California Courier Online, May 27, 2004

California Courier Online, May 27, 2004

1 – Commentary
TARC Moderator’s Anti-Armenian
Article in Wall Street Journal

By Harut Sassounian
California Courier Publisher
2 – Library of Congress Area Specialist
Dr. Levon Avdoyan Speaks at AUA
3 – YWCA Honors
Women of Heart
4 – Armenian Bobsled Team to Participate
In Fresno Armenian Summer Games
5 – FAPC Hosts Memorial Day
Picnic, May 31 in Fresno
6 – Ararat Nursing Facility Earns
Deficiency-Free State Surveys
7 – NY Life Settlement Improperly
Handled, Attorney Appeals to Judge
1 – Commentary
TARC Moderator’s Anti-Armenian
Article in Wall Street Journal

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

David Phillips, the moderator of the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation
Commission (TARC), and a senior fellow and deputy director of the Center
for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations, finally exposed
his true colors by writing a blatantly anti-Armenian commentary in the
April 14 issue of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
His column is replete with factual errors, falsehoods and erroneous
judgments. Normally, no major American newspaper would publish such trash
without at least checking the accuracy of the dates and events mentioned,
independently of the author’s opinions. The editors of the Wall Street
Journal, however, being more pro-Turkish than those of most Turkish
newspapers, probably jumped at the opportunity to publish this
anti-Armenian diatribe without giving a second thought to verifying any of
the writer’s false statements. This is regrettable, but not surprising, as
the WSJ has taken anti-Armenian positions on practically all issues for
many years.
Two groups should be blamed for pandering to Phillips to such an extent
that he now feels he can preach to Armenians in a condescending tone: 1)
Armenian members of TARC; and 2) Armenian government officials who nurtured
a close relationship with him for several years. Unknowingly, these friends
of Phillips harbored a rabid anti-Armenian in their midst. It is noteworthy
that in the past six weeks not one Armenian from these two groups has said
a single critical word about the insulting article written by Phillips.
Could it be that they are too embarrassed to admit that they were
associated with him?
Let us start with the outright falsehoods written by Phillips: “Armenia has
been in crisis ever since Mr. Kocharian forced former President
Ter-Petrossian from power in 1996.” Incredibly, there are three factual
errors in this one sentence: 1) Pres. Ter Petrossian left office in 1997,
not 1996; 2) He was not ousted by Kocharian; and 3) Rather than being in
crisis since 1996 or 1997, Armenia in fact has had many crises ever since
its independence in 1991. On the contrary, in some respects, conditions of
life have somewhat improved in recent years.
The second group of errors is found in the following two sentences written
by Phillips: “Tens of thousands were killed [during the Karabagh war] and
almost a million Azerbaijanis were driven from their homes in a spasm of
bloody fratricide. The bloodletting stopped when international mediators
brokered an uneasy cease fire in 1993.” Here are the errors: 1) The figure
of one million Azerbaijani refugees is exaggerated. Phillips is simply
repeating Azeri propaganda; 2) He does not say one word about the several
hundred thousand Armenians expelled from Azerbaijan; 3) Phillips uses the
generic term “international mediators” in order not to give credit to the
Russians who actually brokered the truce; and 4) the cease fire was in
1994, not 1993!
It is amazing that such a self-proclaimed “expert” on Armenia does not even
know the correct name of one of the oldest Armenian political parties. He
mistakenly refers to “the Armenian Revolutionary Federation” as “the
Armenian National Federation.” He describes the group “as an extremist
party that opposes all contact with Turks until Ankara provides an official
apology for the Armenian genocide, pays compensation to its victims and
hands over territories constituting ‘Greater Armenia.’ ” First of all,
these are the proper demands of all Armenians, not those of one group.”
Secondly, rather than dreaming of a “Greater Armenia,” Armenians simply
want the return of the lands usurped from them. Thirdly, Phillips does not
seem to know that contrary to his false assertion, the ARF did meet with
the Foreign Minister of Turkey back in the 1970’s, without any
pre-conditions. Phillips is just bitter that the ARF refused to join his
anti-Armenian “Reconciliation Commission.”
These are just a few of the falsehoods written by Phillips. If he makes so
many mistakes in such a short article, we shudder to think of the plethora
of errors that we would find in the book that he is rumored to be writing
on Turkish-Armenian relations.
