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clouded by partisan and ideological positions. It is the space where debates and comments are not censored and are more than encouraged. It is the learning space for items related to history, the arts, language, literature and music... And yes, it is the space for politics as well, where ideas are initiated and positions taken on issues that matter; rights of citizens, the environment, freedom of speech, poverty and social justice..." "For those of us who have long been writing and debating, albeit mostly within isolated geographies, the issues that keghart.com continues to address over the past five years, it was as if we suddenly received a tool like no other. Our voices became magnified around the globe... And of course, the whole thing as the vision and brainchild of Dikran Abrahamian stands today as its own tribute. Within the annals of the history of modern Armenian publications, the site can likely be compared only to Simon Simonian's Spyurk and Antranig Dzaroukian's Nayiri..."

Viken L. Attarian

To receive a copy of the book contact

Dr. Dikran Abrahamian 15 Bridle Road Penetanguishene, ON L9M 1J5 Canada

Five Years of Keghart.com

"It [Keghart.com] is the space where principles matter and are not

Five Years of Keghart.com 2007-2012

Dikran Abrahamian & Jirair J. Tutunjian


Five Years of Keghart.com 2007-2012

Dikran Abrahamian & Jirair J. Tutunjian Toronto 2012


Five Years of Keghart.com 2007-2012 Copyright @ Keghart.com Canadian Cataloguing in Publication Data ISBN 978-0-9916908

Cover Design by Sevan Abrahamian Keghart Editorial Board

Dikran Abrahamian BA, MD Publisher & Editor-in-chief

Jirair J. Tutunjian BA (Journalism) MA (Communications) Editor

Vako Nicolian B.Sc., CLP Technical Manager

Nayiri Abrahamian Secretary & Distribution

Printed by:

North York, ON M2N 5P5 Tel: 416-733-8000 Fax: 416-733-9001 Email: on113@postnet.ca www.postnet.ca/on113


Dedicated to the families of Keghart.com board members


Contents Preface............................................................................................................IX Introduction....................................................................................................XII

Editorials by Dikran Abrahamian and Jirair J. Tutunjian US Armenian Lobby’s Clout Exaggerated....................................................15 All the Taboos...Will Be Broken.....................................................................17 A Better Way to Aid Citizens of Armenia......................................................20 Beware of Turkish Diplomats Bearing Gifts...................................................22 Hayeren Khosink... Yev Krenk...................................................................... 24 Let’s Play Fair................................................................................................ 26 New Diaspora Organization Deserves Your Support......................................28 Predictable Fait Accompli in Yerevan............................................................ 31 Coming Out of the Fog................................................................................... 33 Cassandras, Jeremiahs Can Sabotage National Dialogue.............................. 35 The Little Fascist Republic North of Armenia............................................... 37 Trust Deficit in Traditional Political Organizations....................................... 41 Armenia: Eye in the Storm............................................................................. 44 Keghart Opts for Western Armenian National Congress................................47 Remote Transnistria Has Lessons for Artsakh................................................49 Bracing for Part II of Our Existential Battle....................................................51 Restitution, Not Retribution............................................................................55 Thank You, Syria.............................................................................................58 Learning to Walk the Talk...............................................................................60 Let’s Not Falter as of Day One........................................................................62 No Genuine Peace Without Restitution...........................................................65 Our Jewish / Israeli Problem...........................................................................67 Nagging Doubts Persist..................................................................................71 Lost-and-found Armenians Need Our Help.................................................. 74 Those ‘Cringing’ Armenians.........................................................................77 The Looming Kurdish Challenge..................................................................80 Save Us from Our Amateur Experts..............................................................82 Armenian Jerusalem Besieged.......................................................................85 Winning Turkish Hearts and Minds..............................................................89 Double Standard and Selective Sensitivity....................................................92


United We Stand... .........................................................................................96 Shame in the Sun...........................................................................................100 Much Needed MRI Machine for Armenia....................................................103 Hollow Dream of Unity.................................................................................105 Keeping Mum Not a Choice..........................................................................108 Threatened Armenia Needs Diaspora Muscle...............................................110 Winds of War.................................................................................................113 “Constructive Ambiguity”Anyone?..............................................................116 Timely Debate on Diasporan Unity...............................................................119 Turkbaijan Propaganda in Bloom..................................................................122 Clannish Mindset Impedes Armenia’s Progress............................................125 Residing in Fool’s Paradise...........................................................................128 Presumption Will Get WAN-Congress Nowhere..........................................132 Is Erdogan Losing His Marbles?...................................................................135 A Bad Start for 2011......................................................................................138 Anatomy of the Unity Symposium................................................................142 Time for Sophisticated Vote-Casting............................................................145 Blood Apricots...............................................................................................148 Three Cheers for Turkish Mythinformation..................................................150 Championing Religious Minority Rights......................................................154 Perplexing Military/Political Strategy...........................................................158 Hands Off the Diaspora!................................................................................160 Mr. Erdogan Demands an Apology...............................................................162 Ignorance Was Never Bliss...........................................................................165 Celebrating the Zoryan Institute....................................................................168 Send a Pointed Message to Queen’s Park.....................................................171 Genocide Recognition by Ontario Long Overdue.........................................173 Church Not a Cat Walk.................................................................................175 Armenian History as Exotic Fantasy.............................................................177 Promising Dual Effort...................................................................................180 Israeli Bullet Might Ricochet in Javakhk......................................................183 The Sun Rises in the West... and Other Turkish Tales..................................186 Insincere Turkey............................................................................................191 Let’s Not Don Hair Shirts..............................................................................194 Misguided and Premature Celebration..........................................................198 Complacency Breeds Catastrophe.................................................................201 Khojali "Genocide" Baku Fabrication...........................................................204 Turkey’s Invisible Armenian Heroes.............................................................210


Blood Apricots II...........................................................................................213 NOT King Arthur’s Roundtable...................................................................216 The Professor and Putrid Propaganda...........................................................221 Armenian Jerusalem Adrift...........................................................................226 Armenian Punctuality: Our Shame................................................................231 Yerevan Scrambles... Again..........................................................................234 Who is Armenian?.........................................................................................237

Views & Reviews by Jirair J. Tutunjian Reflections on the Hon. Hranush Hacobyan’s Visit To Canada...................241 Armenian Church in Jerusalem Caught in Arab-Israeli Conflict, I, II, III ......244 “The Eagle and the Bear” (Memoir)..............................................................258 Epic of the Jerusalem Patriarchs....................................................................260 Silencing the Turkish Spin.............................................................................263 Coffee With Ahmet and Mehmet (1)..............................................................265 Coffee With Ahmet and Mehmet (2).............................................................268 Coffee With Ahmet and Mehmet (3).............................................................271 Coffee With Ahmet and Mehmet (4)..............................................................274 Graveyard in Dacca, Bangladesh...................................................................276 Fresh Page at Historic Sevres.......................................................................278 Love Letter to Armenia.................................................................................281 Shibboleth-Shattering Book of Eye-Popping Revelations.............................283 Open Letter to Steven Spielberg...................................................................286 Vox Populi—Voice of the People.................................................................290 Another Shakespearean Mystery Unraveled.................................................293

As I Was Saying... by Dikran Abrahamian The Latest Victim of the Armenian Genocide & Democracy: Hrant Dink...297 What's Next?..................................................................................................298 A Faux Pas.....................................................................................................300 Ontarians Have to Wait Another Decade......................................................302 Faux Pas Revisited (Survey Results).............................................................304 Will Justice be Denied Again?......................................................................309 No, Mr. Wiesel, You Don’t Speak on My Behalf!........................................311 Reflections on Books, Centres and Philanthropy.......................................313 I Need Your Help, Doc!.................................................................................316


Hopes Last Much Longer.............................................................................318 Unequivocally Obama’s Path........................................................................320 Reflections on the Recent Tragedy in Yerevan........................................323 In Solidarity With Tibetans............................................................................327 An Accident; a Tragedy.................................................................................329 Jirayr Sefilyan and Bigotry...........................................................................333 Six Months and Counting...............................................................................335 Where is the Beef?.........................................................................................337 In Lieu of a Mission Statement.......................................................................340 Why the Silence and Inactivity?.....................................................................343 Armenian Officials Take the Bold Steps........................................................346 Is Political and Religious Affiliation Necessary?..........................................348 An Apology, a Thank You and Dialogues.....................................................351 Is Erdogan’s Anger for Real?.........................................................................354 Is President Obama Detached from Reality?.................................................356 A Word of Caution When Using Commercial Forms!...................................360 Yes,Taking Stock Mr. Oskanian and Mr. Ayvazyan.....................................361 Sharing Some Thoughts About Recent Articles.............................................364 Thirty Years Later..........................................................................................366 Do Not Ratify!...............................................................................................369 Who Does the Congress of Canadian Armenians Really Represent?.............371 Again About the Sub-Commission.................................................................374 Thank You Nalbandian; Thank You Davutoglu.............................................376 Let Us Not Kid Ourselves!.............................................................................379 An Energized Diaspora is Entitled to a Democratic Forum.........................384 Open Letter to Hon. Hranush Hakobyan........................................................386 Horse Latitudes in Yerevan............................................................................387 Blundering into History.................................................................................392 Open Letter to Canadian- Armenian Physicians.............................................394

Readership Statistics The Hit Parade...............................................................................................395 Keghart’s Soaring Popularity.........................................................................396


Preface In 2004 Paul Martin, the “dithering” prime minister of Canada insulted the Armenian community by his absence at the parliamentary session deliberating the Genocide of Armenians. Meanwhile, despite the widespread acknowledgment by the international community of the veracity of the genocide, hired guns of the denialist state of Turkey continued to spew their poisonous misinformation in various media outlets, sowing doubt in the minds of people who were unaware of the Genocide's history. Many Armenian intellectuals and activists, unattached to Armenian political parties, were not content with this status quo when fabrications in the media, by and large, remained unanswered. Ad hoc groups (CanAr, Yerevan) were formed and, in addition to other community concerns, they discussed strategies on how to address the onslaught of misinformation. Several initiatives were launched within this context: the PBS petition by a group calling itself “Tidort” (2006), the successful operation of “Bahag” which sent clarifications and refutations to the media (2006-2007), and the gathering of around two-dozen intellectuals at a workshop devoted to Turkish Genocide denial strategy and counter-strategy in Montreal (2007). Hrant Dink’s assassination in Istanbul (January 2007) shocked human rights activists throughout the world. It was a major blow to democracy, human rights, and the recognition of the Genocide of Armenians. The murder highlighted the interrelation of national concerns with human rights and the struggle for true, unadulterated, progressive democracy. While pondering about these matters, it became clear to us that an independent media, in whatever form, reflecting the rich array of views and opinions was lacking in the Canadian Armenian community: international, national (Canadian) matters were not adequately covered and human rights issues were viewed mostly through the limited Armenocentric prism. In the months following Mr. Dink’s martyrdom, the idea of having a new media outlet geared to odars (non-Armenians) crystallized and in September 2007 Keghart.com’s first issue was launched. As publisher, my ambition was primarily to establish a medium which would become the porte-parole of Armenians in Canada vis-à-vis the non-Armenian Canadian intellectual community. It was an uncharted territory. Keghart.com started circulating articles to some six-thousand email addresses, five-thousand of which belonged to academics in the humanities who taught at Canadian universities. Over the past five years a constant cohort of about 3500 professors, from the original group, has

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followed Keghart. This statistic was probably our most rewarding accomplishment. International, Canadian and national-Armenian concerns raised by Keghart.com or republished from other sources were appreciated by many odar readers who trickled their messages over time. A sharply-focused attention to non-Armenians--unfortunately and unintentionally--dissipated following the tragedy of March 1, 2008 in Armenia. Three months later (June) a roundtable discussion, titled “Policy Directions in PostElection Armenia & March 1 Tragedy”, was held in Montreal. The distinguished panelists brought to front and centre the many facets of life in the third republic of Armenia. As of that date, Armenia, Armenianness and all things Armenian “hijacked” Keghart.com making it more ethnocentric. When your house is on fire, you don’t look beyond your backyard. Along with providing a platform for opinions on Armenia-related issues, Keghart.com offered an opportunity to people to express their views on the many problems Armenians face in the Diaspora. Together with other activists, columnists, historians, legal experts and community leaders Keghart.com lent its support to the notion that lack of democratic practices and unity is destructive to the future well-being of the Diaspora. Parallel to this was an awareness of the necessity of an entity that would represent the descendents of the survivors of the Genocide. To this end, public meetings were held in Toronto and Vancouver, highlighting the importance of creating such a body. The Unity Symposium held in Montreal in March 2011 was the culmination of these efforts, and despite a number of reservations, representatives of Keghart.com attended the founding convention of the National Congress of Western Armenians in Sèvres in December 2011. Believing that the Hamshens, the Dersim Armenians, their Zaza and Kizilbash friends, Turkified and Kurdified Armenians, now returning to their roots, will be the custodians of our occupied lands on the day of justice, Keghart.com’s pages were filled with reports and articles about their history, concerns, expectations and activities. Ultimately, they constitute the real human assets on our historic lands. Regular readers would have noticed that in late 2009, in addition to op-eds, Keghart.com began to publish editorials. This section was introduced by Jirair J. Tutunjian, an award-winning editor of many Canadian magazines. His involvement was instrumental in preparing editorials, organizing, reviewing and final screening of materials to be published. Taking turns, the editorials were penned by him and me, but always in collaboration and through discussion of the content prior to publication. However, during the past year most of the editorials were written by Mr. Tutunjian.

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Another development was the establishment of the board, making the website responsive to a collective rather than to an individual. Needless to say, Vako Nicolian’s role as technical manager of the website, right from its birth, and his superb handling of day-to-day technical developments were noticed beyond the confines of the team. He was always there whenever contributors, readers and board members asked for assistance in solving problems or needing additional information. Nayiri Abrahamian, as secretary of the board and circulation assistant, helped team functions run smoothly. Her precise records of Keghart.com board meetings were consulted whenever a specific item needed clarification. I thank immensely all members of the board; without their dedication the website could not have attained its worthy standard, and could not have lasted this long. The readers of Keghart.com, through their impressive subscription numbers, have inspired the board to continue its work. They and all the contributors who “entertained” the intellect with their articles deserve our special thanks. We would also like to express our heartfelt gratitude to our family members who, at times, endured our idiosyncrasies, and continued to support us in a variety of ways. This anthology contains articles and editorials written by Keghart.com staff since its inception. The exception is “The Latest Victim of the Armenian Genocide”. It predates the other articles by several months. It is included here because Mr. Dink’s assassination was the decisive point which led to the launch of the website. The first section is devoted to editorials. The section titled “Views & Reviews” contains Mr. Tutunjian’s writings, while “As I was Saying…” is a collection of my articles. Thank you. Dikran Abrahamian Penetanguishene Ontario August 30, 2012

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Introduction It is hard to believe that it has been five years since keghart.com burst on the Armenian cyber scene with an unparalleled vivacity. Keghart.com immediately distinguished itself from the rest of the pack by several unique characteristics, firstly, by what it was NOT:     

It was not a news outlet with global lists and details of events. That was already pioneered by the venerable Groong, and still fulfilling that role admirably. It was not an electronic version of existing print media. After all, the print media was mostly partisan and controlled by the traditional Armenian Diasporan political parties or institutions. It was not a forum for a closed group of Armenians--whether academic or not. It was not interested to become a public relations’ platform, neither for an organization nor for an individual. It was not a purely isolationist Armenian initiative focusing only on things Armenian.

Instead, keghart.com succeeded remarkably in not only filling a unique niche, but by demonstrating that the niche was a substantial void, a space which it came to occupy and define. It is what keghart.com IS, and will continue to be: That space is now one of serious journalism, the thinking person’s place of ideas, about issues of human rights as they affect not only Armenians but the whole world. It is the space where principles matter and are not clouded by partisan and ideological positions. It is the space where debates and comments are not censored (so long as they follow very basic rules of civilized dialogue) and are more than encouraged. It is the learning space for items related to history, the arts, language, literature and music. And yes, it is the space for politics as well, where ideas are initiated and positions taken on issues that matter; rights of citizens, the environment, freedom of speech, poverty and social justice. With all the modern tools that cyberspace allows, electronic forums, commentary, surveys, and the various technical tools that we now take for granted. For those of us who have long been writing and debating, albeit mostly within isolated geographies, the issues that keghart.com continues to address over the XII


past five years, it was as if we suddenly received a tool like no other. Our voices became magnified around the globe. We met each other, argued our points, grew respectful of one another, rediscovered old connections and simply enjoyed the cyber-company of other minds. I receive almost monthly contacts from individuals who have read my work on keghart.com. On the other hand, I have become a lifelong fan of one sharp thinker and writer from Philadelphia, the great Avedis Kevorkian, because of a similar cyber-encounter. I could name numerous examples, of equally great contributors, but the list would never be exhaustive. Suffice it to say, to my knowledge, almost all living serious Diasporan Armenian intellectuals, and many from Armenia proper, have had their work published on this unique website. Fresh thinking is like fresh air. It is an absolute necessity in our journey of self-discovery. And Armenians, more than ever, need fresh thinking at this critical existential juncture of their history. And that is where the keghart.com editorials come in; never beating about the bush, full of clear thought on even the most difficult of subjects. Editorials, which, on first glance, would look to be in the old classical style, i.e. building arguments leading to presenting a position, and yet always giving new and modern perspectives. Editorials that make you think, make you want to comment, make you want to exercise your grey matter. Editorials that have captured the zeitgeist of our multi-dimensional existence, as Armenians, Canadians, Americans, Middle Easterners, Europeans, all of the above, some of the above, all of the time, some of the time. Continuously evolving, and basically, being alive. Even better, editorials that make you want to act. And keghart.com has led by example, never shying away from action. It has initiated petitions, sent letters, organized events, symposia and forums and actively participating in such worthwhile initiatives organized by others. The site is a tribute to the technical wizardry of Vako Nicolian, who has defended it against numerous cyber attacks, created its structure and robustness, and organized the wonderful tools that are in place. On the content side, Jirair Tutunjian, its editor, has definitely added a unique stylistic stamp that shines with clarity of thought.

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And of course, the whole thing as the vision and brainchild of the “good doctor”, as Avedis Kevorkian likes to call him, Dr. Dikran Abrahamian, stands today as its own tribute. Within the annals of the history of modern Armenian publications, the site can likely be compared only to Simon Simonian’s Spyurk and Antranig Dzaroukian’s Nayiri. Dikran Abrahamian is in real good company. Yes, five years have gone by, and although one would wonder what it is that is so special about such a short-lived anniversary; I would answer that such a characterization would miss the point. Keghart.com is undisputedly today the most popular website of Armenian content in the world. It is unique because of all the things that it IS to so many, and not only to and for Armenians. Furthermore, and very importantly, its editorials, as my old teacher of Armenian, Onnig Sarkissian used to say, “have real taste”. An excellent selection is right in this volume. And may I remind the naysayers, that in the technology business, keghart.com being a modern technology media initiative, all years get measured in techyears, which is the equivalent of dog-years in human comparison (a 7 to 1 ratio). So this would be technically a real celebratory occasion for the equivalent longevity of 35 years of a traditional publication. Not too shabby, wouldn’t you say?

Viken L. Attarian Mount Royal Quebec August 31, 2012

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Editorials Dikran Abrahamian and Jirair J. Tutunjian


US Armenian Lobby's Clout Exaggerated Admit to yourself... how many times have you given yourself an invisible pat on the back upon reading in the non-Armenian media about the "powerful Armenian lobby" or the "affluent and mighty Diaspora Armenian lobby"? How many times have you basked in the glory that our much-vaunted lobby is second only to the Israeli lobby? In your self-satisfaction and in your patriotism, you probably haven't questioned these far-from-the-truth descriptions of the Armenian lobby, meaning the offices we fund in Washington, D.C. Let's examine how valid is the claim of the fabled Armenian lobby. While at it, let's also try to determine the origin of the descriptive, and most importantly, who benefits from the glittering plaudits? To be number-two means little when number-one (the Israeli lobby) is so far ahead that both lobbies are not even in the same galaxy. Besides, the "numbertwo" tag is false because the Cuban, Greek, and Arab lobbies are as strong, if not stronger. And we are not talking about those other powerful lobbying groups--the National Rifle Association, the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, the Christian Evangelical groups, etc. While the Armenian lobby has been effective in a number of public relations campaigns, it has been--after more than 25 years of effort--a woeful failure regarding our primary goal, the recognition of the Genocide of Armenians by the United States government. No matter identity of the president or the ruling political party, our lobbyists have been unable to change United States policy regarding Genocide recognition. In the past few years, the lobby also failed to discourage the US administration from reducing its financial aid to Armenia, while increasing aid to petro dollarrich Azerbaijan. These cutbacks also came at a time when the Republic of Armenia (RoA) sent soldiers to Iraq and has announced it would send soldiers to Afghanistan in support of the Western campaign. The lobby has also failed to dissuade the United States from leaning too hard on RoA during the recent Armenia/Turkey Protocols signing. In fact, US diplomats have repeatedly asserted that RoA has to demonstrate "flexibility" regarding the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict, before Turkey takes the documents for ratification to its parliament.

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Let's see who benefits from the exaggerated assertion of our lobby's might. Turkey, of course, loves to see the false descriptive. It gives Ankara a justification to increase its anti-Armenian propaganda. The exaggeration of our lobby's effectiveness is also a selling point to Turkish propagandists who can claim to Americans that a tiny but rich minority is trying to determine US policy, against the best interests of America. The Israeli lobby, until recently the bosom buddy and even a spokesman of the Turkish lobbyists, likes to hear of the power of the Armenian lobby: such nonsense takes away some of the heat the Israeli lobby has been experiencing for its outrageous interference in American foreign policy. Finally, our own lobbyists naturally enjoy talk of their omnipotence. The boast, coming from non-Armenian sources, justifies their work, in addition to giving a healthy boost to their ego. Dzour nsdeenk payts shidak khosink ("Let's sit crooked, but let's tell the truth"). The Armenian lobby can be proud of many of its activities in the past few decades. The money we have allocated for their activities has been, generally speaking, well spent. But in no way does our lobby have the power our enemies and supporters maintain. Let's not delude ourselves with falsehoods, no matter how energizing they may seem. Next time you read about the powerful Diaspora Armenian lobby, tell yourself what we can do to make it worthy of that descriptive. - November 22, 2009 Â

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“All the Taboos … Will Be Broken” In a recent article in the Turkish daily "Hürriyet" Vercihan Ziflioglu, quoting Hasan Saltuk, stated, “All the taboos of this country will be broken and, in the future, there will not be anything that cannot be spoken about.” Saltuk is the author of a soon-to-be-published book about the “Dersim Operation” of 1938. According to some accounts, close to 70,000 civilians were killed in that massacre. Contrary to official history that the “operation” was to quell a Kurdish tribal insurrection, Saltuk maintains “the fundamental reason behind the operation was that the region was home to Alevis” and “they were merely Armenians who had changed their identities.” In a development related to the "Hürriyet" article, filmmaker Nazahat Gundogan will release a movie about the Dersim Massacre. The documentary was three years in the making. In an interview with Turkish "NTV", she spoke of “hundreds” of orphaned girls who were taken by or given to officers’ families to be “civilized” and taught Turkish. During the “operation” the Turkish Armed Forces used aircraft for reconnaissance purposes and for bombardment. Among the pilots was Kemal Atatürk's adopted daughter Sabiha Gökçen, the world's first female combat pilot. It is said that she was of Armenian origin, and she flew off without dropping a single bomb. Also, the Dersim Massacre was recently the subject of a heated discussion in the Turkish parliament. Following these positive signals, one wonders whether all the taboos truly “will be broken” in Turkey, ultimately leading to a free discussion of the Genocide of the Armenians. Will official Turkey finally face its past? At least one Kurdish parliamentarian, Selahattin Demitras, has stepped forward and spoken the truth. Will others follow him? In recent years we have seen Turkish writers, journalists, artists, left-wing intellectuals come forth and acknowledge the Genocide of the Armenians. The voice of these righteous and brave Turks seems to be getting louder. Moreover, since the assassination of Hrant Dink and the publication of the “I apologize” document, some Turkish media have begun to broach the question of the Genocide with greater frequency than in previous years, although still not spelling out the “dreaded” G word. When a person with the stature of "Hürriyet's" editor-in-chief asks, “If Dersim was a massacre; what was the other thing?” the answer is pretty clear, although

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he does not spell it out. Bloggers on the “Hürriyet” site have answered for him – "Genocide!" How representative are these righteous Turks? Are they spokesmen of a groundswell of public opinion a la "We Are All Hrant Dink" or are they an insignificant group who are--whether they know it or not--acting as a fig leaf for official Turkey? Put another way, is the government giving them some leeway to boost Turkey's credentials as a democratic and civilized society, worthy of EU membership? Are these righteous Turks being manipulated by reactionary Turkey the way Young Turks misled and manipulated Armenian politicians in Istanbul before 1915? Of course, Ankara could also be using these intellectuals to encourage Armenians to bring down their guard. To our knowledge there are no reputable surveys to gauge Turkish public opinion about the Genocide of Armenians. Based on postings on internet sites by ordinary Turks, it is fair to say that the public is overwhelmingly ignorant of the facts. It is also motivated by false patriotism and is unwilling to listen to voices that appear here and there, questioning the official narrative. Not surprisingly, the "scholarship" of Bernard Lewis and Stanford J. Shaw are frequently invoked by Turkish posters even in respect to the Dersim Massacre. They argue that since these "historians" have not mentioned the massacre, it did not happen. Turkophile Europeans, especially those with vested interests in Turkey, have promoted the recent rapprochement of Turkey and Armenia as positive developments. These voices from Europe are eager to grab every chance to claim that Turkey has progressed and matured towards establishing genuine democracy. To make their case, these apologists of Turkey point out that the country introduced changes to its penal code, following Europe’s insistence. It is true that some changes were made on April 30, 2008. However, these did not go far enough. The principal alterations were limited to the substitution of “Turkishness” with “Turkish nation”, the reduction of the maximum penalty from three years to two, and requiring the permission of the justice minister to file a case”. The dictatorial and racist spirit has remained unchanged. No wonder novelist Elif Safak has said, “the Article has a chilling effect on free expression”. Meanwhile, Nobel Prize-winner Orhan Pamuk has become a hate figure in his homeland, and so worried in his and his family's safety that he has moved to New York for the time being. Yes, we hope that “All the taboos … will be broken … in the future”, but as long as the hideous article 301 and the operatives of the old guard are in place,

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nothing can be taken for granted. Neither the good intentions and the apologies, nor the lofty expressions of the righteous Turks should veer us from being ever vigilant and circumspect. We've learned our lesson only too well! - November 29, 2009

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A Better Way to Aid Citizens of Armenia Many Diaspora Armenians, who care for the future of the Republic of Armenia (RoA), Artsakh and that of the Armenian nation, have been heaving on the horns of a dilemma in recent years, particularly since the Armenia-Turkey Protocols controversy. "We care for the welfare of Armenia but..." The "but" stands for the incompetent at best, corrupt at worst RoA governments which have mismanaged Armenia's affairs since independence almost two decades ago. Should Diaspora Armenians continue to provide assistance--financial, technical, educational, promotional, etc. when the country is run by an incestuous cabal of mafia leeches and Armani-clad gangsters? Should Diaspora Armenians send funds to the motherland when the oligarchs skim a significant portion of that money? Will this complacent "cost of doing business" continue forever? Some Diaspora Armenians have "resolved" the above quandary by choosing diametrically opposite options. One group has decided not to assist RoA so long as the country is run by Grade A hooligans. Others have decided to continue to assist Armenia no matter what. The latter group has made the case that the curtailment of Diaspora support would hurt, above all, the ordinary citizens of Armenia who are already hurting economically, politically, culturally... The same group of people also maintains that it would be the height of irresponsibility to abandon RoA at a time when its very existence is being threatened by Turkey and Turkey Jr.--Azerbaijan. People who share the same stand also believe in the "trickle down" economic concept --even if the lion's share of the assistance is lifted by a corrupt administration--eventually some of the money will reach the hands of those who need it most, this group likes to believe. Other voices--luckily a minority--preach a violent overthrow of the government, possibly with the help of the army. "A bullet in the head of Serzh Sarkissian" would solve the problem, these extremists say. They, of course, have no clue that the "disease" in Armenia is not confined to one man. Is there a more sensible option than the above? Since widespread corruption, lack of transparency and accountability in the RoA government are not mere allegations but indisputable facts, Diaspora Armenians should devise new ways to help their brethren in the motherland.

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The Diaspora should work with existing non-governmental officers (NGOs), establish new NGO institutions, train individuals or groups of individuals for specialties much needed in Armenia and the neighbouring countries . Through these NGOs, Diaspora organizations should establish employment, social services, welfare and skills-teaching offices to directly assist needy families and individuals. The Hamahaygagan fundraising organizations have the right idea, but more needs to be done. Let's by-pass the smooth-talking gangsters, and let's form a direct pipeline from Diaspora to the ordinary citizens of Armenia, without the benefit of interference from the vultures. - December 6, 2009

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Beware of Turkish Diplomats Bearing Gifts A Dec. 3 editorial in the "Toronto Star" prompts Keghart to revisit Turkish diplomatic tactics yet again. The editorial in Canada's largest-circulation daily claimed "a violent Kurdish insurgency in Turkey has abated in recent years," thanks to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's "reaching out to heal old wounds". It then mentioned that villages are being allowed to revert to their Kurdish names, a university "has a green light to integrate Kurdish language studies in its curriculum," and that soon Kurds will be allowed to use their language in political affairs, etc. The editorial welcomed these changes. To further improve the status quo, it also called for the removal of the "draconian laws" that criminalize "insults" to the Turkish nation. Overall, readers were left with the impression that positive changes are taking place in Turkey, thanks to the European Union and the graciousness of Turkey's prime minister. Unfortunately, the Toronto newspaper is sadly mistaken in its assumptions. These changes are only secondary elements in an array of other factors that are not necessarily related to outside pressure which Turks viscerally abhor, like other people around the world do. If the writer had left out the expression "nudged by the European Union" and elaborated more on why "the fierce 25-year struggle by the Kurdistan Workers' Party" was waged in the first place, readers would have appreciated other aspects that have led to nascent reforms. Some important elements, such as the socio-economic changes in Turkey over the past couple of decades, the impact of a radical change in outlook of a new brand of intellectuals were left out. The history of 19th century Ottoman Turkey is a classic example of how reforms were cynically proclaimed but not delivered. In several aspects the current regime is similar to that of the Ottoman sultans. On the subject of the Kurds--who number 20 million by some estimates--it is worth mentioning that following the peace initiative announced by Erdogan in mid-November, eight Kurdish rebels were joined by 26 other Kurds, including refugees from an Iraqi camp for the "peace talks". The group was acting on orders by Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader. There was jubilation, and naturally a welcoming party took place, with people cheering and dancing. But what followed was bizarre. On the pretext that this was a demonstration in support of PKK, the government suspended the talks. - 22 -


People who have followed Turkish government's handling of relations with minorities would call these standard-issue avoidance tactics intended not to fullfill promises. Thus whatever "goodwill" is offered by the government should be treated with extreme caution. The recent Erdogan-Gul-Davutoglu shenanigans regarding Turkey's relations with Armenia are another example that Ankara's "progressive" and "good neighbourly" motions should be approached with reservation. And what about Turkey's 180-degree turn regarding its relations with long-time ally Israel? Isn't it another example of Ankara's opportunism? Turkey's "abandonment" of its "little brother" Azerbaijan during the Armenia talks is a further indication of Turkey's perennial guile and insincerity. It is no wonder that Cengiz Aktar, noted "Hurriyet" columnist, wrote recently "goodwill may not be enough in this tense period. No solid action has yet been taken. 'Dogs bark but the caravan moves on' type of approach may not be sufficient this time as 'dogs' may do great harm to the caravan." Aktar went on warning, "we hear nowadays that there has never been a civil war in these lands but that if things continue as they are there might be one between Turks and Kurds." He also reminded his readers that Turkey has failed to draw lessons from the atrocities of the past, including the looting and driving out of non-Muslim minorities by the Union and Progress government, the "periodic pogroms Alevis were subjected to", pointing out the "ghosts are back again". As if to complicate matters, on Dec. 11, Turkey's constitutional court unanimously delivered a ruling, banning the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party for alleged links with the outlawed PKK. Moreover, the party's founders were banned from politics for five years. They were banned from establishing, joining, administering or supervising any other political party for the duration. Armenians are following these developments with great interest. It is not off the mark to state that a good number of them believe that true democracy is the only key to resolving not only the Kurdish "problem", but also the Armenian question. Declarations of progressive Turkish intellectuals and their supporters provide some hope of pushing Turkey to the 21st century. However, it is way too early to conclude that things are really changing. Turkey's obduracy, recalcitrance, inflexibility are not just diplomatic characteristics but are cultural. Turkey's idol, Ataturk, denounced Pan-Turanism and said Turkey should forget that unrealistic dream, but a significant sector of the country continues to talk about it to this day. – December 13, 2009

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Hayeren Khosink… Yev Krenk By the time Sayat Nova began composing his songs in the second half of the 18th century, the Armenian language—its Eastern and Western branches—had become an incomprehensible mishmash of Persian, Turkish, Arabic, and any number of other languages of the region. For that reason, to this day, most Armenians would have difficulty comprehending the lyrics of 18th-century "Armenian" songs. Early in the 19th century dedicated Armenologists, writers, and teachers launched their sacred task to “clean” our language. Whenever possible, nonArmenian words were replaced by Armenian words, and in the absence of an Armenian equivalent, new words were coined. We owe modern Armenian— the Eastern and Western versions--to the devotion and expertise of these 19th century patriots. No language is “pure”. Our own language has multiple links to other IndoEuropean languages. We know that a great many Armenian words derive from Iranian because the Medes, the Pahlavis, and the Persians occupied our homeland. Foreign borrowings can enrich a language, as can be seen in English—the only global language. However, there has to be a demarcation line when a language starts to lose its identity, its characteristics, and its richness because of overwhelming borrowings or forced adoptions of odar words. Foreign words can drown the native language. These ruminations were triggered by a recent letter from an Armenian intellectual to a Diaspora Armenian writer. The short letter had at least 13 foreign words—words which are a sad legacy of the Soviet era. Such words as “insdidude”, “pizness”, “dourisd”, “chounklayin”, “olikakhner”, “monopolisdnere”, “penzeene”, “gongressagan”, “paleschchig” and “tekhnigagan” littered the letter. What made the usage even more deplorable was that we do have perfectly good Armenian words for the above abominations. One could argue that the Republic of Armenia has more urgent matters on its plate than to mop up these non-Armenian words from our language. That kind of lazy and complacent attitude would assure the disappearance of the Armenian word and its permanent replacement by the foreign. Like our mountainous homeland, our language is one of our most distinctive possessions. Our religion is an import. Our alphabet is largely the reworking of the alphabets of

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neighboring countries (perhaps even of Ethiopia), adapted by Mashdots for the unique needs of our language. When the Soviet Union collapsed, many Diaspora Armenians (perhaps those in Armenia, too) hoped that Soviet terminology would vanish together with the unwieldy, unrealistic political ideology. After years of hearing, in utter bafflement, on “Yerevann eh Khosoum”, such unArmenian and incompressible words as “Gomgous” “golkhoz” and “bardya”, we were hoping to hear Armenian from our motherland. We are still waiting. - December 22, 2009

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Let’s Play Fair In the past year or two, many Armenians around the globe--Ramgavar and non-Ramgavar--have been receiving scurrilous emails from an anonymous electronic publication beating the drums for the "new" Ramgavar Democratic Liberal Party (ADLP) leadership and denouncing the "establishment" Ramgavars and their long-time leader Edmond Azadian of Detroit. Back in 2006 the ADLP, under the leadership of Edmond Azadian, convened in Athens and elected Mike Kharabian of Toronto as leader with a new set of members of the Central Committee. In the spring of 2009 a subsequent convention was held in Amman, Jordan and re-elected Kharabian with minor changes to the leadership. Like the people responsible for the anonymous emails mentioned above, the “new” Ramgavars make no bones that they would like to see Azadian neutralized, along with his colleagues. The anonymous emails (AE) have accused Azadian and Co. of mishandling RAG finances, of nepotism, lack of transparency and accountability. Azadian has established a one-man rule, uses Boston's “Mirror-Spectator” weekly as his propaganda organ, and is accountable to no one, alleges AE. Some AE emails also pillory Azadian's ally Hagop Avedikian, the editor of "Azg" daily newspaper in Armenia. The hostility of the Kharabian group and AE against the Azadian Ramgavars intensified when the latter gave its blessing to the ratification of Armenia/Turkey Protocols, while Kharabian’s group and AE denounced the proposal. So it was no surprise that Serzh Sarkissian, the president of the Republic of Armenia, welcomed Azadian and Avedikian, and was pleased with the formation of the new political entity, Armenakan Democratic Liberal Party. The two other Armenian parties in the Diaspora, namely the Tashnags and Hnchaks recognize Kharabian's group as the successor of the traditional Ramgavar party. The public has no comprehensive knowledge of Azadian’s regime, other than that he has been in charge of Ramgavars for a great many years. There is no informed opinion whether the accusations against him and his political party are based on fact. Succession battles, internecine struggles are common among political groups, and they often take the tincture of a rivalry between the “establishment” versus the “reformed” or "new" generation. For all we know, the “new” Ramgavars might have a point in their critique of Azadian, although so far they have not

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provided to the Armenian public "smoking gun" documentation of Azadian's alleged misdeeds. The people behind AE--overt or covert allies of the Kharabian group--are also not helping their cause, Ramagavars in general or the Armenian people when they use undignified language—“Esh” and “Kesh”—or employ graphic references to obscene acts in describing the behaviour of Azadian and Co. How can they or their message be taken seriously by serious people when the language they use is often vulgar, contemptible and execrable? The Kharabian's group has the democratic right to challenge Azadian. However, to earn the attention of the Armenian public it should provide solid proof of its allegations and has to elevate the tone of the conversation. Ramgavars—old or new—deserve no less. Finally, in the absence of information about the identity of the mysterious AE people, it would be understandable if many readers of the AE screeds assume that the Kharabian group or their friends are behind the loutish emails. After all, AE and the Kharabian group have the same goal but use different language. As patriots genuinely interested in the welfare of the Armenian people, it behooves the Kharabian group to disassociate itself from the authors of the disreputable AE emails. Someone should remind Kharabian and Co. that "you can't have your cake and eat it, too." - December 29, 2009

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New Diaspora Organization Deserves Your Support The announcement of the Protocols and their repercussions in the Armenian Diaspora triggered the impetus among Armenians living outside the motherland to re-evaluate their role and Armenia's position regarding Hay Tad. It is now widely believed that the leadership in Armenia has abandoned Hay Tad and the struggle to pursue a just resolution of Armenian land claims and the recovery of personal and national property. In the ensuing national discourse it has become almost irrelevant whether the negative perception is accurate. Denigrating remarks towards the leadership of Armenia, and sometimes outlandish accusations, fill the more "radical", ultra-nationalist, or maximalist websites. More sober individuals--those who disapprove of certain portions of the Protocols, such as the sections dealing with the infamous sub-commission and "international treaties"-- are trying to gauge who is capable of accomplishing what. The latter is engaged in defining the potential and limitations of the players on both sides of the divide-- Armenia and its Diaspora. There is renewed interest to revive past efforts to crystallize the Diaspora as an international political factor, since Armenia--as a sovereign state within definite geographic confines-- is bound by certain limitations and obligations. A multitude of NGOs, advocacy groups and the three traditional political parties have been engaged, for years, in activities to create such an impetus, but their efforts have had relative success--Genocide recognition in more than 20 countries, but without assertions of claims. After decades of tribulations, one would have expected that the traditional Diaspora players would have come to a consensus with a concrete plan of action that had a common denominator. Unfortunately, that has not materialized for a variety of reasons which are beyond the scope of this editorial. A self-created vacuum has led some to consider a renewed, but not necessarily novel, effort to address the crucial issue. As in many other instances in our history, intellectuals have taken the lead. In 2006 twenty-nine prominent scholars, historians, businessmen and political figures, calling themselves “group of initiators�, made a public appeal for the formation of an organization that would represent the descendents of the Genocide. Anoushavan Danielyan (former Prime Minister of Nagorno Karabagh, in personal capacity), Vahakn Dadrian, Hayk Demoyan, Jean Varoujan Gureghian, Silva Kaputikyan, Colonel Hayk Kotanjiyan (in personal capacity) , Karen Mikaelyan, Sos Sargsyan and Pertch Zeytuntsyan were amongst the signatories. All are descendents of Genocide survivors.

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Although the case they presented to arrive at certain conclusions are sometimes questionable, by and large they depict an irrefutable reality. The document states that Armenia "is not authorized by the Western Armenian representative agencies to represent their rights and is not able to take over the mission of the solution of specific problems (bolded by Keghart) considering the destiny and future of Western Armenia and the descendants of the Western Armenians." The signing of the Protocols made it abundantly clear that this is the case. It is immaterial whether things could have been done differently, or that they may change in a distant future. Similarly, opposing or favoring certain positions will not make a dent to the overall picture. At present, it's clear that there are serious limitations to what Armenia can and would do. Three successive administrations have grappled unsuccessfully with the challenge--a challenge that has become a national crisis. Heeding the call of 2006, a temporary self-appointed "International Organizing Committee" has pursued the matter for the past three years. It has attracted young professionals, legal and financial experts to lay the ground for a representative organization in the Diaspora in the form of an elected National Assembly with its National Council and relevant committees. This new entity is proposed to be named Western Armenian National Congress (WANCongress). The Congress plans to hold a conference of representatives sometime before the end of the year. To Keghart.com's knowledge, all the traditional parties have been informed, and representatives of the organizing committee have travelled to various communities to recruit adherents and delegates to the conference. We are not so na誰ve as to think traditional organizations will welcome this process with open arms, despite of what they may proclaim in public. After all, the new kid on the block can be a potential competitor. Perhaps we are living in an age of different enlightenment: individuals who sometimes espouse opposing views have become participants in the same forums, discussing common concerns, and even acting in concert on limited projects. We hope that enlightened trend is contagious and may even engulf our political parties. Is there a better common denominator-for all parties-- than Hay Tad? Skeptics will question not only the manner that the proposed Congress is shaping up but also the concept of establishing yet another organization. For the time being, the skeptics may be the majority because what they have seen so far is akin to poverty in the midst of abundance. Figuratively speaking, it's the equivalent of social diabetes in Armenian reality.

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Notwithstanding failed similar attempts, and considering the dismal alternatives, Keghart.com welcomes this initiative but with some reservations. These include interpretative and procedural matters that we will discuss in an upcoming editorial. Meanwhile, readers are invited to think seriously about this initiative and how they can contribute by constructive criticism, by participating in the project or by simply complimenting our intellectuals and experts who have devoted--over the past three years--their time, energy and money to this vital national cause. – January 2, 2010 Â

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Predictable Fait Accompli in Yerevan As expected, the constitutional court of Armenia has upheld the constitutionality of the protocols. Now the documents will be forwarded to the parliament of Armenia for ratification, and then President Serzh Sargsyan will have a final say. Several protocols-related matters are particularly worrisome. Although the protocols are not ordinarily dealt as treaties, in this instance they are being accorded all the fanfare and prestige of a treaty, thus making it even more difficult to either bypass their provisions or abrogate them by a subsequent administration. Usually protocols are dealt as "letters of agreement", which are much less restrictive in parameters. Whether the protocols represent Armenian national interests (Armenia, Diaspora or Western Armenia) remains a moot point and is prone to discussion. Article 11 of the Declaration of Independence, dated August 23, 1990, states, "The Republic of Armenia stands in support of the task of achieving international recognition of the 1915 Genocide in Ottoman Turkey and Western Armenia." The measured wording does not explicitly mention our legitimate land claims from Turkey. Hence, those who have forwarded the thesis that the protocols violate the intent of the Declaration of Independence are at least partially wrong. As to constitutionality, there are only two main articles in the constitution that are relevant to the case, while the second is remotely related: "Chapter 1: The Foundations of Constitutional Order Article 9 The foreign policy of the Republic of Armenia shall be conducted in accordance with the principles and norms of the international law, with the aim of establishing good neighborly and mutually beneficial relations with all states. According to the above article it can be posited that the intent of the protocols is to establish "neighborly and mutually beneficial relations". "Article 100 The Constitutional Court shall, in conformity with the procedure defined by law: 2) prior to the ratification of international treaties determine the compliance of the commitments stipulated therein with the Constitution."

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This is remotely relevant, and unfortunately--as said earlier--the protocols have been elevated to the status of treaties. The only solace for those who object to the constitutionality is dependent on how the preamble of the constitution is interpreted (bolded by Keghart). "The Armenian People, recognizing as a basis the fundamental principles of the Armenian statehood and national aspirations engraved in the Declaration of Independence of Armenia, having fulfilled the sacred message of its freedom loving ancestors for the restoration of the sovereign state, committed to the strengthening and prosperity of the fatherland, to ensure the freedom, general well being and civic harmony of future generations, declaring their faithfulness to universal values, hereby adopts the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia." Here too, the constitution does not make land claims. There is only a vague reference to "national aspirations" and "restoration of the sovereign state" Thus, it should not come as a surprise that the Court upheld the constitutionality of the protocols. The answer to land claims and what descendents of Genocide survivors define "national aspirations" lie elsewhere. Only through re-organization of the Diaspora, and making use of all its potentials, can the Diaspora hope to achieve what it aspires, in tandem with what Armenia as a state can do. Fortunately, such positive developments are blossoming in various Armenian communities and organizations around the globe. The upcoming 12 months could determine whether Diaspora-driven initiatives regarding our legitimate land claims are on the right track. To quote a wise Armenian saying, "If you have fingernails, scratch your own head" Yeghounk ounis, kloukhet kere. Yes, we do have fingernails--no thanks to Serzh Sargsyan and Co. - January 12, 2010

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Coming Out of the Fog Described as "shell-shocked" during the First and Second World Wars, soldiers, who experienced severe emotional turbulence, are nowadays described as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But PTSD isn't an experience confined to individuals--nations and civilizations can also suffer from it. As a nation, Armenians are ideal candidates for PTSD. Even a cursory look at our history demonstrates a nation which, for nearly three millennia, has been tested again and again. Our country has been a frequent battle ground for expansionist empires from near and far; it has been divided between Persia and Greece; split between Persia and Rome; sliced by Byzantium, Persia, and Arab "vosdigan" rule. Crusaders from half-a-dozen European countries betrayed the welcoming Armenians and played havoc with Cilicia. Then it was the turn of nomadic Central Asian marauders, particularly the Turkish Seljuk and Ottoman tribes, to lay waste to Armenia. In the past 600 years the occupation of our country continued under the yoke of Persian and Turkish, and later Russian Empires. These depredations have been accompanied by mass killings, near-slavery, and the abduction of countless Armenians and the repeated destruction of our homes, churches, schools. Then came the 19th century persecutions of Armenians living under Ottoman rule. After several major ethnic cleansing campaigns, Turkey culminated its bloody plot against Armenians with the Genocide of 1915, and the deportation of nearly a million from our homeland. Those who stayed in their homeland were forcibly turkified. Meanwhile, historic Armenia kept shrinking to its present postage-stamp size--about a tenth of historic Armenia. And how can one forget the torment of Genocide survivors, the orphans and their descendents, scattered around the globe ... trying to establish a modicum of "normal" life far away from Ararat, and often prone to the vagaries of local politics, discrimination, and even war? Is it any wonder then that we feel like a punch-drunk boxer? How many hits can an individual or a nation-absorb before throwing the towel? How many degrees are there between PTSD and catatonia? As part of their healing process, victims of shell-shock/PTSD find succor in the medical community's and the public's recognition of their illness. That their illness is validated by medical experts and not dismissed as cowardice (as was

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often the case during the First World War) helps the PTSD sufferer find closure and to start life anew. Armenians are still waiting for the Great Powers, not to mention Turkey, to recognize the Genocide of Armenians as an uncontested fact. And as long as the Genocide of Armenians is cited in quotes or is preceded by "so-called", "alleged", or "Armenians claim" our trauma persists. This open wound, the hypocrisy of the Great Powers, Turkey's inane obduracy drives us--in street parlance--to the wall. We get impatient, short-tempered, petulant, combative, and even paranoid when the horrendous events of 1915 to 1922 are questioned or ignored. But "coming from an angry place" is no way to present Our Cause (Hye Tadd). We have been patient for millennia. Despite the overwhelming odds, despite the yataghans, despite the forced assimilation we have survived through patience, through love of our nation and through our pride in being Armenian. Let's maintain our cool a bit longer and continue to fight in an intelligent manner--with circumspection, unity, and diplomacy. We have come a long way since 1375 (when our last king was deposed) and from 1915. The protocols have galvanized Armenians the way the 50th commemoration of the Genocide focused us on our priorities. Turkey is changing: optimists in Turkey and elsewhere believe the new generation in Turkey will eventually force Ankara to acknowledge the crimes of Abdul Hamid II, Tala'at and Co. The descendants of turkified Armenians are coming forth and demanding the opening of the books. Ankara realizes that it can't stonewall forever, without losing credibility and prestige. Diaspora Armenians are demanding that their political leaders present a new blueprint for our future as a nation. And just like Turkey, the government of Armenia should realize that authoritarian rule and "let's play pretend-democracy" won't do. Qualified and committed groups are forming in at least four Armenian centers to give a big legal push for the recognition of the rights of Western Armenians. The desire for a new day is palpable. With our track record of perseverance, with our pride in our identity, with our conviction in the justice of our cause, we may soon come out of the fog--the fog of the world's longest-lasting posttraumatic stress disorder. - January 20, 2010

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Cassandras, Jeremiahs Can Sabotage National Dialogue How much easier it is to be critical than to be correct. Benjamin Disraeli (1860) No matter the nature, origin or size of a group or organization, it will invariably have its share of individuals who, as if by reflex action, who would reject most proposals that are tabled for adoption or even for discussion. Whether it's due to a character trait, an ingrained attitude, experience or conviction, these naysayers are quick with their corrosive sarcasm or in dishing out reasons why a proposal or plan will not work. A favorite argument of theirs is the never-failing "we tried before but it didn't work." Predictably, the "naysayers" see themselves as realists; their opponents see them as jaded and tired cynics. The ancient Hebrews called them Jeremiahs because of their predilection for negativity and to a "woe to us" mindset. The ancient Greeks called them Cassandra, after the lachrymose seer who specialized in warning about doom and gloom. Sometimes her predictions came to pass. We would like to call them wet blankets because they fear vigor, enthusiasm, and new ideas. They have the ability to ruin a party by their mere presence. In 1978 Jan Morris, a British historian and doyenne of travel writers, essayed a perceptive article about Istanbul which she titled "City of Yok". Morris memorably wrote: "The favorite epithet of Istanbul seems to be yok. I don't speak Turkish, but yok appears to be sort of general-purpose discouragement, to imply that (for instance) it can't be done, she isn't home, the shop's shut, the train's left, take it or leave it, you can't come this way or there's no good making fuss about it, that's the way it is." Armenians also have their "yok" aficionados. Another characteristic these doomsters share is their reluctance or inability to offer constructive alternatives. Since the Western Armenian National Congress stepped to the plate to participate in the Armenian national dialogue, the Cassandras/Jeremiahs have--as is their habit--mocked the group and said the group is destined to failure, without

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bothering to offer an alternative vision. No offers of lifesavers from the negativists on how to pull out of the Diaspora quagmire. For decades the Diaspora has been on a downward spiral. Our political organizations have been unable to put forth long-term and credible blueprints for the survival, let alone the strengthening of the Armenian Diaspora. It's the ultimate irresponsibility to throw rotten tomatoes at well-intentioned people who have volunteered their time, talent, knowledge and efforts to advocate--at international forums--the long-ignored rights of Diaspora Armenians, the children of the few who survived the Genocide. We suggest that as long as the so-called realists confine their contribution to "it will not work", they should keep their own counsel and let people of conviction and vision try to pull us out of the fog. - January 26, 2010

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The Little Fascist Republic North of Armenia "When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle."-Raphael Eitan, Chief of Staff, Israeli Defense Forces, 1983 It seems what Eitan had in mind for the Palestinians are being implemented against Javakhk Armenians by the dictatorial and ultra-nationalist regime of Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvilli. Since Georgia gained independence, authorities in Tbilisi have made a covert and overt state policy to persecute non-Georgian minorities, especially Armenians living in Tbilisi and in Javakhk. While Saakashvilli portrays his country as little David facing the Russian Goliath, it's also true that he is running an imperialist-racist state when it comes to minority rights. We have already witnessed a number of ethnic groups (Abkhazians, South Ossetians, Ajarians) bridle at the ultra-nationalistic policies of Georgian authorities. It's obvious the dream of the Tbilisi government is to create a 100% "pure" Georgian state--through harassment of non-ethnic Georgians, through assimilation and even good old-fashioned racial persecution. Although Tbilisi claims that ethnic Georgians make up 83.3% of the 4.6 million population, it's a fact that the percentage is highly inflated. After all, the republic has at least 10 minorities (Avars, Hamshen Armenians, Jews, Greeks, Laz, Bats, Kist, Lom, Mskhetian Turks, Udi, Ukrainians, and Urums) in addition to Armenians, Azeris, Russians, Ossetians, Abkhazians and Ajarians. While exaggerating the number of Georgians, Tbilisi falsely alleges that there are only 250,000 Armenians in Georgia, instead of 400,000. In the past five years the Javakhk Armenians have become a target of the authorities in Tbilisi, especially after the Russian military evacuated their Javakhk bases. According to Europe-based YERKIR NGO, "Everyday the Javakhketi Armenians are suffering from political, linguistic, cultural, educational, religious and socio-economic discrimination." Although Georgia has ratified the various international documents for the protection of national minorities, Tbilisi gives lip service to these commitments. Javakhk was part of Armenia Major as early as in 8th century B.C., during the reign of Argishty, king of Armenia. In the 16th century there were 200 Armenian villages in the region. The area, which reminds people of an unspoiled - 37 -


Switzerland, is jam-packed with Christian and pre-Christian Armenian buildings and monuments. The three main districts of Javakhk are Akhalkalak, Akhaltsekha, and Ninozminda. The first one has 63 villages; the second, 47 villages; and the third 32 villages. Javakhk covers an area of 850 square miles. While historically the population was more than 90% Armenian, there has been a decline in the 140,000 Armenian population in recent years due to emigration to Armenia and to Russia. While the Armenian percentage has shrunk, thanks to undemocratic and discriminatory Georgian policies, the percentage of Armenians is much higher than the 54% that Tbilisi claims. Most Armenians in the region are farmers. While Tbilisi Armenians are relatively in a better shape, they too complain about discrimination. Best chance of success in Tblisi is to change one's name to shvili, dze, and ani, Armenians in the capital have told Diaspora Armenian journalists. To say that the Javakhk region is the most underdeveloped and impoverished area of a backward Georgia says a great deal about the lot of Javakhk Armenians. The region has the highest rate of unemployment and lowest rate of state investment. There is no industry, while agriculture is medieval. Javakhk is an economic, geographic and political desert island. The complaints of Javakhk Armenians in particular and Georgia Armenians in general make a long and justified litany of maltreatment by Georgian authorities. Here's a brief and incomplete summary of their complaints: 1. The local self-government bodies of Armenian-populated areas of Javakhk are denied the right to exercise the powers provided to them by law. 2. The internal socio-political and administrative life of Armenians is superseded by the heavy hand of Georgian police and security services. 3. The law requires mandatory and sole use of Georgian language in all spheres of public life in Armenian populated areas. 4. The Armenian Apostolic Church still has no legal status in Georgia. Churches confiscated during the Soviet era have not been returned to the Armenian Church. At the beginning of the 20th century there were 29 Armenian churches in Tbilisi. Now only two function. What the Georgians haven't confiscated, they have destroyed. Demonstrating its naked animus towards Armenians, Georgia has not acknowledged the veracity of the Armenian Genocide. 5. Georgian authorities continue their campaign of changing place names from Armenian to Georgian.

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6. Georgian border guards create artificial obstacles to the importation of Armenian books and periodicals. 7. After Javakhk Armenians demanded autonomy, similar to the ones enjoyed by a number of other ethnic groups, Georgian special troops conducted (July 15, 2008) terror operations to shut down all Armenian organizations. Several Armenian policemen were killed (Georgians said one of the policemen had committed suicide!), Armenians were beaten, a youth radio station was shut down and its equipment confiscated. They arrested Armenian community leaders and their family members. The Georgians jailed Vahakn Chakalyan, the head of United Javakhk Democratic Alliance, on trumped up charges. Due process was dismissed. Chakalyan, his father and brother are still in jail. Since the Georgian police action, a number of Armenian leaders have left the country to avoid further persecution. Several of these leaders were handed long-term sentences in absentia. Politicians and public figures in Armenia, who dare speak on behalf of Javakhk Armenians, are banned from entering Georgia. 8. In an attempt to artificially alter the demographics of the region, Georgian authorities have settled Georgians, Ajarians and Meskhet Turks in Javakhk. 9. The 400,000-strong Armenian community has only five seats in the 235-seat Parliament. The United Nations Human Rights Committee in its 91st session (Oct. 2007) called upon Georgian authorities to take steps to ensure to all citizens the equal enjoyment of the right of freedom of religion and asked Tbilisi to ensure that its legislation and practice conform fully to international standards and practice. Nice words which carry no weight for the reckless Saakishvilli regime. A few weeks ago Javakhk, Armenia and Diaspora organizations founded the Coordinating Council for the Protection of the Rights of Javakhk Armenians to fight for Javakhk Armenian rights. The new organization, which includes the compatriotic and charitable Javakhk NGO, the Analytical Center 'Midk', the political party 'Virk', the public movement 'Javakhk' and the Yerkir Union of NGOs for Repatriation and Settlement, will intensify the involvement of all Armenians in efforts to protect the rights of Javakhk Armenians. The new organization will campaign against the fascist policies of Georgia and demand that Tbilisi stop its anti-Armenian campaign. In a Javakhk-Yerevan joint news release the council said that it would demand that all political prisoners be set free, the rule of law be implemented, and the security of Armenians guaranteed. The council will demand that Georgia recognize the Armenian Apostolic Church as a legal entity and return Church

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properties. It will also demand that legislation be enacted to allow the use of the Armenian language in all spheres of public life in local administrative areas where the Armenian population represents a majority. Although according to the press in Armenia, Yerevan has tried to relieve the pressure on Javakhk Armenians, in the current political, economic and military climate Armenia finds its hands tied when it comes to condemning the fascist acts of Tbilisi. Polite demands by the UN do not worry seemingly bi-polar Saakashvilli, especially since he has become the regional poster boy of the United States. The Javakhk crisis is another circumstance where the Diaspora can and should play an active part -- pressure Georgia to come to its senses -- since the leaders of the motherland find themselves between a rock and a hard place. For more information about the Council and its activities, write to contact@yerkir.eu or Robert Tatoyan at rob@yerkir.org or +374 (0) 94 36 17 23. - February 10, 2010Â

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Trust Deficit in Traditional Political Organizations Our Diaspora political organizations, namely the traditional three parties, have had dramatic highs and lows during their long history. Currently, especially with the advent of the internet, they face new challenges to their operations, if not existence. In the past few years non-affiliated societies and diverse groups have mushroomed on an unprecedented scale, asserting the Diaspora needs new solutions and new leadership. Already leadership and strategic guidance of Diaspora communities has begun to slip away from the parties. This undeniable fact is naturally a cause for concern to people who have thus far enjoyed near-hegemony in dictating the affairs of Armenian communities spread around the globe. To our knowledge, no scientific study has been carried out to explore the phenomenon and provide clues as to why this evolution has developed and gained momentum. Some observers blame it on the self-defeating rivalry of the three parties. The fratricide, especially of the late '50s in Lebanon, is fresh on many minds. Others blame the political challenges on the well-documented social sciences conclusions which maintain that positions and power eventually lead to isolation and degeneration with all their attendant manifestations of greed, arrogance, intolerance, character assassination, absence of transparency and accountability. Still others claim that the traditional organizations have not kept pace with changes in economic, political and social spheres. At least one political party has not updated its platform and bylaws for more than two decades. Whether these serious challenges to the domination of the traditional parties bode well for the Diaspora is a question that cannot be addressed in a conclusive manner. However, it is assumed that party leaders view the evolution differently from those who do not participate in activities initiated on their behalf. There is an absence of two-way communication between leaders and followers, and totally non-existent between parties and non-affiliated people. The parties themselves have to carry the blame for this. As well, the political parties have shown neither tolerance nor patience for "others", except when there has been an opportunity to co-opt them. To this day there are some, though minority, who believe that if you do not belong to a certain party you should not have a say, perhaps you are not even Armenian. In some quarters to be Armenian is defined by party membership. Is it any wonder then that there is a huge trust deficit towards the established parties? Is it not natural for concerned but non-affiliated Armenians to look for ways to have their voice heard? Is it surprising to witness such a quest--

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especially in Western countries where give and take, the expression of opinion and freedom of speech are formally respected? A recent poll conducted by Keghart.com, albeit non-scientific, provides a sample of the prevailing mood at least in a specific sector. To this date 874 visitors looked at the poll and 238 cast votes. The overwhelming majority--over 80%--said that "a new entity is required to speak on behalf of the Diaspora."

Meanwhile, a recent study titled “A Tale of Two Charts” conducted by Richard K. Ohanian and published independently in Keghart.com and in Boston's “The Armenian Weekly” provided some interesting observations. Ohanian stated, "more than 90% of the Armenians living in the U.S. who are interested in politics and have the means to go online and visit a 'grassroots' political organization's website choose not to do so on a regular basis." The reference was to the Armenian National Committee of America - ANCA. Another interesting Ohanian observation was that "about 7,000 to 8,000 Armenians visit the ANCA's website on a monthly basis."

Keghart.com has no means to verify the information submitted by Ohanian, and treats it at face value. However, we can provide our own data as shown below. In the past six months, between August 2009 and January 2010 Keghart.com attracted more than 6,000 "unique visitors" month after month. It is - 42 -


relevant to emphasize that the site does not carry any advertisements, is only two-and- a- half years old, compared to ANCA's "decades of existence", and has no organizational support.

Our intention is not self-promotional, nor are these data provided to generate advertising revenues. Our sole purpose is to back the assertion that there is among Diaspora Armenians a trust deficit in traditional organizations. People are in search of new modalities of expression, and over time they are drifting away from the political parties. Thus far the mainstream political trio has made no attempt to stay relevant. Rather than address the ever-changing challenges the Diaspora faces, the Hnchak and the Ramgavar have witnessed serious fissures among their ranks, while the biggest political party-the Tashnag-has continued its "we know best" policy. - February 22, 2010

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Armenia: Eye in the Storm "Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland [Eurasia] Who rules the Heartland commands the World Island [Eastern Hemisphere] Who rules the World Island commands the World." --- Sir Halford Mackinder, geopolitician, 1904 When the Cold War came to an end with the collapse of the Soviet Union political pundits pontificated that the world was entering an era of long-lasting international peace. These premature optimists forgot or disregarded that ideology wasn't the only reason for the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union. The two political, military and economic giants competed also for good-old fashioned national dominance. Thus the much-ballyhooed peace dividend never materialized as the U.S. increased its military budget rather than reduce it. After undergoing an economic earthquake due to the break-up of the Soviet Union, Russia recovered sufficiently to boost its military arsenal but Moscow's investment in military hardware significantly lagged behind that of Pentagon's. Taking advantage of Russia's perceived military and strategic decline, the U.S and NATO intensified their encroachments on the Soviet Union's former turf in Eastern Europe, in the Caucasus and in the Middle East. Washington strategists remained avid students of Sir Mackinder. In January the U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria, James Warlick, said that Washington is entering into negotiations with Bulgaria to station interceptor missile facilities, probably in one of the three military bases the Pentagon has established there. A week earlier the Romanian President Traian Basescu had announced that his country--where the U.S. has four bases--would host landbased U.S. interceptor missiles. About the same time Poland revealed that a U.S. Patriot Advanced Capability-3 anti-ballistic missile battery will be stationed 35 mile from the Russian border. Meanwhile the Czech Republic has stated that it will provide sites for a new-generation U.S. radar. Georgia is also expected to offer bases for new U.S. missiles. Already U.S. airmen have been stationed at the hugely expanded and modernized Krtsanisi National Training Centre in Georgia. U.S. Marines are training Georgian soldiers and have held at least one war game not far from the Russian border. America's number one ally in the Middle East--Israel--is providing aerial

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drones to Tbilisi and is delivering large amount of arms and ammunition to Georgia. Azerbaijan, Armenia's neighbor, is clamoring to join NATO. America sees that country as an ideal launching pad for an attack on Iran. Since as many as a quarter of Iran's population is believed to be ethnic Azeri, Baku may also be deployed by the Americans to destabilize Iran. Further south, America is building land- and sea-based interceptor missile capabilities in the Persian Gulf. The Washington claim that the missiles in Eastern Europe are intended to defend against Iranian and Korean missile threats is so patently false that it doesn't deserve to be contradicted. In the past few years we have heard the almost daily threats of U.S./Israeli attacks on Iran. While Iran is in itself an important country to have in the Western camp, it's also important to Washington as the last link in the encirclement of Russia. One doesn't have to check the map to realize that Armenia is in the centre of this strategic and military chess game. We are, in fact, the eye of the storm. Georgia in our north in embroiled in conflict with our long-time friend Russia. Iran, our southern neighbor, is facing regular threats from the world's mightiest nation. The Baku regime in the east is trying to persuade Washington that it's a reliable ally which would provide the West with oil and gas at reasonable prices. The price of that courtship is, of course, Western pressure on Armenia to hand Artsakh to Azerbaijan. And let's not forget the heavily-armed, genocidedenying neighbor which occupies most of historic Armenia. So far Yerevan has managed to stay out of the American strategy to constrict Russia. We have remained friends with Moscow, Washington, and Tehran. This might seem like a miraculous tightrope walk. It isn't. While Yerevan has played its cards well, Moscow, Washington and Tehran understand that tiny Armenia--caught between a rock, a hard place, and another harder place--has to stay friendly with the three major parties. Like the Armenian community during the Lebanese Civil War, Armenia has wisely chosen the path of positive neutrality. To remain in Washington's good books in the long term, Yerevan needs the concentrated support of American-Armenians. If someday the push comes to

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shove and militarists in the Pentagon tell Armenia "you're with us or against us", Armenia will need deft lobbying from the American-Armenian community. Rather than chase fires, our lobbyist should have in hand a robust and clearly-enunciated argument to convince Washington that it is not in its interest to push tiny Armenia. Whether it sides with Moscow or Washington, in case of conflagration, Armenia would evaporate faster than one can say "Ayp, Pen, Kim". Some Lebanese Arabs--on both sides of the warring factions--initially expressed their hostility when Armenians opted for positive neutrality during that country's Civil War. Eventually, they honored the Armenian position. We hope Washington and Moscow demonstrate similar wisdom and not try to drag Armenia into their dangerous war games. - 28 February 2010

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Keghart Opts for Western Armenian National Congress Within a span of fewer than three years (Oct. 2007 to March 2007) two United States congressional foreign affairs committees have gone on public record recognizing the Genocide of the Armenians. Of the 50 states, 42 have acknowledged the Genocide. In recognizing the Genocide, President Ronald Reagan spelled out the sentiments of the average American while three recent presidents, during their election campaigns, promised to acknowledge the mass killings as Genocide. Whether the latest decision of the U.S. foreign relations committee will be debated in the full house and a corresponding resolution passed remains a moot issue. As expected, the Turkish ambassador was called back and "all hell broke loose" in Turkey. The usual threats that the U.S may lose its NATO ally and hence compromise mutual interests abound in the Turkish media. Some have blamed Erdogan's government for not doing enough to prevent the passage of the resolution. Others are threatening to topple Erdogan's government in the next election. No wonder the voices against lifting the blockade and opening the border with Armenia have become more forceful. In all likelihood the protocols will be shelved as their predecessor the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC) was. There is much media speculation that the latest decision of the committee of the foreign affairs is partly a reflection of Israel's resentment with Turkey's criticism of Israel's indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza and Turkey's rapprochement with Iran. The assertion might be partially justified since this year the Jewish Lobby did not demonstrate any overt signs of campaigning against the resolution. What's clear is that the Genocide of the Armenians is being treated as a toy in international politics, and moral imperatives are not part of the deliberations at the highest levels of either the U.S administration or related parties. Once more realpolitik is front and centre. It's been a while since Armenians realized this fact. Yet to counter and neutralize such a bitter reality has been increasingly difficult given the present geopolitical atmosphere which will likely continue to prevail in the foreseeable future. So what course of action should Armenians pursue? Is there a strategy that might increase the chances of finally getting the congress to acknowledge once - 47 -


and for all the veracity of the Genocide of the Armenians? Should Armenia be more assertive in voicing the claims in the international arena? Are Armenians investing time, money and effort in the wrong strategy? Should Armenians "punish" those who did not keep their promises during electoral campaigns and give their votes to the opposing parties? What guarantees are there that the candidate of the opposing party will not renege on promises once elected? These are some of the questions that are being asked publicly, in chat rooms, in forums and in Armenian living rooms. The multicentric Armenian Diaspora, despite its well-intentioned and heightened interest in our past, is at a loss in providing a realistic outcome. Except for the usual ritual of lobbying American congressmen, all other efforts are fragmented, and at times contradictory. This reality too is recognized by all interested parties--whether affiliated with organizations or not. Yet they seem to lack the faith or perhaps the confidence to take matters further and make a much-needed leap forward. Understandably, skepticism and unfortunate experiences seem to hold them back, languishing in limbo. Isn't it time, as we approach the centennial of the Genocide, Armenians left behind their parochial differences and joined forces to commemorate the horrific anniversary with a significant move forward? Proposals to gather our forces are not lacking. Some cover all-encompassing interests: politics, culture, religion, etc. Others are focused on the political aspect of the issue, primarily involving the recovery of our territorial losses in Western Armenia and in Cilicia, including personal property. At this important juncture, Keghart has made its choice by backing the proposed Western Armenian National Congress. We do not see such a move detrimental to the fulfillment of other proposals. On the contrary, we believe that if properly executed, the various proposals now on the table can complement one other. Given the Diasporic diversity, Keghart believes that a focused organization has a far better chance of getting up and running sooner, and in the long term walking tall not only to assert but also claim our rights in the international forums. - March 9, 2010

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Remote Transnistria Has Lessons for Artsakh Most people would be hard-pressed to find Moldova, let alone Transnistria, on the map. Transnistria, in an obscure corner of Eastern Europe, sounds too much like a fictional tin-pot Ruritania. Yet the political entity, officially known as Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, has a capital (Tiraspol), currency (ruble), a national anthem and flag, government agencies, public holidays and a democratically-elected government. So far, it has no airline. Transnistria is a sliver of land in eastern Moldova, along the shores of the Dniester River, across from Western Ukraine. It has iron mines and fertile soil. Until the collapse of the Soviet Union, the region was part of the Moldavian Republic. However, in 1991 Transnistria seceded from Moldova when the latter declared Moldovan (a dialect of Romanian) the official language of the country. Slavic people, who make up the majority of Transnistria (30% Russian, 29% Ukrainian, and 5% other Slavs), resented the creeping Romanization of Moldova. To make matters worse, Moldova also changed the alphabet from Cyrillic to Latin. A mini-war (1992) between Moldova and Transnistria failed to change the status of the newly-independent region. The tiny republic is recognized only by South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia, which doesn't recognize the political entity, has a consulate in Tiraspol: Russia wants to retain Moldova as an ally without upsetting the Slavs of Transnistria. Since declaring independence, Transnistria has been subjected to a blockade by Moldova and by Romania. In 2006 Ukraine enacted a customs regulation which forced all Transnistrian exports to carry Moldovan customs stamps. The Ukrainian law has resulted in $2 million to $2.5 million daily loss to the fledgling republic' economy. But Transnistrians refused to be cowed by Moldova's economic blockade and Europe's refusal to recognize Tiraspol's independence. In 2006 Transnistria held a referendum to decide the region's future. According to government sources, 97% voted for pro-independence with free association with Russia. Three percent voted to rejoin Moldova. Transnistrians are not intimidated by the blockade and hostility of Moldova, Ukraine and Romania. Now go over the previous five paragraphs and note the similarities in the status of Transnistria and Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). A comparison between the two "republics" would very quickly indicate that the Armenian political entity is better off, more secure, and has a far stronger justification for selfdetermination. Some Armenians rightly feel insecure about the independence of Artsakh. They may also forget that the Artsakh/Azerbaijan conflict is not unique: There

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are a number of long-term, unresolved but de facto political limbos on the global scene. Taiwan, Cyprus, Palestine, the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia), Kuwait and Iraq, Northern Iraq (Kurdistan), Northern Ireland. are some of the better known of these interminable conflicts. One might condemn these unresolved situations, but the fact remains they are part of the global reality. And they exist because one of the warring parties is stronger (Israel in Palestine, Turkey in Cyprus.) than its antagonist. It's not justice that has scripted their current status. As long as Artsakh and Armenia retain their military superiority over Azerbaijan, Artsakh will remain independent. What Stepanakert and Yerevan have to do is persuade Baku that Armenians can live with the uncomfortable status quo indefinitely, despite the saber-rattling of Aliyev and his blowhards. Baku's belligerence and intransigence force Armenians to embrace the lyrics of a century--old Armenian fedayeen song, "Meeyan Zenkov Gah Hayots Prgoutune" (Arms are Armenians' Sole Saviour)-as far as Artsakh is concerned. Having justice on our side is not enough for political security. It has to be backed by force of arms. - March 16, 2010

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Bracing for Part II of Our Existential Battle When a crime is committed human nature and civil society everywhere demand that the criminal be arrested, judged, convicted and sentenced. This fundamental aspiration has been the engine of the Armenian national movement in the course of its campaign for the recognition of the Genocide of Armenians by Turkey. We have-individually and collectively, in Armenia and in the Diaspora, invested a large portion of our time, money and effort to prove to the international public and its political representatives that Turkey committed genocide against its Armenian citizens. Believing in the judicial and logical progression enunciated in the first paragraph, we have assumed that once we have proved the veracity of the genocide, Turkey would automatically be branded race killer (genocidier) by the international community. This victory, we have believed, would force Turkey to admit its crime and make restitutions. We have been vague about the last goal: Would Turkey be forced to make financial compensation? Would it be forced to return Kars and Ardahan? The Six Villayets? All of Western Armenia? Concentrating on the recognition, rather than on restitution, was wise strategy. To have made demands before international recognition would have scuttled our genocide-recognition campaign. Of course, Turkey knew our final goal, that's why Ankara has fought tooth and nail our genocide recognition efforts. Now that many, if not most, Armenians believe that we have gained sufficiently widespread recognition around the globe (twenty-two states, many parliaments, most of the American states; provinces, regions, cities around the world, in addition to media acknowledgement), we are witnessing nascent Armenian discussions to take Turkey to the International Court in The Hague. Armenians, at least in the Diaspora, would like to see Turkey convicted for the crime of genocide and be forced to apologize and make concrete restitutions. The North American phrase is apt here: "Sorry and 50 cents will not get you a cup of coffee". Turkish apology will not do. Turkey knows that an apology would not clean the slate. Ankara knows our ultimate goal is restitution. Now that we believe we have been relatively victorious in the first part of our battle with the government of Turkey, it's time we faced the huge challenges of the battle's second half. We have to go back to the drawing board and plan the execution of the battle's finale. It's time we faced the following bitter truths we have put aside for at least four decades.

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--Almost all the states which have recognized the Genocide of Armenians have made a point not to mention Turkey in their resolutions. --With few exceptions, Genocide resolutions have not drawn a link between acknowledgement of and reparations or territorial concessions on Turkey's part. --The European Union Parliament's resolution (June 1987) stated that, while "the tragic events in 1915-1917 involving the Armenians living in the territory of the Ottoman Empire constitutes genocide. The present Turkey cannot be held responsible for the tragedy experienced by the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire." --Eight years ago, the much-reviled and eventually failed Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC) sought the views of the International Centre on Transitional Justice in New York on the question of legal responsibility for the Genocide. An opinion drafted by independent counsel stated: "The Genocide Convention contains no provision mandating its retroactive application. To the contrary, the text of the Convention strongly suggests that it was intended to impose prospective obligations only on the States party to it. Therefore, no legal, financial or territorial claim arising out of the Events [of 1915] could successfully be made against any individual or state under the Convention." --The same counsel also wrote: "Nobody but Turkey can invoke international law before the International Court of Justice in order to claim the right to compensation for the genocide of the Armenians, something it is hardly likely to do." --The recent U.S. congressional committee and Swedish Parliament's resolutions, as in most other jurisdictions, were explicitly non-binding. Even if in the unlikely case the U.S. Congress and President Obama recognize the Genocide of Armenians, it wouldn't follow that Washington would demand that Turkey make any restitution. It seems laws of morality that apply to humans do not apply to states--entities that supposedly represent human beings. In addition to the above gigantic hurdles on our path, we have to tackle the Treaties of Moscow and of Kars (1921) which define the current border of Armenia and Turkey. We have to declare those two treaties as illegal since Armenia was not a signatory to them. The 1920 Treaty of Sevres, which awarded Armenia a substantial part of eastern Anatolia, was not ratified, although legally it remains in force. We have to revive Sevres.

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The government of Turkey knows about the obstacles we face as well as we do. Turkish diplomacy has always been far-sighted about the titanic conflict. Since we have spent, in the past four decades, so much of our energies to gain Genocide recognition, Turkey hopes we would be too exhausted and financially spent to engage in a new and prolonged battle for restitution. Turkey is also aware that the first phase of the battle has been waged largely by the secondgeneration of genocide survivors. Ankara believes that the third-generation would not possess the same commitment to the cause because it would have gradually assimilated in the Americas, in Europe, and in Australia. When Armenians talk of the return of lands, their dominant thought is that justice should triumph: that historic Armenia should be returned to us because it is ours and because 1.5 million innocent Armenians were martyred. While justice is on our side, there's even a more important reason that Turkey return a significant portion of historic Armenia to the Republic of Armenia RoA. Present-day Armenia is not a viable state. Its present size, location and borders guarantee that it never becomes anything other than an international welfare state, depending on the kindness or self-interest of other states. Armen Ayvazyan, director of the Yerevan-based "Ararat" strategic institution, was painfully accurate when he pointed out that to become a viable state RoA needs, if not the entirety of Armenia (350,000 sq. km.) then, "at least a substantial piece of it, such that the safe and long-term existence and development of Armenian civilization can be secured." Poetically, painfully and accurately, Ayvazyan described RoA (29,800 sq. km.) as a "lonely castle". Ayvazyan's words should make an indelible mark on Armenians, particularly on Armenian leaders and organizations as they gear up for the second phase of our battle with Turkey. And as they draw the blueprint for strategy for restitution/compensation, they should find the legal arguments to combat the status quo--the international laws and conventions which stand between us and our just demands. Laws are written by men. What man has written, man can rewrite. Laws are not carved in marble. Laws are not eternal Ten Commandments. If we believe that we can't persuade international lawmakers to recognize the obvious logic of compelling the criminal make restitution, the future of Armenia and Armenians is certainly bleak. It's time again to reach deep into our inner strengths, to remember our 4,250 years of recorded history, to remember Kachn Vartan, Vahan Mamigonian, King Ashod, Mekhitar Sbarabed, Tavit Beg, Kachn Antranig, Aghpouyr Serop, and Mgrditch Yotneghperian. It's also time to remember Israel Ori, Anastas Mikoyan and Karen Demirchyan.

