Massachusetts Municipal Association Ends ‘No Place for Hate’ Sponsorship

WATERTOWN, Mass.–The Massachusetts Municipal Association Tuesday voted to ends its sponsorship of the No Place for Hate program due to the Anti Defamation League’s continued ambiguity about the Armenian Genocide and its active opposition to its recognition, reported the Armenian National Committee.
The action by the nonprofit, nonpartisan association of Massachusetts cities and towns comes after at least 12 Massachusetts communities have already withdrawn from the NPFH program concluding that their constituents’ human rights needs are best served by dissociating themselves from the ADL, an organization that engages in the worst form of hate speech: genocide denial.
In a statement released Tuesday the MMA affirmed that, “the inconsistency between the National ADL’s position on the Armenian Genocide and the human rights principles underlying NPFH is a matter of great concern to MMA Board members and the municipalities they represent. The MMA feels strongly that it is imperative to speak with absolute clarity on genocide and that, due to the NPFH program’s association with the National ADL, the Association will no longer be a sponsor of the program.”
“The MMA made the right decision today, sending a clear signal that the ADL simply cannot be entrusted with the task of promoting tolerance and diversity in communities while it engages in the ultimate form of hate speech: genocide denial,” stated Sharistan Melkonian of the Armenian National Committee.

Background
The MMA originally endorsed the NPFH program providing the impetus for many communities to adopt the program. Last September, however, the MMA acknowledged the ADL’s inability to adhere to the simple yet necessary standards required of a human rights organization and called on the ADL to unambiguously recognize the Armenian Genocide and support congressional affirmation of the Armenian Genocide.
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 earlier this summer did the national ADL issue a “Statement on the Armenian Genocide” on August 21, 2007.
Referring to the events of 1915-1918, the statement 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” was seen by many as an attempt to circumvent 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

Statement by the Massachusetts Municipal Association
April 8, 2008

MASSACHUSETTS MUNICIPAL ASSOCIATION

The Massachusetts Municipal Association firmly believes that in order to build and sustain strong and vibrant communities throughout the Commonwealth, it is essential to promote and protect basic human rights, mutual understanding, and reconciliation.
In a resolution adopted on September 11, 2007, the MMA Board of Directors stated that the terrible crimes committed against the Armenian people by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 must be recognized as genocide. In its resolution, the MMA applauded the New England Regional Director and New England Regional Executive Committee of the ADL for unequivocally recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The MMA further called on the National ADL to adopt the position of the New England Region at the ADL’s National Commission meeting in November and to support the Congressional Resolution on the Armenian Genocide.
The MMA Board of Directors expresses its strong disapproval that the National ADL did not use the opportunity of its November meeting to clarify and strengthen its earlier statemen’s concerning recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The Board believes that unequivocal recognition of the Armenian Genocide is both a matter of basic justice to its victims as well as essential to efforts to prevent future genocides.
Since 1999, the MMA has been an official sponsor of the No Place for Hate (NPFH) program offered by the New England Region of the ADL. The NPFH program is intended to assist municipalities in Massachusetts to combat bias and promote tolerance. By helping to reduce acts of violence and discrimination, NPFH has brought important tangible benefits to the cities and towns which have chosen to participate in the program. It stands as a worthy monument to the good works of the man who inspired its creation, the late Leonard Zakim.
The inconsistency between the National ADL’s position on the Armenian Genocide and the human rights principles underlying NPFH is a matter of great concern to MMA Board members and the municipalities they represent. The MMA feels strongly that it is imperative to speak with absolute clarity on genocide and that, due to the NPFH program’s association with the National ADL, the Association will no longer be a sponsor of the program.
While these issues will continue to be discussed by municipalities and concerned individuals, the NPFH program has changed. The New England Region of the ADL recently announced that the NPFH program is moving to a community-based model. The program will be available as a resource to community and civic groups but will no longer seek local government sponsorship or certify cities and towns as NPFH communities. For Massachusetts municipalities that seek a program specifically designed for local governmen’s to promote tolerance, combat racism and discrimination, and facilitate community building, the MMA commen’s the National League of Cities Inclusive Communities program, which can be accessed via the NLC’s website (www.nlc.org). The NLC’s program includes 190 cities and towns in 40 states and provides an ever-expanding toolbox for municipal officials.

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