Let us now turn to his anti-Armenian judgments. By couching himself in the
cloak of an advocate of democracy in Armenia, Phillips hysterically
suggests that in order “to avoid a bloody conflict, an internationally
supervised referendum should be held to determine whether a majority want
to recall President Robert Kocharian.” The last thing Armenia needs is one
more controversial election that would surely end in violence – which is
probably why Phillips is advocating it in the first place. He refers to
Pres. Kocharian’s administration as “corrupt and inept.” Would Phillips
write and would the Wall Street Journal publish a similar description of
the Aliyev administration, knowing full well that the officials in
Azerbaijan are much more “corrupt and inept” than those in Armenia? He also
misrepresents the size of the population of Armenia as being “about two
Phillips repeats the shameful and wholly unsubstantiated charge of
“collusion between Mr. Kocharian and the killers” of high-ranking officials
in Parliament in 1999. He also repeats the accusation that Mr. Kocharian is
running “a mafia state.” He uses the excuse of the electoral violations in
2003 to castigate the President for “refusing to step down.”
Rather than condemning the repeated threats made by Pres. Ilham Aliyev to
“liberate Karabagh by force,” Phillips shamelessly blames Pres. Kocharian
for something he has not done. “Mr. Kocharian may respond to the Azeri
president’s rhetoric with threats of his own,” Phillips writes. “By
maintaining Armenia in a state of constant conflict, Mr. Kocharian has
successfully used the insecurity of Armenians and manipulated their fear to
his political advantage.” He then insults all Armenians by making the
shameful accusation that they are “wallow[ing] in victimization” because of
the Genocide.
Exposing his close links to the leaders of Turkey, Phillips discloses a
private conversation he has had with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
regarding the possible opening of the Turkish border. Phillips invents a
non-existent problem by blaming the Turkish blockade on “Mr. Kocharian’s
refusal to issue an unambiguous statement renouncing claims on territory in
Eastern Turkey.”
Finally, Phillips urges the U.S. government to use its foreign aid as a
stick to pressure the Armenian government to hold a presidential referendum
“within three months.” He fantasizes that Turkey would open the border, the
Karabagh peace talks would make progress and the influence of Russia and
Iran would be lessened, only if Armenia would become more democratic,
enabling “the Armenian people to finally look forward and begin to build a
brighter future.”
It is very clear that Phillips and his neo-conservative colleagues in the
Bush Administration want to do in Armenia what they are trying to
accomplish in Iraq. Under the guise of bringing democracy to the country,
they are trying to undermine the government of Armenia so the Armenian
people would forget the Genocide, give up Karabagh and reconcile with
Turkey and Azerbaijan from a position of weakness! Phillips does not want
democracy in Armenia. What he really wants is a subservient Armenia that is
willing to follow the dictates of foreign masters!
Those Armenians who befriended Phillips in the past should immediately
denounce him publicly and cut off all future contacts with him. Phillips is
no friend of Armenia or Armenians!

2 – Library of Congress Area Specialist
Dr. Levon Avdoyan Speaks at AUA
YEREVAN – Dr. Levon Avdoyan, Armenian and Georgian Area Specialist of the
U.S. Library of Congress’ African and Middle Eastern Division, visited AUA
on May 11 and discussed the Near East Section of the Library of Congress
and the Armenian portal within their website.
Avdoyan described the Library’s rich depository of materials in over 40
languages about the area known as the Near East, including the countries
and peoples of the Caucasus and Central Asia. The Armenian portal has a
comprehensive collection of materials published in the Republic and the
Diaspora, including manuscripts, books, serials, newspapers, electronic
media, motion pictures, music, etc. and encompasses subjects related to
Armenian life and culture.
Avdoyan noted that while there is much material on the Armenian Genocide,
the portal does not use the term Genocide. He expressed hope that with
Armenian-American lobbying efforts that will soon change.
AUA Papazian Library staff and other library representatives participated
in the lively exchange. This includes representatives from Armenia’s
National Library, Gladzor University Library, National Assembly Library,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Library, Yerevan City Central Library, National
Academy of Sciences Fundamental Library, US Embassy’s Information Resource
Center, and students from the Yerevan State University’s Library
Satenik Avagian, the AUA Papazian Library Director, thanked Dr. Avdoyan for
his informative presentation. The Library is a major participant in the
region’s development of Library Sciences, providing innovative services and
utilizing technological advances in the field.
It is currently the only fully automated library in the region and has an
open access policy for most of its collection, serving students and
scholars from other institutions and the community at large. AUA also
developed the Alice Ohanasian Digital Library of Classical Armenian
Literature, which makes original works from the 5th – 18th centuries
available online.
3 – YWCA Honors
Women of Heart
GLENDALE – Glendale’s Dr. Frieda Jordan is among four women from the
Glendale area honored at this year’s YWCA Legacy Award luncheon.
Jordan is the founder of the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry in
Glendale and Armenia.
“It is a way for us to recognize women in the community who are making a
difference and creating a legacy for other women through the work they are
doing today,” said Mary Boger, chairwoman of the YWCA Awards Luncheon.
Event proceeds will benefit the YWCA’s Domestic Violence programs and
ENCOREplus, a program that provides breast- and cervical-cancer screenings
to low-income women.
4 – Armenian Bobsled Team to Participate
In Fresno Armenian Summer Games
FRESNO – The Armenian Bobsled Team, fresh off a Silver medal finish at the
America’s Cup 2-Man Bobsled Championship, will be participating in the 34th
Annual Armenian Summer Games, June 18-20 at Buchanan High School in Clovis,
Team members Allen Babayan, Dan Janjigian, Ara Bedzjian and Yorgo
Alexandrou made their Olympic debut in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in
Salt Lake City, Utah. Allen, previously a member of the 2000 US Olympic
Trials Teams where he competed in the shot put, joined the Bobsled Team in
Their unique story of success has earned them an abundance of media
coverage, including ABC World News, CSB News, numerous other TV spots, as
well as newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle,
and other periodicals.
The Summer Games will have several new activities on Saturday, including a
continental breakfast to start off the day, and Radio Disney to entertain
the kids with music, games and prizes. There are activities and sports
events for everyone.
For more information, call Marty Bohigian at (559) 297-7887 or Van Der
Mugrdechian at (559) 298-2372.
5 – FAPC Hosts Memorial Day
Picnic, May 31 in Fresno
FRESNO – The First Armenian Presbyterian Church of Fresno will observe
Memorial Day by hosting its 108th Annual picnic at the Central Unified
Aquatics Complex in northwest Fresno, on May 31 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Complex is located at the Central High School East Campus, 3535 North
Cornelia Avenue at Dakota Avenue, one and one-half miles west of state
Highway 99.
Dedicated in the millennium, the Complex features enclosed and open-air
waterslides leading to a spacious landing pool. An adjacent zero-entry
activity pool includes an array of water novelties for swimmers and waders
of all ages. Shaded canopies, a lush terrace, and a lush snack/beverage bar
round out the venue.
The Memorial Day picnic menu features barbecues shish kebab dinners for $12
per person, and gourmet hot dog dinners for $7. Each dinner included
unlimited beverages, oven-baked peda bread, garden salad, rice pilaf, and
homemade desserts prepared and served by the Fidelis Women’s Society. Meals
are available on a dine-in or take-out basis and guests are encouraged to
dine early.
In addition to water sports and dining, the picnic will include a
backgammon tournament, softball, tennis, games for children, Armenian and
patriotic music, and a book/tape/CD sale to benefit ministries at home and
Rev. Mgrdich Melkonian is the Senior Pastor. Rev. Samuel Albarian is the
Associate Pastor for Mission and Outreach, and Elder Larry Shapazian, Esq.,
is the General Chairperson of the 2004 Memorial Day Picnic.
6 – Ararat Nursing Facility Earns
Deficiency-Free State Surveys
MISSION HILLS, CA – In the intensively regulated profession of nursing
facilities, Ararat Home of Los Angeles has achieved the nearly impossible –
not one but two consecutive years of perfect annual inspections by the
state Department of Health Facilities.
“When the surveyors delivered the survey results this year, they indicated
their office had never before given two consecutive zero-deficiency surveys
to the same facility,” said administrator Walter Hekimian.
The accomplishment is even more noteworthy because Ararat, which has 196
beds, is nearly twice as large as the average nursing facility in
“With twice the number of residents, twice the staff, twice the scope of
everything, there’s that much more opportunity for a technical violation of
the rules,” said Betsy Hite, director of public affairs for the California
Association of Health Facilities, of which Ararat is a member.
Devoting 200 hours of inspection each year on more than 900 separate
regulations, California’s oversight of long-term care facilities is the
most rigorous in the nation and the most comprehensive for any category of
health-care provider in the state.
Every facility must meet state licensure standards, and any facility
certified to participate in the Medicare or Medi-Cal programs also is
governed by stringent federal requirements.
“We’re incredibly proud of Ararat’s achievement,” Hite said. “A perfect
survey is the dream of every nursing facility, but it is so difficult as to
be just about unheard of. To do it twice is sterling proof of the highest
standards and best of care.”
Actually, Ararat’s superlative reputation is nothing new. The facility –
located at 15099 Mission Hills Road in Mission Hills – has received nine
national or state awards of excellence and last year was one of only 20
facilities to receive cash awards from the state of California for survey
“These monetary awards were given directly to the staff, who were most
appreciative of the recognition and thankful for the award,” Hekimian said.
Founded in 1949 as a nonprofit facility, Ararat occupies a 10-acre campus
which includes a residential-care facility for the elderly, a 500-seat
banquet hall, a church and a museum dedicated to Armenians and Armenian
“Once a month the Armenian community joins us for a luncheon to raise funds
for the home,” Hekimian said. “Attendance for this event averages about 400
people. In April, Rep. Brad Sherman spoke at our luncheon.”
