Newton leaves ADL

By Denebola
Published: September 2007

By Nathan Yeo
Mayor David Cohen withdrew Newton from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) sponsored “No Place for Hate” program on September 19 due to a controversy over the group’s views on the Armenian genocide.

The ADL, a group that combats anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry, has been embroiled in controversy ever since news broke that it did not recognize the Armenian Genocide.

The controversy began in Watertown, a city with a large Armenian population. Watertown, Arlington, and Belmont have all withdrawn from the program.

“The recognition of the Armenian Genocide is an important step along the path of freedom and justice, and crucial in combating other genocides now and in the future,” Cohen said in a statement explaining his decision.

The ADL’s New England Director, Andrew Tarsy, felt that Cohen’s decision was “disappointing.”

Tarsy was fired by the ADL for breaking ranks and openly stating that he felt the ADL should recognize the Armenian Genocide. However, he was rehired after the national ADL released a statement saying that the massacre of Armenians was “tantamount to genocide.”

The decision to leave “No Place for Hate” came after Newton’s Human Rights Commission recommended the measure to the mayor on September 11.

” N o t r e c o g – n i z i n g the Armenian g e n o c i d e i s a n a c t o f i n j u s – t i c e , ” S o u t h S p a n – i s h teacher Vivian Planine a n d m e m – b e r o f t h e Human Ri g h t s C o m – m i s – s i o n s a i d . ”

W e can’t support an organization that would do that.”

Much of the debate focuses on pending congressional legislation that would have the US officially recognize the Armenian genocide.

The ADL, however, is not supportive of such a measure.

“We continue to firmly believe that a Congressional resolution on such matters is a counter-productive diversion and will not foster reconciliation between Turks and Armenians and may put at risk the Turkish Jewish community and the important multilateral relationship between Turkey, Israel and the United State,” national ADL director, Abraham Foxman, said in a statement.

Planine disagrees and feels that human rights should always come before politics.

“Politics shouldn’t be part of it,” she said.

The “No Place For Hate” program plans and organizes anti-racism and anti-bigotry events events. According to Planine, despite leaving “No Place for Hate”, Newton will continue to have similar anti-bigotry programs. Also, those who advocated leaving it give the program great praise.

“Over the last seven years, the ADL’s ‘No Place For Hate’ program has helped bring informative forums and events to our citizens that have strengthened our ties with one another, and made our City a better place,” Cohen said.

During World War I, Turks killed around 1.5 million Armenians in event that is widely regarded by historians as genocide. Many c o u n – t r i e s a r o u n d the word o f f i – c i a l l y r e c o g – nize the event as g e n o – cide. In s o m e c o u n – tries, it is even conside r e d a crime to deny it. Turkey, h o w – e v e r , m a i n – t a i n s that the killings were not part of a planned genocide, and it is a crime to recognize it in the county.

Cohen and the Human Rights Commission said they would rescind their decision should the ADL officially recognize the Armenian genocide at a national conference on November 1.

“We hope for the day when national ADL leadership fully and unequivocally [recognizes the Armenian genocide], and the City of Newton can again participate in the ‘No Place For Hate’ program,” Cohen said.

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