications filings are available on the ANCA website.

Neusner Communications FARA Registration:
http://www.anca.org/assets/pdf/fara/Neusner_Registration_0908.pdf

Neusner Communications Supplemental Report – 09/07-02/08:
http://www.anca.org/assets/pdf/fara/Neusner_Supplemental_0308.pdf

Neusner Communications Supplemental Report – 03/08-09/08:
http://www.anca.org/assets/pdf/fara/Neusner_Supplemental_0908.pdf

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_____________________________________
Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Communications Director
Armenian National Committee of America
1711 N Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 775-1918
Fax: (202) 775-5648
E-mail: anca@anca.org
Internet: www.anca.org
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ANC Responds to Watertown Town Councilor’s Remarks in Boston Globe

Armenian National Committee of Massachusetts
47 Nichols Avenue
Watertown MA 02472
617-926-1918
ancem@Hotmail.com

Press Release
October 20, 2008

Contact: 617-347-2833

ANC Responds to Watertown Town Councilor’s Remarks in Boston Globe
After Council President says he is comfortable with ADL assurances

Watertown, MA –
The Armenian National Committee of Massachusetts has asked Watertown Town Council President Clyde Younger to clarify his remarks in the Boston Globe suggesting that he is “comfortable with assurances from the Anti-Defamation League's national leader, Abraham H. Foxman, that the organization recognizes the Armenian genocide."

In a Sunday, October 19, 2008 article, entitled, “ADL fight appears over,” the Boston Globe reported that Younger has had a “change of heart” after receiving an October 3 letter from national ADL director Abraham Foxman.

The ANC letter to Mr. Younger is below.

####

Dear Chairman Younger:

We were shocked to discover in today's Boston Globe that you now feel "comfortable with assurances from the Anti-Defamation League's national leader, Abraham H. Foxman, that the organization recognizes the Armenian genocide." And imagine our surprise when we read that the “ADL fight appears over!” It was particularly disappointing that this was the way by which the Armenian community first learned of the letter you received from Mr. Foxman addressing an alleged change in the ADL’s policy regarding the Armenian Genocide.
http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/regional_editions/globe_west/west
/2008/10/adl_statement_o.html

Would you please share this letter with us, as we have not found any evidence of a new ADL position anywhere in the public arena?

As you agreed at the September 23, 2008 Watertown Town Council meeting, the ADL's August 2008 statement, as well as its August 2007 statement, do not qualify as an unambiguous acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide.

A careful reading of the ADL’s insincere August 22, 2008 letter, which was buried deeply on its web site and has since been removed, reveals that the ADL states only that is has “referred” to genocide; it is by no means an unequivocal acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide. Rather, it reads, “ADL has never denied the tragic and painful events perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians, and we have referred to those massacres and atrocities as genocide.” Moreover, this letter provocatively accuses those who are working to end genocide denial of “demonization.”

This letter apparently refers to the only other public - and now infamous - ADL statement of August 21, 2007, which read, “the consequences” of the Turkish massacres and atrocities were “tantamount to genocide.” That statement was clearly not an acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide.

As you know, the ADL carefully crafted its August 2007 statement to contravene the international legal definition of genocide. The phrasing circumvents the “intent” required by the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention by suggesting that Armenians died simply as a “consequence” of World War I conditions and not from a planned program of extermination — which just happens to be Turkey’s position.

Judging the August 21, 2007 statement inadequate, Massachusetts cities and towns, the Massachusetts Municipal Association, human rights commissions, the Jewish community, and the Armenian community called on the ADL to issue an unambiguous affirmation of the Armenian Genocide at its national meeting in early November 2007. The ADL refused to do so, releasing instead a dismissive one-sentence statement reaffirming the ADL’s national policy that read, “The National Commission of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today, at its annual meeting, decided to take no further action on the issue of the Armenian genocide.”

As you also know, The Massachusetts Municipal Association and 12 of the 13 Massachusetts communities that dissociated from the ADL’s No Place for Hate program did so after the ADL’s August 2008 statement, judging it unacceptable.

The ADL not only has refused to explicitly acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, but has for several years actively lobbied on behalf of the Turkish government to deny the Armenian Genocide and to prevent passage of a Congressional resolution formally recognizing the Armenian Genocide. It continues to publicly voice opposition to a
Congressional resolution.

Although nation-states have national security and realpolitik considerations when formulating policy, a human rights organization simply cannot put politics above universal rights. Yet this is exactly what the ADL does whenever a human rights issue conflicts with the perceived interests of the state of Israel.

Mr. Foxman has admitted as much. In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, published October 24, 2007, he explained his reasoning regarding the Armenian Genocide:

“It was also very clear to me that after the United States the most important ally Israel has is Turkey. It’s a country that not only has promised to provide Israel with water until moshiach comes, but it’s a country that permits Israel’s pilots to do maneuvers over its land. And, so, to me, it was very clear that there are two moral issues, but one trumps the other. And it was clear to me that I cannot save one Armenian human being, not one. But if I do what the Armenians want me to do, I will put in jeopardy the lives of Turkish Jews and Israeli Jews.”

The ADL continues to engage in other forms of genocide denial as well. It has, for instance, repeatedly endorsed Turkey’s proposal for a joint commission of Turkish and Armenian scholars “to investigate what happened in the past.”

In June 2008, the internationally respected anti-hate group Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) issued an extensive intelligence report documenting Turkey’s campaign of genocide denial (http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?aid=935), and condemned such calls for a “historian’s commission.” The SPLC pointed out that “a lie isn’t the other side of any story. It’s just a lie.” The report quoted Torben Jorgensen of the Danish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies as saying, “When it comes to the historical reality of the Armenian genocide, there is no ‘Armenian’ or ‘Turkish’ side of the question, any more than there is a ‘Jewish’ or ‘German’ side of the historical reality of the Holocaust. There is a scientific side and an unscientific side – acknowledgement or denial.”

Human rights are universal and they must be respected and protected for all people. Discrimination against any person or group on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or disability must never be tolerated. And historical truths must be upheld.

We would welcome a sincere, unambiguous acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide by the Anti-Defamation League. Rather, what we have observed is an organization engaged in a double game: issuing disingenuous statements that do not actually recognize the Armenian Genocide but are crafted in such a way as to mislead the public, while continuing to engage in genocide denial by promoting Turkey’s agenda with regard to a historical commission and Congressional recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

We would appreciate the opportunity to discuss this with you at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,
Sharistan Melkonian
Armenian National Committee of Massachusetts
47 Nichols Avenue
Watertown MA 02472
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Blue Cross Blue Shield Defies Watertown Town Council Unanimous Call to Cut Ties with Controversial ADL Program

Armenian National Committee of Massachusetts
47 Nichols Avenue
Watertown MA 02472
617-926-1918
ancem@Hotmail.com

For Immediate Release
October 1, 2008

Contact: 617-347-2833

Blue Cross Blue Shield Defies Watertown Town Council Unanimous Call to Cut Ties with Controversial ADL Program

-- Disregards Armenian American Community Concerns

WATERTOWN, MA –
Despite a unanimous vote by Watertown officials last week and hundreds of letters from Massachusetts residents, Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts (BCBSMA) announced its plans to support the Anti-Defamation League’s “No Place for Hate” program, despite that groups ongoing opposition to Armenian Genocide recognition, reported the Armenian National Committee of Massachusetts (ANC-MA)

BCBSMA’s intentions were revealed on September 26th in what appeared to be form letters sent to individuals and organizations, who had expressed concerns about the healthcare giant’s dubious affiliation. “It had been our understanding that the ADL recognized the terrible events perpetrated against the Armenian people between 1915 and 1923 as genocide,” read the BCBSMA’s email. “Therefore, in response to the letters and emails we received, and because Blue Cross Blue Shield firmly believes there should be no ambiguity on this issue, senior executives met directly with representatives of the ADL to ask for clarification. At that meeting, our CEO asked the ADL leaders about the organization’s “official” position. He was assured that the ADL unequivocally recognizes the killing of more than one and a half million Armenians as genocide.”

The ADL’s promises rang hollow to the Watertown Town Council and the ANC MA. BCBSMA Senior Vice President for Public, Government and Regulatory Affairs Jay Curley, during his presentation to the Watertown Town Council last week, admitted that the ADL’s assurances were only verbal and that his organization was “disappointed” with the tone and tenor of the communication from ADL leader Abe Foxman. For more information on the Watertown decision read: http://www.anca.org/press_releases/press_releases.php?prid=1595

In July of this year, Foxman had traveled to Turkey to smooth over relations with the Turkish government by reiterating the ADL’s opposition to Armenian Genocide legislation in the U.S. Congress. According to a July 4th article by Herb Keinon in the Jerusalem Post, Foxman urged President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan to strengthen relations with Armenia today, in hopes that “it will place the historical issue in the background and be much easier to deal with.” Foxman went on to lecture the Armenian American community on genocide recognition efforts, stating that pressure to use "certain words they want us to use is not going to help one Armenian."

“Foxman’s verbal assertions to the BCBSMA fly in the face of his statements in Turkey just three months ago, where he dared not properly characterize the Armenian Genocide as ‘genocide’, lauded the ADL’s opposition to Congressional legislation on the issue, and went so far as to advise the unrepentant perpetrators of Genocide on how to sweep history under the rug,” stated Ara Nazarian of the ANC MA. “The Watertown Town Council and Massachusetts Municipalities Authority saw through Foxman’s charade. We expect the BCBSMA to do so as well.”

On September 29th, the ANC MA responded to the BCBSMA’s letter, stating: “We are very disappointed that Blue Cross Blue Shield has decided to turn a blind eye to what is clearly genocide denial by the Anti-Defamation League.”

“The Armenian community has struggled against genocide denial for ninety-three years. The entire community is united in its determination to see justice prevail in this matter.”

The complete text of the ANC MA letter to BCBSMA is provided below.

For more information visit
http://www.noplacefordenial.com/

#####


Complete Text of ANC MA letter to BCBSMA:

September 29, 2008

We are very disappointed that Blue Cross Blue Shield has decided to turn a blind eye to what is clearly genocide denial by the Anti-Defamation League.

Even assuming you were given assurances by the New England Regional ADL that the organization acknowledges the Armenian Genocide, these comments were made privately and verbally and, as such, are not official and have no standing in the public arena. In addition, the verbal assurances differ greatly from the only two official public statements the ADL has made in this regard.

Furthermore, what the NE ADL asserts is simply not pertinent to the issue. No Place for Hate is a registered trademark of, and is owned and operated by, the national ADL.

It is true that the New England regional tried to persuade the national ADL to issue an unequivocal statement recognizing the Armenian Genocide at its national meeting last November. They failed. The entire organization determined to let stand the August 2007 statement - which, as you know, does not meet international standards for genocide recognition - as its official position on the Armenian Genocide.

The Boston Globe reported that New England leaders were satisfied with the outcome, quoting regional board chair James Rudolph as saying, "I feel comfortable with it."

Nothing has changed since that time.

The Armenian community has struggled against genocide denial for ninety-three years. The entire community is united in its determination to see justice prevail in this matter. We are saddened that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has chosen to side with a genocide denier and not with human rights.

Sincerely,
Sharistan Melkonian
Armenian National Committee of Massachusetts
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WATERTOWN TOWN COUNCIL CALLS ON BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD TO DISSASSOCIATE WITH CONTROVERSIAL ADL PROGRAM

Armenian National Committee of Massachusetts
47 Nichols Avenue
Watertown MA 02472
617-926-1918
ancem@hotmail.com

For Immediate Release
September 24, 2008


Contact: 617-347-2833

WATERTOWN TOWN COUNCIL CALLS ON BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD TO DISSASSOCIATE WITH CONTROVERSIAL ADL PROGRAM

Unanimously votes to call on the National ADL to End its Opposition to Armenian Genocide Reaffirmation

WATERTOWN, MA—
The Watertown Town Council unanimously voted last night in support of a resolution calling on Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of Massachusetts to ends its endorsement of the Anti Defamation League's (ADL) controversial No Place for Hate (NPFH) program, citing the ADL's opposition to Armenian Genocide affirmation efforts, reported the Armenian National Committee of Massachusetts (ANCM).The resolution, introduced by Councilors Marilyn Petitto Devaney, Stephen Corbett, and Mark Sideris, was taken up during a regular Town Council session, which was moved in advance to the Watertown Middle School to accommodate the growing interest in this scandal.

The vote on the resolution was prefaced by the reading of a brief statement by Jay Curley, BCBS’s Senior Vice President for Public, Government and Regulatory Affairs, who was present at the Council’s request. Following Mr. Curley’s statement, all nine Town Council members asked detailed questions regarding the BCBS position.

BCBS’s Curley said that Blue Cross “firmly believes there can be no ambiguity about the genocide” and that it should not be hidden under confusing language. Curley, however, announced that BCBS intended to continue its partnership with the ADL “based on assurances” [that the ADL has recognized the Armenian genocide.] He followed that by stating that if BCBS finds out that is not the case, “we will withdraw support."

When asked by Councilor Corbett if this assurance was written or verbal, Curley said that they were verbal, noting that the assurances came from the New England ADL and that they were followed up by a letter from Foxman, which was "perfectly clear and unambiguous to us." Curley noted, however that BCBS was “disappointed” with the tone and tenor of the communication from Foxman.

The communication in question is the August 22, 2008, ADL letter that was buried on its web page and signed solely by its national director, Abraham Foxman, stating, “ADL has never denied the tragic and painful events perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians, and we have referred to those massacres and atrocities as genocide.” This letter goes on to falsely accuse those who are working to end genocide denial of “demonizing” opponents of Armenian Genocide reaffirmation.

Councilor Devaney noted that BCBS’s “continued affiliation with ADL means not only complicity in genocide denial but also is clear discrimination.”

In addition, Councilor Vincent Piccirilli told Curley that citizens “of Watertown are somewhat dismayed with the talking around the issue and the failure to come clean.”

When asked by Councilor Sideris if BCBS would help get an unequivocal statement from the ADL on the Armenian Genocide, Curly responded, that getting involved in national politics “is not something we do.”

Councilor Jonathan Hecht answered by stating that by continuing to play these games, BCBS was undermining the effort to prevent future genocides.”

“The Watertown Town Council has taken a principled stand in calling for corporations to adhere to basic human rights principles,” stated ANCM chairperson Sharistan Melkonian. “It is unfortunate that Blue Cross Blue Shield finds the ADL’s disingenuous August 2008 statement as satisfactory when in fact it clearly indicates that the ADL is unwilling to come out with a simple, clear, unambiguous statement acknowledging the Armenian Genocide. We thank the Council and in particular Councilors Corbett, Sideris, and Devaney for their leadership and for sending a strong message to Blue Cross that human rights are absolute.”

Yesterday, twenty-five Armenian organizations and churches sent an open letter to BCBS Chairman Cleve Killingsworth calling on BCBS to end its endorsement of the ADL’s NPFH program.