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We have arrived to our moment of truth. We are facing our existential issue. We either succeed in this sacred mission or face the possibility of a vanishing Diaspora and a desiccated Armenia--the Sick Man of the Caucasus. - March 22, 2010

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Restitution, Not Retribution "We should take care not to be overconfident of this 'last' part of Phase I and not to cut any resources presently used ... to provide for Phase II." - Arpiar Petrossian – Mr. Petrossian, an Iranian-Armenian, was commenting on our recent editorial- where we averred that since Armenians have, to a large measure, won international recognition for the Genocide it's time to prepare for the second half of the battle--for restitution, financial compensation, and for the return of Armenian lands now illegally occupied by Turkey. "Bracing for Part II of the Struggle" did not intimate that we should halt our campaign to gain further recognition for the Genocide and concentrate 100% of our efforts on demanding that Turkey make amends. Recognition by whichever jurisdiction or institution (parliament, congress, national assembly, religious group, politician, media, etc.) further strengthens our hand. However, we should not dissipate our efforts by investing time and energy in impossible dreams or lost causes (obtain German and British recognition for the Genocide, for example), especially when the time is ripe to define the plaintiff in a manner acceptable to international entities such as the International Court of Justice in The Hague and proceed to sue Turkey. In that same editorial we listed the huge hurdles we face in taking Turkey to court. However, the obstacles are not the last word on the issue. We have copious informed opinion and data which assert that international law does allow us the right to take Turkey to court. To cite just two of the arrows in our quiver: A monograph titled "Executive Summary: The Armenian Genocide in the light of the Genocide Convention" by Dr. Alfred de Zayas, and the verdict in 1984 of the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal, the successor to the Russell Tribunal. Among the many relevant points makes Dr. de Zayas makes the following: Since genocide is a jus cogens crime, its crime and punishment are subject to universal jurisdiction. 

Genocide entails civil and penal consequences giving rise to personal penal liability and State responsibility for reparation to the victims and other descendants.

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





Since genocide falls within the category of delicta juris gentium and crime against humanity.State responsibility and individual penal liability for genocide are not subject to prescription or to any statute of limitation. According to ordre public of international law, the consequences of ergo omnes crimes cannot be recognized or otherwise legitimized. Thus, the international community must refrain from recognizing the consequences of genocide, in particular the wrongful acquisition of the property of the murdered victims. The Genocide Convention of 1948 can be applied retroactively, because it is declarative of pre-existing international law.

The Permanent Peoples' Tribunal is an international opinion tribunal independent of State authorities. It examines and provides judgments related to violations of human rights and rights of peoples. It was founded in June 1979 by Senator Lelio Basso of Italy to make up for "the moral and political shortcomings of states as an instrument for the achievement of justice". With respect to the Genocide of the Armenians the Tribunal affirmed: "There is no doubt regarding the reality of the physical acts constituting the genocide. The facts are clearly proven by the full and unequivocal evidence submitted to the Tribunal that the Young Turk government was guilty of this crime not subject to statutory limitations and that 'The Armenian genocide is also an 'international crime' for which the Turkish state must assume full responsibility, without using the pretext of any discontinuity in the existence of the state to elude that responsibility. This responsibility implies first and foremost the obligation to recognize officially the reality of the genocide and the consequent damages suffered by the Armenian people; the United Nations Organization and each of its members have the right to demand this recognition and to assist the Armenian people to that end." We are cognizant that marshaling our finances, manpower, and expertise in various specialties is a herculean task. But we believe that we have the expertise, the documentation and the commitment to take Turkey to The Hague. We also believe we can raise the finances for the undertaking. We have numerous Armenian and non-Armenian lawyers, historians, and scholars who would be eager to come forth to join the sacred and existential mission--once we have presented a clearly delineated strategy and campaign. This is where the Western Armenian National Congress (WAN-Congress) should step up to the plate and create a forum for these experts who do not necessarily have to be members of the organization but would be eager to in-

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vest their experience, knowledge, and time to bring our cause to the International Court of Justice. It took almost five decades to put international recognition on a reasonably strong footing. With the knowledge we have gained in the past fifty years it's highly unlikely that it would take as long to take Turkey to court. The international scholarly work devoted to the Genocide of the Armenians will, of course, buttress our case, so will the global public's familiarity with our casesomething that was not the case fifty years ago. We envisage that our main difficulty would be defining who the plaintiff is and what exhibits need to be compiled and presented. Framing our demands is another challenge. But already having a legal team under the guidance of the proposed WAN-Congress in Geneva is a good start. A Chinese proverb maintains: "A journey of thousands miles begins with one small step." Our journey towards Turkish restitution is a thousand-mile long, but we have no intention to begin the venture with one small step. - March 29, 2010

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Thank You, Syria In the six or seven decades following the Genocide of Armenians, Deir el-Zor, a town in eastern Syria was just a name in dusty books, in Armenian newspapers, in the imagination and nightmares of Armenians everywhere. With the heightened awareness of the Genocide in recent years and the ease of travel, the unknown Calvary of Armenians has become a pilgrimage destination for Diaspora Armenians, in particular. To visit the wind-swept Armenian chapel in Markaddeh--in the desert east of Deir el-Zor, to walk on the adjacent grey hill and to scratch with their bare fingers the fragile bones of our martyrs from the hillside, and to touch with reverence and sorrow those eloquent relics has become a ritual for many Armenians. A parallel--but unfortunate for Armenians--development to the above phenomenon has been the rapprochement between Syria and Turkey. In recent years we have watched Turkey flex its muscles, proclaim itself a regional superpower, claim it's a bridge between the West and the East, between Christian Europe and the Moslem world. It has even slithered itself between Syria and Israel, boasting that it's acting as a peacemaker between those two long-time enemies. The rapprochement between Syria and Turkey is the result of an uneven relationship. It's a forced friendship: Turkey is militarily much stronger than Syria; Turkey has reduced the flow of Euphrates waters into parched Syria, and-before the rapprochement-had threatened to tighten the Euphrates spigot even more by building up-river dams. Although there have been no media reports, it's reasonable to assume that Turkish diplomats have informed Syrian diplomats that Ankara is not happy with the increased popularity of the hill of bones near Deir el-Zor. Even in the unlikely case Turkey has not expressed its displeasure that Syria has not discouraged the increased pilgrimage, Damascus certainly realizes that its stronger neigbour and threatening "friend" is displeased with the high profile Deir el-Zor has developed, thus underlining the reality of the Genocide of Armenians. That silent hill in the desert mocks all the Turkish propaganda, and all the millions of dollars Ankara has wasted to deny the Genocide of Armenians. The most recent pilgrim to Deir el-Zor and to Markaddeh was Serzh Sarkissian, president of Armenia, who visited our mass funeral pyre in late March. "We. do not accept the style of references to the Armenian Turkish dialogue in attempts to avoid recognition of the Genocide," said Sarkissian during his trip. "I am here to commemorate and to pray for the vast majority of

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my slaughtered nation that had suffered both physical and cultural extermination." continued the President of Armenia. When he said that Auschwitz is the Deir el-Zor of the Jews and then wondered "where and when will be held our Nuremberg?" Sarkissian knew that Deir el-Zor has materialized into a lightning rod of the Armenian campaign to persuade the world-and Turkey-to acknowledge what Turkey did in 1915 was genocide, pure and simple. During the Genocide Syria became a sanctuary for countless Armenian survivors-young and old. In the subsequent nine decades the country has continued to be a hospitable land for Armenians. Armenians have not only survived, but have prospered in welcoming Syria. For that and for not being intimidated by big bad Turkey, we owe a huge "THANK YOU" to the Syrian government and to the Syrian people--true and brave friends of Armenians. - April 19, 2010

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Learning to Walk the Talk Thirteen months ago it was announced, with great fanfare: "An unprecedented 46 Parliamentarians Join Canada-Armenia Friendship Group." Naturally, it was welcome news, and it raised expectations of great things to come. No, we are not superstitious: Thirteen is just another odd number to us. For the purposes of this discussion, it is immaterial who made the announcement. What matters is whether there was a follow-up to evaluate the group's progress. Who else--other than Armenian organizations--were to provide a report card about the functions of this group? To our knowledge, no such report has been furnished to the public. And that's the rub for it raises questions about how Armenian Diaspora communities invariably operate. It goes to the core of the principles of transparency and accountability. Let's assume for a moment that the aforementioned group accomplished work that matters to Armenians. If that's the case, why has the public been left in the dark? If nothing was achieved, the obvious question is: why? It seems unusual to pose such questions, and more importantly, to expect answers from leaders of the community who claim to speak on our behalf. And therein lies the skepticism of the "silent majority", especially of the young who are turned off by boisterous announcements, fervid slogans and plans, without responsible connection to action or outcome. There are several proposals on the table now about plans to form new organizations--small and big, local and more widespread. They are furnished by wellmeaning individuals. Some profess limited objectives; others contemplate farreaching goals. The general community stance towards these budding organizations is one of "wait and see" at best and incredulity at the other extreme. Both responses have lead to lack of participation, despite the buzz that "something should be done". Maybe the solution to this morose mood is for Armenian organizations to inject accountability and transparency into their operations. Another matter that frequently comes to play is the deployment of "history" when furnishing a raison d'ĂŞtre for the continued existence of current organizations, particularly that of the "political party" variety or the invoking of the "lessons of history" when projecting the establishment of a new organization. The amazing characteristic of these two explanations is their convoluted manner. It's as if they were a page or two torn from a 19th century voluminous

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novel or a philosophical treatise, with no consideration or understanding of present-day listeners or readers conditioned to speed in the Internet age. More importantly, who cares what partisan and contradictory "histories" rival groups spouse? The young, who are forward-looking and care less about the "mistakes" of history, are repelled by this obsession in the past. Only a few are interested. and mostly for documentation rather than for passing judgment, since more often than not, they consider Armenian organizations to have blundered frequently in the past century and earlier. As to the lessons of history, despite the adage that history repeats itself, the fact is past "mistakes" are relevant only within their own context of time. Circumstances are not reproducible as time goes by and new factors create new contexts. It's pointless --if not self-defeating -- to dwell on the alleged past political mistakes of Armenian organizations. It's divisive and should not play a role in the birth to new organizations. Similarly, raising the subject of whether the Second Republic was authoritarian, oppressive, and anti-nationalistic or an age of "zartonk" (renaissance) is a time-waster in public perception. Precision, brevity and clearly-articulated objectives garner a bigger and stronger following than a whole library of narratives. - May 2, 2010

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Let's Not Falter as of Day One On several occasions Keghart.com has asserted its support to the proposed Western Armenian National Congress. This is based on the belief that the Congress will be capable to mobilize a competent legal team that will present the Armenian demands in national and international courts. That is our understanding of its main thrust. Nonetheless, it is important to underline that such support does not necessarily mean total agreement with the historical positions and interpretations of the International Organizing Committee (IOC) of the proposed Congress, posted on its website. The IOC maintains, "The thesis that the Armenians were doomed to Genocide and nothing was related to the strategy and tactics of the national liberation movement is a myth. A scientific objective analysis of political life of the Armenians for the last 150 years will inevitably show that more responsible, safe way of protection of national interests free from romanticism and adventurism existed. The latter was defended by Armenian conservative circles, Gabriel Ayvazyants, Malakiya Ormanyan, Spandar Spandaryan, etc. That's what LorisMelikov was telling about to the Armenians of Constantinople during his visit to the city in 1859." The period under consideration is open to interpretations by Armenian and international scholarship, with a variety of conclusions. It is amazing to note such an extremely judgmental opinion in IOC's statement. For one, it fails to mention the external non-Armenian factors that played a crucial role in what evolved during the aforementioned period, and more importantly lays the responsibility of the ensuing calamities on Armenians. The intent here is not to elaborate on the historical dimension of this issue but rather its relevance to what the IOC proposes to accomplish by creating the Congress. Tactically, it makes no sense. Instead of bringing together as many people as possible with a variety of backgrounds and use that potential towards a common goal, it alienates individuals and indeed a whole sector of the Armenian Diaspora which strongly believe that the national liberation movement was in response to half-hearted reforms and reneged promises by the Ottoman authorities. Secondly, it plays directly into the hands of the Turkish propaganda machine which asserts that Armenians brought upon themselves whatever calamities they endured because of their irresponsible activities as citizens of the empire.

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It is fair to ask whether above opinion is what the IOC as a team believes in. If that's the case, then it should be open to criticism at least on tactical grounds. Alternately, if it is the view of some historians who adhere to the mission of the proposed Congress then the website should have a page where a variety of opinions are posted and not only one historical interpretation is provided to the public. The IOC statement goes on to state, "The first stage on the interrupted path of the formation of the Armenian Factor . was the treatment of wounds following deportations, the restoration and strengthening of forces of the Armenian Diaspora, conservation and development of Armenian life (culture, education, economics) in Soviet Armenia in spite of a criminal totalitarian anti-national regime destroying national, spiritual life.." (bolded by Keghart.com). Again, this view is open to criticism both on tactical and historical grounds. Has the IOC taken upon itself the task of educating the public in Armenian history or is it trying to organize a political entity that will present the Armenian demands on the international scene? Which one is it? Yes, historical analysis is a must to forge a program for the future, but failing to see the shortcomings of such an analysis and propagating ideas such as above are counterproductive or serve no purpose in reaching the stated goal. Despite all that happened during the Soviet period, the undeniable fact remains that within two generations Armenia's population more than doubled. Furthermore, for the first time in more than six-hundred-years Armenia became the centre of Armenian culture, giving hope for further growth. Weren't these factors that were celebrated as signs of "national" "spiritual" rebirth irrespective of what political views people held? Weren't these the very reasons why Diaspora Armenians who were not necessarily in the pro-Soviet camp had started to warm up towards Armenia? The list goes on, but as mentioned earlier, the intent of this editorial is not to engage in historical evaluations but to consider practical implications. As pointed out with respect to the IOC take on mid-nineteenth century, the analysis about Soviet Armenia has the distinct potential of alienating leftleaning intellectuals. Some of these intellectuals were or still are pro-Soviet Armenia. There is a host of capable and dedicated individuals among them who have advocated for legal international solutions of the various aspects of the Armenian cause for more than a quarter--century--long before IOC came into play. Is IOC telling them that it does not need their participation or cooperation?

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If above considerations are brought up because of tactical concerns, the ensuing matter is of a more bothersome nature at various levels. Some members of the IOC have made statements equating the Kemalist Turkey with Bolshevik Russia. This is preposterous. It's perfectly acceptable to enumerate the consequences of what each side did, but propagating the idea, whether explicitly or implicitly, that the result for Armenia and Armenians were the same or almost the same is unacceptable and contrary to reality. The Kemalist Turkey continued to perpetrate acts of genocide. Is it mplied that Bolshevik Russia did the same to Armenians? Hopefully, the IOC will deliberate on the above enumerated concerns prior to calling a general convention where drafts of policy statements and strategic plans are expected to be provided. Meanwhile we propose that IOC: 1. Enunciate a revised mission statement with precisely defined goals, without the burden of convoluted analyses, 2. Delete references to above mentioned historical points and evaluations from the policy statement, 3. Devote a section of "opinions" on IOC's website where a variety of views may be posted for public's participation in the ongoing discussions. - May 8, 2010

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No Genuine Peace Without Restitution In late April welcome torrent of news and opinion related to the Genocide of Armenians and President Serzh Sarkissian's pullback from the ArmeniaTurkey negotiations, an odd and probably original thought was expressed by an Armenian activist regarding Armenian-Turkish relations. To wit: before negotiating with Turkey, Armenians should understand the psychology of Turkey and Turks; Armenians should know where Turks and Turkey are "coming from" before we present our list of just demands. The activist elaborated his suggestion by reminding Armenians that Ottoman Turkey once ruled a large mass of land from Yemen to Yugoslavia [there was no Yugoslavia then, but let that pass], from Mesopotamia to Morocco. Ottoman armies reached the gates of Vienna in the 1680s. Thus, since the demise of the unlamented Ottomans, Turkey feels bereft, left only with Asia Minor and a small slice of Europe west of the Bosporus. The activist was historically and geographically accurate, but that's not where his observation should end. There's more to the story. In the Middle Ages Turkish marauders, from Central Asia, conquered by sword what wasn't theirs. They soaked in blood the people of the Middle East and others around most of the Mediterranean littoral. After oppressing the conquered peoples for five hundred to a thousand years, Turks were driven out by indigenous Greeks, Bulgarians, Arabs and other nations. Turkey didn't withdraw from these lands willingly. Unrepentant to the last, it withdrew to Asia Minor only when it had run out of options. Turkey lost its empire long before 1915. The Sick Man of Europe started shrinking in the early 18th century as Russian armies began to push Turks out of Crimea and Ukraine. The shrinkage continued as Greece, Egypt, Bulgaria continued to push back the demonic empire. Turkey lost the largest chunk of its conquered lands during the First World War because of its misconceived alliance with Imperial Germany and AustriaHungary. The Young Turks entered the war hoping they would regain the lands they had lost and possibly conquer more lands, thanks to German and Austrian largesse. Turkey lost the war, but once the war had ended, a defeated Turkey, under Mustafa Kemal, the self-styled "Father of the Turks", attackedunprovoked-nascent Armenia which was suffering from mass starvation, in addition to other depredations. Bloody Kemal simply wanted to strangle the just-born Armenian republic. In this, he proved himself a rightful successor to Tala'at, Enver and Jemal.

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This brings us to our just demands. When we demand, our assertions need no qualification, let alone apology. We will look into their eyes and in plain language demand that they return what doesn't belong to them. And until we obtain what's rightfully ours, there can't be genuine peace between the Armenian nation and Turkey. The border might open, ambassadors might be exchanged, soccer matches might be held in Yerevan and in Ankara, we might buy cheap consumer goods from Turkey, but the outcome will be a cold peace, a phony peace-like the one between Egypt and Israel. No Armenian can forget the Genocide; no Armenian heart can abandon the captive Ararat, the churches of Ani, our Lake Van. If we accept a shambolic peace, if we abandon the lands of our forefather, Armenia will be a truncated welfare state dependent on the kindness of strangers. And as our history has taught us well, there's no future in that. - May 13, 2010

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Our Jewish/Israeli Problem For a small state, Israel certainly garners a great deal of international media coverage and attention at global forums, especially in the West. For a nation of 15 million, Jews likewise get far more attention than nations (Brazil, Indonesia) which are more than ten times more numerous. We don't intend to go into the religious, political, economic, military, and media ownership/staffing reasons for the above state of affairs. Here we intend to focus on the complex, multi-layered, apparently contradictory relationship and attitude Armenians harbor towards Jews and Israel. Our collective stance towards Jews is particularly interesting because, for centuries, other nations have commented on the close similarities between Armenians and Jews. Nowadays, some people also see similarities between Armenia and Israel--small countries surrounded by hostile neighbors; two states which have reappeared on the political map after centuries of exile. Like most states and nations, we have a multi-dimensional attitude towards Jews/Israel--a unique brew of admiration and jealousy; gratitude and disappointment; proximity and fear; identification and hostility; condemnation and envy. Historically, we have had mixed feelings about the Jews. While our religion is based on Judaism (most of our saints are Jewish), historically and like other Christian nations we have traditionally condemned Jews for crucifying Christ. We also do not appreciate the Chosen Race pathology of some Jews. Meanwhile, a minority of Armenians blames Christianity--progeny of Judaism--for most of the ills Armenians have suffered in the past two millennia. A typical rhetoric of this attitude goes like this: "Christ was crucified once; Armenians have been crucified for Him for two-thousand years." Then there's the latent Aryan racism, among a minority of Armenians in Armenia who would like to revive pagan, pre-Christian Armenia. This fringe group considers non-Aryans-especially Jews--an undesirable race. The above aberrant streaks are often wrapped up in the convenient--although misleading--term of anti-Semitism. Yes, a minority of Armenians are smitten by the universal disease of antiSemitism. Our traditional brand of anti-Semitism has been fed, in the past century, by real or imaginary misdeeds of the Jews against Armenians. Some Armenians believe that Tala't Pasha, was a crypto Jew, and other key members of Committee of Union and Progress, such as Emmanuel Carasso and proto-Zionist Vladimir Jabotinsky, were responsible for the Genocide of Armenians. Other Armenians believe that Mustafa Kemal, who tried to complete the slaughter the Young Turk had launched, was also a secret Jew. The reason for the alleged

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Jewish hatred of Armenians? Jews of the Ottoman Empire wanted to have a monopoly of the professions in Turkey. They saw Armenians and Greeks as rivals. Still other Armenians maintain that the Genocide of Armenians was initiated by the Rothschilds, who had huge investments in the Baku oilfields and saw politically mature Armenians as a divisive, anti-capitalist, troublemaking presence in Southern Caucasus and in Anatolia. Since Turkey was one of the first states to recognize Israel (in addition to sending much-needed food to the new-born country in the late '40s and the early '50s), there have been close diplomatic, political, military, and economic ties between the two countries. One negative outcome--for Armenians--of this friendship has been Israel's denial of the Genocide of Armenians. As well, Israel has been a key weapons provider and military/espionage trainer to the Azeris. Consequently, it's no accident that Armenia's sole diplomatic presence in Israel is a Jerusalem-born Armenian who acts as an honorary consul, making appearances at low-level diplomatic functions. Israel's denial of the Genocide of Armenians is made worse by Tel Aviv's diktat to Jewish leaders living in the West (particularly in the United States) to act on behalf of Ankara in the latter's campaign to halt Armenian Genocide recognition. Israel's policies vis-Ă -vis the Genocide has been particularly galling and hurtful to Armenians--a long-suffering ethnic minority like the Jews. In addition to actively promoting Turkish revisionism, Jewish-American historians (Bernard Lewis, Guenter Lewy, Stanford Shaw, etc.) have been at the forefront of the Turkey's North American campaign to deny the Genocide of Armenians. This is compounded by some petty but mainstream North American Jewish groups which see our Genocide as a "rival" to their Shoah (Holocaust). Critics have called this a Jewish attempt at "monopoly of misery". Armenians are considered by these North American Jews as "Johnny-come-lately" who are trespassing on the "Jewish genocide turf". The above is further compounded by the widespread perception among Armenians and other nations/states that Israelis and Diaspora Jews are one and the same; that they march to the same drum beat. This conclusion is a result of a widespread Jewish Diaspora attitude of "Israel right or wrong". No matter how deplorable Israeli foreign and domestic policies, a large percentage of Diaspora Jews feel compelled not to criticize Tel Aviv, no matter the barbaric policies of Menachim Begin, Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu, et al. Many Armenians are particularly sensitive to the plight of Palestinians because they see similarities between the tragedy of Palestinians and that of Armenians, and because so many Diaspora Armenians were born or live in Arab countries. Many Armenians also feel grateful to the Arabs for welcoming our wounded, our exiled

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and impoverished parents and grandparents, who found life-saving shelter in the Arab World after the Genocide and deportations. But Armenians also have positive feelings towards Jews as a people and Israel as a state. We admire how Jews, scattered all over the world, managed to create--at an incredible speed--a prosperous, advanced, and militarily powerful state in the Middle East. We also admire their love of education, their discipline, creativity, innovative spirit, and social/political activism wherever they reside. Take out the Jewish communities from North America or from Britain and France and these major Western countries will become far less dynamic and far less exciting places to live. In the arts and in the sciences, Jews have helped--more than any other ethnic group--decide the features of the modern Western world. While a number of Ankara-client Jewish historians have made life difficult for Armenians and non-Armenians fighting for Armenian Genocide recognition, a far greater number of Jewish historians have supported the Armenian side. In fact, the most influential body of genocide historians--The International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS)--is largely made up of Jews. This crucial association has published, at great expense, full-page ads in "The New York Times", "The Washington Post" and elsewhere to combat Turkish denials. A few months ago the group also chided--in an open letter-- the Turkish president for its blind denial of the Armenian Genocide. When it comes to credibility, IAGS beats hands down all the high-priced Ankara propaganda and the efforts of international public relations firms hired by Turkey to deny the Genocide. And, of course, no Armenian would fail to remember, with deep gratitude, Henry Morgenthau, the American ambassador to Turkey; Franz Werfel ("The Forty Days of Mush Dagh"), who in the '30s, singlehanded revived Europe's and North America's memories of the Genocide of Armenians. Armenians are also grateful to jurist Rafael Lemkin who coined the word "genocide" to describe what the Young Turks had done. Armenians know that all three were Jews. It's immoral, illogical, racist, and self-defeating for Armenians to lump all Jews together when it comes to our national and state relations. Right now Israel is no friend of Armenia or Armenians, although recent Erdogan criticism of Israel might impact Israeli/Turkish and Israeli/Armenian relations. Meanwhile, Diaspora Armenians should approach Diaspora Jews as individuals. Some will be our friends, others will be beating the Turkish drum. Let's not estrange or lose our Jewish friends by tarnishing them with the same black and broad brush, and automatically assume that they are ignorant, blind or uncaring of our just struggle. Let us work to make our common interests and mutual

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admiration determine our relationship, rather than be swept by the negative tides. Ankara would love to see dissension between Armenians and Jews. - May 22, 2010 Â

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Nagging Doubts Persist They tell us Turkey is changing for the better. They tell us Turkey is becoming a vibrant secular democracy. They tell us the bad old days of the fascist generals are gone. They tell us 200,000 Turks turned up at Hrant Dink's funeral in early 2008. Turkish publishers are putting Genocide books on the market. This year Genocide commemorations received the widest Turkish media coverage ever. There was a groundbreaking two-day symposium on the Genocide in Ankara this year. None of the speakers was a Genocide denialist. The speakers talked even about confiscated Armenian property, reparations, and how to confront the past. In mid-April, at the International Poetry Festival in Istanbul, a poet from Armenia won a prize for his poem about the Genocide. We are not deaf or blind. We want to see Turkey change. We have an interest in seeing a progressive Turkey. For one, an enlightened Turkey is more likely to face the country's Armenian Question: the Genocide, reparations and restitution. An enlightened Turkey would also liberate Turks from centuries of obscurantist, corrupt and despotic regimes which have bred racism, violence and religious fundamentalism. But we have nagging doubts. While Turkey seems to be changing, it's still true that: --Turkish Penal Code Article 301 re 'insulting Turkishness' remains in force --Ankara not only denies the Genocide, it has intensified its anti-Armenian propaganda campaign --Ankara continues its chock hold on Armenia by blockading that tiny, landlocked country, and demanding that we hand over Armenian Artsakh to usurper Azeris --Ankara is arming and training Azeris against Armenia and Artsakh --Ankara continues the Turkification of Armenian toponyms and the destruction of Armenian monuments --Ankara's oppression of Kurds, Alevis, Armenians, and other minorities continues unabated, while the Turkish Army illegally occupies a large part of Cyprus. Armenians also wonder about the much-ballyhooed Turkish democracy. Despite its seeming independence, we suspect the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government remains in power because the cunning generals have allowed him slack: the covert strategy is to allow Erdogan make brave statements and thus persuade Europeans that Turkey is democratic and thus deserving of membership in the European club. Last year's Protocol Tango with Ar-

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menia had the same goal: to qualify for EU membership, Turkey has to have open borders with all its neighbours. In light of the openness in the coverage of the Genocide in Turkey in the past year, Armenians are naturally asking themselves: "Are the righteous, democratic, humanist Turks being used by Ankara to improve its creds, to impress Barak Obama and the Western world? Armenians also wonder how representative and influential are the enlightened Turks who raised their voices and shouted "We are all Hrant Dink" at the funeral of the Armenian journalist. Ragip Zarakolu, Orhan Pamuk, Taner Akcam, Sait Cetinoglu, Mehmut Konuk, Fikret Baskaya, Baskin Oran, Mahir Sayin, and Asli Comu are people we are eager to know and to befriend. However, this handful of intellectuals, writers and scholars is not representative of 12-million-inhabitant Istanbul, just as the biggest city of Turkey is not representative of Turkey. It's said there are four, if not, five Turkeys. There is Erdogan and his fundamentalist Moslem followers; there is the military and the far-right terrorist Ergenokon; there are the impoverished and largely illiterate Anatolian masses; there are the minorities which make a third of the country's population; and then there is the outwardly-Europeanized Istanbul metropolis. This Turkish bifurcation makes genuine Armenian-Turkish negotiations a tough challenge. Who matters? Who should we talk to? Erdogan makes Armenians nervous. The man is not only a fundamentalist Muslim, he is also a nationalist. He can be intemperate, hectoring, arrogant, and threatening. Erdogan, who is busy these days, like Pegasus, flying hither and thither, declaring Turkey to be the bridge between East and West, between North and South, between Islam and Europe, between Israel and the Arabs, between America and Azerbaijan. can better utilize his time by overhauling the Turkish educational system. For starters, he should push for the publication of history textbooks which dare tell the truth to Turks, especially to the new generation. Erdogan should start by scrapping the mythical and ridiculous history that dictator Mustapha Kemal foisted upon the Turks. Lies such as "allegedGenocide", "Armenians were fifth-columnists who collaborated with the Russian enemy" and "ungrateful Armenians wanted to tear Turkey apart" should be tossed into the dustbin of history. We realize that in the face of centuries of denigration ("Bloody Turk", "Sick Man of Europe")-particularly in the WestTurkish leaders and ruling classes had to overcompensate by inculcating among Turks the belief that they are super special-superior to other races, such as Armenians, Arabs, Greeks, Bulgarians. The hilarious Kemal fantasyhistoriography claims that the Turkic race is the father of humanity and that most of humanity's greatest inventions were ACTUALLY fruits of Turkish genius!

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For far too long, Turks have been fed lies by their government and their educational system. To transform the brave efforts of the Istanbul intellectuals into a nation-wide movement, Ankara has to come clean and tell the truth. We realize that this is not an easy task: decades of orchestrated deception can't be erased in a few years. Millions of Turks know little or nothing about Armenians, let alone be aware that Eastern Turkey was Armenia for nearly 4,000 years. It's high time revisionist Turkish scholars and historians were allowed to tell the truth about Turkey's history. To gain credibility and respect, Turkey has to discard its fantasy history. The longer Ankara delays this vital project, longer will Turkish psychic ills continue to fester the Turkish body politic, culture and society. "Once bitten, twice shy" is an eloquent axiom. Armenians have been bitten and .burned more than once by Turkish government's mendacity-be they the sultans, the Young Turks, Kemal and then his idolatrous followers. Nearly a century ago our trust almost resulted in the extinction of our nation. As much as we want to trust the "new" Turkey, we need concrete, credible, meaningful proof of its good intentions. - May 31, 2010

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Lost-and-found Armenians Need Our Help In the early to late '70s some Diaspora Armenian students studying in Yerevan, having established a patriotic and private group called Khempag, engaged in the study of various aspects of life in Armenia and Armenians in Diaspora. They were particularly dissatisfied with the accepted interpretations of historical events and policies that had contributed to shaping Soviet and Diaspora Armenian societies. Their efforts culminated in the establishment, for Diaspora students, of a historical society named after Movses Khorenatsi. Members of the group included Marxists, Ramgavars, Hunchaks, ARF and ASALA sympathizers, and Chezoks. At its peak the group boasted a membership representing close to 10% of the Diasporan student body. The task of the group was not limited to research but included an action plan that primarily was gauged to disseminate the notion of demands versus recognition with respect to the Genocide of Armenians. Furthermore, through a variety of student activities it strived to cultivate an atmosphere of political and intellectual tolerance and provide a contextual experience of co-operation that could be transported to Spyurk. There were anecdotal reports at the time that many orphans of the Genocide and their descendants had converted to Islam to avoid Turkish or Kurdish persecution. These forced converts would occasionally confide their roots to strangers, it was rumoured. A sizeable portion of these individuals apparently lived in Kurdish areas and some had joined the recently formed militant Kurdistan Workers' Party. Others had left Turkey for Europe, taking advantage of the demand for cheap labour in Germany and in other European countries. The members of Khempag were interested to know more about these cryptoArmenians, and possibly establish some contacts. One of the members was entrusted to travel to Turkey, particularly to the Kurdish areas and file a report. Listening to detailed descriptions that were brought back it became evident that earlier reports were not fiction. In village after village many old and young people had come forward to tell their stories, that they or their parents were of Armenian origin, that they had "adopted" Islam, had changed their way of life, their language, and married Turks or Kurds to survive. Over the past forty years some Hamshen Armenians and crypto-Armenians from Kurdish areas and elsewhere in Turkey have migrated to Europe, establishing communities, particularly in Germany. For a variety of complex reasons, which are beyond the scope of this editorial, they, by and large, have remained isolated from mainstream Armenian life. One wonders whether an important contributory element to this isolation has been the unwelcoming atti- 74 -


tude of mainstream Armenians themselves. Is it without cause that Alice Aliye Alt, a resident of Germany, who has converted to Christianity and has tried to raise her children as Armenians, and whose artist son has presented an art exposition about the Genocide, recently made unflattering remarks about the absence of a welcoming embrace by Armenian communities? She stated, "Many of my dearest friends, members of the enlightened Turkish intelligentsia, helped in our struggle to discover and establish our identity, and in the recognition of the known and unknown chapters of the Genocide of Armenians. Also our German and Greek humanist friends in Germany and elsewhere were always at our side. I cannot tell the same about most of the huge Armenian community here, who until recently were suspicious of us." Having witnessed the uncaring attitude of native Armenians of Armenia towards their compatriots after the repatriation in the '40s, the disrespect of Indian-Armenians towards their own relatives who had migrated from Persia to India later in history, the critical approach of established Armenian communities towards newcomers in a variety of countries, it is not unreasonable to think that what Mrs. Alt says corresponds to reality. Armenians like to speak of unity; they write articles; compose songs, and shout at the top of their lungs about unity. Yet, when the opportunity is presented to help re-integrate lost Armenians who yearn to rejoin the Armenian 'family', we fail miserably. That's what the past forty years tell us about the odyssey of the Hamshenites and other crypto-Armenians who have settled in Europe. Will Armenian organizations, cultural and otherwise, come to their senses and help our brethren who are caught in the vise of an identity crisis? Armenians look at secret Armenians as Turks while Turks treat them as gavoor Armenians. Their dignity should be respected with utmost care. Their desire to become Armenian again should be welcomed. They are in need of a variety of services, foremost all specialties that deal with rehabilitation. They should not be looked at as "potentials" who can "populate" and inflate the number of membership of this or that organization. The approach should not be utilitarian but humanitarian. As observed by a Keghart.com reader, "Armenians, particularly in Europe, should provide all kinds of assistance to encourage these "lost" Armenians regain their identity. Armenians in Europe should hold informational meetings for these Islamized Armenians, provide them with books, brochures, speakers. If these Armenians are left to their own devices, their children will become Europeanized and we would lose them forever. They are specially precious to the Armenian nation because of the lost-and-found aspect and because of their

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command of European languages, skills and citizenship they can be of great help to the Armenian nation." - June 7, 2010

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Those ‘Cringing’ Armenians Following Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in the late 18th century, Europeans representing various nations, trades, disciplines, and sects elbowed their way into the Middle East. Diplomats, traders, archaeologists, authors, journalists, artists, explorers, adventurers, and missionaries seemed to be fascinated by the “Orient”, then misruled by the Ottoman Empire. During their sojourn in Ottoman Turkey, these Europeans inevitably came across Armenians—from Constantinople to Cilicia to Erzurum. And they often wrote about the Armenians they met. Some of what they said about Armenians was positive (hard-working, religious, better educated than Turks); other comments were uncomplimentary (wily, sly, haggling tradespeople). However, a word that again and again comes up in their description of Armenians is ‘cringing’. Referring to Armenians, British travelers Georgina Mackenzie and Adelina Paulina Irby said, “…the hereditary cringing of the rayah,” while in ‘The Times’ of London, British diplomat Valentine Chirol wrote of “the beaten Oriental is abject.” Describing the Armenians of Constantinople, William Goodell wrote, “Four centuries of torture, of oppression, and of suspense have stamped its impress upon an entire community… constant fear, constant agony, constant humiliation have so crushed out every trace of manhood, that they are still cringing, fawning, and abject race.” Noel Buxton and Rev. Harold Buxton in the “Travels & Politics in Armenia” ("Times Literary Supplement", 1914) said that the ‘cringing’ descriptive was most frequently reserved for Armenians and Jews, both in Imperial Russia and in the Ottoman Empire. The famous English novelist William Makepeace Thackeray, writing about his travels in the Levant in 1846, depicted an Armenian in Rhodes as ‘cringing and wheedling.” In 1910, Captain A.F. Townsend (“A Military Consult in Turkey: The Experience & Impression of a British Representative in Asia Minor”) remarked, “If a European were to strike an impertinent Moslem, he would be paid back in kind, but an Armenian would become cringing; his spirit is broken by centuries of oppression.” Jean Victor Bates (“Our Allies & Enemies in the Near East”) wrote about what he called ‘poor, cringing, unmanly Armenians even after the terrible tragedy that befell the community in 1915, perhaps representing a peculiar orientalist version of the tendency to blame victims for whatever happens to them.”

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Historian Cathie Carmichael, in her recent and exhaustive “Genocide Before the Holocaust” (Yale University Press), says that for Ottoman Armenians fear was a way of life. One survival strategy for ethnic minorities, says Carmichael, was “fatalism and increased piety (a phenomenon which was happening among Jews, Muslims and Armenians, subjected to frequent missionary work at a time when they were most vulnerable.” Missionary Helen Davenport Gibbons recalled (“Red Rugs of Tarsus; A Woman’s Record of the Armenian Massacre of 1909, 1917”) that the fear and fatalism of “Armenians was very vivid. When we first came to Cilicia and went to church up in the Tarsus Mountain summer place, I remember how queer these people [Armenians] looked to me. They belong to another world I was an outsider. I had difficulty in understanding some traits of their characters. I was hasty in my judgment of them—hasty through ignorance. I was impatient with their constant fear of ‘what might happen anytime’ to Christians under Moslem rule. Carmichael points out that another strong mechanism of coping [by Armenians] was denial. “…they may be developed a ‘pogrom mentality’ expecting violence and waiting for it to pass like a storm.” For example, Dorothea Chambers Blais (“Missionary Daughter”) recalled in Cilicia in 1909 that an Armenian mother “had been through massacres before, she knew one must treat it as an episode and not a final tragedy.” Describing the 1896 massacres of Armenians in Constantinople, Chalmers Roberts (“A Mother of Martyrs,” Atlantic Monthly, 1899) wrote, “One came to expect that venerable Ulemas and ascetic young Softas, on their way from the mosque to mosque, would kick the mangled bodies, which blocked their paths, and curse them for dogs of Armenian traitors. The pools of blood in the streets in some places actually dripping and trickling downhill came in time, after you had stepped over and around a hundred of them, to remind you of some early visit to a slaughter house.” Talking about the long bondage of Armenians and Greeks, Margaret Lavinia Anderson (“Down in Turkey, Far Away”) argued that the discourse ‘essentialized’ the Christian in the Near East, who was thus “the born victim, whose cries for help we have become tired of hearing.” While the litany of the Western narratives about Ottoman Armenian life—the permanent anxiety, insecurity and dread-- is certainly a worthwhile addition to our knowledge of Ottoman Armenian history, we would like to pose here a single question to the government in Ankara: “How can you continue to insist that such a powerless, harassed, fatalist, over-taxed, impoverished, and abject

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minority could have been a fifth column threatening to dismantle the Ottoman Empire?� - 16 June 16, 2010

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The Looming Kurdish Challenge What follows may seem a premature concern--like the proverbial counting chickens before they are hatched. It was prompted by the resumption of hostilities between Kurdish fighters and the Turkish army. An additional incentive to comment was the attendance of the ARF (Tashnag) representatives at the third convention of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in Suleimanieh, Iraq earlier this month. For a number of reasons, Armenian-Kurdish relations have come to the forefront of Armenian agenda. From the Armenian standpoint, the priority is the lands in Western Armenia, a Turkish-occupied area mostly inhabited by Kurds. Kurdish and Turkish authors, commentators, journalists sympathetic to Armenian rights and to the necessity of the recognition of the Genocide, have pointed out that the "solution of the Kurdish problem now in Turkey will pave the way for the defeat of denialism." (Ayse Gunaysu). They have also pointed out the parallels between what Armenians endured prior to the Genocide and the suffering Kurds have been subjected to and continue to bear. Kurdish authors and high-level politicians have acknowledged that Kurdish tribes and armed irregulars executed Turkish genocidal orders in 1915. On the 82nd commemoration of the Genocide in 1997, Zubeyir Aydar, chairman of the executive committee of the Kurdish parliament-in-exile, said, "I find the Ottoman State and their collaborators the Hamidiye Alaylari, formed by some Kurdish tribes, responsible for this crime before history and I condemn them with abhorrence." In 1998, Jalal Talabani, the current president of Iraq, likened atrocities against Kurds in Iraq, to "The genocide [of] the Armenians in 1915". There are a number of instances of Kurdish support of Armenians during the Genocide. The Zazas and the Kurds of Dersim, for example, ignored the Ottoman orders. It is estimated that their resistance saved 20,000 to 25,000 Armenian lives. The friendly relations of Armenian hero General Antranig with Yezidi-Kurd leader Cenghir Agha is also cited. They fought against the Ottomans from 1918-1920. Their comradeship was best exemplified in the battle of Bash-Abaran when the defeated Turkish army was forced to retreat. Another example of Armenian-Kurdish cooperation is the participation of Vahan Papazian, an ARF leader, in the congress of Xoyb没n Kurdish political party "as a symbol of the alliance between Armenians and Kurds." Xoyb没n, founded in the 1920s, was instrumental in the establishment of the short-lived Kurdish Republic of Ararat.

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It is a historical fact that there was cooperation between the ASALA Armenian fighters and PKK, the Kurdish freedom fighters. The latter provided training camps, logistics and other support. Yezidi-Kurds also took part in the liberation of Artsakh. Many sacrificed their lives alongside their Armenian comrades. When Robert Kocharian was elected president of Armenia in 1998, Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, sent a congratulatory letter which called for the ending of "the political amnesia about 1915", and the "settling of territorial disputes (bolded by Ed.) through negotiation". Ocalan remarked, "Our movement will continue to support all efforts to set in train a genuine dialogue between all contending parties with the self-evident proviso that the Kurdish claim to self-determination and freedom will not be prejudiced--as it was in Lausanne." As mentioned by many observers, the creation of a Kurdish jurisdiction within a federal Iraq with its own political institutions is an immense political incentive for Kurds to emulate it in Turkey. For more than thirty years one of the strongest armies in the world has not been able to crush the determination of the Kurds in Turkey to be the masters of the lands they inhabit. The countries in the area (Syria, Iran, Turkey), Sunnis and Shias in Iraq will try to thwart Kurdish efforts, and they will have their supporters on the international field, including the great powers. However, the process that began in Iraq seems to be unstoppable. In the likely scenario that the Kurds in Turkey bring their aims to fruition, Armenians have to think about the chickens mentioned in the introductory lines. Who are they going to negotiate with? Turkey or the Kurds? Why would the Kurds relinquish lands they have fought for so many generations? Why would they leave the land to make room for people who were forced to abandon the region nearly a century ago? Almost every armed struggle, whether socio-economic or national liberation in nature, once tastes power and mastery, loses its fervour and the sublime sounding ideals that energized its struggle. What guarantees are there that the same scenario might not materialize in this instance? Who will be our "friend" then-Turkey or the Kurds? - June 21, 2010

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Save Us from Our Amateur Experts ''It's easier to be critical than to be correct."-Benjamin Disraeli There is a tiny, remote, ancient, impoverished and landlocked country which is blockaded by two of its long-time foes. One of these enemies has the secondlargest army in NATO, while the other is spending billions of petrodollars to buy weapons like there is no tomorrow. For exports/imports, the stamp-sized country is largely at the mercy of a capricious and untrustworthy neighbour which persecutes fellow nationals of the pocket-sized country. The only reliable neighbour of this hapless, diminutive country has become, in recent months, increasingly friendly with one of the embattled country's major antagonists. This constricted, mountainous country, where winters can be bone-chilling cold, has little arable land but is home to some 3 million souls. In the past quarter century the country has gone through tumultuous times: it has experienced a massive earthquake (25,000 killed and many more injured and left homeless); it has witnessed the collapse of the 15-member union it was a part of; has been dragged into war; has provided sanctuary to fellow nationals who had fled persecution and worse by a war-mongering neighbour. Another shock this venerable country has undergone is the forced 180-degree turn in its political-economic-cultural orientation as it has switched from communism to capitalism. The above tribulations have so far failed to shake the country's determination to move forward. Luckily, it's not all doom and gloom in this land where God, according to religious tradition, decided to give humanity a second chance by navigating Noah's Ark to land on a nearby majestic mountain. Among the blessings of the country are its bright, educated, sophisticated, and hard-working citizens who are immensely patriotic. Another boon is its Diaspora of nearly 6 million people. And more importantly, the overwhelming majority of Diasporans retain an abiding love for their motherland and help her financially, politically, morally, and in the knowledge industries. However, in recent years there has materialized in Diaspora a tendency to throw indiscriminate darts at the motherland. The motivations of the Diasporan "Let's Bash Armenia" crowd are not difficult to fathom. They are mostly wellintentioned people who want to see an affluent, accountable, corruption-free, democratic Armenia ASAP. Others rightly believe a lagging Armenia is detrimental to the well-being of its citizenry and impels many to emigrate. A third - 82 -


group identifies with Armenia so strongly that seeing a less-than-a-perfect homeland is a personal affront to them-resulting in uncalled for bruised egos. Seemingly minimizing the impact of the hits Armenia has absorbed even before its independence in 1991, these critics claim that two decades are more than sufficient for Armenia to have shaken off the cobwebs and miasma of the "bad, old, desultory" Soviet days. Predictably, the "Let's Bash Armenia" group suffers from the "sky is falling" Chicken Little paranoia. In their wisdom, these chattering classes also accuse Diasporans supporting Armenia of blind patriotism. To borrow the title of immortal Khachadoor Apovian's masterpiece-"Verk Hayasdani" (Wounds of Armenia), the "verks" of our motherland are many. We all know what they are. But rather than incessantly slamming their Lilliputian homeland, these armchair diplomats, politicians, economists, generals, human rights promoters. should consider some facts. It's easier to find the proverbial needle in the haystack than to find an instance when Diasporan critique had a crucial impact on the government of Armenia. To criticize Serzh Sargsyan and Co. is pointless, if not self-defeating. Since Yerevan is obdurate about conceding to Diaspora criticism, it's a waste of breath to dispatch unsolicited advice to Armenia from 8,000 miles away. Unlike brickbats, positive Diaspora contributions do have an impact on Armenia. So why not invest our energies in these beneficial efforts? When the last Armenian kingdom expired in 1375 (by then shrunken to a citystate called Sis and ruled by a monarch who had more French than Armenian blood in his veins), our nation had to wait 600 years to have a state again. Let's support our precious and imperiled Armenia. Let's support it because it's our homeland. Let's support it because it needs our support. Let' support it because our support does make a difference. When we incessantly criticize the Yerevan government, we also hurt the morale of the citizens of Armenia and Artsakh. When we criticize Armenia, our words bounce back and demoralize Diasporan youth-our children who, like us, do daily battle to remain Armenian in these "odar aperoun" (foreign coasts). What kind of example, encouragement, message, and inspiration do we provide to our young when we viciously, virulently attack the Armenian government and even Armenia's citizens for their shortcomings? The bĂŞte noire of the "Let's Bash Armenia" subscribers is the corruption of the - 83 -


RoA government. They are correct in perceiving corruption as an obstacle to the well-being and advancement of Armenia. But to lend some perspective to the corruption issue, critics should consider these numbers. According to NationMaster.com Corruption Index, Armenia is number 88 among 159 countries. Nation.Master.com's index is based on data from the CIA World Factbook, the United Nations, and the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development. Apart from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia (all in Western Europe), Armenia has the lowest corruption standing among the former Soviet republics. Among the former Soviet republics, Kazakhstan is the closest to Armenia, holding position number 107. The Russian Federation is a distant 127; Georgia and Kyrgyzstan, 131; Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan, 138; Tajikistan, 145. At 156, Turkmenistan is near the bottom. Meanwhile, the influential American "Foreign Policy" magazine recently ranked Armenia 101 out of 177 in its Failed States Index 2010. The study, done in cooperation with The Fund for Peace public organization, placed Norway, Finland and Sweden 177, 176, 175 respectively as the most stable countries. Azerbaijan, Georgia and Iran ranked 55th, 37th and 32nd, respectively among countries in danger. Uzbekistan (36th) and Tajikistan (38th) were the most vulnerable countries among the former Soviet republics. The Fund for Peace uses its Conflict Assessment System Tool to compile and measure its data. During the Vietnam War, some Americans used to wear "America-Love It Or Leave It" pins. Sometimes we are tempted to snatch that extreme slogan, turn it around, and tell our amateur consultants, "If you care so much about Armenia, why don't you pack up and move to Armenia?" But most of the time we restrain that temptation. Although Armenians have been around for at least 4,250 years, RoA is a young country. It is not strong, affluent and secure like America, Australia, Canada or France, where so many Diaspora Armenians live. It can't afford the luxury of 24/7 criticism, which for most developed nations, is a fact of life. As well, nation building--while ones existence is threatened--is no job for boys or for intellectual dilettantes, or people who use the Internet as free therapy. If you can't help Armenia in these difficult times, keep your counsel. Please don't pick the scabs of Verk Hayastani. - July 1, 2010

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Armenian Jerusalem Besieged Several recent news stories by non-Armenian sources have spotlighted the plight of the 2,000-year-old Armenian community of Jerusalem. Unfortunately, the reality is worse than what the reports have portrayed. The challengesinternal and external--of the near 1,500-member community are far more numerous than cited in the press reports. The internal problems are related to the Saints James Brotherhood, the guardian of the Armenian Quarter, including the Armenian Convent, and the various holy sites in Occupied West Bank, Israel, and Jordan. Patriarch Torkom Manoogian has been a diligent servant of the Armenian Church for some 70 years, but at the age of 91 and battling various maladies, he is incapable of running the brotherhood in an efficient manner. The latter, traditionally referred to as 'Meeyapanoutune' (unanimity) is described, these days, by people who follow the affairs of the Brotherhood, as 'Unmeeyapanoutune' (discord). In North American parlance, the brotherhood boasts more chiefs than Indians. There's no doubt that some irresponsible brotherhood members have taken advantage of Patriarch Torkom's relative incapacity to march to the beat of their own drummer. The brotherhood is also divided into several factions resulting in infighting. The acrimony between rival groups will probably intensify as the inevitable election for a successor to Patriarch Torkom looms. Fifteen of the brotherhood's 38 members (six bishops and nine clergymen) serve in various overseas parishes. Ironically, while they are providing muchneeded services to far-flung communities, their absence, and lack of adequate communication between the overseas group and the clergy in Jerusalem harm the unison of the brotherhood. But a more serious problem is the legal status of the patriarchate. Thanks to our checkered history and the Ottoman laws of governance, the Patriarchate is an autocephalous entity with its own by-laws. Although affiliated with the Holy See in Echmiadzin, the Catholicos has no say in the affairs of the patriarchate. Thus the Patriarch and the 37 members of the brotherhood, who control one-sixth of the Old City of Jerusalem--the most precious and most foughtover real estate in the world--run patriarchate affairs without oversight from the 9 million Armenians around the globe, including local Armenians. The external dangers Armenian Jerusalem faces are more serious and numerous than the internal ones. Prior to the Arab/Jewish war 1948, most of 16,000 Armenians in British Man-

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dated Palestine lived in Jerusalem. Following the founding of Israel and the carving of Palestine, many Armenians left the region for safety and economic reasons. Another major migration wave followed the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in the Six-Day War of 1967. The dwindling number of Jerusalemite Armenians has created a "demographic challenge" in the words of George Hintlian, Armenian historian and a former secretary of the patriarchate. As Alastair Macdonald of Reuters wrote recently, "Their [Armenian] society and extensive land holdings risk becoming collateral damage in a demographic conflict for land and power in the holy city between Israel and Palestinians." Simply put, the Israeli government might move to confiscate Armenian lands because the 230-acre Armenian Quarter is barely occupied. In the past the Israeli government has made a habit of confiscating non-Jewish lands in the Old City and the rest of the West Bank. Because of the small pool of marriageable mates, intermarriage with Christian Arabs has become fairly common. As a result of the Israeli Occupation, Armenian Palestinians have also been cut off their brethren in Syria and Lebanon. Because Armenians are an "orphan" minority, they face job discrimination from Israeli and Moslem Arab employers. Lack of career opportunities further fuels emigration. As a result of Israel's illegal annexation of East Jerusalem and the mushrooming of illegal Jewish settlements in and around the city, Greater Jerusalem now has a population of 750,000. Thus the 1,500 Armenians make up about 0.1% of the city's population. As well, relations between Moslem Arabs and Armenians have cooled because many Moslem Arabs have, in recent years, chosen the fundamentalist-xenophobic path. Meanwhile, relations with Christian Arabs are poisoned by the traditional rivalry between the Armenian Patriarchate and the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Patriarchates. The wealth, overseas political patrons and the number of their congregations (4,000 Palestinian Arabs) leave the Armenian Patriarchate and community at a disadvantage. Fights among the Armenian and Greek clergy at Christ's tomb are familiar occurrences. But most of the above perils pale when compared with the Israeli plan to apparently make the Old City exclusively inhabited by Jews. A recent tactic of this devious plan is to refuse residency permits or to confiscate the I.Ds of nonJews who have no Israeli citizenship. Since the annexation of Arab East Jerusalem (including the Old City) in 1967, the Moslem and Christian inhabitants of East Jerusalem have lived in an identity limbo: they live in "Israel" but are not citizens. Now Israel is using this anomaly to confiscate the I.D cards of Jerusalemite non-Jews to drive them out of Jerusalem, perhaps from the West

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Bank. In the past month, five Armenians have had their residency permits revoked, says Mr. Hintlian. Archbishop Nourhan Manoogian, former numbertwo member of the Saints James Brotherhood, has had his residency challenged by the Israeli bureaucracy. Other victims of this new policy are Armenians who have returned to Jerusalem after a sojourn overseas. They, too, are facing residency problems. Israel says it is not obliged to grant re-entry to residents who have emigrated. The residency permit ploy of Israel makes the Armenians vulnerable in a yet another way. Of the 22 members of the Saints James Brotherhood, 10 are citizens of Armenia. As such, they can be threatened with the revocation of their residency permits anytime Israel wishes to put the squeeze on the patriarchate. Official Israel's harassment of Armenians is augmented by harassment by ultra-Orthodox Jews, who have spat at Armenian clergy, pulled their crucifix and 'veghar' (cowl) and intimidated Armenians in general. These fanatics seemingly act as advance guards for the Judaization of East Jerusalem. Yet another Armenian fear is that when and if Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) come to an agreement about the permanent status of the Old City, PA would gain sovereignty over the Moslem, Greek Orthodox, and Roman Catholic areas, while Israel would obtain the Armenian Quarter, in addition to the adjacent Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall. This is not a baseless fear: When some years ago President Clinton was acting as honest broker to bring the Israeli/Palestinian conflict to a peaceful resolution, he suggested that the Armenian Quarter be placed under Israeli sovereingty. Armenians prefer to be part of a future Palestine, fearing the community would disappear in the face of Israeli discrimination and encroachments, in addition to intimidation by ultra-Orthodox Jews. Armenians of Jerusalem had reason to celebrate July 4 this year because Mahmoud Abbas, president of PA, handed US special envoy George Mitchell a list of proposals for reaching a peace agreement with Israel, which included leaving the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall under Israeli control. The rest of Jerusalem, including the Armenian Quarter, would become the capital of Palestine, according to Mr. Abbas. However, a few days later Jerusalem's Planning and Building Committee announced that it's ready to approve an unprecedented master plan that calls for the expansion of Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, a move largely based on construction on privately owned Arab property. 'Ha'aretz', a leading Israeli daily, said, "The plan creates a spate of bureaucratic obstacles for Palestinians who wish to build in the city.thickens the Jewish presence in the city."

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Many of the threats Armenian Jerusalem faces are intractable. Many are beyond the control of the patriarchate and the tiny community because these challenges are linked to the Arab-Israeli conflict. For example, if the Abbas proposal is accepted, Israeli encroachments on Armenian lands would vanish; so would ultra-Orthodox Jewish harassment. The creation of a Palestinian State would end the isolation of the community whose members will once again be in contact with Armenians living in the Arab Middle East. Following such a development, it would be safe to assume that intermarriage with Christian Arabs would decline as Armenians marry fellow Armenians from Arab countries. Perhaps such a welcome change would once again encourage Lebanese and Syrian Armenian young men--a traditional source for Jerusalem clergy--to join the Saints James Brotherhood, which in recent years has depended on novices from Armenia to replenish its ranks. While changing the autonomous status of the patriarchate is impossible at the present time, Diaspora Armenians who send donations to the Saints James Brotherhood, to Saints Tarkmanchats Secondary School and to other charities could demand an accountable, transparent, and responsible management of the patriarchate. At the present time, the patriarchate meets its expenses through rents from its properties and from Diaspora donations. One also hopes Patriarch Torkom's successor will be a strong and politically astute leader who will bring into line irresponsible brotherhood elements. Another positive development would be the establishment of an Armenian Embassy in Israel. While a resolution to the Arab/Israeli conflict remains in suspension, an Armenian ambassador "can keep an eye on our rights," according to a long-time observer of Armenian Jerusalem. - July 11, 2010

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Winning Turkish Hearts and Minds The anguish of the survivors of the Genocide of Armenians and that of their descendants are many, obvious and well publicized. Among the long list of Armenian wounds is Turkey's denial of its mass crime. Official Turkey's refusal drives Armenians to the wall. In a 1991 interview with David Barsamian, the late champion of the Palestinian cause Edward Said said, "Because what has killed us [Palestinians] in the last 30 or 40 years is the denial of the fact that they [Israelis] are not responsible [for the destruction of Palestine]." Nearly two decades ago, Prof. Said pointed out, "So we appear as if we are orphans, as if we have no origins, no narrative, no genealogy as a people. Our genealogy is only comprehensible, in my opinion, if Israeli action in it directly upon us is acknowledged. the denial and the silence. has been very, very bad for us." Unlike Palestinians, Armenians do have an acknowledged history, solid national narrative, and genealogy going back 4,300 years. Nevertheless, the silence Said talked about has also been very, very bad for us. Turkey's silence has added fuel to Armenian frustration; it near-monopolized Diaspora Armenian political activities; and in the '80s helped impel some Armenian young men to terrorist acts. Said's observations about Israel and Palestinians are seconded by Ece Temelkuran, a Turkish author and journalist, when she talks about Armenian/Turkish relations. During a recent interview with Talin Babayan, the author of "Deep Mountain: Across the Turkish--Armenian Divide"--said of Armenians she had interviewed in Armenia, Russia, France, and the US, "Although they [Diaspora Armenians] expressed it in completely different ways, the main question that was eating them was this: 'Why don't Turks feel anything?'" The Turkish commentator continued, "But the one [Turks] he [Armenian] wants to tell his story to doesn't want to listen.I think although the Armenian community is extremely mature, they have this wounded child in them whatever their ages are." Temelkuran criticized Genocide-acknowledging Turkish intellectuals "who are trying to push and slap this issue into people's faces. They expect people to feel guilty, rather than remember." Temelkuran says that she took a different and successful tack in her book. She focused on making Turks remember and then "leave it to them to figure out what they feel about it." "Deep Mountain" has so far sold 70,000 copies in Turkey--a runaway bestsel-

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ler in that country. Its English version, with a cover depicting Ararat and Yerevan, is available in North American bookstores. Talking about her Turkish readers, Temelkuran says most of them felt something, not necessarily guilty, but touched for the first time. "They were eager to understand the human side of the history," said Temelkuran. "They admitted that they have feelings about Armenians which Turks are taught not to have, I guess for the first time." Perhaps Temelkuran is on to something. Perhaps we should re-set our Genocide-recognition efforts. Perhaps we should by-pass official Turkey and try to reach ordinary Turks. Rather than focusing only on international resolutions and condemnation, we should try to touch Turkish hearts, before reaching for their minds. So far our efforts to reach Turkish citizens have been unsuccessful because they live in Fortress Turkey. The Big Lie Denial Machine of Ankara has effectively shut out the truth from its citizens. Denial has become rooted in Turkish society because of blanket propaganda by Ankara and the Turkish establishment. So how do we reach the ordinary Turkish citizen? Here are some ideas: Since we can't send printed material to Turkey, why not establish a Turkish language TV station in Armenia? The station would telecast news and analysis (mostly about Armenian/Turkish affairs), music, soap operas, and talk about the past millennia of Armenian/Turkish history. Turkish experts would be interviewed or invited to present their take on current affairs, our mutual history and cultural relations. This type of environment would allow us to talk about the Genocide, our four-millennia plus presence in Anatolia, and our empirebuilding contributions to Turkey. Another idea to reach Turkish civilians is to establish several websites, which would look at issues of common interest. These websites would offer Turks and Armenians to exchange ideas and engage in civil debate, without resorting to insults and offensive language. "The Workshop of Armenian and Turkish scholars" (WATS) may serve as a model to expand communication beyond the scholarly community. "Friends of Hrant Dink" is another example of forums where mutual concerns are discussed in a civil manner. Another approach would be to organize Armenian/Turkish cultural events--in

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Turkey, in Armenia, and in the Diaspora. Joint film festivals, musical events, art exhibitions, book fairs, performance arts would be part of this approach. These projects could provide a "soft" stage for Armenians and Turks to exchange views and compare attitudes. Maybe it is premature or far-fetched to ask, but why don't Armenian organizations in the Diaspora set shop in Turkey, registering as NGOs within the laws permitting such initiatives? Of course, there are dangers associated with such an endeavour, but who said things would be easy? Perhaps in this manner we can penetrate Fortress Turkey and reach the heartsand then the minds-of the average Turk. - July 21, 2010

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Double Standard and Selective Sensitivity Even before the ink had dried on the July 22 decision of the UN International Court of Justice that Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence two years ago didn't violate international law, the anti-Artsakh independence contingent was busy beating the drums that the court's decision didn't apply to Artsakh. The attack on the relevance of the Kosovo decision on other independence movements was led, in less than 24 hours after the court's decision, by "The Times" (London)-a major voice of Western capitalist interests. The newspaper thundered that the Kosovo case was unique because "Kosovo's vote for independence stemmed from clear injustice and mistreatment. Kosovo's declaration of independence reflected exhaustion at the abortive efforts to achieve a negotiated agreement on the province's status." The newspaper editorial assiduously avoided to mention that Kosovo is an anti-Serbian Western ally and that it was the Western armies which were instrumental in slicing off Kosovo from Serbia. Count the falsehoods of "The Times": the newspaper ignored that Artsakh's wish for independence also stems from clear injustice and mistreatment by the Azeris. It also ignored that Artsakh Armenians and the government of Armenia have also exhausted all efforts to achieve a negotiated agreement on the territory's status. To exacerbate its hypocrisy, the London newspaper, the mouthpiece of the late and unlamented British Empire, had the gall to claim "Western support for Kosovo's independence underlines the sensitivity of free nations to demands for self-determination." It seems that Artsakh is not entitled to such "noble" Western concerns. Call it selective sensitivity. Call it double standard. Call it the shameless debunking of the proverb "What's good for the goose is good for the gander." Bruce Jones of the Washington-based think tank Brookings Institute pontificated that the formulation of the international court is restricted and does not affect any general principles. "We must in this case draw a clear dividing line between, on the one hand, international law and on the other the principles of international politics," said Jones, adding that the court's decision will not have any tangible political consequence, unless, we guess, it's in the interest of Western nations--led by the United States and the oil lobby.

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Peter Semneby, the European Union representative for the South Caucasus region, joined the 'nay' saying chorus by claiming that The Hague court's decision applied to a unique issue. Said Semneby, "The international court's ruling on Kosovo has no impact on other situations, particularly on Abkhazia, and South Ossetian problems. I consider if it has an impact, it will be inconsiderable. These issues are different despite the comparison made with each other." A more honest reason for the difficulties Artsakh would face to gain legitimacy for its independence was offered by Alexandr Rahr, a German political scientist. He said, "In real politics, the countries see as a major priority not the international law, but the stability of the region.No country seeks to recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh [Artsakh]." Mikhail Remizov, a Russian observer of the Caucasus, echoed Rahr by saying, "In a large degree, this was a political decision, but not legal." There you have it. international law takes back seat to international politics. Since 69 countries (most of them coerced by the US) recognize Kosovo, it's okay to declare Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence legal. No country, not even Armenia recognizes Artsakh's independence, while two other breakaway Caucasian statelets--Abkhazia and South Ossetia are recognized by Russia, Nicaragua, and Nauru in the South Pacific. Reflecting on Artsakh's chances to garner international backing for its independence, other observers said that the supporters of Kosovo's independence had much more powerful political lobby [read the US and the UK] than the potential supporters of the claims of independence of Artsakh. To drive the point that Artsakh's chances for recognition of its independences were nil, Amanda Paul ("Today's Zaman", July 25) wrote: "Without the backing of the US, they [Artsakh citizens] have nothing. It is political clout rather than international law that counts, and the chances that the US will ever recognize Nagorno-Karabakh [Artsakh], South Ossetia or Abkhazia must be zero or thereabouts." Most commentators, who rejected that the Kosovo decision set a precedent for Artsakh and other independence movements, didn't even bother to remark on the concepts of self-determination versus the principle of territorial integrity. They hinted or insisted that politics takes priority over legality. The voice of pro-Artsakh independence was far muted to the point of being irrelevant in real politik. Ara Papian of Armenia-based think-tank Modus Vi-

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vendi repeated that the law of self-determination is included in the UN Charter [Article 1(2)] as one of the aims of that organization. Well-meaning Michael Kambeck, secretary general of European Friends of Armenia, had supportive words for Artsakh but his observations have no currency in the international corridors or power. He said, "Everybody who has ever been to Karabakh knows that the people there have been traumatized, they only trust themselves. They would all rather defend their security with arms than trust anyone to govern them. The conflicting parties and international players involved need to reflect these de facto and the de jure aspects in their actions." True but of no consequence. On Friday July 30 evening in Stepanagerd and other cities in Artsakh, Armenians will hold rallies in support of the UN International Court of Justice's resolution on Kosovo and to appeal to the international community to recognize the independence of Artsakh. The public gatherings are worthwhile, but they will not sway the U.S. and Co. By their very nature, states are inclined against secessionists wherever they may be. States rightly believe that if they approve of secessionists elsewhere, they would be hard put to reject domestic separatist movements. Every country--from China to Canada to Cyprus--disapproves of separatism for this very reason. If Spain said 'yes' to separatism beyond her shores, then Madrid would not be able to oppose Basque or Catalonian independence. Belgium is in the same boat because of Flemish separatism. Turkey welcomed the Kosovo decision because Ankara considers Kosovar-Albanians historic Moslem brothers and because the decision opens the door to Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus to declare its independence. Apparently, Turkey doesn't fear that the decision could impact its own separatist Kurds because militarist Ankara believes it can indefinitely suppress its Kurdish "minority" of 12 to 15 million. Where does all this leave Stepanagerd and Yerevan? It's an impossible dream for Armenians to emerge with strong enough lobby to obtain the international court's green light similar to the one Kosovo was granted. Since the interminable negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan are going nowhere, and since Baku keeps making bellicose statements on a regular basis, the Artsakh issue might not have a political solution, unless the Great Powers, through the Minsk Group, force an agreement upon the antagonists. The other possibility is war. While war would be disastrous for both sides, Ilham Aliyev, president of Azerbaijan, might be forced to attack Armenia and Artsakh to make good on his frequent threats. If Azerbaijan declares war, Armenians can't expect Russian help/intervention, unless Armenian forces face imminent collapse. - 94 -


If Azerbaijan declares war, the Kosovo precedence, the legality of Artsakh independence, international law, et al, will become irrelevant, pending the outcome of such a war. That said, it would be a blunder for Yerevan to recognize the independence of Artsakh. Such a declaration would be considered casus belli by Azerbaijan and other countries, and most probably precipitate war. However, war might be averted if a report by sources familiar with the topsecret negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan is factual. According to these sources, Armenia has already agreed to withdraw its forces from regions surrounding Artsakh proper and that Armenia and Azerbaijan are now focused on the timing of the withdrawal of Armenian troops and the manner in which Armenian troops will be withdrawn. Supposedly, Artsakh will have a temporary status and its safekeeping will be ensured by an international peacekeeping force pending the final status of Artsakh to be decided by a referendum which will include the votes of Azeris. Artsakh citizens, who will participate in Friday's rally, will certainly reject such an agreement. – July 26 2010

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United We Stand... Lack of united Armenian strategy in responding to initiatives that originate in Turkey, either through the state or private citizens, NGOs and institutions, is hindering the advancement of the Armenian Cause. Those initiatives are mostly treated as being destructive with a loss of appreciation of nuances of substance and heterogeneity of authors. Furthermore, there is a paucity of creative counter-proposals from the Diaspora resulting in missed "windows of opportunity". Add to it the contradictory announcements and actions of the Armenian state, the church and media you have stasis for the Armenian Cause. The latest Turkish action was the announcement of the "celebration" of Holy Mass at Aghtamar in September. There is no doubt that the Turkish state will manipulate it for its own interests. Our knee-jerk reaction has been denunciation, instead of looking for ways to turn the event into our advantage, such as by mobilizing people to be present not in the hundreds but in the thousands, and asking friendly Turks, Kurds, Zazas and Alevis to participate in solidarity with Armenians. All it takes is will, determination and cooperation among various factions of the Armenian Diaspora. A memorable event that comes to mind is the publication of I apologize by thousands of Turkish nationals. How did we respond? Some Armenian media outlets did not even think the historic document deserved a few lines. Subsequent invitations to and interviews with key figures who had signed the document were mostly acts of lip service. Some of us argued that it was a ploy by the Turkish government. The authors were even accused of being agents of the state, although that dreaded word was not explicitly used. The "best" outcome was a diplomatic endorsement of the RĂŠponse des intellectuels ArmĂŠniens aux intellectuels Turcs by a miniscule number of Armenian intellectuals compared to the number of Turkish signatories of the "apology". Was there an opportunity to adopt the campaign and expand its potentials? Probably yes, but it was missed. More recently--this past April-- the Genocide was publicly commemorated in Turkey, albeit by a few intellectuals and their friends. Concomitantly, Diaspora intellectuals were invited to Turkey by TEPAV (Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey) to discuss the issue at a symposium. Some of the Armenian participants were rebuked upon their return from the gathering. Although solid arguments were provided against the event, the matter was treated in isolation, and not tackled within a larger context. Again no attempt was made to explore the potential of such encounters which could benefit the Armenian side.

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Considering the above three (out of many) examples leads us to state unequivocally that the Turkish state and Turkish nationals continue to set the agenda-some would say they are even dictating it. Turkey will continue to use every means to place a halo around its denialist thesis. The Armenian Diaspora cannot afford to allow the Turkish side to determine this vital agenda. Rather than merely react, and in most cases denounce the Turkish initiatives, the Armenian Diaspora should be pro-active: it should respond in a constructive way to the Turkish undetakings or better--it should put forth its own proposals prior to the Turkish projects. Negative reaction on the part of Armenian Diaspora will neither generate sympathy nor break new ground in advancing our Cause. Of course, the lack of coordinated effort between the Republic of Armenia and the Diaspora make matters more challenging. As a result, all we hear is cacophony rather than reasoned, constructive, and practical arguments. In the absence of a common strategy by Armenian stakeholders, the field is left wide open for the Turkish side. We have nobody to blame but ourselves. Let's be honest with ourselves, and let's ameliorate the situation in earnest. For starters, Tashnagtsoutune has to realize that it cannot have it both ways, i.e. present itself as the savior of the Armenians, yet at every opportunity try to expand its partisan interests. Vis a vis Armenia, it raises red flags only and only when the party's prerogatives or positions are in peril. It cooperates with others when there is a chance of increasing its dividends. This approach imperils our Cause, alienates people not only from the party but from Armenian endeavours in general within the party, its sympathizers, and adherents of other parties, too. Tashnagtsoutune, being the best organized and most vocal Diaspora entity has the responsibility to set an example of cooperation in issues that matter to Diaspora Armenians. Pursuing the Armenian Cause in the legal field, for example, has been discussed for decades, within the party and with others. Yet there has been no real attempt to get the interested individuals or the organizations together. Will Tashnagtsoutune extend its hand to the proposed Western Armenian National Congress (WAN Congress) when the latter's legal team becomes operational? We extend our apologies to the Ramgavar and Hunchak parties for excluding them in the above recommendations. They have their internal fights still to sort out. However, they, too, should pursue their efforts by clearly defining what they see as the priorities for the future of Diaspora, our dreams of recovering some parts of our occupied motherland, and act accordingly.

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Long before the collapse of the Soviet Union, and more so after the collapse, many leftist individuals "deserted" their party but a few continued to operate under a variety of organizational names or joined other parties. Some preferred to be "independent". This committed and capable contingent has been ignored by the Diaspora. Doubting their patriotism, ignoring their understanding of world affairs, and their contribution to Diasporan life is akin to amputating an active limb from the body. Their participation within the framework of an overall Armenian body politic is not only necessary but crucial in cultivating relations with progressive forces primarily in Turkey and elsewhere. Let's invite our free-floating ''leftists'' into our communities, organizations and projects. The ideological followers of the generation that employed "unorthodox" means in the '80s are still around with their own organizations and publications. They too deserve our attention. Although statistics are not available, it's safe to state that the majority of Diaspora Armenians do not belong to or follow any of the parties. Conventionally they are referred to as the "silent majority". Probably a good number of them do not and will not take part in any Armenian endeavour irrespective of its origin. However, some "independents" are active and do participate in community affairs in a significant manner through individual projects or organized forums. Armenians, at least in the Diaspora, have settled into a lazy and denialist mindset. In a misguided belief of our nation's immortality, they maintain in the backroads of their minds the following nonsensical notion: "In our long history, we have survived war, famine, persecution, exile, genocide... we will somehow continue to survive whatever fate throws our way." This absurd myth, this belief in miracles blinds us to the existential challenges Diaspora faces, and may well result in our disappearance, within a few generations, as viable communities outside the borders of Armenia. As mentioned earlier, we sorely lack common strategy to confront initiatives emanating from Turkey or to reverse the trend of setting the agenda. To that end awareness of what awaits Diaspora without cooperation among its various factions enumerated above is essential. The future appears bleak as the years go by. Numbing fatigue would eventually drown us. We cannot afford to waste more time. Will any of the existing organizations take the lead in opening the channels of communication and coopeation? Or shall we wait for a messiah who will never

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show up? Will the proposed WAN Congress have sufficient gravitas, the intellectual mass and muscle, and the broad sightedness to draw all factions together? Or will it degenerate into yet another self-serving organization with special interests or ulterior motives? What we need is inspired leadership which will win Diaspora's confidence. What we need is strength of will in Diaspora leaders, parties, and individuals. What we need is moratorium on pomposity and cant. It's almost midnight for the Armenian Diaspora. - 22 August 22, 2010

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Shame in the Sun Another summer expires, and another vacation season starts to wind down, except for citizens of Armenia heading to Antalya, where the season continues well into October. In 2009 some 50,000 such Armenians vacationed in Turkey, many of them in Antalya on the Mediterranean. In 2010 that embarrassing statistic soared by 30% for tourists headed to Antalya. Next year's expected increase in the number of Turkey-bound Armenian tourists will be even more painful and incomprehensible to people who see the vacations as an insult to the Armenian nation. At least two charter flights per week served the Yerevan-Antalya route in July and August. The aircraft were leased from Armavia, Armenia's national airline. Ani Tour, one of the Armenia tour packagers, is planning to offer next year additional Turkish destinations such as Bodrum. These shameful vacations by citizens of Armenia are a knife into the heart of the Armenian Nation. Let's consider why they are wrong, wrong, and wrong. It's immoral for an Armenian to vacation in Turkey, including the "pilgrimage" to Aghtamar in mid-September. These selfish vacationers, who are opting for Turkish destinations, are sabotaging the Armenian campaign to persuade Turkey to recognize the Genocide, and to make reparations. These unconscionable tourists send the wrong signal to the government of Turkey and to governments around the world, making them believe that we have conceded defeat in our struggle against Turkish intransigence and denialism. These sunny vacation destinations are located in areas where Armenians inhabited for thousands of years, and where they were either slaughtered or driven out by the Turkish government barely a century ago. These outrageous vacations help boost the economy of our enemy-the same enemy which is blockading Armenia and is aiding Azerbaijan (Turkey Jr.) politically, diplomatically and militarily.

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Impoverished, cash-strapped Armenia can't afford the outlay of millions of dollars, via these abominable vacations. A typical one-week Yerevan to Antalya vacation costs $750, while other vacations can have a price tag as high as $2,000. According to global economic surveys, the average annual income of an Armenian citizen is 101,700 drams. This is about $2,700 per year or $225 per month. In other words, the price of an Antalya vacation is equal to three month wages for the average Armenian. Imagine a North American, with an annual income of $50,000, spending $17,000 for a week's vacation. So who are these citizens of Armenia who are spending $750 for a week's vacation in the enemy's resorts? Obviously, not the average citizen of Armenia, but the financial elite who have swallowed the Western Dream (the divine bottom line, the focus on the pleasure principle, taking care of numero uno first and foremost) and don't give a dram for the national interests of Armenians. It's not as if these outrageous vacationers have no non-Turkish options. In northeast Black Sea, hour or so flying time from Yerevan, there are seven Russian towns dedicated to tourism, according to Oliver Bullough's recent book-"Let Our Fame Be Great." Anapa, at the northern tip of the Black Sea Riviera, has 600 hotels, reports Bullough. South of it are the mostly-resort towns of Novorossiysk, Gelenzhik, Arkhip Osiparka, Tuapse, Lazarevskoye, Sochi, and Adler. Near Sochi is Krasnaya Polyana, the locale of the Winter Olympics in 2016. West of Anapa are the famed resort areas of Crimea and the Sea of Azov. Away from the former Soviet resort areas are other great tourist destinations such as Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, perhaps Iran. Closer to home are Shusha and Kelbajar, top vacation destinations in Soviet times. But typically, the government of Armenia has shown no initiative, other than talk, about building an airport in Artsakh. Thus a trip to these two Artsakh destinations involves four hours of driving. And typically for the government of Armenia, it allows its national airline-Armavia-to lease planes to the moneyhungry opportunists who want to send Armenians and Armenia money to Turkey. A month ago, when the Jordanian opposition parties and unions protested the Amman government's decision to allow the promotion of tourist packages to Israeli-occupied Arab Jerusalem, the government backed down. Why don't Armenian political parties, which are opposed to these disgraceful Turkish tour packages, don't tell the Serzh Sargyan government to discourage these vacations? Meanwhile, the Armenian government has no accurate statistics about the number of Armenians vacationing in Turkey because Yerevan-based tour packagers are reluctant to reveal the disgraceful numbers. - 101 -


Last but not least. Turkey isn't the safest country for Armenians--resident or vacationer. This past summer a pregnant Armenian vacationer (Ann Davityan) was killed in Antalya. Her body, which the murderer(s) dumped into a canal, had signs of torture. Because Yerevan and Ankara have no diplomatic relations--thanks to the latter's bellicosity--it took many days to transport Ms. Davityan's body to Yerevan. As well, members of an Armenia family vacationing in Turkey were beaten by the staff of their hotel and then detained by police. After spending a night in jail, the family was allowed to return to Armenia. Yet Yerevan did not protest to Turkey or inform citizens of Armenia what could happen to them on a Turkish vacation. When Armenia became independent, thousands of small merchants-many of them women-travelled to Istanbul, to import consumer goods to Armenia. This was an unfortunate but understandable development since Armenians were desperate for consumer goods and the budding amateur merchants-nicknamed "suitcase bizinessmeny"--were in dire need of money. That phase was something the Armenian nation could understand, but vacationing in Turkey is another kettle of fish. These vacationing Armenians are putting their pleasure ahead of the vital interests of their people. They are stomping on Armenian national rights for a week in the sun. They are selling their national patrimony for a suntan. In the '60s, when Turkish movies began to appear on Beirut theatre screens, the Armenian community successfully urged Armenians not to attend these asinine Turkish soap operas and comedies. If the Lebanese-Armenian leaders could drive the made-in-Turkey movies out of town, why can't the Sargsyan administration put a stop to this humiliation? One wonders what the "Armenian" vacationers think as their Airbus 300 flies over historic Armenia. Do they look outside the plane's porthole and think of our countless scarred and imprisoned monuments 30,000 ft below? Do they invest a second in thinking of Haig Nahabed, Medzn Dikran, the Mamigonians, Movses Khorenatsi, Toros Roslin, the Cilician Kingdom, Khrimian Hayrig, Taniel Varoujan, Gomidas, Kachn Antranig, Aghpur Serop. and the 1.5 million Armenians slain by the government of Turkey? "Amot" to these vacationing pseudo-Armenians. - September 1, 2010

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Much-needed MRI Machine for Armenia Some $300,000 was pledged for an MRI machine, to be donated to Armenia, at the gala fundraiser of the Armenian-Canadian Medical Association of Ontario (ACMAO) in Toronto on Sept. 11. Richard Muir and his Jericho Foundation donated $150,000 of that amount. The event featured guest speaker Dr. Raymond Damadian, the famed inventor of the MRI machine. The 360 attendees at the Canadian National Exhibition's Liberty Grand building included 50 young professionals, in addition to Armenians from a wide cross-section of the community. At the top of the evening's agenda was to raise funds to purchase, transport and install an MRI machine with 1.5 Tesla (magnetic flux density) at the Arapgir Children's Hospital in Yerevan. It will be the first and only one of this capacity in Armenia. It is anticipated that the advanced machine will be installed next spring. Dr. Gevork Mnatzakanian, the MC of the evening, opened the gala by welcoming the audience. Dr. Avedis Bogosyan, president of the Armenian Medical International Committee (AMIC), extended the greetings of his group and underlined the important work ACMAO does in Artsakh and in Armenia. ACMAO president Dr. Jack Sakarya delivered a brief and touching message, encouraging attendees to donate to the MRI fund. Dr. Berge Minassian reviewed the work ACMAO has done in Armenia and in Artsakh. He also presented a short video from Armenia, demonstrating the difference a cuttingedge MRI would make in diagnosing and treating patients. Following Dr. Minassian's presentation, keynote speaker Dr. Damadian took to the podium. His wide-ranging speech included such topics as creationism and the Na-K (sodium-potassium) exchange within a cell whose investigation ultimately led to the invention of MRI. Through video clips and vivid images he demonstrated what goes on inside the body when a person is ailing. MRI, with its modern applications, not only sees through the coverings of the body (skin and bone, etc.), but also minute details within the target tissue. It can inspect the entire body. For example, it can find the origin or extent of the spread of cancer. The entire world has benefited from the invention. It's probably the most important contemporary medical discovery--and it's all the brainchild of the son of a Kayseretsi Armenian. Dr. Damadian's father was saved from the march to Der el-Zor--the "Killing Fields of the Armenian Genocide"-- by his brother in Boston who sent money to bribe the Turkish gendarmes to sell him to a Turk who delivered Damadian's father to American missionaries.

