California Courier Online, May 6, 2004

California Courier Online, May 6, 2004

1 – Commentary

By Harut Sassounian
California Courier Publisher
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2 – George and Beatrice Casparian
Celebrate 60th Wedding Anniversary
3 – Larry Zarian Honored
For Service by GAR
4 – San Diego ANC & UC San Diego
Students Host Genocide Conference
5 – Poochigian Presents Bill to Exempt
NY Life Settlement from State Taxes
6 – Karabagh Landmines Expert
To Lecture May 15 in Glendale
7 – UAF’s 128th Airlift Delivers
$3.3 Million of Aid to Armenia
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1 – Commentary
American Jewish Leader Pledges
Support for Genocide Recognition
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
The Armenian-American community has had a long-running dispute with several
Jewish-American organizations for their on-going support of Turkey’s denial
of the Armenian Genocide.
Some Jewish-American groups have even gone so far as to actively lobby
against the passage of a congressional resolution on the Armenian Genocide.
They have also sided with Turkey and Azerbaijan against Armenia on several
other issues.
It is understandable that Armenia and Israel would have different strategic
interests vis-à-vis Turkey and Azerbaijan, and consequently,
Jewish-American and Armenian-American groups may find themselves, from time
to time, on the opposite sides of some issues. Nevertheless, Armenians
worldwide have been highly offended by the insensitivity shown by the
Israeli government and some Jewish-American groups with regard to the
denial of the Armenian Genocide. One would have thought that Jews, of all
people, having been victims of genocide themselves, would be on the
forefront of the battle against genocide denial.
In fact, because of this shared genocidal experience, hundreds of Jewish
scholars, writers, historians, genocide and Holocaust experts, members of
US Congress, American-Jewish organizations, and even some Israeli
government officials have affirmed the facts of the Armenian Genocide and
strongly condemned all attempts to deny it. More than a dozen
Jewish-American groups, in recent months, have joined the coalition in
support of a congressional resolution that cites the 15th anniversary of
the implementation of the Genocide Convention by the US government. The
resolution mentions the Holocaust as well as the Armenian, Cambodian and
Rwandan genocides. The few American-Jewish groups that still oppose the
reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide by the US Congress do not represent
the mainstream of the Jewish-American community.
This handful of Jewish groups would eventually realize that notwithstanding
their support for Israel’s strategic interests, they could not in good
conscience continue being accomplices in the denial of another genocide.
Doing so would lessen their own humanity and tarnish the enormous
sacrifices made by the victims of the Holocaust!
We are therefore pleased that a high-ranking official of the American
Jewish Committee (AJC), for the first time, has made statements in support
of the affirmation of the Armenian Genocide during an Armenian Assembly of
America reception in Washington, D.C., on April 17. Dottie Bennett, the AJC
National Council Chair who was recently appointed as a member of the
governing body of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.,
spoke of the close moral ties between the Armenian and Jewish communities
based on their mutual respect for human rights, ethics and justice,
according to a press release issued by the Armenian Assembly.
More significantly, Bennett was quoted as saying: “We have a lot in common
and I am sure we will continue working together on many issues, including
the Armenian Genocide which must be recognized for what it was – Genocide….
At the AJC, we will work to make the Armenian Genocide recognition happen –
this long overdue recognition. We have new opportunities to push the
Genocide recognition agenda forward.”
These are strong and welcome words from the AJC National Council Chair. One
of the first opportunities to exhibit such mutual support would be for the
AJC to join the coalition of over 100 civil and human rights organizations
in support of the pending congressional resolution on the Genocide
Convention.
UK Finally Responds to Armenian Complaints
After ignoring the hundreds of protest letters and e-mails it received from
around the world regarding the denial of the Armenian Genocide by the
British Ambassador to Armenia, the British government finally deigned to
respond to one such letter.
The Union of Armenians of Switzerland (UAS) sent a letter to Jack Straw,
the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, on March 30, 2004, expressing
their “shock” at the statements made by British Ambassador. The UAS
castigated the British government’s “reluctance for political reasons to
recognize the Armenian genocide… out of economic miscalculation and
political expediency.”
The UAS also stated that the British Ambassador “succeeded in stirring up
feelings deeply rooted in the psyche of Armenians all over the world. Now
one wonders how she can serve as an ambassador in a country whose people
feel hurt by her. The least that should be done is for her to apologize.
Or, a significant diplomatic step could be taken to somehow appease the
huge wave of sentiments – a mixture of dismay, sorrow and anger – amongst
Armenians in Armenia and elsewhere in the world. A standstill would not
help settle the situation.”
Sean Rooney, the desk officer responsible for Armenia and Azerbaijan at the
Foreign & Commonwealth Office, in a letter dated April 21, told the UAS
that he was responding to “some widely reported recent comments our
Ambassador to Armenia, Thorda Abbott-Watt, made to an Armenian journalist
about the events of 1915-16…. These comments have generated numerous
responses from Armenian individuals and organizations, both to her and to
the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Your views, and those of others who
have been in touch with us on this matter, have been noted.”
Mr. Rooney, as expected, defended the denialist position of Her Majesty’s
Government and Amb. Abbott-Watt. He wrote: “Our Ambassador was responding
to a question about HMG’s position on the terrible tragedy that befell the
Armenian people during the First World War. Quite rightly, and as we would
expect, she answered with a statement of that position which is well-known
and long established. We are aware that this issue is particularly
sensitive in Armenia, and it is a matter of regret to our Ambassador if her
answer caused offense. However, she could not have done other than answer
honestly the question that was put to her and in doing so she was correctly
representing her Government’s views, and has our support.”
As I had previously stated and judging by the condescending tone and
content of Mr. Rooney’s letter, Amb. Abbott-Watt is not the real culprit in
this controversy. She is merely repeating the denialist position of the
British government. Her misfortune is that she has to face the Armenians on
a daily basis after causing such serious offense, while her bosses can
issue such shameless statements from the relative safety of the British
Isles.
By referring to the Armenian Genocide as “events of 1915-16” and “terrible
tragedy,” Mr. Rooney is repeating the denialist statements of Turkish
officials. We urge the readers to write their complaints to: Mr. Sean
Rooney, Eastern Dept., Foreign & Commonwealth Office, King Charles Street,
London SW1A 2AH, UK; Phone: 011-44-20-7008-3828; Fax: 011-44-20-7008-2164;
E-mail: [email protected]

