Newton dropped out of the No Place for Hate program today, joining Watertown and Belmont in protesting the Anti-Defamation League's ambiguous stance on the Armenian genocide.
ADL National Director Abraham Foxman has said the mass killings were "tantamount to genocide,'' but a growing number of critics are dissatisfied with that response and with the ADL's refusal to endorse a congressional resolution acknowledging the genocide.
"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,'' Newton Mayor David Cohen said in a statement today. Cohen, who is Jewish, said Newton hopes "for the day when national ADL leadership fully and unequivocally embraces'' the effort to acknowledge the genocide.
The ADL, a non-profit established to fight anti-Semitism and bigotry, created the No Place for Hate program in 1999 as a vehicle for local municipalities to take a public stand against bias. In late August, the Newton Human Rights Commission voted unanimously to urge Cohen to end its participation the program.
Nancy Kaufman, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, was critical of Cohen's decision. She said the council officially recognized the Armenian genocide two years ago on the anniversary of the deaths and that New England leaders have already sent a clear message to national ADL officials.
"I think it's unfortunate that a program that is designed to bring groups together to counteract hate against any one group is now the focus of the whole issue," she said today. "I think we're missing the forest for the trees."
-- Megan Woolhouse
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