“The ADL simply cannot portray itself as a universal human rights organization while it engages in genocide denial,” the letter read. “The ADL has an existential contradiction between its two missions as a human rights organization and as an ethnic advocacy group. Whenever these two purposes conflict, the ADL prioritizes its advocacy interests – not human rights. Acknowledging this contradiction, Mr. Foxman admitted, ‘there are two moral issues, but one trumps the other.’”

The Watertown Town Council passed a second resolution last night calling for a representative of the National ADL to appear before the Council at a future date.

Background

The ADL has for many years refused to acknowledge that the systematic massacre of 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923 was genocide. To make matters worse, the ADL has actively engaged in efforts to oppose Congressional affirmation of the Armenian Genocide.

Only after intense pressure which started in Watertown, Massachusetts during the summer of 2007, did the national ADL issue its “Statement on the Armenian Genocide” referred to above. In addition, the ADL remains on the record opposing Armenian Genocide legislation (including the pending H.Res.106 / S.Res.106), arguing that short term geopolitical considerations related to Turkey-Israel-US relations should take precedence over the moral imperative of condemning genocide whenever and wherever it occurs.

The ADL convened its national meeting in New York City in early November 2007 at which time the issue of the Armenian Genocide was discussed. Upon conclusion, a one sentence press statement was issued that “The National Commission of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today, at its annual meeting, decided to take no further action on the issue of the Armenian genocide.”

The controversy first came to light on July 6 when the Watertown Tab published a letter that spotlighted ADL national director Abe Foxman's statements opposing Congressional Armenian Genocide legislation. The letter asked the local "No Place For Hate" chapter to disassociate itself from the ADL. NPFH is a national trademark of the national ADL.

The situation intensified in an explosive August 1 front page Boston Globe article in which the Armenian National Committee condemned Foxman's genocide denial and stated that the ANC would "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."

Later a community petition called on the Watertown No Place for Hate committee "in keeping with its principles" to urge the ADL to unambiguously acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and support Congressional affirmation.

Watertown then became the first town to end its relationship with the No Place for Hate Program by a unanimous vote of the Town Council, which set the stage for numerous other public meetings in communities throughout Massachusetts, where this issue was brought to the attention of human rights commissions and town and city councils.

Watertown was followed by twelve other Massachusetts municipalities including Belmont, Newton, Arlington, Northampton, Bedford, Lexington, Westwood, Medford, Needham, Newburyport, Somerville, and Peabody.

For complete information about the ADL controversy surrounding the Armenian Genocide visit www.noplacefordenial.com

####


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An open letter from the Armenian American community to Blue Cross Blue Shield

September 23, 2008

Cleve L. Killingsworth, Chairman and Chief Executive
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Landmark Center
401 Park Drive
Boston, MA 02215-3326

Dear Mr. Killingsworth:

We are writing to urge you to end Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts’s endorsement of the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) No Place for Hate (NPFH) program.

Although the ADL professes to secure the human rights of all people, it continues to deny the Armenian Genocide and actively works against its recognition. These unacceptable activities render the ADL unsuitable as a partner for tolerance education, regardless of other worthy functions it may perform.

On August 22, 2008, the ADL issued a confusing letter buried deeply on its web page and signed solely by its national director, Abraham Foxman, stating, “ADL has never denied the tragic and painful events perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians, and we have referred to those massacres and atrocities as genocide.” This letter provocatively accuses those who are working to end genocide genial of “demonization.”

This disingenuous statement apparently refers to the ADL’s now infamous August 21, 2007 release – the ADL’s only other public statement on the Armenian Genocide – that said, “the consequences” of the Turkish massacres and atrocities were “tantamount to genocide.” This statement is not an acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide.

The 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group...” By employing the word “consequences,” the ADL – considered authorities on genocide and genocide denial – is, in fact, endorsing the Turkish claim that Armenians died simply as a consequence of World War I conditions and not as a deliberate, planned program of extermination. Moreover, the ADL does not even recognize the Armenian Genocide as an outright genocide, but simply an event “tantamount to genocide.”

Within days of its August 21, 2007, statement on the Armenian Genocide, the ADL apologized to Turkey in a letter to its government and endorsed Turkey’s call for a joint commission of Turkish and Armenian scholars to examine “the details of those dark and terrible days.”

The ADL’s own web page labels such calls as genocide denial, explaining that deniers “portray themselves as individuals and groups engaged in a legitimate, dispassionate quest for historical knowledge and ‘truth’ [who] seek to plant seeds of questioning and doubt.”

Most significantly, the ADL has for many years actively lobbied on behalf of the Turkish government to deny the Armenian Genocide and prevent passage of a Congressional resolution formally affirming the Armenian Genocide. It continues to publicly and repeatedly voice opposition to such a Congressional resolution. These actions are documented in the attached packet.

The ADL simply cannot portray itself as a universal human rights organization while it engages in genocide denial. The ADL has an existential contradiction between its two missions as a human rights organization and as an ethnic advocacy group. Whenever these two purposes conflict, the ADL prioritizes its advocacy interests – not human rights. Acknowledging this contradiction, Mr. Foxman admitted, “there are two moral issues, but one trumps the other.” Documentation is included in the attached packet.

Genocide is the most serious of hate crimes and genocide denial is the highest form of hate speech and the last stage of genocide. Indeed, the ADL’s web page states, “What is on the surface a denial of the reality of genocide is, at its core, an appeal to genocidal hatred.” Further, in its August 22, 2008 statement, the ADL proclaims, “All ADL’s anti hate programs classify genocide as the ultimate crime against humanity.”

How, then, can an organization engaged in genocide denial be allowed to instruct others on tolerance in community anti-hate programs?

Given the ADL’s failure to adhere to the most basic standards required of a human rights organization, Blue Cross Blue Shield has an obligation both to its subscribers and the larger community to end its endorsement of this national ADL program. Because Blue Cross Blue Shield’s initial endorsement of NPFH provided the momentum for many communities to adopt the program, BCBS has a special responsibility to end its corporate endorsement and financial support of this ADL endeavor.

Blue Cross Blue Shield should not be associated with genocide denial. Thus, we request that you rescind BCBS’s endorsement of the No Place for Hate program due to the ADL’s refusal to unambiguously acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, its engaging in the denialist tactic of proposing further study the Armenian Genocide, and its continued active opposition to United States formal recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Thank you.

Armenian Assembly of America
Armenian Church of the Holy Translators (Framingham)
Armenian Cultural and Education Center
Armenian Democratic Liberal Party
Armenian General Benevolent Union
Armenian Independent Broadcasting of Boston
Armenian Library and Museum of America
Armenian Memorial Church (Watertown)
The Armenian Mirror Spectator Weekly
Armenian National Committee
Armenian Relief Society
Armenian Revolutionary Federation
The Armenian Weekly
Armenian Youth Federation
First Armenian Church (Belmont)
Hairenik Weekly
Hamazkyin Cultural
Holy Cross Armenian Church (Belmont)
Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church (Worcester)
Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church of Greater Boston (Cambridge)
Homenetmen General Athletic Union
Social Democrat Hunchakian Party
St. James Armenian Apostolic Church (Watertown)
St. Stephen’s Armenian Apostolic Church (Watertown)
Tekeyan Cultural Association of USA and Canada
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IN THE NEWS: Southern Poverty Law Center Exposes Turkey's Denialist Network

Intelligence Report Cites Tactics, Names Individuals


Montgomery, AL -- The internationally respected anti-hate organization, Southern Poverty Law Center, has exposed the Turkish government's multi-million dollar campaign of genocide denial in a groundbreaking, just-published intelligence report, "State of Denial." The report describes the "alarming success" of "a network of American scholars, influence peddlers and website operators, financed by the government of Turkey, who promote the denial of the Armenian genocide."