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Dr. Damadian's speech was followed by an auction. Articles included a wide variety of items, topping all was painter Armand Tatossian's "Serendipity" which has an estimated retail value of $22,000. As in previous ACMAO's gala events, the fundraiser was a success deserving praise and congratulations. We are all aware of the gloomy economic conditions in our homeland. We know about the structural problems and the dire state of health care delivery in Armenia. Let us complement the already-raised MRI purchase funds to cover expenses related to the training of technicians and radiology specialists who will operate the machine. The medical gift to our Hayastan is a cause worthy of your support and is tax deductible. It will make a substantial difference in health care delivery in Armenia. To donate to the fund, please visit ACMAO’s website. - September 20, 2010

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Hollow Dream of Unity ...the phenomenon of the Armenian potential should be expressed not in the similarity of ideas, but in their diversity and competition.--Arman Jilavian, publisher of Moscow-based 'Yerevan' magazine Nature has multiple personalities. It can be chaotic, but also harmonious; it can be generous, but also cruel; it can be deliberate, but also accident-prone. Since the ancient Greeks, it has been acknowledged that Nature is a dynamic entity in constant flux. Even a billion-year-old rock is in a state of evolution. Are Nature's laws applicable to human society? Some believe so--with good reason. Nations, countries, societies, communities are all in a constant state of transformation-- in evolution or devolution. Conflict, some maintain, is the driving force of any group, irrespective of whether the outcome of the conflict is degradation or progressive change. The above elemental musings are not an attempt at idle philosophizing, but a search to establish a contextual base for understanding certain terms and notions that are frequently used within Armenian communities in Diaspora. Unity is one such a concept. For decades we have sought the realisation of a unified Armenian nation. Trillion words, give or take a billion, have been devoted to the quest--be it the unity of our Churches, political organizations, or the muchcherished and august national goals. Is it a futile goal, like Don Quixote's assault on the windmill? Probably yes, because Nature favours diversity and abhors unanimity, uniformity, centralization. Society, as part of Nature, follows--or should follow--the same laws as Nature does. One is reminded of Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's words, "Unity of India is in its diversity." Did it make sense when he uttered them decades ago? Does it still make sense? Are unity and diversity contradictory terms? It's a matter of interpretation and application. For Nehru, the leader of one of the most populous and ethnically-diverse countries, the notion of unity in contradictions served a clear goal, a strategy that guided India for decades following its independence in 1947. Can the same principle be applied to Armenian communities in Diaspora? Will the same principle serve our common good and the survival of our far-flung communities? Perhaps it would if we were to perceive unity of contradictions as an expression of harmony.

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It certainly makes better sense to talk of harmony rather than unity. This is not demagoguery...or preaching an impossible dream. Tearing each other apart because of the disunity of our Churches or political organizations will lead us nowhere. If we continue down this injurious path, our community will disappear in a few generations. Notwithstanding calamities, the survival of our community will depend on the absence/presence of inner conflicts, the social skills of adaptability and flexibility, intellectual potential, correct interpretation of geopolitical forces, and not necessarily physical enormity. The Armenian-Canadian community is in a unique and fortunate position to set the trend of looking at issues through its own prism. There is almost a complete absence of arcane animosities among Armenian-Canadian intellectuals and activists. On the contrary, there is an atmosphere of mutual respect despite the partisan affiliations of some. The local partisan press is not acrimonious. And a variety of non-partisan small groups have taken their initial steps in opening up to the community at large and accomplishing deeds worthy of a reputable organization. Our professional associations function without partisan banners. People of one persuasion attend the functions of their competing groups. Probably these trends are more apparent in Montreal than in other Canadian cities. Was it a coincidence Harout Chitilian's recent election as a council member in Montreal? Far from it. It was the concerted effort, particularly of young people, who irrespective of their party affiliations, side by side with their non-partisan colleagues were able to gather sufficient political mass to assist Chitilian to win. Let us follow their example. Let's accept the presence of two Apostolic Churches and three rival political camps, with their affiliated cultural and other associations. Ad nauseam talk of who is right and who is wrong will not make a dent on the political make-up of our community. What will bring about real change toward harmony is participation in community activities and by simply ignoring which organization says what or does what. ***** At a recent Armenian Association of Toronto and AGBU-organized gathering in Toronto, Viken Attarian, a Montreal intellectual and a veteran activist, cited five crises of the Armenian Diaspora: Retention of identity and language, antiintellectualism, disinformation, and lack of legitimacy.

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To overcome these challenges and be positioned in a positive groove, the Armenian-Canadian community--especially its organizations and leaders--is in dire need of concrete data. We lack valid and crucial demographic data, said Attarian. No one knows, for example, the true statistics of the ArmenianCanadian population, the number of marriages and mixed marriages, the educational levels and migration patterns... When there is no concrete data, myths are born; without concrete data, there can't be concrete action. Without data, to paraphrase Attarian, we can't create common points of purpose. No matter the ideology, the orientation, and mission of an Armenian organization, it can't move forward and develop a common ethos without concrete information. Even organizations which are diametrically opposed require a factual, identical data as a foundation for their action plan. Data can be interpreted in different ways, but it continues to remain the unquestionable, agreed-upon truth even among groups which are not in unison. Metaphorically speaking, community statistics is the musical note; the various organizations are the musical instruments. The piano, violin and flute produce different sounds, but the end result is harmonious, sweet music. Working in coopeation, Canadian-Armenian organizations should create their own statistical data base. We can't find these statistics in government or research company computer files. Solid data would help us critically evaluate our roles and subsequently create solid action plans. An honest goal to create solid and novel action plans (based on factual data) would open spaces for new ideas to be heard and for detached intellectuals and former activists, sitting on the margins, come forth and participate in diasporan nation-building. By asserting your presence as a person, a group, an association in a common ethos we will witness true harmony evolve. Let Armenian-Canadians help lead the way for the sustenance, survival and prosperity of the global Armenian nation.

- October 4, 2010

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Keeping Mum Not a Choice Some Armenians believe we should not discuss certain touchy subjects, our shortcomings and difficulties in the media. We should talk about our challenges in private, within our living room walls, in community centres, they argue. "Washing our dirty linen" in public assists Ankara to gauge our mood, concerns . and plan strategies to counteract our efforts. In an even more potent figurative language, they maintain that by airing our issues publicly we act like besieged people who wail their plight over the walls of the harried city, tipping the enemy of our vulnerabilities. "Balderdash," we say. How can we remain silent about the recent killings and "suicides" in the Armenian Army? How can we not comment on the recent and frequent Artsakh/Azerbaijan firefights when the Armenian side, more often than not, is suffering higher casualties than the enemy? What kind of confidence do the above tragic cases inspire among Armenians when almost on a weekly basis Baku threatens war against us? How can we ignore the Humvee-escorted mafia oligarchs who prance in downtown Yerevan, intimidating everyone and corrupting everything they touch? How can we not discuss the plight of three pillars of the Armenian Church--the Patriarchates of Jerusalem and Istanbul, and the Mkhitarists in Venice and Vienna? And what about the crevasse in two of our three Diaspora political parties? Should we not address the divisions which hurt not only the parties involved but the Armenian nation in general? Finally, what about the major political party-Tashnagtsoutune-which takes its marbles and goes home when it doesn't like an aspect of inter-Armenian community cooperation? While we admire Tashnagtsoutune for its remarkable efforts against 'Jermak Chart' (White Massacre), shouldn't someone say out loud that the political party's 'lone wolf' act is arcane and damaging to us all? We wonder how many members of Tashnagtsoutune really know the mission statement of that party or its strategy. And what's the big secret about the doings of the "gomides" and "bureaus"? Is it necessary to repeat the lack of cooperation among our political leaders that hurts our fragile Diaspora?

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We wouldn't be surprised if Turkish intelligence agents are monitoring our media. In the Age of Internet, surveillance has become much easier to conduct. But putting the lid on our festering problems will not make the problems go away. We all know this, but sometimes choose to forget that shedding light is the best solution. Rather than advocating 'circumspection' and 'keep it in the family', these advocates of silence should come forth with constructive ideas, and expose their opinions to the test of intelligent and knowledgeable debate. Pick a copy of the famous "Bartlett's Book of Quotations" and you will find that it is replete with sage advice on the benefits of the free exchange of ideas. Ditto the Bible. Letting Ankara know of our challenges -- in Armenia and in the Diaspora -- is not something we are eager to do, but the alternative suggested by some wary Armenians is worse for our nation. Silence obstructs communication, leading to ignorance or to the monopoly of information by committees and "insiders.'' Silence can also lead to complacency and lack of accountability. As Montreal intellectual and activist Viken Attarian pointed out at a recent gathering in Toronto, centralized structures, such as the Soviet Union, are doomed. The impossibility of effective communication in large or complex structures is one of the reasons monoliths will go the way of Ozymandias. Most of the letters Keghart.com receives are well-informed and all are wellmeaning. Some are controversial, others express views we do not adhere to. But it is by publishing them all that we and readers can determine the brightest and the most constructive ideas. The recent history of Armenians has made us a global nation. Thanks to electronic communication we are connected by a magical, invisible network. Whether we live in Melbourne, Moscow, Marseilles or Montreal, we are just clicks away from fellow Armenians. The Internet reveals our concerns to Ankara, but it also bonds us, and helps us work together. Let's take advantage of this 'God-sent' facility. Our enemies in Ankara maliciously claim that our leaders employ the "myth of the Armenian Genocide" as a glue to hold us together and preserve our identity. Let's turn that false claim on its head. Let's use the Internet as a key to advance our cause, even if Ankara spooks are reading our communications. - October 11, 2010

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Threatened Armenia Needs Diaspora Muscle Continuous threats by Azerbaijan and preconditions by Turkey on resolving Artsakh's status prior to engaging in talks with Armenia (contrary to what was spelled out in the infamous Protocols), prompt us to consider the possibility of an attack on Artsakh and Armenia by our two hostile and belligerent neighbours. Is such an invasion unthinkable? There have been many martial instances when the "unthinkable" has materialized. The present context of rivalries and overt provocations by Azerbaijan cannot be dismissed with simple theoretical assumptions that negate such an attack. Reassurances by "friends" of Armenians, such as US Ambassador to Armenia Marie L. Yovanovitch, who recently stated that "such a thing would never happen" must be treated with a grain of salt. Armenians have heard similar utterances throughout their long history, whether in Berlin, San Stefano, Sèvres or Lausanne. Some point out the Russian factor and Armenia's treaty with our "great protector" in the north. They claim that Moscow's interests in Transcaucasia and in Turkey discourage Ankara and Baku from engaging in another attack on Armenia/Artsakh. There may be some truth in that observation, yet the geopolitical situation in the area is so complex and dynamic, and the interests of the various nations are so interwoven that almost anything is possible, including a tacit Russian-Turkish-Azeri alliance, reminiscent of the Kars Treaty in 1921. What's stamp-sized Artsakh's worth to Russia, compared, say, to halting Western expansion in the area with the backing of Turkey? Politics, after all, is the art of the impossible. Need we be reminded of the not-so-distant promises, treaties and negotiations which have cost so dearly for Armenia and Armenians? It's only through arms that we have been able to save our lives, lands and rights. Consider the defense of Van and Musa Dagh, the battles of Sardarabad, Karakilisa, Bash-Abaran and, two decades ago, the liberation of Artsakh. That brings us to questions of Armenia's military capabilities and readiness. The military might of Armenia is a mystery. As many Armenians, including Keghart.com readers, have pointed out, a country with two-and-a-half million population can't have a sizeable army, despite mandatory conscription. It cannot match the Azeri military whose 2009 expenditures were close to US $2.5 billion. Azerbaijan has its own defense industry, manufacturing small arms, artillery systems, tanks, armor, aircraft bombs, pilotless vehicles, military planes and helicopters, according to Wikipedia.

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It seems that no week passes without Baku threatening Armenia and Artsakh with war. It's time Armenians of Armenia and Diaspora thought of improving the military capabilities of our motherland. Depending solely on traditional Armenian patriotism and high morale will result in disaster. Those were vital factors during Artsakh's battles, but since then Azerbaijan has learned some important lessons, and its military has become stronger and more sophisticated, thanks to the input of international military suppliers and advisors. The Armenian Diaspora should not wait for Yerevan to beckon for help in the eleventh hour. The worldwide Armenian community can initiate its own measures and demonstrate that its participation in the defense of Armenia is crucial. For a number of reasons, the authorities in Armenia may, at first, be reluctant to respond to such initiatives. They may feel challenged. They may not tolerate "outside" interference. This has been a characteristic of "independent" Armenia, starting with the First Republic. The unfortunate tradition has not changed irrespective of who has been in control. Recent news of abuse and torture in the Armenian army are worrisome, to say the least. However, it should not deter the Diaspora from setting up its own plan of conscription of young people. The need for such a plan is neither farfetched nor unheard of. Several countries use the resources, including military, of their diasporas. Some also hire mercenaries. In time of war emergency nationals of many countries, who ethnically are not related to the country in need, have lent their support. The classic example is the Spanish Civil War in the '30s. In more recent times Latin American nationals participated in the overthrow of Batista's dictatorship in Cuba. Argentinian Che Guevara's name, irrespective of the political colours he is painted with, still resonates with the young. Israel has always drawn fighters from "relatives" in the West, while Azerbaijan receives military and propaganda support from Turkey. During the First World War, the 4,124-member LĂŠgion armĂŠnienne, made up of Diaspora Armenians, fought on the side of the French and British armies against the Ottoman Turkey. The all-volunteer regiment was comprised of Armenians who had even travelled from distant United States to fight the Turkish genocidiers. These brave and patriotic young men also fought because the Allies had promised to give autonomy to Cilician Armenia. At the Battle of Arara (Sept. 19, 1918) in northern Palestine, the legion defeated a combined German-Turkish force to spur the final victorious campaign of the Allies in the Middle East. The Nazi occupation in France led many Armenians to fight in the Resistance. Missak Manouchian, a young intellectual, a poet and a leader in the Resistance, was executed for his contribution to the liberation of France. He was - 111 -


posthumously awarded France's highest honours. In the '80s young Armenians, from the Diaspora, used unorthodox methods in several capitals of Europe and in Turkey to make the voice of their slain ancestors be heard; and some of these volunteers paid with their lives. During the Lebanese Civil War it was the young men and women who protected the Armenian neigbourhoods. Young diasporans in Artsakh participated in battles, some making the ultimate sacrifice. We have no reason to believe that the heroic tradition of Diaspora young people has faded. It needs rekindling; it needs a meaningful cause. In time of need, the Diaspora has responded to the call of the motherland. It can and should again. During the Second World War, initiated by Echmiadzin, it participated generously in raising funds to establish the Sasountsi Tavit tank battalion. Commanded by Marshal Hovhannes Bagramyan, it was among the first to enter liberated Berlin. Just as our Diaspora brothers and sisters supported Armenia in the Second World War, we can now participate in the defense of our motherland. There is no end to how we can contribute to the defense of Armenia and Artsakh, provided we have the mindset to explore the possibilities and are willing to implement even the impossible. Keghart.com challenges all political parties to stop bickering about who does what and who has what portion of the farm. We've had enough of henhouse mentality (havnotsamedaynutyun). Protocols or not, we have more urgent issues at hand. Diaspora should tell, in no uncertain terms, to Azerbaijan and its allies that Armenia is not alone. Diaspora's voice will be heard! It will always be ready and willing to serve the 4,300year-old motherland. If the homeless Armenian nation--ravaged by genocide and exile--could, in 1916, raise a regiment of close to 4,200 soldiers for the liberation of Cilician Armenia, a contemporary global and often prosperous Armenian Diaspora is capable of doing far more. There will always be fence-sitters who will say, "if," "but," "can't be done,' "it's a pipe dream." Let's ignore the naysayers and consider the words of statesman Edmund Burke: "Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only little." - October 18, 2010

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Winds of War One doesn't have to be uber-military strategist Karl von Clausewitz or Marshal Hovhannes Bagramyan to know that Armenia shouldn't seek war with Azerbaijan, but acting reluctantly is not unusual for states, just as it is for individuals. For example, is it a good idea to launch a pre-emptive war when your enemy is getting stronger by the day, and keeps making threatening noises, in addition to provoking you and probing your border with incursions and smallscale sneak attacks? It's no secret that Azerbaijan is investing huge amounts of money to strengthen its military. In mid-October President Ilham Aliyev stated that his country's military expenditure will total $3 billion in 2011. Armenia's military expenditures was about $360 million--one-ninth of Baku's military budget. Although Armenia most probably receives special military aid from Moscow, the disparity in military expenditures between Yerevan and Baku are too jarring not to be concerned. In recent years Baku has bought weapons from 18 nations--from Israel to Ukraine. Azeri soldiers have also received training from Turkish and Israeli officers. The latter have also upgraded Baku's intelligence and electronic warfare capabilities. It's a well-known fact that Israel has one of the most sophisticated military-electronic infrastructures. Azerbaijan itself has a burgeoning military industry, which manufactures weapons and delivery systems. Perhaps because of the bloody nose it received 16 years ago, Baku wants to be 200% certain that it would win the war before attacking Armenia-Artsakh. So far, Armenia has avoided being drawn into an unnecessary war with its noisy and sword-brandishing neighbour in the east. But on the other side of the coin there's an important question: Why hasn't Azerbaijan engaged in a fullscale war with Armenia-Artsakh? Is Baku all bark and no bite? Here are nine reasons for Baku's "self-control": 1. Turkey, for its own reasons (and there are many of those reasons), has told Azerbaijan not to blunder into war against Armenia-Artsakh. 2. Russia, for its own reasons (and there are many of those, too), has told Azerbaijan not to start a war with Armenia-Artsakh.

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3. Global petroleum corporations, which have invested billions of dollars in the extraction, refinement, and transport of Azeri oil, have cautioned Baku that they are not prepared to see their investments end up in smoke as a result of an Armenian/Azeri war. After all, Baku's oilfields are a mere 200 kms, as the bird flies, from Artsakh's easterly border. 4. The United States, for its own multiple reasons, has told Azerbaijan not to jump into a reckless adventures. 5. Recently Russia and Armenia signed a military pact. It will prolong the presence of Russian troops stationed in Armenia for a substantial period. The troops will have not only "functions stemming from the interests of the Russian Federation," but also "protect Armenia's security together with Armenian Army units." It also commits Russia to supplying its regional ally with "modern and compatible weaponry and special military hardware." 6. More than ever before, international public opinion has become an important concern in warfare. Gaining the hearts and minds of the public and the media is vital. No matter how justified, the aggressor invariably gets tarred by the war-mongering tag and is denounced at international forums such as the United Nations. Azerbaijan, through its constant provocations of ArmeniaArtsakh might be hoping that Yerevan-Stepanagerd might take the bait and attack. 7. Azerbaijan might believe that it can win the war hands down, but realizes the cost (the destruction of its petroleum industry--the country's economic mainstay) too high a price to pay. The resulting economic crisis might create social and political upheaval which could topple Sultan Aliyev and his cronies. After all, what's paramount in the minds of the Azeri ruling clique is maintaining power. 8. In recent months there have been credible reports that if the United States and Israel invade Iran, they would use Azerbaijan as launching pad for their attack from the north. Aliyev might be hoping that during that massive international military assault, his invasion of Armenia would go relatively unnoticed or be considered an inevitable adjustment of borders in a relatively remote region. 9. Azerbaijan is hoping that emigration from Armenia will bleed the country to a point where Yerevan would have no option but to agree to Baku's conditions. One can indulge in punditry, in entrails-reading, until the cows come home. A nervous Armenian can even speculate that there might be a secret Russian-

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Turkish-Azeri military pact which would be activated when Azeris attack Armenia. After all, it would not be the first time that Armenians have had that high and dry feeling of being abandoned by so-called friends. Time will tell whether any of the above scenarios is valid. But credible or not, Armenia has one choice: to prepare for an Azeri war--militarily, economically, and socially. Baku will continue to put pressure on Yerevan. A few months ago, a highly-placed Azeri minister fantasized the disappearance of Armenia within a decade. He was not the first enemy in our long history to have nursed such day-dreams about our fate. But just because previous attempts at eliminating Armenia and Armenians have failed, there's no reason to assume that future attacks on Armenia would also fall short. And let's remember that from 1375 to 1918 there was no state called Armenia. - October 26, 2010

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“Constructive Ambiguity”Anyone? In late October Ahmet Davutoğlu, the foreign minister of Turkey, was in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of China. Among other statements he made there was the following: “We are visiting the land of our ancestors…one of the most important cultural spots of the Turkic peoples’ world.” In addition to throwing the monkey wrench into the fabrications of Turkish fabulists and “historians” who claim Turks are indigenous to Anatolia, Davutoğlu's statement and visit were typical of other senior Turkish officials in recent months. Together with President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Reccep Tayyip Erdoğan, Davutoğlu pops up regularly in various capitals these days, sort of “If it’s Tuesday, this must be the day Gül-Erdoğan-Davutoğlu come to inspect the honour guard in some capital…Baghdad, Brasilia, Moscow, Tehran, London, Damascus, Baku, Sofia…” The Three Musketeers of Ankara are all over the map, making brave statements about Turkey being the bridge between the East and the West, between the North and the South, Turkey straddling the crossroads of the East and West divide, Turkey spanning Christian Europe and Moslem Middle East, Turkey the intermediary between the U.S and Iran… on and go the quotidian drumbeat. Turkey not only has proclaimed “zero problems with neighbours”, but it also claims to be friendly with the whole wide world. Recently it even removed historic enemy Armenia from its list of “potential direct threats” to Turkey, but inexplicably nobody shouted “Hurrah” in Yerevan. Much of what Erdoğan and Co. spout is hollow, if not false and sheer sleightof-hand. While it proclaims that it shares European values, Erdoğan has opposed the International Court’s indictment of Sudanese President and genocidier Omar Bashir, saying, “no Muslim can perpetrate genocide.” Armenians, Assyrians, Dersimis, Kurds, and Greeks have, of course, a different opinion about that bizarre assertion. Ankara hails its rapprochement with Athens, although Turkish and Greek fighter planes continue their dogfights over the Aegean Sea and the Israeli Air Force uses the Greek air space for exercises, now that it is forbidden to do so over Turkey. Ankara states that it is friendly with Greece despite Turkey's con-

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tinued illegal occupation of Northern Cyprus and persecution of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Turkey. Ankara proclaims that it is a loyal NATO member and a friend of the U.S while it gets chummy with anti-U.S Hamas, and Moqtada el-Sadr, Iran’s man in Iraq and head of the anti-US militia in Baghdad. Turkey says it’s a friend of the U.S while provoking the latter’s pet Israel. Turkey swears that it’s Washington’s friend while it is alone in opposing the latter’s proposed missile shield to protect NATO members from ballistic threats originating in a rogue state, meaning Iran. Diplomats attending the upcoming NATO summit in Lisbon on Nov. 19 must be scratching their heads and wondering “Why is Turkey still in NATO?” as a recent editorial in Canada’s “National Post” newspaper asked. While it remains a NATO ally, Turkey has bloomed into a supposed bosom buddy of Moscow. Turkey pretends to be friendly with Russia while training Georgians, stiffens the back of Azeris against Moscow and arms it against Russia’s ally Armenia. Turkey also claims to be Russia’s friend while it tries to undermine Russian oil and gas exports through the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Talking again about the much-vaunted “zero problems with neighbours” strategy, it falls flat when one considers Turkey’s relations with Syria, Iraq, Iran, Israel, and Armenia. Turkey’s “friendly” relations with Syria have been imposed on Damascus. It’s “although I am reducing the flow of Euphrates River waters to Syria, you will either become my friend or I’ll break your arm” amity. Viz-a-viz Iraq, Kurds of northern Iraq must have their own take on Turkey’s “zero problems with neighbours” blandishments. Ankara’s recent removal of Armenia from the list of countries which pose potential danger to Turkey is also bankrupt. Why then does the Russian army continue to be stationed in Armenia? To defend Armenia from Yezidi smugglers? The publicized removal of Armenia from Turkey’s traditionally top-secret security policy document, known as “The Red Book” is a ploy to hoodwink the West that relations between Armenia and Turkey are improving so there’s no justification for the recognition of the Genocide of Armenians. In addition, it is intended to help remove an obstacle to Turkey’s entry into the European Union. A few weeks ago Erdoğan complained, saying, “We have been kept waiting at the gates of the EU for 50 years now. We are still waiting and waiting and are still in the negotiating process.’’ It’s time for the EU to tell Ankara, “What part of ‘NO’ don’t you understand?”

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Another day, another brave new world proclamation of universal brotherhood and friendship by Turkey. But how long can this whirling dervish act of Ankara last? When will the Ringling Bros. tightrope artiste of international politics slip off the tightrope? The wily strategists in Ankara have an oily phrase to describe the hypocrisy of Turkish diplomacy. They call it “constructive ambiguity”! Constructive to which party? When the Soviet Union collapsed Turkey became the self-styled big brother to the “stans” in Central Asia. Ankara was going to shepherd these semi-Turkic countries into modernity. But soon the “stans” tossed out the overbearing, presumptuous yokels of Ankara. In more recent times, Turkey proposed a condominium of Russia/Turkey/Armenia/Georgia/Azerbaijan called “Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform.” That project bit the dust when it was rebuffed by Russia and Armenia. But Turkey remains unchastened by its blunders. An ambitious Ankara keeps punching, hoping something will connect. We are sure that like most people Turks have their version of “if you chase too many rabbits you won’t catch any” saying. One of these days Ankara will learn that when you pretend to be friendly with all 190 states of the United Nations, you wind up being friend to no one. And another thing, the sooner Ankara puts its “Back to Ottomans” fantasy in the mothball, the better for Turkey. - November 16, 2010

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Timely Debate on Diasporan Unity The hotly-debated topic of Diaspora unity has been the mainstay of Armenian public discourse over the past five decades, if not longer. To cite one example, a serious attempt to form a unified body was made in 1979 when about 300 intellectuals and activists met in Paris. In subsequent years the group held two similar successful gatherings in Lausanne and in Sevres. The fervour, however, abated over time. The Diaspora unity issue resurfaced with renewed zeal following the publication of the infamous protocols between Armenia and Turkey. Immediately after the protocols, on Oct. 10, 2009, in a Keghart.com article headlined "Thank you Nalbandian, Thank you Davutoglu” expressions for unity appeared . It stated, "the Diasporan Armenians, are indirectly told to forge a truly effective unified strategy to define first ourselves as people, and concurrently formulate our demands." Around the same time the results of a poll were presented at a public discussion organized by the Armenian Rights Council of America in Altadena, California. It revealed that 75% of the people who responded to the question "who should speak on behalf of the Armenian Diaspora?" said that a new entity is required to represent Armenians living outside the Republic of Armenia. Although the poll's methodology was not strictly along scientific lines, the results were somewhat indicative of the public mood. Two months after the poll Keghart.com publicized the activities of the International Organizing Committee (IOC) of the proposed Western Armenian National Congress and established direct contacts with IOC initiators. Barely a month later Minas Kojayan's Ո՞վ Պիտի Ներկայացնէ Սփիւռքը ("Who will represent the Diaspora?") appeared in "Nor Or", the official organ of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party of Western United States. It said, "It's time that the political parties, the church institutions, charitable and compatriotic unions get together once more. [and be] the initiators of the creation of a supreme body." On 25 Feb. 2010 Harut Sassounian outlined a “framework” of creating a democratic body, based on the principle of one man one vote. Since then several editorials and articles have been published on Diaspora unity, a pan-Diasporan entity, how to establish such a body and the various functions that it should oversee. One of the more notable takes on the topic was by Vartkes Yeghiaian's "Convocation of an Armenian National Congress". Other articles appeared in various media outlets in the Diaspora and in Armenia. Internet forums and chat-rooms were also abuzz with discussions.

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The global interest in unity resulted in the day-long symposium on Nov. 20, organized by the Institute of Armenian Studies of University of Southern California in Los Angeles. About 600 people attended, some coming from as far away as Austria, Canada, France and Russia. A number of distinguished scholars, writers, media representatives, and politicians/diplomats expressed their views on unity. The event was broadcast via the internet, and the symposium materials will be published in a few months. The proceedings may be viewed at Mediasite. The panelists were unanimous that it is high time the Diaspora organized to become an effective political force on the international scene and thus further the interests of the Diaspora and Armenia. Prof. Z. S. Andrew Demirdjian cited the endeavours of the Inuit, highlighting the unified struggle of the chiefs and activists of that nation, and their success in the creation of the province of Nunavut within the Canadian federation. He used the successful campaign to drive home the message that a unified Armenian Diaspora can also achieve its goals. Some participants were less upbeat than others. Dr. Levon Marashlian, professor of history at the Glendale Community College, a veteran "unifier" who was involved in similar drives in the '70s and the '80s, cautioned about the not-sofavourable inclination of existing organizations for the formation of a unifying body. Prof. Stephan Astourian, the executive director of the Armenian Studies Program at the University of California in Berkeley, presented data based on facts, educated guesses and common sense. While it is beyond the scope of this brief analysis to present a detailed account of the Los Angeles symposium, we would like to make some remarks. The IOC has been active for the past four years and has held quarterly meetings. It has held symposia in Cyprus, in Armenia and elsewhere. It has produced several publications, researched ways of organizing people around common goals and is about to call for a convention for the establishment of a representative Congress. It is probably unique in its membership amongst the existing organizations and groups (non-political parties) with respect to the establishment of a bridge between individuals from the traditional diaspora and the "internal" diaspora, the latter amounting to more people than the population of Armenia. Was it an oversight that a representative of the IOC was not invited to the symposium? A sizable community of Hamshens, Kurdified and Islamacized Armenians exists in Europe. They have no organization, but include a number of capable activists. A symposium addressing the formation of a unified Diasporan body - 120 -


along democratic lines should have invited representatives from these communities to the symposium and into the "big Armenian tent." Similar future gatherings must be more inclusive. Gov. George Deukmejian's presence was most welcome. When a unified organization is formed, an appropriate representative role should be reserved for the California governor: His American and international contacts and clout could be an effective tool to advance our cause. Ambassador John Evans' remarks were carefully noted by symposium attendees. High-ranking and supportive personalities such as Mr. Evans should be invited more often to major Armenian gatherings, similarly "odars" such as Donald Wilson Bush, a direct descendant of President Woodrow Wilson's great-grandfather. At the symposium Mr. Bush declared that he is an ABC-- "An Armenian by Choice". Canadian-Armenians can't sponsor a conference similar to the Los Angeles symposium because there is neither an educational institution that is interested in promoting such an agenda nor it is the formation of a unified entity in the interest of the existing large organizations. It's left to small, non-affiliated groups and forums to coalesce and take the initiative to organize a round-table debate or invite knowledgeable and articulate people. Keghart.com will utilize its technical, financial and PR resources to organize such a gathering, in cooperation with the supporters and the groups mentioned above. We believe similar discussions should be held in every community where sizable numbers of Armenians reside. We thank the organizers of the symposium for the timely public debate and hope that the ideas and proposals made at the gathering would catch fire and lead to deliberations on the practical steps to make the unified Diaspora body a reality. - November 23, 2010

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Turkbaijan Propaganda in Bloom Until recently Azerbaijan was the junior partner of Turkey in anti-Armenian propaganda and in the falsification of ancient and current Armenian history. But in the past year Baku has become Ankara's full-fledged partner in antiArmenian rhetoric. Flushed by revenues from its petroleum wells, Baku is spending serious money in lobbying efforts to denigrate Armenia, Armenians, and Artsakh, and to misrepresent the Armenian/Azerbaijani conflict. In the past year Azeri propaganda has shown its hydra-head around the globe, from Kazakhstan to Syria, from Germany to the United Kingdom, to Canada, and the United States. Thanks to aggressive efforts, the Azeri lobby is now stronger than the Armenian lobby in the British parliament, according to Tale Haydarov, the chairman of the European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS). The group has published a book ("Visions of Azerbaijan") and produced TV shows disseminating its version of the Artsakh conflict, while at British universities and other educational institutions TEAS has organized lectures about the Khojali "massacre," in addition to spreading other erroneous versions of the Armenian/Azerbaijani hostilities. In late November Mahir Aliyev, Azeri ambassador to Syria, was interviewed by a leading Damascus-based magazine, "Al-Azmenah", where Aliyev condemned Armenians for "occupying" parts of Azerbaijan. Just before the Dec. 1 meeting of the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Astana, Kazakhstan, the Union of Azerbaijani Organizations in Kazakhstan sent a statement to the participants of the OSCE summit, demanding the righ0ts of Azeri "refugees" from Artsakh. Two weeks ago the University of Toronto was the venue for the First Azerbaijani-Canadian Academic Grassroots and Advocacy Conference. Organized by the university's Azerbaijani Student Association, the Azerbaijan-American Council, and the Azeri embassy in Canada, the event was intended to train Canadian-Azeri community in advocacy against the Canadian-Armenian community, and Armenians in general. Around the same time, the Azeri ambassador was guest on a popular Toronto radio talk show. In the United States, the Azeri lobby, with the assistance of Ross Wilson, former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey and Azerbaijan, is pushing for the repeal of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act of 1992 which, prohibits direct U.S. government assistance to Azerbaijan.

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When it late November Bako Sahakyan, the president of Artsakh, visited Southern California to help launch the Armenian fundraising telethon and deliver a speech to the World Affairs Council-Orange County (WAC-OC), the US Azeri Network (USAN) sent a protest letter to WAC-OC about Sahakyan's visit and made inquiries at the U.S. State Department about Sahakyan's visit. As a result of USAN's letter, WAC-OC wrote to the Azeris, saying, "We have revised the flyer [re the event] to ensure our descriptions [of the Armenian/Azeri conflict] are impartial and factual." As well, Elin Suleyman, consulgeneral of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles, demanded the cancellation of Sahakyan's visit. Azeri and Turkish communities of Los Angeles held a demonstration (admittedly a feeble one) to protest Sahakyan's speech at the WAC-OC event in Newport Beach....While Harut Sassounian, publisher of "The Armenian Courier", accurately pointed out that the demonstration fell flat on its face, the new and vigorous efforts of the Azeris in California-the state which, has, by far, the highest concentration of American-Armenians-indicates that Armenians in the U.S. have a serious fight on their hands. Although the anti-Armenian campaign of American-Azeris is certainly an unwelcome development, as great a threat--if not even a bigger one-to the Armenian Cause is shaping up in Europe. The First World Azeri Youth Congress in Frankfurt (Nov. 29) was attended, according to Azeri sources, by representatives of 41 Azeri youth organizations in Azerbaijan, plus 131 youth organizations from 23 countries and leaders of Azeri Diaspora organizations from 25 countries, including 23 people from Russia. The Azerbaijan youth organization of Russia was led by Leyla Aliyev. [The proliferation of Azeri diplomats and organization leaders who carry the name Aliyev makes one wonder how many relations Sultan Ilham Aliyev has installed to eminent and cushy positions.] Addressing the Frankfurt gathering, Ali Hasanov, the head of Azeri Presidential Administration's department of public-political issues, said the main tasks before Azeri youth "in the whole world is to protect Azerbaijan's natural heritage from Armenian usurpers and to oppose Armenian propaganda and fabrications." In a clumsily-worded speech, Hasanov added, "Azeri young people in the world must be converted to such a significant factor, force which may be taken into consideration in those countries where they live. the more your words have importance in states, where you live and study, the more it will have great significance for the dissemination of the fair Azeri country's voice in the world. In this direction you must act in all states together with Turkish Diaspora and make effort to tackle jointly mutual problems." Similar views were expressed by other prominent Azeris, including Elshad Isgandarov, the secretary-general of the Youth Forum of the Organization of Islamic Conference.

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The above developments and more demonstrate that the Armenians have their job cut out for them as they do battle against growing Azeri and Turkish propaganda. What should Armenians do? We should intensify our efforts to deflate the Turkbaijan campaign. We should coordinate the efforts of various Armenian organizations around the globe against Azeri and Turkish propaganda. We have to strengthen our Armenian Diaspora links, across continents, to make sure we are ready to counter effectively to Turkbaijan efforts, whether it's in Canberra or in Copenhagen, in California or in Canada. Armenians of Armenia and of Artsakh have expert knowledge of the conflict with Azerbaijan, of Baku politics and psychology. Armenians of the ArmeniaArtsakh should be partners in shattering Turkbaijan lies. We have to keep abreast of developments in Azerbaijan, particularly regarding announcements and events which relate to Baku's campaign against us. Certainly, we have to take the vociferous Azeri challenge more seriously than we have done in the past. Baku is no longer a bit player in anti-Armenian propaganda. To dominate the narrative of the Armenian/Azeri/Turkish conflict, our antagonists have primarily money and oil on their side. Armenians have truth, morality and a burning commitment to obtain justice for our people-in Armenia, in Artsakh, and in the Armenian Diaspora. A new and crucial front has been opened by Turkbaijan Sr. and Jr. in their war against Armenians. Let's brace for it without fear, but with renewed awareness of what is at stake. - December 10, 2010

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Clannish Mindset Impedes Armenia’s Progress Centuries before Raffi, Raphael Badganian, Mikael Nalbandian, Alishan and other greats of the 19th century wrote their patriotic poems, articles, treatises, Armenians had begun to dream of an independent country, where the rule of law would prevail and citizens would be free to express themselves. Twohundred years since our modern renaissance begun our dreams remain unfulfilled. Such were Keghart.com editorial board’s thoughts when, a few weeks ago, in partnership with friends, we launched a petition in support of freedom of speech and human rights in Armenia. Throughout its three years of existence, Keghart.com has defended persecuted scholars, writers, journalists, artists, activists, people who have been denied citizenship, children and women who have been abused by society. Irrespective of the colour, race, nationality, ethnic origin and political persuasion of the persecuted, Keghart.com has been guided by the principles of human rights. Those principles are not abstract notions--devoid of consequences in a nation’s or an individual’s life. We rejoice when Turkish scholars, writers, journalists, activists, along with their friends around the globe, demand freedom of speech and respect for human rights in Turkey. We are saddened when they are threatened, jailed, tortured or assassinated. We readily provide our stamp of approval when Turkish authorities are rebuked in international courts for violations of human rights. We also believe that it’s only through the upholding of the tenets of freedom of speech and human rights that Turkey would be able to overcome centuries of authoritarian and oppressive political traditions. Any dream that Turkey might acknowledge the Genocide of Armenians would be realised only after that country becomes a democracy. Although this last thesis cannot be proven, disproving it is not in play either. We accept it and we act accordingly. Would it not be hypocritical to ask your neighbour to tend to his garden when you let weeds grow in yours? Isn’t this metaphor apt when we demand Turkey become democratic and transparent while we practice the opposite in Armenia? There are no two ways to deal with such issues. It seems every nine years (1999, 2008) we slaughter fellow Armenians in Armenia. We do not ask why; we do not bring criminals to justice; we push “unpleasant” matters under the rug. Is this what our great thinkers, activists, and our people—suffering under the Ottoman or Romanoff yoke--envisioned? We are told court decks in Armenia are full, that the authorities are keeping society safe from criminals; and - 125 -


all’s well on the justice front in Armenia. Who are they fooling? Who are we fooling? Why is it that we can’t get things right as we harp about the specter of some coloured revolution? A number of friends and readers of Keghart have questioned our wisdom in defending “criminals” through petitions. We have reflected about their sincere comments. The long and short of it is that we—Armenians--tend to indulge in myths and act not as citizens of a mature society but as members of clans and tribes. It is a well-known fact that leaders, governments, and states promote fear to keep followers, citizens, and countries in line for the sole purpose of protecting their own authority, rather than resolve serious societal problems. Those in power in Armenia are no different. Let’s assume that some citizens of Armenia have conspired to stage or continue to plan such a “revolution”. Wasn’t Georgia’s debacle in the hands of the Russian army sufficient lesson--not only to Armenians but also to NATO and the US that such adventures will not be tolerated by our long-time “protector” in the north? Does anyone believe the Russian army, stationed in Gyumri, will be playing backgammon while Armenia is overrun by a variety of flags dotted with stars from the west and south? And as to the “criminal”, what was his crime? His confrontational style and hyperboles, political views and aspirations may not be to the liking of many. Although a kangaroo court failed to find evidence of his alleged crimes, he was meted a seven-year sentence. For argument’s sake, let’s assume the court’s verdict was just. Does that give license to police to repeatedly beat this “criminal” and subject him to threats while in custody? What should we call these acts sanctioned by the authorities? When law enforcement agencies are unjust, it’s natural for people to demonstrate and sign petitions against such injustice. Either through ignorance or malice, some people have tried to confound these issues by capitalizing on the unproven charges so as to minimize the significance of the horrific acts inflicted upon this “criminal”. Civilized societies do not tolerate such acts; they have all sorts of checks and balances to prevent similar abuses. Do we want to become a civilized people or do we act as members of clans and tribes? Since the era of our “nakharars” and feudal lords, and despite the brouhaha of our progressive thinkers, educators and political parties, at the moment of truth--with few exceptions--we act as members of this or that crowd. We acted again in that same manner regarding the petition. Almost to the decimal point, response statistics demonstrated that we have not changed or “progressed.” - 126 -


Instead of looking at the merits of the case, we collectively asked, “Whose man is the accused?” The majority of the comments cannot be explained otherwise. We uphold or denounce a cause based on our allegiances or on a perceived myth. When such is the Armenian mindset we can hardly nod with Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it.” - December 17, 2010

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Residing in Fool’s Paradise Watching across the border at the duplicity of Pelosi, Obama and Co. a few weeks ago, some Armenian-Canadians might have felt a flush of pride and self-satisfaction for having won the genocide battle against the Turkish lobby in Canada six years ago. Their complacency and folly could very well lead them to fool’s paradise. Our antagonists are far from asleep. In fact, in the past several years they have re-energized their campaign against us—in Canada and around the globe. Just a few days ago, on Dec. 28, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu pledged to neutralize the Armenian Diaspora in the conflict between our nation and Turkey. Prime Minister Erdogan had similar words. We also know about the Turkish-Azeri alliance is not just against Armenia and Artsakh but also against Diaspora Armenians. But back to Canada… where some Armenians seem to think the battle is over. --The Turkbaijan lobby continues to attack the Toronto Public School Board’s curriculum to make sure the Genocide of Armenians is removed from history courses of Grade 11 students. The activities of the Intercultural Dialogue Institute and the Intercultural Dialogue Centre we focused on (“Turkbaijan Propaganda in Bloom”) last month are part and parcel of the campaign to influence Canadian educational institutions to deny or at least ignore the Genocide. --The Turkbaijan lobby is throwing its weight to exclude the Genocide of Armenians from the Human Rights Museum, scheduled to open in Winnipeg in 2013. The $350-million museum will be largely funded by the federal government. However, there are indications that the Turkbaijan lobby is trying to persuade the Asper family of Winnipeg—the initiators of the project—to give cold shoulder to Armenian representation at the museum. It’s more than likely that our antagonists are using the Turkish-Israeli relationship card to influence the Aspers—one of the leading Zionist families in Canada. --The Armenian community in Canada is not aware that Ankara-Baku lobbyists have been trying to persuade Prime Minister Stephen Harper (through pressure exerted by Canada’s foreign minister) to remove the word “genocide” from Mr. Harper’s annual April 24 message. --The Armenian community in Canada seems to be unaware that political gains can be reversed. A new administration in Ottawa can back peddle and waffle

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on genocide recognition. Canada’s recognition is based on a motion which doesn’t have the power of a more legally-binding resolution. While Michael Ignatieff, the leader of the opposition Liberal Party, does recognize the Genocide of Armenians, there’s no reason to believe that Mr. Ignatieff would become the next prime minister or that a future Liberal Party would follow in the noble steps of the ruling Conservative Party and Prime Minister Harper and withstand Turkish blandishments and coercion. --A few years ago the Turkish lobby hired Fleischmann-Hillard, one of Canada’s and possibly one of the world’s largest public relations, to improve Turkey’s image. After a thorough research, including Canadian public opinion of Turkish politics, tourism, cuisine, etc. the PR agency made its recommendations to the Turkish Embassy. Since then, the Turkish lobby has been acting upon those recommendations. For example, every summer there’s a “Turkish Day” at Dundas Square, the most important public square in Toronto, meaning in Canada. Turkish food, travel, culture, live bands are featured at the event. And all this dominated by blazing, oversized red flags with the star and yataghan-sharp crescent. We, Armenian-Canadians, tend to talk too much among ourselves. A great deal of our Genocide talk and activities are internal. For example, for a number of years the Toronto Armenian Centre (TAC) has sponsored mostly-Armenian films at the Pomegranate Film Festival. However, the festival takes place in the suburban TAC, which is a difficult commute. It’s no brainer that the festival would have a much greater attendance if it was held in downtown Toronto rather than in the suburban “ghetto” which is considered boondocks to the film buff denizens of downtown. Too much of our effort is uncoordinated or badly coordinated, to wit the recent campaign against Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobi Bryant becoming a spokesman for the Turkish Airlines (THY). Some 30 Toronto Armenian young people braved the elements to demonstrate where the Bryant had come to play in Toronto. A similar demonstration took place in Los Angeles. While the commitment of the Armenian activists is commendable, in this instance it was for naught—if not worse. Does anyone believe that the demonstration would make a difference to the millionaire Bryant? About the same time, Faruk Cizmecioglu, THY’s marketing and sales deputy director general, announced that the airline had also signed a contract with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark. The Turkish Airlines has similar contracts with football clubs in Barcelona and Manchester United, and other athletic organizations. Are we going to demonstrate against or boycott these people and organizations? In addition to not helping advance our cause, these demonstrations could backfire and antagonize sports fans who don’t know or care about Armenian-Turkish politics. - 129 -


Incidentally, actor Kevin Costner has been a THY spokesman for a number of years, yet there was no Armenian demonstrations against him. It seems every other Armenian-Canadian parent’s dream is to have an offspring who is a physician, pharmacists, dentist, lawyer or electrical engineer. Surely a commendable ambition, but to make our case heard we need Armenians in the mass media. Our organizations can encourage young Armenians to pursue careers in media and in public relations by offering them scholarships, by helping them get jobs upon graduation. These graduates, one hopes, would provide assistance in community media communication and lobbying efforts. In North America an overwhelming percentage of politicians are former lawyers. Why not encourage Armenian lawyers to enter politics? By encourage we mean raise funds and help in election campaigns. While having Armenian politicians is certainly the “gold standard”, we should realize that political aides have a tremendous impact on the thinking and actions of politicians. We should encourage and support our young people who want to enter the political arena, but not necessarily become politicians. At one time there was a group of Armenian-Canadians which made a point of writing letters to the media to advance Hye Tadd or to shoot down Turkish propaganda in Canadian media. It’s time we created something similar. It doesn’t take much work: Half-a-dozen people who read newspapers or follow TV and radio can make a huge difference when they write to editors to correct inaccurate or biased, anti-Armenian news reports or opinions. All it takes is a letter or two. Just like the Turkbaijan foe, we have to promote familiarization trips—to Armenia. Politicians, media, public figures who visit Armenia would retain lifelong positive attitudes of Armenia and Armenians after a visit to our homeland. The ideal would be to have a full-time public relations professional whose sole job would be coordinating and leading our public relations efforts. A $75,000 budget would guarantee the hiring of such an individual. The sum might seem high to some Armenians, but considering what the other side is spending, it’s not a drop in the bucket. Finally, we—and Armenians everywhere--have to realize that our battle with Turkbaijan is permanent and open-ended until Turkey meets the Three Rs—

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Restitution, Reparation, Return of our lands and Baku renounces its claims on Artsakh. - January 1, 2011

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Presumption Will Get WAN-Congress Nowhere On a number of occasions, since its inception three years ago, Keghart.com has reiterated that recognition of the Genocide of Armenians alone will not resolve our just demands of reparation, restitution and return of lands. To that end, along with others, we have underlined the importance of the creation of an entity that would pursue the various aspects of this cause in the international arena with the participation of all concerned individuals and organizations. As we are all aware, for more than five decades many intellectuals, activists and lawyers have made various proposals of how to establish such a structure. It appeared the projected Congress of Western Armenians could fulfill that quest. The steering International Organizing Committee’s (IOC) quarterly meetings, registration of NGOs in France and Switzerland, the symposia dedicated to exploring the legal venues on how to present our demands in international courts, and establishing the nucleus of a team of legal professionals were all inspiring and hopeful activities. Accordingly Keghart.com lent its support to the proposed Congress and the IOC. As we get closer to convening a conference for the establishment of the said congress, various draft proposals have been made regarding definition of its goals and constitution. Like other similar initiatives, the devil is in the details. Respecting the principles of transparency and cognizant of our obligations towards our readers, we devote this editorial to expressing our reservations regarding certain propositions that have been circulated to members of IOC and close friends. We may be accused of divulging “internal” information. We don’t perceive them to be confidential since the ideas giving rise to the said draft proposals are already public knowledge and have appeared in various articles penned by members of the IOC, its website and in interviews. In section B of Article 4 it is proposed that the Congress “Develop and implement pan-Armenian plans and programs in support of Armenian statehood, strengthening and rapid development of Republic of Armenia and Artsakh, improving people’s standard of living...” At face value and as cherished goals, we presume that nobody would argue against such programs. However they raise serious questions. What does the Congress really want to achieve and why? More importantly, who gives the right to any organization to make such blatant statements which are tantamount to interference in the affairs of the sovereign state of Republic of Armenia? Do Armenia and Artsakh agree to such plans? Ultimately, citizens of Armenia answer to their government and not to a transnational entity. Historically, all three republics of Armenia have shown resistance to encroachments, to put it mildly. Furthermore, the prerogatives of the parent countries where the NGOs are registered are implicated.

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One really wonders what kind of legal advice the leadership of IOC got when it made such a draft proposal. Further down, in section E the IOC proposes to “assist in the Diaspora the preservation and awareness of Western Armenians’ identity...” Is the goal of IOC to replace other organizations that are already engaged in similar endeavours? Why duplicate? Section H of the same article speaks about "cooperation with all other nations and people on the basis of universal principles of peace, independence, democracy and justice." Even before creating an entity and allowing it decide what direction it should take, the IOC is almost "dictating" a course, granted in a draft proposal. What's more bothersome is the assumption of international relations which is far beyond the accepted norms of what NGOs can and should reach for. It sounds like creating an organization with governmental attributes. Is that what the IOC intends to do, forming a trans-territorial government? Wouldn't this undermine the present statehood of Armenia and the prerogatives of its government? Statements like the above make one’s head spin and lose track of what really the IOC wants to achieve. Aspirations aside, there are realities that impose boundaries to what we want, what is achievable and practical. Most readers of Keghart.com and its close friends are not interested nor are they willing to devote time and energy to projects that have no chance of success and raise questions regarding the motives of promoting such goals or plans. Aside from the above, when we look at the ambition of creating an overreaching entity, which presumably will speak on behalf of Western Armenians, one has to ponder about its legitimacy. On what basis does this nascent organization assume to be similar in magnitude to the First and Second congresses and call itself Third Congress? Is it not pretentious to say that the proposed structure “cooperates with all governmental agencies, establishments…, public organizations, as well as national and international establishments and organizations”? It’s fine to get together with two-hundred to three-hundred people and establish whatever organization one’s heart desires. But calling those like-minded people “delegates” defies logic. They will not be elected by others, and they represent only themselves. Hence, wouldn't it be preferable to adopt a resolution stating that the said organization represents only itself and speaks only and only on behalf of its members? By demonstrating to the public some tangible

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work, establishing a track record of achievements, one may gain legitimacy. Even then without a public and transparent process of elected participants no acceptance by the public can be expected. Aren’t the IOC members aware that in the Diaspora the legitimacy of organizations that have existed for more than a century is being questioned? Some members of the IOC cannot resist the temptation of likening the proposed Congress to the one Boghos Noubar Pasha led. One would wish that they stopped there. Unfortunately, they go on almost forever, lecturing about it and treating the public as an ignorant mass. Do the Congress organizers want to emulate the Pasha? The great Armenian had history of achievements prior to and aside from the Congress. We would advise that pretension be restrained. Furthermore, in the name of yet undisclosed historical justifications some IOC members present personal interpretations of why we failed in the past. Arbitrary declarations, statements which lack credibility do not attract people; on the contrary, they sow divisiveness and aversion. If IOC and the proposed Congress have any chance of success a great deal will depend on drastically revising the draft proposals, resisting the temptation of becoming an overreaching organization, and limiting itself only to the pursuit of our cause through legal means. - January 16, 2011

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Is Erdogan Losing His Marbles? Listening to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s words in the past year one wonders whether he is delusional or suffering from an unfounded and overweening hubris. Last June, in Davos, he threw a nursery-class temper tantrum at an international gathering and insulted Israeli President Simon Peres, a long-time friend of Turkey. Erdogan later defended the Sudanese dictator against charges of genocide because, according to Erdogan, “Moslems don’t commit genocide.” The mind reels at the denialism, hypocrisy and ignorance. Following the Israeli commando attack on the Gaza-bound flotilla, Erdogan repeatedly renounced Israel, although he knew too well that the United States and his own chaffing army leaders are allies of Israel. To add insult to injury (to the U.S), Turkey has nominated itself as interlocutor on behalf of Iran, which calls America “the Great Satan.” A few weeks ago a reckless Erdogan called on Israel to remove its foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberaman, calling him an obstacle to Middle East peace. The demand is probably unprecedented in the annals of international diplomacy. He then said, “Israelis must rid themselves [of Lieberman] and that is surely their duty and not ours.” For good measure, in the same interview with "AlJazeera", Erdogan added, “Netanyahu’s government is the worst or the least fortunate in the history of Israel.” Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, bending backwards not to make waves, said that Erdogan’s words were inappropriate. Ten days ago, while touring Kars, Erdogan called for the demolition of a local monument designed to promote reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey. The statue, comprised of two 30-metre concrete figures reaching out to each other, was, said Erdogan, a “freak.” The statue was erected by the city’s mayor who is a member of Erdogan’s Islamist Justice and Development (AKP-Adelet ve Kalkinma Party). On an earlier trip to the city, Erdogan had ordered the destruction of a fountain which featured bare-breasted nymphs. A few days ago Erdogan called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to apologize for blaming the Turkish side for the impasse in the Cyprus talks. Tossing diplomatic etiquette aside, the Turkish leadership accused Merkel of bias and lack of historic knowledge on Cyprus. In an address to the regional leaders

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of AKP, the voluble prime minister of Turkey said of Merkel, “These comments and attitudes do not give the impression of a leader who is far-sighted and visionary. We expect Merkel to apologize to the Turkish side.” The man is on a binge. Earlier this month, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, on a peace mission to Turkey, complained about violations by Turkish fighter jets of Greek air space barely a few days before his arrival to Turkey. Meanwhile, Erdogan’s grandiose mouthpiece, Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu, was singing his “zero problems with neighbours” jingle. Turkey is strong; Turkey is big; Turkey is important; Turkey is key to EastWest/North-South peace; Turkey is a democracy; Turkey is the new rising power; the 21st century belongs to Turkey… Who utters this nonsense? Ankara, of course. The self-hypnosis might persuade Erdogan and his two buddies (Davutoglu and President Gul) that Turkey is a player because they say so. For the rest of the world, except, of course, Azerbaijan, the Turkish selfadvertisements are just that. Why is Turkey important? etc. Because Turkey is a peace-maker. Turkey is a peace maker although it failed to arrange peace between Israel and Syria and despite giving up, a few days ago, its peace-making mission in Lebanon. Erdogan’s Turkey is strong. Why? Because it has an army of one million. Forget that there is doubt about the loyalty of that army’s Kemalist leaders to Islamist Erdogan. And forget that the much-vaunted army would collapse without the help of the United States—the country Erdogan seems to enjoy bearbaiting. Turkey is a big country, with a population of 75 million. If one deducts 20 million or so persecuted Kurds, the countless and discriminated Alevis in addition to other mistreated minorities, Turkey would have a population of less than 40 million Turks. Then there is Turkey’s ambition in the Arab World. In a blatant and bizarre move, Erdogan and his foreign minister have launched dreams of New Ottomanism. No, Erdogan will not become the new Caliph-Sultan of the Sublime Porte, nor would Davutoglu become his Grand Vizier. The Dynamic Duo merely wants to dominate the Arabs, although there already are three Muslim countries (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Iran) which are long-time contenders for the position. In other words, the moment Saudi Arabia and Iran sense Turkey

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is getting too big for its breeches, they will make sure Turks pull back from Arab lands faster than their Ottoman grandfathers did. The other “pillar” of Turkish adventurism is its relatively healthy economy. A few years of rising GDP and voila, Ankara thinks it’s the second Frankfurt-sort of Frankara. But that economic house of cards could be on the edge of collapse. According to Turkey-friendly "The Wall-Street Journal", Turkey’s mushrooming current account deficit is becoming a serious threat to the country’s economy. “Turkey’s statistics agency reported that the deficit more than trebled in November versus a year ago to a hit and fresh record of 5.93 billion, outpacing economists’ expectations and again spotlighting the key weakness of the economy,” said Joe Parkinson of the daily on Jan. 11. The deficit is the widest since records began to be kept in 1984. Import growth rose more than 10 times faster than export gains, which slowed to just 3%, said the WSJ. A few days ago Saban Kardas wrote in "Today’s Zaman", “…realizing Turkey’s objective of reconfiguring the global order is likely to face many challenges; not the least, the question of having sufficient resources and a suitable political environment to sustain multifaceted global commitments.” Kardas went on to say, “There is an obvious mismatch between the objectives Davutoglu set for Turkey and the country’s current reality. For instance, despite his visions of advocating the cause of less developed countries, Turkey itself still ranks 83rd in the United Nations human development index.” And what about the drum beat of “Zero problems with neighbours”? Ask Armenia. Ask Cyprus. Ask Israel. Ask Greece. Oh, Erdogan; Oh Erdogan’s Brave New Turkey, whom the gods want to destroy, they first make mad. And “pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). A country doesn’t become great because it says it is great. If that was the case, Lilliput would be a super power. Delusion, grandiose versions of one’s self, exceptionalism, self-importance, and inane hauteur will result in rotten eggs— if not worse—on Erdogan’s face. - January 21, 2011

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A Bad Start for 2011 Toronto Armenians take just pride in their cohesion, support of the motherland (including Artsakh) and for their passion when it comes to “Hye Tadd” (Armenian Cause) and other Armenian affairs and concerns. However, two of its more prominent organizations started the 2011 on a wrong footing. On Jan. 14 the Armenian National Committee of Toronto (ANCT) held a “town hall” meeting which was billed as an “interactive meeting to discuss ANCT issues and initiatives with community members.” It was also meant to “serve as an opportunity to create a dialogue and strengthen the bonds between the community members and the ANCT executives.” The guest speaker was Toronto MP Rob Oliphant. What did Mr. Oliphant talk about? About his recent trip to Armenia. The politician regaled his audience with a tired travelogue, as if the audience had not been to Armenia or seen pictures of Khor Virab, Mount Ararat, Echmiadzin a thousand times. The speech was heavy with travel-writing clichés and light on meaningful observations and facts. It sounded like a high school “How I spent my summer vacation” speech. However, there was a more serious shortcoming to the politician’s presentation. Mr. Oliphant put on his political pundit hat and lectured Armenians not just in Toronto and Canada, but Armenians in the Diaspora and in Armenia about “Hye Tadd”. He declaimed that Armenians should learn from the Jews regarding the Holocaust and the Genocide. He said that Armenians should put the past (read Genocide) behind them to move forward. Armenians should do what the Jews had done, said he. While the comparison between the Jewish and Armenian tragedies is invidious and egregious, what was as disturbing was that no ANCT executive challenged Mr. Oliphant’s false comparison. Shouldn’t someone have told Mr. Oliphant that Germany has recognized the Holocaust, given billions of dollars to Jews and to Israel and is one of the major diplomatic/political/military/financial allies of Israel while Turkey continues to deny its butchery of 1.5 million innocent Armenians? Do we need lessons from a politician who has become an expert on Armenians and their destiny after spending a couple of days in Armenia? It’s standard procedure for event organizers to vet the speech of a speaker a priori. Did the ANCT know what Mr. Oliphant was going to say? If yes, why did they give the green light to the offensive “advice”?

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This is the second ANCT fumble in as many months. In late 2010 its executives decided, without consultation with the community, to support a mayoralty candidate who had no links to the Armenian community. The candidate was soundly defeated. Since then the newly-elected mayor has had cordial meetings and photo-ops with another Armenian group which some consider a rival to ANCT. The ANCT “town hall” event was attended by a mere 50 people--far short of the attendance one would have expected from such a community-wide gathering. The question arises whether the meeting was competently publicized. The ANCT has a long history of admirable work on behalf of the Armenian Cause and Armenian national preservation. It’s disappointing to see its recent missteps. A few weeks later (Feb. 5) the Canada Armenia Business Council (CABC) held its annual banquet in a Toronto suburb. To commemorate the occasion, the CABC published a 20-page booklet which carried eight pages of advertisements. One of the full-page ads was inserted by the Mosaic Institute and the Turkish-Armenian Business Development Council (TABDC). The ad was paid for by Vahan Kololian, who runs the Mosaic Institute (MI). Reports from insiders say that Mr. Kololian made the inclusion of the TABDC logo, including the Turkish flag, a condition of his purchasing the $1,000-page space. The TABDC and MI ad was objectionable for several reasons. At the bottom of the ad there was the following statement: “Partners in advocating opening the border and promoting free trade between Turkey and Armenia.” At no time has the Republic of Armenia RoA advocated free trade with Turkey. Thanks to the subsidies many Turkish corporations receive from Ankara, thanks to the experience of Turkish businessmen, and thanks to the large domestic market Turkish corporations command, Armenia’s economy would collapse within days if there was free trade between Yerevan and Ankara. On what basis and by whose authority do the two organizations flash their misguided motto remains a mystery. One thing is clear: the statement is blatant interference in the internal and foreign affairs of ROA by a business group with an agenda. There’s also a mystery about TABDC’s leadership and financing. On its website main page, TABDC boasts: “More than a Business Group, co-established on 3 May, 1997 in Istanbul and in Yerevan, is the first and only official link

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between the public and private sectors in each of the two countries’ communities. The TABDC is co-chaired by Arsen Ghazarian and Kaan Soyak.” More than a business group, according to TABDC. Although Ghazarian is cited as TABDC co-chair, of the 43 news releases (listed on the main web page), 27 have Soyak’s name in their headlines. Mr. Ghazarian? He is mentioned once. Reading the website one inevitably reaches to the conclusion that hugely invisible Mr. Ghazarian is no more than a figurehead. Who is Kaan Soyak? He is an Istanbul businessman who frequently visits North America. He is a staunch supporter of the discredited protocols between Armenia and Turkey. Indeed, the TABDC website still lists a number of articles in support of the defunct protocols. Who funds the activities of TABDC? Is it the Turkish business establishment? We believe in talking with Turks so as to resolve our differences, but TABDC is not the right medium for such a conversation. Intentionally or unintentionally, TABDC provides a fig leaf for Turkish propaganda… to divert and distract us from “Hye Tadd” … and enable Turkey to claim that all’s well between the two nations and the two states, although Turkey denies its horrific crimes and continues to blockade Armenia. Who is Mr. Kololian? He is an Armenian-Canadian businessman, based in Toronto. He runs MI. The insertion of the ad in the CABC booklet wasn’t his only disappointing act this past year. Last April he appeared on a nationwide television program to discuss the Genocide of Armenians. The moderator was Turkish and so was Kololian’s co-panelist Demir Delen. The latter is the pastpresident of the Federation of Canadian-Turkish Associations. He is a professional Genocide-denier who lectures on how “Armenians killed Turks.” During the discussion, Mr. Kololian described the Genocide as “a controversial subject” and made no attempt to refute Mr. Delen’s well-versed boilerplate propaganda. He also didn’t interject Dalan when the latter transformed the discussion into an apparent “treatise” on Armenian terrorists of the ‘80s. Furthermore, Kololian didn’t provide a rebuttal when Delen falsely stated Canada was the only country which recognized the Genocide. A painful mismatch by any measure. Did the full CABC executive know about the content of Mr. Kololian’s ad? If yes, why did it approve its publication? It couldn’t have been the allure of $1,000? Does CABC have procedures in place whereby the content (editorial

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and advertising) of its program booklets is checked? Was the publishing of the ad a failure to exercise oversight? The CABC is a valuable organization which has done commendable work. In this instance it failed to put the dots and cross the “tees”. Once the credibility of an organization is harmed, it’s difficult to restore it. We hope CABC and ANCT learn from their recent stumbles and avoid consequences which could harm “Hye Tadd”. Armenians can’t afford to make too many mistakes. The enemy is too strong; the enemy is ever alert to undermine our efforts. February 16, 2011

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Anatomy of the Unity Symposium It took a single meeting, in late December 2010, and subsequent e-mail discussions to organize the Unity Symposium of March 19, 2011 in Montreal. Many had predicted that it couldn't be done and such an undertaking would require the “expertise” and finances of an established organization. A few dedicated people proved those predictions wrong. What motivated them was the urgency of getting organized for the day after 24 April, when commemorations have yet again re-asserted the obvious without addressing the issues of reparations, retribution and land claims. What do Armenians have to claim from Turkey, what are the Armenian nation's short- and long-term objectives particularly in the Diaspora were paramount on the minds of the organizers. Mere four years part us from the centennial of the Genocide of the Armenians, and yet we are in disarray. Without unity of purpose, without agreement on at least “the lowest denominator", nothing can be achieved and all the talk about patriotism, our just grievances, and cherished national dreams will vanish in thin air. More than ever, this assertion is irrefutable considering the two main calamities that we face today--the unprecedented emigration of people from Armenia, and the rapid pace of assimilation in the Diaspora. Much has been said about unity. Yes, in the face of imminent crisis Armenians have historically shown that they can get together and overcome challenges. That’s history, though. Rapidly changing geopolitical developments and the reshaping of national interests of major powers could now deny us one last opportunity to reassemble and exert our will. Prof. Andrew Demirdjian’s compelling arguments based on natural and social sciences, and his emotional appeal for unity set the tone for most of the day’s discussion. "California Courier" Publisher Harut Sassounian’s proposal for a popularly elected structure to represent Diaspora Armenians was presented in a video clip, since he could not attend the symposium for personal reasons. It was followed by former UN deputy secretary and Deputy Director of the International Organizing Committee for Western Armenian National Congress Dr. Souren Seraydarian’s speech, outlining three unity proposals that are in circulation. He highlighted the merits and drawbacks of each and stressed the notion that we don’t have the luxury of time to get organized for the pursuit of our “inalienable rights”.