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2 – George and Beatrice Casparian
Celebrate 60th Wedding Anniversary
WOODLAND HILLS – The 60th wedding anniversary of George and Beatrice
Casparian was recently held at the Giovanni Ristorante in Woodland Hills.
The Casparians are both native Californians and still reside in the Los
Angeles area. Both were active members of the St. James Parish, serving in
many capacities from officers to chairing fashion shows, working on
publicity for the church, and in other numerous community activities.
Casparian was an original contributor to the California Courier, writing
articles and a columnist of “Faces and Places” for the paper.
The couple worked many years in the family linotype business, Central
Typesetting Co., and George Casparian also worked nights as a Typographer
Designer for the Montebello School District. Beatrice Casparian retired
from Bank of America (VP/Mgrs. Secretary) in 1987, and husband George
retired in 1990.
Since moving to West Hills in 1985, the couple has been active as
volunteers at the Ararat Home of Los Angeles. Beatrice is currently serving
as the Recording Secretary of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Ararat Home.
The Casparians have two sons, George and Deirdre Casparian, and John and
Janis Casparian. George and Beatrice Casparian are not only proud
grandparents, but great grand parents as well.
At the celebration, a 60th anniversary touching poem was written by
daughter-in-law, Deirdre Casparian, summing up the 60 years the couple has
had together.
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3 – Larry Zarian Honored
For Service by GAR
GLENDALE- Larry Zarian, prominent community leader and former Mayor and
City Councilman of Glendale, was recently honored by the Glendale
Association for the Retarded (GAR) with the Campbell Service Award. The
award is given annually to a person for outstanding dedication, service and
support.
Zarian has served the Association since 1985, first as a member of the
Board of Directors and currently as a Foundation member.
Approximately one-third of the clients are of Armenian descent. The John
Gogian Family Foundation and the Lincy Foundation have supported a special
program for immigrant Armenians. Disabilities include mental retardation,
cerebral palsy and epilepsy.
The organization plans to celebrate its 50th anniversary with special
events throughout the year. Programs offered include GAR Services, a work
training center for 62 adults with developmental disabilities. In addition,
it operates three group homes: Alma House, Hamilton House, and David Gogian
House. A new program, Pastimes, serves older adults.
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4 – San Diego ANC & UC San Diego
Students Host Genocide Conference
SAN DIEGO CA – The Armenian National Committee of San Diego will be hosting
an academic conference on Genocide and Denial on May 8, at the University
of California, San Diego campus. The event is the first of its kind to be
held at UC San Diego and is cosponsored by the UC San Diego Armenian
Students Association.
The conference, entitled “Western Response to Genocide”, will cover various
topics including the Armenian Genocide, the Jewish Holocaust, the Rwandan
Genocide and others. The intended emphasis of the conference will be how
the Western Culture has dealt with genocide. The conference will address a
number of genocide-related issues, including definition, history, politics,
literature, acknowledgment, prevention, associated trauma (both individual
and collective) and reconciliation and reparations. The conference will
address the many genocides of the 20th century and draw similarities and
identify differences between these crimes against humanity.
A number of panelists will participate in the conference, including:
Laurence Baron, Ph.D., Director of the Lipinsky Institute for Judaice
Studies; Rubina Peroomian, Ph.D., lecturer at the University of California,
Los Angeles; Levon Marashlian, Ph.D., Professor of History and Political
Science at Glendale Community College, Dan Alba, Regional Director of the
Los Angeles Offices of Facing History and Ourselves, and Ardashes
Kassakhian, Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of
America – Western Region.
The conference will take place at the University of California, San Diego,
Peterson Building and will begin at 10 A.M. Parking for the conference is
free and Armenian style barbecue will be served during the break for $7.
Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters
throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world,
the Armenian National Committee San Diego actively advances the concerns of
the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
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5 – Poochigian Presents Bill to Exempt
NY Life Settlement from State Taxes
SACRAMENTO – Senator Chuck Poochigian (R-Fresno) has introduced Senate Bill
1689 to exempt Armenian Genocide life insurance settlements from state
taxation and other calculations related to income. The bill passed out of
the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee last week on a 5-0 vote.
If ultimately approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor
Schwarzenegger, recipients of settlement payments would not have their
state income tax, financial aid or unemployment benefits negatively
impacted by their receipt of such settlements. The bill’s language mirrors
exemptions similarly afforded recipients of reparations and other legal
settlements related to the Holocaust.
“Survivors and heirs of victims of the Armenian Genocide have waited many
decades to resolve their claims. Correcting a past wrong should not have
the unintended consequence of financially harming the victims and their
heirs now,” said Senator Poochigian.
Prior to 1915, the New York Life Insurance Company wrote over 2,000
insurance policies to Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Many of these
policies were written for individuals who became victims of the Armenian
Genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Heirs of the policies later
sued for the value of the policies. In 2004, New York Life settled with
claimants resulting in a settlement of $20 million. A significant portion
of thesettlement will go to settle claims with heirs of the policies.
Senate Bill 1689 is modeled after Senate Bill 1397 (Brulte) and Assembly
Bill 989 (Chan) which exempted Swiss bank claim settlements and restitution
payment made to victims of the Holocaust.
In 2000, Sen. Poochigian authored Senate Bill 1915 which enabled victims
and heirs of victims of the Armenian Genocide to access the California
court system to compel insurance companies to pay insurance claims owed to
victims of the Genocide. That bill received the unanimous approval of the
Legislature and
provided the opportunity to pursue contractual claims pertaining to the
recent settlement.
SB 1689 is expected to be heard next in the Senate Appropriations
Committee. No hearing date has been set.

