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 in a September 26th form letter 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 Armenia’s 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.
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 statemen’s in Turkey just three months ago, where he dared not properly characterize the Armenian Genocide as %u218genocide’, 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.”
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 commen’s 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 statemen’s 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.
Armenian National Committee of Massachusetts