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Prof. Levon Marashlian’s common sense approach to unity and organizing a national congress was attentively received by the audience. While underlining the necessity of such a congress, he enumerated the difficulties that lie ahead. Fr. Mesrop Aramian, a scientist, theologian and educator from Armenia and producer of “From Ararat to Zion”documentary film, brought a new dimension to the discourse of unity, stressing the role of education. For the first time in Canada, probably in North America, a Hamshen Armenian was invited to participate in such a public gathering. The presence of Aliye Alice Alt from Germany, author of “Hamshens in the Mirror of History", was received with reverence by the audience. Although she did not specifically address the subject of unity, her presentation in Turkish, translated live by Ared Misirliyan, was a reminder that in the process of achieving unity many aspects have been overlooked in our national discourse. Following the above mentioned main speakers, local participation to the Symposium was provided by Prof. Arpi Hamalian, Antranig Bedrossian and Viken L. Attarian, in the form of commentaries to speeches of the guests from Armenia, France, Germany and USA. Keghart.com will publish video clips of their talks in a future update, whereas the guest speakers’ presentations may be viewed at http://www.keghart.com/UnitySymposium_Videos and Unity Symposium – Hamshens. This unique gathering devoted to the subject of unity was concluded with a session of a lively Q&A which could have gone on for more than an hour, the time allotted by the organizers. Various topics ranging from the National Constitution of the Ottoman Armenians to the present were brought up during this session. The symposium organized at University of Southern California in November 2010 and the recent gathering in Montreal are wake-up calls to examine ourselves and our choices, and take appropriate action individually and collectively. The organizers of the Montreal Symposium should be commended for a job well done. It is worth noting that the sponsors were small, grass-roots organizations without political affiliations. For a community of 30,000 people scattered in and around Greater Montreal, the presence of 110 attendees for a demanding, day-long discussion was encouraging. More so because the average age of a significant portion of the audience was below 50, and the participation of young people and women was palpable throughout the day. It’s only fair to

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mention some of the active young people--Vrouyr Makalian, Nayiri Abrahamian, Chahe Tanachian, Rahel Ourfalian and Azad Chichmanian. They were instrumental in running the program smoothly and in abiding by the announced schedule. - April 4, 2011

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Time for Sophisticated Vote-Casting It is no secret that Armenians in Canada remember with gratitude Prime Minister Stephen Harper's consistent acknowledgement of the Genocide of Armenians. Not coincidentally, Armenian-Canadians also look back with disdain the dithering of the two preceding Liberal administrations of Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, despite the recognition of the Genocide by Liberal-dominated parliaments. Obviously, these facts will be hammered by Conservative politicians and party functionaries to members of the Armenian community during the current federal election. The commemoration of the anniversary of the Genocide, so close to May 2, the day of federal election, will be an additional incentive for politicians of all stripes to make their "case" and solicit Armenian votes. The Armenian tragedy will yet again serve as a play thing in the hands of candidates and their parties. Will Canadian Armenians have the courage and political acumen to look at what is unfolding, without being carried away by emotions? Admittedly, it is a hard call, but it's a must move. We look at issues with a baggage of expectations that hardly match what politicians or governments, in a variety of countries, will deliver beyond Genocide recognition. Canada is no exception. Recognition is neither an enacted law in parliament nor panacea to our wounds. Mere recognition has outlived its purpose. We have to look beyond. Let's assert ourselves; let's remind the movers and shakers of international affairs, Canadian politicians, and politicians of other countries that their predecessors made a promise to redress the unjust treatment towards our nation following the Genocide. Of course, it won't happen overnight, but bit by bit, with small steps, we can reach our goal. What's wrong, for example, with demanding, during the upcoming town-hall style meetings and behind the scenes, that denial of the Genocide of the Armenians be declared a criminal offense? France and Switzerland have done it. Is Canada less of a just society? A sizable contingency of Armenians in Canada have close ties to Armenia. They have family and friends there. They have business interests, charitable, cultural, and educational ties. Thousands of Armenian citizens have made

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Canada their home over the past decade, leaving loved ones in the Middle East. Don't we deserve to have a Canadian consulate or embassy in Yerevan? In recent years, the only Canadian politician in leadership position who has made such a promise was StĂŠphane Dione. Unfortunately, his short-lived tenure was flayed by foes and "friends" alike. It's high time the matter was brought back to the table. Armenia has ceased to exist on Canadian International Development Agency's map, let alone Artsakh. Why? Shouldn't our powers-that-be and representatives of Armenia in Canada sit down with the experts at the Canadian Armenian Business Council to prepare a cohesive and unified plan, and demand some explanations . . . get promises and follow-ups? When will we get rid of our tunnel vision? Except for some solitary occasions, have we ever been interested and participated in the affairs of our First Nations? In 2008 there were 30 First Nations federal election candidates. This time around there may be more. To our knowledge the Armenian community has not approached them in a meaningful manner. A year ago the First Nations University of Canada was threatened with closure. Keghart.com initiated a petition against the short-sighted decision. Some 500 people endorsed it, but only a handful Armenians. Why? Apathy? Don't we realize that without the support of the First Nations we have very slim chance of achieving Genocide of Armenians recognition in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and probably in other jurisdictions too? We might already be late. Let's study their history and culture; draw parallels between our histories and in a competent and consistent manner develop relations with the First Nations and the Metis. We have to recognize them before attempting to get them to recognize us and our cause. It's not only because of the "give-and-take" exchange but for our true understanding of universal values of human rights. Strange as it may sound, last year Ankara "historians" launched a propaganda campaign in the United States, claiming that the First Nations of North America are of Turkic origin. They even managed to come with several Turkic words, which they said were identical to those in the language of "American Indians." This bizarre assertion neglected to mention that there were hundreds of "American Indian" nations, each with its own language. Who after all, better than the Armenians can expose this falsehood? Many other feasible plans and demands can be enumerated, but first we need to commit ourselves to make a crucial decision to grab this occasion of com-

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memoration of the anniversary of our tragedy and upcoming federal elections by the horns. Let's go beyond listening and clapping to the usual praises. Let's move forward and tell point blank what we deserve and what we want. After all, the Armenian adage says Chlatsogh manougin gat chen dar ("They don't give milk to the child who doesn't cry".) - April 20, 2011

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Blood Apricots Last year Keghart.com ran an editorial, condemning citizens of Armenia who vacation in Turkey. It was unfortunate that we had to comment on a trend which should never have emerged. Nowadays there’s another regrettable Armenian behavior, here in North America. We are referring to Armenians who see nothing wrong in buying Turkish goods, especially food products. The trend is not as high profile, public or blatant, but still it’s as hurtful to the Armenian nation as the unconscionable sun seekers of Yerevan. We have no way of measuring the volume or dollar value of these made-in-Turkey product purchases. However, that’s of secondary importance in this debate. Our individual and collective efforts to obtain justice for 1915 becomes a cruel farce when we buy Turkey-made goods. What would be the reaction of odars, who are familiar with our recent history and Genocide recognition campaigns, when they hear Armenians are merrily shopping for Turkish sweets and biscuits? What kind of message are we sending denialist Turks who would love to believe we are slowly giving up our sacred cause, the memory of our 1.5 million martyrs? As well, what kind of hypocritical message are we sending to our children? How can we have the Ararat vista on the living room wall when we are serving Turkish pickles in the kitchen? It’s not just pickles. It’s dried apricots, it’s hazelnuts, it’s figs, halva, olive oil, spices, candies, biscuit, denim jeans, towels, shirts and more. Those who say we should separate Turkish individuals from their government and not boycott Turkish goods, are sadly mistaken. Turkish businesses, often heavily subsidized, are one with Ankara. It’s Turkey Inc. in every way, except in name. For example, prominent Turkish businessman, Kaan Soyak, funds his denialist campaigns through his import/export firm. The recent and newfound political and military confidence of Turkey is to a certain extent rooted in the country’s healthy economy. Buying Turkish goods further fattens Ankara coffers. Besides, why buy Turkish products when there are alternatives from other Middle Eastern countries? Every product line listed above is also available from neighboring countries. Quality and price are also none issues since there isn’t much difference between Turkish and other Middle Eastern products and prices. These Turkish products often come from Western Armenia and Cilicia. The “Turkish” hazelnut or apricot you put in your mouth might have come from

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trees planted by your ancestors on Armenian land. Armenians who were slaughtered by the Turkish government and irregulars. Everyone has heard of the “blood” diamonds of West Africa. How about the blood apricots, hazelnuts, olives…of Turkey? Some Armenians, who wish to excuse their disgraceful behavior, might point out that the Republic of Armenia imports millions of dollars worth of Turkish products. We would like to remind these lame apologists of what many an Armenian father, over many generations, has advised his children: Yetteh engert daniken tsadkeh, toon al guh tsadkehs? (“If your friend jumps from the roof, do you follow suit?” A few days ago we commemorated the Genocide. We gathered, listened to impassioned speeches, sang songs, perhaps wept. Then we went home. These remembrance gatherings would be hypocritical and a waste of time, unless they are followed by action--no matter how small the initiative seems. An Armenian boycott of Turkish products will not bankrupt Turkey; it wouldn’t even make a dent on their economy. However, as we said, that’s not the point. The boycott should be an automatic, part and parcel of our cause. A boycott will also make us proud that we do follow our words by action. A boycott would—even if in a small way—help our communities come together in a demonstrable collective action. Next time you pick up that jar of olives at the Middle Eastern grocery store, please check the label, and put it back if it says, “Made in Turkey.” - April 27, 2011

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Three Cheers for Turkish Mythinformation Diplomats, strategists, and journalists have been scratching their collective heads in the past few years to explain the megalomaniacal political ambitions of Recep Erdogan’s and Ahmed Davutoglu’s Turkey. Yes, the country has experienced several years of economic halcyon times, but a bubbling economy is ephemeral: It can bite the dust in a shockingly short time. So what is fueling the so-called Neo-Ottomanism of Erdogan and Co.? To understand the bizarre phenomenon of Ankara puffing up to influence political developments in the Middle East, North Africa, the Balkans, and in the Moslem world, one has to go back some 80 years—to the era of dictator Mustafa Kemal—a man who self-styled himself “Father of the Turks” (Ataturk), although he was a deunme--Jewish convert to Islam. Kemal, the “Victor over the Infidels” (another self-assumed title), was a habitué of brothels; although some people maintain the often drunk “great man” was a closet homosexual. Kemal, a bachelor, liked young ladies to such an extent that he adopted four of them, including a survivor of the Genocide of Armenians. One day one of the girls he had adopted, named Afet, came to Father Kemal, complaining that there was nothing positive about the Turks in European history books. Considering that the Ottomans have, for centuries, ravaged Eastern and Central Europe, and the Middle East, the European take would have seemed logical to any reasonable person. Besides, until a few decades before the fall of the Ottomans, Turk within the empire meant a peasant, a country bumpkin. That Afet, who had studied history, and her “father” were shocked by European historians’ take is an anomaly. Surely, they didn’t expect glowing reports about Turkish barbarians who lay waste wherever their horses trampled. The glory days of the Ottomans lasted barely a century. The rot set in immediately after Sultan Suleiman was succeeded (1566) by his son, Selim II. An intemperate alcoholic, Selim II was to set the tone for the empire’s succeeding 25 corrupt, incompetent and fratricidal rulers who were manipulated by their shrewd viziers, concubines, eunuchs and Sublime Porte courtiers and hangers-on. Thus, it’s inexplicable that Erdogan and his straight man, Davutoglu, hail their foreign policy as Neo-Ottomanism. But back to the bloody soldier from Salonika. Something had to be done to “correct” the Western infidels’ perception of Immortal Turkey--and pronto! He swiftly put together a committee of “scholars” to write the history of the

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Turkish people. Obedient servants of Ataturk, the scribes produced such a tome in 1930. But Kemal was not impressed by the effort. Although he had no academic background, let alone knowledge of history studies, the Father of Turks edited the errors of his minions. He was out to manufacture the history of the Turks, and by God, he would not let historic truth stand on his way. A four-volume version, “corrected” by Kemal, was published the following year. The man was fast with his pencil, just as he was fast with his yataghan sword. The four tomes became a compulsory historicism on Turkish curriculums. Called simply “History,” the books were—unintentionally-- the funniest thing since Hoja Nassreddin hit the road. The books were also more inventive than anything Jonathan Swift, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells could have dreamt. It was a farrago of an opus which took the readers’ breath away. The core of the Kemal’s literary piece de resistance was his Turkish History Thesis. According to THT, -- All civilizations sprung from Turks or were profoundly influenced by them. -- In 10,000 B.C. Turks lived around an inland sea, which covered Central Asia. Unbeknownst to any archeologist, they developed metalworking, domesticated animals and discovered the techniques of agriculture. There was no mention in the book that they had discovered the Law of Gravity, Relativity, the equation on how to devise a nuclear bomb or the recipe of Turkish Delight. --Because of climate change, the ancient Turks spread out in all directions. Heading east, they brought advanced civilization to China while becoming the nobility. Perhaps Beijing was named after a Turkish bey called Jing. --Turks who preferred sunny climes headed to India but found the subcontinent inhabited by dark people who lived like monkeys. Turks, with their superior intellect and not living like simians, drove the darkies south. The energetic Turkish Ariler (Aryans!) also founded the Indus Valley civilizations of Harappa and Mohengo Daro in today’s Pakistan. --Saka, another Turkish tribe, followed the pioneers to India. In fact, Buddha was a Turk. --Turks, who headed west, introduced irrigation and drainage to the Middle East and founded Sumer and Elam. In Sumer they developed the world’s first writing system. Some millennia later they discarded their alphabet and adopted

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the Arabic version. But being innately progressive, they tossed that a few centuries later and appropriated the Latin alphabet. --Around 5,000 BC, these intrepid Turks entered Anatolia where the Turkish Eti tribe established the Hittite empire… Eti=Hittite. --With the Eti came the Traklar (similarity of the sound to Turkler is not coincidental) who founded Troy. Thus Hector and Paris were (you guessed it) Turks. So was Trojan Aeneas who founded Rome. A related tribe—the Littler-became the Lydians. Some Lydians travelled to Italy where, as Etruscans, they helped brother Turk Aeneas lay the foundations of the Roman civilization. If you shift a couple of letters, you will note that Etruscan and Turk are similar-sounding words. Just when you thought the stunning list of Turkish contributions to humanity was exhausted, Kemal, the historian, revealed that Turks brought agriculture to Egypt, but the pharaohs—those untrustworthy Semites--erased all traces of Turkish genius from Egyptian inscriptions. The effulgent wonders of Turkic supermen continued… --The Minoans of Crete were migrants from Turkic Anatolia. Minoan leaders were called ege (agha?) thus the sea around Greece was called Aegean. Other Minoan Turkish leaders were called aka. They are known to history as Achaeans who produced the Mycenaean civilization. The Torlay (Dorians) and Iyonlar (Ionians) eventually ruled Crete. Macedonians were Turks from the Danube area. Keltler (Celts), also known as Golluler (Gauls) came from Turkic Central Asia. The Germenler (Germans) were another Turkic nation (Hitler’s bones must be doing somersaults), so were Kimriler (Cimmerians) and Iskitler (Scythians) who spread civilization from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea. The English, being originally from Germany, were automatically Turkish. --The Natives of North America are Turks who crossed the Bering Sea. --Kemals’ wondrous oeuvre also offered the Sun Language Theory which proved that all languages are derived from Turkish. --Six years after the publication of the voluminous nonsense, Ataturk’s cohorts surprised the world by declaring that Prophet Mohammed was (you guessed it) Turkish. Meanwhile, irrepressible Efet launched the Turkish Anthropometric Investigation which, following a study of 64,000 Turkish skulls, concluded that Turks were a white Alpine race and Turkey had always been inhabited by

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a single homogenous Turkic people. Of course, Armenians were a figment of spoilsport infidel historians’ imagination. Years later, some serious Turkish historians disavowed the Father of Historians’ fantasies, but the damage had been done: For decades Turkish history books took their cue from Kemal’s molestation of scientific historiography. These muddied effusions continued to be read for decades; every student was taught the transparent lie that Turks were the original inhabitants of Anatolia. While the above hallucinations are no longer mandatory on Turkish curriculums, these otiose emanations have seeped into Turkey’s culture and mindset. The monumental distortions have trickled into the Turkish subconscious. While the mad books are gone, the madness persists. Thus the over-the-top ambitions and pathetic superiority complex of Erdogan, Davutoglu, and Gul. Blame the False Turk from Salonica for the Dynamic Trio’s absurd posturing. - May 4, 2011

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Championing Religious Minority Rights Ten days before the May 2 Canadian federal elections, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Minister of Immigration and Citizenship Jason Kenney announced that a re-elected Conservative government would create an Office of Religious Freedom to ensure that defending persecuted religious minorities is a priority of Canada’s foreign policy. Mr. Harper won the election with a healthy majority. At the gathering, on April 23, in the Coptic community centre in Mississauga, a suburb of Toronto, Mr. Harper said, “While we are thankful to live in a country that spares us such tests [religious persecution], we must not let our comfort be an excuse to shirk our commitment to the cause of freedom…That is why I am pleased to announce that a re-elected Conservative government will create a special Office of Religious Freedom.” The office, located within the Department of Foreign Affairs & International Trade, would monitor religious freedoms around the world, promote religious freedom as a key objective of Canadian foreign policy and advance policies and programs that support religious freedom around the world. Mr. Harper added, “The office will call attention to the religiously persecuted and condemn their persecutors. It will signal to religious minorities everywhere that they have a friend in Canada.” Among the religious minorities persecuted, Mr. Harper mentioned the Copts in Egypt, the Baha’i in Iran, the Christian minorities in Iraq, the Ahmadiyya and Christian minorities in Pakistan. He didn’t mention the Christians of Turkey. The Republic of Turkey and its predecessor Ottoman Empire have a long tradition of persecuting Christian minorities. A mid-sized library can be filled with accounts of Turkish harassment, persecution and extermination of Christian minorities. Although the “modern” and “democratic” Republic of Turkey is a signatory to the Lausanne Treaty (1923), Ankara’s policy since then has demonstrated Turkish government’s signature, on this issue, is not worth the paper it’s written on. Article 38 of the Lausanne Treaty says, “The Turkish Government undertakes to assure full and complete protection of life and liberty to all inhabitants of Turkey without distinction of birth, nationality, language, race or religion.” - 154 -


Article 42 of the same treaty says, “The Turkish Government undertakes to grant full protection to the churches, synagogues, cemeteries and other religious establishments of the above-mentioned minorities…” Pretty words. Meaningless words. Turks have a nice saying, "San salla başını, ben bilirim işimi." (You shake your head; I know my business, i.e. say what you may, I know what to do). In 2006 the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights condemned, in a 26-page brief, Turkey’s continued practice of Turkification it adopted in the early 20th century. The federation went on to say, “…non-Muslim minorities enjoy restricted property rights, face interference in the management of their foundations, and a ban on training their clergy.” In the name of Turkey’s secular laws, authorities have for decades expropriated a vast number of Christian Church (Armenian, Assyrian, Greek, Syriac, etc.) properties. The Christians in Turkey are living under a shadow of fear and insecurity due to government policies and violent backlash by nationalist hardliners. It might seem a redundant exercise to cite cases of Turkish persecution of Christians. However, it’s worthwhile to mention some of the more recent outrages perpetrated against the Christians of Turkey. A few years ago government land officials redrew the boundaries of the Syriac Church’s Mor Gabriel Monastery on the Turkish-Syrian border. The new boundaries meant the loss of monastery lands. In addition, the local prosecutor initiated a court case against the monastery after the mayors of three neighboring villages complained that the monks were engaged in anti-Turkish activities and falsely claimed that the monks were illegally converting Moslem children to Christianity. Built in 397 AD, Mor Gabriel is considered “second Jerusalem” by Syriacs. Once it had 2,000 monks and nuns. Now three monks, 14 nuns and a bishop reside in the monastery. The shrinking number of clergy, which holds true also for Armenian and Greek Churches, is a result of official Turkish government policy. This is the way Ankara’s racist and sleazy tactics work: 1. Close down seminaries or don’t allow any to be opened 2. Closure of seminaries leads to a shortage of clergy 3. Shortage of clergy means there are few to officiate at churches

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4. Voila! Since the churches don’t have officiating clergy, the government has the right to confiscate the building and the lands around it. Daniel Gabriel, director, human rights, Syrian Universal Alliance in Sweden, has said, “There is a continued campaign to destroy the backbone of the Syriac people and close down the monastery [Mor Gabriel].” When Ataturk took power, there were 250,000 Syriacs in the country. There are now 20,000. Two years ago, Istanbul-based Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church, told “Sixty Minutes” program of CBS that Orthodox Christians in “Turkey are treated like second-class citizens and they often feel crucified.” The clergyman, who is the spiritual leader of 300 million Greek Orthodox faithful, is dismissed with contempt by Ankara. Following incessant persecution over many decades, the Greek population of Turkey has shrunk to 3,500. Ankara’s persecution of Christians encourages Turkish nationalists to take the law into their own hands. A few years ago Turkish hardliners kidnapped Orhan Picaklar, a pastor, and stoned his church. They also tried to kidnap his son and said that prostitutes and subversive elements were frequenting Picaklar’s church. In fact, violent attacks against Christians have frightened many pastors and their families to the extent that they prefer not to go outdoors. In Samsun, on the Black Sea, a Christian congregation was incredibly accused of channeling funds to Western powers, implanting agents in the region… to undermine Islam. Then there was the torture and killing of a group of missionaries in Malatya in April 2007. The ultranationalists alleged that the churches were front for intelligence agencies, such as the CIA and Mossad. In February 2006 Andrea Santoro, a Roman Catholic priest, was gunned down in his church near the Black Sea. The killer screamed “Allahu Akbar” before firing two bullets into Santoro’s back as the clergyman knelt in prayer. These criminal acts couldn’t have taken place without the “wink-wink, nudgenudge” sanction of the Turkish government. Two years ago when construction workers began digging in the village of Aydinocak (Van region) to erect a building, they uncovered many human bones. When it was determined that the land had been an Armenian cemetery—thus forbidden to desecrate—the gendarmerie and the prosecutor suddenly discov-

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ered that the ancient Armenian cemetery had not been registered; therefore construction could proceed. The United States Commission on International & Religious Freedom in its current annual report said, "This country's [Turkey's] laws do not allow religious minorities to register as legal entities and act accordingly, and the Armenian Patriarch in Turkey is deprived of the opportunity to act on behalf of a legal person." The report added, "Religious hatred is displayed in 300 daily emails sent to the Patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Turkey and they attack against Christian clergy and religious minorities." These emails are presumably sent by ultra-nationalists and Islamists who get a pass from Ankara in their campaign to drive out Christians from Turkey. There are 75 million Moslems and 120,000 Christians in Turkey. Yet the paranoid and racist Turkish government (“Turkey for Turks”) feels threatened by 0.1% of its Christian citizens and is determined to either expel them or Turkify them. Prime Minister Harper’s government has demonstrated that it’s not blowing bubbles in the air when it talks about helping religious minorities. In recent years it has reached out to resettle Iraqis (some of them Armenian) targeted as religious minorities. The government has also announced the extension of the program to 2013, by which time 20,000 Iraqi refugees will have been resettled in Canada. The Canadian government has also denounced the attacks on Copts and their religious institutions and has called on the Egyptian government to bring the perpetrators to justice. Ottawa has condemned the use of blasphemy laws, in Moslem countries, to harass, intimidate, arrest and sentence to death religious minorities. We hope that when the commendable Office of Religious Freedom is up and running, the government will wholeheartedly champion the rights of the longsuffering and persecuted Christians of Turkey. - May 10, 2011

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Perplexing Military/Political Strategy When a state, which is growing in militarily might by the day, keeps threatening its hard-pressed neighbor on a regular basis, what does the threatened state do, especially when the threatened party is perceived, by some, to be militarily stronger than its bellicose neighbor? Most people would assume the state at the receiving end of the constant threats would take military action--while it still has the military advantage--to discourage its neighbor from turning menacing words into action. And when that belligerent state regularly shoots at the threatened state's soldiers, who are in defensive positions, and even slays farmers tilling the fields, what does the harassed state(s) do? Armenians know the above are not academic scenarios or questions. For instance, between May 8 and 14 the Azerbaijani forces violated the Artsakh/Azerbaijan ceasefire protocol around 450 times. According to the Artsakh Armed Forces, in that one week Azeri soldiers fired 1,700 times in the direction of Artsakh forces. Since ceasefire was signed in 1994, instances of Armenian or Artsakh forces acting aggressively against Azeri forces have been few and far between while the Azeris have made a habit of attacking the Armenians-army and civilians. One could attribute the Yerevan/Stepanagerd "restraint" on a plan to compile a dossier against Azerbaijan--a file that can be presented to the United Nations or to other relevant international agencies, to demonstrate that Azerbaijan is not interested in peace with its Armenian neighbors. If such is the case, how thick should such a dossier be to make a credible case of Azeri aggression to international bodies? And as importantly, why assume that dossier-compiling is part of the Armenian strategy when Yerevan and Stepanagerd have been singularly lackadaisical in this aspect of their political campaign against Azerbaijan? Frankly, we are perplexed. Confused by the inexplicable silence on the part of Yerevan and Stepanagerd, we are left asking, "What-if any-plans do the two Armenian capitals have to scotch the almost-daily Azeri aggression?" How many Armenian soldiers and citizens have to be killed before Yerevan and Stepanagerd decide that Baku has crossed the line? A few weeks ago Richard Giragosian of the Regional Studies Center was quoted in PanARMENIAN.Net, saying that the resumption of hostilities [between the Azeri and Armenians] seems illogical because Baku "knows it will lose." Giragosian went on to say, "Azeris will need eight to ten years to reach - 158 -


the level of Armenian armed forces, despite ongoing purchases of armament, which will produce no result in clumsy hands." This is certainly music to Armenian ears, but what if Mr. Giragosian is unduly optimistic about the strength of Armenian military forces, especially in an impoverished country which is being depopulated-due to emigration--at an alarming rate? Mr. Giragosian's optimism sounds hollow, specially his allegation that the Azeri army is poorly trained and will remain so for another decade or so. With sophisticated weapon imports from at least 17 countries, training by Turkish and Israeli military advisors, advanced Israeli anti-missile capabilities and security systems, the Azeris, with their bigger army, mercenaries hired through petrodollars and support from highly-motivated Afghan, Pakistani and Chechen Islamist fighters would become a serious threat to Armenians long before Mr. Giragosian's sunny forecast. We certainly are not advocating that Armenia and Artsakh attack Azerbaijan. However, the Armenian side should publicize the almost-daily Azeri aggression. Photos of the Armenian victims, of widows and orphans, of damaged buildings and infrastructure should be circulated to the international media. The Republic of Armenia foreign minister should make the rounds of major capitals and present a graphic image of Azeri mischief. World public opinion should become familiar with the endless Azeri threats and attacks. If following such an information campaign still Baku persists in ignoring the ceasefire, then Armenian and Artsakh armed forces should retaliate. It should be a limited but convincing retaliation. It should be tough enough to persuade Baku to pull back its snipers and other peace-disturbing elements. It's the least Yerevan and Stepanagerd should do. After all, their first duty is the security of their citizens. If, as security specialists say, Azeri forces are weaker than the Armenian forces, Baku would come to its senses and stop its violations of the ceasefire. If it's stronger, all indications are that it would get even stronger tomorrow. - June 13, 2011

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Hands Off the Diaspora! The events unfolding in the Armenian communities of Nice and Switzerland may have far reaching consequences for the Armenian Apostolic Church in particular and Armenia/Diaspora relations in general. The individuals--lay and clergy--who are involved in the ongoing disputes, the choices they have made and may continue to make, will shape the future status of the Church. However, the matter has gone far beyond a simple dialogue and national discourse on how to address the inter-relation between lay people, entrusted with managing the organizational aspect of the institution. and the clergy whose sole raison d'être is to provide spiritual guidance. Nobody is blind to the constant foreign pressures Armenia is subjected to because of its geopolitical significance. Russia and its rivals (USA and the major countries of the European Union) are investing time, manpower and finances to "normalize" relations between Armenia and Turkey, in accordance with their own respective interests. The infamous protocols were the expression of that ongoing pursuit--to formalize relations and get rid of the "thorn" that Armenia and Armenians pose in the eyes of the movers and shakers of international politics and economy. The US administration has not given up on TARC. Activities of similar nature may have undergone a facelift but continue to be carried through a variety of venues. In the Diaspora several prominent personalities, organizations, some clerics and lay people, engaged in the activities of various councils overseen by Echmiadzin allied churches, willingly or unwillingly, knowingly or not, in selfinterest or otherwise, are promoting ideas in line with the general direction of the protocols. Trying to revive the protocols, they cite arguments out of context and deploy a misleading chronological sequence of events. This is a futile exercise and an insult to our intelligence. Meanwhile, in Armenia a ruling elite that seeks legitimacy by pleasing foreign interests has lost its trajectory. It has "suspended" the protocols. Suspension entails the distinct possibility of reviving the protocols when circumstances are favourable. People who follow Armenian affairs--in Armenia and in the Diaspora--are only too aware of the amicable relations that have developed between the rulers of Armenia and protocol-promoters in the Diaspora. "You scratch my back and I´ll scratch yours" describes what goes on between the Armenian oligarchs and Echmiadzin as the latter has become an institution devoid of any "holiness." Examples to support this negative perception abound in Armenia. The citizens of Armenia have condemned the Church leadership

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and have created a folklore replete with unflattering remarks and anecdotes about the "Supreme Leader" of the Church. It would be naive to think that Echmiadzin's recent activities in the Diaspora have been undertaken without the knowledge and blessings of the government of Armenia. The tripartite confluence of interests among the Diaspora protocol-promoters, the oligarchs of Armenia and Echmiadzin provide opportunities for the "Supreme Leader" to pursue his Diaspora dreams that are not far from delusions of grandeur. Echmiadzin´s hectic activities remind us of the story of Shara and the Plains of Shirag with the difference that the "Supreme Leader" has an appetite seemingly exceeding that of Shara. He will exploit whatever pretext to devour what he can in the Diaspora. Entering from the back door, this unscrupulous endeavour in the Diaspora will try to achieve what the president failed to accomplish last year when he tried to drum up support for the discredited protocols. The scandalous incidents in Nice and Switzerland are not isolated events. They seem to be part-and-parcel of a plan to subjugate Diaspora communities to the will of disgraceful rulers in Yerevan. Is it too far fetched to suppose that Jerusalem might be the next target of this unholy tripartite alliance? Will the Diaspora muster enough courage to tell--in no uncertain terms--to the "Supreme Leader" that his games have nothing to do with the Church as a religious institution and everything to do about power, politics, authoritarian attitudes and personal ambition? Enough is enough; hands off the Diaspora! - June 30, 2011

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Mr. Erdogan Demands an Apology Sad to say, Recep Erdogan, the cantankerous and headline-hungry prime minister of Turkey, is sleeping on the job. Otherwise, how would one explain that despite the acute need for one, he has failed to establish a Ministry of Apologies in Ankara? While he has demanded apologies from Armenia, Germany and Israel, the irascible politician has failed to demand an apology from Queen Elizabeth II, her ancestors, the Oxford/Cambridge University Presses and the English people in general for naming an obese and clumsy bird ‘turkey’. Irritable Erdogan has also been negligent in suing the estates of Mozart and Puccini for the negative portrayal of Ottoman Turk/Turan people in “Escape from the Seraglio” and “Turandot” respectively. Because for centuries Italians, especially in the coastal areas, faced threats from Turkish pirates and invaders, to this day some Italian peasant women warn their misbehaving children that the “Turchi” (Turks) would kidnap them. Here again we see that Erdogan has missed the golden opportunity to demand an apology from Italian peasant women. The litany of Erdogan’s missed opportunities to extract apologies from nonTurks doesn’t end there. There is more… much more. The fulminating prime minister of Turkey should go after Broadway and Hollywood: for far too long these two pillars of popular American entertainment have labeled “turkey” a play or a movie which has failed to sell tickets. American movies should be banished from Turkish screens and plays not produced unless Broadway and Hollywood promise to banish the negative descriptive to…Deir el Zorr? In North America a fierce and cruel person is sometimes called a “turk”, due to the well-documented millennium-long history of Turkish barbarity. Erdogan should demand apologies from dictionaries and sports leagues, such as the National Hockey League where hockey players (“Turk Broda”, “Turk Derek Sanderson”) remain legends. Erdogan should also order Turkish linguists to find out the name of the culprit who named a certain vulture “turkey buzzard.” That person’s name should be blue-penciled from all books sold in Turkey. Just south of North America, below the Bahamas, are the Turks and Caicos Islands. The capital of the 166 sq. mi. islands is called Grand Turk. That designation might confuse Erdogan: Is it a compliment or an insult to name a

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couple of barren, impoverished islands Turks and Caicos? Only Erdogan knows for sure. Bristling Erdogan should also demand an apology from Greece and all Middle East Arab nations for insisting to call their coffee-brewing style “Greek” or “Arabic”. It’s neither here nor there that some people call the beverage “Turkish coffee” because it was Armenian merchants, from the Ottoman Empire, who introduced coffee to Europe and thus gave its Turkish misnomer. Talking about comestibles… bakers and patisseries from Paris to Perth, Australia should also apologize to Turkey for baking croissants. As many history buffs know, the croissant (“crescent”) was first baked in 1688, during the Turkish siege of Vienna. Viennese bakers invented a crescent-shaped cookie, after seeing the threatening Turkish crescent flag, day in, day out. Viennese women picked up the croissants and chewed them as they sashayed over the Vienna ramparts, in full view of the besiegers, to show their contempt for the Turkish army. Mad-as-hell Erdogan should ban ASAP the sale of croissants in Turkey and demand that all culinary institutes, restaurants, brasseries and cafes around the globe write a letter of apology to Turkey for serving the half-moon cookie. While Russia and Turkey have been mending fences recently, the development should not stop scowling Erdogan from demanding an apology from Russia, not to mention from Ukraine and the Cossacks. Back in the later 19th century, famed Russian-Ukrainian artist Ilya Repin painted “Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks”, which depicted a group of roughneck Cossacks writing an insulting letter to Ottoman Sultan Mehmet IV. The latter had demanded that the Slav warriors of steppes submit to Turkish rule. To acquire the popular canvas, Tsar Alexander III paid the highest amount ever paid for a Russian painting. Since then the canvas has become a piece de resistance of Russian/Cossack/Ukrainian patriotic folklore. Quick-to-take offense Erdogan should demand that Russians not exhibit the famous painting… and perhaps consider sending the Repin painting to Ankara to hide where the Turkish government hides shameful documents such as details of the Genocide of Armenians. But back to those pesky English and their dictionaries. Here’s another example of English insolence, especially when the insult hits so close to home for Erdogan: “turkey cock” is a phrase used to describe a strutting and pompous person. Now, if peeved and pouting Erdogan decides to go after the English dictionaries, this would be the natural place he should start. The above list of Turkish complaints, by no means exhaustive, remains orphan, without any demand for apology. Their deplorable existence proves that - 163 -


Erdogan, who seems to live in a permanent state of high dudgeon, is unworthy to lead the country which cared so deeply for the welfare of its Armenians that it transported them nearly a century ago, in sleek German trains, from the cold of Western Armenia and Cilicia to the sunny resorts of the Syrian Desert. - August 8, 2011

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Ignorance Was Never Bliss You know your weight, possibly the state of your health, the sum of your liquid and non-liquid assets, the value of your life insurance, the degree of your skills, knowledge, and your limitations. Any sentient, functioning adult has to know the above and more. As a Diaspora Armenian, how much do you know about Armenian communities outside Armenia, about Armenians in the country where you reside or even in the city where you live? You could be surprised how far from the truth your beliefs, assumptions, and suppositions can be. Take the most basic of collective facts: population statistics. Many Toronto Armenians assume there are 30,000 to 35,000 Armenians in Canada’s biggest city. The actual number is just over 20,000, according to community workers. Many facts about the community are hard to come by. For example, no one knows the number of Armenians who have recently come from the former Soviet republics and melted into the Russian-Jewish ghetto of the city. Some Armenians believe there are 500,000 Armenians in France and 125,000 in Lebanon. Wrong again. The first is closer to 400,000 and the second is below 100,000. As well, we conveniently ignore the bitter truth that many French-Armenians are assimilated and hardly speak any Armenian, let alone participate in community affairs. Population figures for California Armenians change depending on who one quotes. How many Armenian-Americans are there? Armeniapedia says over one million. However, a 2009 American Community Survey gave a much lower number, which included Armenians with “full or partial Armenian ancestry.” Meanwhile, no one can tell with any authority the global Armenian population count. The statistics seesaw between 8 and 11 million, depending on the exuberance, optimism or “patriotism” of the person enumerating it. When we don’t know our population statistics, how can we know more detailed demographic figures? What are our educational levels? What are our leading professions? Which are the growing Diaspora communities? Which ones are turning into ghosts? And what are rates of intermarriage with nonArmenians? The above thoughts were partly elicited by a recent Statistics Canada survey of “mother” language retention. The government survey reported that the Armenian language is officially the third highest retained language behind Punjabi and Urdu. - 165 -


According to “TorontoHye” newspaper (Vol. 6 No. 11), “the study took to consideration parents who have successfully passed on their own mother tongue to their children--in this case Armenian--and applied it to their day-to-day living.” Statistics Canada said that the Armenian language is passed on to 75% of all teens under 18, with a minimum of 77% of Armenian children having at least some knowledge of Armenian. The high Armenian standing was attributed to the Armenian tradition of marrying other Armenians—endogamy. When both parents speak the same native language, they can pass on their language with greater ease. “When a child grows up with both parents speaking Armenian, the language is transmitted as an ‘at home’ tongue and not forced onto them,” wrote Armen Bedakian in “Torontohye”. Although the above statistics would bring a glow to the eyes of Armenians justly worried about assimilation (“Germak Chart”), the numbers seemingly contradict long-held anecdotal “evidence”: a great many Toronto Armenians believe 50% of Armenian marriages in Toronto are intermarriages. If the anecdotal evidence is valid, it would be hard to believe the Canadian government’s 77% Armenian tongue retention level. The point? When we don’t know the facts, we can’t take steps to prevent, say, the erosion of the community. When we don’t know where we are, how can we plan where we want to go? How can we build our communities, network with other Diaspora Armenian communities and with Armenia? When we don’t have marriage stats and the number of offspring of those marriages we can’t sensibly plan the building of schools or their size. When we don’t know our numbers how can we impress vote-seeking politicians with our clout? When we don’t know our numbers how can we impact the non-Armenian media? When we don’t know our financial and human resources, how can we know what we are capable of achieving collectively? Scientific data (age, gender, marriage, education, profession, income, address and much more) is essential for the survival of any group. Without these statistics we are a herd of blind sheep. Before it’s too late (some would say it’s already the 11th hour), our three traditional political parties, churches and all other organizations around the globe should launch a national census to determine our global vital statistics. While the Statistics Canada data was positive, we should not depend on nonArmenian sources for these essential numbers. We should gather the data and be in command of our statistics.

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Wikipedia says that Armenian-Americans have the highest rate of earning Bachelor’s degree at around 70% and one of the highest (88%) high school graduate statistics. It also says Armenian-Americans are one of the most educated ethnic groups. How many North American Armenians know these facts? And more importantly, if we don’t know these facts, how can we utilize them for our collective benefit? About 25 year ago, a Canadian journalist rifling through government files in Ottawa discovered that Armenian-Canadians had the highest family income because a high percentage of both parents were professionals. That chestthumping data vanished unremarked by the community. When we don’t know our strengths, we can’t chart our future with concrete and practical goals and plans. How can we decide, for example, our local fundraising campaign targets or how we can help the Motherland if we don’t know our human resources? Every year millions of words are written, broadcast and telecast by the Armenian Diaspora media to safeguard our viability. Yet, as far as we know, no one has pointed out the necessity of drawing the scientific profile of the Armenian Diaspora. Misguided optimism, self-delusion or mystical belief that because the Diaspora has survived for nearly a thousand years it will, somehow, continue to survive is the height of irresponsibility. Despite the rosy numbers from Statistics Canada, intermarriage is widespread in Canada. As a wise man once said, quantitative change leads to qualitative change. A further increase in intermarriage in Canada and elsewhere could lead to the dissolution of Armenian Diaspora. There is no logical reason to believe that our Diaspora communities will survive—unless we are proactive. Witness the fate of Istanbuli, Egyptian, Lebanese, Syrian, Iraqi and Palestinian Armenians. Our willful ignorance threatens the viability of the Diaspora. Ignorance was never bliss. Let’s get the numbers. - August 25, 2011

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Celebrating the Zoryan Institute While the Genocide of Armenians genocide is a core element of Zoryan’s agenda, it is only one of a long list of related activities the research institute embraces. With its 30th anniversary on the corner, it’s high time people interested in human rights and genocide learned more about the world-class research institute and celebrated its multifarious educational activities. The Zoryan Institute has two arms: The Institute for Contemporary Armenian Research and Documentation (established in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1982) and The Zoryan Institute of Canada (incorporated in Toronto in 1984 as a non-profit research institute). Together, the two organizations form an international academic and scholarly centre devoted to human rights studies, genocides in the 20th century, contemporary diasporas and the documentation, study, and dissemination of material related to the life of Armenians in the recent past and the present, and within the context of larger world affairs. To accomplish its wide-ranging mission, the “institute sponsors, supports and encourages multi-disciplinary scholarly research, documentation, conferences, and publications… colloquia, seminars, lectures,” according to the institute’s website. Zoryan also publishes books and monograms on the above topics. Zoryan provides its analyses to scholars, writers, journalists, film-makers, government agencies. For example, it provided research material to the Canadian government when Ottawa was considering the recognition of the Genocide of Armenians. In 1999 it provided the US House of Representatives a report to address allegations made by the Turkish ambassador in Washington that there was no genocide against Armenians. Two years into its formation, Zoryan announced it had arrived into the big league of international genocide research studies when it helped sponsor the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on the Armenian Genocide in 1984. The gathering brought together some of the world’s leading jurists, including Nobel Prize winners, to review the legal case for the Armenian Genocide. It also cosponsored (1995) Problems of Genocide, a major international conference on comparative genocide. Some 30 of the world’s top authorities on the Jewish Holocaust, the Armenian, Cambodian, Gypsy and Ukrainian Genocides participated. The institute’s studies of diasporas—Armenian and non-Armenian--would come as news to many Armenians. Zoryan research deals with the mass movement of peoples across continents and seeks to analyze the cultural, so-

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cial, political, and economic issues that arise when different national groups emigrate and mingle with other cultures in their new homes. As part of its work on the highly-topical international trend, Zoryan co-publishes the awardwinning periodical “Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies.” The publication has featured the African, Armenian, Chinese, Filipino, Greek, Indian, Iranian, Italian, Jewish, and Palestinian diasporas. Although based in Toronto and in Cambridge, Zoryan’s activities are not confined by geography. Through its outreach program it has held “open university” seminars in Montreal and in New York universities. At these gatherings experts discuss their research and engage participants in debates. The aim of the program is to prepare university students to become the next generation of genocide scholars. Perhaps the most high-profile activity of Zoryan is the annual Human Rights and Genocide Studies. Every summer specialists and students from around the world take part in the accredited university program in Toronto. Now in its 10th year, the program has 250 graduates from 20 countries, including Turkey. Recently the program received plaudits from the prestigious “Human Rights Review” in an article by Dr. Joyce Apsel. The author, a former president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars and current president of the Institute for the Study of Genocide, wrote, “Ten years is an long time and quite an accomplishment for the Zoryan Institute…It actually is quite remarkable to see the development and the added layers of richness of the course as it has evolved over the past decade.” In an August interview with “Agos” the Armenian newspaper in Istanbul, Zoryan Institute President K.M. Greg Sarkissian, summarized one of the missions of his organization with these words: “We study the forces and factors that shape the Armenian reality worldwide.” Demonstrating that the institute is pro-active and more than a repository or data on genocides, diasporas and human rights research, in the interview Sarkissian blamed the Turkish mindset that engendered the fanaticism of Hrant Dink’s killer. He said that mindset is the same mentality as that of the Young Turks in 1915. In his efforts to reach the Turkish government and public, Sarkissian said, “It’s immensely heart-warming to see that some people in Turkish civil society have accepted the truth of 1915 and are sympathetic to the painful experiences of the Armenians.” He went on to say, “An apology campaign is very much appreciated, and I hope that someday, the whole of Turkish society may be sensitized to come together on April 24 to commemorate the pain of the Armenians. - 169 -


However, official reconciliation will come only when the Turkish government itself comes to terms with the historic truth of 1915 and liberates its citizens from this burden.� People fighting the good fight for human rights need more people like Sarkissian and organizations the Zoryan Institute. Happy 30th Anniversary—in advance—to the Zoryan Institute. - September 20, 2011

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Send a Pointed Message to Queen's Park Following the publication of “Denial, Deceit, and Anti-Armenian Campaign Brought to You by Team McGuinty” on Keghart, several people, privately, through e-mails and phone calls expressed their deep displeasure. Some were puzzled that Keghart.com, a human rights advocate, would support the provincial Conservatives whose leader is on record stating that he would scrap the Human Rights Commission. Others pointed out that during a Conservative mandate the two-tier system in healthcare delivery will be expanded, compromising a Canadian institution that has helped millions of Canadians, rich and poor, the haves and the have nots. Still others pointed out that the McGuinty government made a “donation” of “one-million to the Armenian community” and wondered whether this is the way to reciprocate our friendship. A host of secondary issues related to economic matters were also cited. It is not possible to comment on each and every matter and objection raised during those private calls and e-messages. What’s enumerated above are the principle ones and a clarification of Keghart.com’s stand regarding the publication of the above-mentioned document and the upcoming election is in order. We do not need to do a “thorough” research as some have suggested to document McGuinty government’s obstinate and hostile attitude towards the acknowledgement of the Genocide of Armenians. The legislative record is there and we agree without reservation with “Armenians for a Just Ontario” when they state, “Mr. McGuinty singlehandedly vetoed legislation commemorating the Armenian Genocide. When the Conservatives and the NDP, on three occasions, tried to bring a legislation to declare April 24 a memorial day in Ontario (in unison with what Queen’s Park has done re the Holocaust, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Ukrainian Famine--Holodomor), Mr. McGuinty rejected the commemoration of April 24 motion and threatened to block it from being granted royal assent if it is passed at the House. It’s relevant to mention that in 1986 Liberal Premier of Ontario, Hon. David Peterson, proclaimed “I am pleased to recognize April 24, 1986 as ARMENIAN MEMORIAL DAY and to commend its observance.” Isn’t recognition of the Genocide of the Armenians a human rights issue? For Armenians worldwide that’s the number-one violation of human rights. In less than four years we shall be commemorating the 100th anniversary of the greatest calamity that befell on our people. Don’t we deserve a provincial government that, side by side the governments of other jurisdictions and the national government, unequivocally declares April 24 is not forgotten, will not be for-

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gotten and will continue to haunt Turkey which “enjoys” the spoils left by the Ottoman and Kemalist criminals? For argument’s sake, let's ask ourselves what guarantee is there that a McGuinty government, with a record as pointed out above, will take the right stand? All the facts speak against such a probability. And at a juncture so close to the 100th Anniversary of the Genocide, the Armenian community cannot, and should not “allow” delivering a third mandate to a premier who has not spoken in favor of the community’s primary concern over the past near decade. Keghart.com views this election as a referendum on McGuinty’s government, and not necessarily a vote for or against a particular party. Yet, one has to vote for somebody or some party. Most polls show that the race is a dead heat between the Liberals and the Conservatives, while the left-leaning NDP is gaining momentum. It is most likely that a minority government will ensue which will need NDP’s support. This provides an opportunity for Armenian “lobbyists” close to the Liberals, who naturally were not happy with Keghart’s publication of the Armenians for a Just Ontario declaration, to show their resolve in assuring that the minority government, whether in the form of a coalition or propped up by NDP, heeds the primary concern of Armenians. Whether a government has “donated” or not a certain amount is not even a tertiary issue. In fact, it’s not even a “donation”; it is the rightful claim of the Ontario Armenian community for the tax dollars that flow into the public system but which do not return to the community because Armenian schools are considered private schools. In Toronto ridings, unlike in other areas, it appears that the Conservatives have little chance of winning seats. A vote for the Conservatives is a lost cause. The race in Canada's largest city is between the Liberals and the NDP. If you are dissatisfied with the McGuinty Government’s record with respect to the Genocide of the Armenians, the logical approach is to vote for NDP in Toronto. We anticipate a minority government, supported by the NDP. We also look forward, from the next government, for the long overdue recognition of the Genocide of Armenians. - October 3, 2011

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Genocide Recognition by Ontario Long Overdue The people of Ontario have spoken and have elected a “major minority” government, as Premier Dalton McGuinty likes to describe it. All major three parties--the Liberals, Conservatives and the New Democrats--have something to celebrate. The Liberals are back in power while the other two have increased their seats. As an independent voice in the Armenian community, Keghart.com would first off congratulates all the parties, including the Greens for their accomplishments and the exemplary democratic process they displayed during the election campaign, notwithstanding the occasional negative ads. We don't intend to speculate here on how Ontario's economy, healthcare and education will evolve in the next four years. These are the priorities of the majority of Ontarians, based on various polls and surveys. Discussions and prescriptions abound. During the pre-election period Keghart.com’s foremost concern, as an Armenian opinion outlet, was the issue of the Genocide of Armenians and whether the provincial government would finally do the right thing and join jurisdictions that have recognized the Genocide, including the Canadian federal government. The pre-election Liberal government had disappointed the ArmenianOntario community on several occasions, despite many MPPs of the same party's support of motions to honor the victims of the first and amply-documented Genocide of the 20th century. As pointed out in Keghart.com articles, the leaders of the two opposition parties have favored such a motion on three occasions. There is no reason to believe that they and their caucuses would retreat from their positions regarding the acknowledgment of the Genocide. The new balance of power offers an opportunity to Armenian lobbyists--of whatever ideological inclination--to take advantage of the vulnerability of the minority government and make it clear to Premier McGuinty that the Armenian community will not tolerate the government’s anti-Armenian stand. Now that the community is aware how the previous Liberal government conducted itself, there will be more disenchantment by Armenian-Ontarians. This may very well lead to abstention or outright opposition to Liberal candidates in future elections. After all, each party’s primary objective is to get elected. That’s the nature of politics, irrespective of philosophies and platforms. Granted, the votes that the community generates are not great in numbers, but ridings which

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depend on a few hundred votes to tip the balance may be in play in future elections. It’s probably not out of place to ask Liberal MPPs, who traditionally have been in favor of the community’s concerns and are supported by Armenians, how come their voices are not heard when the matter of the Genocide of Armenians comes up in the legislature? Is it only lip-service that they provide to the community? Don’t they feel, or aren’t they accountable for their promises? What do they have to show beside empty promises? Have they taken a principled stand and faced their leader--who should feel shame for marking the Holocaust, the Rwandan Genocide, the Ukrainian Holodomor but dismissing the Genocide of Armenians? We call our community leaders, foremost the Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC), the activists, all those who have connections with the Ontario Liberal establishment to tell Premier McGuinty and his close associates that the Armenian community is frustrated and angered by his actions and is determined to see Queen’s Park back on track, eager to commemorate the Genocide of Armenians in no unequivocal terms, like preceding governments have done. Likewise, the leadership of the two opposition parties should be kept on our radar so that they don’t renege on their promises but continue to support the just demands of the Armenian community. Finally, with their combined majority in the legislature and friends in the Liberal ranks lift the shame off Queen’s Park. The 100th anniversary of the Genocide is fast approaching. If ArmenianOntarians are incapable of getting together--whether they be independents, supporters or members of whatever party in Ontario--and forge a strategy to realize our just demand then shame on us. Let's get serious and combine our efforts to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Genocide together and with our provincial legislature. - October 19, 2011

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Church Not a Cat Walk We live according to long-established laws—civil, moral, humane and religious. We also live by rules--written or unwritten. There are rules and etiquette guidelines which nobody tells us about but we somehow—innately, by osmosis or otherwise—observe. Such rules govern, for instance, our manner and the way we present ourselves at church. Whether one is a believer or not a civilized person, when within the walls of a house of worship, respects the faith demonstrated by the clergy and the congregation. These are givens which one would assume do not require a reminder. Unfortunately, the absence of decorum by some North American Armenian faithful at Badarak Holy Mass forces us to comment. A female worshipper’s long, curly and bottle-blonde tresses spread like a fan well below her uncovered shoulders. Perhaps she rejected the traditional hair covering because it would have hidden her physical allures. Once in a while (in case the men had not noticed her silken locks?) she would sway her big hair, like a lion gently shaking his golden mane. A man in his early forties had his hands in his pockets throughout Badarak, except when he was not kneeling. His hefty belly projecting way ahead of his torso, the man’s posture seemed to say, “I am not impressed: make me another offer.” When the collection plate was passed around, the man with the generous belly dropped all of 25 cents in it. He didn’t seem to be embarrassed by the clinking sound his miserly metal made as it hit another coin. As everyone knows, a North American altar boy can’t buy even a single candy with 25 cents. Another man had his dark sunglasses resting on his head, as if he was passing through the church on his way to the beach or some other sybaritic venue. A number of women were dressed in tight pants and seemed to precariously balance themselves on high heels. The concept that at church the faithful should cover their physical attributes rather than expose them is obviously a bizarre or arcane idea to these women who ostensibly had come to church to re-live the passion of Christ. Someone should tell them what passion means in the context of Badarak. A middle-aged man had brought along bottled water. He noisily guzzled from the bottle and then furtively wiped his mouth with his sleeve.

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A girl in her late teens, dressed in layered shirts, exposed her glossy, suntanned shoulders. Two of her friends were chewing gum… once in a while a cell phone rang shattering the ecclesiastic aura. One doesn’t have to be religious to object to the above disgraceful behavior. In addition to insulting the Christian faith and Armenian traditions, these insolent or ignorant people also insult the priest, the Armenian people, our history and culture. What did the rest of the faithful think about these fashionably-dressed barbarians? What did the poor priest, reciting our 1,500-year-old Badarak… the words of Christ, Nerses Shnorhali and Krikor Naregatsi …think as he watched the shameless, uncouth, if not sinful, pageant from the altar? Would he hesitate to condemn such behavior from the pulpit, fearing that he might lose a number of his congregants? To paraphrase the lyrics of “Eleanor Rigby,” where do these people come from? Who were their parents? What school did they go to? What makes them behave the way they do? Do they realize that there’s a difference between a cat walk, the beach, the street and the house of God? At the beginning of Badarak Armenians recite “Havadamk”—the cornerstone of the Christian faith. At the end of that collective statement, they say that those who don’t believe the doctrines expressed in “Havadamk” should leave the church. Perhaps the Armenian Church should put an addendum to “Havadamk”—a few words which would remind people, who do not respect the sacred ground, that they should take their uncovered hairs, their tight pants, their shades, stilettos, bottled waters and chewing gums and vacate the church post haste. A youthful Christ grabbed the whip and lashed at the money-changers of the temple, driving them out. In the same spirit perhaps someday an Armenian priest should order these brazen “faithful” out of the house of God. Their presence is a “beeghdz” the Armenian Church and congregations have tolerated long enough. - October 31, 2011

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Armenian History as Exotic Fantasy It’s an ancient and almost universal tradition to claim descent from bygone aristocracy, nobility, or even royalty. Meanwhile, noble families and royalty have themselves often claimed origins in ancient super heroes—legendary or real—and sometimes in pagan gods. Pharaohs considered themselves gods, so did Alexander the Great and most Roman emperors. A large group of ancient Armenian nakharar princely families (Apahuni, Arran and Cartozian) maintained that they had descended from Haig Nahabed, the first patriarch of the Armenian people. The Vahevuni and Mehnuni nakharar clans boasted that they were the offspring of the god of fire Vahakn or god of war Mihr. The widespread Armenian conceit is understandable. Over the course of our long history we have had anywhere from 300 to 800 big and small noble families. It’s not uncommon that some/many would try to enhance their temporal stature by attaching themselves, through imaginary links, to exalted beings. Since Armenia was often occupied by near (Persian, Greek, Arab, Byzantine) and far (Roman, Turkish from Central Asia, Russian) empires, it’s natural that some of our nakharars and noble families would have non-Armenian roots— especially from nearby Persia. We know that the Pahlavounis, Ardashesians and Arshagounis were of Persian origin while the Robseans were probably Roman and the Lusignans French. Armenians have no problem acknowledging the valuable role played by foreign nobility in the preservation of Armenia and the Armenian people. However, we object when people—with mysterious motives--try to impose false history and false foreign origins to some of our most prominent nakharar or noble families. Case in point is the “true” origins of the Pakradounis, the Mamigonians and the Ardzrunis. The main culprit in the Pakradouni family pseudo-history is Movses Khorenatsi, known as the “father of Armenian history.” There is no doubt about the priceless contributions of Khorenatsi to Armenian history, culture and religion, but there is also no doubt that Khorenatsi, writing in the late 5th century, sometimes mixed legend with history and occasionally tended to be creative with our history. For example, he claimed that the Pakradounis descended from a Jewish immigrant called Pakarad.

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In a country recently converted to Christianity, building links with Palestine and the Holy Book were propaganda devices to enhance the stature of Armenia and its paramount prince--Sahag Pakraduni--who just happened to be the sponsor of Khorenatsi. But the historian’s attempt to please his master was not appreciated: Pakraduni rejected the link, although some Armenians to this day believe the Khorenatsi’s claim. There are a number of non-Armenian kings who also claim to be descended from King David or King Solomon, although there’s no shred of historic evidence that these two legendary Jewish kings existed. Another nail in the Jewish Pakraduni fable is that Pakarad means ‘Pak’s Gift’… Pak being the name of the main Persian god long ago. How likely is that a Jew would bear the name of the main pagan god and be that god’s gift to his family or people? The yearning of some early Christian Armenians to be related to the Bible and to the “Chosen People” is not remarkable. Over the centuries people from many nations have believed they were related to the Jews. The royal family of Ethiopia claimed the “Lion of Judah” title. According to Ethiopian history/legend, on the return journey from the Holy Land to her homeland in modern Yemen, a pregnant Queen of Sheba stopped in Ethiopia to rest. While there she gave birth to son Menelek. She had been impregnated by King Solomon during her visit to the Holy Land. Menelek thus became the founder of the Ethiopian royal family. Over the past two millennia many books have been written “proving” that the British, the Americans, the Afghans, the Japanese, the American Indians are the Lost Tribe of Israel. Some of these delusional people claim the Lost Tribe was that of Dan. And how do they “prove” their claim? Simple… European topography is replete with names which include the letters “DN”…Danube, Don, Dniester, Dnieper, Denmark, Dundas, Dunkirk, Dunedin…what further evidence one could possibly require to prove that the tribe of Dan settled/travelled in all these locations? This kind of “evidence” can be used to prove that because certain letters recur in their names Albania, Romania, America, Argentina, Arabia and Armenia are related. Perhaps Almeria (Spain) was settled by Armenians centuries ago. Another prominent Armenian noble family whose origins have been distorted is the famous Mamigonian family. In an attempt to provide the Mamigonians with a false exotic descent and perhaps allure, some fabulists claim the family originates in China! Supposedly, two Chinese brothers (who were princes) fled their homeland after their failed revolt against the emperor. The two rebels— Mamik and Konak—escaped to Persia. Concerned that he would damage rela- 178 -


tions with China if he sheltered the escapees, the Persian king, it is said, sent them to Armenia. The two brothers soon became prominent in their new country and founded the Mamigonian noble family. Perhaps they also introduced noodles to the Armenian pilaf. To “prove” that Mamigonians came from China in the 3rd or 4th centuries, some studious researcher displays, as exhibit ”A” … in Cantonese “Man-Gun” means people’s army. What further proof does one need to give credence to this Sinbad the Sailor tale? Mamigonians were formerly known as Aravelians, an Indo-European word of noble origin. The frequency of “Ar” in Armenian is all too visible in Ararat, Arakadz, Arax, Ardahan, Ardvin, Arek, Arpineh, Arshalouys and a hundred other Armenian names, not to mention Ararich. Yet another Armenian princely family whose Armenian roots are questioned by pseudo-historians is the Ardzrunis. And where did they come from? Assyria, fantasists say. How do you prove that? Ardzruni and Assyria sound similar, say the fabricators. What about another Armenian nakharar family—the Sureans? Shouldn’t they also be considered Assyrian before the Ardzrunis head the list? Perhaps the Amadunis and Rshdunis are of Arab origin (Imad and Roushdi?), the Khorkhorounis are from the Khorasan region of eastern Persia, the Muratsans were Moors… Ardzrunis believed they were descended from the Sanansar, son of Mher of Sasna Dzrer fame. It’s, of course, a legend and not mytho-history like their supposed origins in Assyria. Armenian history has sufficient home-grown legends (Haig Nahabed, Ara and Shamiramis, etc.), acts of incredible bravery and strength (Sassoontsi Tavit, etc.), descent from gods (Vahakn, Mihr, etc.). We don’t need imported fabrications a la “Chariots of the Gods” or the “Da Vinci Code.” Armenians who believe the exotic Pakraduni, Mamigonian, Ardzruni, et al fables should desist from spreading nonsense and falsehood. On second thoughts, perhaps the Chinese city of Xian, famous for its Terra Cotta warriors, was founded threethousand years ago by… Armenians. - November 15, 2011

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Promising Dual Effort It took almost 20 years following the tragic events of the '50s (particularly in Lebanon) for Diaspora Armenians to finally see eye-to-eye and start thinking about Pan-Armenianism in practice. Probably the establishment of the Association of the Armenian University Graduates in Beirut in the '70s was that concrete example of the trend which heralded the start of the healing process of our self-inflicted wounds. Several conventions, held in Paris and elsewhere, initiated by Rev. James Karnusian were a search for a formula around which Armenians could gather together. Then, of course, the policy of “positive neutrality” during the civil war in Lebanon helped solidify the trend. In recent years the announcement of the infamous Protocols provided an impetus to carry forward the task of organizing the Diaspora in a manner that would reflect its priorities and assert itself on the international scene. Lastly, the forthcoming 100th Anniversary of the Genocide of the Armenians has subconsciously imparted urgency to activities aimed at unity, if not in organization in principles. Overall while the Diaspora wants to move forward and meet the challenges of today and tomorrow in a unified manner, there still persists a sector which harps on divisions, enumerates failed attempts and shortfalls and thus hinders progress. Excuses abound why unity cannot be achieved. In most cases these are symptomatic of a predisposition to inaction. Fortunately, there is no scarcity of people who, despite being skeptic, are willing to share their experiences with well-documented discourses, pointing out the pitfalls and what to look for when establishing an entity manifesting unity of purpose. In recent years Keghart.com has devoted many words to the subject of unity and about recent initiatives, singling out Harut Sassounian’s proposal of “an Elective Democratic Diaspora Structure” (EDDS) and the “Western Armenian National Congress” (WAN-C). These earnest activities, representing two concepts, almost coincided and led to confusion among some readers. The “Elective Democratic Diaspora Structure” refers strictly to Armenians living in the Diaspora. It plans to create an entity from bottom up through ballot--on the one person one vote principle. It proposes to deal with all the problems that the Diaspora faces, including but not limited, to social, educational, political and genocide issues along with HAI TAD. There is no illusion among adherents that such a task is not of Herculean proportions. However, it is heartening to hear from Sassounian himself: "I am continuing my private discussions with all sorts of people, including heads of Armenian organizations. Recently, I made important headway with the leader of a major organization. I will continue my efforts in this regard, until the worldwide structure becomes a reality." - 180 -


Meanwhile, in less than two weeks, a group of Ottoman-Armenian survivors’ descendants will convene in Sèvres, the famed suburb of Paris, to lay the cornerstone of the “Western Armenian National Congress.” Attendees will come from the Middle East, Europe, the Americas, and Australia, in addition to representatives from Armenia, Artsakh and the Russian Federation descended from Genocide survivors. Ostensibly the primary goal of WAN-C is to be “a legitimate representational institution that can negotiate for the rights of the victims of genocide and their descendants” in international institutions. Unlike EDDS, the promoters are intellectuals, diplomats, politicians, historians, journalists, businessmen and activists. Obviously, in contrast to EDDS the “Congress” has an “elitist” approach at least in its initial formative phase of establishment, but it is proposed that delegates will be “elected” by communities in the future. In June of this year an attempt was made to create such a possible prototype, based on democratic principles. 120 people, some representing various compatriotic associations, convened in Moscow and elected 40 delegates by secret ballot. They were from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Doni Rostov, Vladikavkaz, Sochi, Adler, Krasnodar, Omsk, Petrozavodsk, Vladivostok, Crimea and Abkhazia. Keghart.com team and its friends welcome both above initiatives despite several reservations we have aired about WAN-C. Ultimately, one has to “work in the garden.” Only by getting involved and exchanging opinion can change occur. The sidelines are a dead end. A number of close friends have pointed out that these may lead to “two divergent, separate efforts” implying that supporting one or the other may be perceived as being pro or anti the other. We prefer to look at it differently. Yes, they are “separate efforts” and there are dissimilarities, but the two are not mutually exclusive. Dissimilarities emanate from the goals that each supports and the composition of membership. 1. EDDS ideally would like to be a representative body of Diaspora Armenians, as pointed out above; WAN-C proposes to represent only the descendants of Genocide survivors wherever they are. 2. EDDS plans to deal with a whole array of issues that face the Armenian Diaspora, while WAN-C limits itself primarily to being an entity pursuing our rights beyond recognition of the Genocide. 3. EDDS is a populist democratic body that will involve people from all walks of life. Being a specialized entity WAN-C can’t claim the same membership numbers as EDDS, but may garner vast popular support provided it walks the talk.

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An area where the two “efforts” may converge is in the most crucial matter-“Hay Tadd” and all related issues. We hope WAN-C will be established as planned and over the coming years amass an invaluable experience for all concerned, not excluding RoA, the traditional Armenian political parties and EDDS when “it becomes a reality.” Supporting WAN-C does not exclude participation in EDDS and vice versa. WAN-C has the potential of acting as a complementary entity to already existing organizations or individuals who are pursuing “Hay Tadd”, with the difference that the undertaking will be more specialized and focused. No single existing or proposed organization can be without fault; the contemplated congress or EDDS will be far from being perfect. However, to limit failures and pitfalls it’s essential to participate in either initiative with an eye on "progressive democratization, transparency of efforts, focused approach to issues at hand" as a close friend of Keghart.com Viken L. Attarian of Montreal would say. - November 29, 2011

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Israeli Bullet Might Ricochet in Javakhk While there’s a broad consensus among international and regional experts that a joint Israeli/US attack on Iran could result in a wider Middle East conflagration, not enough attention is being paid to another possible consequence of such an attack: wars in the South Caucasus. In addition to the expected explosion between Azerbaijan and Armenia/Artsakh, Georgia, Turkey and Russia could also lit the fuse to make the roar of the winter guns louder in the South Caucasus Here’s the domino theory of possible/probable sequence of events: If Israel and the US attack Iran (it’s widely believed that some of the incursions would be from Azerbaijan and Georgia), Baku would take advantage of the larger conflict and attack Artsakh. This would draw Armenia into the conflict as protector of fellow Armenians in that republic. If Baku attacks Armenia, Russia might be compelled to defend ally Armenia, especially if Turkey directly or indirectly aids Azerbaijan. These developments could also precipitate a new war between Russia and Georgia, according to Moscow’s authoritative “Nezavismaya Gazeta” newspaper (Dec. 15, 2011) as Russia tries to recover its land bridge to South Caucasus. Georgia has blocked the only land transportation route for Russia’s military base 102 in Gyumri, Armenia. The base, crucial to Russian global strategy and vital for Armenia’s survival against Turkish threats, now relies on Iran for fuel supplies. A war on Iran would halt the supply of Iranian fuel to the Russian military base and to Armenia. A new Russian/Georgian war would also seriously diminish the value of the Kars-Akhlakalak-Baku Railway and hurt Azeri/Georgian/Turkish economic and strategic interests. It might also encourage the long-suffering Javakhk Armenians to demand autonomy or separation from Georgia. On Nov. 28 a small group of Armenian activists held a march to the Georgian Embassy in Yerevan and handed a letter to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. The letter demanded the release of Javakhk activist Vahagn Chakhalyan who has been in jail for three years. A copy of the letter was sent to President Serge Sargsyan. Armenians say the Javakhk activist has been jailed on trump-up charges. They also say Chakhalyan is beaten, deprived of minimum sanitation and is not allowed visits by relatives. At the demonstration, Yerevan Armenians (including MPs, historians, artists, Artsakh War veterans and generals) declared “only armed struggle can save Javakhk.” It’s impossible to determine how widespread this call to arms is locally or in Javakhk. It’s no secret that Georgia, taking advantage of Armenia’s isolation and de- 183 -


pendence on Georgia for export/import land route, wants to drive out Javakhk Armenians from this slice of historic Armenia or gradually assimilate them. Approximately 70% of Armenian trade transits via Georgia, not to mention the bulk of Armenia’s energy supplies. Despite long-time Armenian contribution to Georgian economy, culture, religion and even royalty (the Pakradunis/Bagrations), Georgia has rarely been a friend of Armenia. Our northern neighbor has become more open in its hostility following the withdrawal of the Russian military from Akhlakalak bases a few years ago. Georgia also perceives advantages in a permanent conflict between Armenia and Turkey/Azerbaijan which would enhance its importance in the region. Aware of Tbilisi’s not-so-secret designs, Javakhk Armenians have resisted Georgian oppression. In the past decade Tbilisi has confiscated Armenian Church properties, refused to grant legal status to the Armenian Church or Georgia and earlier this year the head of the Georgian Church insulted Catholicos Karekin II during the latter’s fence mending visit to Georgia. Tbilisi has geographically isolated the impoverished region (to worsen the economic conditions) so as to encourage Armenians to leave or assimilate. Tbilisi has arbitrarily arrested Armenian leaders and banned the admission of Armenian newspapers or books from Armenia. Georgian authorities claim if Armenians want to end their isolation they should learn Georgian. However, MP Shirak Torosyan, the Javakhk-born chairman of Javakhk Patriotic Union in Armenia, has said that arrangements reached between the Georgian and Armenian education ministers to restore the hours of classes of Armenian language and literature in Armenian schools were not respected by Tbilisi. Armenian cultural, youth and political organizations are being closed. Georgian classes have replaced part of the Armenian language classes. Georgian authorities tell Armenians “learn Georgian; you’ll get a job.” This is a hollow premise. Armenian students, who a few years ago, took a four-year course in Georgian at the Georgian Institute in Kutaisi, have a 99% unemployment rate, according to Nork Karapetyan, head of Javakhk Democratic Movement. As a result of Tbilisi’s racist policies, Javakhk Armenians are living in an economic, cultural and political vacuum. Meanwhile, Turkey is trying to establish itself in the region through billions of dollars of investments. Journalists Artsrun Hovhannisyan and Vahe Sargsyan have said that the Turkish government’s policy is aimed at changing Javakhk demography from Armenian to Turkic and Azeri. They see the policy as a Turkish Trojan horse into Georgia. The Kars-Akhlakalak-Baku railway is perceived by Armenians as part of the plot to further isolate Armenians and empty Javakhk of Armenians. Turkey wants to increase the percentage of Mskhetian Turks and Azeris in the area and drive out the 300,000 Armenians of the re- 184 -


gion to Armenia. Not too long ago there was only one Azeri village in Javakhk; now there are seven. Because of its difficult position, the Armenian government hasn’t complained to Tbilisi. However, Giro Manoyan of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation has strongly condemned Georgian policies. MP Torosyan, who is also a member of the Powerful Fatherland Party, says nobody wants to help Javakhk Armenians. In 2010 the Human Rights Report of the US State Department whitewashed the oppressive Georgian policies and overlooked the plight of Armenians living in Georgia probably because Tbilisi has become Washington’s new pet. Considering the horrible political, economic, cultural conditions in Javakhk, it would be no-brainer to speculate that if there’s another war between Russia and Georgia, exasperated Javakhk Armenians might declare independence (like Artsakh, South Ossetia and Abkhazia) or at least demand autonomy. A few weeks ago an Armenian observer of Georgian politics said that Armenians in Javakhk had missed two earlier opportunities for self-determination—during the war in Artsakh and during the 2008 Russian-Georgian War. But Javakhk declaration of independence, during the war in Artsakh, would have been disastrous for Javakhk: Armenia, preoccupied with its survival, wouldn’t have had the means to support such an initiative. Besides, fighting a war on opposite fronts can be suicidal. Similarly, Armenia, still threatened by a bellicose Baku and Turkey, couldn’t have supported Javakhk independence during the Russian-Georgian War. However, a third “opportunity” could seem irresistible to the desperate Javakhk Armenians--no matter whether Armenia materially support them. - December 23, 2011

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The Sun Rises in the West… and Other Turkish Tales “Nero Defends Christians”—ancient Roman carving “English Court Finds Joan of Arc Innocent”—Medieval parchment “Stalin Shutters Gulags, Releases Prisoners”—KGB archives The above fantasy headlines have a new and equally outrageous partner, courtesy of Turkey and Lebanon’s ‘The Future’ daily which a few weeks ago ran an article headlined “Turkish FM Davutoglu Organizing Conference to Protect Middle Eastern Christians.” A few days later, Turkeys’ PM Raccep Tayyip Erdogan, the blustering other half of the Turkish Dynamic Duo, sent a message to the Christians of Turkey in which the Bully of the Middle East said, “We have lived on this soil together by sharing a common destiny and history and displaying tolerance, respect and understanding for each [sic] other…the residents of Turkey continue to live together as equal citizens and in unity as well as being hand to hand.” Breathtaking nerve, chutzpah, bald-faced hypocrisy, mind-boggling lies, industrial-sized delusion, Orwellian doublespeak… how does one describe the Erdogan-Davutoglu Perfidious Road Show? One mild response would be the Armenian saying: “If I had two stomachs, one of them would have exploded” upon reading the brazen falsehoods the Turkish leadership keeps laying on thick. Chameleon Turkey, for centuries the nemesis of Christians in the Middle East and in Europe, has declared it’s now champion of Middle East Christians. Yes, Turkey will protect the Christians in Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq--including the descendants of the Armenian Genocide victims--from the depredations of murderous Islamists, Salafists, Jihadists, Wahabists... There you have it: The Crusader Republic of Turkey headed by a modern and compassionate Sultan Reccep Saladin. Dwindling Christians of the Middle East, welcome to the delicate clutches of Turkey, a ethnocentric country which has made a career of playing both sides of the fence. Some days it seems the Erdogan-Davutoglu are vying who could ape Pinocchio more convincingly. On Christmas Eve, Davutoglu stated that Ankara has a plan to change the “concept of diaspora… with anyone who migrated from Anatolia from whichever religion or sect they were.” This "Turkish" diaspora - 186 -


would include Alevis, Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks and Jews, and Kurds. The foreign minister with the forked tongue added, “They are our diasporas… France and some colonialists had set riot between us in that era.” Yes, Armenians are the Turkish diaspora! Who knew? The parents or grandparents of Diaspora Armenians apparently “migrated” from Turkey, according to Davutoglu. Perhaps on a sunny day in 1915 hundreds of thousands Armenian women and children decided, to hold a picnic in the Syrian Desert. They grabbed a sandwich or two and headed south, on foot, to the luscious picnic grounds of the desert a thousand miles away. Why not? Why would such a picnic be less conceivable than the spins of the Spoiled Twins who run Turkey? Let’s not hark back to the 500 years of Turkish oppression of Christians; let’s not talk about 1895, about the Adana Massacre in 1909 or the Genocide of Armenians from 1915 to 1923; let’s not dwell on the Dersim massacres of the ‘30s, let’s not refer to the racist “wealth tax” Turkey imposed on Christians and Jews during the Second World War; and let’s not talk about the attacks on Greek and Armenian Istanbul properties in September 1955. Let’s take a breath and look at the recent human rights record of Turkey, the fabled “liberal and democratic Moslem nation… the bridge between East and West, which will guide ‘backward’ Arabs to modernity.” --Six months ago one of Erdogan’s ministers said, “In order to create a Turkish nation we should clean our land from non-Turkish people. Otherwise how could we create a Turkish Nation?” No one reprimanded the remarkable truthteller. --A former Turkish PM said, “Those people who are not ethnically Turk can live in this country only by becoming slaves of Turks. Turkey belongs to the Turks and will always be so.” --For decades ”Hurriet”—a leading Turkish daily-- has emblazoned under its logo the quote: “Turkey belongs to Turks.” Citizens who are not Muslim are not real Turks. --Last year John Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, wrote to the Foreign Office asking if they’d help Anglicans who found it difficult to worship in Turkey. “Please can they just worship in a hall?” pleaded Patten. --The German government intervened with Turkey last year to promote a properly recognized German Roman Catholic priest to worship “at least in semi-public places.”

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--Britain’s authoritative and right wing ‘Spectator’ magazine said in late 2011“religious cleansing [in Turkey] was incubated by creeping regulations against religious minorities.” --Last year the Syriac Christian community of Turkey reported to the European Parliament on the unresolved murders of Syriacs going back to the ‘80s and the ‘90s. --In Mardin’s Midyat district (near the Syrian border) there were 1,800 Syriacs in 1985. Last year there were 130. The Syriacs had emigrated because of official persecution. The 5th century Mor Gabriel Monastery (“Second Jerusalem” for Syriacs) in Midyat had a large tract of its lands illegally confiscated by Ankara. Once the bustling centre of the Syriac community, there are only 3,000 Syriacs left in the area. A few decades ago there were 250,000 Syriacs in Turkey. As a result of persecution and consequent exodus of biblical proportions, their number has whittled to 20,000. Many of the Syriacs who are still in Turkey are eager to leave. --In its 2011 report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedoms said, “The Turkish Government continues to impose serious limitations on freedom of religion and belief, thereby threatening the continued vitality and survival of minority religious communities in Turkey.” This from Turkey’s number one ally. --In a 2009 petition to Ankara, the Armenians of Turkey said, “Armenians face racism and discrimination…and acute anti-Armenian sentiments continue to survive in broad segments of this society.” --In Dec. 2009, according to Father John Flynn of “Catholic Online,” three Muslims entered the Meryam Ana Church, a Syriac Orthodox church in Diyarbakir (Dikranagerd) and threatened Rev. Yusuf Akbulut to remove the church bells or they would kill him. --In June 2010 Catholic Bishop Luigi Padovese, Apostolic Vicar for Anatolia and a leading Middle Eastern church figure, was murdered in Iskenderun. --In 2006 Father Andrea Santoro, a Catholic priest, and two ethnic Turkish Christians were murdered. --The St. Paul Church in Tarsus (the saint’s birthplace) is shut by government order.

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-- Mr. Temper Tantrum Erdogan made a big production that he had restored Aghtamar (tellingly and insistently “Akdamar” in Turkish) Armenian Church near Van. The clever gesture was intended to convert the Armenian house of worship to a museum and to draw tourists. More importantly, it was a public relations gimmick to show to the European Union that there is no religious intolerance in Turkey. Incidentally, prayers are prohibited at Aghtamar and worshippers who try to pray are subject to police reprimand, if not arrest. Even if Turkey returned every single standing Armenian church and convent, it would still be less than 10% of the number of Armenian holy sites that existed before 1915. And why can’t the buildings be returned? Because they don’t exist anymore. The Turkish government and many Turks have diligently destroyed these monuments or converted them to taverns, khans, stables and worse. Erdogan’s government calls abandoned Armenian holy sites as “disused sites,” without, mentioning why they are disused or where are the people who used them. --Since its creation, the Turkish Republic has discriminated against the Alevi (Moslem) minority, considering them not true Moslems but half infidels. --According to a British Turkey-watcher, the country has a “history of resolving issues of faith and identity through violence, not tolerance.” Turkey has a well-documented track record of violence and discrimination against minority faiths. --In the past decade Hitler’s “Mein Kamph” and the notorious "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" have headed the list of Turkish bestsellers. Most Turks are dismissive of Nobel Prize winner and humanist novelist Orhan Pamuk. --The virulently anti-Semitic TV serial “Valley of the Wolves” TV serial is the most popular TV production of the past decade. It’s so well regarded that Mrs. Erdogan praised it. --Restrictive laws limit speech, prevent the teaching of minority languages in schools and to make sure Kurds don’t form a party Turkey demands that political parties secure a hefty 10% of the nationwide vote to gain a seat in parliament. --“Anti-terrorist” laws are deployed to crack down on leftists, intellectuals, journalists and human rights activists and publishers, such as Ragip Zarakolu, who was arrested in November 2011, along with his wife (Ayse) and Busra Ersanli, a political science professor and an advisor to the Peace and Democracy Party.

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--Thousands of Kurds are on trial for membership in the Turkish Assembly of the Union of Kurdistan Committee. They include human rights activists, Kurdish officials and mayors. The Kurds are incarcerated indefinitely as they wait for their trials “sometime in the future.” --On Nov. 28 of last year 25 trade union officials in Turkey and members of a public sector workers’ union confederation were sentenced to six or more years in prison for legal union activities. --Turkey has more journalists in jail than any other country. There’s little sign that change is coming in the democratic process, the rule of law. Erdogan and his minister of interior have repeatedly supported the arrests of journalists and activists. --In December 2008 “CompassDirect News” published a report which revealed more than half of the population of Turkey opposes members of other religions of holding meetings and publishing materials to explain their faiths… almost 40% of the population said they had “very negative” or “negative” views of Christians. The news report said the hostility to Christians was because of “habitual disinformation and defamation in public discourse, media and school curricula.” --There are no non-Muslim Turkish citizens who hold high government, military or political positions in their native country. --The phrase “religious pluralism” is not part of the neighborhood bully Erdogan’s lexicon. The ruffian demeanor PM of Turkey’s modus operandi is throwing his weight around and hectoring defamation against those who dare disagree with him. According to usually reliable sources, Turkey of the above litany of shame is still ruled by blustering Erdogan and his cunning cohort Davutoglu. Now let’s hear it: “It’s a bullet, it’s a bird, it’s Super Erdogan flying to the rescue of Middle East Christians!” - December 29, 2011

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Insincere Turkey When one considers the long list of reasons why Arab countries cannot trust Turkey Recep Erdogan’s vaulting ambition to lead the Arab World becomes a patently psychiatric case. The prime minister of Turkey and his voluble cohort Ahmet Davutoglu must be the only persons in the world who believe Arabs— states and people--will buy the “new, improved Turkey.” Arab culture values and nurses long memory. While for Western countries the First World War is ancient history, for Arabs the Crusades are a relatively recent invasion—so is the brutal 500-year Turkish occupation of Arab countries. Arabs remember their martyrs who were slain by the Turks during WWI and in the decades prior to that war. It’s for these reasons that few Arab states have had warm relations with the Republic of Turkey since the early ‘20s. That Turkey was among the first countries to recognize Israel, and provided that country with essential foods in the late ‘40s is another reason why most Arab states have maintained correct—rather than warm—relations with Ankara. This feeling is shared by Arab people whether they live in monarchies, military dictatorships or socialist republics. Many Arabs also feel insulted by Turkey’s decision to replace the Arabic alphabet with Latin letters. The switch, by Ataturk, is particularly galling to Arabs because to this day Turkey and Turks boast that they had dispensed with the “primitive” Arabic alphabet and adopted the “progressive” Latin alphabet. In the same breath Turks also claim that they had banned the Arab fez because the headgear was a symbol of Arab “backwardness.” It’s no secret that Ataturk’s decision was intended to symbolize Turkey veering its gaze toward the West and disassociate itself from the Arabs and the East. The culmination of this aspiration is the decades’ long Turkish effort to join the European Union. Now, after playing the rejected lover to Europe, Turkey is turning its glance toward the Middle East. Arabs, of course, know about Turkey’s failed tango with Europe. Any Arab with integrity would refuse to be Turkey’s secondchoice suitor. Arabs—a proud people despite their many collective failures in the 20th century—believe that three non-Arab Middle Eastern states want to dominate the region. Turkey is one of the trio which includes Iran and Israel. When Arabs have fought Israel and Iran to make sure those two countries fail in their imperial designs, there’s no reason why they would tolerate domination by Turkey—a country whose cruel yoke they bore for half a millennium. The 22 Arab states have a population of 355 million. Turkey has a population of 75 million. Egypt, with 82 million people, has a bigger population than Tur-

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key. When 15 million Kurds—who have no love for Turkey—are discounted from that country’s population Turkey becomes a madly ambitious frog which wants to swallow the cow. The choice of the “cow” descriptive is not accidental. Turkey considers the Arab countries fat cows ready to be milked. As well, to this day many Turks refer to Arabs as “hayvan” (animal) or “esshek” (ass). Soon after the termination of WWI, Sharif Hussein of Mecca (the leader of the Arab Revolt) and later his son, Emir Abdullah of Transjordan, tried to become leaders of the Arab world. They failed, just as Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser did in the ‘50s and the ‘60s. Arab states and people refuse to have a single leader representing them from the Atlantic to the Gulf. Why would they accept the leadership of a foreign and untrustworthy Turkey when they have refused single leadership by one of their own? Not just foreign leader but an irascible, double-talking braggart called Erdogan. Well-informed, sophisticated Arabs also know that Turkey still nurtures its racist Turanic Empire dream--one Turkic state from the Bosporus to Bhutan and the Chinese border. This imperial and exclusivist dream is a nightmare for any thinking Arab. Erdogan, Davutoglu and Gul (“The Three Tenors”) are marketing Turkey as a progressive force and country which would help Arab achieve democracy, tolerance, equality… Yet one look at the Middle Eastern headlines reveals that Turkey continues to kill Kurds and mistreat millions of Turks, in addition to millions of Alevis, Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, Jews, and Zazas. Even Turks—hounded by various unjust laws—are far from being free people. Arabs have yet another reason to suspect Turkey’s goodwill. A glaring characteristic of Turkey’s (Ottoman and current) strategy and policies in the past two centuries has been what North Americas Native Nations call “talking with a forked tongue.” Double speak, in other words. Turkey says one thing and does another. Threatened by European powers, Ottoman Turkey promised reforms and a democratic constitution in the 19th century. Instead, the empire’s minorities were persecuted and many of them slain or deported to create a homogenous Turkish country. Ataturk’s “modern” Turkey continued the dishonest policy… became friends with the Soviet Union then became an ally of USSR’s foes. Pretending to be a democracy, modern Turkey has been a dictatorship for most of its recent history. It remained neutral during WWII but declared war on Germany a few months before the defeat of that country. It was friendly with Israel while pretending to be a Moslem country sympathetic to Moslem interests. These days Turkey is “friendly” with the West while remaining friendly with Iran—the West’s enemy. Erdogan’s foreign minister—Ahmet

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Davutlogul—pontificates about Turkey’s foreign policy of “zero problems with neighbors” while at the same time preaching neo-Ottomanism—a policy which by its very definition—would be unfriendly to the Arabs. It’s the height of hubris for a state like Turkey to imagine that it can become Big Brother to a people who have contributed a thousand times more to human civilization than the violent loudmouths of Ankara. Finally, a country where “Armenian” is considered a swear word, a word politicians deploy to destroy the career of a rival can’t call itself a country which others should consider a sincere, tolerant, progressive or admirable. - January 10, 2012

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Let’s Not Don Hair Shirts The campaign to commemorate the centenary of the Genocide of Armenians has begun in earnest. In the next three years, leading to 2015, Armenians around the world are expected to launch focused, intense and well-orchestrated projects to raise awareness around the world of Turkey’s monstrous crime, to persuade, or to shame Turkey into admitting its deliberate attempt to exterminate a whole race. Meanwhile, Turkey has announced its counteroffensive. In the last week of December, Turkish diplomats held a closed-door and extraordinary meeting in Istanbul to draft their anti-Armenian Genocide strategy. The meeting was chaired by Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu. As Armenians get together in their homes, churches, clubs, party headquarters, community centres and conference halls in the next three years, inevitably someone will criticize Armenians—individually and collectively—for not imitating successful Jewish efforts to influence public discourse. The wail—“why can’t we be as well organized as the Jews?” will ring from Los Angeles to Lausanne, from Montreal to Moscow. The call, supposedly made to be constructive, is like a pail of icy water in the face on a freezing day. The overlyambitious advice sabotages our efforts rather than advances them. A mole hill will not become Mount Everest because someone wishes it so. History tells us that the impractical strategy or tactic—a commonplace interjection—will be offered with greater frequency leading up to the Genocide’s Centenary. Once and for all, Armenians should forget the above trope. Armenians are not Jews. Armenians don’t have the clout or wealth Jews have: no ethnic group has. We are not interested here in analyzing the reasons for Jewish puissance . Whether it’s based on genetics or culture (the nature or nurture argument), whether it’s because of their holy books, the weight they give to study and education, their defensive reaction to the hatred and persecution they have suffered… these are not the issues on the table. We aim to underline why it’s futile for Armenians to beat their chests, to don hair shirts as they deplore lack of Armenian power when compared to Jewish power. Forget the Jews. Jews are in a different league. We could compete with them successfully in the Ottoman Empire, but today’s world is not (thank God) that bad excuse for a country. That was another time, another place and different circumstance. It’s no “Breaking News” that wherever they live, Jews are among the elite of that country. They are in the elite economically, culturally and practically in every other field. Because this is also a fact in Western Europe, North America

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and Australia, it doesn’t make much difference when we rely on United States statistics to make our point. Mark Twain is one of many people who have addressed the issue of Jewish success. He wrote in "Harpers" magazine (1899): “…If statistics are right, then Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly, the Jews ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the shallowness of its bulk. His contribution to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and had done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it.” Similar accounts have been written or uttered by philo-Semites, anti-Semites and unbiased observers. Although American Jews make up 2% of the country’s population, 21% of US Ivy League students are Jews, 26% of Kennedy Centre honorees are Jews, 37% of Academy Award-winning directors are Jews, 38% of the people on a recent “Business Week” magazine major philanthropist list were Jews. Fiftyone percent of the Pulitzer Prize-winners for non-fiction were Jewish. Jews are also prominent on a long list of US literary and scientific prizes. Between 1901 and 2007 there were 750 Nobel Prizes awarded. Although Jews make up 0.25% of the world’s population, 162 of the winners were Jews. Jews represented 13% of winners in literature, 19% in chemistry, 26% in physics, 41% in economics and 28% in medicine. Those professions that require the greatest intelligence in which to perform well (US Supreme Court law clerks and elite college faculty) the proportion of Jews approaches 30%. Wherever you turn in the United States—economics, politics, law, “Fortune 500”, literature, arts, entertainment, media, high-tech entrepreneurs, investing, manufacturing, real estate, science, social activism, opinion making, consulting, marketing…you will bump into Jews as a dominant presence. As well, 60% of all employed Jews are in one of the three highest status job categories (professional, technical, management, executive, business and finance.) Jewish Americas comprise 33% of American millionaires, 40% of billionaires and 45% of “Forbes” 40 richest Americans. Some 54% of all world chess champions have been Jews.