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6 – Karabagh Landmines
Expert to Lecture
May 15 in Glendale
GLENDALE – The Glendale Public Library will be the site for a May 15, 10:30
a.m., lecture from an expert explosive disposal expert who has been working
in Nagorno Karabagh to clear minefields and unexploded ordnance in the
region.
Kurt Chesko, Program Officer for the HALO Trust, will speak about his
recent visit to Nagorno Karabagh and address the impact that landmines and
unexploded ordnance (UXO) have on the local population. He will share
photographs and give a mine clearance demonstration. All are welcome to
attend.
The HALO Trust is the world’s largest humanitarian landmine clearance
organization and operates a 200-person program in Karabagh, one of the most
heavily mine-affected regions of the world.
Since 2000, HALO’s dedicated Karabaghi staff have destroyed 2,300
antipersonnel landmines, 1,000 antitank mine and over 26,000 items of UXO
since 2000.
Chekso has worked for the HALO Trust since 2001 and has cleared mines in
Afghanistan and Karabagh.
The Library is located at 222 East Harvard St. Glendale.
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7 – UAF’s 128th Airlift Delivers
$3.3 Million of Aid to Armenia
GLENDALE, CA – The United Armenian Fund’s 128th airlift arrived in Yerevan
on May 1, delivering $3.3 million of humanitarian assistance.
The UAF itself collected $2.9 million of medicines and medical supplies for
this flight, most of which were donated by the Catholic Medical Mission
Board ($2.5 million); Health Partners ($150,000); MAP International
($108,000); and AmeriCares ($103,000).
Other organizations which contributed goods for this airlift were: Dr.
Stephen Kashian of Illinois ($57,000); Armenian Canadian Medical
Association ($52,000); Dr. Viken Garabedian of California ($52,000); Chene
France ($39,000); and Shoebox Sharing ($31,000).
Also contributing to this airlift were: Armenian General Benevolent Union
($17,000); Harut Chantikian of New Jersey ($15,000); Armenian Eyecare
Project ($14,000); Prof. Ernst Leumann of Switzerland ($13,000); and U.S.
Department of Agriculture ($12,000).
Since its inception in 1989, the UAF has sent $383 million of humanitarian
assistance to Armenia on board 128 airlifts and 1,043 sea containers.
The UAF is the collective effort of the Armenian Assembly of America, the
Armenian General Benevolent Union, the Armenian Missionary Association of
America, the Armenian Relief Society, the Diocese of the Armenian Church of
America, the Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America and the
Lincy Foundation.
For more information, contact the UAF office at 1101 North Pacific Avenue,
Suite 301, Glendale, CA 91202 or call (818) 241-8900.
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From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS