WATERTOWN, Mass.-Massachusetts Armenian American organizations today urged the Massachusetts Municipal Association to end its endorsement of the Anti Defamation League’s No Place for Hate program.
In an open letter, over thirty Armenian American organizations from across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts called on the MMA to rescind its "endorsement of the No Place for Hate program due to the ADL’s refusal to unambiguously acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and its continued active opposition to US recognition of the Genocide." See full text of letter below.
The letter praised the MMA for urging the Anti Defamation League last September to "remain true to its own mission and fully and unequivocally acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and express support for U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide" but declared that "as human rights organization and especially as an organization that sponsors tolerance education programs in our communities, the ADL is expected to speak with absolute moral clarity about genocide and its denial. As it stands, the ADL’s August 21 statement with its convoluted and irresolute language remains the ADL’s official statement on the Armenian Genocide."
The Armenian American community letter to the MMA comes just one month after the MMA held its annual meeting and elected a new board of directors.
"Despite repeated calls, the ADL has refused to recognize the Armenian Genocide, and as such, has lost the moral authority as a human rights organization, stated Herman Purutyan, Massachusetts state chair for the Armenian Assembly of America. "We urge the Massachusetts Municipal Association to join our communities and sever its ties with the No Place For Hate program, as long as the program is tainted by Genocide denial."
"The MMA took a principled stand in September by calling on the ADL to do what so many of us hoped it would: unequivocally acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and end its active opposition to Congressional affirmation of the Genocide," stated Sharistan Melkonian of the Armenian National Committee. "The ADL sadly fell short of its responsibilities as a human rights organization and we now look to the MMA to do the only right thing: end its endorsement of a program sponsored by an organization which engages in genocide denial."
According to the MMA’s website, the No Place for Hate program was created by the Anti Defamation League in partnership with the Massachusetts Municipal Association "to provide communities with a solid framework for promoting an inclusive environment while fighting all forms of hate and bigotry."
Last September the MMA passed a resolution calling on the ADL to "support the Congressional [Armenian Genocide] Resolution." In a letter to local No Place for Hate communities the MMA stated that it had "issued a strong and unequivocal statement on the importance of recognizing the Armenian Genocide and supporting passage of the Congressional Resolution." The letter also affirmed that the MMA "called on the national ADL organization to do the same" and concluded by stating that it would "review and monitor this matter, recognizing that while progress has been made," the MMA would "re-evaluate our official sponsorship of NPFH after the national ADL determines whether to adopt this position."
The ADL has for many years refused to acknowledge that the systematic massacre of 1.5 million Armenia’s 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 last summer did the national ADL issue a statement on August 21, 2007 which referring to the events of 1915-1918, 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" circumvented 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 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." http://www.adl.org/PresRele/Mise_00/5162_00.htm
For complete information about the ADL controversy surrounding the Armenian Genocide visit www.noplacefordenial.com
Open Letter from the Armenian American Community to the Massachusetts Municipal Association
February 26, 2008
Massachusetts Municipal Association
One Winthrop Square
Boston MA 02110
Dear Chairman Tobey and Members,
We write to you in light of the November 2007 decision of the Anti-Defamation League "to take no further action" regarding its policy on the Armenian Genocide and respectfully urge you to rescind your endorsement of the No Place for Hate (NPFH) program due to the ADL’s refusal to unambiguously acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and its continued active opposition to US recognition of the Genocide.
Last September the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) wrote to the ADL asking the ADL to remain true to its own mission and fully and unequivocally acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and express support for U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
Upon conclusion of its National Commissioners meeting in early November, however, the ADL issued a one sentence press statement declaring 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."
As a human rights organization and especially as an organization that sponsors tolerance education programs in our communities, the ADL is expected to speak with absolute moral clarity about genocide and its denial. As it stands, the ADL’s August 21 statement with its convoluted and irresolute language remains the ADL’s official statement on the Armenian Genocide.
While the achievemen’s 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. In addition, by not distancing itself from this position and instead publicly stating that their position is now one and the same with that of the National, the New England ADL has disappointingly retreated from the principled position it took in August.
The Belmont Human Rights Commission said it best: "ADL and the No Place for Hate program emphasize that the "tip of the pyramid of hatred" is genocide. How can we, in good faith, ask our community to work at the base of this same pyramid while the No Place for Hate sponsor is actively working against congressional, international recognition of the Armenian genocide?" (September 6, 2007)
We respectfully ask that you rescind your 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.
Armenian Assembly of America
Armenian Church of the Holy Translators (Framingham, MA)
Armenian Church of the Martyrs (Worcester, MA)
Armenian Church of Our Savior (Worcester, MA)
Armenian Democratic Liberal Organization
Armenian General Benevolent Union
Armenian General Benevolent Union Young Professionals Armenian Independent Broadcasting of Boston
Armenian Mirror Spectator Weekly
Armenian National Committee
Armenian Relief Society Cambridge Shushi Chapter
Armenian Relief Society Worcester Knar Chapter
Armenian Relief Society Lola Sassouni Chapter
Armenian Relief Society Lowell Lousintak Chapter
Armenian Revolutionary Federation The Armenian Weekly
Armenian Youth Federation Worcester Aram Chapter
Armenian Youth Federation Greater Boston Chapter
First Armenian Church (Belmont, MA)
Hairenik Weekly Hamazkayin Boston Chapter
Holy Cross Armenian Catholic Church (Belmont, MA)
Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church (Worcester, MA)
Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church of Greater Boston (Cambridge, MA)
Homenetmen Greater Boston Chapter
National Association for Armenian Studies and Research
North Andover Sasoun Armenian Youth Federation Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives
Social Democratic Hunchakian Party St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley (North Andover, MA)
St. James Armenian Apostolic Church (Watertown, MA)
St. Stephen’s Armenian Apostolic Church (Watertown, MA)
Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church (Chelmsford, MA)
Tekeyan Cultural Association Boston Chapter