BELMONT, Mass.–More than 100 residents applauded the Belmont, MA Human Rights Commission September 6th decision to unanimously call on the local Board of Selectmen to sever ties with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), citing their ongoing opposition to Armenian Genocide recognition, reported the Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts.
Belmont Human Rights Commission (BHRC) Chairwoman Laurie Graham presided over the town hall meeting which featured a groundswell of poignant statemen’s by residents of Armenian, Jewish and diverse backgrounds citing that opposition to Armenian Genocide recognition is offensive to local citizenry and runs counter to the most basic principles of a local program promoting tolerance and human rights.
“We applaud the Belmont Human Rights Commission for standing up for truth and human dignity by rejecting ties with the ADL – an organization against Armenian Genocide recognition,” stated Aram Kaligian of the ANC-EM. “In Belmont and cities across Massachusetts, we are seeing democracy in action ‘s our diverse communities speaking out, collectively, to support U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide, in our ongoing struggle to stamp out genocide around the world.”
Belmont Armenian American community activist Lenna Garibian, a grand daughter of genocide survivors, stated that the question at hand was not about the reality of the Armenian Genocide but about the moral imperative to speak openly and honestly about this crime against humanity. “No Armenian should sit with a revisionist Turkish historian; to discuss whether the genocide happened or not. The world knows. Turkey knows. [ADL director] Abe Foxman knows. This was a genocide," explained Garibian who went on to note that HRC decision “sets a good tone moving forward, that Belmont will not tolerate an equivocation of the truth, of justice."
That sentiment was echoed throughout speeches given during the evening, with emphasis on ending Genocide and Holocaust denial in all forms. Massachusetts State Assemblywoman Rachel Kaprielian cited the resurging trend of Holocaust denial worldwide as survivors pass away and a political gap between the younger and older generations widens. “The survivors see what is coming down the road, just as their parents saw it,” explained Kaprielian. “You have so much power and ability to say to our government, %u218This is fact’, while there are still survivors alive,” continued Kaprielian.
Speakers also focused on U.S. affirmation of the Armenian Genocide, and overall commitment to ending this crime against humanity. Belmont resident Joyce Barsam quoted author Samantha Powers from her Pulitzer Prize winning book A Problem From Hell, stating “If only America had been made of more upstanders, instead of bystanders- America would be in a very different position today.” Barsam continued, stating “I am asking this committee to be upstanders instead of bystanders of the Armenian Genocide. We hope you stand up for the truth and the human rights that you are commissioned to support.”
Expressing concern about the ADL’s opposition to Armenian Genocide legislation citing the safety of Jews in Turkey, Belmont resident Lisa Sedrakian argued that “if Jews are affected in Turkey, it will be the Turks to blame, not the Armenian-American community.”
Watertown Town Council Member and sponsor of the resolution severing her town’s ties with the ADL Marilyn Petitto Devaney was forceful in her deman’s that the National ADL end its campaign against the Armenian Genocide Resolution. “I want the National ADL to stop lobbying to kill the Genocide Resolution [in Congress and the House], as they have done for years. This could be the year we prevail.”
Dr. Jack Nusan Porter, former Rabbi, Director of the Spencer Institute and a treasurer of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, who has been an outspoken opponent to the ADL’s opposition to Armenian Genocide recognition, stated `I fear for the future of the ADL. I think this could tear it apart. You must send a powerful message to sever ties with the ADL now.’
ANC Eastern Massachusetts Representative Aram Kaligian was clear in the Armenian American community’s request of the BHRC members. “We urge you to stand with the Armenian American and Jewish American communities in helping the ADL national leadership come to the right side on this issue,” explained Kaligian, calling for unambiguous affirmation of the Armenian Genocide and support for Armenian Genocide legislation. Kaligian went on to urge attendees to “get the phone numbers of the Town Selectmen here, and call them and let them know how you feel about the ADL’s attempts to cast doubt on the tragic events of 1915. . . And if you think that you might feel a little uncomfortable calling up a stranger and telling him how you feel about the denial of the Armenian Genocide, I want you to remember the stories your grandparents told you about how they walked through the desert. . . They had the courage to live through these atrocities, the least we can do is have the courage to pick up the phone and call our Town Selectmen and demand that they not tarnish the memory of our grandparents.”
The BHRC voted overwhelmingly to sever ties with the ADL ‘s a decision considered seriously by two Belmont Selectmen present at the proceedings. According to the Belmont Citizen Herald, Selectman Paul Solomon said “he was in total support of the HRC’s position. %u218This is in advance of the [selectmen’s discussion], but I will support their stand.’” Selectman Dan Leclerc stated he was “in the process of processing [the decision.]”
The BHRC vote to sever ties comes as cities affiliated with the ADL’s “No Place for Hate” tolerance program throughout Massachusetts reconsider their ties to an organization with a history of Armenian Genocide denial and which continues to oppose Congressional Armenian Genocide legislation (H.Res.106 /S.Res.106). Watertown was the first to disaffiliate with the tainted NPFH program, followed by a suspension of ties by Arlington, and decisions by the towns of Newton, Needham, Newburyport, Bedford to cut ties if the ADL does not alter its policies on the Armenian Genocide.
For complete information about the Abe Foxman / ADL controversy surrounding the Armenian Genocide visit http://www.noplacefordenial.com