Citing Genocide Denial, Watertown Votes to Sever Ties With Anti-Defamation League

A sign opposing the ADL at the Watertown Town Council

WATERTOWN, Mass.–The Watertown, Massachusetts Town Council voted unanimously this evening to cut ties with the Anti-Defamation League, citing concerns about ADL National Director Abraham Foxman’s denial of the Armenian Genocide and opposition to Congressional legislation reaffirming that crime against humanity, reported the Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts.
“The ANCEM applauds the Town Council for stating clearly and unequivocally that there is no place for Armenian Genocide denial in Watertown,” stated ANCEM chairperson Sharistan Melkonian “We hope that this action will prompt the ADL and its National Chairman Abe Foxman to rethink their flawed policies on this issue, recognize the Armenian Genocide and end their efforts to stop its reaffirmation by Congress.”
The proclamation, introduced by Watertown Councillor-At-Large Marilyn Petitto Devaney, stated: “The Town Council has become aware that the ADL, denies the facts of the horrific Armenian Genocide, that occurred from 1915 to 1923, in which the premeditated, systematic and deliberate murders of more that one and one half million Armenia’s from 1915 to 1923 took place, as well as continuing to deprive the Armenian people of a right to their history – The Town Council can not continue to join with such an organization.”
The proclamation went on to reaffirm Watertown’s commitment to “celebrate its diversity and continue to honor its tradition of tolerance and respect for all people for which it has always been known.”
Watertown residents spoke poignantly before the capacity crowd in attendance to express their concerns about local affiliation with the ADL’s genocide denial policies, moving Town Council members to take decisive action and encourage other Massachusetts towns to follow in their footsteps.
In her remarks before the Town Council, ANCEM representative Grace Kulegian stated that “We are confident that the just resolution of this matter will deepen Watertown’s commitment to tolerance, strengthen No Place for Hate’s ability to speak with real moral clarity, and – for the sake of its members and its own future as an organization – end the ADL’s truly unfortunate affiliation with genocide denial."
The Watertown – ADL controversy erupted in recent weeks, with Boston area civil rights advocates, and local Armenian and Jewish American community members expressing disappointment and outrage at recent statemen’s by ADL National Director Abe Foxman denying the Armenian Genocide. Editorials and community letters in the local Watertown Tab and Boston Globe cast a shadow on the credibility of the anti-racism program, No Place for Hate, due to its affiliation with the ADL.



Text of Watertown Town Council Proclamation


WHEREAS: the Town Council on July 12, 2005 voted unanimously to proclaim Watertown a "No Place for Hate" municipality; and,
WHEREAS: The Town Council committed to fulfill the criteria in good faith, to join with its sponsors: the anti-defamation league, (ADL) Massachusetts Municipal Association and other coalition members to take specific actions to combat bias and promote respect for people, and
WHEREAS: The Town Council has become aware that the ADL, denies the facts of the horrific Armenian Genocide, that occurred from 1915 to 1923, in which the premeditated, systematic and deliberate murders of more that one and one half million Armenia’s from 1915 to 1923 took place, as well as continuing to deprive the Armenian people of a right to their history – The Town Council can not continue to join with such an organization.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Town Council of the City known as the Town of Watertown hereby rescinds its partnership of the "No Place for Hate" co-sponsored by ADL.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Town Council of the City known as the Town of Watertown, although it withdraws from the aforementioned group of municipalities, hereby proclaims that Watertown will continue to celebrate its diversity and continue to honor its tradition of tolerance and respect for all people for which it has always been known.
SPONSORED BY: MARILYN M. PETITTO DEVANEY, COUNCILLOR-AT-LARGE
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the Town of Watertown to be affixed on this fourteenth day of August, 2007.


CLYDE L. YOUNGER, COUNCIL PRESIDENT


ANCEM Statement at Watertown Town Council Meeting August 14, 2007
Presented by ANCEM Representative Grace Kulegian


I rise today to briefly offer the Armenian National Committee’s views on an issue of profound meaning to the Armenia’s of Watertown – and to all of our town’s residents who share our commitment to tolerance, respect for diversity, and – ultimately – to creating a world without discrimination and genocide.
Like all of you, we regret that the controversy over the Anti-Defamation League and No Place for Hate has reached this point.
But we could not remain silent in the face of such blatant hypocrisy on a core issue of our common morality – in the face of those who preach tolerance but practice divisiveness and denial.
We had hoped to resolve this issue based on our shared values.
But for the sake of our town, for the sake of No Place for Hate, and on behalf of the many kind and decent members of the ADL, we have taken a principled stand for the truth.
We did not invite this controversy – sparked by the hateful words spoken on behalf of the ADL, by one its misguided officials Abraham Foxman.
Words far outside the proud tradition of the ADL and entirely alien to noble legacy of the American Jewish community as a powerful voice for truth and justice.
Words that have grown more offensive and insulting with each new interview and article.
Words that echo the denialist rhetoric of the Turkish government.
Hypocritical words that strikes at the very heart of the ADL’s credibility, that undermine No Place for Hate’s ability to make a difference, and, sadly, stain Watertown’s reputation as a town that fosters diversity.
Although, we did not begin this conflict, we are committed to seeing this difficult issue through.
We are confident that the just resolution of this matter will deepen Watertown’s commitment to tolerance, strengthen No Place for Hate’s ability to speak with real moral clarity, and – for the sake of its members and its own future as an organization – end the ADL’s truly unfortunate affiliation with genocide denial.
This is an issue that deman’s action – clear and decisive action by the Council.
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.


Thank you.

Authors

Discussion Policy

Comments are welcomed and encouraged. Though you are fully responsible for the content you post, comments that include profanity, personal attacks or other inappropriate material will not be permitted. Asbarez reserves the right to block users who violate any of our posting standards and policies.

*

Top