The SPLC reveals that the Institute of Turkish Studies at Georgetown University, created and funded by the Turkish government, also receives "sizable donations from American defense contractors that sell arms to Turkey, including General Dynamics and Westinghouse." The institute is a major component of the Turkish denialist network.

In an accompanying editorial entitled "Lying About History," the SPLC writes, "The claims of the Turkish government and the scholars who seem bent on supporting it are enough to make one ill." Several other articles and resources are linked to the report. The nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center monitors hate groups, defends civil and human rights, and provides anti-bias training through their educational program "Teaching Tolerance."

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Jewish Advocate: Letter: ADL Has Burned Some Bridges

The Jewish Advocate
August 15, 2008

The Anti-Defamation League is asleep at the wheel on the Zakim Bridge. It has been nearly one year since the devastating collapse of the ADL’s relationship with the Armenian community, and the ultimate demise of its No Place for Hate program.

In that time, ADL has failed to produce any sort of public relations campaign to repair its image, and the mortar of the organization only continues to crumble. The program that once flourished in our communities has been decimated, and the reputation of the organization obliterated.

The ADL continues to betray itself and its mission as it burns bridges with so many of Boston’s countless other ethnic communities. Whether from the Armenians or the Muslims, ADL hides and clings to Abe Foxman, like a child to its mother’s leg.
Throughout this past year, opportunities to make amends with the Armenian community were handed to the organization on a silver platter, yet each time the ADL stood idly by as the entirety of the Jewish community stepped forward to take their brothers’ and sisters’ hands.

As the ADL continually failed to recognize the Armenian genocide as such, they alienated so many of their allies. Elected officials at both local and state levels publicly divorced themselves and their communities from the organization. The effectiveness of their other programs diminished as their authenticity was called into question.

Can the ADL morally continue to preach about eradicating anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial? Can they teach others to break down barriers, while they still build them?
I call upon the leaders of the ADL to practice as they preach; to take action and stand up for what is right. One year later, I urge you to learn from your mistakes.

Julia Ross
Cambridge
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Editorial: Blue Shield Hiding ADL Support

The Armenian Mirror Spectator
Watertown, Massachusetts

June 21, 2008

Editorial

Blue Shield Hiding ADL Support

The fall from grace of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), in the eyes of people concerned with justice and recognition of past atrocities, continues.

The ADL, as has been well-documented here in our pages, as well as in many other Armenian publications, has never made a statement fully acknowledging the Armenian Genocide. Yes, after being besieged by many segments of the community at large, including Jewish groups, the ADL agreed to release a statement last summer suggesting that what happened to the Armenians was “tantamount to Genocide.”

Close, but no cigar.

Requests for a clear, unmistakable statement from Armenian and Jewish groups were spurned by the ADL.

The ADL, it was brought to light, has through the years actively campaigned against measures in Congress to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Now, the state’s largest provider of insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield, is still sponsoring the No Place for Hate (NPFH) program of the ADL, which was successfully run out of scores of towns, starting with Watertown and continuing across Massachusetts. Among the towns which nixed the program are Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Lexington, Medford, Needham, Newburyport, Newton, Northampton, Watertown, Somerville and Westwood.

In fact, just this past April, the Massachusetts Municipal Association decided to end its sponsorship of NPFH.

Obviously, all the participants and activists involved in this issue understand that the message of NPFH is not a problem; it is the organization that is creating it. No one can be against a message that denies hate, but when the message of tolerance, acknowledgement of past genocides and harmony is being created by an organization that does not act as it preaches, it cheapens the entire message. The ADL can manage to look like a paragon of tolerance, while pursuing a different agenda, catering to the agenda of the government of the Republic of Turkey.

According to information dug up by David Boyajian, a Newton activist who led in bringing to light the inconsistencies of the ADL, several years back, Peter Meade, the recently retired Blue Cross Blue Shield vice president, “was instrumental in mobilizing Blue Cross” to become the state’s first official NPFH corporation. And Meade sits on the board of the New England ADL and received its Chairperson’s Award.

Boyajian noted that Meade also chairs the Greenway Conservancy, which will oversee future upkeep of Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway, where he opposes the Greenway’s proposed Armenian Heritage Park.

Currently, there are still 50 cities and towns in Massachusetts that use NPFH. We, not just as Armenians, but as people with a just cause who will decry hypocrisy and the denial of any genocide, should make sure that those towns are aware of what programs they are sponsoring. They should join the ranks of the bold towns singled out above which realized that this was an issue worth pursing.

We Armenians should also think twice about using Blue Cross when it comes to health coverage. When we pay our fees, we are helping to pay for the organization’ s support of programs such as NPFH. And Armenians and their allies in the State House should make sure that their voices continue to be heard in this matter. Our community has done a wonderful job to date in mobilizing and getting non-Armenians involved with this issue.

In particular, the Jewish community has been outstanding in this state in terms of support for us. After all, the denial of the Genocide is wrong for us on principle, as well as for sheer emotional reasons.

The denial of genocide is the last stage of a genocide. By continuing to support ADL programs, Blue Cross and Blue Shield is helping deniers have the last word.
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Massachusetts Governor’s Council Resolution Honoring David Boyajian

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Governor’s Council

Official Resolutions


Be it Resolved, that the Governor’s Council
hereby extends its Commendation to:

David Boyajian

In Recognition of:


David’s leadership in Community Service, working tirelessly with successful efforts to have communities sever ties with the ADL’s No Place For Hate program and to end the MMA’s sponsorship.

The Governor’s Council is also proud to join with David against this past discrimination that has defeated a Congressional resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, depriving Armenians of their history for so long.

It is with great honor that the Governor’s Council declares: Wednesday, April 30, 2008 “David Boyajian Day in Massachusetts” and directs all citizens to give due respect and observance on that day.

Be it further Resolved, that the Massachusetts Governor’s Council extends best wishes; that a record of these resolutions be entered into the Journal of the Council.


Executive Council
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
[Signed by Councillors]
Thomas J. Foley
Mary-Ellen Manning
Carole A. Fiola
Kelly A. Timilty
Thomas T. Merrigan
Michael J. Callahan

Offered by: Marilyn M. Petitto Devaney
Governor’s Councillor
Council Chambers
State House, Boston
Date: April 30, 2008
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Acceptance Speech by Dave Boyajian at Governor's Council

Massachusetts State House, Wed., April 30, 2008, Governor’s Council chambers

By David Boyajian

Lt. Governor Tim Murray, Members of the Governor’s Council, reverend clergy, distinguished guests, and friends:

I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the Governor’s Council, and especially to Councilor Marilyn Devaney, who has long supported efforts to reaffirm the Armenian genocide.

This honor really belongs not to myself but to those hundreds and thousands of persons – and by no means just Armenian Americans - who have worked tirelessly for the unambiguous acknowledgement of all genocides since last summer.

They have educated not just Massachusetts but also the Nation and even the World – these events have been in the int’l press - about the evil of genocides, past and present.

There are many more people and organizations to thank that it would be difficult to mention them all today, but I should briefly mention the following:

1. Human Rights commissioners, elected officials & citizens in 13 Massachusetts towns that have done the right thing by acting against genocide denial

2. The Massachusetts Municipal Association which, by following through against genocide denial, has set a highly principled example for the Commonwealth’s towns to emulate

3. The Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts whose leaders and grassroots supporters have proved indispensable

4. The Watertown Tab, Newton Tab, and those other media that have stayed on top of this story

5. Those Jewish Americans who have stood firmly for principle when they could have remained silent

6. Last - but not least – those persons in the Commonwealth - and even in other countries - of all ethnic, religious, and political backgrounds – without whose support this issue would not achieved what it has.

And I’d like to interject that the campaign continues - many towns still sponsor ADL programs & Blue Cross Blue Shield funds NPFH.

In conclusion, are there lessons we can take away from this issue? I think so.

1. We should strive for consistency, not selectivity, when it comes to recognizing genocide and human rights violations.

2. This country has a wonderful system that allows freedom of speech and freedom of the press. But if we do not vigorously use those freedoms, and if we don’t hold the media’s feet to the fire, those rights go to waste.

3. America’s acknowledging major human rights violation, such as genocide, has never damaged this country’s national interests. On the contrary, aside from perhaps some short-term fallout, our nation’s acknowledging injustice only increases our credibility, prestige, and others’ respect for us.

4. Finally, if you think you see injustice - please - speak up. Individuals and organizations will hear you and – sometimes - one never knows – they will agree with you and take action. And the world may wind up being a better place because of it.

Again, thank you.
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Armenian Reporter: Needham, Mass., a battleground in the ADL-“No Place for Hate” controversy, receives a lesson on understanding the Genocide

April 26, 2008

By Ara Nazarian

Needham, Mass. --
A panel discussion titled “Understanding the Armenian Genocide and its Impact in 2008” took place on the evening of April 7 at Needham High School’s Media Center. More than 60 people came out to the event organized by the Needham Human Rights Committee (HRC) in conjunction with local Armenians, to provide the community-at-large with a better understanding of the events surrounding and following the Armenian Genocide. Needham is one of the Massachusetts towns that severed its ties with the “No Place for Hate” program on the basis of its affiliation with Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the latter’s refusal to unequivocally acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and cease its behind-the-scenes lobbying against the recognition of the Genocide on behalf of the Turkish government.

The Needham HRC convened three times over the subject, and was host to some of the more spirited debates on the issue of severing relationships with the “No Place for Hate” program. The April 7 panel discussion was moderated by Ruth Thomasian, director of the Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives. The evening started with a screening of the documentary “The Road to Redemption: Memories of the 1915 Armenian Genocide,” produced by the Genocide Archive Project, which presented the audience with an overview of the Armenian Genocide and featured interviews with a number of Genocide survivors who had settled in Massachusetts. (This documentary was produced as part of the 90th anniversary commemoration of the Armenian Genocide in the Greater Boston area.)

Henry Theriault, associate professor of Philosophy at Worcester State College, spoke of his research focusing on genocide and human rights. He specifically addressed the history of genocide through the ages and leading to today, and touched on common themes in all cases. Following Dr. Theriault, Sharistan Melkonian and George Aghjayan of the Armenian National Committee (chairs of the Eastern and Central Massachusetts chapters, respectively) spoke on the need to continue the struggle for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and updated the audience on the current status of the House/Senate Resolutions 106.
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Armenian Reporter: Peabody observance honors memories of Torigian and Baronian

Apr 26, 2008

By Tom Vartabedian

Peabody, Mass.—
When it came to refuting Turkish pressure and staging a Genocide observance on the steps of a government building, Peter Torigian stood up for his principals. And for the principals of his Armenian heritage. The 23-year mayor each April 24th would gather his Armenian constituents on the steps of City Hall and condemn the Turks for their wholesale slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915. What would follow was a public outcry by Turkish residents in the city, with articles refuting Torigian’s actions in the press. But the late mayor always managed to get the final word with a rebuttal of his own.

His memory was recalled by successor Michael J. Bonfanti, who took office shortly after Torigian’s death earlier this decade. “I’m proud of my city’s reputation as a place of religious, ethnic, and cultural tolerance and respect for all people,” he told a gathering of 100 guests on April 17. “I am pleased that the North Shore Holocaust Center is located at our main office library.” Bonfanti denounced the Anti-Defamation League’s failure to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide with the news that his city had disbanded its “No Place for Hate Committee.” “I have been horrified and repulsed by what I have read and watched,” he said. “I cannot comprehend the inhumanity of one human being to another. In a broader sense, we must remember and honor all those who lost their lives in the struggle for freedom and human rights.”

Also participating in the ceremony were Torigian’s two daughters, Jeanie Burbridge and Nancy Buczko, along with his sister, Mary Foley, who served as mistress of ceremonies. The memory of Tufts University benefactor and humanitarian John Baronian was also recalled on April 17, for his distinguished service to the Armenian community. Mr. Baronian seldom missed a Genocide commemoration anywhere in the state and served as a philanthropist of the highest order. Lone survivor Carl Mootafian paid little heed to his age (almost 99) by presiding over a flag-raising ceremony and leading the crowd with the singing of both national anthems. (A profile of Mr. Mootafian appeared in the Jan. 5 Reporter.)

This reporter served as main speaker, discussing efforts to introduce a Genocide curriculum to high schools along Massachusetts’ North Shore. A number of programs have already been given to students and faculty with positive impact. Peabody filmmaker Apo Torosyan showed one of his six works titled “Witnesses” which documents the lives of two remaining survivors. His latest—a documentary on Henry Morganthau—was completed this week on the anniversary of his father’s death and will be showcased in the coming months. Newly-ordained Fr. Stephan Baljian conducted a requiem service, assisted by Dn. Avedis Garavanian.

Mary Ishkanian gave the reading of a popular Saroyan work.

Patrice Tierney, wife of U.S. Congressman John Tierney, brought greetings from Washington and boasted of her own proud Armenian ancestry. “My husband is a proud member of the Armenian caucus and is working hard to get a Genocide bill passed in the legislature,” she brought out.
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Watertown Town Council Proclamation Honoring David Boyajian


Town Council
Town of Watertown

Administrative Building * Watertown, MA 02472-4410
(617) 972-6470 * Fax (617) 972-6485


PROCLAMATION


WHEREAS: Watertown believes that all persons, regardless of their ancestry or creed, should be treated with equal consideration and respect; and,

WHEREAS: Watertown felt that the nationwide No Place for Hate (NPFH) program, which was created and sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), could provide a framework for residents to practice mutual respect and to stand up against bias and prejudice. Watertown had, since July, 2005 actively participated in NPFH; and,

WHEREAS: A significant portion of Watertown’s citizens are of Armenian ancestry and have, though personal experience, family loss, and the historical record, known the horrors of the planned extermination by Turkey of indigenous Armenians, recognized as the Armenian Genocide of 1915 – 23, However, the national ADL has long refused to unequivocally acknowledge he Armenian Genocide, and has also opposed affirmation of that Genocide by the United States; and,

WHEREAS: The national ADL’s statement of August 21, 2007 on the Armenian Genocide contravened the definition of genocide as defined by the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Watertown believes that NPFH’s human rights mission is incompatible with the biased actions of the ADL regarding the Armenian Genocide; and,

WHEREAS: Said actions of the national ADL are incompatible with its own stated human rights aims. According to Dr. Gregory Stanton, president of Genocide Watch, “Denial is the 8th stage that always follows a genocide. It is among the surest indicators of further genocidal massacres.” Watertown believes that the denial of any genocide demeans the memory of the victims and their suffering, affronts universal human rights, and encourages the commission of future genocides; and,

WHEREAS: the Watertown Town Council has, as a consequence of the foregoing, disassociated Watertown from NPFH, and,

WHEREAS: David Boyajian is a journalist, a resident of the neighboring City of Newton, and a descendant of Armenian exiles denied equal justice and self-determination on their ancestral lands. His letter of July 6, 2007 in the Watertown Tab and Press and his ensuing activism initiated the drive to tell Watertown and the world about the ADL’s unprincipled actions regarding the Armenian Genocide. David’s strong, articulate voice inspired other human rights advocates and citizens alike, and subsequent investigative writings further explicated the ADL’s role in genocide denial,

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That the Watertown Town Council expresses its sincere thanks to David Boyajian, and will continue to stand up for human rights, protect its citizens against defamation, and honor its long-standing tradition of respect for all people.