Individuals can become members of the organization for a nominal entrance
fee, and presently there are about 3,500 members.
“Were it not for our patrons, the home would be severely challenged to
remain viable,” Hekimian said. “The resident population is nearly
100-percent Medi-Cal recipients. Because of this fact and because of all
the rising costs associated with workers’ compensation, professional
liability insurance, utility bills and health insurance, the home and its
residents rely heavily upon the generosity of its members and supporters.”
7 – NY Life Settlement Improperly
Handled, Attorney Appeals to Judge
Los Angeles, CA – Following a proposed settlement in Marootian v. New York
Life Insurance, class action attorney Ben Nutley has filed papers in court
saying that notices of the settlement published in newspapers are
incomplete and leave out the term “Armenian Genocide.” Nutley added that
the notices are not even being handled according to the terms set by the
What is interesting, Nutley states, is that there is not one mention of the
term “Armenian Genocide” in the official website of the proposed settlement
or in any other official document related to the case. According to Nutley
and his clients, the absence of the words “Armenian Genocide” is an
outrage. The law passed by the California legislature that made this case
possible was commonly referred to as “The Armenian Genocide Insurance Bill”
and the statute had several references to the term “Armenian Genocide.”
Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew living in New York City, invented the very
word “genocide” to characterize the Armenian massacres.
Under the terms of the proposed settlement, New York Life Insurance has
agreed to pay $20 million which covers payment to identified heirs of more
than 2,000 policyholders, a contribution to nine Armenian organizations,
administrative expenses, and attorney fees. The terms of the settlement
require that potential claimants must be notified so they can either join
the class-action lawsuit or be excluded in the event they want to bring
their own case. They may also remain in the case and object to the terms of
the proposed settlement. Judge Christina Snyder has set a hearing for July
30, 2004, at which she will consider whether to give final approval to the
The motion just filed in the case charges that policyholders are not being
given adequate notice of the settlement, that the notice being used does
not contain the minimum information required by law and that the lawyers
handling the case ignored Judge Snyder’s specific instructions on the
content of the notice. The motion asks the judge to require the parties to
provide a more detailed notice and to expand the geographic scope of its
publication to include all areas in which a significant number of Armenians
“This case involves Armenians all over the world, yet the settling parties
have only published notice in a few newspapers, mostly in the United
States. They have completely left out the former Soviet Republics other
than Armenia, where some 30% of Armenians worldwide are living, as well as
other geographic areas where a significant number of Armenians reside,”
said Nutley. “By and large, the settling parties are ignoring their legal
obligation to provide notice of this settlement to the members of the
“We’re asking Judge Snyder to ensure that proper notice gets out in this
case,” said Nutley, who filed the motion on behalf of several class members
interested in the case, “and I am confident she will do so.” “What is even
more amazing,” Nutley added, “is that the descendants of one policyholder
stand to receive as much as $1 million. However, the official website of
the proposed settlement hides this fact by not listing the amount of any
insured’s unpaid insurance policy.”
In class actions, notice to potential claimants is important because people
with legitimate claims can lose their rights and are not paid from a
settlement if they do not file to join the claim. This is true even if
potential claimants never receive notice or obtain any knowledge about the
Nutley also asserted that the notices published in newspapers are
confusing, and in incredibly small, tiny print that is almost illegible.
Although the case is based on life insurance claims for people who died
during the Armenian Genocide, the notice does not contain the term
“Armenian Genocide.” Instead, it refers to policies “in force as of January
1, 1915.” According to the motion papers, that description doesn’t make it
obvious to people reading the newspaper that this is a case that involves
insurance claims from the Armenian Genocide. As a result, people are likely
to skip over it without realizing it applies to them. In fact, many of
Nutley’s clients have indicated to him that they received the newspapers in
which publications of notice were printed, and never even identified the
published notice (some were in small 1/8 page advertisements).
“Even if you happen to see it, and you can make out the small print, and
you understand that it might apply to you, the notice leaves out all kinds
of information that claimants must know to make a decision about the
settlement and otherwise protect their rights, ” said Nutley. People
without internet access will not be able to get information about the case
because only an internet website address is given in the notice for class
members to find out more information. Nutley said Judge Snyder ordered that
a telephone number and address be included in the notice so that class
members could get more information, but the parties did not follow her
instructions. For those potential class members who do manage to visit the
official proposed settlement website, Nutley adds that they will not even
be able to review a list of policyholders unless they correctly understand
that a small space at the bottom of the home page entitled “Subject
Policies” contains the official list of policyholders.
Nutley suggests that interested parties go to a website operated by
concerned members of the Armenian-American community –
, which contains much more information about the case
and is easier to use.
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