Newton

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Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts 47 Nichols Avenue Watertown Massachusetts 02472 ancem@hotmail.com

PRESS RELEASE Contact: Sharistan Melkonian 617-347-2833

Newton, Massachusetts is No Place for Hate -- Mayor David Cohen calls for full recognition of the Armenian Genocide

Newton, Massachusetts -Mayor David Cohen this week announced his decision to adopt the recommendation of the Newton Human Rights Commission in full and "cease participation in the (Anti Defamation League's) No Place for Hate program until national ADL takes definitive action consistent with the objectives stated in the Commission's letter to Mr. Foxman dated August 24, 2007," reported the Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts (ANCEM.)

The Mayor of the state's largest Jewish American community confirmed that, `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.'

'The Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts applauds Mayor Cohen for standing up for truth and human rights by refusing to allow Newton's tolerance and anti hate program to be tainted by the policy positions of the ADL-- an organization which has unfortunately disqualified itself as an effective spokesman for tolerance education through its position on the Armenian Genocide,' stated Sharistan Melkonian of the ANCEM. `We are confident that Mayor Cohen's principled stand will help combat `genocides now and in the future' and we hope that the Mayor's leadership will prompt the ADL-National to rethink their policies on this issue, properly recognize the Armenian Genocide, and put an end their efforts to prevent its reaffirmation by Congress.

The Mayor's decision comes following a September 11 meeting during which local residents, university professors, human rights activists, students, descendents of the Armenian Genocide and Holocaust survivors, converged on Newton City Hall to make their voices heard to the local Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which unanimously voted to cut ties with the ADL's No Place for Hate (NPFH) program until the former unequivocally recognizes the Armenian genocide and supports H.R.106, the Armenian Genocide Resolution, in Congress.

Two weeks prior to the September 11 meeting, on August 21st, the Newton Human Rights Commission held a special meeting to discuss the controversy surrounding the No Place for Hate program. The NHRC then sent a letter to the New England ADL Board stipulating that program participation would require the national ADL to "fully and unequivocally recognize the Armenian Genocide" and "actively support Congressional resolution HR106."

The NHRC letter also suggested that the ADL's own August 21 `Statement on the Armenian Genocide' fell short of expectations. `While we welcomed today's lukewarm announcement by national ADL Director Foxman that they finally recognize the Armenian Genocide, we were disappointed by his stance about the Congressional [Armenian Genocide] resolution.'

Interestingly at the September 11 meeting, ADL NE Regional Board member Gerry Tishler made a passionate presentation in favor of US acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide. `I have studied, thought and written about the Armenian genocide and it wasn't `tantamount to genocide' it was genocide. ... I am also in favor of the U.S. government acknowledging and commemorating the Armenian genocide.'

Mayor Cohen's action was applauded in a September 18 NewtonTAB editorial. `Cohen made the right decision in opting to pull out of a program that is practically endorsing hypocrisy. ADL National Director Abraham Foxman continues to play with words when he says that the consequences of the Armenian massacre of WWI were `tantamount to genocide.' In too many instances, the media is letting him get away with his subtle distinction that allows him to sidestep directly labeling the tragedy a genocide. ... We are proud that Newton has participated in the program, and we are equally proud that our community severed ties in order to make a very important statement.'

`Mayor Cohen has proven that politics will not come above tolerance and human rights, at least not in Newton. We hope that the United States Congress will heed the Mayor's example and pass the Armenian Genocide Resolution,' continued Melkonian.

The Armenian National Committee is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANC actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.

Mayor Cohen's Statement on Newton as No Place for Hate

On September 11, 2007, the Newton Human Rights Commission unanimously approved a motion recommending that the City of Newton to `cease participation in the (Anti Defamation League's) No Place For Hate program until national ADL takes definitive action consistent with the objectives stated in the Commission's letter to Mr. Foxman dated August 24, 2007.'

After careful consideration I will adopt the Newton Human Rights Commission's recommendation. I will ask the Human Rights Commission to meet in November, after the national ADL meeting, to determine whether their objectives have been met.

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.

The City of Newton recognizes all that the New England chapter of the ADL has done to bring about a change national ADL policy on the Armenian Genocide, and we stand behind their efforts to change their policy at the national ADL meeting in November.

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. We hope for the day when national ADL leadership fully and unequivocally embraces the objectives stated in the August 24th letter, and the City of Newton can again participate in the No Place For Hate program.

David B. Cohen Mayor of Newton, Massachusetts September 18, 2007