I HEREUNTO SET MY HAND
And cause the Great Seal of the
Town of Watertown to be affixed
On this 22nd day of April, 2008.

(signature)
Clyde L. Younger, Council President
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ADL’s Abe Foxman Disputes Criticism on Armenian Genocide Position

PRESS RELEASE

Armenian National Committee
San Francisco - Bay Area

51 Commonwealth Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94118
Tel: (415) 387-3433
Fax: (415) 751-0617
www.ancsf.org
mail@ancsf.org


ADL’s Abe Foxman Disputes Criticism on Armenian Genocide Position

Monday April 7, 2008 -
Responding to a question about the Anti-Defamation League’s reluctance to unequivocally recognize the Armenian Genocide, Abe Foxman, National Director of the ADL said, “...No one can dictate to you to use the word that you want us to use. We will use the words that we feel comfortable with.”

Foxman’s statement was part of a somewhat rambling answer to a question posed at the conclusion of a speech in San Francisco related to his book, “Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control.” The speech took place at the Jewish Community Center. Foxman spoke about international anti-Semitism directed towards Jews and Israel. He repeatedly condemned and called for an end to the use of racist, anti-Jewish euphemisms.

The first question posed to Foxman asked why he has chosen to use euphemisms in regard to the Armenian Genocide. Foxman prefaced his response by informing the audience that some people are not happy with the Anti-Defamation League’s position on the issue of the Armenian Genocide, and he went on to state that the issue should be resolved between Turks and Armenians. (Full text below.)

After years of lobbying against Armenian Genocide recognition in Congress and refusing to unequivocally acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, Foxman’s position was publicized last year in the New England media, prompting a public outcry which included conflict among ADL officials. As a result, on August 21, the ADL published an ad in several Boston-area community newspapers, stating in part, “In light of the heated controversy that has surrounded the Turkish-Armenian issue in recent weeks, and because of our concern for the unity of the Jewish community at a time of increased threats against the Jewish people, ADL has decided to revisit the tragedy that befell the Armenians. We have never negated but have always described the painful events of 1915-1918 perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians as massacres and atrocities. On reflection, we have come to share the view of Henry Morgenthau Sr. that the consequences of those actions were indeed tantamount to genocide. If the word genocide had existed then, they would have called it genocide.”

Although some applauded the ADL’s new position, it also prompted criticism for its use of the qualifier “tantamount,” and the term ‘consequences of those actions” suggesting the Armenian Genocide was not carried out with the intent to destroy a people, as defined by the U.N. and the 1948 Genocide Convention.

The ADL has also recently reiterated its opposition to U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide, as well as its support for Turkey’s call for an “impartial study” of the Armenian Genocide. Turkey has repeatedly called for a “historical commission,” despite its prime minister’s statements that Turks could never have committed a genocide, and its continued criminal prosecutions of citizens who discuss the Armenian Genocide.

Turkish press has reported that the ADL wrote to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, expressing its sorrow for the discomfort the acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide caused Turkey’s leadership and people. Erdogan announced, ‘The wrong step that has been taken is corrected ... They said they shared our sensitivity and expressed the mistake they made [and] will continue to give us all the support they have given so far.’

The national ADL’s position on the Armenian Genoicde runs counter to the position of a wide range of Jewish organizations in the Bay Area. In November, 2007, the San Francisco Bay Area’s Jewish Community Relations Council re-iterated its support for official recognition of the Armenian Genocide. As the Jewish community’s public affairs arm, the JCRC represents more than 80 Jewish organizations across the Bay Area. The organization, which includes the membership of the San Francisco chapter of the ADL, overwhelmingly approved a policy statement re-issuing a 1989 letter to Armenian community leader Bishop Aris Shirvanian, expressing support for the Armenian Genocide resolution pending in the U.S. Senate at that time. Senate Joint Resolution 212 sought to designate April 24th as a national day of remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.

Foxman’s full answer to the question about his position on the Armenian Genocide was:

“The question is, this is a public issue, a public debate. There are people out there who are not happy with the Anti-Defamation League’s position on the issue of the Armenian Genocide. To reply to your question, the Anti-Defamation League, has for as many year as I know, and I’ve been involved for 43 years in the league and its director for 21 years, has always described, the events of 1915-1918, between Turkey and/in the Ottoman Empire and the Armenian people as a massacre, as a terrible tragedy, and an issue, that, it should be resolved between the Turkish people and the Armenian people.

We never denied it... We never challenged or questioned... We didn’t use the words that you use... And it’s not a moral question of, to use your words. We could use your words. Usually a certain word becomes a political issue. And it would be as if we, the Jewish people, would say to you or everybody else, ‘Unless you use the word [Shoah] and Holocaust to describe the events of 1933-1945, unless you use our words, you are a Holocaust denier.’ That’s nonsense. We have used the word. We have used it in the context of what we believe in applying it. But we have never, never, in terms of an organization, and a people, denied the tragedy, of the massacre. But we haven’t used the word that you want to use. And you use this, and this is for all you here now, not only to accuse us, but to point to the Anti-Defamation league, to prevent us from teaching diversity, I think that’s wrong. But we’ve all, you know, wanted to share the pain. But no one can dictate to you to use the word that you want us to use. We will use the words that we feel comfortable with. And we’ve used the word genocide... And so now it’s, “Not only do you have to use the word, but you have to support legislation in Congress,’ which we don’t, and we don’t, we’re “immoral,” etc. And we have articulated our position. I’ve used the word genocide... Some people don’t like exactly how we’ve formulated it, but that’s what makes this country a democracy. And we have never denied it, we don’t deny it, but again you don’t have a right to dictate to us how the word should be formed, in what manner, and what shape...”

Flyers detailing the ADL’s position on the Armenian Genocide, which were being distributed on the sidewalk in front of the Jewish Community Center, were destroyed by security guards.
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IN THE NEWS: Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) Ends Sponsorship of "No Place for Hate"

Cites ADL’s Ongoing Denial of the Armenian Genocide

Boston, MA -- The Massachusetts Municipal Association voted unanimously on April 8, 2008 to end its sponsorship of the No Place for Hate program due to the Anti Defamation League’s (ADL) continued mischaracterization of the Armenian Genocide and its active opposition to its recognition.

The action by the nonprofit, nonpartisan association of Massachusetts cities and towns, comes after at least 12 Massachusetts communities have already withdrawn from the NPFH program concluding that their constituents' human rights needs are best served by dissociating themselves from the ADL.

In a statement released on April 8 the MMA affirmed that, "the inconsistency between the National ADL’s position on the Armenian Genocide and the human rights principles underlying NPFH is a matter of great concern to MMA Board members and the municipalities they represent. The MMA feels strongly that it is imperative to speak with absolute clarity on genocide and that, due to the NPFH program’s association with the National ADL, the Association will no longer be a sponsor of the program.”

Read the full MMA statement
, the ANC Press Release, the Boston Globe article, the Watertown Tab Article and the February 26 Open Letter from the Armenian Community to the MMA.