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Tel Aviv is one of the world’s foremost entrepreneurial hot spots. Israel ranks second, behind the US and ahead of Canada, in the number of companies listed on the NASDAQ. It attracts as much venture capital as France and Germany combined. The omnipresent cell phone was developed in Israel by inventors working for Motorola Israel. Most of Windows NT and XP operating systems were developed by Microsoft Israel. The Pentium MMX chip technology was designed in Israel at Intel. The Pentium-4 microprocessor and the Centrino processor were designed, developed and produced in Israel. The Pentium microprocessor in your computer was most likely made in Israel. Voice mail technology was developed in Israel. Both Microsoft and Cisco built their only research and development facilities outside the US in Israel. The technology for the AOL Instant Messenger ICQ was developed by four young Israelis. Israel’s $100-billion economy is larger than the combined economies of its immediate neighbours. Between 1980 and 2000 Egyptians registered 77 patents in the US. Israel registered 7,652. Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation by a large margin. After the US and Holland, Israel has the highest (24%) percentage of university graduates in its workforce. In proportion to its population, Israel has the highest number of start-up companies in the world. In absolute terms, it has (3,500) the second-largest number of start-up companies in the world. Most of the companies are in technology. Before chiding why Armenians can’t be as effective as the Jews, let’s study the histories of both people. Let’s remember that Jews invented Judaism and Christianity. These two religions also inspired and influenced Islam. Despite persecution almost everywhere, they have thrived and contributed in countless ways to humanity. They even helped invent capitalism. They also helped invent capitalism’s arch-enemy—communism. The three top influencers of the modern world—Karl Marx, Dr. Sigmund Freud, Dr. Albert Einstein—were Jews. Jews were the engine of the US labour movement, Civil Rights, liberalism and of feminism. Now they are leading pilots of globalism. Some believe we are living in the Nuclear Age… in the Computer Age… in the Age of Anxiety… Some would say we are living in the world Jews have invented. The latter is an exaggeration but there’s no doubt that this is the Golden Age of Jews. As Armenians, let’s do the best we can, and forget what Jews could/would do. We are not them; they are not us. Give or take a couple hundred, there are about 5,000 big and small nations in the world. Why pick the most successful

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as the people we should outdo? Let’s not be masochists. Let’s not be distracted. We are Armenians. We love our nation--an old, honorable and high-achieving people. We have many, many strengths, redundant to list here. Despite our small number and tortured history, we have achieved greatness with enviable frequency. We have made ourselves be heard--witness our recent victory in France re the law about Armenian Genocide denial. Like Jews, we have made a name wherever we have lived away from our motherland. Persians, Byzantium, the Arab empires of the Middle Ages, the Memlukes, even the corrupt Ottomans, Shah Abbas, the Mughals of India, and the Soviets have valued the Armenian genius, the enterprising and creative spirit. Arriving in the Arab Middle East as penniless orphan survivors of the Genocide, fragile strangers in strange lands, Armenians soon built not only churches, schools and clubs, but also founded numerous newspapers, drama groups, sports leagues, Boy Scouts movements...they published books and numerous newspapers and even established a feminist journal in Lebanon in the ‘50s. They contributed to their new countries, becoming professionals, business entrepreneurs and artists. They represented their new homelands at international gatherings. Away from Ararat, they acted as modem between the West and the East—a nation of individual bridges. Diaspora Armenians alone have contributed a far greater number of geniuses to the modern age--since the Genocide of Armenians--than 75-million strong Turkey has done. We have more than 1,100 days to April 24, 2015. Let's make every day count. - January 27, 2012

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Misguided and Premature Celebration “The French Senate has just passed a bill, proposed by President Nicolas Sarkozy’s party that will make it a crime to question whether the Armenian massacres in eastern Turkey in 1915 qualified as genocide.”—Gwynne Dyer, “Sucking Up to Armenians,” Hurriyet, Jan. 26. Dyer, a notorious Genocide of Armenians denier, echoed what many turcophile and anti-France Anglo-American media reported regarding the passage of the genocide bill by the French Senate last week. Dyer’s prejudiced take— like that of J. Michael Kennedy (“The Los Angeles Times”) and other Western reporters was based on second-hand information, since the official text of the bill will not be released until its promulgation by President Sarkozy. It’s also a well-known fact that most Anglo-American journalists are monolingual. While the Anglo-American media’s bias is something Armenians are used to, what’s alarming in this instance is the premature and misguided Armenian celebration, unaware that the issue had been hijacked by Turkey. Armenians missed the fact that Turkey and the Anglo-American media had misrepresented the French law and had portrayed it as a law against the freedom of expression. For added measure, Turkey was depicted as the injured party while President Sarkozy was criticized for supposedly courting the French-Armenian vote for the upcoming elections. There was also no mention that the hysterical country whose leader was throwing temper- tantrums and demanding freedom of expression in France has more journalists in jail than any country. It’s time Armenians removed their blindfolds, stepped back and took a careful look at what the French Senate’s bill actually proposes. --The bill’s wording is very general. It covers war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The bill makes no mention of the Genocide of Armenians. The law is meant to stop all negation of genocides which are recognized by France. --The Genocide of Armenians and the Holocaust were recognized by the French parliament a long time ago (Gaysot Law, 1990), except that the denial of the Holocaust was made punishable but not the denial of the Genocide of Armenians. Thus there was an obvious inconsistency in the way the Holocaust and the Genocide were being treated by French law. The new law makes “les negationists”/deniers of the Holocaust or of the Genocide equally culpable. While the Genocide of Armenians is not mentioned, it’s there by reference. It’s for this reason that Minister Patrick Ollier and other speakers repeatedly emphasized the intent of the new bill. - 198 -


--The wording of the law is not of French origin. The text was recommended by the European Union to all EU member states. --The law covers any crime recognized by Articles 6,7, and 8 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, Article 6 of the Nuremburg Tribunal Charter of 1945, and any crime recognized by France. The Turkish propaganda machine, including their leading newspapers “Today’s Zaman”, “Hurriyet”, “Cumhuriyet”, etc.) twisted the wording of the bill to make readers and viewers believe Armenians are getting something special from France because President Sarkozy “needs the votes of 500,000 Armenians.” (The statistic that there are 500,000 Armenians in France is an exaggeration. The number is closer to 400,000. As well, many Armenians, most of them third-generation, are assimilated and don’t speak Armenian. The half-a-million is also misleading because not all of them are of voting age. However, bandying about the false and inflated figure suits Turkish intentions so as to incite French citizens into believing French-Armenians are a privileged group.) For added mischief and pressure, Turkey is portraying Sarkozy’s France as a place where a Christian minority gets preferential treatment. These types of malicious and mendacious reports find eager ears on “Al-Jazeera” and in the murky alleyways of Cairo, Riyadh, Islamabad and Kabul. According to Zeynap Necipoglu, president of the Turkish-French Chamber of Commerce (established in 1885), an increasing number of politicians are planning to refer the matter to the French constitutional court for judgment on two grounds: the bill allegedly limits the freedom of expression and second the present penal code is sufficient to refer cases to a penal or civil court when a person makes racist statements. According to Necipoglu, the number of opponents to the bill was 30 earlier in the week, but “could reach the required 60 soon.” The court would decide whether the bill is compatible to French law. Politicians opposing the bill are joined by Reporters Without Borders. The journalists’ group has also urged members of parliament to refer the bill to the constitutional council. Rather than celebrating a premature victory and claiming it an Armenian victory over Turkey, Armenians should be circumspect and study the French bill with a higher level of sophistication and maturity. Let’s defend the justice of the bill, rather than bear-bait Turkey. Let’s be cognizant of French politics and French public opinion. Let’s not appropriate the bill as an Armenian victory.

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And when critics say the bill is anti-freedom of expression, let’s point out that the denial of genocide is the last act of genocide; that denial is incitement to further genocides; that saving innocent lives takes priority over the abuse of the freedom of expression. Let’s remind the world that it needs no lessons from Turkey about freedom of expression. Just this week the World Press Index placed Turkey in number 148 (of 179) in freedom of the press. While Prime Minister Recep Tayyep Erdogan boasts about democracy in Turkey, since he rose to power (2002) Turkey has regressed from 100th place to 148th on the World Press Index. - January 29, 2012

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Complacency Breeds Catastrophe It was inevitable. In recent years Armenian community leaders in Canada knew that Turkey had renewed its efforts and called Turkey Jr. (Azerbaijan) to buttress Ankara’s efforts to somehow water down Canada’s recognition of the Genocide of Armenians. But our representatives did almost nothing in the face of vigorous Turco-Azeri campaign, perhaps preferring to sit on their laurels of 2004, 2005, and 2006 when the senate, parliament and the government respectively recognized the Genocide of Armenians. And now—predictably--the lackadaisical attitude has begun to harm “Hye Tadd” (The Armenian Cause). It’s apparent that people and organizations trusted with the mission to represent the Canadian-Armenian community have dropped the ball. The fact that the fiasco we will address happened nearly a year ago and yet remained unknown underlines the need for a re-set to our effort to render inoperable Turkey’s denialist campaign. We begin the sorry tale in March 2011 when Senator Nancy Ruth was invited to Turkey by Canadian Ambassador Mark Bailey to give a speech on the economic opportunities of Canadian women and how this country deals with violence against women. So far; so good. Considering the rampant honor killings in Turkey, it was a good idea. However, when Senator Nancy Ruth (although her name is Nancy Ruth Jackman, the much-travelled senator prefers to be called Senator Nancy Ruth…no last name, just like Madonna or Lady Gaga) returned from her $4,987.66 taxpayer-paid trip, she sent a letter to the chair of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budget and Administration Senator David Tkachuk, giving a summary of her meetings in Turkey. The letter contained a section titled “Next Steps.” The third step was: “Keep working on getting Canada to drop the speeches on Armenian Genocide day. These are an impediment in our relations with Turkey. I have been asked to do this by our Ambassador. The Speaker of the Senate has also been asked to this.” That it took a year for this letter to be exposed is another clue that our lobbyists have been sleeping on the job. That it was Hon. Jim Karygiannis (Liberal—Scarborough-Agincourt) who exposed this despicable episode adds salt to the wound. A lobby is as good as the group or community it represents. Since Canada’s recognition of the Genocide, our community has become complacent. We have autonomously declared victory and walked away from the Turkish-initiated campaign. Ankara, which established a school for diplomats in the early 19th century, knows it’s not over until it’s over. Unfazed by their 2004 to 2006 debacle, they have come back to fight until—their victory.

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The second culprit in this unfortunate affair is Canada’s ambassador to Turkey. The man whose job is to represent Canada in Ankara, apparently decided Canada’s policies re Turkey. Our lobbyists knew Mr. Bailey’s crass attitude and didn’t do anything to persuade the busy-body to become more circumspect. Luckily for us, Mr. Bailey has ended his term and is back in Canada. As Hon. Karygiannis said at the Feb. 14 press conference in Ottawa, “…the Houses of the Canadian Parliament have spoken. To not mention the Genocide on the anniversary is tantamount to denying that it happened. That is unconscionable.” The third culprit is Sen. Ruth, a controversial politician with a checkered history and a foul mouth. This politician, who depicts herself as a major representative of women’s rights, has no problem using four-letter words publicly. On one occasion she told a women’s international group to “shut the f--- up.” Ms. Ruth was defeated in the provincial elections of 1990. Switching from her tony St. Andrews-St. Patrick riding to the also tony St. George-St. David riding in 1993, she once again lost the election. In 1998 she again tried to get to Parliament Hill but failed to be nominated by her party. And then salvation: the dithering PM Paul Martin. The Liberal leader appointed Ruth to the senate in 2005. Being born with a silver spoon in her mouth must have helped: she happens to be the sister of Hal Jackman, the millionaire former lieutenant-governor of Ontario. The latter, demonstrating a commendable allegiance to family unanimity, downplayed the Genocide during his tenure and never used the “G” word. Since becoming a senator, Ruth’s big “achievement” has been her clumsy ploy to hit the headlines. A few years ago she wanted to change the words of the national anthem from “…in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command,” according to her website, although a reliable source says that she wanted to change it to the arcane “thou dost in us command.” Either way, her proposal created such a backlash that the issue was dropped by the government. Ruth’s website has a ton of information about her human rights work, about that she has several diplomas of theology and is “a United Church minister by training.” Considering her brazenly self-promoting autobiography, it’s amazing that she would play footsy with Turkey and join the campaign to cover up the Genocide. At the end of the day, the fault lies with us and not ignorant, opportunistic politicians. If we want to protect the truth, we have to be its stewards. Rather than leave the job to lobbyists, every Canadian-Armenian should get involved in

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this sacred struggle. We should write to our MPs, MPPs, councilors and the media to condemn Mr. Bailey and Sen. Nancy Ruth Jackman. And don’t forget our Galahad—Hon. Jim Karygiannis. A long-time friend of Armenians, he unmasked the mischief makers and made sure Canadians heard about the underhanded stratagems of our former “representative” in Ankara and of the politician with no last name. - February 15, 2012

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Khojali "Genocide" Baku Fabrication People following the Armenian/Azerbaijan conflict in the past few months couldn’t have missed the Azerbaijani campaign to convince the world that the three-and-a-half hour midnight attack on Feb. 25, 1992 by Artsakh SelfDefense Forces on Azeri-held village of Khojali was genocide. The charge is so ridiculous that a well-informed person would be tempted to dismiss it out of hand. But in these days of true lies, blatant invasions depicted as peace-making humanitarian missions, and the tiresome deception that “in 1915 Armenians were transported to Syria for their protection,” we are forced to assert the truth again and again. It’s a Sisyphean task, but there’s no alternative. This is what happened in Khojali. For most of 1991 and early 1992 the Azeri OMON (Special Purpose Militia Detachment) had systematically shelled Armenian civilian targets, using rockets. The Azeris had also blockaded the nearby airport. As a result of Azeri attacks, Armenians had suffered many civilian casualties, hundreds had been kidnapped and thousands of cattle had been driven away. The blockade had also resulted in lack of food, fuel and medical supplies, especially in Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh. Armenian forces had to neutralize Azeri fire in Khojali and terminate the blockade. It was also obvious to the Armenians that the Azeris were planning to attack the Armenian centre of Askeran before moving on to the capital. Using loudspeakers, for ten days the Armenian forces announced to Khojali inhabitants (mostly Meskhetian Turks who had been settled in the village during Soviet times) and forces that an Armenian attack was imminent. The announcements also informed Azeris that Armenians had dedicated a corridor for the safe passage of civilians to Azeri-held areas. But the Azeri authorities did nothing to facilitate the evacuation of their people. On Feb. 25, at 11:30 p.m. the Armenian self-defense forces attacked Khojali. A number of Azeri civilians tried to flee through the corridor. However, Azeri forces fired at the column, killing an unknown number. Although the Armenians were successful in neutralizing the Azeri fire power, Khojali remained in Azeri hands for many months. Soon after the attack, Azeri authorities claimed that Armenians had committed not only genocide by firing at the fleeing Azeris but had also mutilated the bodies of the dead. Although there was not a shred of evidence for their allegation, Azerbaijan repeated the charge. In recent months, Azeris decided to turn the Khojali operation into the focus of their full court anti-Armenian campaign. As a result, Baku has achieved a number of propaganda and political victories.

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In late February the world witnessed the Khojali "Genocide" demonstrations in various parts of Turkey. The events were funded by Baku and orchestrated by the Turkish government. Turks and Azeris who live in Turkey or had traveled to Turkey took part in the "kill the Armenians" campaign. A few weeks ago US Congressmen Bill Shuster and Dan Boren urged fellow politicians to honor the memory of the Khojali “genocide” victims. A member of the Texas House of Representatives has proposed a resolution to commemorate the Khojali “massacre.” An Azeri woman has sent a highly-publicized open letter to the presidents of Armenia and of France, claiming--falsely--that Armenians had killed 613 civilians and taken 1,275 prisoners. Azeri diplomats are seeking international recognition of the Khojali “genocide.” Pakistan has recognized the Khojali “genocide” and Mexico might do also. Azerbaijan may use its current seat at the UN to spotlight the “genocide” by Armenians. Members of the Azeri Diaspora have been busy in Europe and in North America appealing for the recognition of the Armenian operation as genocide. Latvian Azeris are collecting signatures to protest the Khojali “genocide.” A petition will be sent to the French Senate, the Latvian Parliament and the European Parliament to demand recognition of the “genocide.” Five Turkish universities and a technical college are commemorating the Khojali “genocide.” A few days ago a Khojali “genocide” public commemoration was held at the central square of Bursa, Turkey. Azeri embassies are holding commemorations and are inviting diplomats from various countries to join in the recognition of the “genocide.” Photographs of Khojali casualties will be exhibited in Europe, and a submission will be made to the International Court. Baku has launched an internet war with daily updates on “genocide” recognition successes.

The above is by no means a comprehensive list of the Azeri propaganda campaign. While Baku is marketing its false genocide by deploying baseless “evidence,” Armenia/Artsakh, which have a ton of information discounting the Azeri allegation have remained silent in the face of this new Baku threat.

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The Diaspora likewise. Several weeks ago Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a letter to Armenians around the world requesting that they distribute an accompanying press release. While the press release made a convincing case against the veracity of the Khojali “genocide,” it is a failure as a communication tool: its language is pure bureaucratese and it’s an incredible 286 lines long! Why would Yerevan bureaucrats imagine that in these days of Tweets, people would plod through a densely-written “booklet” on the Internet? That informative news release could have been far more effective had it been packaged as ten sharply focused news releases, as an Internet clip, a YouTube expose. There are so many facts which disprove Baku’s allegations that one doesn’t know where to begin. Space restrictions limit us from giving chapter and verse of the evidence against Baku’s allegations. Even the most cursory research reveals that the Azeri charges are utterly baseless. -Azeri photographer Chingiz Mustafaev photographed the Azeri corpses immediately after the fight and two days later. His latter photos show that the position of the casualties had been changed and their injuries had strikingly become more brutal. During both of his assignments, the territory was still controlled by the Azeris. Shortly after, President Ayaz Mutalibov said to the photographer, “Chengiz, do not tell anybody about what you have noticed. Or, you’ll be killed.” Undeterred, Mustafaev began to investigate on his own. But after his findings were made public by the DR-Press Information Agency in Moscow that the Azeri forces had participated in crimes against Khojali inhabitants, the journalist was killed not far from Aghdam. His death remains a mystery. --After visiting Khojali immediately after the fight, Czech journalist Dana Mazalova reported that he hadn’t seen any trace of barbarity on the corpses. --Azeri human rights activist Arif Yunusof wrote in “Zercalo” Azerbaijani newspaper (July 1992), “The town and its citizens were deliberately sacrificed to the political goal.” He was referring to the quarrel between President Mutalubov and his enemies. The latter, who wanted to topple the president, ordered the killing of their own citizens to portray Mutalibov as incompetent.

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--Tamerlan Karaev, chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Azerbaijan Republic, said in “Mukhalifat” Azeri newspaper (April 28, 1992): “The tragedy was committed by Azerbaijan authorities, specifically by a top official.” --Vagif Guseynov, former Azeri minister of national security, said shortly before his arrest that the January 1990 Baku doings [the pogroms of Armenians] and the events of Khojali are the doing of the same people [Azeri authorities]. --A month after his resignation, Mutalibov told Mazalova in “Nezavisimaya Gazeta” that according to the “Khojali inhabitants who escaped, all this was organized to dismiss me. Some forces acted to discredit the president. I don’t think that the Armenians, strictly and professionally treating similar situation, could let the Azerbaijanis gain any documents” which would incriminate them. He also said that he couldn’t believe Armenians would provide a safe corridor and then shoot at the escaping civilians. --Eynulla Fatullaev of “Monitoring” Azeri magazine wrote that Khojali refugees in Naftalan had told her that a few days before the attack, Armenians, with loudspeakers, kept warning the population of the scheduled operation, suggesting civilians to leave the settlement and break out of the encirclement via the humanitarian corridor. These refugees also told Fatullaev that they had taken advantage of the corridor and the Armenian forces had not fired at them. A few days after the report was published, the magazine’s editor [Elmar Guseyov] was shot (March 2, 2000) by a stranger at the entrance to his house in Baku. --The former Khojali mayor told “Megapolis-Express” of Moscow that he had asked for helicopters to evacuate Khojali residents, but no assistance was provided. --The number of Khojali victims Azeri claim increases from year to year. Immediately after the attack, Azeris reported their casualties as 100. A week later that was inflated to 1,234 [the population of the village was 2,000 to 2,500]. In 1992 Azeri journalists Ilya Balakhanov and Vugar Khaliov presented to the Memorial Human Rights Centre in Moscow a video cassette they had shot from a helicopter. It showed that Khojali civilian casualties did not exceed 60 people. Armenian forces reported 11 Azeri civilian casualties. Armenians handed over all civilians to Azeri authorities. --According to the RoA (Republic of Armenia), barbaric mutilations of bodies took place near Aghdam (some seven miles from Khojali), on territory controlled by Azeri forces.

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The above is just a sampling of evidence Armenian authorities in Armenia and in Artsakh have at their disposal. They also have audio, photographic and video evidence. So despite the lame evidence of genocide, why does Baku invest so much effort to prove that Armenians committed genocide?    

To distract the Azeri populace from the shortcomings of the corrupt and incompetent Aliev regime. To prove the failings of their predecessor government. To succeed in the information war when they have failed on the battlefield. To distract world attention from the Genocide of Armenians. As junior partners in the Turkbeijan axis, Azeris have to support their Big Brother. To pre-empt talk of Azeri pogroms of Armenians in Sumgait, Baku and Maragha, the ethnic purges in Nakhichevan, Kirovabad, and the indiscriminate killing of civilians in Stepanakert. To cover up their pre-Feb. 25 crimes around Khojali: Azeri forces had killed Armenian civilians in the surrounding region through the use of highly-lethal weapons; they didn’t evacuate Khojali civilians despite numerous warnings from Armenians; they slew their civilians who had opted for the humanitarian corridor; to transform Armenians into ogres, Azeri authorities mutilated their own people. They doctored photos of casualties, using Photoshop and other technical means. Photos of the casualties in the Kosovo War and the Kurdish conflict have been depicted as Azeri casualties. There’s extensive forensic proof of this in Armenian hands. The current Baku leadership had a hand in the Khojali killings. They did so to show to Azeris that Mutalibov is incompetent. Blaming Armenians is an effective way to silence the suspicions of Azeri citizens.

Although Azeris have stepped up their diplomatic efforts into intensive international initiatives, Armenians have done practically nothing to counter the Azeri propaganda onslaught. Armenia says that Azerbaijan is using Khojali as a speculative political capital against Armenia. While Diaspora Armenians realize that an information war is a novelty to their brothers and sisters in Armenia, they themselves haven’t done anything to challenge the Azeri propaganda machine. A few days ago political scientist Alexander Manasyan of Yerevan said, “We are lions in the battlefield, whereas we are peaceful and indifferent when at peace…We must flood the Internet with documents…Armenians should sue Azerbaijan for disinformation…We - 208 -


thought the truth can win, but it cannot, unless true facts are protected.” While Armenians of Armenia are novices in the information war, the Diaspora doesn’t have that excuse. Why HAVE Armenian organizations and media in the Diaspora been silent about the Khojali “genocide” fabrications? Don’t they realize that the firefight can gain the same weight as the Genocide of Armenians in the minds of an uninformed non-Armenian public? Don’t they realize that Turkbeijan is using the false Khojali genocide to deflate the impact of the horrific crimes of Turkey in 1915? We eagerly wait for a speedy Armenia and Diaspora joint campaign to refute the Turkbeijan mythinformation. Although it’s easier to “sell” the truth than to turn lies into truth, we still have to know how to disseminate that truth: it’s not a job for amateurs: Turkbeijan has hired international public relations firms to spread the Baku-Ankara lies. Let’s get our act together; let’s get communication-savvy Armenians to come up with a campaign which will send the liars back to Baku with their tails between their legs. Let’s show them that we can win the war on the battlefield and in the hearts and minds of people. - March 1, 2012

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Turkey’s Invisible Armenian Heroes These days there are scores of Turkish cultural festivals across North America, from Montreal to Monterey, from Seattle to Santa Fe, to New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Houston and Dallas. These folk festivals, culinary events, architectural, film, music and literary events are not restricted to major cities: Jacksonville in Florida, Charlotte in North Carolina, fourth-tier cities of South Dakota and Maine are also hosting the costly gatherings. The campaigns are an exercise in cultural diplomacy. Often presented by North American Turkish communities, they are in fact mostly initiated, organized, sponsored and funded by Ankara and Turkish government-owned or allied corporations. Their main intention is to project a positive image of Turkey and Turks. This soft diplomacy is hoped to balance the negative image of the country where minorities are persecuted (even killed in the case of Kurds), the media is chained (Turkey has more journalists in jail than any country), the genocide of Armenians is denied and so is the genocide of Assyrians and Pontic Greeks. There's no way to measure the effectiveness of these clever marketing, advertising and public relations campaigns. However, we are certain of one thing: they would have erased from their programs Armenian contributions to the Ottoman Empire and to the Republic of Turkey. Armenians are non-existent in the culture and heritage of the country, according to the Ankara-sanctioned narrative. And when in the unlikely instance a prominent Armenian is mentioned, say, Sinan, he will be identified as a Turk or the son of a Christian, but never as an Armenian. These cultural events will not mention that Turkey’s first woman pilot, Sabiha Geokje, was a genocide survivor whose real name was Khatoon Sebiljian. And certainly they will not mention that the Turkish writer who revealed Khatoon’s ancestry was unanimously vilified in Turkey. Perhaps the writer has committed the crime of insulting Turkishness. They will not mention that Hagop Martayan organized Turkey’s Europeanbased alphabet and consolidated its grammar. They will not mention that the first Turkish operetta—“Arif”—was composed by Dikran Tchoukhadjian and that the operetta was first performed at Theatre Ottoman (founded by Gullu Agop) in December 1872. Tchoukhadjian wrote three more Turkish operettas in 1873, ’75, and ’90.

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They will not mention the architectural dynasty of Balians and that for generations the family was responsible for the building of palaces, mosques and major government buildings. Dolma Bahce Palace is one of the many palaces the Balians built. They will not mention that the first Turkish language novel—“Akabi Hikayesi”—was written by an Armenian called Vartan. Although in Turkish, it was written in Armenian alphabet. They will not mention that the first Western-style Ottoman theatre was opened by Arousiak Papazian, who also organized the first Eastern musical. The orchestra was that of Grigor Sinanian. They will not mention that Haroutune Sinanian wrote the Young Turks anthem and Edgar Manos arranged the “Hymn of Independence” for the Republic of Turkey. Manos was also the founder of the first all-female choir in the empire. They will not mention that that the founder of the feminist movement in Turkey was Haiganoush Mark. They will not mention that the first Turkish etymological dictionary was written by Petros Kerestejian. He also translated Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto”. They will not mention that the first satirical monthly in the Ottoman Empire was established by Hovsep Vartanian (1852). They will not mention that the Duzian family managed the mint during the mid-1890s. They will not mention that the Dadyans were the only manufacturers of gunpowder for the empire. They will not mention that the first printing house (1759) was established by Armen Markos in Izmir. Another Armenian, educated in Venice, established the first Armenian press in the country in 1567 at the St. Nicholas Church in Yenikapi, Constantinople. They will not mention that Berj Kerstechyan, the vice-president of Turkish Red Crescent, saved Ataturk’s life and provided him with funds to battle his enemies from 1919-22.

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When talking about music, they will not mention Komidas Vartabed whom the Turks tortured and drove into insanity. Neither will they mention legal giant Krikor Zohrab whom they killed during the genocide. They will not mention that actress Irma Felekyan (Cem Karacash’s mother), actors Nubar Terziyan, Sami Hazines, Kirkor Cezveciyan, musicians Onno Tunc Bayaciayan (died in a plane crash in 1996) and Garo Mafyan, and novelist Migirdich Margosyan and film critic Alin Tasciyan are Armenian. The above list of prominent Armenians in Turkey is by no means inclusive. There are countless other Armenians who contributed to the empire and to the republic. Turkey, which has centuries of experience in kidnapping Christian children and in the forced turkification of Christians, doesn’t consider identity theft and identity falsification a challenge. Erasing gavoor Armenians from the history of Anatolia is a breeze for these expert censors, deleters and falsifiers. After all, it’s still an insult to be called Armenian in Turkey. Typically, when a Turkish politician wants to hurt his rival, one of his first choice of ammunition is to brand the opponent an Armenian. Bearing the above mindset no Turk or Turkish organization in North America would dare provide inkling about the huge Armenian contribution to the Ottoman Empire and to the Republic of Turkey. We are also not including prominent Turkish citizens who hide their Armenian ancestry out of fear of harassment in the democratic, liberated, tolerant, modern Turkey which boasts Western values and is a “bridge between enlightened Europe and backward Middle East.” As the North American slang goes: “Tell me another one.” - March 30, 2012

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Blood Apricots II “Our individual and collective efforts to obtain justice for 1915 become a cruel farce when we buy Turkey-made goods.” Keghart.com published the above in an April 27, 2011 editorial titled “Blood Apricots”. We condemned Armenians in North America who think nothing of purchasing Turkish goods from supermarkets. The question now is more dire: what does an Armenian shopper do when her Armenian-owned Middle Eastern store begins to carry a wide assortment of Turkish food products? This new development—hurtful and inexplicable—has materialized since our 2011 editorial. Whether it’s Arz Bakery in Toronto or Kradjian in Los Angeles, some Armenian groceries have begun to import Turkish goods with unseemly enthusiasm. Once a tiny portion of its inventory, now Turkish packaged foods make up anywhere from 25% to 30% of the packaged food items at Arz Bakery. A few years ago one could see the occasional Turkish pickled eggplant or imam bayelduh on Middle Eastern grocery shelves. Now it’s an avalanche, particularly at Arz. Blghour, tomato paste, biscuits, chocolate, jam, hot pepper, apricots, cucumber pickles, pasta, rice, tea, black olives, gherkins, sauces, frozen foods, pastries and even croissant from Turkey have begun to dominate the packaged food inventory of Arz Bakery. The names of Turkish food brands and manufacturers—Alafia, Baktat, Basak, Berrak, Bernak, Burcu, Cicek, Dimes, Dogus, Esme, Filiz, Marmarabirlik, Reis, Tamek, Tukas, Turkes blaze across the aisles, making one feel she is in an Ankara supermarket. In addition to the above, there are Turkish dry fruit offerings which are difficult to identify, since they are sold loose. Turkish domination at Arz has been boosted by other recent developments: the sale of non-food Turkish items such as tea cups; the packaging of Turkish goods under the Cedar and Phoenicia brand names. These names are synonymous with Lebanon. We have no idea why Turkish goods are parading under the Lebanese flag. A few weeks ago Arz committed another faux pas. While in the past the Turkish products were packaged goods, Arz has extended Turkish presence to fresh produce, namely lemons. Cilicia is the lemon heartland of Turkey. Five years ago (most recent statistics) Turkey exported 286,213 tons of lemon, mostly from our Giligia, now Turkified to Cukurova. The lemon at Arz was exported by Aksun Agricultural Products of Mersin, near Adana. Our lands, which were stolen from us through butchery and de-

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portation, are being exploited to sell us fresh produce. And the seller is an Armenian family. Finally, the Toronto grocery store has begun to sell…(gasp)…Azeri pomegranate juice called AzPom. Pomegranate brought to you with the compliments of people who daily threaten the destruction of Armenia/Artsakh. The satiric possibilities would challenge Hagop Baronian, Yervant Odian, and Saroukhan. One could say that spotlighting a few stores is unfair. There are other Armenian grocery stores in Toronto and elsewhere in North America, which are selling Turkish food products. However, Arz Bakery’s and Kradjian’s special place in their respective communities justifies our focus. Arz is not just another store: it’s the most successful Armenian retail store in Toronto, if not in Canada. A significant percentage of its customers are Armenian. It arguably is the best Middle Eastern store in Toronto. It’s clean and the service impeccable. The store has supported, through advertising and other means, various community projects. Until the recent invasion of Turkish goods, it was a store Armenians were proud to patronize. In light of the vast expansion of Turkish presence at Arz Bakery (it means cedar—the symbol of Lebanon) we wonder about the reaction of Armenian shoppers to the sad development. It could be said that Arz and Kradjian have every right to sell any food product. After all, Armenia buys millions of dollars of goods from Turkey. True. But Armenia does so because it has no choice. Besides, as we said in our earlier editorial—“Yetteh engert daniken tsadkeh, toon al guh tsadkehs? “(If your friend jumps from the roof, do you follow suit? Armenian grocery stores have a choice: they can import the same products from Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, even Saudi Arabia and Bulgaria. They can buy produce from Armenian produce exporters in California (Sam’s Son, Fowler Fruit Packaging, etc.). When California is a stone’s throw away, why cross an ocean and the biggest sea to buy from people who not only tried to annihilate us but also deny doing so, have blockaded our homeland, and threaten Armenia/Artsakh in case Azerbaijan attacks our brothers and sisters? We are aware that Turkish business and government are often one. Turkish exporters are subsidized by Ankara. Turkey has a huge export dumping program. Turkey ignores anti-dumping rules, just as it ignores justice when it comes to our demands. As a result of the underhanded Turkish governmentbusiness compact, the country has become the world’s largest producer of hazelnut, cherry, fig, apricot, quince and pomegranate. The price might be right,

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but do pride, conscience, the blood of our 1.5 million martyrs factor in the purchase decision? An English poet said April is the saddest month of the year. He was not referring to our April. In a few days we will again gather in our churches, community centres, at genocide monuments in Armenia and in Diaspora to remember our martyrs and commit ourselves to securing justice from Turkey. How can we look into the mirror and say we are committed to our national cause when we blithely spread Turkish jam on Turkish-made croissants, drink Dimes fruit juice, prepare various Armenian dishes with Burcu blghour, and sip Basak Turk Kahvesi? Arz and Kradjian management have every right to decide their inventory, but Armenian shoppers also have the right to decide which store to patronize. At a Toronto cafe two Armenians were recently overhead discussing Arz. One of them said that as an alternative to Arz, he could hardly wait for a Canadian supermarket chain to open a rumored store specializing in Middle Eastern foods. His friend pointed out that the Canadian supermarket might also sell Turkish products. The first man said, “I will still buy from the Canadian store. After all, Turkey didn’t kill 1.5 million Canadians.� - April 20, 2012

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NOT King Arthur’s Roundtable A good breakfast is the most important meal of the day, doctors say. And what’s more important than a good breakfast? A business breakfast. A business breakfast combines nutrition with decision making—an efficient affair where attendees are wide awake, no liquor is served, and the powwow doesn’t drag on, since it should wrap up by 10 a.m. to be called business breakfast. Perhaps it’s with the above in mind that several Turkish diplomats and representatives from the Toronto Jewish community met in Toronto last month for a breakfast roundtable. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a roundtable King Arthur would have recognized. It wasn’t the breakfast of champions either. It was a fetid affair where both sides exchanged sweet nothings and along with the protein, carbs and mineral water, had jumbo-sized servings of falsehood, boilerplate Turkish propaganda and mutual admiration. The ostensible reason for the cozy gathering was to develop a Holocaust educational curriculum for Turkish schools. The two stars at the roundtable were Turkish Ambassador Ertan Tezgor and Frank Dimant, CEO of B’nai Brith. And what was said as Mr. Dimant regaled the ambassador? Let’s give the first word to the august Turkish ambassador—by definition a veteran denier of the Genocide of Armenians. “Turkey’s role in saving Jews during the Holocaust, plus its current fight against anti-Semitism and new Holocaust education curriculum, will be a model for other countries,” said he. The ambassador also opined “Unlike other countries, Turkey was a place of refuge for Jews during the Holocaust…During the Nazi regime, we were the only country in which not even one Jew was taken or executed; on the contrary, Turkey was a safe haven…We have no guilt…We don’t need to confess; it [Turkey]is more pure [than Holland, Poland, Germany]…Turkey can be a model to the countries outside of the International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, mainly in the Middle East.” Not to be outdone by the falsehood-peddling diplomat, Mr. Dimant countered that he appreciated Turkey’s actions and strong example, and added “The points you made are exceptionally earth shattering. Turkey is a country that comes to the table with clean hand and no guilt…” There you have it: assertions which don’t even have a passing familiarity with the facts: words with a hideous secret agenda and symbols that would stump mythologist Joseph Campbell and semiotician Umberto Eco. For far too long Turkey has congratulated itself for providing sanctuary to - 216 -


Jews. Let’s tell the Tezgor-Dimant vaudeville duo the truth about Turkey’s appalling treatment of Jews. Exhibit A In the years leading to the WWII, 30,000 Jews, who were citizens of Turkey, left for Europe because of Turkish anti-Semitism. During the early months of the war Jews, who were living under the Nazi regime, including Jews who had Turkish citizenship, asked for refuge in Turkey. Ankara revoked the citizenship of some of these Jews and refused them entry. Others, also with Turkish citizenship, were allowed. Jews who were not citizens were refused entry. Turkey often repeats the lie that Turkish diplomats obtained the release of Jews living in Europe. Ankara doesn’t say that it wasn’t for humanitarian reasons but to line their pockets. Exhibit B On Dec. 15, 1941 SS Struma (a Romanian vessel), packed with 769 Jewish refugees, dropped anchor in Istanbul. The passengers, fleeing the Nazis, were on their way to Palestine. After more than two months of unheeded pleas by the passengers to allow them to continue their journey, Turkish authorities dragged Struma—with its engines almost inoperable—into the open sea. Within hours the ‘Struma’ was torpedoed and sank. Everyone, except one person, perished. Exhibit C While Winston Churchill was popularizing the “V for victory” sign (1942) Ankara unleashed the double “V”--a new tax called Varlik Vergisi (Wealth Tax). The rich were to pay astronomical taxes on their fixed assets. They had to scramble to assess the value of their properties and pay the tax within 30 days. Although the tax was to be paid by all wealthy citizens, the chief victims were the Jews, Greeks, and Armenians. The clandestine aim of the tax was to arbitrarily eliminate minority population’s presence in the Turkish economy. Around 2,000 non-Muslims who couldn’t pay the tax were sent to labor camps. As a result, another large group of Jews left Turkey, many heading to Palestine. The economic war against non-Muslim minorities was successful as it appropriated much of their wealth. Exhibit D While the Nazis were killings Jews, Turkish newspapers such as ‘Milli Inkilap’ was publishing anti-Semitic caricatures pinched from the Nazi ‘Der Sturmer’ newspaper. The vilification of Jews became such a national pastime that Jewish community leaders had to plead Ankara to curb the hate campaign.

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Exhibit E A decade earlier (1934) there were anti-Jewish pogroms and expulsions in Tekirdag, Edirne, Canakkale, and Kirklareli. Exhibit F In 1930 Turkey banned the first talkie (“The Jazz Singer” starring Al Jolson) calling it “Jewish propaganda.” In the mid-‘30s when MGM announced that it would produce “The Forty Days of Musa Dagh”(see Keghart’s ‘Open Letter to Steven Spielberg’ in our previous issue), the Turkish media editorialized that since the book’s author (Franz Werfel) and the studio were Jewish, Turkey would boycott not only MGM films but also Jewish businesses around the world. Exhibit G Soon after Israel was established, Jewish buildings in Turkey, including Neve Shalom and Israel synagogues were bombed. Twenty people were killed and over 300 injured. Meanwhile, the Turkish media continued its racist fulminations against Jews. Some 35,000 Jews, nearly half of the Jewish population in Turkey, left for Israel because of discrimination. Exhibit H For decades “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and Hitler’s ‘Mein Kamph’ have preened on the Turkish bestseller list. These notorious books were translated as early as the 1930s. Turkey continues to produce highly-popular antiJewish feature movies and TV serials. They always get high ratings as they spew anti-Semitic toxins. Two other Turkish bestsellers in 2004 and 2006 (“Effendi” and “Effendi II” by Soner Yalcin) claimed that all of the important parties in Turkey have been occupied by donmes (converted Jews).” Exhibit I A few months ago Recep Erdogan, the Islamist PM of Turkey, called Israel a “genocidal state.” Exhibit J A few weeks ago Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (Mr. Tezgor’s boss) vetoed Israel’s participation in the May 21 NATO summit in Chicago. Exhibit K In his recent book (“Model Citizens of the State”) historian Rifat Bali, a Turkish Jew refutes Ambassador Tezgor’s whitewash and exposes Turkish antiSemitism and the disappearance of the Turkey’s Jewish community. In “Tur-

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key, the Jews and the Holocaust,” German scholar Corry Guttstadt reveals how the pre-First World War 150,000-member Turkish-Jewish community dwindled to fewer than 20,000 in 2012. Bali says elsewhere “Today it is virtually impossible to find someone in Turkey who will give even a neutral view of either Israel or Zionism, much less a favorable one. For public figures in particular, such statement would be tantamount to political suicide… Israel and Zionism are perceived as the source of all evils.” Exhibit L In Ottoman times, Jews had to pay an extra levy called poll tax. Jews also had to be submissive to Muslims. Many Jews, descendants of Sephardim who fled Spanish persecution and sought shelter in ‘tolerant’ Turkey, converted to Islam to escape discrimination. Exhibit M In the ‘progressive’ and ‘modern’ Kemalist regime Jews were targets of rigid nationalism and multi-faceted Turkification program. Mr. Bali cites the Ataturk government’s 1928 ‘ten commandments of the Turkification of the Jewish Community.’ Among the commandments were the orders to Turkify Jewish names, speak Turkish, read portions of the Old Testament in Turkish, Turkify Jewish schools or send children to state schools, and rout ‘communal mentality.’ In the ‘30s the Turkish media was replete with anti-Semitic jokes and caricatures. Racist cartoons featured Solomon and Rebecca; the pair had large, bulbous noses and frizzy hair. They spoke Turkish with a “funny” Jewish accent. Exhibit N Bali in ‘The Slow Disappearance of Turkey’s Jewish Community’ (Right Side News, Jan. 11, 2012) wrote “…in recent years the entire community [Jewish] has become target of much resentment and hostile rhetoric from the country’s [Turkey] Islamist and ultranationalist sectors…Jewish parents counsel their children not to display Star of David necklaces in public, and to remain silent and if possible completely ignore the constant, hateful, often slanderous criticism of Israel in the Turkish public sphere…Despite the demand that they thoroughly behave as Turks, they were never truly considered as such…In the public sphere non-Muslims were unable to obtain employment as public servants, police officers or non-commissioned officers…” and adds that Turkish persecution has “left indelible traumatic memory [on the Jewish community] who suffer it …” Nobody would be surprised by Ambassador Tezgor’s mythinformation. His job is to polish Turkey’s image. What about Mr. Dimant, the CEO of one of

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the most respected Jewish organizations in Canada? Why did he abet the ambassador’s freewheeling ways with the truth? Doesn’t Mr. Dimant realize that the Holocaust educational curriculum is an Ankara smoke-and-mirror gimmick to mitigate Mr. Erdogan’s assaults on Israel? Does Mr. Dimant know he is being used by the voluble and ingratiating man from Ankara? Are members of B’nai Brith, who pay Mr. Dimant’s salary and for his recent petit dejeuner, aware of his dubious bedfellow? There have been a number of genocides, including one by Turkey-supported Sudan. Why isn’t Turkey launching an educational program about those genocides? Why send representatives all the way to Canada to organize such a program? Why not to Holland, Poland, France, Germany… where Jews were killed. We know why Canada. The man in the striped pants is beating the drum over here because Canada recognizes the Genocide of Armenians. He is looking for an ally in his anti-Armenian campaign. Some breakfast. Some business. Some roundtable (King Arthur, Sir Lancelot, Sir Galahad and the other chivalrous knights of Camelot must be turning in their graves.) - May 16, 2012

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The Professor and Putrid Propaganda Perhaps it’s churlish to expose a 96-year-old professor as a covert turcophile lobbyist, but when the academic is a sly, warmongering neocon with a 50-year history of unrepentant denial of the Armenian Genocide, the near-centenarian is not entitled to a pass. We are referring to Prof. Bernard Lewis, a former British spy in Cairo, scholar of the Islamic world, adviser to irascible and bellicose Dick Cheney, coiner of the “Clash of Civilizations” hoax doctrine, the one-man think tank who called for the carpet-bombing of Iraq, and the sycophantic mandarin who predicted that Iran would unleash a nuclear attack on Israel on Aug. 22, 2006. No wonder this Oxbridge apologist of the far right has been called the “most significant intellectual influence behind the invasion of Iraq,” although post-invasion he cowardly denied having anything to do with the invasion. The cynical denialist has made a career of doing violence to the truth whether it pertains to Armenians or to Arabs. Those who follow the history of 20th century genocides may have first noted the British-American quackademic and imperial propagandist in 1961 when he wrote “The Emergence of Modern Turkey.” In that book Lewis referred to the Turkish massacres of Armenians in 1915 as “holocaust.” However, when the book was re-published the following year, he replaced “holocaust” with “slaughter,” claiming that he wanted to avoid a comparison with the Holocaust. The Holocaust was sui generis. In 1985 the compromised professor signed a letter protesting the proposed US recognition of the Genocide of Armenians. When French historian Gerard Chaliand expressed his dismay for Lewis’ denial of the uncontested truth, opportunist Lewis replied that the recognition would cause “the disruption of US-Turkish relations.” In other words, for this “academic” expediency takes front seat while truth and justice are relegated to the back of the bus. In November 1993 the peripatetic professor, in Paris to hype the sale of his books, was interviewed by ‘Le Monde’. During the interview he repeated the lie that there was no genocide of Armenians. The Forum of Armenian Associations in France and the Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et Antisemitisme promptly sued the peddler of falsehood. The plaintiffs won the civil case and Lewis was fined. It seems the mandarin-professor has been licking his wounds since and mourning the money he had to pay to the plaintiffs as part of his sentence. How else to explain his lengthy chapter (“Judgment in Paris”) in his recent memoirs titled “Notes on a Century”? The unregenerate denier repeats his recycled - 221 -


falsehoods, knowing full well no Armenian would sue a doddering old fox, no matter how outrageous the falsehoods his spouts. Space limitations prohibit a detailed expose of the professor’s mendacity and fabrications. The propagandist professor, who doesn’t hesitate to play fast and loose with the facts, remains, at 96, a steadfast and prolific panderer of propaganda Turkish style. He starts his litany of Armenian Genocide misinformation with “When Turkey became a member of NATO in 1952, the Russians [he means Soviets], not surprisingly saw this as a major strategic threat to the Soviet Union . . . they sought to mobilize anti-Turkish forces and turned in the first instance to the significant Armenian community in the US.” There you have it: the publicity the Armenian Genocide has garnered was a deliberate Soviet machination during the Cold War! Incidentally, cagey Lewis is a master of nebulous, slippery, and weasel words such as “significant,” “most,” “some” and “in general.” Lewis the Fabulist says that in the post-WWI period “friendly relations developed between some (!) Turks and some (!) Armenians in the US and elsewhere (!) . . . the revival of the Armenian issue [not massacre] proved a powerful and effective weapon, mobilizing Armenians . . .” This must be breaking- news to Armenians who didn’t know that their genocide became high profile, thanks to the Soviets. In “Judgment in Paris” the peevish professor attacks French academics for not coming to his rescue and goes after prominent French newspapers such as ‘Le Figaro,’ ‘Le Monde’ and ‘Liberation’ for their alleged pro-Armenian bias. He says he was ambushed by the French media and accuses French- Armenians of being adept at news management. Finally, he mourns that he had only a “single valiant” lawyer while the Armenians had a battery. His analogy of the difference between his legal representative and that of the plaintiffs is telling. The careless, if not gaga, professor says, “I had as much chance as the Polish cavalry confronting the German tanks in 1939.” Poor Professor Higgins, sorry, we mean Prof. Lewis. Topping his own panegyrics of Turkey, Lewis wrote in 1995: “The Turks have always been fair and just and tender against the people and minorities under their patronage . . . Armenians responded with ingratitude and betrayal.” Note the word “patronage” of Turks. Doesn’t it remind you of a kindly uncle or guardian?

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The massacre of Armenians was not genocide, like the Holocaust, because it “arose from an armed rebellion . . . seizing the opportunity presented by WWI [they] rose in rebellion . . . in alliance with Britain and Russia.” This sure would have come as news to genuine historians who know that Armenians were not allowed to have weapons under the ‘patronage’ of the Father Ottomans. A man careless with the truth, Lewis then goes over the top and writes, “Persecution [by Turkey] was mostly confined to endangered (!) areas while the Armenian population in other (!) parts of the Ottoman Empire, notable in big cities, were left more or less (!) unharmed . . . the Armenian populations in general (!) were not persecuted.” The Sultan of Professional Deniers concludes by saying, “No serious proof exists of the Ottoman government’s decision and plan aimed at exterminating the Armenian nation . . .” While it’s a waste of time to dissect the voluble professor’s untruths, one of his critics has said, “Lewis’ take is deeply creepy in the way it mimics deniers of the Nazi genocide of Jews.” The professor, in other words, is blood brother to Holocaust deniers such as Robert Faurisson of France, David Irving of Britain and Ernst Zundel of Canada/Germany. One might ask what motivates the lugubrious professor to trivialize the Genocide of Armenians. A turcophiliac since the late ‘30s, he learned Turkish and translated Turkish works and even wrote poetry in Turkish. Then he hit the jackpot in 1950. That year he was “granted privileged access” [his words] to Turkish archives—“the first Western to be allowed,” he boasts. He felt “rather like a child turned loose in a toy show… or like an intruder in Ali Baba’s cave.” The caves where Turkish documents of the genocide have conveniently vanished. Why did Ankara invite the former British spy and tall-tale spinner into its history inner sanctum? One doesn’t need to be Mensa president to speculate that there was a quid pro quo in the invitation . . . we let you go through Ottoman documents and you become our mouthpiece and champion. With access to the Ottoman papers, Lewis could then scoop his scholarly competition and sell books. The Ankara strategy paid off in spades: the professor-spy has been a more effective Turkish agent than other propagandists and fellow members of Assembly of Turkish American Associations, such as Justin McCarthy, Heath Lowry, Guenter Lewy, Eberhard Jackel and the rest of the wolf pack. The master of crimes of omission has written numerous pro-Ottoman and proTurkish government books and articles, always ignoring the egregious human rights record of Turkey. For his multifarious propaganda efforts on behalf of - 223 -


Turkey he was admitted (1972) as Honorary Member of the Turkish Historical Society and received ‘Citizen of Honor’ (1973) from the Turkish Ministry of Culture. In 1984 he became Honorary Member of the Ataturk Academy of History, Language, and Culture. In 1985 he was given the “Annual Education Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Promotion of American-Turkish Studies.” In 1996 he received ‘Honorary Doctorate’ from the Ankara University and became (1997) an Honorary Member of the Turkish Academy of Sciences. The following year he won the Ataturk Peace Prize. His books have been translated into Turkish and are disseminated by the foreign ministry of Turkey through diplomatic and cultural channels. Over the years he has become friends with countless Turks and in the ‘70s he almost married an “aristocratic Turkish lady.” Since this impresario of obfuscation and banality has been criticized by Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, the late Edward Said, and famed Israeli writer Uri Avneri among a host of other observers of the Middle East, he is a nearpariah within the Middle East Studies Association of North America (the premiere collective of American scholars specializing in the region), has been reviled by a French court for his genocide falsifications, is condemned as the grey eminence of the Iraq War, and was ridiculed for his prediction of a nuclear strike by Iran on Israel on Aug. 22, 2006, one wonders how book publishers still commission this Pinocchio of Islamic studies. The answer is not difficult to find: the falsifier, the denier and the warmonger is an apostle of imperialism—first of British and now American. No wonder the blurb (by the ‘Wall Street Journal’) on his latest book hails him as “the world’s foremost Islamic scholar” while someone at the august ‘Baltimore Sun’ emotes “Bernard Lewis, a towering figure among experts on the culture and religion of the Muslim world.” Yes, indeed. The shortcomings of the professor are many. While his Kemalist vision turned out to be wrong in Iraq, his biggest failure is his politicization of history. Rather than confine himself to the objective standards of academe, Lewis has become a hands-on lobbyist for Turkey and adviser to controversial politicians. Israeli writer Avneri wrote that as a lobbyist of Turkey Lewis tried to influence the directors of the Holocaust Museum in Washington not to include references to the Armenian Genocide. Lewis has, more than once, wondered why there’s no talk of Turkish pain . . . after all, “more Muslims died during World War I than Armenians.” This is standard Turkish propaganda leger-de-main. Lewis deploys misdirection to confuse readers between Turks and Muslims. Many Muslims did die, but not all of them were Turks, and they didn’t die by Armenian hands. They died because Turkey declared war on Russia, France and Britain. In fact, many Arabs - 224 -


died at the hands of Turks. We know that many more Germans than Jews died during WWII, but we would guess that Lewis would never mention this fact and ask sympathy for the Nazis. When righteous Turks such as Ragip Zarakolu are putting their lives on the line by exposing the Turkish butchery of Armenians, this pampered mandarin (with his silver hair, he is said to sashay as a biblical patriarch cum Oxbridge don at Washington functions) plays havoc with historic truth. The wolf in sheep clothing concludes his poison chapter with the following words: “. . . for those who look to the future and who cherish a hope for better relations and better understanding between two peoples [Armenians and Turks] who can only be still further divided by the reiteration of old grievances and the rekindling of old hatreds.” In other words, forget 1915. Look forward to Erdogan’s Brave New Turkey as it tries to strangle Armenia with an economic blockade and by buttressing its cousins in Baku. “The responsibility, the obligation, of a historian is to tell the truth as he sees it, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. He should not allow himself to be a propagandist or used by propagandists.” Lewis wrote that sentence in “Notes on a Century.” Lewis should read his own book. - 17 June 17, 2012

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Armenian Jerusalem Adrift “In the centuries-old consciousness of the Armenian people, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem is the second most revered and loved Holy See, after Holy Echmiadzin.” With the above sentence the late Haig Aram Krikorian began his magisterial “Lives and Times of the Armenian Patriarchs of Jerusalem” (2011). Yet the 1,400-year-old patriarchate and Armenian Jerusalem are drifting, threatened by internal and external perils. Armenians began settling in Palestine decades before the birth of Christ when Dikran the Great conquered most of the Levant. Before his armies withdrew, the king established a community which formed the nucleus of the two millennia presence of Armenians in Palestine. In 50 AD, after the martyrdom of Apostle Thaddeus in Armenia, one of his disciples named Yeghishe travelled to Jerusalem and was consecrated bishop by St. James the Younger, brother of Christ. Euthymius (377-473), the founding father of Judean monasticism, was an Armenian bishop from Miletius (Malatya). By the fifth century there were numerous Armenian monks and 15 monasteries in the Holy Land. Armenian monks were instrumental in discovering the cross of Christ. The monks also participated in the formation, evolution and standardization of the Armenian liturgy. When Caliph Omar conquered Jerusalem in the 7th century, he guaranteed the rights, properties and privileges of the incipient Armenian Patriarchate. Similar decrees were signed by Saladin, Sultan Chakmak of Egypt, and the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Mejid in 1852. The latter’s pronouncement, known as the Status Quo, defines, regulates and maintains the rights and privileges of the three main Christian sects (Armenians, Greeks, and Roman Catholics). The Status Quo was usually observed by Britain (1917 to 1948), Jordan (1948-1967) and Israel (since 1967). The patriarchate, including the surrounding Armenian Quarter, covers onesixth of the Old City of Jerusalem. It also owns Sourp Prgich Church and parts of the Holy Sepulchre (Christ’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection site). Some distance away from the Armenian Quarter, but still in Jerusalem, the patriarchate also owns part of the Holy Mother of God Church where Virgin Mary is buried and all of the adjacent Gethsemane Garden where Christ was arrested. Sections of the Ascension Church on the Mount of Olives, parts of the Nativity Church in Bethlehem, the St. Nicholas and St. George monasteries in Jaffa and

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Ramle, in addition to real estate in other parts of the Holy Land make up the rest of the Armenian Church holdings. The Saints James Monastery of Jerusalem is the largest monastic centre in Israel-Palestine. It contains a high school, theological seminary, printing press, a library, social clubs, national and ecclesiastic treasures. The St. Toros Church, inside the compound, has 4,000 illuminated manuscripts--the secondlargest collection after Armenia. The Saints James Cathedral, inside the monastery, is considered to be the most beautiful in the city. The challenges the community and the patriarchate face are multiple. There are, at most, 1,500 Armenians left in Jerusalem. After Israel annexed Arab Jerusalem in 1967, the city has expanded due to re-mapping (read gerrymandering) and Israeli campaign to Judaize the city mostly through settlements. The Armenians are practically invisible in a sea of 500,000 plus Israelis and Palestinian Arabs. The patriarchate would be in an unsustainable position if the Armenian congregation continues to dwindle. The Saints James Brotherhood is a patriarchate without a patriarch—a functioning patriarch, that is. For seven months Patriarch Torkom Manoogian has been in a coma. The brotherhood has mysteriously and deploringly failed to elect a coadjutor patriarch to manage the patriarchate. It has announced that it would hold a meeting in January to decide on patriarchal succession, if the patriarch doesn’t recover. The external perils are more daunting. The patriarchate and the community, like other Christians, find themselves in the vise of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The combatants want Armenians, who own strategic area, to side with them in their century-old conflict. Arabs expect Armenian support because Armenians lived in peace with Arabs when Old Jerusalem was governed by Jordan. Arabs also regard Armenians Middle Eastern people who would be natural allies of fellow Middle Easterners rather than to “foreign” Israelis. Meanwhile, a sector of the Palestinian populace has opted for fundamentalist Islam and become hostile to Christians in general. Israeli government’s relations with the patriarchate have been friendly. The status quo is observed, although haredi fundamentalists have assaulted Armenians and other Christian minorities, especially priests and seminarians. They have cursed and spat on the crucifix Armenian clergy wear. A few years ago Archbishop Nurhan Manoogian (no relation to the patriarch) was questioned, under warning, by police when he slapped a haredi student after the latter spat at him. “JTA”—a Jewish electronic publication—said that haredi harassments had become endemic. Archbishop Aris Shirvanian was quoted, in 2004, as say- 227 -


ing that Christians don’t report the attacks because they believe police would ignore their complaints. Israel has also confiscated the I.D. cards of many Palestinians and some Armenians, jeopardizing their residency status. The municipality has grabbed patriarchate real estate and earlier this year Armenians were banned from parking their cars on a partially Armenian Patriarchate-owned parking lot and the space was allotted exclusively to Jews. There are unconfirmed reports that the Israel has asked the patriarchate to cede crucial real estate to shorten the road from Israeli West Jerusalem to the Wailing Wall in Old Jerusalem. There are rumors that the Israelis are pushing the patriarchate and the Armenian residents to reject the return of the Old City to Arab rule or approve the division of the city, if the UN holds a plebiscite. The plight of the Armenians is compounded by the smallness of their numbers and the fact that the Armenian sector lies at the junction of the access roads from Israeli West Jerusalem to the Wailing Wall. The patriarchate and the congregation wonder what Israel would do if the annexation of Jerusalem becomes legal. Would a sovereign and emboldened Israel confiscate more Armenian lands? In weighing the scales of their support, Armenians can’t afford to antagonize Palestinians, since hundreds of thousands of fellow Armenians live in Arab or Muslim countries. An issue which might also have a crucial impact on the Armenian option is their quality of life. Since the Israeli annexation of the city, Armenians have enjoyed modern public utilities and social benefits such as medical care, unemployment insurance and pension. For a community with a high percentage of elderly people, social benefits are particularly important. The Palestinians have no such programs. Armenians might also prefer the modern, Western lifestyle that Israel provides. To complicate the Gordian scenario, Armenians have to consider three further issues: Israel’s close ties with Azerbaijan; promises that the Knesset might recognize the Genocide of Armenians; and Israel’s control of clergy “supply”. Since most of the priests come from Armenia, Israel can make the issuance of visas difficult if Armenians don’t behave. What should the patriarchate and laymen do? Should they sit on the fence or side with Israel or Palestine? How can they determine an immediate policy while preparing for the unknown future?

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A basis of the Armenian policy should be to act in unison with the other Churches. If not contradictory with a united Christian stand, Armenians should consider positive neutrality. Like other Christian denominations in the Holy Land, the Armenian Patriarchate is autocephalous: it is a self-governing entity. Other Armenian Sees, local Armenians and the Diaspora have no say in the running of the patriarchate. Amazingly, fewer than 30 priests control one of the most precious real estates in the world. They report to no one. As a result, corruption and incompetence have been a hallmark of the brotherhood for some years. It’s time for the Republic of Armenia, the Catholicos of All Armenians, and the Diaspora insinuate themselves into the affairs of the brotherhood. Presidents Levon Der-Bedrossian and Robert Kocharian visited Jerusalem and Israel. President Serge Sarkissian hasn’t. Armenia should send frequent senior delegations to Jerusalem. It should “show” our flag in the Holy Land. Diaspora Armenian organizations should hold conferences in the Armenian Quarter; they should fund restorations/renovations. They should invest in new businesses so that young Armenians do not find marriage an impossible dream. The brotherhood should amend its constitution to allow “outsiders” have a voice in the management of the patriarchate. The brotherhood should remember that the Armenian Quarter, the churches, the treasures of Saints James, and its real estate are the result of 1,400 years of Armenian donations and support—from kings to humble pilgrims. Armenian Jerusalem belongs to the Armenian Nation. When Diasporans make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, they are often requested by local Armenians to make their visits more frequent and to encourage other Diasporans to visit because Armenian Jerusalem finds itself isolated. Diaspora Armenians would be more eager to visit Jerusalem if they believed the brotherhood behaves in the best interest of the Armenian Nation. The brotherhood can’t have it both ways. It’s either part of the Armenian Nation or it’s an archaic and undemocratic entity—a dismal relic from the Ottoman era. It should abandon its not-so-splendid isolation and put the interests of the Armenian Nation first. It should also remember that it was wealthy Armenians (17th to 19th centuries) who frequently saved the mortgage-mired patriarchate from bankruptcy, and it was Istanbul amiras who greased the Ottoman wheels to guarantee the patriarchate’s rights and privileges were not usurped by corrupt governors. Armenians around the world rightfully boast that one-sixth of the Holy City belongs to the Armenians. To make sure the Armenian presence continues un- 229 -


diminished in the Holy Land, Diaspora Armenians and the RoA should come forth to assist the embattled community financially, politically, culturally and morally. We should demonstrate to the Armenians of Jerusalem that they are not alone. Ditto to the Israelis and to the Palestinians. - July 11, 2012

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Armenian Punctuality: Our Shame You hate to wait at the dentist’s or at the doctor’s clinic. You hate when your date or friend is late for lunch. You get impatient when you wait for the bus or for the departure of your delayed flight. You know that you have to hand your thesis to your professor on time, file your taxes before the deadline and deliver the product/service to your customer on time. You also probably believe that, in today’s parlance, time is money. Why then so many Armenians are invariably late for Armenian community events and even to Holy Mass? Why do we shamelessly chuckle and snigger when we refer to our tardiness as good old Armenian Punctuality. Some of us don’t think twice about stepping out of the church for a quick smoke before returning to Holy Mass. We also don’t mind sashaying into the community hall long after the program or meeting has begun. [Punctuality, like its cousin punctuation, means to adhere to a set point in time or place. In Armenian it’s “jstabahootune”. “Jst/jist” is a cognate of the English “just”, French “juste” and Latin “Justus”. It’s the same word in Persian.] ***** ALITALIA: Always Late in Take-offs /Always Late in Arrival. DELTA: Departing Even Later Than Anticipated. JAL: Journey Always Late. JAT: Joke About Time. LOT: Last One There. MEA: Might Even Arrive. PAL: Plane Always Late. Why is it that when unhappy flyers want to mock an airline their first target is the airline’s supposed tardiness? The answer is plain: on time departure and arrival are a priority passengers, just as they are in business and social encounters. Far too many Armenians are “fashionably late” for community events. After all, arriving on time or slightly before the announced starting time might betray earnestness by these laggards or suggest they lead such boring, socially deprived and empty lives that they are desperate for an outing. “Fashionably late” in their small minds is a status message to everyone: we lead such superexciting lives that it is difficult for us to wrest from our fabulous lives to attend

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a mere Armenian function. Perhaps we should be grateful for their noblesse oblige sacrifice. Some Armenians say they come in late because they know that if they are on time no one will be there. Meanwhile, event organizers start the function later than the announced time because they expect attendees to be late. A vicious circle. Unfortunately, both assumptions are correct. We don’t want to delve into the obvious damages Armenian Punctuality inflicts on our national and social fabric, commitment, enthusiasm, our projects, plans and goals. It wouldn’t be too risky to speculate that some frustrated Armenians, put off by the cavalier Armenian “tradition”, stay away from community gatherings ***** Management course students are taught that punctuality indicates commitment, consistency, promptness, interest, self-esteem, enthusiasm, determination, seriousness, conscientiousness, reliability… it’s a highly-valued hallmark of the professional. Armenian Punctuality signals the absence of the attributes listed at the beginning of this paragraph. To be redundant, we have to point that time is the building block of life. Minutes multiplied by billions add up to our lives. People who adhere to Armenian Punctuality steal countless hours from the lives of Armenians who arrive at community events on time. In extremes, the stragglers, the tardy, the laggards, the “fashionably late” steal slices off the life of the punctual and conscientious Armenian. Shame on the misguided, complacent Armenians who perpetuate this embarrassing Armenian Punctuality “tradition”. They have blithely transformed the myth into fact. Punctuality is about respect for others and about self-respect. Any book you pick about the Armenians, written by odars (not Turks) would mention that Armenians are historically renowned for their patriotism, industriousness, intelligence, business acumen, tight-knit communities and families, and belief in education. Let’s mend our ways before the word gets out that we have a casual relationship with time, that when it comes to time we are “relativists” but not the way

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Einstein meant. Armenian Punctuality doesn’t jibe with most of the positive national attributes by which odars define us. - July 24, 2012

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Yerevan Scrambles...Again One doesn’t need to be an expert in Middle Eastern politics to recognize the challenges the countries in the Middle East face, and what foreign powers have in store to subject the people of the region to their will. Syria’s dilemma today is not a solitary phenomenon nor will it be the last area conflagration. Armenians living in the Middle East have been cognizant of this simple fact for a long time. They have tried to adapt to unfolding situations to the best of their abilities. Not infrequently, and for the most part reluctantly, they have left their homes for safer lands far away. Individuals, cultural associations, the Church and political organizations have time and again faced the question: “what next?” They have thought and devised contingency plans, understandably on small scales. If nothing else, one would think the tragic events in Iraq would have alerted the government of Armenia to assess the geopolitics of the Middle East, draw the necessary conclusions and devise plans for the eventuality of various scenarios. Moreover, recent developments in and around Syria, which have acutely resurfaced for the past year or so and its implications for the Armenian community, should have not escaped the attention of the ruling elite in Yerevan. In the 11th hour we notice that the authorities of Armenia have taken muchneeded first steps, and that only as a reaction to scandals and fiasco, rather than because of forethought and planning at state level. Armavia, the Armenian Airlines, maliciously increased the ticket price of the Yerevan-Aleppo flight sector, taking advantage of the tragic situation of Armenians trying to flee to Yerevan from Syria. Subsequently, under public pressure the "Armenian" airline was forced to reduce its prices. The profiteering should have never been allowed in the first place. It’s beyond comprehension why Syrian Armenians, as a matter of fact any Armenian, should wait for months to get an entry visa. Yet this inexplicable and ignoble practice was allowed throughout the Syrian crisis. Why? It was only recently that the matter was resolved and the Ministry of Diaspora proposed measures to streamline granting Armenian passports to Syrian-Armenians. We thank the “National Association of Sinjar Yezidis” for their solidarity and concern, yet it is simply sad to see a non-Armenian organization telling us, Armenians, and the government of Armenia what should have been done with respect to fellow Armenians living outside Armenia. A recent statement of the association read, “As we see it in Armenia, they [the government.-ed.] were not too prepared to receive our Syrian-Armenian brothers and sisters on a state level.” It added, “We stand ready to support, to the extent of our capacity, our

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brothers and sisters who are emigrating from Syria to Armenia. Let us hope our assistance will be timely and appropriate.” Let’s not single out the Armenian state, which by and large, if not insensitive to Diaspora concerns on major issues, has demonstrated a distinct disconnect in understanding the psychology and aspirations of Diaspora individuals and communities. Diasporans, too, have lacked a much-needed unified, cohesive and realistic plan(s) to handle major crises. This is not a judgmental statement but a record of the facts. The Civil War in Lebanon that started in the mid-‘70s, in addition to the much praised “positive neutrality”, underlined two major trends that have chronically “afflicted” the Armenian communities in the Middle East. AGBU was founded in 1906 ostensibly to take care of Armenian orphans, give them shelter and keep them close to their homeland Armenia. That mission became more important and was intensely implemented following the Genocide of Armenians. It prevailed for more than a half century. Ironically, it was Louise Manoogian Simone (president of AGBU 1989-2002) and her circle that during and after the Lebanese Civil War advocated exodus of Armenians to the West from crises-prone Middle Eastern countries. Many individuals within AGBU and friendly organizations criticized this approach calling it “defeatist” and contrary to Armenian aspirations and interests. The Catholicosate of Cilicia and supporting organizations, on the contrary, advocated resistance to exodus and promoted the preservation of the Middle Eastern Armenian communities. The lessons of Armenians leaving for the West following the Israeli-Arab wars, the Egyptian Revolution and the emigration of Middle East Armenians to America through the misguided efforts of the American National Committee to Aid Homeless Armenians (ANCHA) in the not so distant past were revealing. Nurturing Armenianness and Armenian communities in the West, away from the proximity of physical Armenia, were not easy and were fraught with dubious outcomes. Don’t we face the same dilemma today? We do, and we know it as individuals and as collectives. The stakes are high without clear-cut solutions. No matter what stand we advocate, ultimately it falls upon individuals to make their choices: remain where they are resisting the temptation of exodus, repatriate to Armenia or leave for green pastures in the West with the uncertainty of preserving an Armenian identity in the future. We hope and wish that recent developments in Syria and their ramifications on Armenian communities will serve as a wake-up call to authorities in Armenia - 235 -


and Armenian organizations in the Diaspora to collectively devise plans which would address similar calamities in the future. There should be more than one option, and clear description of what the outcome of each option could entail. Advocating one solution as opposed to the others is simply unrealistic and at times may lead to disasters for individuals and families, not to mention recrimination and admonition. - August 1, 2012

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Who is Armenian? Think of a travel poster depicting a female tourist lounging under wafting palm trees on a powder-soft, snow-white sandy beach. The sky is predictably blue, the ocean bluer. The advertising text says “ONLY $799/wk. Santo Domingo.” If you are a travel packager you might compare the above price with the Grenada vacations your company sells. If you are a photographer you might observe the lighting, the model’s pose, the symmetry of the poster. If you are a printer you might check the clarity of the printing, the typeface. If you are in the fashion business or own a hair salon, your focus might be on the tourist’s swimwear and hair style. If you are interested in North/South politics, you might condemn the “exploitation” of the Caribbean by “affluent” North Americans… This is a long way of saying that we view the world invariably through our prism, priorities, interests and obsessions. Ask yourself “Who is Armenian?” Through which filter would you pore over that question? What are, according to you, the requirements that make an Armenian? Traditionalist at one time might have said an Armenian is someone whose parents are Armenian, he or she belongs to the Armenian Apostolic Church, speaks Armenian and identifies himself/herself as Armenian. Some might add to the traditionalist’s definition by adding that an Armenian is a person who contributes to the furthering of Armenianess culturally, socially, demographically, materially. But what about a person who says he is Armenian but can’t speak Armenian, has one non-Armenian parent and is an atheist? What about someone who is partly Armenian but is active in the Armenian Church and community? Is he/she as Armenian as a “full-blooded” Armenian who is not interested in Armenian affairs? Is a Muslim Hamshen no less Armenian than a member of the Armenian Apostolic Church who never goes to church but can speak in Armenian? Armenians are proud of entertainers Sylvie Vartan, Arlene Francis, Cher, former Lebanese President Emil Lahoud, World Cup soccer player Youri Djorkaeff, musician Michel Legrande, racing car champion Patrick Fiori, directors

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Albert and Allen Hughes, Bollywood actress Tulip Joshi … Would they be less proud of them if they learned that they are all “half Armenians”? For centuries the answer to the question “Who is Armenian?” was straightforward: Armenian on both sides of the family + member of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The certainty had to be modified a few centuries ago when some Armenians became Roman Catholic or Protestant. Nowadays a Bangladeshi bearing the name Fatima Montaza Sharif and wearing hijab can emigrate to Canada and three years later become Canadian, with all the rights and privileges of a native-born. And if she is involved in a news story while outside Canada, she is identified as Canadian—although she has lived most of her life in Bangladesh and is ethnically, culturally a Bengali. She is considered Canadian after a mere three years in Canada. Once upon a time ethnicity was the universal determining identifier, but that changed in some countries such as the United States and Canada. Multi-racial states often see ethnicity as the enemy, a divisive rival which might threaten the unity of a country. According to modern states, your national identity is what your passport and citizenship declare. Thus, in the eyes of states around the world, an Armenian living outside Armenia is Brazilian, British, Canadian, French, Greek, Russian, Indian… His ethnicity is tertiary. As a result of making citizenship the only identifier we get such ridiculous headlines such as the recent “Three Russian Terrorists Arrested in Spain.” The headline was misleading because the three terrorists were Chechens: they were in Spain supposedly plotting against Russia. They had Russian citizenship because Russia occupies Chechnia. Some Western states have also dispensed with citing the passport bearer’s religion. The latter was partly due to anti-Israel terrorists who identified—and sometimes killed—Jewish travelers who had their religion documented in their passports. In most Muslim countries a prime identifier is a citizen’s sect--Sunni or Shiite. In parts of Africa and Asia, the tribe is the identifier. Although Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea are black, they are considered Arab (Semites) because they speak Arabic and are Muslim. Nearly 60 years ago when President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt was promoting pan-Arabism, he said an Arab is a person who spoke Arabic. According to that definition, many Ottoman Armenians, who

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could not speak Armenian and many Armenians born in the Americas who can’t speak Armenian, are not Armenian. Political persuasion, on rare occasion, has also been used as an identifier. There was a time in our unfortunate recent past when certain Armenian extremists inanely claimed “Whoever is not Tashnag is not Armenian” thus making Aram Khachaturian, Victor Hampartsumian, Charles Aznavour nonArmenians. Ethnicity, once the main identifier of the individual, is under attack in North America. The old certainties have gone out the window in North America but in most of countries around the world ethnicity remains a key identifier. Religion, as a crucial identifier, is also under attack in the West, although it continues to be an important descriptor in the rest of the world. Nowadays if an Armenian mentions in North America that Armenians are the first to adopt Christianity as state religion he might encounter a “so what?” look. However, in the rest of the world, where religion matters, the statement would still receive plaudits. We have to acknowledge that we are different from the Armenian martyrs and survivors of the Genocide. We have to admit that Armenians of Armenia are somewhat different from Armenians of Argentina, Canada, France, Lebanon, and Uruguay …. Some Armenians would say there’s a huge difference between Egyptian, Syrian, Lebanese, Iraqi, Jordanian and Palestinian Armenians, although these are Arab countries and the Armenian communities in most of them are younger than a century. Andrei Solzhenitsyn, the great Russian novelist and nationalist, defined Russian with these words: “Russian nationality is not about blood but about spirit. The greatness of our people is to be sought in the inner development in its breath or soul…all those who feel themselves part of this heritage in spirit are true Russians.” A few months ago an Armenian intellectual in Armenia said in an interview that we should define and present our “Armenianess” in our own private way. For example, an Armenian writer living in North America (Peter Balakyan, Chris Bohjalian) expresses his “Armenianess” by writing English-language books about Armenians. Entertainer Kim Kardashian, until recently inactive in

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the Armenian community, demonstrates her “Armenianess” by calling for the recognition of the Genocide. How should Armenians define and express their Armenian identity? In a rapidly changing world we have to enlarge the tent to include Armenians who do not meet the traditional “24-karat” requirement of ethnic “purity” and Mother Church affiliation. But while we expand the tent we should be wary of “universalist” and “secularist left” twaddle . . . the naïve, impractical and sometimes hypocritical admonishments which declare that we are “all in this boat together” and that our goals in the “Global Village” should be identical, that we are all the same and that ethnic, religious, cultural variations are destructive. Yes, as Armenians, we obviously share countless common interests and priorities with the rest of humanity, but we also have interests, heritage, characteristics and goals unique to our people. “Universalist” cant can threaten our nation, especially since we are few and are scattered all over the globe. It’s high time Armenians re-examined their identity, answered “who is Armenian?” and took steps to preserve their 4,300-year-old unique identity and heritage. Let the conversation begin. – August 15, 2012

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Views & Reviews

Jirair J. Tutunjian


Reflections on the Hon. Hranush Hacobyan’s Visit to Canada The following is part of an exhaustive discussion that took place in 24 April Forum generated during and following the visit of the Minister of Diaspora of Republic of Armenia to Canada. Let's remind ourselves that we are all Armenians who love our homeland. Let's start from there. We are not here to score points and take our egos on a soaring ride. A couple of footnotes to what has been discussed so far: 1. Helping Armenia and pursuing Genocide recognition are not mutually exclusive endeavors. In the past 20 years, Diaspora Armenians have helped Armenia, and continue to do so. In the past 20 years, Diaspora Armenians have also lobbied and gained Genocide recognition in at least 20 jurisdictions, not to mention making millions of odars familiar with Turkey's crime. 2. After decades of intensive efforts, we might be an inch away from U.S. recognition. If we succeed, other major nations could follow America's example. With that kind of clout under our belts, we can start making wellarticulated demands from Turkey. This is no time--if there ever was such a time--to reduce our Genocide-recognition campaign. 3. As Turkey plays a transparent game of divide-and-conquer (court Armenia; denigrate the diaspora and call one of its major parties "fascist"), we should not allow Ankara to decide the agenda. In plain words, Turkey is blackmailing the Armenian Nation. 4. Despite mismanagement and brazen corruption in the homeland, Diaspora Armenians have not lost faith in their homeland. We might feel that the various Armenian governments have not been to our liking, but we have kept the faith, hoping the situation would change. We can't change Armenia's government. We can't fight the oligarchs, the mafia hoods and their scandalous Humvees. That's the job of Armenians living in Armenia. This is not a new scenario to Diaspora Armenians. For 70 years, many of us, including Hunchaks, Ramgavars, Parekordzagans, did not approve of the Soviet regime, but our love and support of Armenia remained unflinching. Moreover, more than 100,000 to 150,000 Diaspora Armenians left their newlysettled homes in the Middle East and elsewhere to live under butcher Stalin's

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regime because they wanted to live in their ancient homeland and save it from becoming an autonomous entity, rather than a republic. 5. Allow me to say the following at the risk of being misunderstood by some that I am chastising Armenians of Armenia for not recognizing the pain of Diaspora Armenians. --Diaspora Armenians lost not only 1.5 million family members, but we were dislocated from a land, which was our home for nearly five millennia. Although the number of our dead was fewer than that of Holocaust victims, I believe 1915 has a heavier blow to Armenians than the Holocaust was to Jews. Jews didn't lose their homeland. In fact, the Holocaust provided the best justification for the creation of Israel. --Because of the dislocation we lost our culture, our folklore, our historic and public, and our links to our past. --Most middle-aged Diaspora Armenians (they are the ones who run Diaspora organizations) are children of orphans. A whole nation was raised and preserved in foreign shores through the efforts of orphans who had survived the Genocide. Orphans who knew nothing about how to raise children since they had not experienced family life. The psychological damage of this Diaspora tragedy is incalculable. Diaspora is a civilization whose wounds would take many more decades to heal. --After the Genocide, Diasporans had to survive in diverse cultures--Arab, French, Latin American, North American--with negligible communal support. We faced discrimination, and even hostility, but we kept our identity, and dream of an independent Armenia. --Many middle-aged Diaspora Armenians are double exiles. First, they lost their homeland in Western Armenia. Then 40 or 50 years later, when they had built fragile nests in various Middle Eastern countries, they had to dislocate once again because of economic and political pressures. I know of a man--admittedly an extreme case--who fled to Egypt after the Genocide. Because of the troubles there, he moved to Palestine, where he got married. In 1948, the family moved to Cyprus because of the troubles in Palestine. A few years later, the Greek/Turkish conflict forced them to immigrate to Britain. Finally, lack of opportunities in Britain, drove the family to North America.

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--After dreaming of an independent Armenia for seven decades, we discovered that those who rule the motherland are, more often than not, a bunch of crooks. Apparently, some of them even make fun of Diaspora's "naivetĂŠ", its "lack" of Armenian culture, its fairy-tale optics of the motherland. To add insult to injury, some of these characters consider us cashcows. Armenians of Armenia who criticize Diaspora Armenians' preoccupations should get a better grasp of the dominant Diaspora psychologies. The above is not intended to get into a competition as to whose cross is bigger--that of Diasporans or those of Armenians living in Armenia. It's not easy being Armenian. It's even harder to remain Armenian 7,000 miles from the homeland, especially when the ruling classes in Yerevan behave as if they are feudal warlords or cheap hoods in a Clint Eastwood movie. - March 5, 2009

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Armenian Church in Jerusalem Caught in Arab-Israeli Conflict (Part I) The following is part of a discussion that took place in 24April Forum. Since to support or not to support the Armenian Church in Armenia has become a hot topic in recent week, I would like to interject the topic of the dire financial state of the Armenian Church in Jerusalem and the Saints James Brotherhood. In recent years the situation has worsened for a number of reasons: pressure from the Israeli occupation; encroachments by illegal settlers; the diversion of Diaspora financial assistance to Armenia and to Artsakh; several financial shenanigans--if not outright theft by insiders. Armenians are justly proud of our significant presence in Jerusalem. Almost one-sixth of historic Old Jerusalem belongs to the Armenian Church, headquartered in the Saints James Monastery. In addition to the cathedral, the monastery has several churches, two school (one of them a theological seminary), social clubs, a huge and vital library, printing presses, etc. all within the monastery compound. In addition, the monastery is surrounded by Armenian Church-owned residential areas, shops, and the police station. Most of the residential area is occupied by the Kaghakatsis--Armenians who have resided for centuries in Jerusalem. For more than a millennia our forefathers have maintained our impressive presence in the Holy Land. A great deal of these properties were bought and maintained through the donations of pilgrims and Diaspora benefactors in Istanbul, Aleppo, India and elsewhere. In recent times, assistance has come from the Gulbenkian Foundation, the Armenian General Benevolent Union, private donations--mostly from North America. Former Jerusalemite Armenians have also supported the monastery. What we have in the Saints James Monastery is perhaps the most valuable real estate in the world. It's priceless. While we continue to help our Hayastan, let's not forget Jerusalem. The occupational forces have already made some minor land grabs. If we are not watchful, we might lose more to colonialist settlers. Israelis should be aware of our deep commitment to the Armenian Church and population.

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We should start a formal program to assist the monastery financially. This should be accompanied by professional transparency and accountability rules. Experience has demonstrated that corruption and theft (even by the clergy) are ever-present temptations. The present Patriarch (Torkom Manoogian) is old and is ailing. The monastery is being managed by his second in command. The transition from Patriarch Torkom's tenure to the next patriarch could be stressful. Let's keep our eyes on Jerusalem, lest we lose our 1,500-year-old patrimony. It would be good idea to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It would show local Armenians that we stand behind them, and indicate to the Israelis that the Armenian community of Palestine and Israel is not an orphan. The patriarch, as head of the Saints James Brotherhood, is the "manager" of the Armenian Quarter. The Armenian Quarter includes the Saints James Monastery. Everything within the Quarter belongs to the Armenian Church. The patriarch operates the Armenian Quarter with the assistance of the Saints James Brotherhood. We have to help the Saints James Monastery Brotherhood (the Patriarchate) and the Armenian Quarter for the following reasons: 1. Because of its size and character, the Armenian Quarter is a "Little Armenia". While we have had a number of "Little Armenias" elsewhere; this is the longest lasting and most valuable because it's in Jerusalem. Again and again, Armenian Diaspora communities have mushroomed and eventually expired. Our Jerusalem presence has lasted since the 5th century. It's truly a permanent part of our nation. 2. Because the Armenian Patriarchate controls or partly controls some of the holiest shrines of Christendom. The patriarchate owns/controls parts of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, the Garden of Gethsemane, and a number of other churches and real estate outside the Armenian Quarter in Palestine and in Israel. If the patriarchate dissolves, these assets would disappear with it. 3. The Patriarchate includes a seminary. For the past 70 years the seminary has educated hundreds of clergymen. The graduates of the seminary are now parish priests/bishops/primates of numerous churches around the world, including in Armenia. Other than the Antelias seminary, it's the only one in Di-

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aspora, I believe. Most of the Diaspora clergy observing the supremacy of St. Etchmiadzin are graduates of the Saints James Seminary. 4. A great many Jerusalemite Armenians make their living by working in a variety of capacities (teachers, secretaries, real estate managers, cooks, printers, painters, contractors, carpenters, plumbers, etc.) for the patriarchate. If we lose the patriarchate, we would lose the Armenian community. Of all the countries in the world, one of the easiest places to get a U.S. visa is in Jerusalem/West Bank. I am in no position to confirm this... but the word is that to reduce the number of non-Jews in the Holy Land, Uncle Sam (to assist its Israel) makes it easy for non-Jews to get U.S. Green Cards. The community can vanish within a few years if the patriarchate disappears. 5. At the St. Toros Church, inside the monastery, we have the world's secondlargest (after Armenia) collection of Armenian illuminated manuscripts, mostly from the Middle Ages. This treasure trove of our church-heritage-history is priceless. When President Levon Der Bedrossian visited Israel-Palestine some years ago, the first place he wanted to see was St. Toros. He knew about the priceless manuscripts. Since Old Jerusalem was illegally annexed, Israel considers the city a part of Israel. We couldn't take out the manuscripts from Jerusalem to Armenia, for example. Israel might make claims to it as part of Israeli national heritage. 6. The monastery's treasury holds the relics of saints, in addition to a rich collection of the crowns, vestments, scepters, rings, and jewellery of Cilician kings and nobility. Despite the difficult times it has gone through and despite the high value these antique items would fetch at Sotheby's and elsewhere, the monastery has held them on behalf of our nation. 7. The Gulbenkian Madentaran. In addition to countless books in Armenian (old and new), the madenataran has the biggest collection of Diaspora publications from 1929 on. It's a vital source for scholars researching Armenian history and culture. 8. Despite its importance, the Saints James Monastery and the Armenian Quarter operate with a miniscule budget of a few million dollars per annum. We know of Armenian-owned houses in North America, which are worth a million and change. We can help maintain the priceless Saints James Monastery with a relatively insignificant amount of funds. 9. For hundreds of years, our ancestors--at great cost and even physical danger--have traveled as pilgrims to the Holy Land. It was through their dona-

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tions that the patriarchate was able to enlarge its presence in the Holy Land and to buy land. Purchasing land patiently, yard by yard through the centuries, we were able to solidify our presence in the city. This was a national effort: pilgrims (many of them peasants) from Van to Izmir, from Adana to Dikranagerd brought their hard-earned mejides (Ottoman currency) to preserve the Little Armenia of Jerusalem. To dismiss the millennia-old sacrifices and devotion would be a sin against our church, our nation and our patriotic ancestors. Traditionally, the Greeks have had the lion's share of Holy Land's sacred sites because the Byzantines ruled the country before the Arab conquest. The Roman Catholics gained ground during the Crusades and the Protestants much later. As rivalries flared among the various congregations, the Greeks had the Russians as their patrons; the Roman Catholics had the Pope, France, Spain, etc. The Protestants had Germany, Britain, and the United States. Armenians had no godfather-protector, other than the Armenian amiras in Constantinople. Despite our weak political position vis-Ă -vis the other Churches, we have defended our turf and haven't give in an inch. To outsiders, to the selfrighteous "holier-than-thou" crowd, to those who don't know the history of Jerusalem, the inter-church conflicts seem childish, ridiculous and humiliating. They might change their minds if they learned that inch-for-inch Jerusalem is the most precious real estate on the globe. And Armenians have a large chunk of it. We should be proud of that fact, and be willing to support its continuance. To get an idea of the importance of Holy Land sacred sites, consider the following fact: the Crimean War, in mid-19th century, was the result of a fight between Greek vs. Roman Catholic clergy at the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. The Russians sided with the Greeks; France, Britain, and Savoy sided with the Roman Catholics. 10. Anyone who picks up a book about Jerusalem, anyone who visits Jerusalem is struck by the tremendous presences of Armenians in the city. Although our numbers are not large, our geographic presence on Mount Zion is breathtaking. People are impressed by the Armenian might in Jerusalem. We make an impression as a nation. People who confuse us with Albanians or Romanians stop doing so. Millions of people from around the world have visited Jerusalem in the past 50 years. I bet every one of them has realized that there is a nation called Armenian. This bestows an incalculable prestige to a smallin-numbers nation like ours.

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Since I consider the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem as an unofficial part of Armenia, I would like to see the government in Yerevan lend a helping hand to Armenian Jerusalem. - April 2, 2009

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Armenian Church in Jerusalem Caught in Arab -Israeli Conflict (Part II) Several Canadian-Armenians who are interested in financially helping the St. James Patriarchate in Jerusalem have contacted me. I have been in touch with some friends in Jerusalem and elsewhere to determine whether there is an officially recognized organization, which promotes donations and the raising of funds for St. James Monastery. Earlier it was not mentioned that the Sts. Tarkmanchats Secondary School, was the best in Jordanian-ruled Jerusalem in the '50s and the '60s. Because of emigration, the school is now a shadow of its past glory. I understand that it now has about 100 students. I remember my "graduating" kindergarten class (1954) had 54 students! The Sts. Tarkmanchats Alumni Association in Los Angeles raises money for the school. Since this year is the 80th anniversary of the school's founding, a group of former students will make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in April. I am certain that during their stay in Jerusalem they will extend further financial assistance. Jerusalem Armenians are caught between a rock and a hard place. Before 1967, Armenians lived in reasonable comfort with Palestinians and Jordanians. Now the community is in a vise--Muslim fundamentalism on one side and Jewish fundamentalism on the other, not to mention ultra nationalism in both camps. At present, Armenians living in the occupied West Bank, including Old Jerusalem, and Israel, are isolated from Armenians living in Arab countries-Lebanon, Syria, and even Jordan. One can argue that it would be advantageous for Armenians--as a community--to be part of a future Palestine because such a development would end or reduce their isolation from their Armenian brothers and sisters in the Arab Middle East. One devastating impact has been the soaring number of Armenian intermarriages with Christian Arabs. To put it bluntly, a shrinking community means fewer people in the marriageable demographics. As well, a peaceful solution to the Arab/Israeli conflict would, one would expect, reduce ultra nationalism and religious extremism among Palestinians and Israelis. I believe extremism is often a "survival mechanism", an attempt - 249 -


to preserve one's "threatened" identity. When there is peace, extremism should diminish, making life tolerable for all, including the Armenians. The idea of making Jerusalem an international city is a vehicle without wheels. Even before Palestine was split up, there was talk of making Jerusalem an international city. The subject has come up repeatedly. To this day, the United Nations considers Jerusalem corpus separatum. However, since Israelis and Palestinians are against the idea of an international Jerusalem, the proposal will stay a dream. uring the Ottoman rule of the Holy Land (early 16th century to 1917), the Armenian Church experienced a litany of difficulties--confiscation of property, heavy taxation, arbitrary rule, corruption. The financial pressures were somewhat offset by donations from pilgrims, Armenian amiras, wealthy Armenians in India, and the rent that the Saints James Brotherhood collected from its properties outside the monastery. Because of usurious taxation, early in the 17th century the patriarchate was in heavy debt. It was rescued from financial ruin through the assistance of an Armenian merchant in Aleppo, plus nine wealthy Armenians in India and in Constantinople. In other words, 400 years ago, Armenian patriots (supposedly not as enlightened as contemporary Armenian leaders and intellectuals) stepped forward and rescued Armenian Jerusalem. They did not say the situation is untenable and walked away. From 1917 to 1948, the picture changed because the British Mandate was mostly a "rule by law" administration. However, this did not mean that the financial picture of the Armenian Patriarchate improved. During the British Mandate: 1. The monastery had to provide accommodation and assistance to the thousands of genocide survivors who sought sanctuary in the Armenian Quarter. 2. Because Cilicia and Western Armenia was emptied of Armenians (19151922), there were no more pilgrims to donate funds to the monastery. 3. To guarantee the survival of the new community, the patriarchate initiated a variety of valuable projects--Sts. Tarkmanchats School, the Gulbenkian Madenataran, improvements to the printing press, etc.

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By the way, very few Sts. Tarkmanchats students paid tuition; and those who did, paid $5 to $10 a year. Some of the school expenses were covered by donations from the Gulbenkian Foundation, the Armenian General Benevolent Union, and from Armenian-American individuals. However, despite this assistance, we were aware, in the '50s and the '60s, that months would go by and the teachers would not be paid because there was no money. Everyone was waiting for the check from the Armenian-American parerars [benefactors]. Despite these difficulties, the school remained the best secondary school in Jerusalem. The graduates and students of Sts. Tarkmanchats, now spread all over the world, have made great contributions to Armenian communities from Los Angeles to Paris, from Cyprus to Australia. Former students are now scientists, industrialists, authors, classical music composers, medical doctors, philosophers, journalists, teachers and professionals in various fields. Here, in Toronto, you will find a number of former Jerusalem residents who are leaders of Armenian community centres, churches and political parties. Since 1967 the Saints James Brotherhood has had no revenues from pilgrims because there are very few pilgrims, and several traditional donors are no longer around. However, it receives rental income from its properties. Led by Patriarch Torkom Manoogian, the brotherhood has undertaken muchneeded infrastructure developments. Because of its size there is a great deal of real estate to restore, renovate and to maintain. Consider how much a North American household pays for the repair of a single plumbing problem. Multiply that by thousands of dollars. To continue the survival and prosperity of this priceless national edifice, we have to pitch in... financially. In the absence of an organized charity, you may send your donations to the "Armenian Patriarchate, Jerusalem, Israel". The donations are tax deductible. The Saints James Brotherhood (Armenian Patriarchate) has always been "allied" with St. Echmiadzin and has recognized the catholicos there as Amenayn Hayotz. From 1915 to the late '40s, most of the members were orphans who had survived the genocide. Whereas from early '50s to 1967, they were natives of Lebanon and Syria who had gone to Jerusalem to attend the seminary and become priests. There were also a number of Jerusalem-born seminarians and priests. After the Six-Day War, Israel annexed Old Jerusalem and occupied the West Bank. This meant that Lebanon- or Syria-born young men could no longer attend the Saints James Seminary in Jerusalem. Thus the number of semina- 251 -


rians began to decline. This spelled debacle to the fellowship. No seminarians meant no future priests for the Diaspora parishes "allied" to St. Echmiadzin. Certain disaster was prevented after independence of Armenia, when young men--from Armenia--began to attend the seminary. In time, many became priests. That is why the Saints James Brotherhood is "full" of Armenia-born priests. With the dwindling of the Armenian Diaspora in the Middle East, it is likely that Armenia will continue to be a major source of new seminarians and priests, even when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved. - April 11, 2009

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Armenian Church in Jerusalem Caught in Arab -Israeli Conflict (Part III) The following quotation from the Economist may help illustrate a major hurdle that Armenians in general and the Saints James Brotherhood in particular face with respect to the Armenian Quarter in Jerusalem. "The search is on for “creative ideas” to resolve the final status of Jerusalem, in particular, the Old City. One idea, already floated, is that sovereignty over the Old City (leaving aside, for the moment, Temple Mount or Haram al-Sharif, the compound holy to both Jews and Muslims) should be divided, with the Palestinians controlling the Muslim and Christian quarters and Israel controlling the Jewish and Armenian quarters. Ehud Barak, Israel’s prime minister, agreed to the idea “as a basis for discussion”. Yasser Arafat flatly rejected it, insisting on Palestinian sovereignty over all the Old City, except for the Jewish quarter. The 2,000 or so Armenians in the Old City were rather relieved by his rejection. "The Israelis say they need the Armenian quarter to ensure safe passage for Jews to pray at the Western Wall and at other holy sites in the Jewish quarter. But the Armenians say that the division would fracture their people (about half of whom live in the Muslim or Christian quarters), and also cut them off from Palestinian Christians. “If we are isolated from our Christian brothers...I doubt we will last long,” said one local. …" The Economist, Sep 7th 2000 What can the Armenian Saints James of Jerusalem do when it is caught in a prolonged and gigantic conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians? In addition to losing the revenue stream from pilgrims (most of the latter came from the now-exterminated or exiled population of Armenian Cilicia) and the diversion of donations to Armenia/Artsakh, the Patriarchate has to do daily bureaucratic battle with the Israelis who are all-too eager to make life difficult--if not miserable--for non-Jews in Jerusalem. Obstructions that Israelis throw on the way of the non-Jewish community in the city are challenges our clergy has to live with on a daily basis. The Israeli Government, the far-right groups, the illegal settlers and rival Churches are forever circling around us to grab the patriarchate’s real estates at the slightest excuse. The Israeli Gov-

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ernment is, of course, judge, jury and prosecutor when there’s a Church rights or real estate conflict. The St. James Brotherhood is not letting events to take over. It is vigilant and is prepared even to do physical battle against a strong foe such as the Greek Church. The latter keeps pushing us regarding Church rights. Not in the too distant past the Greeks even claimed that the Saints James Church belongs to the Greeks! The Greek Church is more powerful than our Church for the following reasons: it has the Greek Government's support (we only have a honorary consul in Israel); the Greek Church, with vast real estates all over Israel and the West Bank, is the wealthiest Church in the Holy Land; and finally, most of the "Greek" congregation is Arab--native Palestinians who are members of the Greek Orthodox Church. They far outnumber Armenians. The Greek Patriarchate does not hesitate to "lubricate" the palms of Israeli officials. To make matters worse, the Israeli Government has begun to disregard the long-established Status Quo as an archaic construct. The Status Quo, established by one of the Ottoman Sultans in mid-19th century, was observed by the British during their Palestine Mandate, and later by the Jordanian Government. Despite arguments for the contrary, the financial challenges of the Jerusalem Patriarchate are not linked to the quality of the clergy there. They are rooted in the disappearance of traditional donors, especially in the past two decades when Diaspora donations were channeled to Armenia and to Artsakh. It has been suggested that since seminarian recruitment from Lebanon and Syria has become impossible (because those two countries are hostile to Israel), the Saints. James Brotherhood should find other venues and or ways for clergy enrollment. The Brotherhood has already anticipated the challenge and has been, for more than a decade, recruiting young men from Armenia. At the present time, these clergymen make up the majority of the Brotherhood membership. These Armenia-born young men have demonstrated an acute spirit of patriotism in defending our Church rights against the encroachments of rival Churches. They have become the vanguards in the constant battle to defend our traditional rights. Undignified as it may seem to the holier-thanthou crowd, to the “naïve humanists” and to “enlightened universalists”, these Armenian young men are prepared to use their fists when the other side tries to undermine the status quo. Occasionally and anecdotally one hears that all’s not well with the brotherhood, that there’s corruption afoot at Saints James. This is an unfair generalization. In any organization there will be bad apples, as Almighty God found out when Lucifer raised his rebellious head. However, I also know of a Saints - 254 -


James Brotherhood clergyman, who after many years of service in an affluent North American parish, packed and left for Armenia. He experienced earthquake, war, economic blockade and a hundred other depredations. He still is there, serving the Church and our nation. But citing examples of good priests/inadequate priests will not get us anywhere. Some critics of the Saints James Brotherhood have said that our clergy there has lost “historical properties” in the Holy Land because mediocrities are running a “national institution". Here are some facts which should help critics realize that their allegations are not based on fact. a. The Jerusalem Patriarchate, the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem, various Armenian churches in the Holy Land are not just historical properties. They are also religious and cultural entities. b. Anyone who checks the seminary curriculum, the training of the seminarians and of the deacons would conclude that the educational program is exacting, and to be ordained to priesthood, a seminarian has to be not only well educated but also dedicated to the Armenian Church and to the Armenian nation. If the contention that the Armenian Church is led by mediocrities is based on fact then the blame lies largely with the Armenian nation. We get the clergy we deserve; we get the clergy we support; we get the clergy we can keep an eye on. I cannot resist mentioning that we are far more effective at this than the Roman Catholic Church. Laymen have great say in our Church affairs. If we don't like our prelate or our parish clergy, the parish council/community leaders can always send them packing. When criticizing the Saints James Brotherhood, critics inevitably zoom on the misdeeds of the late Patriarch Yeghishe Derderian. I wouldn't dream of defending him or his cohort Archbishop Shahe Adjemian. What enabled these two to indulge in their disgraceful shenanigans were the following “political” circumstances: -- Since Armenia was in the "Godless" Soviet Union, the Catholicos in St. Echmiadzin had no power to restrain or punish them. As well, the Catholicos couldn't afford to alienate Patriarch Yeghishe since the latter could have "switched horses" and supported the rival Cilicia See. It was a silent blackmail on Yeghishe's part. That locum tenens and later Patriarch Yeghishe could indulge in his scandalous behavior was the political situation Armenians lived

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in Armenia and in the Diaspora. Church leaders had to act in a scenario written by politicians and political parties. -- Living in an absolute monarchy (Jordan), Yeghishe and Shahe took advantage of the venal ethos, bribing Jordanian officials, and later Israeli officials. If the government was friendly with you, you could run the brotherhood's affairs at your whim and profit. A bottle or two of Johnny Walker and a box of cigar would always do the trick. The above is not an excuse. It's a brief explanation of the geopolitical situation which helped someone like Patriarch Yeghishe to thrive. His notorious behavior was doubly shameful since he was a talented and brilliant man. However, picking one or two disgraced personalities as reflection on the whole brotherhood is unjust and not logical. Four great patriarchs preceded patriarch Yeghishe: Gyouregh, Torkom, Mesrob, and Yeghishe Tourian (the younger brother of poet Bedros). Would one say all the popes of Vatican and the kings of England were despicable because Pope Alexander VI (Spaniard Roderigo Borgia) and King Henry VIII were scoundrels? Patriarch Derderian's sins were many, but let me point out a case where his "misdeeds" were exaggerated or were sheer falsehoods. --In the '50s (early part of Yeghishe's rule) there were rumors that he was selling Armenian Church properties in Israel (gossip thrived because there was almost no communication between Jordan and Israel at the time). Among those sold, we were told, were the convents in Jaffa and in Ramle. After the Six-Day War, when Jerusalem Armenians could enter Israel, they learned that the convents still belonged to the patriarchate--as they do to this day. The point is that there was a lot of idle rumor-mongering going around, some of it out of spite and rivalry. That Patriarch Yeghishe had not sided with Antelias during the '50s conflict there did not endear him to some members of a certain influential political party. Thus rumors of Patriarch Yeghishe’s misdeeds multiplied and were magnified. There was an incredible rumor a few years ago that the Armenian Quarter might be sold to the Israeli Government. It was sheer falsehood. When the pope sells the Vatican, then the Saints James Brotherhood would sell the Armenian Quarter. -- Patriarch Yeghishe was succeeded by the present Patriarch Torkom Manoogian. This dedicated, highly-educated clergyman and author, originally

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from Iraq and then a member of the Saints James Brotherhood, was for many years the head of the St. Echmiadzin Primacy in New York. Yet he left his relatively comfortable position and went to a war-ravaged Jerusalem, and to an impoverished monastery. He wanted to return the brotherhood to its former glory. Since then, Patriarch Torkom has devoted several decades of his life to revitalize the patriarchate--spiritually, intellectually and materially. Another great member of the Brotherhood was the late Father Gyouregh Kapikian. It was mostly through his efforts that Sts. Tarkmanchats became a secondary school in the mid '50s. Every year or two, Father Kapikian would trudge up and down the Americas, to hold donation meetings in church halls and in living rooms to sign up Armenian "parerars" for the school. Londoneducated Bishop Norayr Bogharian was another great Armenian clergyman. Bishop Bogharian was a world authority on Armenian illuminated manuscripts. He helped preserve the 4,000 medieval manuscripts, wrote many articles on the subject and taught Madenakroutuyn (free of charge) at the Saints James Seminary and at Sts. Tarkmanchats. When Levon Der Bedrossian made an official visit to Jerusalem he sought out Bishop Bogharian and kissed his hand before saying anything. He wanted to express the Armenian nation's gratitude for the single-minded dedication of the wispy, elderly bishop. -- It is said that Catholics and Protestants have no difficulty enrolling seminarians. I don't know about Protestants, but the Catholic Church is increasingly depending on Africans and Filipinos and Filipinas for its new crop of clergy and nuns. It's conceivable that in the future an African might be elected pope. The reason for Vatican's dependence on Africans and Filipinos/Filipinas is clear: young people in developed countries have too many other options (not to mention diversions) to dedicate their lives to the Catholic Church. I have been to scores of churches and cathedrals in France, Italy, Spain, Germany and Austria. The magnificent cathedrals and churches of Europe are mostly empty, except for tourists. Most Europeans are nominally Christian. Church attendance is as low as the temperature in Canada in February. I don’t know whether the next tendency is a particularly Armenian characteristic: I come across too many Armenians, who although do not contribute to the community, to the Church, to our Cause, or to Armenia, are nonetheless maddeningly voluble when it comes to criticizing our institutions. The Chinese proverb says, "It's often people who enter the theatre gratis who are most critical of the play". - May 27, 2009

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“The Eagle and the Bear” (Memoir) Subtitled ‘Explorations in Armenia & the Soviet Union, 1966-2055’ the Eagle in the title is Armenia; the Bear is Russia. The author is Professor Emeritus of Business Economics at the University of Toronto’s prestigious Rotman School of Business. Prof.. Safarian, born in Southern Ontario, has had a long and illustrious career as teacher, author, statistician, political economist, and expert on Canadian federation and economic integration, in addition to being a keen observer on how multinationals operate. Between 1966 and 2005 Prof. Safarian visited the USSR, Soviet Armenia, Russia and the Republic of Armenia at least half-a-dozen times. As speaker on economic affairs to the elite of Soviet academia, and as a member of Canadian economics delegations, Prof. Safarian travelled across the Soviet Union, visiting everywhere from Riga and St. Petersburg in the west to Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, Tashkent, Samarkand and Lake Baikal in the east. Away from the university podium or roundtable discussions, these group tours took him to a Minsk tractor plant which employed 24,000 employees, to a Krasnodar collective farm which stretched for 32,000 acres, a hydro-electric power plant in Zaporozhe in Ukraine, and pioneer camps, in addition to Agademgorod—a science city of 40,000 residents. But no matter the occasion of his visit to the Soviet Union, Prof. Safarian made sure to visit Armenia. In addition to the state-sponsored tours, the author, on several occasion, took his family to Soviet Armenia and then to the Republic of Armenia. While his account of meetings with Soviet academics, his observations on wage rates, pensions, income distribution, lack of durable goods, the shoddy quality of products, the lackadaisical service ethic are pithy and sharplydelineated, of particular interest to Armenian readers are Prof. Safarian’s impressions of Soviet Armenia and of now-independent Armenia. Always optimistic at the prospects of his motherland, the Canadian-Armenian academic, who is fluent in Armenian, pulls no punches when he talks about the shortcoming of Soviet Armenia and of the current Republic of Armenia. Whether on official or private visits to Armenia, he made a point of visiting and re-visiting the major historic, religious and cultural sites of the country. But in addition to building bridges with leading Armenian economists and academics, he found time to meet “regular” people, to learn about their lives. Prof. Safarian’s brief memoirs of the Soviet Union and of Armenia (Soviet and post-Soviet) are not all somber and earnest. “The Eagle and the Bear” is rep-

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lete with humorous and dramatic incidents, and with funny asides. The author describes how while discussing the Artsakh situation with the Catholicos of All Armenians in the latter’s Echmiadzin office, the conversation was interrupted by a telephone call, forcing the Patriarch of the Armenian Church to haggle with the caller for the price of a large carpet to be sent to the Armenian church in Vienna. Then there is the episode of the Canadian pilot who fell off his plane. Luckily, the aircraft was on the ground…the pilot had backed out of the cockpit before the aircraft door had closed. The Armenian invention of “Sarkis Cola” in the old Soviet Union is another gem. Perhaps the most dramatic and most humorous anecdote is the author’s dinner with Marshal Hovhannes Bagramian and friends in Moscow. We will not spoil the reader’s fun by describing the incident. You have to buy Prof. Safarian’s book to enjoy the full account. On a serious take, there is an account of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia while Prof. Safarian and his colleagues were attending an economics conference in the Soviet Union. And in 1998, while watching “Don Quixote” in Yerevan, Safarian and the audience could hear 10,000 demonstrators chanting “Karapagh is ours.” The opera fans stepped out of the imposing building. writes Safarian, to witness a historic moment in modern Armenian history. Two years later, on April 24, Prof. Safarian joined thousands of Armenians as they walked to Dzidzernagapert for the 75th commemoration of the Genocide of Armenians. He writes that although the memorial is just outside Yerevan, it took two hours to walk the short distance through the teeming but silent crowd. During his trips to “The Eagle and the Bear”, Prof. Safarian became close friends of academicians Prof. A. Arakelyan (head of the Institute of Economics of the Armenian Academy of Sciences), Hrant Poghossyan, Yeghiazarian, Kotanyan, Abel Aghanbegyan and others. Through the impetus of these prominent people, 20 Armenian students spent a summer in Toronto, taking university courses in management. Prof. Safarian was instrumental in organizing the project and in obtaining funds. The Eagle and the Bear” ($15 in Canada; $17 in the US), including shipping, can be obtained by writing to Prof. Edward Safarian at Rotman School of Management, 105 St. George Street, Toronto, M5S 3E6 or by emailing aesafariatgmail.com - December 29, 2010

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Epic of the Jerusalem Patriarchs Times of the Armenian Patriarchs of Jerusalem By Haig Aram Krikorian Other than Tigranes the Great’s conquest of Jerusalem, about 60 years before the birth of Christ, the history of the Armenians in Jerusalem and in the Holy Land is mostly the history of the St. James Patriarchs and the Brotherhood. Armenian Jerusalem’s history is closely linked to Christianity, the religion which drew Armenians to Palestine. Even before the conversion of Armenia to Christianity in 301 AD, Armenian pilgrims were already making the long trek to the Holy Land to see where Christ lived, preached, was crucified, and rose from the dead. By the 5th century, the Holy Land was studded with churches, convents, hermitages, often with a significant number of Armenian monks. Soon, there were some 70 Armenian religious buildings in Palestine. But despite their strong presence in the Holy Land, Armenians didn’t have a Patriarch until Abraham I (638-669). In his magisterial opus (“Lives and Times of the Armenian Patriarchs of Jerusalem”), Krikorian tells about the often-remarkable men who have headed the St. James Patriarchate since then. The 821-page book took ten years to write, and every page, every line, every word shows the magnificent dedication and effort of Krikorian--a graduate of the St. James Armenian Theological Seminary in Jerusalem and resident in Jerusalem during the British Mandate years from 1936 to 1948. Krikorian, a long-time resident in California, tells, with a sharp eye for detail, of the vicissitudes of the Patriarchate in the past 1,400 years, about the great and not-so-great Patriarchs, and the numerous anonymous monks who dedicated their lives to the Armenian Church in the Holy Land. He brings to life the dedicated Armenian religious leaders who toiled endlessly to establish and expand the Armenian presence in the Holy City. The challenges they faced were countless and diverse. They navigated through the regimes of Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Memeluks, Turks, the British, Jordanians, and now the Israelis and the Palestinians. They had to survive in often violent and mostly corrupt times. They had to be deft diplomats, politicians, administrators, exude charisma yet be spiritually embued… to carry on their variegated and difficult duties. While surviving under the rule of dubious governments, the number-one nemesis of the Patriarchs continued to be the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. Because Palestine was ruled by Byzantium in the early days of Christianity, the Greek Church was the first to establish a foothold in the land and own real es-

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tate, including, of course, religious buildings. Even after the Arab and other conquests, the Greek Patriarchate liked to maintain “first right” privileges and regarded the other Churches as Johnny-come-lately to its “turf.” At every step of Armenian Church development in Palestine, the Greeks harrased Armenians, resorting to bribes, to forgery and even violence. The Armenian Patriarchs have had to fight every inch of the way to establish a presence in the Holy City. This is true now as it was true in the 7th century. Despite Greek and sometimes Roman Catholic Church shenanigans, Armenians managed to retain equal rights to the Holy Sites. Another recurring threat to the Patriarchate has been internal strife, rivalry, corruption, incompetence, and selfish clergymen who again and again put their ambitions ahead that of Church interests. Because records were not kept or were lost, it’s difficult to determine the exact number of Armenian Patriarchs in Jerusalem. Depending on the source, it ranges from 75 to nearly 100 Patriarchs. Most Armenian Church scholars, including Krikorian, pick Abraham I, Krikor V, Kantsagetis (1613-1645), known as Krikor Baronder, and Krikor VI, Shirvantsi (1715-1749), known as Krikor Shughtayagir [Chain-bearer] as the three greatest Armenian Patriarchs of Jerusalem. Among other reasons, Abraham makes the list of the Greatest Patriarchs for establishing a solid and permanent Armenian Church presence in Jerusalem. The Patriarch even travelled to Mecca to obtain guarantees that Armenian Church property and rights would be protected. Baronder became Patriarch at a time when the St. James Brotherhood was bankrupt and its religious properties threatened by debtors. He, with the help of Diaspora Armenians, raised funds which not only rescued the Church’s real estate holdings, but restored existing buildings and launched an amazing reconstruction and expansion program. In many ways, the circumstances and achievements of Krikor Shughtayagir, in the first half of the 18th century, were similar to that Baronder. He too inherited a bankrupt Patriarchate. He too raised the money to save the St. James Brotherhood properties from decimation. He too undertook a huge revitalization plan which restored and increased Armenian Church properties. Krikorian is unflinching in his account of internal strife up to and including the 20th century. As eye witness, he tellingly describes the destructive Patriarchate rivalries in the ‘40s and the ‘50s. He pulls no punches about the Yeghishe/Diran debacle.

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One of the many bonuses of the book is the parallel history of the Armenian Church in Constantinople, Armenia, Cilicia, and the Cilician See in Lebanon. As well, Krikorian’s account offers the readers a dramatic narrative of the ups and downs of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, its relationship with the Crusaders, and of the three Jerusalem queens who were Armenian—Arda, Morphia, and the remarkable Melisend, who ruled Jerusalem as a regent, after the early death of her husband. She built St. Anne’s Church in Jerusalem—the best preserved and best example of Crusader architecture in the city. She is buried near Armenian Church-owned Gethsemane Garden, in the underground Gouysn Mariam [Virgin Mary] Church, which owned by the Armenian and Greek Churches. Lives and Times of the Armenian Patriarchs of Jerusalem By Haig Aram Krikorian Hardcover, 821 pp. $35 April 27, 2011

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Silencing the Turkish Spin “The Armenian Genocide Denied—a response to Turkey’s 13 propaganda spins” by Sevan Hajinian In the past two to three decades we have seen an avalanche of books by historians, genocide documentarians, jurors, journalists and human rights activists, in addition to eye witness testimonies, memoirs, poems, plays and movies about the mass killing and deportation of Ottoman Empire’s Armenians from 1915 to 1923. Now comes a new Canadian book—“The Armenian Genocide Denied”-whose uniqueness is underlined by its subtitle, “a response to Turkey’s 13 propaganda spins.” Anyone who has followed the Armenian national struggle to earn international recognition of the Genocide of Armenians is familiar with the Ankara propaganda machine’s boilerplate denials. Ms. Hajinian’s book, in addition to documenting the Genocide, lists thirteen of the most notorious distortions deployed by the Turkish side and then proceeds to demolish them, exposing them as patent falsehoods. Thus the litany of Turkish propaganda spins such as “historians dispute the veracity of the Genocide of Armenians,” “it’s up to historians to decide what happened,” “the UN didn’t acknowledge the Armenian Genocide,” “the Armenian Genocide was not state planned,” “the Turkish archives are open; Armenian archives are not,” “Armenian deaths were a result of communal violence” and “Armenians collaborated with Turkey’s enemies” are dissected and tossed into the rubbish heap through solid research and a deft touch. The book should be a manual for Armenian lobbyists around the globe. It also belongs in every Armenian public, community, church, school and family library. Next time you hear or read any of the standard-issue Turkish lies in the media or elsewhere, open Ms. Hajinian’s book and quote its unchallengeable facts. It should help silence the Turkish state and its agents, including the halfdozen or so hired North American “historians” and hacks who shamelessly repeat Turkish fabrications. In addition to eliminating the Turkish distortions, the book—a compilation of research, journalistic reportage and editorials—cites legal opinion by experts such as international jurist Alfred de Zayas and British judge Geoffrey Robinson QC, think pieces by leading Turkish journalists and columnists such as Orhan Kemel Cengiz, Ahmet Altan, Taner Akcam, and Umit Kardas. Other prominent writers whose writings are featured in the book are Israeli Ambas-

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sador to the US Michael Oren in the “New York Review of Books,” Julia Pascal in “The Guardian,” Marilyn Henry in “The Jerusalem Post” and Robert Fisk in “The Independent.” The book also includes Genocide-affirming editorials from the “New York Times,” The “Los Angeles Times,” the “Toronto Sun,” the “London Daily News,” “The Australian” and the “Sydney Morning Herald.” A bonus for Canadians is the 25-page Canadian perspective which includes the incredible story of the Georgetown Boys, statements by federal, provincial, municipal declarations acknowledging the Genocide, and genocide coverage by leading Canadian media. The 300-page book, published by the Armenian National Committee of Canada, is illustrated with 100 photos, many new to most general readers. Price: $25 plus shipping ($10 in Canada, $15 in the US). To order, write to: Armenian Community Centre, 45 Hallcrown Crescent, Toronto, Ontario M2J 4Y4 Canada - July 16, 2011

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Coffee with Ahmet and Mehmet (1) Ahmet and Mehmet are having their morning “kehve” (coffee) at a café in Turkish provincial town deep in Anatolia . Ahmet is scanning the newspaper. ==================================== Mehmet: What’s new in the “Turan Daily News”? Ahmet: There’s a story on page one about the Israeli foreign minister Lieberman saying that Turkey should give Mt. Ararat to Ermenistan. Mehmet: Yes, I saw that on TV last night. I looked up the map of Turkey, but I couldn’t find Mt. Ararat. There must be some mistake. There’s no Mt. Ararat. Ahmet: You never know… it could be a Jewish trick. They want to confuse us. Maybe it’s Mt. Arafat. Mehmet: I thought that was in Holy Mecca. Anything else in the newspaper? Ahmet: That Lieberman says Turkey should recognize the Armenian Genocide. Mehmet: Now, I like that. We all know how Armenians committed genocide against the Turks. Yes, we should not keep silent any longer: we should publicize the Armenian Genocide of our people. I guess the Israelis are pushing for genocide recognition to improve their ties with us. I tell you, Ahmet, Jews are afraid of us. They know we have atomic bombs at the Incerlik base, near Adana. Ahmet: Don’t start me on Incerlik. Those Gavoor Ermenler are now saying Incerlik belongs to them. Next thing they will claim all of Eastern Turkey belongs to them. We made a mistake… We shouldn’t have allowed a single Armenian survive their deportation. This is what happens when you are softhearted. Ahmet: Forget them. Ermenistan has fewer than two million people. I am talking about the Israelis. They will have no chance against our invincible navy when we escort the flotilla to Gaza. Mehmet: It’s not going to be like the parting of the Red Sea for Moses and the Israelis. Hey, did you know Gaza was originally called Gazi, after “Gazi” Mustapha Kemal the Conqueror? Jews changed the name to Gaza. You, of

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course, remember how Ataturk beat the Gavoor British and French forces in Palestine during the First World War. Ahmet: Of course, I do. Why, the capital of Jordan is still called “Amaan” because that’s what the Gavoor British and French soldiers were wailing when our mighty Gazi Ataturk put them to the yataghan. You know something Mehmet, Thanks to our educational system we know so much about the glorious history of Turkey. Ahmet: That’s why I enjoy these coffee conversations with you, Mehmet. We know so much. Talking about Ataturk, I hear some people are calling Erdogan “Ataturk II.” Mehmet: I don’t know about that… Ataturk wouldn’t have liked some of the things Erdogan is doing. Ahmet: But Mehmet, arkhadash. Gazi Ataturk would love Erdogan. Just wait and see: Erdogan will conquer all the Arab countries, without even firing a bullet—from Morocco to Kuwait—and restore our Ottoman Empire. Tell you something… I think we should call him Erdogan sultan and Davutoglu his vizier. Mehmet: I don’t trust that Davutoglu fellow. With that name and face, those glasses, his teaching profession… he must surely be the son of a deunme Jew… “Son of David.” Check it out… Read the bestseller “The White Man.” It will tell you about the Deunme -- Freemason -- Zionist-Rothschild conspiracy. His father was probably from Salonika. Ahmet: Those Mountain Turks are in the news again. Why don’t they come down from the mountains and join us—the civilized, peace-loving Turks of the lowlands? Mehmet: They are getting too fancy for their breeches. Now they want us to call them Kurd. Say it fast, it sounds like Turk. How soon they forget that for years we allowed them to loot Gavoor Ermenler and steal their women. Weren’t Sultan Abdul Hamid’s Hamidiyes all Mountain Turk bandits? Ahmet: Some people have violence and greed in their DNA. You can’t change that. Mehmet: What’s DNA?

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Ahmet: I think it’s a spice or something Kurds sprinkle on their shish-kebab. It makes them violent and raises their blood pressure. Ahmet: Ahhh… What are we going to do about Cyprus? Those Gavoor Greeks want to drill for underwater oil near the Turkish island. Mehmet: Don’t worry, arkhadash. After we finish off the Israel navy, the cowardly Greeks will keep their mouth shut—just like their Patriarch in Istanbul. Cyprus… I mean “Kbrz.” What kind of name is that for a country? Ahmet: Shh… Somebody might say the same thing about our country. - September 9, 2011

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Coffee With Ahmet and Mehmet (2) Ahmet and Mehmet are having their regular morning coffee at a café in a town deep in Anatolia. Ahmet is checking the newspaper headlines. Mehmet: Sabah khayeer, Ahmet. What’s new in ‘Turan Daily News’ today? Ahmet: Ilham Aliev is threatening Armenia… again. Mehmet: Arkhadash, I know what you mean. Chojoukh Aliev is a softie; not like his father. I don’t think his mother was Turkish. Had Aliev been a pure Turk, he would have attacked Ermenler long ago. Ahmet: My grandfather, who lived in Sultan Abdul Hamid’s time, blessed be his name, hated tall people. He used to say, “Taweel ou habeel.” It’s Arabic. It means “tall and stupid.” Baby Aliev reminds me of my grandfather’s words. Just like that taweel ou habeel Asad in Syria. Mehmet: How true. Baby Aliev is all talk. Ahmet: I have a saying about Arabs which you might like: “Neh Shamn shakaree, ne Arabn youzeh.” (Neither the sweets of Syria, nor the Arab’s face.) Our fathers didn’t think much of the Arabs. Arabs are still hayvan, but these days we have to be friends with them. Mehmet: Yes. We need their oil and their huge market to sell our cheap biscuits, shampoos and soap operas. Now that padishah Erdogan has become the Arab idol, we will make real money from those slow-witted Arabs. Ahmet: Inshallah. Once he has the Arabs in his palm he will go after the Moslem world—from Morocco to Indonesia. Bigger than our dream Turan Empire. Mehmet: I’ve been reading history books. One author says Erdogan is doing what those foxy Ingileez did a long time. When their empire died, they created the Commonwealth. So the Ingileez Queen is still the head of India, Canada and African countries. Even if we don’t rule them as we did in Ottoman times, Arabs will accept Erdogan as their head and Turkey as their mother country. Ahmet: Mehmet, ghardasheem… that’s nonsense. The Ingileez Elzabet is just a symbol. Erdogan doesn’t want to become a figurehead. He will become the real ruler of Moslem countries. You know twelve times our armies reached the doors of Vienna, Venice and Warsaw. Arab armies reached France in the 8th

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century. But as always, we were betrayed by those Jews. They pretended to be donme converts and gave our military secrets to the gavoors. Mehmet: Just like the gavoor Ermenler. You know how many times they betrayed us to the Russians. Otherwise we would have conquered the Caucasus and marched to the borders of China… back to our homeland. Ahmet: Mehmet, don’t say that. Ataturk said the ancient Hittites are the fathers of the Turks. We are indigenous to Asia Minor. If we are from Central Asia, we can’t also be natives of Anatolia. Mehmet: You have a point there. But listen. .. Anadolu means “my grandmother is full.” It’s a poetic way of saying Mother Turkey is pregnant. So we are both from Anatolia and from Central Asia. Why can’t we be natives of both places? Ahmet: You got something there. This country is full of 4,000-old Turkish place names… take for example Akdamar, Istanbul, Argi Dagh, Kars, Ardahan, Moosh, Samsun…. Mehmet: I am glad you mentioned Samsun. The Samson and Delilah story is Turkish. Samson was a Turkish hero who was betrayed probably by some Ermeni ghz. And what about Abraham? Blessed be his name. Everyone knows he was from Urfa. Our Sanliurfa. Abraham was a Turk. That means God gave us the Promised Land! Maybe that’s why Erdogan is tangling with the Israelis. I read somewhere that the Christian holy man—St. Paul was born in Tarsus, near Adana. He, too, was a Turk. Ahmet: The Christian Santa Claus also originates in Turkey. There was a Turkish priest—Bishop of Myra, I think. His name was Nicholas. At bayram time this holy man gave presents to good Turkish boys and girls. The Christians changed his name to Santa Claus and turned our bayram to their gavoor holiday. There is no end to the perfidy of the gavoorlar. Mehmet: I think the history of mankind should be re-written to recognize that we are a special people—God’s Chosen, if I might say so. The Roman Empire’s history would change when people realize that Julius Caesar was born in Turkey—Kayseri is named after him because he was born there. Ahmet: I am glad we are drinking coffee and not raki. Otherwise, some gavoor listening to us would say we were drunk and delusional.

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Mehmet: Who cares what gavoors say? Erdogan will make sure the world learns that Allah put Turks on this planet to rule it. Ottomans had the right idea but they were corrupted and betrayed by the gavoor concubines they bought in Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia‌not to mention Jews. Ahmet: There is much truth in what you say. But please lower your voice‌ everyone knows Ataturk was Y-a-h-o-o-d-i. His head was shaped like the head of a sheep. Proof, some say, that he was a secret Y-a-h-o-o-di. - September 26, 2011

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Coffee With Ahmet and Mehmet (3) Ahmet and Mehmet are having their morning coffee at a cafĂŠ in a remote Anatolian town. Ahmet is reading the local daily. Mehmet: Ahmet, what's new in "Turan Daily News"? Ahmet: Before we talk about the headlines, I want to tell you of a secret suspicion I have had for a long time but didn't tell anyone... until I had more proof. Mehmet: You sound mysterious, Ahmet. What suspicions? Ahmet: You read Sarkozy's announcement that we should call our treacherous gavoor clean-up operation in 1915 genocide. Now look at his name: SARKozy. like SARKissian, the president of Ermenistan. Sarkozy is a secret Armenian pretending to be a Jew. Mehmet: You might have something there, but I wouldn't worry too much. France is not an important country. I have good news for you: The mother of computer genius Steve Jobs was Turkish. Her family. Hagopian or something. emigrated from Izmir in the early '20s. Now tell me what's in the newspaper. Ahmet: Oolaan, I am confused. It doesn't make sense. Gadaffi's men, the Libyan rebels, the Mountain Turks and our army are fighting it in Siirt. What are the Libyans doing in our Siirt? I thought they had problems of their own. Mehmet: Let me see the paper. Mehmet: (After reading the newspaper) Ahmet. of course you are upset. You are confusing our Siirt with Sirte in Libya. There's no fighting in Siirt. Ahmet: Thank Allah for that. Mehmet: What are you eating? Baked potato with kehve? Arkhadash, what's the matter with you this morning? Ahmet: If you read the papers more often, you would know. A week ago an American trade delegation, from Ohyo, was in Istanbul. We have to eat lots of potato to show them Turkey is a good market for their potatoes. Mehmet: But potatoes come from Utah, not Ohio. Ahmet: Oota, Ohyo, Illinoize. On the map all 48 states look like boxes.

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Mehmet: While you are trying to improve our trade relations, I've been talking to a friend who says all the talk about Turkey's economic boom is a sham: They say Erdogan is distracting us with the Israeli conflict because the economy will explode soon. Ahmet: That's what you learn when waste your time with those Mountain Turk Communists. traitors. Mehmet: Bosh! My friend copied it from a banned foreign Internet site. He printed the report for me. It says that an American official believes Turkey is an economic paper tiger. Ahmet: Paper tiger? There are no tigers in Turkey. Mehmet: It means cardboard, like a movie set. Like our dalgha. Here, I'll read it. "Turkey's GDP growth rate is artificially inflated by out-of-control credit pumped out by Turkey's central bank to create a short-term bubble. Turkey is fast sinking into deep economic slump." I don't understand all of it, but it doesn't sound good. Ahmet: Vay, vay. There goes my plan to take that bus tour to the ancient Turkish ruins of Ephesus, Bergamon and Troy. Mehmet: Listen to this... This American also says, "Turkey's current account deficit has reached about the same crisis level as those of Greece and Portugal and its currency faces devaluation." Ahmet: Enough. I have heard all the lies I can take in one week. I wonder where your Communist friends found this propaganda. My son's teacher always says, "Cherchez le Yahood." It means Jews are behind all conspiracies. If not them, then it's the gavoor Ermenler. They want to hurt our padishah Erdokhan. Mehmet: Erdokhan. I like that. Did you make it up? Ahmet: Oolan. You know, you are not the only one who went to Imam Alpaslan's medresse. Memet: The Jews are arming the Mountain Turks; they may become friends with Ermenler; they are helping the Greeks; they are inciting Azeris to disobey us. I think they will soon tell Americans to send their Sixth Fleet to the Eastern Mediterranean, to our ancestral waters.

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Ahmet: America is nothing. It owes $40 trillion to China. Americans are fleeing from Iraq and Afghanistan because they can't beat our Moslem warriors. America is . what did you say? A paper tiger. Brother Hussein Obama is secretly working for us: He will bring down America. Mehmet: Did you hear Brother Hussein banned Christmas celebrations at the White House? It's time to avenge the Battle of Labanto. Ahmet: Battle of Labanto? Mehmet: I think that's what it's called. A few hundred years ago the European nations made a sneak attack on our navy at Labanto in Greece. We were, sort of, defeated. You see, those crooked Venetian merchants had sold us broken cannons. I think Turkish children should start their classes by singing "Remember the Labanto!" Ahmet: Did you hear Erdokhan's speech at the UN? Mehmet: Of course, I did, but before we face the Sixth Fleet we should make some moves: Turkish should become an official language at the UN; we should become a member of UN's Security Council. When we become a diplomatic heavyweight, the Americans will not be so eager to attack us, no matter what the Yahoodis want. Inshallah, with Arab votes we will succeed at the UN. Ahmet: That's a very smart analysis. Where did you read it, Mehmet? Mehmet: There you go insulting me again. I, too, attended the imam's medresse. Ahmet: I apologize. Here, arkhadash, have some Ohyo potato with your kehve. - October 9, 2011

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Coffee with Ahmet and Mehmet (4) (Ahmet and Mehmet are having coffee in a cafĂŠ at a remote Anatolian town. Ahmet is scanning the newspaper.) Mehmet: Sabah Khayeer. Sorry, I meant Gunay Sun. With all the events of the past 24 hours, you must have a lot to read in the newspaper. Ahmet: Subhaan Allah... Our Allah certainly works in mysterious ways. The Europeans and the Ermenler forced Erdokhan to fix that gavoor church ruins in Akdamar. And what happens? A few months later the earthquake destroys the church. Divine justice, arkhadash. Mehmet: But more than 600 our people died in the earthquake. Ahmet: They don't count: they were Kurds. They got what they deserved. Mehmet: You are in a bad mood this morning. What's the matter? Ahmet: Did you hear about the new Ermeni trick? At tourist places these gavoors are selling T-shirts with the words "Armani Empire" on them. The judge gave a stiff sentence to the three traitors wearing the Emporio Armani shirts. My neighbor says there's another Italian T-shirt on sale. It says Eremenegildo Zegna on it. Let's see who dares wear it in Turkey. Mehmet: That friend I mentioned to you . the one who has Internet. He says ' Emporio Armani' means Armani Emporium. Emporium means department store in Italian. It has nothing to do with Armenian Empire. Ahmet: They're playing with words. I never trust Italians. Mussolini was a braggart; not like Hitler. Hitler reminds me of Erdokhan. Both with mustaches; both jailed for their ideas; both good public speakers; both said that woman's place is at home. Both artistic too: Hitler painted; Erdokhan writes poetry. Mehmet: Seems you've been reading about Hitler. Ahmed: I just started reading "Kavgam." I think its German name is "Meen Keyf." I see where some of the ideas of our own Grey Wolves came. Mehmet: Grey Wolves ideas are Turanic. racial superiority ideology built the Ottoman Empire. Maybe Hitler got his ideas from our Turanic philosophy. Ahmed: I wouldn't be surprised: so many of our leaders went to German military academies. They could have taken our racial ideas to Berlin. After "Kavgam" I will read "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." - 274 -


Mehmet: You are in for a treat. For months that book was the best-selling book in Turkey. It tells you all about the Jewish conspiracy to rule the world. Talking about the Grey Wolves, last night I again watched "The Valley of the Wolves." It must be my third or fourth time. What production! What acting! No wonder it was the most expensive Turkish TV production ever. Ahmed: I watched it, too. Remember the scene where Jewish organ traffickers cut out the liver of the murdered Iraqi to sell it in New York? Mehmet: I can't decide which one I like more. "Metal Storm" or "Valley of the Wolves." Our film people can teach those Hollywood Jews how to make a good movie. My favorite scene is where the Turkish hero destroys Washington with a nuclear bomb. Compared to him, James Bond is a child with a toy gun. Ahmed: Please don't tell this to anyone . I am thinking of joining the Grey Wolves. Erdokhan pretends he doesn't like them, but we know better. The Grey Wolves are our best chance to restore the Turanic Empire and bring back old Islamic laws. I'm fed up with those homosexual "White" Turks of Istanbul who go to the ballet and who want us to join the European Union. Mehmet: Once in power, the Grey Wolves will bring shariah law. and then away with the women's rights nonsense. Ahmet: With Grey Wolves in power, honor killings will end because women will know their place. The veil will become mandatory. No more looking like prostitutes. provoking men and then complaining when men try to sample what these immoral women advertise. Mehmet: How will you join the Grey Wolves? Aren't they a secret organization? Ahmet: My butcher, Mejit, is a member. He will sponsor me, I'm sure. I'm buying a lot of meat from him.I stopped eating potato. Remember my potato diet to support Turkish trade with American potato exporters? I am as patriotic as anyone but I was putting on weight eating potato for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Mehmet: Damn. Because you are coming over for dinner tonight, I told Khatoon to prepare potato dishes. Please don't tell her you have stopped eating potato: she would nag me all night long. I can't wait for shariah to be restored. - November 9, 2011

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A Graveyard in Dacca, Bangladesh “Armenian Graves, Inscriptions and Memorials in India DACCA 17221977” by Liz Chater. “Dedicated” and “thorough” are two adjectives that come to mind to describe Liz Chater after reading her “Armenian Graves, Inscriptions and Memorials in India DACCA 1722-1977.” A descendant of an Armenian family with roots in Dacca, India (now Dhaka, Bangladesh), Ms. Chater has spent years documenting the history of the tiny but affluent Armenian communities of India, starting in the early 18th century to the middle of the 20th century. She tells their story through tombstones, epitaphs, memorial inscriptions. Color and black-and-white photos of hundreds of these monuments illustrate the book. Between 2005 and 2009 she visited India several times as part of her original research into Armenian family histories and of Armenian communities in India. She photographed as many Armenian graves in India as she could before the damaged, ageing, moss-covered, weather-worn stones vanish forever. The Dhaka gravestones at the Armenian Holy Resurrection cemetery were of particular interest to Ms. Chater since her ancestors had lived, worked and buried there or in the environs. Four years ago her trip to Dhaka had to be cancelled because of disturbances in Bangladesh. Determined to salvage the history of the Armenians who had lived there long ago, she commissioned—at great personal expense--a local photographer to capture the Armenian graves of Dhaka. Now hundreds of those gravestones are photographically salvaged in her remarkable book. The inscriptions are sometimes in Armenian, sometimes in English or in both languages. The Armenian inscriptions are often in yergatakir and in krapar, indicating the affluence of the Armenian families and their close ties to their church and community. Each gravestone is a page from our history. In addition to the professionally-shot photos, the 151-page book includes the family trees of some of the more prominent Armenian families. Thus famous family names recur--Arratoon, Martin, David, Lucas, Chater, Sarkies… The reader also notices the “evolution” of the names from Armenian to English or to nondescript… Garabed becomes Carapiet, Boghos becomes Pogose, Kaloustian becomes Galston/Galstan/Galstaun. aroutune becomes Aratoon/Arratoon, Harutiwn; Martirossian changes to Martin; Nikoghayosean

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transforms to Nicholas while Khachik/Khachadoor/Tsatur become Catchatoor/ Chater . The above names have disappeared or are slowly disappearing as the community vanishes. Ms. Chater is not hopeful about the preservation of the Dhaka gravestones, located in the bustling Armanitola district of Dhaka. The Holy Resurrection church and the graveyard are attended by a Mr. Martin, the lone Armenian left in the city. What also makes Ms. Chater’s effort particularly noteworthy is that she travelled, researched, designed and published the book at her own expense. She says in her introduction, “I am completely unsupported and unfunded and I have no association or affiliation with any organization, company, institution, research centre or university although over the years, I have approached many people and organizations for financial assistance to enable me to further research Armenians in India. No help, financial or otherwise was forthcoming.” The 151-page and profusely illustrated book is a very small part of her research about Armenians in India and the Far East. She has amassed a vast amount of details about 12,000 individuals who lived in India and farther east for nearly 300 years. Chater has also researched old British records and found information on many of the Armenians buried in Dhaka. In addition to a trove of documents, she has a collection of 4,000 photos of graves and over 2,000 copies of newspaper material from the 1780s to the present. One hopes the Armenian government, institutions, organization and individuals who are interested in preserving the history of our far-flung Diaspora would take the initiative and financially support Ms. Chater’s noteworthy research and help her publish other books about the Iranian-Armenians who, starting 300 years ago, left their homes in New Julfa and established communities across East Asia. You can order the book directly from Ms. Chater by contacting her at Liz@chater-genealogy.com or lizchater@tiscali.co.uk Her Web is www.chater-genealogy.com - October 14, 2011

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Fresh Page at Historic Sèvres Armenian activists from all corners of the far-flung Armenian communities of the globe converged Dec. 10 on Sèvres, a suburb in southwest Paris, to launch the Third Congress of Western Armenians and to open a new and optimistic page in the contemporary history of Armenians. Following the introductory remarks by Dr. Hagop Kerkiasharian, president of the Organizing Committee in France, Rev. Bartev Parseghian of the Armenian Apostolic Church and Rev. Haroutune Bzdigian of Mekhitarists Congregation welcomed the participants. The gathering, attended by more than 80 delegates and independent individuals from Argentina, Armenia, Canada, France, Russia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, was characterized by remarkable equanimity as participants unanimously and with alacrity voted “yes” to the draft statutes and to the goals of the Congress. Intellectuals from Armenia and the Diaspora, an Armenian general and leader of the Artsakh army during the war against Azerbaijan in the early 1990s, a colonel, an MP from Armenia, several authors, businessmen, lawyers, economists, professors, delegates representing Armenia and Russia-based patriotic unions (‘hayrenagtsagan meeyoutyoun’), several journalists and professionals from various fields mingled between sessions to exchange views and to make practical suggestions on how to enhance the Congress as a leading voice of the Armenian Nation. While close to two-thirds of the attendees came from Armenia and Russia, this group identified itself as descendants of the martyrs and survivors of the Genocide of Armenians. The conference venue was rich in symbolism. It’s in this quiet suburb that the Treaty of Sèvres was signed (10 August 1920). The conference took place at the Mkhitarian Samuel Moorat Catholic College, a long-time Armenian educational centre in Europe. Among the half-a-dozen attendees who addressed the gathering was Ashot Aleksanian, deputy of Armenia’s Ambassador to France. He said, “You have to do it [represent the rights of Western Armenians]. We [the Republic of Armenia] are prepared to provide you with data for your projects. I hope the conference is followed by actual work.” He then wished victory [‘Haghtanag’] to the Congress.

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The historic conference was the culmination of more than four years of work following the creation in Paris, on Aug. 20, 2007, of the International Organizing Committee (IOC) and its registration as a non-governmental organization (NGO). In accordance with its statutes, the goal of the NGO was to organize meetings, which would lead to the establishment of the Congress of Western Armenians. Some 12 such meetings were held, in addition to several gatherings with lawyers. Furthermore, a symposium was held in Cyprus (2009), an IOC representative participated in the "Unity Symposium" in Montreal (2010) and a scientific symposium was organized in cooperation with the University of California at Berkeley in 2011. According to its unanimously approved statutes, the goal of the Congress is to act as representative--at national and international bodies--of Western Armenians, descendants of the former Armenian citizens of the Ottoman Empire. As such, the Congress strives to be the legitimate representational institution that can negotiate for the rights of the victims of the Genocide and their descendants. The Congress would also promote internationally the conservation and the awareness of Armenian civilization, the national and cultural identity of Armenians. It would initiate and monitor all activities related to the maintenance and safeguard of Armenian cultural heritage in Turkey in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty of Lausanne (ratified in 1923) as well as their restitution to their legitimate owners. While during the meeting there were no public discussions about the relationship of the Congress with Armenian political parties and organizations, the goal of the Congress is to “harmonize, to the extent possible, its activities and initiatives with other Armenian organizations and institutions in building consensus on the pursuit of the Armenian Cause (‘Hye Tadd’).” In the long term, the Congress intends to contribute towards enhancement of civil society and strengthen the democratic base of Armenian endeavors. Another key long-term goal of the Congress is to facilitate the safe return and reestablishment on their free will of Western Armenians in their historical locations of their residence. While the Congress’ founding conference proceeded with enviable smoothness, on occasion there were objections, especially from Dr. Dikran Abrahamian of Canada, that the voting on Congress’ aims and the elections of officers had been undertaken with undue haste and sometimes without concern for

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democratic process. He cautioned the gathering that the founding conference was particularly responsible for setting an example to the future activities of the Congress so that all decisions are made with transparency and accountability. Dr. Abrahamian’s objections were considered valid by the chair and attendees. The Congress of Western Armenians then elected a National Council, a 28member group to implement the Congress’ plan of action and meeting the goals of the new political entity. This was followed by the election of the executive committee from within the National Council consisting of a chairperson, three deputies, a secretary general and the head of the legal and judiciary department. Souren Seraydarian from France was elected chairperson. Sona Yacoubian of AGBU-‘Hye Geen’ organization (California), Karen Mikaelyan from Moscow and Gen. Norat Ter Grigoryanc were elected as deputies. The Council convened the following day to discuss details of quarterly plans. The Congress will also have a board of trustees, following the establishment of the Legal Defense Trust Fund. It will be composed of persons who contribute $20,000 or 14,000 Euros and members nominated by the Council. Among attendees who addressed the gathering were Raymond Kevorkian, professor at Institut Francais de Geopolitique, Université Paris, author of the 1,030-page “Genocide of Armenians: the Complete History”; Roberto Malkassian, professor of international law at the University of Buenos Aires; Karen Mikaelyan, the executive director of the former International Organizing Committee for the preparation of the Congress; MP Arakadz Akhoyan from Armenia and economist Ohan Hekimian from Marseille. In his closing remarks, Mr. Seraydarian, the newly-elected chairperson of the Congress of Western Armenians, stated, "Descendants of refugee western Armenians are [today] able, settled, cultured citizens of mostly progressive countries, and present a powerful potential to build, with the motherland, a hopeful and secure future for the Armenian Nation." He then said, "If Armenians attain collective will, unanimity, concordance of spirit, we believe the 21st century will be recorded as Armenians' century." After the conference was adjourned, attendees celebrated the historic gathering by sampling Armenian dishes, Armenian brandy and French champagne. - December 22, 2011

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Love Letter to Armenia March 15, 2012 While Minas Der-Sarkissian’s collection of essays is called “With My Fatherland,” another title could have been “Love Letters to Armenia”. The nineteen essays, which have appeared over the years, in Diaspora Armenian publications, are about the author’s love, admiration, loyalty, nostalgia… for his homeland. The essay titles in the first part of the book say it all: Letter to My Beloved, Armenian Ode, Armenian Sanctities, Capital Love, From Yerevan to Ararad, I Yearn to See, Lost Eden, and Why Do I Often Go to Armenia? The singular theme continues in the second part with I Come from Yerevan, With My Fatherland, Death of the Hero. In the Letter to My Beloved essay the author quotes his wife’s plaintiff words: “It’s always Armenia which has been your muse. Couldn’t you have also dedicated two lines to me?” Der-Sarkissian admits that his spouse is right, and then he goes to explain his intense and unabashed dedication to his fatherland. Born in 1931 in Beirut, the author is a graduate of Melkonian Educational Institute in Cyprus (1945-’50). After his graduation, he attended Lebanon’s Middle East College. Soon after, he joined Trans-Arabian Pipeline. Over the years, Der-Sarkissian has contributed to Zartonk, Ayk, Nor Or and later to Harach and Nor Harach in Paris. In 1996 he settled in Paris. In the second part of the 144-page book the author writes a short humorous memoir about his student days at Melkonian. There is also an interesting long essay about the circumstances of General Antranig’s death, his burial in Fresno, then at Pére Lachaisse in Paris, and eventually in Yerevan. It will come as interesting news to readers that the reason the great Armenian hero was buried, in the late ‘20s, in Paris was because an Azeri at the Soviet consulate in Los Angeles successfully plotted against General Antranig’s burial in Soviet Armenia. The essays have a great many such interesting nuggets of information. For example, few Armenians would know that two of the eight athletes representing the Ottoman Empire at the Fifth Olympic Games in Stockholm in 1912 were Armenian—V. Papazian and M. Mgrian. The latter was leading a track-andfield event when he slowed down near the finishing line because he didn’t want to see Turks celebrate “their” victory with their crescent flag.

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The essay titled “Idol” is a summary of the author’s feelings for Armenia. He says he goes to Armenia like--an orphan heading to his mother, like an exile returning to his family hearth, like a father who approaches his newborn’s cradle, like the lover who hurries to the site of the tryst, like a new groom who dream’s about the conjugal bed… If a reader substituted Armenia, fatherland, motherland with the name of a person of either gender, the book could be become a fascinating compilation of passionate billets doux. Minas Der-Sarkissian 197A, Ave. Du General Leclerc 94700 Maison-Alfort, France Telephone: +331-43.53.98.24

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Shibboleth-Shattering Book of Eye-Popping Revelations “A Study of the Origins of the Hai—the First People” One of the wonders of Prof. Hovhanness Pilikian’s “Origins of the Hai—the First People” is the author’s ability to impart so much new and stunning data and fact-based speculation within the slim volume. The second wonder of the book is the polymath professor’s gutsy (some might say reckless) criticism of the Bing Bang theory and everyone from Charles Darwin to Western scholars who, the author says, push the British-FrenchGerman imperial and racist agenda by distorting the truth about the origins of mankind and the key role of the Armenian nation in that history. The same false paradigm is being maintained by the American neo-con promoters of globalization, according to the author. The professor, who speaks 11 languages, marshals his expertise as a social scientist and his scholarly knowledge of anthropology, psychology, linguistics, history, literature and music to shake many fundamental precepts of the Western view of mankind’s earliest history. First of the London-based professor’s targets is Darwin. He says Darwin’s assumption that the first human originated in the African savannah is without basis. “…such totally boring landscape [savannah] is not conducive to initial human brain development in terms of potential intelligence,” he asserts. To develop physiologically, our brain needs challenging, exciting, varied environments found only in mountainous landscape. The author, citing a variety of factors, concludes that the Armenian Plateau must have been mankind’s alma mater. To back up his conclusion, Prof. Pilikian says the story of Noah’s flood “is not about the sinking of the earth in rain-torrents, but in actual fact its performative reverse—the appearance of the very first piece of land constructed by and surrounding the region of the cataclysmic volcanic eruption of the Ararat Mountains rising from under the oceans.” And when the oceans began to recede, Ararat appeared as the first land and the heartland of ancient Armenia. Subsequent eruptions resulted in the formation of the Armenian Plateau, Anatolia, the Middle East and the rest of the world’s surface. The above scenario is a mirror image of the ancient Armenian poem about the birth of Vahakn, the god of fire. “Heaven and Earth [exploding volcano in unimaginable force] were in travail [childbirth pains] And the crimson waters [fiery red lava-flow] were in travail.

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And in the water, the crimson reed [the fiery phallic column of the ejected lava] was also in travail…” In a mind-boggling revelation, the author says that Noah’s Ark is a metaphor of a millennia-old buried scientific fact: the Armenian Highlands is Noah’s Ark. The highland is the fertile landmass after the outpouring of lava and ashrain. Consequently, the first plants and animals and wo/mankind made their appearance around Ararat. “The Armenian Highlands, uniquely on this planet (with Tibet, on a miniscule scale in comparison) are the most massive massif, the hugest single plateau on top of volcanic mountain ranges,” writes Prof. Pilikian and points out that in a stylized cross-section, Anatolia’s profile reflects the image of Noah’s Ark. He concludes that the whole of ancient Armenia is the Ark of Noah. The book’s next big theme is the worship of the sun cult, the first monotheistic religion. The author maintains that the sun was worshipped by the very first people—the Armenians. The cult, transmitted to ancient Egypt was transformed into the worship of sun god Ra, the oldest god of that country. The spelling of Ra is the Semitic dialectical reverse of the Indo-European AR (the root of Ar-ar-at). Prof. Pilikian somehow doesn’t mention that the word for sun is AR-ev/AR-ek in Armenian. The third big theme of the book is the origin and explication of the word HAI. To analyze the word’s linguistic history, Prof. Pilikian uses the technique of sub-atomic particle physics. He postulates that H-A-I is the fundamental archetypal phonemic vowel—the quark proton in all languages…the very first phoneme in the universal grammar.” He also makes the interesting claim that all five vowels are rooted in the sound of “A.” The book then links HAI to KhAi/KhI/KhUI and Khoi. Khoi (ram in Armenian), an Armenian god, is phonetically connected to Cor-inth, A-ch-r-nians, A-chai, Io-nians, A-chae-manians. The Hittites called themselves the Kha-tti. The Greek word for Earth is Gaia (KHAI-A) “acknowledging the original earth of the Pangaea to have been the locus and the trope, the land of the HAI in the Ararat Region,” says Prof. Pilikian. Exploring the family tree of the word KHA-I, the author also sees links with the Phoenician Ca-dmus (a man of Khai… man from Ararat). Cadmus introduced the alphabet to Greece. The 5th century Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi (“History”) has written that Cadmus was the grandson of the Armenian patriarch HAI-k, the plural of HAI in classical Armenian. Prof. Pilikian maintain that the whole of the Greek alphabet—and consequently all the alphabets of the world—are graphic designs, pictorial representations of the variety of Khoe-Ram horns. In the Van dialect of Armenia, the alphabet - 284 -


is called Ai-ds-a-kir (goat letter). This leads the author to conclude that the first alphabet was conceived in the Armenian Highlands. Digging deeper into the significance of the HAI phonetics, the professor points out that A-I is the sound of ontological pain, the first scream of a newborn child. “The same linguistic fossil preserves a mind-blowing history of thousands of millennia of mankind’s pre-history recording technological advances and habitation,” he says. From there the book connects HA-I to AI-R. In Armenian the latter word means man or undifferentiated gender, kar-air (cave) and is the root of air (burn). Thus the reader observes connections between man, dwelling, and fire, all rooted in HAI. Continuing his one-man campaign of shibboleth shattering, Prof. Pilikian says Hebrews and Arabs originated in the Armenian Plateau. He also notes connections between the Hebrew Jehovah/IAH-WAH and the Arabic All-h with HA-I and asks whether the South African Khoi people originated in Armenia. A possible relationship between Khoi and Kalahari is another observation. The author speculates that the pyramids of Egypt (like the Tower of Babel) are copies of Ararat and that the natives of Japan’s Hokkaido Island might have been originally Armenian. To buttress his case, the professor provides a number of linguistic and anthropological clues. In his conclusion the daring author postulates that the true Garden of Eden is the whole world, not a fantasy somewhere in afterlife. Citing the Hebrew Bible, the author states that the Kingdom of God must be built here on earth and adds, “and it is we, wo/mankind that through our ignorances and stupidities turn this life-god-given paradise into genocidal hell, only and only because of unnecessary, futile, foolish, Capitalist greed…” To purchase the book, contact the Assembly of Armenians of Europe in Uppsala, Sweden at www.aaeurop.com - March 26, 2012

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Open Letter to Steven Spielberg April 21, 2012, Toronto DreamWorks Studios 100 Universal City, CA 91608, USA Dear Mr. Spielberg, I would like to tell you the saga of two famous 20th century books and two famous movie projects. They feature celebrated European writers, imperial heroes, several Hollywood and British stars, MGM bigwigs Louis Mayer and Irving Thalberg, the US State Department, Winston Churchill, ambassadors, British movie mogul Sir Alexander Korda, war and peace, heroes, villains, betrayal, censorship, boycotts, victory and defeat, wars of independence, and… as they say in Hollywood… a cast of thousands. The first book is T.E. Lawrence’s “The Pillars of Wisdom”. It’s about the adventures of a British soldier, who acted as a liaison officer between the British government and the leaders of the Arab Revolt, against the Ottoman Turks during the First World War. When it was published in 1922 it was recognized as a modern masterpiece. Nine years later, another famous book was published about resistance to the Ottomans: this one in Germany. Its title? “The 40 Days of Musa Dagh”. Musa Dagh means the Mountain of Moses. Austrian novelist Franz Werfel was the author. Although 900 pages long, the two-volume novel—based on events in Cilicia in 1915 when a small community of Armenians refused to die without a fight—became an international success. The following year the English version sold 34,000 copies in the first two weeks of its publication. Among the fans of the book were Jews the world over who were inspired by the Armenian struggle against the Turks. During the Warsaw Uprising the novel became a bible and a textbook to Jews fighting the Nazis. David Godine, who published a complete and new version of "The 40 Days of Musa Dagh" this year, said in an interview recently: "Werfel clearly intended his novel as a message to the Jews of Germany. He accurately saw the fate of the Armenians at the hand of the Turks as precursor to the slaughter of the Jews by the Nazis." Irving Thalberg, the legendary MGM producer, bought the film rights and had it translated for the studio screenwriters. Pre-production work began in 1934; Clark Gable was cast as Gabriel Bagradian, the leader of the Musa Dagh Ar-

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menians. The year before, Gable had portrayed an Armenian journalist in the now-classic “It Happened One Night”. Meanwhile, critic Louis Kronenberger of the "New York Times" wrote: "If Hollywood does not mar and mishandle it, it should make a magnificent movie." While Hollywood was gearing up for the production of the Werfel’s saga, on the other side of the Atlantic, film producer Alexander Korda bought the film rights to “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom” from Lawrence. The script was written and Zoltan (Alexander’s brother) was assigned to direct and the shoot was scheduled for 1937 with Leslie Howard as Lieut. Col. Lawrence. Winston Churchill was hired as historical advisor. Despite the glittering reputation of the people backing the project and the fame of Lawrence (he had died in a motorcycle accident in 1935), the movie was cancelled due to Turkish government pressure. Informal pressure was brought to bear on Korda by the British Foreign Office to drop the project. For good measure, the British Film Classification Board informed Korda that there was no chance that the board would certify the film. Without certification the movie couldn’t be shown in Britain. Korda, a recent Jewish immigrant from Hungary, decided not to challenge his hosts. Similar pressure was applied to Werfel’s novel by the Turkish ambassador in Germany. ’Das Schwartz Korps’, the official newspaper of the SS, alleged that “The 40 Days of Musa Dagh” was anti-Turkish propaganda, that the author was an anti-Nazi Jewish agent and that his novel was being promoted by “America’s Armenian Jews.” The novel was burned at a public auto da fe, along with other books the Nazis disapproved. Meanwhile back in Hollywood, Turkey’s ambassador to the United States had been busy trying to stop MGM’s “The 40 Days of Musa Dagh.” Despite the State Department’s several attempts to mollify the Turkish government by watering down the MGM script, Turkish Ambassador Mehmed Ertegun would not budge. He threatened that Turkey would launch a global boycott against MGM if the movie was made. The Turkish press, in full racist throttle, went on an anti-Semitic binge. In a Sept. 3, 1935 editorial, Istanbul’s ‘Heber’ newspaper opined that since Werfel was Jewish and MGM was owned by Jews, Turkey would boycott not only MGM but all Jewish companies around the world. In the face of Turkish threats, Louis B. Mayer, the MGM head, shuttered the movie. While Korda had succumbed to Turkish and foreign office pressure in the late ‘30s, twenty-two years later the famed producer-director team of Sam SpiegelDavid Lean revived the “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom” project and titled it

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“Lawrence of Arabia.” It was shot mostly in Jordan. The movie, two years in production, starred Peter O’Toole, Omar Sharif, a host of British stars and a cast of many thousand Bedouins. Jose Ferrer played the sadist Turkish bey who raped Lawrence in Der’aa, in southern Syria. The movie was made despite Turkish objections and despite Turkish family ties to the Hashemite royal family of Jordan. The movie won seven Oscars, including Best Picture. Since then ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ has been hailed by critics and the public as one of the best epic movies ever made. Mr. Spielberg, I know it’s one of your favorites. While the gutsy decision by Spiegel/Lean paid off artistically and commercially, “The 40 Days of Musa Dagh” script gathered dust at MGM. In 1982 a lowbudget, cowboys-and-Indians version was made by director Sarky Mouradian. Few people, other than Armenians, saw the film. Since then several actors, including Sylvester Stallone, have expressed an interest in the novel. However, Turkish campaigns have succeeded in dissuading these actors from proceeding with the project. Dear Steven, politically controversial movies have an honorable tradition. Costa Gavras filmed the classics “Z” and “Stage of Siege” about the Greek colonels and the Argentinean generals respectively; Richard Gere made “Red Corner” despite Chinese government threats; you made “Amistad” about slavery. Roman Polanski recently directed “The Ghost Writer”—an exposé of former British PM Tony Blair. Throughout your career you’ve shown daring not only in artistic and technical innovation but also in the handling--in truthful manner—of controversial and sensitive issues such as slavery, the Shoah, the Japanese occupation of China. You know about covert and overt pressure. In 2015 it will be 100 years since the Ottoman Turkish government exterminated 1.5 million innocent Armenians and drove the rest from their 4,000-yearold homeland to the deserts of Syria. In three years, Armenians around the world will again raise their voices and demand that the international community persuade Turkey to admit its crime and atone for it. Armenians everywhere are, of course, thankful to the Shoah Foundation Institute (which you’ve established) for helping make Armenian Genocide survivor testimonies available to universities around the world. I humbly ask you to film the Musa Dagh epic: an exciting story which will mesmerize millions of movie lovers. Don’t let Turkish intimidation and boycott strangle truth and justice. On the genocide centenary what better way to tell to the world about the martyrdom of 1.5 million Armenians? I believe you

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and your colleague, Steve Zaillian, are uniquely qualified to do justice to this grand story. The centenary is three years away. Time is running out. We know how time consuming movie production is—specially an epic. Armenians and righteous people around the world would love to see, in 2015, giant billboards proclaim, in block letters, “STEVEN SPIELBERG’s THE 40 DAYS of MUSA DAGH”. It’s time to call “action” for the Musa Dagh shoot. Thank you. An Armenian Movie Buff - April 21, 2012

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Vox Populi—Voice of the People In the past century, the conversation between Armenians and Turks has been monopolized by the governments of the two neighboring Asia Minor countries, their media, including that of the Armenian Diaspora, and the formal organizations representing the two nations. There has been little recorded exchange between “ordinary” Armenians and Turks. Partly to rectify the situation, the Institute for International Cooperation of the German Adult Education Association, in partnership with Anadolu Kulture and the Armenian Centre for Ethnological Studies ("Hazarashen") and the financial support of the German Foreign Office, launched (2009) a project titled Adult Education and Oral History: Contributing to Armenian-Turkish Reconciliation. In Armenia, an Armenian-Turkish workshop was held on oral history titled “History and Identity—Building Bridges for Dialogue and Understanding.” Civil society representatives, historians, anthropologists and oral historians from both countries participated in the workshop. One of the major outcomes of the project was to interview “ordinary” Armenians and Turks in Turkey and Armenians in Armenia to determine their perspectives on the Genocide of Armenians and to gauge their views on the prolonged conflict between the two nations. The interviews were published in a handsome 178-page, illustrated volume titled "Speaking to One Another". The first part of the book (“Wish they hadn’t left: the Burden of Armenian Memory in Turkey”) was compiled by Prof. Leyla Neyzi of the Sabanci University in Istanbul. Prof. Hranush Kharatyan-Araqelyan, the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Armenian Academy of Sciences in Yerevan, tackled the second part of the book—“Whom to Forgive? What to Forgive?” The professors also directed the oral history interviews in their respective countries. Below are abridged interviews of some of the Armenians and Turks who talk of their experiences, the experiences of their parents and grandparents, and voice their opinions on the ongoing hostilities. KAMIL from Aksehir, went to school (the early ‘60s) in a building which was an Armenian school before the Genocide: “You know the benches used in the churches for prayer, we studied on them. Of course that was a mystery to us. They were saying, ‘Here is a kilise [church]… There was a big organ in the basement. We were all curious about it… the teachers used to warn us not to touch it. But we knew nothing about the organ being played in church. We weren’t told any of this, this was a secret. Like something hidden.” ARAM, an Istanbul doctor, has been married twice, both times to Turks. During his childhood, he says, “These subjects [the Genocide] were taboo. They were not spoken of at home. They said we were wealthy. They had hidden - 290 -


cans filled with gold which remained there [in Bitlis], and went through difficult times.” He points out that speaking about the past has only become possible in recent years. “We never investigated our Armenian side. Doing these kinds of things was considered nationalist when we were growing up. Circumstances were more dangerous and difficult.” He remembers several of his father’s anecdotes which illustrate the difficulties of being an Armenian national sportsman in Turkey. “When we won a match the newspaper would write, ‘Our sportsmen won the match’, but if we lost, they wrote, ‘Our sportsmen of Armenian origin lost the match.’” While working in Anatolia Aram was surprised when he was approached by Armenian converts. “There was a man called Mehmet the Kurd. He showed great interest in me. One day he brought a copper tray; there was Armenian writing on the bottom. I found out that his mother was Armenian.” ADIL, from Diyarbakir, remembers his great grandmother, Sosi, who was an Armenian. When she was thirteen years old, “They seized her, as was done many times in many places,” he says. She lost her whole family in 1915. Adil’s great-grandfather “bought” her from a villager who had hidden her in a basket, and married her, although he was twenty years older. Adil says Sosi “was a very sweet woman, a devout Muslim. She prayed all the time and didn’t interfere with anything.” Adil also remembers her stories: “It was so affecting and painful for a child. She’d cry and I would get upset.” NECMI, 70, retired teacher from Divrigi, says: “It’s a pity what happened to the Armenians in our land… Everybody accepted that provocations originated from Armenian organizations and that hostility came from other sources. It happened, and they were armed…” SELIN. 24-year-old Armenian woman from Istanbul, says, “My grandmother’s mother is from Van. My maternal great grandfather wasn’t mentally stable because he was witness to terrible events. He found his own father’s corpse in a sack in the church. After that he lost his ability to speak. All [my] family members have some kind of problem. All these things that have to do with being Armenian affect me. My mother’s way of denying her own existence is passed on to me.” Selin’s grandfather grew up selling trinkets on the streets. His eventual success as a trader was repeatedly thwarted by actions against non-Muslims. During World War II, he was drafted into units made up exclusively of non-Muslims.

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They were subjected to the notorious wealth tax and went into debt. In September 1955 he was forced to defend his home against marauders. MEHMET, 62, from Igdir, on the slopes of Mount Ararat. “The Armenians that my father used to describe were people who were armed, aggressive, hostile, murderous… We cannot erase what happened in the past. In fact, the present generation is not responsible for the events of the past. They just inherited that history...” AVETIS , Armenia. He remembers his father telling him that his Turkish friend helped him and his brother. He describes some Turkish civilians as “more humane, more benevolent, amicable and intimate. When his father and brothers were hiding in the mountains, their Turkish friends would come at night and bring them water and food.” ARPIK, Armenia. “My mother in law had a daughter, her name was Satik. When a Turk tried to take her away she was 14 years old, a small girl, the big guy was dragging her, mother was resisting, saying don’t touch her, she is too small, have pity on her. This girl was trembling from fear, fell down, got up and couldn’t move. She was so frightened that she died after a week. We always visited to the cemetery to put some flowers. But the old woman would say: “Thanks great God that my baby died pure, died innocent, no Turk made use of her.” The above and scores of wide-ranging interviews took place between October 2009 and February 2010. Individuals in Turkey and Armenia from diverse backgrounds and regions were interviewed to record how they remembered and reconstructed the recent history of Armenians and Turks. One of the aims of the project was to investigate post memory: how did individuals recount events they themselves did not experience but which were transmitted to them by older generations. Readers interested in obtaining the book should contact Prof. Leyla Neyzi, Sabanci University, 34956 Orhan/Tuzla, Istanbul, Turkey. - July 23, 2012

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Another Shakespearean Mystery Unraveled Four hundred years after his death, there are still mysteries to be unraveled about William Shakespeare and his work. According to London-based polymath Prof. Hovhanness I. Pilikian, it might take us another thousand years before we would uncover all the messages, ideas, jokes, puns, clues and asides Shakespeare tucked in his plays and poems. Why did the Man-from-Stratford hide his ideas and observations? Fear of censorship and even imprisonment; gamesmanship--a challenge to the audience or the reader to decode what he had hidden in his text; in literature-as in any art--being blatant equals artlessness; a dare to the "in-crowd" and to the cognoscenti, and the joys of dramatic discovery are among the reasons Shakespeare frequently masked his views. Who better qualified than Pilikian-scholar, social scientist, author, film producer/theatre director, classical music composer, fluent in at least six languages, etymologist-to guide us through the maze the Bard created in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, and in the process, became not only England's greatest writer but probably the greatest writer ever. Pilikian is an avid puzzle solver. Just a few months ago he published a stunning interpretation of the word "HAI" (it means 'Armenian' in Armenian) in a scholarly work titled "A Study of the Origins of the Hai-the First People" (reviewed in Keghart.com March 26, 2012). This time around, the professor zeroes his acute eye on the last 28 of Shakespeare's 154 Sonnets and comes up with the stunning conclusion that the socalled "Dark Lady" poems are actually about an African slave-prostitute whom Shakespeare loved unreservedly. But before analyzing the poem word by word, the professor makes a strong case that to appreciate his recent discovery, the reader has to be familiar with the Elizabethan Era--the time Shakespeare lived. Contextualizing the socioeconomic times is one of the keys to understanding Shakespeare and his work, says Pilikian. England was mostly a rural country then. The cities--there were a few were teeming, packed, unhygienic and often plague-ridden sprawls. People didn't bathe and bath-houses were often secret brothels. If Los Angeles is the Big Smog, Shakespeare's London was The Big Stink. Medicine was of dubious quality; venereal disease was widespread, especially among the nobility, intel-

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lectuals and creative people such as Shakespeare. People died before reaching their mid-forties. It's no wonder that 12- or 13-year-old Romeo and Juliet could contemplate marriage-life was "nasty, brutal and short", according to Thomas Hobbes, the philosopher. People had to make do with what they were allotted. (Although the tragedy takes place in Verona, Italy, most scholars agree that no matter the locale of his plays, Shakespeare was writing about England and the English, whether the characters were in togas, helmets or wide-brimmed hats.) Slavery--meaning the bondage of Africans--was widespread. Some noblemen had slaves, others had African servants. Some slaves were street entertainers while others were unwilling prostitutes. Theatre--Shakespeare's profession--was looked down by society. When noblemen attended the theatre, they were thought to be slumming. Actors and writers, perennially hard up, lived cheek by jowl with the "undergrowth" of society, such as thieves, drunkards, con men and prostitutes. The language of the theatre people was impregnated with hidden obscenities, vulgar slang, and salacious puns. Many words had dual meanings: the great dramatist's first name was slang for male genitals, while his last name could mean masturbation in the London underworld. No wonder then, as Pilikian points out, some of the most probing and illuminating Shakespearean scholarship has been accomplished by linguists and lexicographers, such as the legendary Eric Partridge. Although Shakespeare declared the pun to be the lowest form of wit, he nonetheless indulged in rampant punning. As a commercial artist, he knew too well his audience's delight in untangling puns. Punning was so widespread that it was almost like a second language--like the Cockney of today's London. Theatrical people of the Elizabethan era lived on the margins of society. As people on the periphery, they often ignored societal mores and expectations. Considering the desperate and rowdy life--especially the milieu in which Shakespeare flourished--it would come as no surprise that Shakespeare might have had a black slave-prostitute as a lover: he was far away from his wife and the conjugal bed in Stratford. In his theatrical world romance, casual or illicit love affairs were part of the quotidian parade. While Shakespeare's profession, his milieu, and the times he lived might make a romance between the dramatist and the slave woman not far-fetched, the clincher in Pilikian's thesis is his word-by- word parsing of the Sonnets.

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Thus, in the Sonnets, the object of Shakespeare's love is described as: " ............. black wires grow on her head" [No. 130, Line 4] "Who art as black as hell, as dark as night". [The last line of No. 147] Pilikian insists that Shakespeare's lover was not "dark or olive skinned," as traditional, if not racist, scholars have maintained for several centuries. In a memorable statement, Professor Pilikian confirms: "Shakespeare is screaming down the centuries across the ugly face of all the racists that the woman he loved passionately was not mildly dark, olive-skin colored, but African-black, like the Night - you cannot get blacker than Night itself!" Elsewhere (e.g Sonnet No. 128), when Shakespeare sings about his black lover, he subtly refers to her banging on the jacks of a wooden musical instrument, in the style of African percussive instruments, rather than strumming on the strings of the instrument, (or playing on a Virginal, as traditionally misunderstood), says Prof. Pilikian. As Pilikian says, over time Shakespeare has been cloaked, by the British establishment and scholars, in sacred vestments. Shakespeare has been emasculated and depicted as an ideal man, a generous man, a good Christian, a man with solid middle-class values. A Victorian gent, in other words. The British have turned Old Will to Saint Shakespeare. The dramatist and poet was a disillusioned and a disappointed man, Pilikian says. He might even have been a crypto-Catholic at a time when English Catholics were persecuted. And as soon as he saved enough money (he speed-wrote his 38 plays and poems in under two decades), he fled rowdy London to retire in his somnolent hometown of Stratford. Over the centuries the reputation of Shakespeare and that of his work have survived endless controversies. Some scholars-many of them French--maintain the plays were written by a nobleman; a group of writers; by a woman. Voltaire and Tolstoy thought he was a vulgarian. He has been tagged mostly by non-English scholars, of being a plagiarist, bisexual, obscene writer, snob, sycophant and an upstart. He might have been all of these, but above all, Shakespeare was the first humanist. Some say he invented the modern times and our contemporary sensibilities. Pilikian's thesis reinforces the profile of a humanist with modern sensibilities: a man who had no reservations--not only about having an affair with a black slave-prostitute--but dared to write about his ravishing amour, albeit in covert terms.

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As soon as the Armenian public discovered Shakespeare, the English dramatist-poet became a favorite of Armenian theatergoers from Constantinople to Tbilisi to Yerevan and Baku. Armenians have given the world a number of remarkable interpreters of Shakespeare. from Vahram Papazian to Kevork Chmshkian and the Gabriel Soundoukian National Academic Theatre to the opera singer Pavel Lisitsian. With his exposÊ of the identity of Shakespeare's "Black Mistress", Prof. Pilikian has joined the pantheon of great Armenian interpreters of the Bard of Avon. We eagerly wait for the prolific professor's next scholarly peregrinations in literature, history, etymology, art, and the social sciences. – August 10, 2012

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As I Was Saying... Dikran Abrahamian


The Latest Victim of the Armenian Genocide & Democracy: Hrant Dink A year ago this writer and several friends were actively involved in collecting signatures for a petition that was being circulated by the Workshop of Armenian and Turkish Scholars. It was sent to the Turkish authorities who would try Hrant Dink for insulting “Turkish identity". Subsequently Orhan Pamuk, Elif Shefak and a host of other writers would face the same charge. Since then a warm friendship developed through emails and phone calls. Eventually, we had the opportunity to meet at the Armenia/Diaspora Conference this past September. We shared thoughts, and despite differences of opinion we parted with the deep feeling that our friendship would prevail for years to come. Unfortunately, it was short lived and was terminated by a fanatic. Hrant Dink was assassinated today. Personal feelings and emotions aside, Hrant Dink is the latest victim of the Armenian Genocide. The atmosphere of hatred, intolerance and the deplorable stance of the Turkish establishment regarding human rights and freedom of speech paved the way to such a tragic end. Dink, as a tormented and true citizen of the world, fought primarily for democracy in Turkey. It’s not the first time that a friend is brutally silenced by an assassin. I hear Hrant Dink’s message along those of others who have paid the ultimate price. It’s the message of peace, democracy and respect for human rights. - January 19, 2007

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What's Next? A close friend asked, “If there is one item that would be the most important for the Armenian community in Canada, what would that be?” I was glad to see that my unspoken answer was what he elaborated on in his email message. It was only three years ago that recognition of the Genocide was the number one issue. Back in 2004 when the Canadian parliament was in session to recognize the Genocide the prime minister was conveniently “absent”. It was left to his confidantes to “convince” MPs against the motion. Gone are those days, and gone are the qualifiers such as “alleged” that abounded in the national press whenever articles about the Genocide of the Armenians were published. The credit goes to the Right Honorable Stephen Harper for taking a principled stand and making it clear that Canada stands firmly on the side of a historical fact. Nowadays it is not uncommon to see several articles in the press, even in one single day, calling the tragedy in its proper legal designation. Untold hours and years of work by members of ANCC, AWA, CCA, CAN, the diocese, and the prelacy played a major role in making the case. Various NGOs and charitable organizations were tirelessly involved in educating the Canadian public. The Genocide scholarship internationally produced superb studies, and it laid the groundwork for establishing the veracity of the horrible tragedy. Without such monumental task the desired outcome could not have been achieved. Zoryan Institute carried a heavy weight. Other establishments, such as the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, were part of the process. The “killing fields” in Cambodia, the Genocide in Rwanda and Major-General Romeo Dallaire’s outspoken stance, the racial cleansing in Europe, the unfolding of the massacres in Darfur, all helped drive home the inconsistency of talking about current tragedies and neglecting the prototype of all subsequent genocides of recent history. Genocide became a household term that people could connect with. What’s next? It would not be inaccurate to state that people of all political, social and church affiliations would like to see the presence of Embassy of Canada in Armenia. It’s not a secret wish, and it is within reach. What makes one uneasy, however, is the almost opaque nature of our organizations, and therefore one can’t be sure whether it is being appropriately pursued. In March a reception was held by CCA honouring Stéphane Dion. It was reported that he was in favour of opening a Canadian embassy in Armenia. To my knowledge this was the first time that a Canadian leader has publicly lent his unequivocal support to a cherished cause. Why did it not receive adequate coverage? Couldn’t "Horizon", "Baykar" and others make contact and con-

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duct interviews with the Hon. Dion, leader of the official opposition? Did people write to him and thank him? Will our organizations tell at least their members what’s afoot? What’s wrong with sharing such news with the public? An embassy is not going to suddenly appear. Without vigorously pursuing the matter at all levels, it might end up in the realm of footnotes. An initiative in writing directly to Mr. Dion can make a difference. Simultaneously, the PMO and members of the parliament from all parties should be aware of our wish. Individual messages underscore the community-wide support to such a motion. Contact information can be obtained from the House of Commons website. - September 3, 2007

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A Faux Pas On October the 10th Ontarians will be casting their votes to elect a new provincial parliament and hence a new government. The two contenders for the position are the Liberal and the Conservative parties. The NDP and the Green Party are secondary players but may tip the balance. The principal issue that divides the parties in this election is the proposed faith-based school funding which is in the Conservative platform. According to the latest polls the populace is almost equally divided on this matter, but support for the parties does not mirror peoples’ preferences. If this matter of school funding were an item for a referendum, such as the question of proportional representation, I would have refrained from raising questions that are relevant to the Armenian community in Ontario. As a general observation I’d like to concur with many in the press that the current practice of funding the Catholic schools alone is discriminatory. However, comparing the Catholic schools with most of the other “faith-based” schools is not congruent with the facts. The Catholic schools educate children from various ethnic backgrounds such as Irish, French, Italian, German, Latin American, etc. Whereas most of the other non-public schools, as understood in this context, are primarily based on ethnicity, I’ll confine myself to Armenian schools to make the point. Do Armenians send their children to Armenian schools solely because they follow the apostolic faith? Aren’t there parents who are of other denominations, such as Catholic, Protestant and Pentecostal who prefer the Armenian schools principally because of ethnic and communal considerations, and driven by motives other than religion? I know of skeptics and atheists, too. Is the Armenian community a participant in the present discussion? Vocally it is not, but silently yes. On August 28th "CBC News" reported that “Religious groups call for faith-based schools funding”, and “leaders from the Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and Armenian communities held a media conference…to announce the creation of the Public Education Fairness Network”. The group said, “It plans to launch an advertising campaign to make it a prominent election issue, but denies that it will endorse any one political party.” It’s been already more than a fortnight since that account was circulated, yet there is no mention of it on the websites of St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church and the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church, the two main worship centres in the GTA. The Conservative Party is the only side that’s advocating faith-based school funding. Being a partner in a “Network,” as described, is making a political - 300 -


statement, and by default supporting that party. Is the Armenian religious leader or whoever is pursuing the idea and participating in this “Network� an elected representative to speak on behalf of the whole community? Were the various stakeholders in the community consulted? Such a partnership entails a political commitment and lending the support of the whole community to one particular party. To my understanding Armenians, like others in Ontario, are divided both on the funding issue and supporting any of the four political parties. If community leaders of all stripes, board members, educators were consulted and were in agreement why then the community was not informed? This writer believes that it is high time that various decision-makers in the community consult one other prior to making broad announcements on behalf of the whole community. Silence is not always an indicator of approval of what goes on. - September 17, 2007

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Ontarians Have to Wait Another Decade Throughout Ontario’s history many governments have been elected without the support of the majority of the popular vote because of the “first-pass” system. At times majority governments have been formed by barely garnering 40 percent of the popular vote, leaving 60 percent of the electorate out of the loop of governing. To address this anomaly the MPP (Mixed Member Proportional representation) is proposed for a referendum. It is designed to give a chance to small parties and minorities to have representation in the legislature and governance. Advocacy groups of poverty, gender equality, better health care, environment, in addition to a host of others, are considered minorities in this context. MMP entails “electing” 39 members of legislature who will be allocated to competing parties in proportion to the percentage of voters that various parties have attracted; provided they attain or surpass the 3 percent threshold mark. This will complement the 90 representatives elected in the traditional manner. Advocates of MMP maintain that the proposed system will enhance democracy and bring into legislature parties that otherwise can’t get elected under the traditional system. They predict that MMP will promote genuine majority rule. Those who oppose MMP underscore the fact that none of the parties will be able to form a majority government. They will be compelled to negotiate with fringe parties which could be unpalatable and extreme in their views, and hence lead to unstable short-lived governments. They maintain that the present system despite its shortcomings is functioning well. Why to opt for a new system the outcome of which is not clear? Proponents and critics draw examples from other countries where the system of MMP or a similar variant is in place. How does MMP affect political, ethnic or religious minorities? It’s a moot question at this stage as size and militancy of such groups play a decisive role. The political context of the times will determine how they exercise their rights. With respect to the Ontario Armenian community, size being a defining element, a pragmatic rather than an ideological approach should be entertained, keeping an open mind and playing by ear. MMP did not get adequate coverage during the election campaign and probably it won’t see, for a variety of reasons, the light of day for some time. The divisive issue of faith-based school funding derailed the discussions and there

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was not sufficient exchange of views of what MMP means. People tend to go along with the status quo if a new proposal of prime magnitude has not been exhaustively explained and understood. Leaders of the parties were excluded from discussing the subject and hence the referendum was not appropriately highlighted. Lastly, living in an atmosphere of understandable political anxiety, some minorities are not yet wholeheartedly welcome in the political process. In all likelihood Ontarians have to wait for another decade to revisit the idea of proportional representation! - October 6, 2007

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A Faux Pas Revisited (Survey Results) Bread and butter issues such as health, education, taxes, crime, poverty and homelessness ordinarily dominate the discussions during provincial election campaigns. Every now and then leadership style or a gross scandal becomes the pivotal subject of the debate. Unfortunately, the divisive issue of faith-based school funding consumed almost everybody’s attention this time around. In the process it opened a can of worms, namely the unfair exclusive funding of Catholic schools. For all practical purposes there was a flip-flop towards the end, and the whole concept of faith-based school funding came under scrutiny with calls for abandoning the practice entirely. On Sept.17 the problem was raised in the “A Faux Pas” note. Questions were put forth whether the Armenian community was aware of this matter, and who was or were the people that spoke on behalf of the community. My guess was that no adequate consultations had taken place. To date neither acknowledgement nor refutation has materialized. To find out whether I was the only “ignorant” person a survey was conducted and emails sent to Armenians in Canada. It was carried between 1st and 7th of October. The end point was to count the first 100 responses from Ontario for observations.

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The first 40 answers were manually entered by respondents via emails and they were verifiable in terms of location and person. The additional 60 entries were of on-line source, and could be verified only for location. It was a mixed bag. Responses received from outside Ontario are not included in the present analysis. Given the variance of the two batches of respondents two separate statistical data are presented here. One for the first 40 manual entries and another that includes all 100 responses. Drawing conclusions is left to the readers. Observations: These cursory observations are based solely on above mentioned one hundred responses and cannot be extrapolated as the survey was not designed in line with strict statistical guidelines. 1) A majority was following the political debate, 2) A majority is not in favor of faith-based school funding, 3) A majority supports a uniform public curriculum funded by the province, 4) Four persons were approached to present their opinion, 5) Five persons were aware who participated in the 28 August meeting, 6) One person had given proxy or consent General Remark: 1, 2 & 3 are in line with how a majority of Ontarians have responded based on polls in the local press. Element of bias: The email list contains a cross section of people that hold a variety of religious and political views. However, it is not possible to ascertain whether people of opposing views are equally represented in this very limited survey. For the sake of completeness some representative comments are provided below: Q2: No, including the Catholic schools (constitutional amendment is needed) Q3: Yes, which to me means cutting off all public funds to so-called "Catholic" schools through a minor constitutional amendment, just as Quebec and Newfoundland did 10 years ago.

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Q3: Yes, but we should make allowance for other schools under private funding. Q3: Yes, however, community schools should have the option to function. Q3: Why should the curriculum be any different between schools? Q4: No, I only heard that we better vote for John Tory because Armenian schools will get government funding. What a short sighted reason and argument for electing any candidate Q5; I don't know what the August 28th meeting was about and who it was for. Q6: Absolutely not. [They] would likely say they speak for the entire Armenian community, even though they only represent an extremist minority, albeit a vocal one (unfortunately, the silent majority goes along). General Comments on the site: 1) Instead of dividing our community to different faith based schools, we should ensure all our children are brought together to learn and get along with each other.

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2) As a Catholic one would think I would have a vested interest in maintaining faith-based schools. But I think they are divisive and drain the publicschool system of much needed funds. As well, if Catholics are allowed then it follows logically that all other faiths should also--and that would mean the end of the public-school system. There are those who feel this isn't a bad thing. But these are usually people with the money to be able to afford to send their children to private schools. 3) I believe that there should be uniformity to a certain extent in the curriculum of the public schools. However, when faith schools are funded by the taxpayers’ money, they should be allowed to teach their heritage and ethnic values, after following the academic curriculum provided by the government. 4) I spend summers in Quebec, where laic schools passed, as in Newfoundland, without any great problems. I wish to see the same thing in Ontario, and the abolition of special treatment for Roman Catholic schools. The growing diversity of nationalities, ethnicities, and religious beliefs will be good for all of our children--but not if they are separated by religious beliefs in the school system. 5) In my opinion, the state and church should be separate, public money shouldn't be used to fund religious/faith based schools. The government should direct the efforts and resources to bringing people and different communities together. Funding faith based schools essentially would increase the risk of segregation, division of society into different groups that have different values and goals. That's a major force threatening the sovereignty of any state. 6) I have no children; however I was educated in the public system and turned out fine by most peoples’ standards anyway! 7) It is one’s right to practice one’s faith, but society must be uniform to benefit all. 8) All faiths should be respected. However, other issues need to be addressed in Ontario at this point.

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9) To me, public does not mean secular. I represent a large family, all Christians. We pay taxes, we live in this society, and we participate. If we want our children to be taught Christian values in the educational system we are paying for we have that right. If one group opposes this OK, but they can't dictate to me what I will believe. (USA) - October 8, 2007

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Will Justice be Denied Again? In less than a day the US House Foreign Affairs committee will be deliberating on the bill recognizing the Armenian Genocide as the first genocide of the 20th century. Following this process and provided it meets the approval of the majority of the members of the committee, the bill will be forwarded to the House for a vote. In years past the House twice recognized the Genocide of the Armenians. The sky did not fall down. Today that’s not the way it is perceived in some US quarters; they invoke the specter of compromising US security and its interests in the Middle East, the loss of a major ally which is considered a buffer zone between the West and an untrustworthy area south and east of Turkey, and setting in motion unpredictable catastrophic consequences. Negative qualifiers and hyperboles abound in this charade of quasi-arguments depicting a day of doom and gloom, an Armageddon if the Genocide were to be recognized. To defeat the bill, Turkey, spending millions of dollars, has recruited lobbyists who callously have become subservient to the interests of a foreign state, counting dollars rather than listening to their conscience. Joining the chorus is a host of former and present secretaries of state. A despicable act and an unbecoming behaviour characterize their stance when they declare that the process of improving relations between Turkey and Armenia could be jeopardized if the bill is passed. The harsh fact is that there is no such course of action in place and that the claim is a fabrication concocted at the highest level to misinform the public, elected representatives and the international community. The state of Israel, understandably almost always in a paranoid mindset, fixated on geopolitical concerns, has involved itself in this abhorrent flow of events. Despite the outcry of a sizable portion of Jewry in the US and in Europe calling upon Israel to take a moral stand, it seems the latter has dishonoured its own history by trying to prevent the passage of the bill through its diplomatic channels. A state that should feel and understand the suffering of survivors of Genocide has equated itself with deniers of the Holocaust. Against this background it has been an uphill battle of Herculean proportions for the Armenian community and its friends in the US to bring the matter to this stage. Comprized a little over one-million people, primarily of third- and fourth-generation survivors, with very few representatives from the second generation and a handful of survivors, patiently but persistently, through educating the public, it has successfully managed to bring the matter to a vote. To - 309 -


praise all members of various organizations that have devoted their time, energy, money, life to a cause of recognition of a traumatic memory is an under evaluation. There should be a word in the lexicon beyond and loftier than praise. May be above all it’s the average Joe who is worthy of commendation. Out of a sense of duty, respect to the martyrs, blood and land, responding to an inaudible yet forceful call from the past, and without necessarily being instructed what to do, he or she wrote letters to editors, called representatives, implored the commander-in-chief, “I urge you, Mr. President, to take action and declare officially, in public, that Armenians do deserve to ask for justice..� - October 9, 2007

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No, Mr. Wiesel, You Don’t Speak on My Behalf! A Lebanese identity card written in Arabic states: Name & Surname: Joseph Abrahamian Date and Place of Birth: 1916, Adana Religion: Armenian Orthodox That’s my late father’s identification in my hand. He passed away at the age of 69, in 1985, in one of the Prairie cities out west and north. There isn’t much joy in telling about his childhood. Misery and deprivation were his constant companions as he escaped from the Genocide in a boat. He landed in a Greek port with my grandfather and uncle. He was initially brought up without a mother; later his stepmother took over the upbringing of the two little boys. The whereabouts of my biological grandmother and her fate are not known. Like so many other grandmothers who were either raped, abducted, perished or lost, she ultimately “vanished”…Rumor has it that she was a beautiful woman and prior to the atrocities a certain Turkish pasha was “attracted” to her. I’ll stop there. The subsequent Odyssey of my grandfather and his two sons are not relevant to what I’d like to tell the distinguished Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel. It is prompted by his recent bizarre statements that he made in an interview with "The Philadelphia Jewish Voice." Mr. Wiesel, I guess, chronologically I should be considered as a secondgeneration survivor. My question to you is very simple: you are a survivor of the Holocaust, and there is no doubt in my mind that you have told story after story about your horrible experiences to your family, friends and the world. Did anybody give you permission to do so? Were you told by anyone to remember? Why on earth then you grant yourself the cavalier right of speaking on my behalf. I require nobody’s permission, including yours, to remember, and ask others to remember. Your status as a Holocaust survivor does give you neither the moral nor the legal right to tell me what I want and what I do not want. You must be deluded to think that I shouldn't demand that the Turks take responsibility for the horrible crimes that their ancestors committed. No, Mr. Wiesel, you are wrong when you assert that “seven generations separate us from the events that happened in World War I”. Do you think the likes of me are hares which procreate and multiply in no time? Was it a slip of the tongue, or an insinuation that since it happened a long time ago it’s not worth fighting over it? I do remember well what I was told in so many vivid terms. Even Turkish scholars acknowledge that the Turks of today have to take responsibility by acknowledging the past; they differ only in what to call it. - 311 -


What on earth was going through your mind when you stated, “the Armenians don’t want reparations,” and “they don’t even want an apology”? Shame! An apology is owed not only to Armenians but to humanity. I thought you would have understood that by now. I am disillusioned. I respected you as a scholar, a humanitarian, a human rights activist, and foremost as a survivor, because I never made any distinctions between Armenian, Jew, Cambodian, Rwandan or Darfurian when Genocide was involved. It was back in mid-1960s, when I was in my early twenties, that I visited Adana. Unfortunately it was winter; not-so-pleasant roads hampered my short visit to go around and explore. I could not see much, specially the orchards that I had heard about. It was a sort of a pilgrimage and I was somewhat content with what could be achieved under the circumstances. My question to you Mr. Wiesel is why did I go to Adana? Explain it in whatever way and terms you want. The crux of the matter is that there is a yearning to go back, to see the land, kneel and honour the people who were sacrificed and loudly say, “This land belonged to my ancestors; it is my rightful inheritance; you stole it in the most fiendishly brutal way! I have come to reclaim it.” One final point does exact your patience. Why is it that your friend prefers to use “tantamount to Genocide” and you try, in an obtuse manner, remind that the word Genocide did not exist at the time the Armenians were massacred? You are well aware that your compatriot Raphael Lemkin had exactly the Armenian massacres in mind when he was deliberating what to call the tragic phenomenon and enact laws that would prevent such occurrences. He was fully aware that a calamity of the sort could be in the making, and his people would be the victim. Otherwise how to explain his pleas to his father, family and friends to leave their homes and move to safer countries? Another great compatriot of yours immortalized the heroic stand of Musa Dagh to tell his own people of what could happen, and inspire them to resist and fight. Have you forgotten Mr. Wiesel? It seems you have not followed your own advice to remember. I need not remind you of your other compatriot who was one of the first diplomats who talked about race extermination. You know it all too well, better than many. Please, enough of this crippled game on words and twisting arguments. You are treading along a path which is not any different than what some “progressive” scholars in Turkey are trying to do. To make things palatable to their respective audiences, some have even contemplated using translations of expressions in Armenian when the word Genocide was not coined yet. No, Mr. Wiesel, you don’t speak on my behalf! - October 31, 2007 - 312 -


Reflections on Books, Centres and Philanthropy Communities and nations are often measured by their cultural contributions. Studying recorded history, analyzing how the present has evolved from the past is part of that endeavor and helps us to better understand ourselves. To this end, the creation of cultural and educational centres through philanthropy to promote such studies is a noble and enlightening cause. I have been pondering this line of thought these past couple of months after attending two book presentations, a funeral of a person whom I knew only by name, and exchanging greetings with another person with whom my contacts were limited to emails. I sometimes wonder how the mind draws comparisons between events which seemingly have no relevance to each other. For example, a few weeks ago I attended a lecture sponsored by NAASR (the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research) and the local chapter of AGBU (Armenian General Benevolent Union) in Toronto. The 160kilometer journey was worth the effort! George Bournoutian, recipient of IREX, NDEA and Mellon Fellowships and a professor of East European and Middle Eastern History at Iona College, captivated the audience like a performing artist. His skill in simplifying and presenting complex historical concepts promoted intense interest. The experience was akin to being in front of the desktop and enjoying an interactive program which you don't want to end. The first book he analyzed was "Tigranes II and Rome" by the eminent Armenian historian, H. Manandyan. The book, a new interpretation based on primary sources, describes the dealings ancient Rome had with the Pontic and Armenian kingdoms in the first century BC. The parallels of regional control demonstrated between this classic period and the present was almost stunning! The audience, like me, was enthralled. Anyone studying this period will find the book a most valuable resource. Then Prof. Bournoutian analyzed "The Travel Accounts of Simeon of Poland." Those who are interested in Ottoman history will be fascinated by the book. The lecturer underlined that European travelers have left numerous accounts on the various provinces of the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century. But this book differed from all others because, as the professor pointed out, Simeon's travels "not only span an uninterrupted period of twelve years, but his accounts are also most detailed on both the places he visited and the people he met.� I can readily attest that the author's style makes you incapable to put the book down. I finished it in two nights. My humble recommendation would be to bring this book as a traveling companion and reference tool, to help you fully experience the history and flavor of Alexandria, Cairo, Jerusa- 313 -


lem, Damascus, Aleppo, Antioch, Istanbul and elsewhere in the Middle East on your next visit there. And this past Sunday I enjoyed another intellectual experience. I attended the Hamazkayin Cultural Association's book launch of the Montreal writer, Razmik Panossian’s "The Armenians: From Kings and Priests to Merchants and Commissars" at the Armenian Community Centre in Toronto. Panossian's book is based on his PhD dissertation on Armenian identity and nationalism. It won the Lord Bryce Prize for best dissertation in comparative and international politics in the UK, granted by the UK Political Studies Association. Panossian obtained his PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2000. The book has earned praise from many scholars, including Anthony Smith of the London School of Economics and Political Science who wrote that the book is, “a lucid, penetrating, and always fascinating inquiry into the nature of national identity in general and a massive and multifaceted sociological history of the foundations and development of the Armenian nation.” At the launch, Khachig Tölölyan, professor of literature at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, and founder/editor of "Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies," analyzed the book in an hour-long presentation. He strongly commended the book's style, content and its value as a superb resource in the study of national identity. In addition to his contribution to the study of Armenian history, Tölölyan disected the meticulous scholarly journey that Panossian had undertaken while exploring the various elements of nationhood that were created, preserved and carried in multifocal centres as far apart as Vienna, Moscow, Tbilisi, Constantinople, Moscow and Madras: all away from a homeland and in the absence of a national state. He underlined the fact that unlike other nations that were created “from above”, through actions of states, here was a heterogeneous identity lacking many of the attributes of a “nation” but one that continues to persevere towards a path to nationhood. Panossian’s book is a valuable contribution in the study of national identity and will certainly interest students and scholars alike of various branches of humanities. The organizers of the above events are commended for their excellent choices of presentation. They were worthy of being held at the highest level in a university setting. My only disappointment was the absence of scholars of nonArmenian descent at these gatherings. I am sure that many of them, especially from the Metro Toronto region, would have enjoyed and appreciated being invited.

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A final thought about the centres themselves: many waves of Armenian and various other immigrants have come to Canada. We have all contributed to enrich this pluralistic, multicultural society. Our various, rich and intertwining histories are being celebrated by and through these various cultural associations and centres. They play a vital role in providing an atmosphere and forum to hear such rich, enlightening and eminent personalities as those mentioned above. - November 7, 2007

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I Need Your Help, Doc! It’s natural to be influenced by one's profession when looking at the social environment and evaluating situations. I am not an exception, and I tend to apply some simple principles that I have acquired. They are based on common sense and a pragmatic approach that are so easy to implement. I am referring to symptoms and signs. A symptom is what you hear, what the complaint is or what the situation might be in the eye of the person telling you a story. A sign is what you find to corroborate what you’ve heard, or something that you discover, but the person is not aware of it. Sometimes you may consider what you are told to be the figment of imagination; you can’t find a corresponding physical sign. It’s a delusion. It may be either a rosy one or the expression of a very painful experience. In an average busy day I hear more than a hundred various complaints. Infrequently, my senses get dulled, and it’s not uncommon in such a situation for the patient to ask in a humble but forceful way, “Are you listening, Doc?" Let’s change the roles and let me be the person complaining today, telling you what aches and what hurts me. You be the examiner. Be patient; don’t jump into conclusions right away. They may mislead you and you may end up in a wrong diagnosis, and hence your prescription to heal me may result in aggravating the problem or outright damaging me even further. I don’t want to end up in a coma or life-support system. My first complaint is about a friend. Rumor has it that he is sending his two lovely children to a Catholic school. Previously they were attending an Armenian school of the apostolic faith. Did my friend have a change of heart? I don’t think so; I just saw him at the Armenian Club the other day and at the Armenian Church a few weeks ago. Oh, by the way, for all I know he was a dedicated volunteer at one of the Armenian organizations and served the Armenian Church in several capacities for many years. Was the Armenian school charging too much and my friend could not afford footing the bill? That can’t be the case! Sending his children to a Catholic school is costing him more, considering after-hour care and all the expenses that go with such services. So what happened? Did somebody step on his toes? I hear, you hear, probably all of us hear that our young are either indifferent, or unhappy about their Armenian environment, or they don’t care what goes on. OK, let’s not bring in hearsay. So that nobody gets offended I’ll talk about my two adult children. They were fortunate to travel abroad and get their sec- 316 -


ondary education in a renowned Armenian institution, enjoy the beautiful sun and the blue sea. Of course, they had the additional advantage of visiting here and there on their trips across the Atlantic. They are very grateful, and I have no doubt about it, as they acknowledge it in their own way now and then. Here is my complaint: they will not on their own initiative make an effort to join an Armenian club or an association or what have you. To be fair to them, let me say that they do infrequently attend some events, or accompany me on rare occasions whenever a community gathering takes place. However, they will not make an active participation in whatever goes on. Can you Doc, tell me why? My third complaint is about an Armenian lady who married an Armenian gentleman. Both are professionals and they had their respective circles of friends prior to marriage. Reportedly, the husband held some important position in one of the Armenian parties. On festive occasions and family gatherings there were ample opportunities for these “respective circles of friends” to get together, sing and dance, invite each other and forge new personal friendships. The lady got praises for her cakes, setting of tables, and for her hospitality. The story, unfortunately, does not have a “happily ever after” ending. A few years after the wedding, and after having two children, discord set in and the couple got divorced. There was no infidelity involved. You guessed it right. Mr. Husband’s friends stopped visiting, talking to the lady, let alone inviting her to family gatherings, social meetings and community activities. The children lived with their mother. They were taken out of the Armenian school and were sent elsewhere. Can you Doc, tell me why? More than two or three complaints trigger a general examination, and I am not ready for that. Let’s treat this visit as an intermediate assessment; anything further can be costly and right now I can’t afford it. Maybe some other time, will it be OK, Doc? Now that I have laid some miniscule part of my ailments, I’d like you, as the examiner, to find out whether there are signs to confirm my symptoms. Am I being delusional? Are they indicative of a pathology? Do you have a diagnosis? I know, that’s the hard part, and it takes years of study and experience. I presume you have it, or probably you need the experts' opinion to tell what’s wrong. Just wearing a gown does not make one a real doctor. I’ve heard there are many quacks out there. - November 18, 2007

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Hopes Last Much Longer Over the past two decades several countries have recognized the massacres of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during the years 1915-1923 as an act of Genocide. The International Association of Genocide Scholars and the vast majority of historians interested in the subject characterized the events as Genocide. Similarly, the United Nations sub-commission on prevention of discrimination and protection of minorities, the International Center for Transitional Justice, the World Council of Churches and the European Parliament weighed in and they, too, concurred with the aforementioned. Undoubtedly, these have caused Turkish authorities enormous concern. They consistently resorted to misinformation calling the events as inter-communal mass killings, or a tragic event that occurred due to "relocation," etc. Having failed in their efforts to "persuade" the international community, the Turkish authorities have resorted to threats and high-stake lobbying that became so porously evident during the past few months in the US. Simultaneously, since 2005, they have trumpeted the call for a "joint commission" of historians to "impartially" study the events as if the above-mentioned scholars and international bodies were partial. It's comically ironic that while calling for a "joint commission" people, who dare to speak about the massacres in terms other than defined by the authorities, are prosecuted under Article 301 of the Turkish penal code, murdered or turned away from studying the relevant archives that purportedly are open to the public for research. The reader's attention is drawn to the “Notice to Press & Public” penned by Mehmet Sait Uluisik. He is a former Turkish citizen of Circassian descent, a journalist and a publisher, who lives in Germany. His account of how and why he was turned away by Turkish authorities exposes the truth about the disingenuous claim that the archives are open to the public. The press conference held in Washington DC by Prof. Taner Akçam of the University of Minnesota and Prof. Payam Akhavan of McGill University testify the havoc Article 301 continues to cause. Prof. Akçam states, "What we want is very simple...We want freedom of speech and we want justice." Prof. Akhavan goes on to say that "The use of Article 301 is a flagrant violation of freedom

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of speech under Article 10 of the European Convention." The report about the conference is courtesy of the Armenian Assembly of America. Just recently the Foreign Relations Commission of the Armenian Parliament sponsored a hearing on “Armenian-Turkish Relations: Problems and Perspectives”. One can't help wonder why Turkish scholars and dignitaries did not make the trip to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. What other befitting occasion could have presented itself to Turkish authorities to open a dialogue, if they were sincere in promoting the idea of a "joint commission"? Understandably, some scholars who don't share the views of officialdom stayed away so that they wouldn't face the draconian article 301 by "insulting Turkishness". Harut Sassounian, the publisher of the "California Courier", discussed these relevant matters in his “Turks Miss Golden Opportunity by Refusing to Go to Yerevan” article. The Toronto School Board recently embarked on a groundbreaking initiative by introducing the subject of Genocide in its Grade 11 curriculum. In this regard Alan Whitehorn stated in his article “In order to prevent genocide, we need to learn about it” that Genocide education is a "crucial tool for a more just and safer world, and perhaps with it 'Peace on Earth' will become more than just a seasonal greeting." Whitehorn is a professor of political science at the Royal Military College of Canada, was a former J.S. Woodsworth Chair of Humanities at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and is a cross-appointed professor at Queen's University in Kingston, Canada. The article originally appeared in "The Kingston Whig-Standard." Today is the first anniversary of Hrant Dink's assassination. Memorials are being held in Turkey, Armenia and in most major European and US cities. Prof. Müge Göçek of the University of Michigan, a close friend of Dink's and an outspoken scholar for democracy, justice, freedom of speech and human rights concluded her essay “Hrant Dink: Memory and Hope” with these words, "That dream, Hrant's dream, lives on because Hrant taught us to dream along with him before he was so unjustly murdered by forces that are still protected by the state. Yet dreams like his, like ours, do not die, ever. And hopes, in such dreams, last much longer than fear instilled through murders." - January 19, 2008

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Unequivocally Obama's Path Not only in the US, but the world at large will be witnessing a new beginning in November when Americans will be voting for their next president. Indicators at present are in favor of electing either the first female president or the first African-American. The implications are far reaching and, needless to say, have nothing to do with a contest between colors and genders. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will usher in changes that may affect the geopolitics of the Middle East--a region that has been unstable for so long and has caused untold human losses and violations of human rights over so many decades. Both will champion the cause of restoring some sanity in how a colossus conducts itself in the world. Whether Obama or Clinton gets elected the poor, the disadvantaged and the millions denied from reasonable health care will have a chance to ameliorate their status. “Illegal immigration”, which, in its origin, was a result of greed and exploitation, will have a chance of being redressed. Despite similarities between the two candidates, there are substantial differences in outlook that have been only partially brought to the surface during the campaign. While Obama’s humanitarian and uplifting stance and repudiation of interference of multinational corporations and lobbyists in the affairs of the public life and consequent dis-empowerment of the common people have been amply highlighted, Clinton’s old baggage, with intricate connections to the components of the establishment, have not been adequately scrutinized. How the two campaigns are financed and who the donors are, private or otherwise, will have an impact on the outcome both in substance and style. Looking to the future and distancing from the past is unequivocally Obama’s path. For exactly this reason Caroline Kennedy wrote, “I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father (J. F. Kennedy) inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president--not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.” Both candidates talked about the common threats of the present century, including the spread of nuclear weapons, terrorism, climate change, poverty and disease. However, it was Obama who more often and forcefully addressed the issue of genocide. It leads one to believe that his concern is genuine and not a lip service to score points and get more votes from people who are directly affected by genocide and its aftermath. Samantha Power’s testimony about Obama’s stance towards genocide, in general and in the Genocide of the Armenians in particular, should not be treated lightly. In a recent address to - 320 -


American-Armenians she underlined Obama’s “very forthright statement on the Armenian Genocide, his support for the Senate Resolution acknowledging the Genocide; his willingness as President to commemorate it and call a spade a spade and to speak the truth about it”. Where does Clinton stand on this matter? Like Obama, she supports the resolution and she proclaims that she will acknowledge the Genocide once she gets elected. It’s hard to forget though that a similar promise was made by her husband Bill Clinton who made an about face and obstructed the introduction of the bill to Congress. He never uttered the words “Armenian Genocide” once he was elected. Someone’s entourage is sometimes more telling than promises made. In Iowa, at the end of the primary, when Mrs. Clinton delivered her speech, none other than Madeline Albright was on her side. clapping and at one point almost hugging her. This is the same person who, along with other secretaries of state, urged Congress not to adopt the resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide. At times it is hard to ascertain the truthfulness of what is reported in the press. However, based on past events, allegiances and loyalties, an educated guess is made to give credence to some reports. In that vein a news clip is brought to the attention of the reader. Purportedly it originally appeared in the Turkish newspaper "Milliyet", and subsequently was made public on Jan. 28 by "Nor Marmara" Armenian newspaper in Istanbul. Apparently, a certain Mehmet Celebi is one of Clinton’s Turkish advisors. In an attempt to reassure the Turkish public that no harm will come from Clinton’s camp, this person has claimed that Hillary Clinton’s support for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide “is an electoral tactic” and that the Turkish people should not be upset. Elaborating further, he had stated “1.5 million Armenians live in the states and California Armenians constitute a large number; while California constitutes 28% of the electorate. For this reason the latter is important, since the one winning there wins the final presidential elections.” The overriding issue that motivates American Armenians to participate in the primaries and later in the general election, is the passage of the resolution recognizing the Genocide and expecting that the next president will publicly and unambiguously state that it was Genocide like Ronald Reagan did. To achieve such a result the most important asset that is at hand is moral above all. That approach will resonate only with a person whose heritage not too long ago was witness to oppression and deprivation of human rights. Neither numbers and funds nor overseas concerns of securing bases and security of a threatened friendly state are in the armamentarium of the Armenians. - 321 -


Pretending that political games will save the day by applying laws of probabilities and investing time and energy in opposing camps is suspect. Any person can see the flimsiness of that strategy. You can afford it if you have the numbers and the funds. Armenians don’t. A victor who will support the resolution and call “a spade a spade� will do so predominantly based on moral convictions and not on other considerations. Obama is that person. - February 2, 2008

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Reflections on the Recent Tragedy in Yerevan If history has any advice to us it is resisting outside infiltrations as best as we can. Much has been said and yet not said about the recent presidential election in Armenia. Protagonists of both sides are pointing their fingers at their opponents for the tragedy that occurred on March 1, 2008 in the streets of Yerevan, which resulted in the death of eight people and the injury of many more. The authorities are in no retreat; they are in damage control through misinformation. At least one leader of the opposition is widening the scope of the demands by calling for an “international� investigation. Individuals, organizations and Church leaders are in unison in trying in calling for sobriety, and underlining the potential of further deterioration that could compromise the security and unity of Armenia. Diasporan Armenians are engaged in the process by voicing their opinions. Probably we as a nation (the term loosely used) should not be surprised of what was to come. It was written on the wall and unfortunately we did not have the guts to intervene before it was too late. It is said that hindsight is right, but foresight is what we need now. Blaming this or that faction diverts us from the path that will lead us out of the impasse. The primary leader of the opposition and the oligarchs ruling the country were in many ways cut from the same cloth. The 1995 elections were a foretaste of what was to come; the present authorities had their first lessons of how to exercise fraudulent and rigged elections then. Subsequent occasions served to refine the practice of violating human rights and the deepening of authoritarianism in a fragile country that can survive only through the participation of the majority of its people in governance. Unfortunately, that was not meant to be and people felt disenfranchised and dis-empowered Compared to countries of similar size and emerging from a system of state capitalism, Armenia--to its credit--has registered favorable economic growth. However, the beneficiary was the small elite of oligarchs and kleptocrats. Time and again in subtle and not so subtle ways authorities were cautioned of potential dangers, but they chose to ignore well-intentioned advice. Instead, they continued their insatiable appetite for more by amassing new fortunes and leaving the vast majority of people to its own devices. The disparity that

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ensued bloated the ranks of frustrated and impoverished people who would express themselves in whatever way whenever an opportunity arose. Well-intentioned Diasporan organizations and individuals, since the earthquake and subsequently, lent a helping hand in many ways. Caught in the fervor of romantic patriotism, people prayed, hoped and wished that a new democratic Armenia would evolve--a country that respects human rights and is respected in the international arena. Over the years many intricately laced relations developed. In the course anomalies were noticed. At times some were very critical of how Armenia, as a society, was shaping. Yet despite that effort, overall Diaspora was timid in drawing the line in the sand, forcefully making clear where it stands and what its expectations were. By being a reluctant bystander, it de facto sanctioned ongoing violations of human rights and the looting of the bounty. It’s deplorable that people who were minor partners in the present regime are now talking about introducing changes that would ameliorate the situation in the future. They knew very well what was wrong prior to this recent tragedy. They were enjoying having ministers. Where were they prior to this tragedy? Why did they not introduce legislation to prevent what was to come? Now they accept the status quo and extend an olive branch to the authorities. That is pure and simple jockeying to secure positions in a future government. Equally deplorable are statements by a person in the government who had earned the respect of many in Armenia and the Diaspora. Prior to the elections, he made allegations that a particular opposition leader would do anything to get to power. What about the present regime? Isn’t it using all its might, including firing at its own people to remain in power? Why is he remaining silent? Is it a service to secure a position in the next government? Does he buy the chief prosecutor’s spokesperson’s denying any shots had been fired by the police? Over years much has been said about outside interferences and influences in the internal affairs of Armenia. Now that factor is being twisted in so many ways in order to silence opponents, dissidents and to confound an understanding of what’s going on. All one needs is to declare that so-and-so has committed treason and is a traitor. It’s an advantage of any authoritarian regime to pull out this or that document from the past and present to the public out of context to prove its point. The regime already had discredited itself in so many ways and its integrity was tarnished prior to the elections that now such measures will fall on many deaf ears.

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Speaking of outside interference, it’s a touchy subject and hard to document. All what can be done by an outside observer is to glean from certain facts and make an educated guess at best. Why a country as small as Armenia have the largest US embassy in the CIS countries? Why does Armenia need to cede such a vast land to a foreign jurisdiction, when it processes only a handful of visa applications and other matters in a day? Wasn’t it during this regime that the embassy was built? What’s its purpose? (*) If history has any advice to us it is resisting outside infiltrations. The call for an investigation by international bodies is, at best, an ill-advised measure. It will further intensify and probably even confound the present tense atmosphere and the security of Armenia. After all said and done, it is the responsibility of a country’s government to restore normalcy and it’s an inescapable part of that obligation to take responsibility for whatever crisis. Blaming the opposition is the route that will lead nowhere. Earnest cooperation is the only avenue, as long as it is not understood as co-optation. - March 9, 2008 (*) Following this posting in a private correspondence, His Excellency Ambassador John Evans provided some clarification about the "myth" of the perceived exaggerated size of the edifice. I share with you the email with the kind permission of the ambassador. Dear Mr. Abrahamian, I take the liberty of responding to you about the question of the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan. I was the U.S. Ambassador there 2004-06, when I was recalled for having used the word "genocide" to describe the events of 1915-16. You may be familiar with that story. In any case, let me put your concerns about the new U.S. Embassy building to rest. The story has been circulating for some time that the new chancery is "the biggest" in the CIS or, as some accounts have it, "in the world." This is not actually the case. Although the building (five buildings in all, counting the Marine quarters for five Marine Security Guards, the USAID building and two entrance structures) looks massive when viewed from Avenue Isakov, it actually is "right-sized" for the staff of approximately 320 Armenian locally hired professionals and about 70 American employees. It is a comfortable,

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but efficient platform for carrying out the activities, many of them programs of assistance that the staff is charged with administering. I asked my predecessor, John Ordway, how the story about the alleged "largest Embassy" got started. He explained that, at the time the land for the chancery was acquired those 23 acres did set something of a record for construction of a new US embassy in modern times. Somehow the large tract of land morphed into the "largest embassy." Occasionally the "23 acres" was improperly rendered by the media as "23 hectares," which is of course much larger. US Embassy Yerevan is middle sized, about the same size as its sister embassies in Tbilisi and Baku. Much bigger are, of course, the US missions in such places as London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Moscow, Beijing, New Delhi, Cairo, etc. The media also at one point claimed that there were 400 Marines at the Embassy (there are a total of six). There was also a claim that there were missiles in the structure, and someone even once claimed we had a submarine in nearby Lake Yerevanian! My experience of the new embassy, which I had the honor to open, in May 2005, was that it was more like a university campus than a fortress (which unfortunately is what some other new US embassies resemble). ................ With best regards, John Evans (in Washington)

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In Solidarity With Tibetans It is incumbent on civil society to hold authorities accountable wherever they are, because human rights and liberties are almost always relegated to the back burner by states, despite lofty pronouncements. If my recollection serves me right, it must have been in mid-'69 when man set foot on the moon. I have lost my old passport, can’t determine the exact dates, and I have been "negligent" in keeping notes. I can’t be more accurate than that. With Armenak from Beirut, Jean from Paris and Mateos from StEtienne--an authentic hippie who had visited Kathmandu a few months back-I headed north from New Delhi to Dehradun. My purpose was to visit the Tibetan refugee community nearby, south of the Himalayas. Sookias, the owner and principal of Haikashen School in the same city, was our guide. We had heard a lot about the Tibetans and their plight. Getting to know them, in person, and exchanging views was something that we looked forward to. Undoubtedly, we were excited about the planned encounter, in addition to enjoying the beauty of nature in north India. Cleanliness all around the refugee camp was the attribute that struck us first. People, young and old, were engaged in their mundane activities; children were cheerfully running around, and a few monks in their red robes were silently walking in the narrow lanes--almost marching. There was calm surrounding us, no traces of panic and disorder. There weren’t that many with whom we shared a common language, but once a few showed up we were impressed by their friendliness. Although reserved in their expressions, and extremely cordial to the extent of imparting a false perception of artificiality, we felt warmth and acceptance. It did not take long to get invited to the temple and partake in the religious ceremony. Unique was the experience of thanksgiving, without vocalizing by merely rotating the prayer wheels. That first exposure to the Tibetans served to be an internalized matrix for a narrative which was weaved with stories heard from my maternal grandmother and uncles. Those "tales" were about another refugee camp in Port Sa’id, Egypt, predating the Tibetan by about a half century. Ever since that trip I would gradually understand better what it meant to be a refugee and why. Over years I could not avoid realizing the many similarities between the people in Port Sa’id, the Tibetans and the inhabitants of other refugee camps

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scattered in the Middle East. Like Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, the Tibetans endured and continue to face a hostile socio-economic and political environment, along with disdain towards minority entitlements. The central authorities deny basic human rights, impose a policy of marginalization and eventual assimilation. Culture, history, religion and land were all and are still at stake. Is it any wonder that desperate protesters claimed the streets in Lhasa like their Armenian counterparts in Istanbul over a century ago? They were both met with violence. If the Armenians, who were subjected to Genocide during the First World War, have demonstrated anything to the world community it is the plain fact that it does not take long for a paranoid authority to commit the unthinkable. Sovereignty of the larger entity, threats of outside conspirators, traitors from within, revolt, etc. were all invoked in the past and will continue to be cited to preserve superiority and an empire. Demands for a reasonable autonomy in both cases, Armenian and Tibetan, were considered to be acts of treason. Solidarity with the Tibetans and a robust denunciation of the brutal attempts to silence a whole people is a priority. It is particularly so for those who carry the never healing scars of oppression and threat of annihilation. World powers, big and small, will exhibit a whole array of utterances that suit respective vested “national� interests. It is incumbent on civil society to hold authorities accountable wherever they are, because human rights and liberties are almost always relegated to the back burner by states, despite lofty pronouncements. - March 28, 2008

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An Accident; a Tragedy

A friend’s email posted in a private “chat room” and reproduced here with his permission states: “About 20 years ago, on a Sunday, I was involved in an accident on Bayview and Finch. There was a Volkswagen Rabbit stopped at the traffic lights at the intersection. I hit the car at the rear; I smashed it like an accordion. The car ended up on the other side of the street. It was 12:45 p.m. and there were many witnesses to the accident. The front of my car was much damaged and I returned home. "My next door neighbour, a lawyer, who was outside of his house, saw my car and asked what had happened. I told him the story, and that the police had taken the names of a number of the witnesses who were there; I finished by telling him that I was guilty, and I was going to pay the ticket the following day. My neighbour said “Jack, I know you. You are not guilty. Let me send one of my lawyers to handle your case”. We went to court. I was surprised to see that each witness who saw the accident had his own version of the accident which was different from the version of the other witnesses. At the end, the judge found me not guilty. Can you imagine? I had hit the lady at the back of her car which I had demolished and I was found “not guilty”! After the court case, I apologized to the lady, and I told her that I was very sorry for what had happened to her and her car. Needless to say, she was shocked. I was also shocked to see that there were really three versions of the same accident (there were three witnesses). Reading this story and lately being preoccupied with the recent events in Armenia that culminated in March First Disaster, I could not resist the temptation of thinking what an impartial and a fair judge’s verdict would have been taking into account testimonies of not three but thousands of witnesses. When a motor vehicle incident, which appeared so straightforward to the owner causing the accident, did end up in an unexpected not guilty verdict, how could a societal tragedy rooted in complex problems be described in simple terms of a villain and a victim?

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It took quite a while for the Diaspora Armenians to get adjusted to realities following the first president’s forced resignation a decade ago. It appeared that old overt animosities, to say the least, had abated and "enemies" had started to talk to each other in more cordial terms. Witness the joint declaration between ARF and ADL in Armenia and the commemoration of the 93rd Anniversary of the Genocide with the participation of the three "parties" in Toronto. The latter was "negotiated" prior to the recent presidential election, almost a year ago. Unfortunately the recent sad events in Armenia have shaken us all, and emotions have overtaken calm logic. It's hard to tell how matters will be resolved. So far there is no substantive evidence that a true dialogue is in the offing. Meanwhile, as in the past, repercussions are visibly sensed in the Diaspora, and of particular interest in Canada. "Hai Horizon" TV's recent extremely partisan unspoken repudiation of the opposition in graphic presentations seemed to evoke a sense of spreading almost hatred towards the leaders and participants of the opposition. Furthermore, notwithstanding the principle that a country’s highest authority is ultimately responsible for upheavals under its jurisdiction, some people are trigger-happy to throw whatever allegations they can on this or that personality. One wonders whether a supply of Ritalin would be appropriate to calm them down, or better still some Olanzapine to embrace complexities of reality. Something is terribly lacking: an awareness of what kind of fire they are playing with by demonstrating a self-destructive behavior akin to a pyromaniac’s. It's an understatement to say that if our community is fed with bigotry and biased expressions by any side it will lead to resurfacing old, lingering animosities that consumed our meager energies and reserves for more than six decades, dating back to the political schism of our religious institutions. We cannot afford to go through a similar experience again. Our local "party” leaders, designated or otherwise, are not up to the task of promoting a healthy civic discourse at present. Some are interested in finger pointing to score points and "help" their counterparts in Armenia. Others are probably expecting some favors from the new establishment in Armenia. The average Canadian-Armenian has never been given a chance of empowerment and exercise her/his individual voice to counteract the negative implications of such a state of affairs; and those who have expressed themselves have been "silenced" without realizing that our institutions themselves are getting marginalized in the process.

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Intellectuals and scholars have a role to play to ameliorate the sad and unhealthy atmosphere that appears to be spreading. Lee Iacocca would have said, “You don’t get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take action.” Scholars, in particular, know much better than “politicians” that a country emerging from the collapse of a totalitarian state capitalism on a large scale was almost inevitable to go through a stage of upheavals. It was especially so in a geopolitically-sensitive area such as ArmeniaArtsakh that neighbor oilfield-rich Azerbaijan and Iran, not to mention strategically important Turkey. No wonder it has attracted the attention of shakers and movers of the global onslaught of transnational interests. If not a scholar in its strictest sense, Vartan Oskanian is a preeminent intellectual. He leaves a ministry that is free from corruption and he has gained the respect of almost all factions or parties. Witnesses abound. Yes, I have heard stories about his expensive attire. How would you like to represent your country in the presence of dignitaries in various courts and international forums? In rags? If the president and other ministers had exercised the same discipline and frugality the recent tragedy of March First might not have happened. The electromotive force that drove thousands and thousands of people into the streets was foremost the grossly unfair distribution of wealth, insensitivity and arrogance of the regime. Perhaps the opposition erred in not expecting a brutal crackdown and in “tactics, methods and goals”. Try as you may to depict the leaders of the opposition to be larger than life, it does not at all explain why for days in a row the squares in Yerevan were occupied by angry citizens. External factors, though conjectures at this stage, naturally could have played a role. However, in the absence of a discontented populace no such outside interference could have motivated people to take the streets. Ask yourself whether any revolutionary or a leader inclined to drastic reforms or change of regime has ever been able to mobilize people to such an extent solely based on external “help”? “At the end of the day, (the administration) is responsible for what happens in this country,” said Oskanian. Oskanian, with the support of cool-headed scholars, intellectuals, and people of common sense of all walks of life, could take the initiative to restore sanity and take practical steps to start a true dialogue, both in Armenia and the Diaspora. A process of public education through presentations, public panel discussions with the intent of clarifying the complex factors that led to such a tragedy is urgently expected. Emotions will lead nowhere, nor the simplistic notion that this should not have happened to Armenians. After all, Armenia shares many common elements with other decolonized countries. An under- 331 -


standing of this essential fact is a much-needed prescription. Simultaneously, it is incumbent on the new president Serzh Sargsyan to keep his promise of “destroying the wall� that separates people into antagonistic camps. - April 20, 2008

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Jirayr Sefilyan and Bigotry Within a week the fate of Jirayr Sefilyan will be sealed. Not long ago he was hailed as a national hero for his participation in the liberation of Shushi. Today he is treated as a persona non grata by the authorities of his motherland. History, old and contemporary, furnishes numerous examples of people holding foreign citizenship and being bestowed with honorary or legal citizenship of a new country. It’s enacted in recognition of exceptional contributions, valor, and sacrifice, especially when such persons have been in harm’s way in the interest of a nation or a country. It is not uncommon to grant citizenship even to mercenaries, let alone to people who have voluntarily risked their lives. That’s under usual circumstances… but nothing about contemporary Armenia and Nagorno-Karabagh has been usual, and therein lays the tragedy of Sefilyan’s case. In addition to the political reasons there is another subtle dimension to why Jirayr is “undesirable” and threatens the existing order in Armenia. It has been questioned why it took so long for Sefilyan to apply for citizenship. Was it due to neglect or something more sinister played a role? Some give credence to rumors that he was involved in illegal activities including trafficking of arms and drugs. Hence retaining his previous Lebanese citizenship and not acquiring that of Armenia could have come handy in case matters went wrong. It is further stated that he had “announced to clamp down on the hands of those preparing to subvert the 2007 parliamentary elections” and thus he “crossed the line”. Whether these assertions are true or not is irrelevant to the following discussion. What is curious is that he was not granted citizenship of Nagorno-Karabagh or Armenia at the height of his heroic career or shortly afterwards. Did the authorities in either republic have to wait for him to make an application? Having followed the metamorphosis of certain native fighters into small and big chieftains it is not unusual at all to postulate that Jirayr did not and does not fit into the ranks of the common fold. Who is he to tell others what to do and how to behave? After all he is a foreigner. For some the concepts of Diaspora and Diasporan continue to remain badly perceived terms in Armenia; they are devoid of emotive values. Officially both in the Diaspora and in Armenia we claim to be free from bigotry, but in reality deep down we have not been liberated from it yet. Witness how a Djebel Musatsi will trust more his fellow compatriot, the same goes for - 333 -


the Kesabtsi, the Bolsahay ‌The Armenians who came to North America in late 19th century did not give recognition to the newcomers, found almost nothing in common with the new Armenian immigrants following the Genocide. The list goes on. When the first Republic of Armenia was declared, Toorkahays from Van and other vilayets of Western Armenia constituted a substantial portion of the population. In time children of the Genocide who grew up in the Diaspora preferred to be called Arevmedahay and dissociate themselves from the designation that included the word Toork. By and large this matter remained a moot issue for the native people of Armenia. To this day even well-educated people continue to use the word Toorkahay without realizing that it involves a certain element of insensitivity. It is not necessarily used with malicious or disrespectful intent. However, it is not uncommon as well to hear the expression Toorky mnatsort right in Yerevan. Witness the near violent skirmishes between Armenian students from the Diaspora and native Armenian students as late as in mid-'70s. Peace was restored only through the intervention of the authorities. It may have been an isolated incident then, but remains symptomatic of a pervasive attitudinal matter which is unresolved. How about akhbar-s who repatriated to Armenia after World War II? They populated Armenia and saved the country from losing its status as a republic. Some assumptions are provided why Armenians were brought from abroad. One theory is that Stalin had plans to recapture Kars and Ardahan and needed people to populate. Whatever the reasons the fact remains that new blood was injected into Armenia. The word akhbar, however, continued to be in circulation in a derogatory manner. Subsequently a new term came to existence. Those who repatriated later from various Middle Eastern countries including Cyprus were called akhmakh. Do you blame those who took advantage of their previous French citizenship and returned to the Diaspora? Shortly we shall be witness to whether the authorities in Armenia can foremost shed the bigotry that they have inherited by setting free this undesirable akhbar, toorkahay, toorky mnatsort and akhmakh fellow. Deporting Jirayr with a stroke of a pen is easy, but gaining the trust of the independent minded Diasporans, the majority, is not. Explanations couched in political excuses will fall on deaf ears. - June 2, 2008

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Six Months and Counting Soon six months will have elapsed since the tragedy of March 1. By now, one would have expected to see substantial initiatives towards Serzh Sargsyan’s promise to “demolish the wall” that divides Armenian society. Alas, the rhetoric continues to dominate the political scene with no solutions in sight. Instead of focusing on the current regime’s multifaceted violations of human rights and demanding fulfillment of broken promises, some circles in the Diaspora can’t seem to get over a pathological fixation on an older regime. As if being vengefully critical towards it absolves a dysfunctional present. To put it otherwise, accepting that two wrongs make a right betrays an unprincipled acquiescence. Where are those who were shouting “Barron Nah-kha-kah” at the top of their lungs a little over a dozen years ago? Western-inspired Rose Revolution’s love-child’s recent reckless adventure has provided new ammunition to some self-righteous, sanctimonious politicos. Questioners abound in asking what would have happened if Levon Ter Petrosyan (LTP) had succeeded in capturing the presidency. Of course, their unfounded forecast is that Armenia would have been a battleground akin to what’s unfolding north of it with an unpredictable outcome. Apart from the period of Karabagh Committee’s struggle, liberation of Artsakh and the independence movement, this writer has not been a fan of LTP. Autocratic practices, laying the grounds for the emergence of oligarchic elite, and the handling of 1996 presidential election were the main causes. Profound differences in ideology related to fair distribution of wealth, social justice and understanding of human rights were additional reasons. Unfortunately, the subsequent regime intensified the negative aspects and hence it, too, fell out of grace in the eyes of many that were already disenchanted. During the infancy of the post-Soviet Republic of Armenia poverty and hardship were mostly secondary to the earthquake, the war of liberation of Artsakh, and the Azerbaijan-Turkey alliance tying a noose around Armenia to suffocate it. In contrast the phenomenon of wide-spread impoverishment was imposed by the second regime’s inhumane treatment of its own citizens. Despite year-to-year double-digit growth in the economy, the gap between the rich and the poor reached to the stratosphere. Whole segments of society became disenfranchised and radicalized. It’s true that in the first decade close to two-hundred-thousand people left Armenia. What about the additional at least 600,000 in the post-LTP period? - 335 -


Why did they leave and at a time that the economy was “booming” in a relatively more peaceful environment? Probably the allegation that Artsakh was being sold out is pressing so hard on tender hearts that they can’t get over their obsession! Whatever the proposals were (and it’s history now) people easily forget and they want others to forget, too, that thanks to the Karabagh Committee’s heroic struggle a portion of an Armenian land has been liberated. Rumor has it that during the same period at least a faction of a present-day power-sharing “partner” was in cahoots with the KGB to neutralize the patriotic fervor that had engulfed Armenia in the dying days of USSR. It’s so easy misinforming the public to the extent of attributing initiation of liberation of Artsakh to an entity that was not even there! The worst is pretending to be the liberator while sitting in Beirut, Boston or Athens. For as long as the opposition in Armenia is deliberately framed as being a one-man’s show in order to discredit a legitimate massive grievance, the present rulers will simply look like hiding their heads in the sand. You may fool some in the Diaspora, but not people in Armenia. Sooner or later a rupture in the elite will pave the way to re-establish the lost dignity of the common citizen. Alternately, if civil measures fail, under duress people may resort to unconventional means. That’s something that can be avoided. It's possible - provided cool heads prevail and at least some in the present elite understand that their own interest is tied to the act of empowering and involving the vast majority of the citizenry in the political process. Those who shouted “Barron Nah-kha-kah” in the past and their followers should rise again. They should live up to their proclaimed principles of human dignity and fairness. After all, aren’t they the ones who organize symposiums such as “Armenians and the Left” or “Armenians and Progressive Politics”? If they are sincere they should call for early parliamentary elections free of fraud to have a real representative legislature and government. They have a chance now. “Political stability and economic prosperity” cannot be “achieved without due respect to civil liberties and fundamental human rights!” “Barron Na-kha-kah”, keep your promise to “demolish the wall. - August 24, 2008 - 336 -


Where is the Beef? The Georgian misadventure and Russia’s decisive move unleashed a chain of events the description of which is beyond the scope of this essay. It’s hard to ignore, however, the ensuing flurry of diplomatic activity. Of relevance to Armeno-Turkish relations are Serzh Sargsyan’s meetings with Russian officials on Russian soil and subsequent acceptance of Turkey’s president to attend the soccer match in Yerevan. A verbal diarrhea followed that visit, and there is no end to it. As if a miracle has occurred and people are in a race to relate to the rest of the world the glimpses they have captured of that momentous event. Probably it’s evident more so in Turkey than anywhere else. The propaganda machine is in high gear. We are told that relations will get better: there is hope that the border may open, and that Turkey will pacify the Azeris, etc. etc. No president of a midsize country that commands the respect of major powers visits a tiny neighbour without an agenda to expand its influence and exert its will. And Turkey is not an exception. Indeed it’s an important regional power that mediates between enemies like Syria and Israel, and rattles sabers when the US Congress contemplates adopting a resolution recognizing the veracity of the Genocide of the Armenians. It mobilizes a slew of past and present US secretaries of state, a past president and a present-day commander-in-chief. Contemporary Turkey, irrespective of who its current representative happens to be, is the inheritor of almost six-hundred years of diplomatic experience. It is extensively versed in drawing and tearing up treaties--proclaiming and disavowing promises–ignoring international resolutions and not being even rebuked. How does Armenia stack against the above “credentials” of Turkey? One does not need to be a rocket scientist to figure out the answer. There is no question that a good neighbourly relation is advantageous and preferable to confrontation. Yet it all depends on how that relation is defined. The devil is always in the fine print, as they say. At present it is not transparent. For years Armenians have been waiting for opening of the border between Armenia and Turkey, thus lifting the blockade. Need we remind ourselves why the blockade was imposed in the first place? The thorny issue was Karabagh. How come now, when Armenia is vulnerable more than ever, Turkey is

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considering to lift the blockade? To whose advantage? Yes, arguments have been brought forth that economically it will benefit Armenia. How so? Are Turkey and Armenia at parity in the economic field that the two partners will equally benefit? Many readers of this column are originally from the Middle East, or their parents are. May I remind them that at the height of Arab nationalism, two friendly countries--Egypt and Syria--opened their “borders” and established an economic union subsequent to the political? What was the result? It brought economic disaster to Syria, despite it previously being in a better shape than Egypt. Eventually the union altogether was dissolved. Egypt’s size was too much to bear. Of course, no two different sets of couplets are identical, especially in politics; but think of Turkey’s economic might. Demographic changes do follow markets. Any student of Economics 101 will tell you that. It’s estimated that about 75,000 Armenian citizens have already moved to Turkey, despite the blockade. How many more thousands will emigrate once the borders open, and how much will Armenia be depleted of its population? Keeping the borders indefinitely closed is not an option either. Geopolitical concerns and markets will eventually dictate the outcome. Since the Turks insist on preconditions before talks can begin in earnest, Armenia should lay down some of its own--such as: securing guarantees from Turkey at the highest level that it will remain at least neutral regarding Karabakh, will not arm Azerbaijan, will not seek a chair at the Minsk negotiations, and will not establish economic monopolies in Armenia. Is it too much to ask? After all, it's not Armenia that committed crimes against humanity and Genocide. Another matter that concerns most the Diasporan Armenians is the creation of the commission of historians proposed by Turkey. Will that be part of the give and take? It took generations in the Diaspora to secure recognition of the Genocide by international bodies and various jurisdictions. Turkish officials are already talking about the advantage that Turkey has and will reap much coveted gains once such a commission is in place and diplomatic relations are established. It’s a distinct possibility that the process of further recognition by new countries will be compromised. Incidentally, how can one talk about a commission of historians when Article 301 of the penal code of Turkey is still in place and it continues to claim new victims? Some well-intentioned friends, Armenians and Turks alike, remind us that things have changed in Turkey. Every day new scholars, writers, journalists, NGOs are joining the ranks of those who lend a sympathetic ear to Armenian concerns. True! However, they so far have been in a minority and have not

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shown the ability to exert a substantial influence in expanding democracy in Turkey, let alone shaping foreign policy. After all that is said and done, ultimately, it’s the authorities and people in Armenia that will decide what path will be drawn for the future. Instinctively we would like to trust their judgment, but can’t refrain from saying it out loud, “Beware!” - September 17, 2008

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In Lieu of a Mission Statement Reflections on the Occasion of the First Anniversary of Keghart.com Three years ago I started collecting email addresses from several sources that had come my way. The easiest of course was through personal friends who had sent messages with addresses of third parties attached to their communication. Next were forums in which I participated. The most time-consuming was the extensive search of a variety of websites to contact new people and establish personal relations. This collection of addresses came in handy when in September 2007 Keghart.com was launched as a website dedicated to community activities and human rights. Within that context, and being the son of a survivor of the Genocide of the Armenians, I was determined to tell the evolving story of my people. Today's Armenians include a Diaspora spread out around the world and a tiny country called Armenia, along with a liberated piece of land, Artsakh (called Nagorno-Karabagh in the current political literature). The Diaspora and those lands face numerous obstacles. Yet they are a part of me, as they are a part of so many other millions of Armenians scattered across the globe. Keghart.com is my way of expressing the concerns that face Armenians in the Diaspora and the homeland. I am neither a scholar nor a politician, but I did study politics in my younger years, earning a B.A in political science and public administration (1966) at the American University of Beirut. During my student years I was active in the Armenian community and local Lebanese politics. I taught in Armenian and non-Armenian schools, and did odd jobs here and there, in order to secure funds for my education. I am passionate about traveling and have crisscrossed many countries, where I met people that taught me humility and I learned how to listen to and empathize with others. As Hrant Dink would have said...I try to see the other in me. Luckily, at around the age of thirty I came to realize that without being able to ameliorate my lot and be independent in mind and body, I could not help others. Probably that was the moral justification that led me to change course and take up medicine for the rest of my life. At present I am semi-retired, which provides me the luxury to communicate with you through Keghart.com. The website is updated every two or three weeks. It is not apolitical, and yet has no political affiliation either. Postings reflecting the views of a wide spectrum have been welcomed onto the site. Nobody has a monopoly over ideas. Armenians in the Diaspora do not form a monolithic entity, and their affairs - 340 -


are foremost propelled by individuals within a matrix of a multicentric environment. Armenians do not live in ghettos--a restrictive view of the world has gradually given way to a more inclusive and humanistic approach. The young amongst us are the witnesses of that phenomenon. Having been equipped with new skills, expanded knowledge, and a better understanding of the multicultural surroundings, they will overcome new hurdles. Similarly, non-Armenian individuals are partners in solving many problems that we face. To this end a conscious effort has been made to involve them. Keeping them informed is the first step. Over the course of the past year my greatest satisfaction has been to periodically provide information and selected essays to more than five-thousand non-Armenian Canadians in academia at major universities throughout Canada, along with various professionals and people of all walks of life. This task could not have been carried alone. I thank all the contributors, including those who provided essays, pertinent information, commentaries, suggestions and advice. Without that crucial help the website would have not survived this long. Similarly, I thank the readers and subscribers who have joined in sizable numbers. Various media venues considered several items from Keghart worthy to republish; their friendly gesture of cooperation is much appreciated. It would be a disservice not to mention 24april Forum (Canada) participants who supplied food for thought. Last but not least, my special thanks go to Vako Nicolian (www.varnitec.com) whose technical expertise has made it all come together. My four daughters, my son, and especially my wife have all had a share of this project, too. They have endured my whims at odd places and at odd times throughout this period. The only words befitting such support are--I love you. In the coming year, Keghart.com will continue to be guided by the principles of human rights and freedom of speech, provided the latter does not infringe on the rights of others and is not insulting. It will strive to be all inclusive, exercising a pragmatic approach, and without being influenced by ideological preferences. Within those parameters it will promote a banner exchange between on-line publications based on reciprocity. This will provide the readers gaining access to a variety of opinions. Individuals, who have not had the experience, or have limited alternatives to express their voice, will be encouraged to make their debut in Keghart.com. Cognizant of the limitations of any website, but keeping in touch with daily changes in technology and responding to requests from readers, some improvements are planned. These may involve full browser compatibility, a printer friendly option, search modality for previously written articles, a - 341 -


comment section for each item, a rating system, polls, surveys, and RSS feed capability. All of these are scheduled to be gradually implemented. It is hoped that the next year will be as productive as the previous term. - October 18, 2008

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Why the Silence and Inactivity? From the moment that the present rulers came to power in Armenia there were reservations and critical appraisals. Initially that involved the fraudulent presidential election, then the brutal way of silencing the opposition. The most serious matter was yet to come – a course of diplomacy that is at high gears to implement what some call a sellout, including but not limited to lethally compromising decades’ long struggle of the Diaspora for recognition of the Genocide of the Armenians and the security of Artsakh. Recently, during a personal visit to Southern California, the above topics were the subject of discussions with many that I met: editors, writers, activists, party officials and ordinary folks of various affiliations and persuasions. Some had praiseworthy remarks about our community. Indeed a very well respected individual made the following observation, "we have seen the Canadian Armenian community being more active in the past couple of years." On the other hand, I heard some veiled critical remarks too, primarily related to the apparent silence of the community about the usurped power, ongoing violations of human and civil rights, the predicament of the political prisoners, and inactivity of the community regarding recent diplomatic initiatives of Armenia. While thanking for the positive remarks, I’ll attempt to address the issues of silence and inactivity pointed out by many related to the above concerns. To avoid hurting the sensitivities of people involved in the affairs of our community in Canada, I’ll describe the situation in as mundane and neutral terms as possible. That may not be always possible; for the sake of keeping good relations, covering realities is not an option - particularly at this juncture when so much is at stake. AWA, the Armenian World Alliance in Toronto, comprises Hnchags, Ramgavars and individuals who are ideologically oriented but not members of political parties. Up to recently ADL, the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party, was a constituent of the formation. It’s no longer the case, because the ADL leadership in Toronto opted out. Subsequently, to the chagrin of several sympathizers of AWA, some members joined CCA--the Congress of Armenian Canadians based in Montreal. CCA, despite being cognizant of the fact that the presidential election was anything but fair, did not hesitate to congratulate the new president, and simply made lukewarm remarks about the March First tragedy. ADL did the same along with AGBU and others, such as the Armenian Assembly in the US. It’s worth noting that the Armenian Diocese of Canada is part of CCA, and the - 343 -


Primate ex-officio has to follow instructions from the Catholicosate in Echmiadzin. Understandably, that leads to limited independent local actions critical of many societal flaws in Armenia. Of late some sympathizers of CCA were privately questioned why the silence about what has happened and what is evolving. The answers have been less than satisfactory. It seems that CCA concerns itself only with matters of the Genocide of the Armenians and recognition of the Genocide--a very convenient non-answer. Others have just shaken their heads without providing a straight-forward reply. ANCC, the Armenian National Committee of Canada, deplored and condemned the use of violence in Tibet. However, it seems the binoculars were set to see the higher elevations of the "Roof of the World" bypassing regions around Ararat. Flip-flopping between opposition and coalition in Armenia, the ARF--the overseer of ANCs worldwide--set the tone for the rest of the chapters in the Diaspora , including Canada. Of course, once the agenda of the president of Armenia became more obvious, it felt uneasy to say the least. How to handle the inconsistencies between goals that are held dear and reality? There have been news items circulating in the ARF-affiliated media elsewhere, but nothing substantial in Canada. As in other Armenian communities, independent individuals, intellectuals who for one reason or another have apathy towards recognized organizations, tried to break the silence. They wrote open letters, participated in various petitions, initiated public and on-line discussions, and posted articles in websites. The number of people involved in such activities is impressive; but due to the lack of coordination between individuals it did not materialize into a unified voice asserting itself in Canada, let alone be adequately heard in the motherland. Is it time for action? Probably yes; but given the realities that a primate effectively sets the trend of what’s to be done in one of the organizations and dichotomy characterizes a coalition partner in Armenia, it’s hard to expect anything substantive yet. Independents are silenced, and sometimes--deliberately or inadvertently--their initiatives are undermined. Will the Canadian-Armenian community be more active and be heard? It’s argued that such a flow is tantamount to interference in the affairs of Armenia. Nevertheless, equally valid is the argument that highest officials of Armenia have already hampered the efforts of the Diaspora. They have provided invaluable opportunities to the Turkish state controlled propaganda machine. That colossal institution disseminates misinformation through the media and - 344 -


spreads confusion through delegations and various councils. It has become all the more difficult to expand the circle of jurisdictions that have recognized the Genocide– that horrible traumatic communal experience that kept and keeps the Diaspora together–a pathological phenomenon, yet very real. Expecting the organizations to take the lead is to witness more of the same, for as long as individuals and coalitions in the organizations are worried about their own interests–personal or otherwise. The moment that their prerogatives get seriously curtailed they’ll raise their voice – an event that was observed during the first administration in Armenia. Meanwhile it’s up to the people who profess to be independents, up to the intellectuals and professionals who are concerned about the hazardous course that Armenia has taken, to coalesce and get the Canadian-Armenian community into the national discourse that began with a rough ride. - November 10 2008

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Armenian Officials Take the Bold Steps This essay was written following the Georgian crisis and "rapprochement" between Armenia and Turkey. Due its relevance to most recent events it's brought back to the attention of Keghart.com's readers. Turkey appeared to have the upper hand following the Georgian crisis and it took advantage of Russia’s interests in the Caucasus. It pressed Armenia to make concessions both with respect to establishing a joint commission of historians and relinquishing the lands surrounding Karabakh as a security zone. In return Turkey promised to open the borders with Armenia. After much speculation of what Armenia would or would not agree to, highest officials seem to have taken the bold step of explicitly announcing what are negotiable and what are not. Armenia's president Serzh Sargsyan and his Minister of Foreign Affairs Eduard Nalbandian have assured the Armenian people the commission will not be established. In the previous update of Keghart.com the respective announcements were posted at the end of the items: “Why the Silence? and Nalbandian: “Genocide” resolutions Not a Remedy. Not too long ago, barely a week, it appeared that the Armenian authorities were on the verge of being forced to drastically soften their stand towards Turkey, compared to previous Armenian administrations. However, following the election of the new president of the USA there seems to be a new lifeline. It’s hard not to speculate that Barack Obama’s election has shifted the balance in favor of Armenia. It’s no longer possible to make the argument that opening the borders is contingent on establishing a commission of historians, as the new president’s perception of the Genocide is not a political opinion but a historical fact. Turkey knows this all too well. Whether the new administration recognizes the Genocide or not is an independent matter that forces within the congress will decide down the road. Another factor that may have played a role in this "conversion" is the critical appraisal of previous ambiguous announcements made by the same officials. People in Armenia and the Diaspora made it clear that the proposed commission was not acceptable--to put it mildly. Furthermore, giving in to Turkey's insistence on ceding land before opening the borders was akin to capitulation. Turkey may retaliate by making the usual threats that are well known. Israel may make its case of why Turkey is a crucial ally, and the Jewish lobby will try to influence the foreign policy of the US. There is no doubt about these matters. What’s important, however, at this juncture, the dynamics has changed and Armenia should maintain its most recent course, and make use of

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all resources available to drive home its arguments in all international venues available at its disposal. Whether Karabakh’s legal right to be a participant in the Minsk negotiations remains moot. Similarly, which international principle will be honored in future negotiations is not clear. Is it the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan or the right to self-determination of Karabakh that will predominate? The former is more likely, based on remarks made by the co-chairs of the Minsk group. What level of self-determination will then Karabakh get? In any event Armenia should not rush to a resolution until the new administration in USA is ushered in. Meanwhile time is running short for Turkey to impose its will at whim. Even if individual players in the future administration may not be so sympathetic to the cause of Karabakh or Armenia, all indications are that the future commander-in-chief will not be totally insensitive. Between now and the inauguration of the new president of USA, and possibly through April 2009, Armenia and its only dedicated ally -- the Diaspora -have a window of opportunity that should not be lost. Without being forgetful and neglectful of the socio-economic ills in Armenia, all organizations and parties should re-evaluate the present circumstances, draw the pertinent conclusions and support the authorities of Armenia with respect to Turkey and its machinations. Regretfully, the authorities in Armenia should be kept on a short leash so that they don't flip-flop and change course again. - November 13, 2008

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Is Political or Religious Affiliation Necessary? The below was originally posted in 24 April Forum as part of a discussion about Armenian identity. It's reproduced with minor changes and in response to correspondents who have questioned my "Armenianness" or affiliations. I think my father--a survivor of the Genocide from Adana and raised in Greece--was Tashnag. I say "I think", because he never espoused a particular doctrinaire attitude, but I could feel where his allegiances lay. My mother's family--from Musa Dagh--was either Hunchak or pro-Hunchak; and a distant cousin was a "zaim"--an enforcer--in the party. One of my maternal uncles, a very close classmate of yerchangahishadag Zareh gatoghigos and Simon Simonian, became the editor-in-chief of "Zartonk" daily during the height of the division in the Church and served the Ramgavar Party until he was expelled. Later he was subjected to an assassination attempt. One of my kerayrs, an intellectual, and a well-respected community leader, was a member of the highest cadres of the Hamaynavar Party; he was one of the few Diaspora leaders who visited Armenia prior to nerkaght and he actively participated in its implementation. He, too, was expelled from his party. In a sense my "political home" was a microcosm of what was going on around us during my formative years. Having been exposed to these various influences, I eventually found more intellectual stimulation and satiety in the left. It provided all the elements that a young man would look for: patriotism without narrow-minded nationalism, progressive views to uplift society to a more just system, and clarity of goals that included security of Armenia. Things got complicated when realization set in that state capitalism, with all its ugly and sordid faces, was being promoted as a just society, and the cause of the Genocide--although not neglected--was being relegated to a secondary level. That's when resignations and expulsions followed. The date is significant; it was prior to the 50th Anniversary of the Genocide by two years and the fall of the Communist walls by twenty-eight years. My question is: Were my father, my "zaim" cousin, my editor uncle and internationalist kerayr--all passed away--lesser Armenians than those who proclaimed that if you did not belong to such-and- such a party you were not an Armenian? The follow up question is: How come that all of the above were able to talk heatedly but cordially, without malice, to each other under the same roof despite sometimes espousing diametrically-opposite views? Why can't that atmosphere of communication be transplanted into our community life in an earnest manner, not just by paying lip service on only national occasions?

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My father was born to an evangelical family; he married my mother who belonged to the Armenian Apostolic Church in which I was baptized. He was a very religious person, and made no distinction between Churches. He regularly would take me to places of worship on Sundays. Apostolic church one day, Catholic, Maronite, Evangelical or even an Anglican church on other Sundays. Occasionally he would alternate between a church and a nearby mosque and a synagogue in Haret-al-yahud. One of my kerayrs, who inspired great respect in the extended family, was Catholic. We would almost every year visit Zemmar, an Armenian Catholic institution in the mountains, north of Beirut. I started schooling in a non-Armenian Catholic school, St. Vincent the Paul. Subsequently, I was sent off to an Apostolic Armenian School in Bab Tuma in Damascus and later to Sahagian in the same city. During summer vacations I was encouraged by my Evangelical father to attend a nearby Madrassah and learn to recite the 'Quran for two consecutive summers. Upon return to my birthplace, Beirut, I attended the Armenian Evangelical School for two years and then completed my secondary schooling at the AGBU HovaguimianManougian. The visit to Lebanon of His Holiness Vazken Vehapar, Catholicos of All Armenians, and the accompanying political upheaval in the community turned me off from the Church. Previously, I used to make the sign of the cross every time I passed by any church. There were three--Catholic, Maronite and Apostolic. That practice ceased. Upon graduation from high school, I took up two consecutive courses in Shari'a while studying at the American University of Beirut. In that period I made a timid attempt to become a priest and took the road to the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem. It failed for completely non-religious reasons. In the days of the hippies, the mid-'60s, I spent considerable time in ashrams in Pavay, north of Bombay; Pondicherry, near Madras, and Sonarpur, south of Calcutta. Visiting the Tibetans at the slopes of the Himalayas, near Dehra Dun, and getting to know the teachings of Buddhism was akin to rediscovering the universe. Some years later I found solace with the Falashas in Ethiopia. Over years I oscillated between being religious and an atheist. Now I find myself comfortable in the agnostic camp. Here is my question: What does religion in this day and age have to do with being an Armenian? Will you consider me an inferior Armenian? What would you say to a 'Hamshenite' who probably is not even Christian and is circumcised. By the way, back in the Soviet days when supposedly the medical doctors were atheists and religion did not play a role, my son had to be circumcised for medical reasons. Several Armenian surgeons refused. I was called by many names. "Are you a Turk?" was one of the questions that I had to deal

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with. Another said, "Take him to Baku". Eventually, a Yezidi surgeon performed the procedure. That was when I was studying medicine in Yerevan. The only postulate that I would agree with is sending our children to an Armenian school. I have gone to great lengths with substantial sacrifices in sending my two children all the way to Melkonian in Cyprus. However, let me tell you that you will find many like me who are fed up and will not send their children to some Armenian schools, because they inculcate division and hatred towards the "other". In the not-too-distant future three of my children out of five will cease to be Armenian. They don't even speak Armenian. Call me whatever you may, but I won't sacrifice harmony for dislike of "the other". Individuals do not act based only on logic, ethnic or "national" priorities. Their background, personal experiences and perceptions play a big role in how they conduct their affairs. Not taking into account such factors, and exercising exclusionary criteria and practices render a community stale and impoverished. - January 30, 2009

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An Apology, a Thank You and Dialogues Centuries and millennia measure a nation’s life; and experiences of such a collective, especially of traumatic nature, are imprinted in the collective memory--never to be erased and never to be forgotten. A mere century ago, the Young Turks proclaimed the end of the Ottoman Sultan's horrible reign. They spoke of friendship and goodwill. Some Armenians, close to the new rulers, belonging to the same lodges and political circles of the new revolutionaries, erroneously thought that the day had come to rejoice. They reciprocated with expressions of “brotherhood” and thought a new era had begun. Alas! Not long after, they were led to the gallows and brutally murdered. When I first heard of the “Apology” of the Turkish intellectuals, I could not help not to think about this "friendship" a century ago. Those who spoke of all progressive ideas of the time had other plans in their mind. Analyzing each word, I could not bring myself to acknowledge realities of today. How could I? My hard drive kept on overriding what new information was coming by. Despite my cerebrum telling me about Nazim Hikmet's humanism, the bravery of all those past and present Turkish intellectuals who defied the dictates of their state, the two-hundred-thousand Turks chanting "We are all Hrant Dink, We are all Armenian", my soul would not budge. The olive branch that was extended a century ago, turned out to be plucked from Dante's Inferno. How could I forget? On January 17, during the long journey to Ottawa to attend the commemoration of Hrant Dink, organized by Friends of Hrant: Voices in Dialogue, a singular thought agonized me. How would I greet and thank the organizers of the event? Many of them were Turks. After all, I had considered Hrant Dink as another victim of the ongoing Genocide -- a friend who was slain, because of preaching dialogue between two nations, understanding and democracy--the very same democracy that the Turks themselves are yearning for. For a short moment at the entrance of the hall at the Canadian Library and Archives, I took hesitant steps. Once I recognized a few familiar faces and engaged in conversation, my thoughts of the past dissipated. Reality set in. The program was "impeccable" as Arpie Dadoyan states. She had traveled all the way from New Jersey to attend the commemoration.

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It was indeed a unique occasion to meet the organizers. They were appreciative of the presence of so many people who had dared the cold to extend a greeting hand. They were sincere in their thoughts. In a way, they represented the physical faces behind “I apologize”. All those who signed the statement did so with conscious and courage, though for a variety of reasons. Here at this hall, in addition, I could see a Hrant Dink behind each organizer and I am confident that they will spread Dink’s words wherever they go. To my understanding, Hrant argued that you could not deny something that you had no knowledge of. The vast majority of people in Turkey have no clue of what did happen to the Armenians during WWI and afterwards. It becomes imperative to educate the public and to accomplish such a Herculean task freedom of speech and democracy is essential. The organizers are well aware of this testament of Dink, and they are willing to carry his work. There is a saying in Armenian, “You can’t get spring with one flower.” I gather there is a similar expression in Turkish and other languages. It is gratifying that Turkish intellectuals have expressed an apology and Friends of Hrant Dink organized commemorations in many centres of the world. All these events symbolize budding flowers. A limited non-scientific poll conducted by Keghart.com asked whether the “Apology” was a positive step to start a "meaningful" dialogue between Turks and Armenians. Forty-nine per cent responded positively; twenty-four per cent thought that it would promote recognition of the Genocide by civilians in Turkey. Only fourteen per cent thought that it was a ploy by Turkey "to confuse Armenians". The rest replied that the statement would have no impact or would reinvigorate Turkish nationalism. A “Thank you” statement circulated by Armenian intellectuals and widely distributed attracted only a couple of hundred signatures. The publishers of "Arax" on-line magazine qualified it as a "diplomatic gesture" towards the Turkish initiative. These figures and the lukewarm acceptance of the Armenian intellectuals' action by the average Armenian may be telling something. People wish that a true dialogue would occur, but hesitant to embrace wholeheartedly such projects in earnest. For as long as there is no substantial change in Turkey, and foremost, an acknowledgment by the Turkish state itself, attempts at dialogues and similar projects will remain as solitary flowers in a wasteland. May be it sounds impertinent recalling what a guru in Sonarpur, India, once told to his followers from the US and Europe, “What are you doing here? Your problem is in your homeland.” Indeed, all the commemorations and

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dialogues in Ottawa or elsewhere pale when homeland–Turkey–is in the background. Voltaire would have said, "Let's work in the garden". - February 9, 2009

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Is Erdogan's Anger for Real? Not having the privilege of inside information of events one has to contend with what is available in the media for consumption. Whatever people voice is based on such "knowledge" and is at best an educated guess. I will venture my own. During earlier studies, I was told, "all politics is local". I do not remember who said it. If we apply that principle to what has transpired lately we may have the following picture. - Livi is the present leader of Kadima. Israel is facing an election. The major contender is Natanyahu, a hawkish personality who openly has rejected peace negotiations with Palestinians in the past. He was leading in the polls. Kadima too needed to look hawkish and defending Israel. Attacking Gaza provided that opportunity. Now Livi's standing is better than before the attack. Recent polls show that Kadima expects 34 seats in the Knesset as opposed to 37 to Natanyahu's Likud. - Erdogan too will be facing an election. He has angered the nationalists and the Kemalists and has not forged any meaningful co-operation with the democrats. His party is all alone. A successful mediation between Israel and Syria would have provided a much-needed boost. That's bust. Now he is a hero in the eyes of Islamists in Turkey; he possibly has carved a slice from the nationalists and thrived on rampant anti-Semitism. His standing has improved. Posturing in politics is the norm. That is another 101 politics. Is Erdogan posturing or is he sincerely repudiating Israel? Is he angry? It seemed so, but one never knows with politicians. American Jewish groups are hinting to not co-operating with the Turks with respect to recognition of the Genocide of the Armenians. Can't it be another manifestation of posturing? When celebrities and countries are posturing look at the balance sheet and who needs whom more. I believe it is an exaggerated notion that the only ally of Israel in the Arab-Muslim world is Turkey. Iran was an ally of Israel during the Shah; Pakistan for years has been an ally. Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt (post-Carter) have been de facto allies of Israel. I would not pass on the possibility of even Libya being categorized in that camp in not so distant future. And what is Fatah today?

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Hence, Turkey's alliance is only one element in a whole array of alliances behind the scene. Corollary: Turkey's reliance on Israel surpasses Israel's need of Turkey. Between now and April a lot can change. Turkey, as in its long history of being a chameleon, may still find a way to woo the Jewish lobby. - February 22, 2009

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Is President Obama Detached from Reality? Agreed, it is an obnoxious question. One expects to hear such a rhetorical question from a die-hard neocon. Nothing surprising there, but from a more liberal minded and outward looking person it is somewhat unusual. Is it? During his recent tour in Europe and Turkey, the president sent lofty messages to the world at large, and specifically to the Muslim constituency with the intent of improving the tethered image of USA. Turkey was the launch pad from where Obama tried to reach out the Muslim world. Much is said -- with deliberate exaggeration -- about the pivotal role of Turkey, and there is no need of rehashing it here. Three specific areas however, need further elaboration - Turkey's entry into the European Union, its relations with the Transcaucasian neighbours, and the Israeli-Arab conflict. Prior to flying to Ankara, President Obama helped broker a deal to appoint a Turkish deputy to Rasmussen of Denmark who became the new secretary general of NATO. It was in response to Gul’s objections of how Rasmussen handled the situation following the publication of the infamous cartoon about the prophet Muhammad. He successfully argued that appointing Rasmussen would send a negative message to the Muslim world. In hindsight, it appears that Obama’s action was a goodwill gesture in anticipation of a friendly reception by the Turks. While in Turkey, the president reaffirmed US commitment to support Turkey’s accession into the European Union, despite reservations from France and Germany. In addition to other reasons both countries have issues involving the Genocide. In France, the chamber of deputies recognizes the Genocide of the Armenians; its denial is cause for challenges in court. For Germany, having Turkey as a member state in the EU is rife with a serious problem. Germany continues to provide remedies to the victims of the Holocaust, and the two stands could be incompatible. What does Obama, or the US administration, propose to resolve this inherent contradictions? Does the president think that an unpalatable option can be imposed on Europe, or does he plan–over time--to actively urge Turkey to come to terms with its own past?

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Turkey’s “flexibility” is well known. It simultaneously pursues leads in various directions. While being a member of NATO and treading the roads to Europe, it is cozying up with Russia. Additionally, what is bothersome-and not sufficiently covered in public discourse-–is that Turkey continues to suffer from megalomania. It aspires to bring all countries with Turkic ethnic origin under the same roof–extending from the western borders of China to the southeastern borders of Europe. Albania, and some other smaller jurisdictions are not excluded. This plays well in the hands of corporations whose loyalties do not include mother countries. They are transnational, abiding by their own rules, and recognizing no territorial sovereignty. Furthermore, irredentism is part and parcel of Turkey’s international outlook. It has committed enormous amounts and energy in establishing a network of trans-territorial organizations, NGOs, social clubs, lobbies. In this process it has designated funds to a state sponsored propaganda machine to combat recognition of the Genocide of the Armenians. It has already pocketed Azerbaijan in this devious plan, and along the way tries to recruit other countries. How is one to reconcile these divergent ambitions of Turkey? On the one hand, become part of the European family, but simultaneously be the leader of Turkic nations with an agenda of quashing efforts to recognize the Genocide, contrary to Obama’s convictions. The thoughtful and extremely knowledgeable president assuredly has considered all these elements. Nevertheless, does he have an answer to how he plans to maneuver through this cobble manufactured by Turkey? The inheritor state of the remnants of the Ottoman Empire may be helpful to diffuse some of the tensions in the region, being in speaking terms with various parties as diverse as Israel and Iran. However, that state, so far, has not shown any significant PR skills within its own borders. On the contrary, instead of addressing the legitimate concerns of its own people–the Kurds for example– through negotiations, it resorted to the use of force, causing insurgencies, rise of militant groups, outright military excursions and 40,000 deaths in the past two decades. Moreover, the illegal unilateral closure of the border with Armenia disqualifies Turkey from being an honest “broker”. It is an act more befitting of a bully. Despite Obama’s expectations that this matter could or should quickly get

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resolved, Turkey maintains the position that resolution of Artsakh status to Azerbaijan’s satisfaction be a precondition. Is that what Obama has in mind? Overriding all above problems is the Israeli-Arab conflict. Obama knows all too well that “partnership with the Muslim world” is impossible without a just resolution of this conflict. As the years go by, the region’s history is written with blood. Obama promises to support the "goal" of two states: an independent Palestine along Israel. Is it not unrealistic, though, at present to achieve that goal when close to three-hundred-thousand settlers inhabit the West Bank? They are ready to fight tooth and nail to keep the colonized lands. A recent CBS report is a graphic presentation which is hard to ignore. In the unlikely event that the present government in Israel agrees to such a solution, it will be contrary to all what the principle members of the cabinet believe in, preach and practice. What about having a unified state, an idea that is floating around? Even Libya’s Muammar al-Gaddafi advocated for it in a recent article. That is not in the interest of Israel either if democratic principles are adhered to in the new entity, for the simple reason that the Palestinians would constitute a majority. The third option is the status quo, which is replete with more violence, atrocities, restrictions and humiliation of the Palestinians. The present authorities in Israel are de facto promoting it, with the hope that down the road an opportunity will avail itself to impose a solution in favor of Israel. Is there a prospect of “partnership” with the Muslim world in the above uninspiring picture? There may be with some of the autocratic Arab regimes, which for decades are loathed by their own people. It is common knowledge that persistence of the Israeli-Arab conflict is one of the powerful motivating factors to replenish the ranks of all those clandestine and not so clandestine organizations that the West likes to classify as terrorist–whether they are called Hamas or Hezb Allah, Jihadist or Al-‘Qaida. Historically, what binds them all, is the tremendous insult that the West has inflicted on people in the region, and the profound mistrust towards the West since the infamous Balfour Declaration and the Sykes-Picot agreement. Even if Iraqi sovereignty is reestablished and Afghanistan becomes a livable

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place, without an independent Palestine the goal to forge a true “partnership� has little chance to materialize. It will remain an elusive dream. - April 10, 2009

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A Word of Caution When Using Commercial Forms! I received a brief request from a friend about a petition initiated by Ararat Centre entitled “No to Capitulation!� My knee-jerk reaction would have been to take the matter at face value and forward it to the recipients and readers of Keghart.com. My gray matter advised me to act otherwise, and based on experience to write my observations, despite being in agreement with the content of the petition. Below is the verbatim transcription of the letter submitted to you for your consideration. Dear B., I would have gladly endorsed this petition if it had not used a commercial based form. Go-Petition is a commercial undertaking. Using a commercialbased form taught a very valuable lesson during the PBS campaign which garnered over 22,000 signatures. Despite assurances by the owners of the petition form that the e-mails would not have been used for other than and only for the purposes of the petition, months later people who innocently had signed the petition started receiving unsolicited spam mail with contents including pornographic and other similar material. That raises the question that e-mails are provided by commercial companies to third parties unbeknownst to the signatories and initiators of such petitions. I wonder why Armenian organizations and individuals still use commercialbased forms. My suggestion is that this practice be discontinued. That's why, based on above experience keghart.com has been using its own base for all petitions and statements that request signatures. See the latest related to the same issue raised in this petition that you are circulating: We Condemn the Turkish-Armenian Agreement. I think Ararat Center has the capability to use its own website. If help is required it can get in touch with the webmaster of keghart.com. Use of the internet for a variety of reasons is an area that various Armenian websites can and should co-operate in, to come out with the best available solutions to avoid duplications and mishaps as pointed out above. Unfortunately, websites, website initiators, and centres like Ararat continue to display misplaced individuality, and that's probably one of the causes of ineffective unity, or the lack of it. The Turks are far advanced in propagating their views on the internet and coordinating their efforts, not to mention monitoring and at times disrupting Armenian sites. Let's not blame others, specially odars, when our initiatives do not translate into the expected or anticipated results. Good Luck. - May 3, 2009

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Yes, Taking Stock Mr. Oskanian and Mr. Ayvazyan It is always a pleasure to talk to friends with whom you have shared many dreams and goals. The emotional undulations during the conversation, raising the tone, challenging and being challenged are part of it. However, it is a different matter when that conversation takes place in public. It entails certain decorum. It is not governed by the rules of a dialogue, a public debate, or a panel discussion, although it may involve some elements of all of them. Yet it has its own pathos and expectations. Not an easy task, but I'll try to make the best of it. Ironically, the personalities on the other side of the virtual discussion table are Vartan Oskanian and Armen Ayvazyan. Both have recently spoken about the "The Road-Map" and related matters. Oskanian's article is published elsewhere in Keghart.com and similarly, Ayvazyan’s interview. It is said that it's always easy to talk after the fact, and hindsight is right. Aram Adamyan, Avedis Kevorkian, Bruce Tasker, myself in Keghart.com and possibly many other independents in other venues cautioned way back, right after the Football Match, and even before in which direction Armenia was heading to, and pointed out the pitfalls of Armenia’s orientation – may be I should call disorientation. It was written on the wall what potentially could the outcome be. An illegitimate government of a small country, whether Armenian or not, have in the past, do now, and will in future, always depend on outside forces for legitimacy. That is almost a truism. The Armenian government was in that predicament and willing to make concessions as long as the international community threw Armenia’s political and Human Rights dirty linen under the rug, and money kept on flowing through IMF, WB and other apparent and non-apparent sources, such as the Russian Loan. At the time, some of the independents were ridiculed; rarely anybody opened his/her mouth in their defense. They were told, "you don't understand" and so on. Some of the critics of the critics were more concerned about the trees rather than the forest. Here is what I mean. The matter of fraudulent elections was talked about and voices were raised separately; a similar approach was lent to the ongoing inti-

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midation and beatings of the press representatives, and the matter of political prisoners, etc. Nevertheless, no concerted effort was made to look at the overall picture and mount a strong opposition from the Diaspora, openly and forcefully, telling the authorities that the diaspora is not only unhappy with the direction, but is willing to take action. No such thing happened. Some questioned the wisdom of outside interference from the Diaspora. I wonder whether such oversensitive people thought of the same in the mid nineties when they challenged the President of the Republic of Armenia. The chasm that Oskanian is referring to was already present, long before the “road map”. The latter simply added another layer. Vestiges of the Cold War, LTP pitted against others, the infamous February Presidential election, the March Tragedy -- the authorities in Armenia defying the expectations and the will of the majority of the people -- were all elements that contributed to the manifold divisions. Unfortunately, some, who are assumed to be aware of what goes on, either did not want to see, or in order not to hurt sensitivities, or not to fall from grace, or wanting to remain in power sharing positions refrained from telling the whole truth. They barely opened their mouth and only offered small fragments. In fact, the major “chasm” -- Diaspora vs authorities in Armenia -- that was developing, was refuted by telling people it does not exist, and it's a Turkish fabrication. I wonder why Oskanian kept silent all along and only after the fact started talking. Couldn't he see the dots that connected an extremely unpopular, oppressive, illegitimate government and concessions that could follow? I am sure he did. In principle, I may agree with the analysis of Oskanian, but he could have spoken much earlier. He did not. A wise diplomat is the one who is willing to take action to prevent a "misstep", using his own word. What a euphemism? My indignation is most of all addressed to Ayvazyan of Ararat Center, who thinks he has all the wisdom of the world bestowed on him. He claimed that he saw "everything" that happened from A to Z from his “balcony” during the night of March 1-2. I wondered at the time what kind of kaleidoscopic vision he had that he could see in 360 degrees, and at right angles, and far and wide. He is as guilty as others who lay the blame squarely on the opposition. He provided a lifeline, no matter how slim, to the authorities to realign and carry on their mission, whatever that mission was. He has no right to find fault with - 362 -


ARF when he is in the same boat. His stance with all his theorizing, in kind, is no different than what Ignatieff -- probable next PM of Canada -- did by providing legitimacy to the Bush administration for invasion of Iraq and torture methods when ironically he was a Human Rights proponent heading the Carr Center. - May 10, 2009

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Sharing Some Thoughts About Recent Articles Having read “The Economist” article, Aram Adamyan’s essay in Keghart and a transcript of Prof. Chorbajian’s speech published in “Hetq”, I like to share some thoughts with you. Compared to “The Economist”, Adamyan provides almost exhaustive information and offers a novel idea. “The Economist's” perspective is narrow. It hardly touches upon the pivotal concern of Armenia's and Nagorno-Karabagh's security and fate. As if, they are nonexistent matters within the context of the rivalries between various powers. Dr. Chorbajian acknowledges that Armenian Diplomacy “had its successes”, but he highlights some important strategic drawbacks in the process of negotiations between Armenia and the rest of the countries that are interested in the south Caucasus. Adamyan’s proposal of Conditional Independence for Nagorno-Karabagh is audacious. It is worth discussing as an attempt to suggest a solution rather than sit idle and let Armenia’s “friends” and foes shape its future. However, let us not ignore the presence of extreme institutional restrictions in Armenia and the inflexibility of the authorities to consider any advice. Under those circumstances new proposals, protests, petitions and calls for the resignation of the Foreign Minister will hardly make any difference to thwart the web that surrounds Armenia and Nagorno-Karabagh. At best, they are expressions of frustration, indignation and anger. They may help to identify a “culprit” and hence mobilize people around a cause, which so far has been vague in details. Meanwhile, creative major initiatives by the authorities addressing Armenia's interests are lacking. Whether Adamyan’s idea flies is doubtful, because the political, economic and geopolitical interests that are well outlined by him are immediate. USA, Europe and Russia, to name the principal players, are in search of a quick settlement. In addition to compromising Armenia-Nagorno-Karabagh security, there is the possibility of a future, graver danger, which appears to elude the great players. In this haste, due to their shortsightedness and favoritism towards TurkishAzeri positions, the movers and shakers will further encourage Pan-Turkism and Pan-Turanism. This may lead the extremists to revive the dream of uniting people of Turkic origin from the borders of China to that of South Eastern Europe. After all, Erdogan does not miss an opportunity to show solidarity with his brethren beyond the confines of Turkey. Furthermore, the ongoing conferences devoted to matters of Pan-Turkism are more than meetings for theoretical discussions. For example, it was not long ago, during the conference held in Baku that a special budget was assigned to counteract the Armenian asser-

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tions of genocide. Unfortunately, it seems, the current interests of the great powers outweigh their future “anxieties”, especially for Russia. Secondly, any new concept in international law needs the support of the very same powers that at present are against the principle of self-determination with respect to Karabagh; hence, it is highly unlikely that a new idea be entertained. It will not make even a tertiary item in the agenda of talks and negotiations. Nonetheless, Aram’s proposal is meaningful in terms of enticing our authorities in Armenia to wake up and be aggressive in their approach. They should act now and be the spokesperson of the vast majority of Armenians worldwide. In no ambiguous terms they should spell out clearly and forcefully the rightful demand for full independence of Karabagh. Thirdly, evolutions of principles in international law take decades to take firm understanding and application. A snail-pace is the mode. As Dr. Chorbajian points out, time is not in Armenians' favor. By the time that a round of fresh negotiations to discuss a new proposal is set, Karabagh’s fate may be sealed. An example might illustrate the point. The term genocide formulated by Lemkin took almost three decades to be accepted, and that only after the tragic events of WWII and the Holocaust of the Jews. The word “aggressive” mentioned earlier in no way suggests militarism or violence. It is along the lines that Prof. Chorbajian suggests. Since the negotiations are behind closed doors, one has to go by only what is made public. The Armenian team is not utilizing many of the historical and theoretical arguments that are at its disposal. Under a non-authoritarian, a non-autocratic regime, the pronouncements and actions of the “negotiators” so far observed would have led to their recall. As a final remark, I would like to express my personal and other friends’ appreciation of Aram Adamyan’s work here in Keghart and elsewhere. It is fair to say that his search for a solution prompted me to write this short essay, hoping that he will continue to provide analytic commentaries. Read counts of his writings are indicators of the public’s receptiveness and eagerness to hear a new voice. It was a great pleasure reading Aram's article. - July 28, 2009

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Thirty Years Later Inspired by the upcoming conference at Haigazian University in Beirut and dedicated to the exceptional scholars of WATS who made it possible to get to this stage The Academic Conference on the “Armenian Genocide and International Law” in Beirut reminds the First Armenian Congress held in Hôtel Nikko of Paris. During September 3 to 6 of 1979, around 350 people attended the gathering to discuss existential matters related to the Armenian Diaspora. Incidentally, the scheduled conference at Haigazian University will take place exactly on the 30th anniversary of the said Congress. The opening statement of the final resolution of the Congress talked about the “question of existence”. It said, “Throughout our history, the Armenian existence has not been threatened as much as today. For centuries living on its ancestral lands, often under foreign yoke, [despite] being persecuted and massacred, it [the Armenian people] was able to preserve its existence … without a particular or planned effort. However, the present is different.” To secure the ongoing existence of the Diaspora, the Congress stressed the need for a “centralized” entity to represent all Armenians and co-ordinate all efforts. To this end, the resolution called for organizing “a committee of specialists” who would be instructed to prepare a “constitution”. Thirty years later, the intent of this brief note is not to pass judgment on what the Congress achieved, and the remarks are not politically motivated. Probably the slogan “hayabahbanoum” (preserving Armenianness) was so prevalent at the time that it defined the mindset of the whole assembly itself. As such, one wonders whether it did accomplish much beyond highlighting the obvious. Despite the efforts of the organizers to shed the ghetto mentality, the final resolution called only for actions within the community without reaching out to the outside world. It saw itself only in the mirror, rather than looking out through a window. Although the participants stressed the importance of the “occupied” Western Armenian lands as “the base” for people “to continue to survive”, and considered the Diaspora as the “lawful owner” of those lands, there was no mention at all to recover them.

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Today, it appears that they were either not aware of - which is unlikely - or simply ignored other fermentations. It was during the same period that young people turned to violence. It was probably an unorthodox method that they chose, but they eventually achieved what the Congress did not: getting the attention of the world community about the plight of the Armenians and opening the envelope of the Genocide. Speaking of the Genocide, the resolution made no mention of it either in its technical form or in some other words. That is surprising. Presumably, it was in the minds of the participants, but it was not spelled out. Almost fifteen years earlier, the 50th Anniversary of the Genocide was commemorated with robust expressions at least in Beirut and particularly in Armenia. There, for the first time, the words “Hoghere, hoghere� (the lands, the lands) were shouted in the streets of Yerevan. It is simply impossible that the participants of the Congress had no knowledge of those momentous events in the history of the Diaspora. For as long as one remembers, calls for unity have been pervasive. The Congress was not an exception. Here we are, thirty years later with no apparent unity. Did the sky fall down? Did the Armenians in the Diaspora perish? Of course, the answer varies from person to person, organization to organization, and place to place. Yes, some communities shrunk, and others almost were lost or are on the verge of being lost. Yet, new communities flourished, with exceptional vigor and determination, more democratic and decentralized, or rather multicentric. Granted, there is the possibility of having a generation that will cease to use its mother tongue. A not so dissimilar generation, however, produced stellar scholars. They, along their colleagues from the international community drive the political agenda today. To their credit, they have accomplished a monumental task without politicizing existential matters and the recognition of the Armenian rights. The upcoming conference organized by Haigazian University and the ANCMiddle East is viewed within above historical context. Thirty years divide us from the First Armenian Congress. It is simply uplifting to see academic gatherings that dot the map from Istanbul to Yerevan, USA, Europe and beyond, dedicated to the Armenian Genocide. The scope of the discussion has expanded. It is no longer a matter of recognition. For some time now, international law in relation to the Genocide of the Armenians has attracted attention. It is not exclusively a scholarly exercise. Politicians, lawyers, publishers and non-affiliated individual activists have discussed or taken preliminary steps in tackling the matter. For example, a workshop en- 367 -


titled Turkish Genocide-denial strategy and counter strategies held in Montreal in March 2007, included a session which was almost exclusively devoted to legal issues. The moderator was attorney Harry Dikranian. The works of some of the participants of the conference at the Haigazian University were under study, specifically those of Dr. William Schabas and Dr. Alfred De Zayas. Another example is the legal case of a scholar. It may set a special precedent with both local Turkish and international repercussions. The significance of pursuing legal means to attain certain objectives in the struggle for recognition and a just resolution becomes evident when the geopolitical concerns of the present time are factored in. The world is not going to change anytime soon. Globalization, a “friendlier” ringing word for imperialism, has its long-term agenda and so far is proceeding at full steam. This process is counter to the aspirations of the Armenians and many other people around the globe. It has nothing substantial to offer except some perishable goodies. Under the prevailing circumstances, along with agitation for the recognition of the Genocide by new jurisdictions, the path forward should necessarily include the courts. Understandably, at each new juncture, “what if” questions abound. Won’t legal attempts fail? Isn’t the ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court a lesson of how treacherous the legal battle can be, and how unjustly the decisions are arrived at? The answer for the moment is yes. Nevertheless, a setback of this nature has only local impplications and cannot be extrapolated in kind or across expanses. It is more important to tabulate and analyze the cases in Turkey itself. That undertaking will provide clues to formulate future strategies. Expansion of recognition of the Genocide by new countries and parliaments, prosecuting deniers of the Genocide of the Armenians in Europe, the French bill, the failure of the attempts to silence boards of education in Ontario and Massachusetts, some cases not resolved to the satisfaction of prosecutors in Turkey are all heartening. They are the harbingers of a new trend, and the international courts may follow suit. Doubting may be healthy, but confidence in justice, perseverance, and hard work will ultimately prevail. - August 29, 2009

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Do Not Ratify! Here we are, almost a year following the start of the “football diplomacy” and we are reaping the “gifts”. Finally, the wrapping of the package is opened and we have a glimpse of what are in it. As highlighted elsewhere by others, a “Commission of historians” and de jure recognition of the present borders between Turkey and Armenia are in the works. They are no more secrets. The spinners and the critics will have a field day. Alas! Are we supposed to be shocked or surprised? Not at all! Granted, Keghart had no means of being cognizant of the details of the negotiations. However, following the trend established since the infamous February 2008 elections, the subsequent March tragedy, the unrelenting stubbornness of the present authorities, it was clear that the government did not represent the will of the majority of its people. To save its neck, eventually it had to succumb to foreign pressures to establish some form of legitimacy. Unfortunately, that is what we witness today. It is hard to imagine how the authorities will be able to manage to convince the people in Armenia and the Diaspora of the wisdom of this action. The only way will be to ram it down the throat of the parliament. Will they take the risk with all its future ramifications of further alienation? So far, at every step of the way, they have demonstrated an extraordinary but pathological audacity. They are incorrigible. Hence, with regret and sadness, along with frustration and indignation, we state that they, in all likelihood, will not change course. They cannot, anyway. They are signatories. There is no room to backtrack and make an about face. Now the ball is in the parliament. We ask, like a demand, from all the parliamentarians in Armenia not to ratify this unjust agreement. Forget about your personal gains. Leave aside what you have amassed by way of bribes and promises. Dismiss your pockets. - 369 -


Think for a moment what a calamitous event for Armenians worldwide you will be facing by ratifying the agreement. Consult with all those martyrs who throughout our tortured history sacrificed their lives to keep a piece of land and our dignity. Ask their advice! - September 1, 2009

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Who Does the Congress of Canadian Armenians Really Represent? Traditionally, students of Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) affiliated schools automatically were considered members of the Union. If after graduation they continued to pay their dues and following a specified period, they were “upgraded” to the rank of Veteran. There was nothing grandiose about it, but one had a nice feeling for being acknowledged by a great organization. Those who personally know me are aware that I was bestowed the Veteran rank in my thirties, along with my classmates at Hovagimian-Manoogian Secondary School for Boys in Beirut. Over the years, my relations with AGBU were at arm’s length, due to personal circumstances. However, despite being an “inactive member”, I silently supported many AGBU projects which I thought benefited our people in the Diaspora and in Armenia. My attitude towards the AGBU became complicated when Louise Simone Manoogian, the President of the Union (1991-2002) encouraged the emigration of Armenians from the Middle East to the United States. I thought it was a shortsighted view, to say the least. The closure of Melkonian in Cyprus was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Since that misguided decision, I have developed an aversion to the leadership of the AGBU. At present, my dilemma is whether I am an AGBU member or not. I know many others who are also wondering about their status. I consider myself a member in spirit, and as such, I morally feel obliged to comment on the latest statement of the Congress of Canadian Armenians (CCA) regarding the Protocols. The Congress purports to be an umbrella organization of several associations or patriotic unions. Being familiar with the views of the CCA leadership, I am not surprised by their support of the protocols. I do not share their stand; that is abundantly clear from the Keghart initiated Opposing Some Provisions in the Protocols petition. Yet, I strongly believe that every Armenian, Armenian association or party is entitled to have a say in this vital national dialogue, to define what course of action we should collectively take in the Diaspora and in Armenia. Putting aside the analysis of what the CCA has to say about the protocols-their statement is published elsewhere in Keghart—I would like to address one particular aspect of their announcement so as to explain who the CCA might represent.

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After the introductory remarks, the CCA statement goes on to say, “together with the Armenian General Benevolent Union, the Armenian Assembly of America [AAA] and many other respected organizations in the Diaspora, [it] supports normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey without preconditions.” Superficially, the adjective “respected” used in this context appears to be an innocent qualifier. However, in politics words may have the exact opposite meaning when applied to adversaries. One gets the impression that those organizations which oppose the protocols are not necessarily “respected”. Is that the case? Am I stretching my interpretation? Are the organizations and individuals who do not approve the CCA position lacking in “respect”? Secondly, which “other respected organizations” in Canada are we talking about? There’s none to see in the body of the statement, although there is mention of “many of the large Canadian Armenian organizations" in the footer. I ask the question, because the CCA is a Canadian-Armenian entity and as such, it is expected to express the will of Canadian-Armenians, and not organizations south of the border. One is left clueless, because the CCA statement does not mention any names other than the AGBU and the AAA. To my knowledge, none of the AGBU chapters in Canada is an affiliate of the CCA. On the contrary, the former chair of the Montreal chapter, along with many Canadian AGBU members, has endorsed the petition against some provisions of the protocol. Wouldn’t it be more truthful to make the distinction and identify the AGBU as that of the board in New York? By inserting the AGBU name, one suspects that the CCA has resorted to confusing the AGBU members in Canada and has issued the statement without getting their consent. This is unbecoming to an organization that seeks “respect”. That leads me to my next objection. Why is the CCA “importing” the AAA’s endorsement? Is it to impress Canadian-Armenians? The AAA does not speak for Canadian-Armenians. On August 2, a news release on the CCA website stated, “Last week, the Armenian Assembly met with members of the Congress of Canadian Armenians (CCA) in Canada to discuss issues of mutual concern and cooperation.” It added, “The Armenian Assembly of America and the Congress of Canadian Armenians entered into a formal cooperation agreement in 2008.” … “In March - 372 -


of this year, the CCA sent a student delegation to Washington, DC to take part in the Assembly's 2009 National Advocacy Conference & Banquet.” It appears that relations between CCA and AAA have matured to such an extent that the two groups are indistinguishable from each other. Hence, the CCA statement could not have been any different from that of the AAA. The AAA’s statement, both in form and in content is akin to statements issued by the United States administration. Adding “Armenian” in front of the statement does not make it so. Ultimately, one wonders whether the CCA is playing the role of the AAA’s Trojan horse in the Canadian-Armenian community, by espousing views concocted by the American administration. - September 24, 2009

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Again About the Sub-commission A few days from now the signing of the Protocols might be a fact, barring a miraculous act in the eleventh hour that may derail the process. Much is said about the objectionable provisions on either side of the border. Political rallies, protests, petitions dotted the various Armenian communities in the Diaspora. Angry Diasporans took to the streets in Paris, New York, Los Angeles and Beirut, but the signatory parties seem to be undaunted. One pivotal aspect that the Diasporan Armenians objected to most, and struck a very sensitive chord, was the inclusion of provisions related to a subcommission to study historical matters. Irrespective of how the actual phrase was worded and whatever interpretations were provided in defense of such a commission, people did not buy. For them it meant one and one thing only. It will undoubtedly deal with matters related to the Genocide of the Armenians, which is not negotiable. Abdullah Gul, the Turkish president, in a recent interview with "Agence France Press" reiterated, “What we hope is that historians, archive specialists study this matter and we are ready to accept the conclusions of this commission. To show that we are sincere, we even said that if a third country is interested in this matter, if French historians, for example, want to take part in this commission, they are welcome.� Since the day Turkey made the proposal for a historical commission in 2005, some progressive Turkish thinkers have looked at it in a positive way. They include scholars who are in the forefront of bringing to surface the dark pages of the Ottoman history. They have organized or taken part in various conferences devoted to the Genocide of the Armenians. They have argued that a commission of historians would after all boost the public acceptance of the facts. Some have gone further. They have stated that this probably is the starting point for the Turkish authorities to pave the way for a final acknowledgement. After all, decades of silence about the subject is not going to dissipate overnight. There needs to be a process, which is acceptable to the Turkish public; whereas, resolutions of various foreign legislatures have generated resentment rather than acceptance.

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For a moment, let us take the statements of the Turkish president and the scholars at face value and try to look at the provision for a historical subcommission in a positive spin. No matter how hard one tries, it looks very bizarre within the context of what took place in the past four years preceding the protocols and what the actual practice is in Turkey today. The professed goodwill of the Turkish president and the interpretations or suggestions of the scholars do not match realities at all. How can the Turkish government project sincerity about the subject when in reality it has reinforced rejectionist policies with consequent punishment? While professing to abide by the outcome of the deliberations of the commission, it ignores the distribution of CDs to young Turks depicting Armenians killing Turks, thus promoting hatred and inculcating views which are contrary to what is being professed? More importantly, if the Turkish authorities were really serious and sincere why have they not repealed Article 301 of the penal code of the republic yet? Instead, it continues to be in place in full force. Writers, historians, artists, journalists, and scholars are prosecuted in broad daylight for just mentioning the word genocide. Don’t people see the contradiction? Apparently some don’t; even the most learned of them. How do you then expect the lay people in Turkey to understand and accept what has happened a century ago? Layers and layers of ignorance have been deliberately promoted by the state apparatus, on top of that generating a new wave of hatred. How do you expect scholars within Turkey to be impartial and free of fear to document what they find under these abhorrent circumstances? Your acts, Mr. President, do not correspond at all, to what you profess. First, repeal Article 301, guarantee the safety of your scholars, stop prosecuting, maiming and killing them such as you did to Hrant Dink, before we believe in any of your words. Put your house in order, prior to insisting on such a commission to study in your view “contentious” matters. Nobody believes you anyway, but geopolitics is in your favor now. - October 7, 2009

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Thank You Nalbandian; Thank You Davutoğlu “We will stay in refugee camps so that we don’t end up like the Armenians!” In early and mid-'60s American officers stationed in Iran would attend courses at the American University in Beirut to improve their knowledge in various areas. There were a few following politics. During a classroom session related to international relations and jurisprudence, one of the officers asked the professor, “Why don’t the Palestinians, who get the best scholarships and international help, all sort of encouragement to get settled in the various countries accept citizenship which is offered to them?” Of course, forty years later, I cannot remember the exact words, but the gist is there. To this date, I hear the professor’s curt answer, “We will stay in refugee camps so that we don’t end up like the Armenians!” Fayez Sayegh was the professor. He was a Christian Palestinian. In 1965 he founded and became the director-general of the Palestine Research Center. Later he served in various capacities for a variety of Arab states at the UN, and ultimately as chief of the Arab states’ delegation to the UN. For years I could not separate this vibrant teacher's image in my mind from that of Fridtjof Nansen, the great Norwegian humanitarian who helped thousands of Armenian refugees and provided a document of identity to them, sanctioned by the League of Nations. That generation is gone. With it, the identity documents are lost. The descendants of the Genocide generation have become citizens of various countries around the globe. Lost is the status of being a subject applicable in international law. A subject can define its rights, and claim its demands. People is considered a subject, but individuals of a variety of citizenship without the proof of belonging to that entity are not subjects, and such individuals do not form a people with a demand. Hence Armenians in the Diaspora, under traditional international concepts, have no legal status. Fortunately, international law is dynamic. It entails a process that draws similarities, precedents, etc. from a variety of sources. Claims are deliberated and conclusions are drawn on a case-by-case basis.

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The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples (1976), the UNO’s SubCommission on prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities (1985), the conclusion of International Center for Transitional Justice (2003), the comprehensive resolution of the National Assembly of Venezuela (2005) dealing specifically with the Armenians and the Genocide, and similar statements, constitute a preliminary set of documents that provide a basis for further discussion. The Diaspora Armenians should embark on the Herculean job to define how to become and who are the individuals that should be considered to form the people under international law. The specialists in the various fields of legal studies will pave the way to accomplish this task. Without the formation of people as subject under international law, even the loftiest declarations about the Genocide of the Armenians will not lead us to our cherished goals. Resolutions limited to acknowledging the Genocide in various jurisdictions, proclamations of historians and scholars about its veracity, a president declaring his sympathy, etc. do not form, in themselves, legal grounds for any action. Granted, they lend moral support. This matter has taken an urgent pace thanks to Edouard Nalbandian and Ahmet DavutoÄ&#x;lu, respective foreign ministers of Armenia and Turkey. With the blessing of the Great Powers, they have completely shut off the Diaspora from the process of negotiations and subsequent decisions. There is a silver lining, though. Maybe we owe them a big "thank you" for making us, Diasporans, realize that we are left to our own devices. We, the Diasporan Armenians, are indirectly told to forge a truly effective unified strategy to define first ourselves as people, and concurrently formulate our demands. For as long as we are multi-centric and a diverse amalgamation of individuals and speaking in cacophony, and no matter how loudly we shout, or how just are our demands, international law (as opposed to the international community) will not listen to us. It has neither the right nor the obligation. These are not novel ideas. Many a community leaders and intellectuals, over the decades, have espoused such thoughts. There was a short lull following the unorthodox undertakings of young people in the '80s. Subsequently, the focus shifted to the liberation and preservation of Artsakh, and then of course, the expectations of some that the Armenian authorities would take the lead. The geopolitical situation in the Caucasus, Armenia’s institutional flaws, the signing of the protocols between Armenia and Turkey, etc. have come to convince at least this writer that the Diaspora has to be more vigilant and creative. - 377 -


In this final decade of the centennial of the Genocide, we have to demonstrate that we not only believe in our just cause, but also are ready to meet the enormous challenges without despair. There are many objective, external impediments related to primarily how we define ourselves as People. What form of entity should that entail, what sort of representation it should have? Should it be in the form of people-in-exile, people without territory or lost territory? With respect to subjective hurdles, there are many but they are not insurmountable. They are of our own making, and for as long as there is a collective will, they can be resolved. A submission about this will shortly follow in Keghart. - October 10, 2009

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Let Us Not Kid Ourselves! In this short essay the term Diaspora is used to describe Armenians living in the Middle East, Europe, the Americas, and Australia, primarily because they share a common denominator: the post-traumatic syndrome of the Genocide. Furthermore, it applies only to a portion of Armenians who left Armenia following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Russian- and Iranian-Armenians and isolated communities of Armenians living east of Iran have had their unique characteristics; their respective histories have evolved along other lines and are beyond the scope of this article. Leaving aside the pre-repatriation (1946-’47) cleavages and their impact on the subsequent history of what evolved in the Diaspora, I shall limit myself to matters that I have personal knowledge of--through reading, following trends and issues--or participating in community activities. Broadly, some dates stick out: 1956, 1958, 1975, 1996 and 2008. Each of these dates is associated with an event that has added another layer of discord, infighting, animosity, and confrontation in the Diaspora. The recent signing of the protocols between Armenia and Turkey will probably join the significant date list. Despite differences, there are vital topics that bind most Armenians who are vocal. Whether they are individuals or are represented by associations (mostly political parties), they all agree in principles that are directly related to the Genocide of the Armenians. In a recent email exchange a valued non-Armenian correspondent requested for an explanation of the “cherished goals” of the Diaspora Armenians, making a direct quote from a previous submission to Keghart.com My brief answer was: “By and large the floated ideas, plans, goals, etc. may be summarized as follows: 1. Recognition of the Genocide of the Armenians by Turkey as direct inheritor of the Ottoman state. Reparations for life and wealth lost 3. Return of lands to the descendants of the Genocide generation.

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Whether these are realistic expectations (in whole or in part) is a different matter and there is much debate about these issues within Armenian circles, mainly in the Diaspora.� The query and the response gave me the opportunity to reflect upon, once more, whether the Diaspora is determined to pursue the above goals and how realistic are they in their objectives. Is the Diaspora really capable of engaging in a long-term plan to transform wishes into realities? By themselves, announcements and lofty proclamations will lead us nowhere--as pointed out in a previous essay. There is another unanswered question: Who really can vouch that all Diaspora Armenians or at least a majority of them are in agreement with the above goals? Perhaps the symbolic recognition of the Genocide of the Armenians by Turkey would satisfy some Armenians. Moreover, there is a sector strongly asserting that the current geopolitical climate and realpolitik are unfavorable and such goals amount to no more than wishful thinking in the foreseeable future. The above arguments are countered by the assertion that the Jews were able to regain a lost land after languishing in their own diaspora for two millennia. Are we less capable to reach our goals? "Realists" point out a key difference in the Armenian vs. Jewish comparison. They state that without the global Zionist organization (which is not wholly Jewish) and the Holocaust, Israel could not have come into existence. Still others are content by a partial return of a portion of Western Armenia, with or without Genocide recognition by Turkey, but substantial enough to offer Armenia a safe and secure passage to the Black Sea. There are variations of the above. I would contend that nobody and no organization has a clue as to what proportion of Armenians wants what and which goals are considered realistic by them. Furthermore, it is not uncommon to hear that these organizations do not reflect the aspirations of the majority of the Armenians in the Diaspora. Like wild mushrooms, new forums and groups crop up across the Diaspora landscape. Of course, the internet is playing a major role in their proliferation. Some have semi-comprehensive plans; a good number of them are sociopolitical in nature, while others are cultural. One is amazed with this phenomenon when a giant of the past, such as “Haratch�, folded recently in Paris. Why are these groups attracting followers, albeit in limited numbers, if Diaspora Armenians felt comfortable with the traditional political organizations - 380 -


and the cultural associations affiliated with them? Need I mention that there is lack of an organic link between such forums and groups on one hand and the organizations on the other? Why? The answers cannot be scientific and fact based. At best, they can be conjectures with a tinge of bias. Let me explain what I mean with an illustration. During the recent Armenia/Turkey protocols debate, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) and the Armenians of Australia undertook polls to measure public opinion. Both asked whether people were for or against the protocols. Keghart.com had two polls--the first launched when the "Road Map" was announced, and the second when the protocols were made public. The subject matters were basically the same. It was not unexpected to see an overwhelming negative response in the ANCA and in the Australian polls. More than 90 per cent of the respondents were against. Meanwhile, the Keghart.com polls showed the following: Do you support the Turkish-Armenian Agreement concluded on April 22, 2009? --78% said no (630 participants) Should the Armenian Parliament ratify the protocols guiding the relations between Armenia and Turkey announced on August 31, 2009? --71% said no (351 participants) The discrepancy between the data collected by the ANCA and Keghart.com. is clear. Moreover, probably more people would have been in agreement with the protocols were it not for this writer’s bias against some provisions in the protocols, thus tilting the views of readers in a certain direction. If Diaspora political parties do not necessarily reflect the aspirations of the majority then who does? Who is capable of launching a plan which would face the new post-Protocols realities? Are our political parties capable of carrying the task single-handed or collectively?

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It is a comforting fact that at crucial moments the traditional parties (or their leaderships), not excluding Marxist-oriented formations, do come together in unison. Their unified stand of “positive neutrality” during the protracted civil war in Lebanon is a case in point. The second such occurrence took place during the recent protocols debate. However, as soon as relative calm sets in, the above groups return to the “business as usual” mode. A day after the unified protests against the visit of the president of Armenia to Los Angeles, a community leader stated during an interview, aired on "Horizon" television, that “people” would follow the political party that will successfully lead the coming “struggle”. That may be the case. But the above statement and similar expressions made by a variety of community and party leaders on various occasions reflect a certain mindset. This mindset is a sign of an egocentric attitude that is pervasive in our community life. The above statement was not made weeks or even days after the president’s visit, but during a time frame when there was seemingly a unified front. That’s what is pathological and bothersome. If each party unilaterally assumes the mantle of sole leadership, without even seeking the consent of its members, we are doomed to repeat the blunders of the past. On this occasion the expected statement should have been an expression of unity, and not idle musings about the choice of future leadership. Unfortunately, these are not slippages of the tongue. Armenians, irrespective of their ideologies and affiliations, are tired of this attitude, especially the young. They have become skeptical about the objectives and effectiveness of our political parties. It’s no surprise that a good number of them have coalesced around a new group in California. How can one, in such an instance, trust political parties to lead the Diaspora to a safe haven--so to speak? Here, the reference is not to the battle for the passage of a bill in the United States Congress which would recognize the Genocide, or similar activities. Nor it is about who controls more churches, schools or clubs. It is in regard to fundamental issues of where we are, what we really want, how we can organize as a collective to be considered a people under international law. It is with this overriding concern that the questions are posed--so that we don’t continue to wander in the wilderness as a lost amalgamation of individuals. Typically, this writer has lived in three countries before

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settling in Canada. Others have crossed four or five jurisdictions prior to making home somewhere in the Diaspora. Enough of this nonsense of unrealistic slogans and changing positions to suit immediate and self-promoting ends! Sloganeering and fancy foot-steps do not address fundamental identity and existential issues we face now. Let us define clearly what our goals for a bright future should be. Let us consult with our respective constituents in a true democratic fashion. Let us ask for their input. And following the participation of our constituencies, let us formulate our objectives and goals, the methods we have to utilize, and our overall strategy. Let no organization deign speak on behalf of its members unless it has obtained their informed consent. Let no organization assume that it speaks for all of Diaspora. That reminder goes to all groups, but particularly to the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), because it is the dominant political organization in the Diaspora. For a variety of reasons, following the repatriation in the ‘40s, the ARF has enjoyed near supremacy outside Armenia. That status may not necessarily persist in the future, when Armenians who have emigrated from Armenia are factored in. Sooner or later, their voice will become more significant in the Diaspora. If we, the Diasporan Armenians as defined in the introductory paragraph, are committed to a strong and prosperous Diaspora, let us forge a unified and realistic strategy and adhere to it, and make sure the non-affiliated members of the respective communities are involved. Time is running out with the speed of lightning. Despite all the well-intentioned activities on the ground and on the Web, there is no cohesion in the Diaspora. If we do not act now the Diaspora is destined to become a footnote in Armenian history, especially following the fourth generation of the Genocide and in the West. Time is of the essence, and it’s running out. Let us not kid ourselves! - October 18, 2009

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An Energized Diaspora is Entitled to a Democratic Forum A cross-section of diverse ideological and political viewpoints regarding vital Armenian national concerns played front and centre at the Nov. 10 Altadena, CA “interactive public meeting”, an initiative of the Armenian Rights’ Council of America (ARCA), an organization affiliated with the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party (ADLP). It was a rare occasion. While the evening’s topic--"Expectations of the Diaspora Following the Protocols"-- and the organizational skills and vision of the coordinators rightly helped make the gathering an unequivocal success, there was a third and as important a reason for the organizers to congratulate themselves: The Altadena gathering was a unique expression of participatory democracy, with almost one-third of the attendees expressing their opinions and posing questions to the panelists. This third fact made the evening exemplary in our Diaspora reality. As participant, the event offers me an opportunity to reflect on form, digressing from the traditional approach to report on substance. Was it a coincidence that the two panelists -- Kevork Haleblian, a member of the executive of ARCA and Dr. Minas Kojayan, editor of “Nor Or” weekly-as well as Dr. Raffi Balian (MC-facilitator) and myself, were graduates of academic institutions in Soviet Armenia? I recall the graduation ceremonies of those many years ago. I clearly remember that prior to bestowing the degrees to the graduates from Diaspora, the dean would remind them “you are the ambassadors of Armenia”. He would then advise each one to participate in "Spyurk" community activities, after leaving the motherland. The Altadena gathering was probably a vivid expression of what the educators in Armenia had in mind. It was also reminiscent of the healthy mindset that prevailed among the majority of my Diaspora colleagues studying in Armenia. It was not uncommon in those days to engage in heated discussions about Diaspora's future, to talk about “Spyurk” and the latter’s relations to Armenia. Ramgavars, Hnchaks, Marxists, “Tchezoks” and occasionally Tashnagoriented youth, if not in formal settings but informally interacted with each other and mused about Diaspora's future. Typically for young people, we made outlandish prescriptions at times. Invariably, we would deplore the the lack of unity in Diaspora. We also pondered about ways to overcome Diaspora's multiple challenges. Perhaps we were

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idealists, but our diagnosis was not too far off the mark. Was it their goals that split Armenian organizations? What would it take to achieve amity, if not some form of unity or consensus? Were vested interests in high positions obstacles to national unity? Why were the majority of Diaspora Armenians apathetic to the threats our far-flung communities faced? Or perhaps the Diaspora public was indifferent because it was denied the prospect to participate in a meaningful way in community affairs. As if mindful of the above questions, the coordinators of the Altadena gathering went to great lengths to open the channels of communication between the attendees and the panelists. At such meetings we are traditionally used to hearing the "voice from the above", from the podium...A dead end one-way communication. That night in Altadena the opinions, criticisms and suggestions of the public were clearly of paramount importance to the organizers. It's no wonder that the attendees responded with such satisfaction to the democratic manner. The Diaspora is an amorphous, multi - centric entity. Gatherings, such as the above, which encourage the participation of all voices and not just that of the vocal apparent majority, constitute a welcome phenomenon. The organizers deserve our plaudits for making it happen and for setting a welcome precedent in our community lives. The evening was an exceptional brainstorming session, fitting for the uncertain times our nation is experiencing. Our public is tired of sloganeering. Our public is eager to participate in the decision-making process. A public energized by the Protocols controversy, is hungry for a forum. Our community leaders and our organizations have a golden opportunity to involve as many individuals as possible in our vital national discourse. Congratulations to the executive of the Armenian Rights’ Council of America for its bold and democratic approach. - November 15, 2009

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Open Letter to Hon. Hranush Hakobyan 1 January 2011 Hon. Hranush Hakobyan Minister of Diaspora Yerevan, Armenia Hon. Minister Hakobyan, Keghart.com editorial board wishes you and your staff a Happy New Year, a very Merry Christmas, and much success in your efforts in promoting communications between the motherland and Diaspora. The decision of the government of the Republic of Armenia to permit the operation of foreign-language schools has, as you know, elicited a great deal of interest and controversy in Armenia and in the Diaspora. As editor-in-chief and publisher of Canada-based Keghart.com, one of the most active Armenian Diaspora websites, I cordially invite you to write for our readers an article/open letter, to help us better understand this development and the RoA government’s decision. The article will appear as is. Thank you in advance, Yours truly, Dikran Abrahamian BA, MD Editor-in-chief and Publisher

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Horse Latitudes in Yerevan In certain spots in the Atlantic Ocean, east of North America, there are microclimates where there is no wind and few waves. In earlier times, when ships were caught in these still waters, horses were thrown overboard to make the vessels lighter and easier to sail. For that reason, these regions were called horse latitudes. At the outset let me state that I think I am a forward-looking person, otherwise I can’t explain why I have made several leaps from one profession to another and gradually improved my lot over a span of 60-plus years. There is no explanation to why I joyfully fathered a half-a-dozen children, without fearing the financial burdens those decisions entailed. Was it luck or was I taking calculated risks? I think it’s the latter which has propelled me. In today’s jargon, I would probably be tagged as an individual with positive attitude. Why do I start with this personal confession? Because what follows is far from being rosy and may be interpreted as the product of a disgruntled old man who in his sunset years is disposed to view life in dark tones. I tend to think of myself otherwise. On the other hand, there are “surprises” which pull you to the abyss, despite attempts to look at the brighter side of situations and events. All the above words so as to tell you that I would like to write about my recent trip to Artsakh and Yerevan while my impressions are fresh and are not clouded by temptations to be politically correct or diplomatic. I will not bother you with details on how friendly the people were, how wonderful the mountains and the forests felt, how the lakes and rivers made me hum here and there or recite a line or two from favorite poems. Likewise, I will not be a tour guide to the more attractive natural, historic or cultural sites. Google does a better job than I could. What was I looking for? Was it residents or how patriotic they are? Was it the land for which we have fought for millennia? By the latest count, some 6,000 people were killed, maimed and injured to liberate a slice of our motherland-Artsakh. What’s mind-boggling is how this region is defended. Are the mountains and the highlands our natural protectors? These were questions to which the people at large and officials could not provide credible answers. Lebanon, home of the cedars, comparable in size to Artsakh, the sea as a natural defense on its west, a 20,000-strong army in peacetime (prior to the civil war of the ‘70s) defended a little over 3-million citizens. Inflated numbers claim there are 160,000 people in Artsakh--a jurisdiction that has no signifi- 387 -


cant economy and no tax-base to speak of. How can it defend itself? Who is providing this crucial function? The answer would simply be speculation. Is it any wonder that two themes dominated my conversations with Artsakh citizens? There is talk of populating it with people from remote areas of the former Soviet Union, i.e. Hamshens (Muslim Armenians) families who have expressed a desire to move to Artsakh. However, no one is willing to make a move for acutely uncomfortable reasons. Who will provide the finances for such a migration? Are the millionaires in the inner Diaspora of Moscow or the ones in the West to foot the bill? Why invest in such a venture when there is talk of ceding portions of the land to Azerbaijan? Will the Hamshens be willing to fight in case of war? Will they integrate in their new environment? What if “transplanted” people have to be deported again to safer regions, in case hostilities resume? Couldn’t such a project open Pandora's Box in already complex international negotiations and provide Azerbaijan with new ammunition for propaganda–i.e. populating Artsakh with non-Karabaghtsis, while Azeri refugees, former residents are “languishing” in Azerbaijan? One might add, “Why don’t the former Armenian Karabaghtsis come back to claim the land for good?" The other recurrent theme of my conversations was the Republic of Armenia presidential election, scheduled within a year. It’s not uncommon to hear, “What if a non-Karabaghtsi becomes the commander-in-chief? What will become of Artsakh?” There are no answers. The questions betray a legitimate anxiety. Other less frequently heard topics are the Himnatram and what a wonderful job the Diaspora has done. One wonders whether such glowing words come up because the listeners are from the Diaspora. Yerevan? This is my third visit since the creation of the Third Republic. In a couple of months there will be celebrations commemorating the 20th anniversary of “independence”. Am I biased and is that the reason why I use a qualifying sign? You bet I am, and that’s because of the perspective that living as a student almost eight consecutive years in Armenia during the ‘70s and early ‘80s has supplied. That period provides me with some point of reference to compare the present with the past. The views I hold of the present have minimal relation with the Marxist ideology that I profess. In the early ‘60s I was in a very small minority, within the staunchly pro-Soviet segment of the community, that was critical of the Soviet totalitarian socio-economic system. A number of friends and I paid dearly for our stance: we were terrorized and I was obliged to carry a concealed weapon for personal protection. Furthermore, during my studies in Armenia, a friend - 388 -


from Qamishli, Syria, and I were denied our elected positions in various student and compatriotic councils. We were to be expelled from Armenia for criticizing, during a semi-public gathering with officials, the bribery and corruption in educational institutions. A fellow Diasporan student accused us of being involved in hagabedagan (anti-state) activities in a subsequent “trial-bycolleagues”, i.e. by the student body of the institution where we were studying. That was reason enough for the dean of Diaspora students to take action. To this day it’s not clear whose magic wand played a role in “sparing” us from expulsion. Why this long-winded sub-introduction following my statements about Artsakh? It's intended to demonstrate where my bias is rooted. Secondly, to put at ease acquaintances in Artsakh and Yerevan who confided in me and told some ugly stories. On my previous two visits I had returned home depressed. This time, I was not--probably because I was “immunized” against what to expect. I feel reenergized ... to tell and retell what's happening in the motherland, until somebody listens for the sake of our land(s), for the sake of our people(s) in Artsakh, in Armenia and in Diaspora. It's a no-brainer to any social studies student that a country without a sound and independent economy of whatever type (capitalist, welfare state, managed economy) there can’t be political independence, especially when the levers of production and distribution are owned and managed by foreign investors. The main sectors of Armenian economy are now owned by foreigners. There is no need to elaborate on the oligarchs collaborating with foreign interests and about whom people--the homemaker, taxi driver, server in the restaurant, reporter, editor, publisher, educator, doctor, professor and academician--have little positive to say. The country is in worse economic shape than many Third World countries I visited in the late ‘60s and the early ‘70s. There is much talk about construction and beautification but it’s limited to Yerevan and primarily to its centre. There is a semblance of residential miniskyscrapers clusters. Try to rent an apartment in this putative high-rises? No way! How can a family with a monthly income of $150 to $200 afford the exorbitant rents? These buildings are in areas from where people were forcibly vacated and were offered peanuts in compensation. How did the price of older apartments, close to the centre, which were priced at $15,000 to $20,000 ten years ago now fetch $100,000 to $150,000? Yes, the new buildings have provided a modern look to the city. Outwardly, they are comparable to downtown apartments in small cities in the West. But - 389 -


at what cost? In addition to cheating previous owners of the lands and in erecting new buildings on the same lands, the developers have compromised the eco-system. German experts have condemned the constructions as non-eco friendly. It appears that Alexander Tamanyan, the principal architect of the “old” city, knew a thing or two about the movements of air and pollution. The present architects, nearly a century later, display utter ignorance in favor of beauty. Let’s be fair. The highways converging to the city centre have made a difference in normalizing traffic and providing much needed arteries to various outlying neighborhoods. Moreover, they have made it easier for the innumerable BMWs, SUVs and the sleek, new Mercedes look-alike Volgas to maneuver. Who owns them though? Most are bought through borrowed money at 10% to 12%, adding a further burden on a country drowned in debt. What about culture? It was off-season and thus concerts, the opera and other cultural activities were not on. To compensate, I listened to street violin players, to piano, and to guitar-based groups at the café-restaurants around the Opera House and along the Teryan Boulevard. I thought it would be pleasurable during late evenings--following days of 41, 43, 45 degree Celsius. I wish I had not ventured. I heard more Russian songs than during the Soviet era. Mind you, I like all types of music and all kinds of songs, irrespective of language, but the dominance of one particular language irked me, to say the least. And to add insult to injury the melodies did not resemble the popular Russian music. They were fake-jazz. Who do the performers think they are kidding? I can’t refrain from commenting on the servers. They were eye-catching, sensuous beauties who lacked the basic skills of trained professionals. Having once been a server myself in the mountain resorts of Lebanon and a “flyingwaiter” in the Middle East Airlines, I couldn’t help noticing a lack of decency and common courtesy. Am I exaggerating? A relative told me that they were very low-paid, untrained employees, and I had been too demanding in my expectations. Some people made the remark that I should have attended the galadinner at Harsnaqar Restaurant, following the 3rd International Medical Congress of Armenia closing ceremonies, instead of rabiz places to observe a high quality service and not be disappointed. May be they were right, but there is a but… Having heard that the said restaurant allegedly belonged to an oligarch, and it would have cost 25,000 drams per person (around CDN$65) to attend, I couldn’t bring myself to the notion of further enriching a crook. For the same reason, I regret staying at Aviatrans Hotel. I should add though, the employees at that lodge were excellent.

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Another point to ponder about: Doesn’t rabiz music, behaviour, “culture” represent the average Joe in any society, and isn’t the “common” citizen a part of the majority in any country? I was interested in that! I repeat my initial expression of regret for another reason. The centre of evening enjoyment and unfortunately one of the best parts of Yerevan, is not for families. I write in no disrespect to people in the villages and towns surrounding the city. Poverty and lack of employment has driven the young to Yerevan. What better trade is there without monetary capital than exposing one's flesh? That’s what I observed around me in the café-restaurants. Incidentally, I noticed the monument dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust at the Teryan Park. Though small in construction, it was very tastefully done and awe-inspiring. But I could not figure out why it was positioned in a location dedicated to the poet? Why the late human rights activist Sakharov had his own square with a bust, but just a corner was devoted to a whole people subjected to holocaust? I didn't visit Dzidzernagapert and other significant commemorative markers anew. Moreover, the majority, like the monuments at Sardarabad and Musa Ler were erected during the Soviet period and I had paid my respects, time and again, in the past. Yerevan is floating in horse latitudes. There is a palpable stagnant atmosphere in politics. Nothing moves. While people in Karabagh are “concerned” in the identity of the next president, in Yerevan they complain about how long they have to “support” their brothers in the Artsakh highlands. Overall, it appears they are tired of unending protests that have led matters nowhere. A minority is hopeful that the proposed “dialogue” between the government and the opposition may lead to some “accommodation”. - July 14, 2011

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Blundering into History Open Letter to IOC Dear International Organizing Committee (IOC) of the proposed "Western Armenian National Congress (WAN-C), It is very heartening to see so many compatriotic associations from Armenia participating in this great uncharted road. Why "Mousa Ler" compatriotic Union was not present? I am disappointed that the statement yet again contains the following "Սակայն նույն թվականի հոկտեմբեր-նոյեմբեր ամիսներին քեմալաբոլշեւիկյան (bolded by me) միացյալ ագրեսիայի հետեւանքով վերացվեց հայոց անկախ պետականությունը....Հայաստանի Հանրապետությունը մասնատվեց Թուրքիայի, Ադրբեջանի եւ Վրաստանի միջեւ" etc. Were it not what you call բոլշեւիկ aggression (which for all practical purposes I would simply call "Sovietization") and the presence of the 11th Red Army, the Kemalists would have wolfed whatever was left of Armenia. The British and the French could/would not stop them. Do you think the "little ally" could? But I need not speculate, may be Armenia had a secret nuke in 1918-1920 that it could use. Who knows? What happened to Cilicia? Why didn't the French draw the line? How could an entity be "divided" when de facto the lands that are referred to were not under the jurisdiction of Հայաստանի Հանրապետություն? The Republic was hardly able to rule over Yerevan and what exists at present, in addition to Kars and Ardahan. The proposed great Armenia of Sèvres was only on paper and remained on paper. It was later through Kars treaty that we lost Kars and Ardahan, and subsequently Nagorno-Karabakh and etc through Stalin's treachery. If you continue to make such non-pragmatic statements to appease some circles in Moscow and Yerevan then you are seeding your own doom, and I would suggest that we better pack up to go home than to Sèvres. I need not elaborate on this issue again, as we have talked about this matter at great length previously. Quote as many historians as you wish, that's a no go at this present stage when the Congress tries to forge a common front of all people adhering to the principles of proposed WAN-C and are willing to sacri- 392 -


fice their time, money, energy for a sacred goal. Let's not lose sight of the villain who committed the Genocide. For clarity, I'd like to address the topic of "delegates." Despite the fact that compatriotic associations in Moscow and in Yerevan have elected their representatives, who will participate in the Sèvres convention on Dec 10, none can legally claim to be a delegate. It's my view that every participant will represent herself/himself, and thus the ensuing entity should recognize itself as a selfappointed body, without ambitious claims that it speaks on behalf of all Genocide survivors' descendents. Accordingly, the convention should consider adopting a congruent name for the forthcoming "Congress," particularly when there are already two organizations with almost similar designations. In conclusion, let me state clearly, once more, that I will not agree on any final draft that comes out of the convention containing expressions, as quoted above, in any way, overt or implied. Rest assured that I am expressing not only my own opinion but the consensus of 12 people in Canada who are supportive of the WAN-C effort. They are each well considered individuals in the Canadian-Armenian community and represent an array of ideological backgrounds. Respectfully, Dikran Abrahamian - December 3, 2011

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Open Letter to Canadian-Armenian Physicians Dear Colleagues, In a few days a candlelight vigil will be held in Toronto in memory of Vahé Avetyan. Because his death has been widely documented in the Armenian media and on the internet I don't want to repeat the details here. This tragic event evokes memories of the days twenty-four years ago when we, as Armenians and as physicians, embarked on a mission following the earthquake in Armenia that took away 25,000 lives. Individually and collectively, we rushed to help our compatriots and the motherland, without any partisan considerations. To this end various associations involving physicians and allied health professionals were established in many Diaspora communities. Over the past two decades many of us have visited the motherland and witnessed the impact of the various initiatives that we had undertaken. What was achieved filled us with patriotic pride. All along, we not only hoped that the wounds were healed but we rightfully expected that life in the motherland would be worthwhile for all citizens and that they all would benefit from the public services, irrespective of their wealth, standing in society or political belief. Unfortunately, we were disillusioned and some of us even ceased to make financial contributions. Others forged friendships with progressive forces in Armenia and the Diaspora so as to explore ways to ameliorate the unhealthy, if not lawless, atmosphere in the motherland. Vahé Avetyan's untimely death was a result of social degeneration. He, too, was a physician professing the cardinal principle that guides us: “Do no harm”. Ironically, he became the victim of brutal and sheer violence, committed by people who most probably thought they were above the law, because they were in the service of a "lawmaker". If for nothing, we should honour Vahé’s memory as a former colleague. Please attend the candlelight vigil which will be held on the 40th day of Vahé’s death on August 7, 2012. Respectfully, Dikran Abrahamian BA, MD Penetanguishene, Ontario, August 3, 2012

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The Hit Parade

visit full country list at : www.keghart.com/year2011-analytics - 395 -


Keghart’s Soaring Popularity

Keghart.com Visitors 2007 January February March April May June July August September October November December

6 1,586 1,141 878

2008 679 801 805 1,279 1,082 901 1,495 1,874 1,908 1,358 2,223 3,066

2009 3,024 4,667 4,391 8,165 4,729 2,558 5,184 5,763 6,475 7,900 6,308 6,181

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2010 6,549 7,720 10,752 9,927 10,168 10,807 9,254 7,955 8,706 10,644 10,343 10,109

2011 10,804 11,425 9,617 11,798 10,153 12,138 11,020 11,173 12,645 6,613 12,790 12,540

2012 11,701 9,916 12,186 11,958 12,413 11,108 11,692 13,117

Five Years of Keghart.com  

By Dr. Dikran Abrahamian & Jirair Tutunjian

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