Newton Tab: Letter to the Editor: "Newton should cut ties to Mass. Municipal Association"

Letter: Newton should cut ties to Mass. Municipal Association
Jan 29, 2008

The Massachusetts Municipal Association — Newton is a member and Mayor Cohen sits on its board — has been dragging its feet on fulfilling a solemn pledge it made on Sept. 11 of last year.

The MMA promised to “re-evaluate” its umbrella sponsorship of the Anti-Defamation League’s No Place for Hate chapters if the ADL didn’t reverse its position on the Armenian genocide at its national meeting in November.

Well, the ADL scandalously clung to its unethical stance at that meeting. The national ADL’s position thus remains highly ambiguous — and actually denialist — regarding the Armenian genocide. ADL also hypocritically continues to oppose U.S. affirmation of that genocide — affirmation which the commonwealth’s entire Congressional delegation favors.

Appalled by the ADL’s double standards, municipalities that include Newton, Arlington, Belmont, Medford, Needham, Lexington, Watertown, and Westwood have decertified their No Place For Hate programs.

Had it been sponsoring a group created by a Holocaust-denying organization, the MMA would have severed ties long ago. The MMA apparently deems certain genocides to be less important than others. And perhaps an investigation of MMA’s ties to ADL members is needed.

Newton and the mayor must cut ties to the MMA unless the latter acts quickly to cut ties to No Place For Hate and ADL.

David Boyajian
Mount Ida Stree
read more

Foxman Assures Gul that Genocide Bill is not Relevant

Friday, January 11, 2008

ISTANBUL (Marmara)--During his visit to the United States, Turkish President Abdullah Gul met Thursday with representatives of Jewish organizations, among them the Anti-Defamation League, who assured the Turkish leader that the Armenian Genocide resolution pending in Congress should not worry his government or the Turkish people.

During a meeting with ADL national chairman Abraham Foxman, Gul was assured of the organization’s opposition to the Genocide Resolution, adding that the matter was no longer a relevant concern for Jewish organizations, which will continue to oppose the measure.
Foxman said that his organization was pleased that Turkey had friendly relations with the US, Israel and the Jewish-American community.

After his meeting with Gul, Foxman told reporters that the Armenian Genocide Resolution had ceased to be an issue, since it was not the Congressional agenda. After reiterating his organization’s opposition, he added that utilizing the Armenian Genocide issue for political gain was wrong. He also urged for the creation of a council of historians to assess the events of 1915.
read more

David Boyajian: One Man Makes Difference

The Armenian Mirror-Spectator
January 4, 2008

By Daphne Abeel
Mirror-Spectator Staff

NEWTON, Mass. - It could not have been much of a surprise to David Boyajian when his hometown newspaper, the Newton TAB, named him as one of the newsmakers of the year. Boyajian, a longtime activist in the Armenian-American community and freelance writer, made waves this past July when his letter to the Watertown TAB and Press questioned the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) stance on the Armenian Genocide.

Boyajian expressed outrage that the ADL national director Abraham Foxman had refused to recognize the Genocide. Neither would Foxman and the ADL support House and Senate resolutions that would make genocide recognition official.

His revelation set off a virtual firestorm of activity in Massachusetts communities where boards of selectmen and town councilors considered recommendations to sever ties with the ADL-sponsored program No Place for Hate (NPFH).New England’s regional director Andrew Tarsy expressed support for recognition of the Genocide and was fired. Subsequently, he was rehired, but resigned late in the year subsequent to a November meeting when the national ADL made a decision to stand by its statement that the events of 1915 were ‘tantamount to genocide,’ a position that was unacceptable to the Armenian-American community and its supporters.

Watertown was the first town to withdraw its support for NPFH. Newton and other towns soon followed suit. Boyajian remained in the forefront of the statewide campaign to persuade communities to separate themselves from the ADL. At a meeting in Belmont in October, which drew community leaders, activists, academics and politicians, Boyajian urged continued activism and stated,‘ The important word is activism. Write a letter, call an official or leaflet. This is the finest tradition of free speech and independence. We are in a battle.’ Added Boyajian, ‘The ADL condemns all genocides except the Armenian one. Its hypocrisy is breathtaking.’

Boyajian continued to attend and speak out as other towns, including Arlington, Lexington, Westwood and Needham joined the ever-increasing group of communities that voted to sever its ties with NPFH. He was present at the December Watertown Town Council meeting, which passed a resolution to call on the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) to rescind its endorsement of NPFH, the ADL-sponsored program.

In a New Year’s interview, Boyajian said, ‘This has all had a big impact in Massachusetts, but it’s made international news, too. The Turkish ambassador to Israel flew back to Turkey to protest what was first thought to be a Jewish group going back on its promise to Israel. Turkey lumps all Jewish groups together. In any case, they’ve all been weakened by the defense ofthis policy. Of course, it wasn’t really true that the ADL had shifted it policy in any important way.’
Boyajian said he thought the exposure of the ADL’s position on theGenocide might have diminished Jewish lobbying of Congress to oppose the Genocide Resolution.

‘All of this has made the ADL look bad and I imagine that Congressis not being pressured as much,’ said Boyajian.

Boyajian says that the campaign regarding ADL has put him in touch with a lot of activists. ‘I’ve made a lot of friends. This issue galvanized people who are usually not active on a local level.’
He added, ‘This was a real grassroots effort and it’s one of the reasons I think it is so important. There hasn’t been anything like this on a local level for a long time. People have gone to town meetings and spoken up. A lot of Armenians, especially in eastern Massachusetts, can be very proud of what they have accomplished.’

Boyajian said that the results of his letter bolstered his belief in the power of individual action.
‘First of all, I think you should believe in acting by yourself, or joining with a few friends whenever you see Genocide denial. If the cause is a good one, Armenian organizations will join you. But sometimes, it takes an individual to get things going.’

Boyajian is pleased with what has happened in Massachusetts, but said he felt the campaign to sever ties with the ADL program should go national. ‘The Armenian lobby organizations need field officers throughout the US: thinly-staffed regional offices are not enough and volunteers are not enough. They get overwhelmed and get tired. The lobbying groups need to be more active in New York and Los Angeles especially. No Place for Hate has programs in these areas. The effort really has to go national. It takes money, but it needs to be done.

Boyajian is hopeful that the MMA will accept the Watertown resolution. Their decision is now with the executive board, and they should act on it and not delay. They could send a message statewide so that Armenians would not be forced to argue for this from town to town. There are still about 45 to 50 towns in the state that have the NPFH program.’

Boyajian vowed to continue his involvement. ‘This is not over. We need to follow this through to the point where No Place for Hate doesn’t exist in Massachusetts.’

He also expressed satisfaction in what has been done so far. ‘It was a good year. All this shows what Armenians can do when they get active on behalf of a specific goal. This effort shows that we can take on powerful opponents like the ADL if we have the right arguments on our side.’
read more