Read about the Michigan Armenian community's protest of Abraham Foxman's appearance at Birmingham Community House. Read about the Los Angeles area protest against the ADL national director and the Glendale, California school boycott of ADL program. Watch video of rally in front of ADL national headquarters in New York City.


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Massachusetts Municipal Association Ends Sponsorship of No Place for Hate

Armenian National Committee
47 Nichols Avenue
Watertown MA 02472
ancem@Hotmail.com

Press Release
April 8, 2008
(Revised and expanded on April 11, 2008 )

Contact: Sharistan Melkonian, 617-347-2833

Massachusetts Municipal Association Ends Sponsorship of No Place for Hate
Cites ADL’s Ongoing denial of the Armenian Genocide


Watertown, MA – The Massachusetts Municipal Association voted unanimously this week to end its sponsorship of the No Place for Hate program due to the Anti Defamation League’s (ADL) continued ambiguity about the Armenian Genocide and its active opposition to its recognition, reported the Armenian National Committee of Massachusetts.

The action by the nonprofit, nonpartisan association of Massachusetts cities and towns, comes after at least 12 Massachusetts communities, including just recently the city of Peabody, have already withdrawn from the NPFH program, concluding that their constituents' human rights needs are best served by dissociating themselves from the ADL. As of Wednesday evening all references to the No Place for Hate program had been removed from the MMA’s official website.

In a statement released on Tuesday, April 8, the MMA affirmed that, “the inconsistency between the National ADL’s position on the Armenian Genocide and the human rights principles underlying NPFH is a matter of great concern to MMA Board members and the municipalities they represent. The MMA feels strongly that it is imperative to speak with absolute clarity on genocide and that, due to the NPFH program’s association with the National ADL, the Association will no longer be a sponsor of the program.”

“The MMA made the right decision today, sending a clear signal that the ADL simply cannot be entrusted with the task of promoting tolerance and diversity in communities while it engages in the ultimate form of hate speech: genocide denial,” stated Sharistan Melkonian of the Armenian National Committee of Massachusetts.

“We appreciate the leadership of the MMA board and in particular Watertown town councilor and MMA board member Jonathan Hecht, who clearly understands the importance of speaking with absolute moral clarity about genocide and its denial,” added Melkonian, whose remarks were cited in Boston Globe coverage of the issue

When asked about the MMA’s decision, Hecht said "the MMA did the right thing in deciding to end its sponsorship of the ADL’s No Place for Hate program. Its decision expresses justice and respect for the victims of the Armenian Genocide as well as understanding of the importance of accountability in preventing human rights violations large and small."

Earlier this week a joint letter signed by Sharistan Melkonian of the Armenian National Committee and Herman Purutyan of the Armenian Assembly was sent to every MMA board member calling on the MMA to ends its sponsorship of the NPFH program.

“While some may attempt to portray this inappropriately as a complex issue, our position is simple – any professed human rights organization, regardless of any other worthy activities, should neither deny a known genocide nor lobby against its recognition,” the letter read.

“Although ADL’s motives for denying the Armenian Genocide may be based in geopolitical considerations, its discriminatory policies are entirely a local issue,” continued the letter. ”The ADL has for years violated the civil rights and dignity of many local citizens because it continues to engage in a form of holocaust denial. The ADL simply cannot be entrusted with the very task of protecting and upholding those rights. Some local citizens do not feel safe approaching their local NPFH committee for help on diversity and hate issues, as long as it is associated with the ADL, an organization that continues to practice the ultimate hate speech: genocide denial.”

And, in mid February over thirty Massachusetts churches and organizations signed a letter calling on the MMA to respectfully rescind its “endorsement of the No Place for Hate program due to the ADL’s refusal to unambiguously acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and continued active opposition to US recognition of the Genocide.”

The open letter continued. “While the achievements of the NPFH program and the hard work of its members should be applauded, their work has been compromised by the policies of the ADL which has failed to live up to the standards not only of its own mission to “secure justice and fair treatment for all citizens alike” but also of a human rights organization by its position on the Armenian Genocide.”

For the last several weeks, the ANCs of Central Massachusetts, Eastern Massachusetts, and the Merrimack Valley in collaboration with the ANC-led “No Place for Denial” team of activists, organized a massive Action Alert campaign to reach out to the MMA. Starting in late January, just after the MMA elected its new board, this campaign generated hundreds of emails, phone calls, and letters to the MMA. The ANCA web site and the No Place for Denial website were used to drive this campaign.

In addition, residents of MMA board member towns and cities were urged, through person to person contact, to reach out and educate their individual MMA representative.

“This direct contact made perhaps the greatest impact as board members heard directly from residents in their own communities,” stated George Aghjayan of the ANC of Central Massachusetts.

Pearl Teague of the ANC of Merrimack Valley agreed. “It is a tribute to the amazing commitment of residents of our great state that so many MMA board members heard first hand about the impact of a program tainted by genocide denial.”

Also this week, the No Place for Denial team, sent a letter to every member of the MMA board urging them to “follow through with your promise to sever ties with NPFH due to the Anti Defamation League's (ADL) continued mischaracterization of the Armenian Genocide and its active opposition to its recognition.”

The letter focused on the local impact of the ADL’s denial by stating that “it directly affects the very ability of anti-bias groups [associated with it, such as NPFH] to function with credibility.” It cited the Northampton, Massachusetts Human Rights Commission’s September 28 letter to ADL national director Abe Foxman which stated: “We cannot endorse selective recognition of hate by an organization that claims leadership in creating a world where there is no place for hate. This is an issue of direct relevance to citizens of our city and region who include survivors of the genocide as well as descendents of Armenian victims. Acknowledging the truth about the Armenian genocide not only has an impact on survivors and their families, it also has an impact on our ability to address other acts of hate.”

Attached to the letter was a six page document comprised of statements made by Massachusetts human rights advocates and elected officials criticizing ADL's position on the Armenian Genocide. These were compiled from video footage of town hall meetings, letters sent to the ADL by town Human Rights Committees, statements made to the press and resolutions passed by town councils and selectmen’s boards from August through December of 2007. The document is posted on the noplacefordenial.com site: http://npfdinfo.blogspot.com/2007/10/statements-by-human-rights-advocates.html

“This collection of statements condemning the ADL’s unacceptable position on the Armenian Genocide, provided the MMA with some of the most compelling arguments about why the ADL had ceased to be a viable human rights organization,” stated Sevag Arzoumanian of the No Place for Denial Team. “The fact that these testimonials came from the very people that the ADL had partnered with to build its NPFH program, made it all the more potent.”

The effort to urge the MMA to rescind its endorsement of the NPFH program began last year.

In December, the Watertown, Massachusetts, town council passed a resolution introduced by Councilor Mark Sideris urging the MMA to “immediately withdraw its sponsorship of the No Place for Hate program.” Last summer, Watertown was the first town to end ties with the NPFH program with a proclamation introduced by town councilor Marilyn Petitto Devaney who pledged to push the MMA to rescind its sponsorship of the program.

Background

The MMA originally endorsed the NPFH program providing the impetus for many communities to adopt the program. Last September, however, the MMA acknowledged the ADL’s inability to adhere to the simple yet necessary standards required of a human rights organization and called on the ADL to unambiguously recognize the Armenian Genocide and support congressional affirmation of the Armenian Genocide.

The ADL has for many years refused to acknowledge that the systematic massacre of 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923 was genocide. To make matters worse, the ADL has actively engaged in efforts to oppose Congressional affirmation of the Armenian Genocide.

Only after intense pressure which started in Watertown, Massachusetts earlier this summer did the national ADL issue a “Statement on the Armenian Genocide” on August 21, 2007.

