Armenian National Committee of Massachusetts
47 Nichols Avenue
Watertown MA 02472
617-926-1918
[email protected]

PRESS RELEASE
September 24=2C 2008

Contact: 617-347-2833

WATERTOWN TOWN COUNCIL CALLS ON BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD TO
DISSASSOCIATE WITH CONTROVERSIAL ADL PROGRAM
Unanimously votes to call on the National ADL to End its Opposition to
Armenian Genocide Reaffirmation

WATERTOWN, MA - The Watertown Town Council unanimously voted last
night in support of a resolution calling on Blue Cross Blue Shield
(BCBS) of Massachusetts to ends its endorsement of the Anti Defamation
League's (ADL) controversial No Place for Hate (NPFH) program, citing
the ADL's opposition to Armenian Genocide affirmation efforts,
reported the Armenian National Committee of Massachusetts (ANCM).The
resolution, introduced by Councilors Marilyn Petitto Devaney, Stephen
Corbett, and Mark Sideris, was taken up during a regular Town Council
session, which was moved in advance to the Watertown Middle School to
accommodate the growing interest in this scandal.

The vote on the resolution was prefaced by the reading of a brief
statement by Jay Curley, BCBS's Senior Vice President for Public,
Government and Regulatory Affairs, who was present at the Council's
request. Following Mr. Curley's statement, all nine Town Council
members asked detailed questions regarding the BCBS position.

BCBS's Curley said that Blue Cross `firmly believes there can be no
ambiguity about the genocide' and that it should not be hidden under
confusing language. Curley, however, announced that BCBS intended to
continue its partnership with the ADL `based on assurances' [that the
ADL has recognized the Armenian genocide.] He followed that by stating
that if BCBS finds out that is not the case, `we will withdraw
support."

When asked by Councilor Corbett if this assurance was written or
verbal, Curley said that they were verbal, noting that the assurances
came from the New England ADL and that they were followed up by a
letter from Foxman, which was "perfectly clear and unambiguous to us."
Curley noted, however that BCBS was `disappointed' with the tone and
tenor of the communication from Foxman.

The communication in question is the August 22, 2008, ADL letter that
was buried on its web page and signed solely by its national director,
Abraham Foxman, stating, `ADL has never denied the tragic and painful
events perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians, and we
have referred to those massacres and atrocities as genocide.' This
letter goes on to falsely accuse those who are working to end genocide
denial of `demonizing' opponents of Armenian Genocide reaffirmation.

Councilor Devaney noted that BCBS's `continued affiliation with ADL
means not only complicity in genocide denial but also is clear
discrimination.'

In addition, Councilor Vincent Piccirilli told Curley that citizens
`of Watertown are somewhat dismayed with the talking around the issue
and the failure to come clean.'

When asked by Councilor Sideris if BCBS would help get an unequivocal
statement from the ADL on the Armenian Genocide, Curly responded, that
getting involved in national politics `is not something we do.'

Councilor Jonathan Hecht answered by stating that by continuing to
play these games, BCBS was undermining the effort to prevent future
genocides.'

`The Watertown Town Council has taken a principled stand in calling
for corporations to adhere to basic human rights principles,' stated
ANCM chairperson Sharistan Melkonian. `It is unfortunate that Blue
Cross Blue Shield finds the ADL's disingenuous August 2008 statement
as satisfactory when in fact it clearly indicates that the ADL is
unwilling to come out with a simple, clear, unambiguous statement
acknowledging the Armenian Genocide. We thank the Council and in
particular Councilors Corbett, Sideris, and Devaney for their
leadership and for sending a strong message to Blue Cross that human
rights are absolute.'

Yesterday, twenty-five Armenian organizations and churches sent an
open letter to BCBS Chairman Cleve Killingsworth calling on BCBS to
end its endorsement of the ADL's NPFH program.

`The ADL simply cannot portray itself as a universal human rights
organization while it engages in genocide denial,' the letter
read. `The ADL has an existential contradiction between its two
missions as a human rights organization and as an ethnic advocacy
group. Whenever these two purposes conflict, the ADL prioritizes its
advocacy interests - not human rights. Acknowledging this
contradiction, Mr. Foxman admitted, `there are two moral issues, but
one trumps the other.''

The Watertown Town Council passed a second resolution last night
calling for a representative of the National ADL to appear before the
Council at a future date.

Background

The ADL has for many years refused to acknowledge that the systematic
massacre of 1.5 million Armenians 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
during the summer of 2007, did the national ADL issue its `Statement
on the Armenian Genocide' referred to above. In addition, the ADL
remains on the record opposing Armenian Genocide legislation
(including the pending H.Res.106 / S.Res.106), arguing that short term
geopolitical considerations related to Turkey-Israel-US relations
should take precedence over the moral imperative of condemning
genocide whenever and wherever it occurs.

The ADL convened its national meeting in New York City in early
November 2007 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.'

The controversy first came to light on July 6 when the Watertown Tab
published a letter that spotlighted ADL national director Abe Foxman's
statements opposing Congressional Armenian Genocide legislation. The
letter asked the local "No Place For Hate" chapter to disassociate
itself from the ADL. NPFH is a national trademark of the national ADL.

The situation intensified in an explosive August 1 front page Boston
Globe article in which the Armenian National Committee condemned
Foxman's genocide denial and stated that the ANC would "call for the
Watertown 'No Place for Hate' program to sever its ties with the ADL
unless it denounces Foxman's position and acknowledges the genocide."

Later a community petition called on the Watertown No Place for Hate
committee "in keeping with its principles" to urge the ADL to
unambiguously acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and support
Congressional affirmation.

Watertown then became the first town to end its relationship with the
No Place for Hate Program by a unanimous vote of the Town Council,
which set the stage for numerous other public meetings in communities
throughout Massachusetts, where this issue was brought to the
attention of human rights commissions and town and city councils.

Watertown was followed by twelve other Massachusetts municipalities
including Belmont, Newton, Arlington, Northampton, Bedford, Lexington,
Westwood, Medford, Needham, Newburyport, Somerville, and Peabody.

For complete information about the ADL controversy surrounding the
Armenian Genocide visit www.noplacefordenial.com

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