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Members of the Armenian community here still say the Anti-Defamation League is complicit in "genocide denial," despite the ADL's recent acknowledgment that the murder of Armenians was "tantamount to genocide."
The Boston-area Armenians also said the world's failure to stop the murder of Armenians during WWI had made the Holocaust possible.
They are pressing the ADL to lobby on their behalf for official recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the US government.
"If the world had done something when the [Armenian] Genocide happened, they would have prevented the Holocaust," said Sarkis Antreassian, as he sat with the owner of the Arax grocery store in Boston's Watertown suburb as the latter helped an Israeli in the checkout line. Watertown is home to a large Armenian community.
"Hitler said, when he was killing the Jews: 'Who remembered the Armenians? Nobody remembered the Armenians, so nobody will care about the Jews.' So he kept killing them," Antreassian reasoned.
The ADL had "upset a lot of Armenians," he said, added that the US was hesitant to openly acknowledge the genocide because of the American military bases on "the occupied Armenian land" and the conflict it would create with millions of Kurds [in eastern Turkey] who where living "on the Armenian land too."
But he was optimistic that things would work out in the end.
"Sooner or later it [the Armenian Genocide] will be accepted," said Antreassian. "I don't know if I'm going to see that, but it will be accepted. You can't keep denying. It's getting worse and worse every year. When the whole world accepts it, the United States has to accept it. Maybe not too soon, but it will happen."
Other Armenians also said it was a moral imperative for the ADL to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide.
"Have we [the Armenians] ever denied the reality of the Holocaust? Never. We would never dream of doing so," Tatul Sonentz Papazian, the executive director of the Armenian Relief Society, said outside Watertown's Armenian Cultural Association building.
He was surprised the ADL had not officially recognized the genocide, he said, since it was an organization whose "basis is on morality. You know - defending those who can not defend themselves against people who attack them... They pretend to be something that they are not. They've become a highly politicized agency of Israel."
"They should tell it like it is," Sonentz Papazian added.
The ADL preached "tolerance, but practiced divisiveness and denial," said Armenian National Committee representative Grace Kehetian Kulegian. She suggested the ADL echoed the "rhetoric of the Turkish government," and said she hoped the Jewish organization would end its "truly unfortunate affiliation with genocide denial."
"We cannot join with the ADL when they refuse to recognize the genocide," added Watertown Councilor-at-Large Marilyn Petitto Devaney.
The suburb's large Armenian community is backing a proclamation sponsored by Petitto Devaney to suspend cooperation with the ADL in an anti-bigotry program.
"The ADL has no part in this [the "No Place for Hate" program], and we should not allow partnership with them," said Petitto Devaney, who sits on the Governor's Council that oversees state judges' nominations.
The councilwoman said she was motivated by a friend of hers whose grandmother only revealed that she had been raped during the Armenian Genocide, at the age of 12, about five years before she died.
Another friend, Petitto Devaney said, told her that "his mother never talked about her surviving and losing all her family in the genocide. But on her death bed, she said in Armenian: 'They're coming for us now.'
"So for them, and all who died... [and for the] survivors, I offer this proclamation."
According to the proclamation, the ADL denied the "facts of the horrific Armenian Genocide" and "deprived the Armenian people of a right to their history."
Saying that they had never "negated" the "painful events of 1915-1918 perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians as massacres and atrocities," the Anti-Defamation League denied claims it had shown any disrespect for Armenian history. At the same time, the ADL said that lobbying on behalf of the Armenians would not improve Turkish-Armenian relations.
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