Referring to the events of 1915-1918, the statement declared, “The consequences of those actions were indeed tantamount to genocide.” Aside from the fact that the Armenian Genocide began in 1915 and continued through 1923, the statement was not a full, unequivocal acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide.

Not only was the qualifier “tantamount” inappropriate, but the use of the word “consequences” was a clear attempt to circumvent the international legal definition of genocide by avoiding any language that would imply intent, a crucial aspect of the 1948 UN Genocide Convention definition.

The ADL remains on the record opposing Armenian Genocide legislation (H.Res.106 / S.Res.106) pending in Congress, arguing that short term geopolitical considerations related to Turkey-Israel-US relations should take precedence over the moral imperative of condemning genocide whenever and wherever it occurs.

The ADL convened its national meeting in New York City in early November at which time the issue of the Armenian Genocide was discussed.

Upon conclusion, a one sentence press statement was issued that “The National Commission of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today, at its annual meeting, decided to take no further action on the issue of the Armenian genocide.”

The controversy first came to light on July 6 when the Watertown Tab published a letter by Armenian American activist David Boyajian that spotlighted ADL national director Abe Foxman's statements opposing Congressional Armenian Genocide legislation. The letter asked the local "No Place For Hate" chapter to disassociate itself from the ADL.

The situation intensified in an explosive August 1 front page Boston Globe article in which the ANC’s Melkonian condemned Foxman's genocide denial and stated that the ANC would "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."

Later an ANC-sponsored community petition called on the Watertown No Place for Hate committee "in keeping with its principles" to urge the ADL to unambiguously acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and support Congressional affirmation.

Watertown then became the first town to end its relationship with the No Place for Hate Program by a unanimous vote of the Town Council.

At what is now considered a historic meeting, ANC spokesperson Grace Kehetian Kulegian addressed the Watertown Town Council on August 14 stating that, “On behalf of Watertown's Armenian community - and our century-long history of service and sacrifice for our town - we call upon the Town Council to dissociate itself from the ADL until such time that: The Anti-Defamation League, through its National Director, Mr. Foxman, openly and unequivocally acknowledges the Armenian Genocide and supports congressional affirmation of this crime against humanity.” This meeting set the stage for numerous other public meetings in communities throughout Massachusetts, where the ANC and local activists brought this issue to the attention of human rights commissions and town and city councils.

Watertown was followed by eleven other Massachusetts municipalities including Belmont, Newton, Arlington, Northampton, Bedford, Lexington, Westwood, Medford, Needham, Newburyport, and Peabody.

For complete information about the ADL controversy surrounding the Armenian Genocide visit http://www.noplacefordenial.com/

####

Statement by the Massachusetts Municipal Association
April 8, 2008

MASSACHUSETTS MUNICIPAL ASSOCIATION

The Massachusetts Municipal Association firmly believes that in order to build and sustain strong and vibrant communities throughout the Commonwealth, it is essential to promote and protect basic human rights, mutual understanding, and reconciliation.

In a resolution adopted on September 11, 2007, the MMA Board of Directors stated that the terrible crimes committed against the Armenian people by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 must be recognized as genocide. In its resolution, the MMA applauded the New England Regional Director and New England Regional Executive Committee of the ADL for unequivocally recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The MMA further called on the National ADL to adopt the position of the New England Region at the ADL’s National Commission meeting in November and to support the Congressional Resolution on the Armenian Genocide.

The MMA Board of Directors expresses its strong disapproval that the National ADL did not use the opportunity of its November meeting to clarify and strengthen its earlier statements concerning recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The Board believes that unequivocal recognition of the Armenian Genocide is both a matter of basic justice to its victims as well as essential to efforts to prevent future genocides.

Since 1999, the MMA has been an official sponsor of the No Place for Hate (NPFH) program offered by the New England Region of the ADL. The NPFH program is intended to assist municipalities in Massachusetts to combat bias and promote tolerance. By helping to reduce acts of violence and discrimination, NPFH has brought important tangible benefits to the cities and towns which have chosen to participate in the program. It stands as a worthy monument to the good works of the man who inspired its creation, the late Leonard Zakim.

The inconsistency between the National ADL’s position on the Armenian Genocide and the human rights principles underlying NPFH is a matter of great concern to MMA Board members and the municipalities they represent. The MMA feels strongly that it is imperative to speak with absolute clarity on genocide and that, due to the NPFH program’s association with the National ADL, the Association will no longer be a sponsor of the program.

While these issues will continue to be discussed by municipalities and concerned individuals, the NPFH program has changed. The New England Region of the ADL recently announced that the NPFH program is moving to a community-based model. The program will be available as a resource to community and civic groups but will no longer seek local government sponsorship or certify cities and towns as NPFH communities.

For Massachusetts municipalities that seek a program specifically designed for local governments to promote tolerance, combat racism and discrimination, and facilitate community building, the MMA commends the National League of Cities Inclusive Communities program, which can be accessed via the NLC’s website (www.nlc.org). The NLC’s program includes 190 cities and towns in 40 states and provides an ever-expanding toolbox for municipal officials.
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Statement by the Massachusetts Municipal Association Ending Sponsorship of No Place for Hate Program

April 8, 2008

BOSTON - Massachusetts Municipal Association

The Massachusetts Municipal Association firmly believes that in order to build and sustain strong and vibrant communities throughout the Commonwealth, it is essential to promote and protect basic human rights, mutual understanding, and reconciliation.

In a resolution adopted on September 11, 2007, the MMA Board of Directors stated that the terrible crimes committed against the Armenian people by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 must be recognized as genocide. In its resolution, the MMA applauded the New England Regional Director and New England Regional Executive Committee of the ADL for unequivocally recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The MMA further called on the National ADL to adopt the position of the New England Region at the ADL’s National Commission meeting in November and to support the Congressional Resolution on the Armenian Genocide.

The MMA Board of Directors expresses its strong disapproval that the National ADL did not use the opportunity of its November meeting to clarify and strengthen its earlier statements concerning recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The Board believes that unequivocal recognition of the Armenian Genocide is both a matter of basic justice to its victims as well as essential to efforts to prevent future genocides.

Since 1999, the MMA has been an official sponsor of the No Place for Hate (NPFH) program offered by the New England Region of the ADL. The NPFH program is intended to assist municipalities in Massachusetts to combat bias and promote tolerance. By helping to reduce acts of violence and discrimination, NPFH has brought important tangible benefits to the cities and towns which have chosen to participate in the program. It stands as a worthy monument to the good works of the man who inspired its creation, the late Leonard Zakim.

The inconsistency between the National ADL’s position on the Armenian Genocide and the human rights principles underlying NPFH is a matter of great concern to MMA Board members and the municipalities they represent. The MMA feels strongly that it is imperative to speak with absolute clarity on genocide and that, due to the NPFH program’s association with the National ADL, the Association will no longer be a sponsor of the program.

While these issues will continue to be discussed by municipalities and concerned individuals, the NPFH program has changed. The New England Region of the ADL recently announced that the NPFH program is moving to a community-based model. The program will be available as a resource to community and civic groups but will no longer seek local government sponsorship or certify cities and towns as NPFH communities.

For Massachusetts municipalities that seek a program specifically designed for local governments to promote tolerance, combat racism and discrimination, and facilitate community building, the MMA commends the National League of Cities Inclusive Communities program, which can be accessed via the NLC’s website (www.nlc.org). The NLC’s program includes 190 cities and towns in 40 states and provides an ever-expanding toolbox for municipal officials.

Statement Adopted by Vote of the MMA Board of Directors on 04/08/08
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