AWOL (Armenian Weekly On-Line) December 23-30, 2006

The Armenian Weekly On-Line: AWOL
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AWOL (Armenian Weekly On-Line) Volume 72, No. 51, December 23-30, 2006

‘Preemptive Recognition’
We Will Not Go Home

2.Goin’, Strikin’ and Hopin’
By Garen Yegparian

3.’Screamers’: A Great Success
By Vartkes Sinanian

4.ARF Eastern Region Holds 110th Convention

5.Will ‘Rocky’ Take the Deniers to the Ring?

6.The Gift of Christmas
By Knarik O. Meneshian

7.The True Meaning of Christmas
By Tom Vartabedian

8.Two Short Films by Apo Torosyan Share a Slice of Life
By Andy Turpin

9.For Verse Junkies – Your Weekly Fix of Poetry
3 Poems by Khatchig Mouradian
Translated by Tatul Sonentz

10.There’s No Place Like Home
Cambridge, Ontario, Welcomes Isabel Kaprielian’s ‘Like Our Mountains’
By Betty Apigian Kessel

11.Expert Panelists Give Frank Views on 34-Day War in Lebanon

12. Panossian Talks on ‘Disunited Nationalism’
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‘Preemptive Recognition’
We Will Not Go Home

A genocide scholar once told me that some of his Turkish colleagues practice
what he calls "preemptive recognition."

"They say ‘Yes, the Armenian case was genocide. Now let’s go home!’" he

As we welcome yet another year of worldwide campaigns for the recognition of
the Armenians Genocide, we should remind ourselves that when the desired
objective is reached and the Genocide is acknowledged, there will be
people-Turks, Armenians or others-who will say "Congratulations, now let’s
go home."

Although what I am talking about may be clear, let me make sure there is no
misunderstanding. The recognition of the Armenian Genocide has never been an
end in itself for us, and we are not going home after we achieve it.

We will sit down and talk about the other "R"-reparations.

Yes, there will be those who say, "Drop it, I am satisfied with the outcome.
Now that Turkey has acknowledged the Genocide, my grandparents can rest in

Apologizing for any crime-not just the destruction of an entire nation and
the eradication of an entire civilization-can never be enough. A world where
apologies are enough is worse than a world where criminals don’t even
apologize. Because in the latter case, criminals will commit the crime
knowing that all that they must do to be at peace with the world and
themselves is to apologize.

This is not about winning or losing. This is not about "teaching those Turks
a lesson." This is not about us. When Turkey recognizes the Genocide, we
Armenians-before even contemplating celebratory actions-should take a moment
and pay tribute to our grandparents who perished during the Genocide, or who
survived and lived with the constant reminder that their suffering was
denied by those who caused it.

And then we shall sit down and talk about reconstructing a destroyed
civilization and honoring the memory of a million and a half Armenians-in
their ancestral lands.

And only then shall we go home.

——————————————- ———————————-

2.Goin’, Strikin’ and Hopin’
By Garen Yegparian

If three decades ago you had told me that I’d be a union member-much less
one who would go on strike-I would have deemed you fit for the funny farm.

Of course that was a result of parental brainwashing and the bad reputation
unions had gotten in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Not only had some become mafia
infiltrated, but they were no longer the true children of the progressive
movements that sired them and they in turn nurtured.

At least in the U.S., a devil’s bargain had been struck in the post-WWII era
where workers got much of what they deserved, but union leadership
increasingly became management’s and government’s lap dog. They also became
cores of exclusion, often passing jobs on from father to son rather than
continuing their militant efforts to include more industries and people
arriving in newer waves of immigration. It didn’t help that in the alleged
bastions of socialism/communism, unions had become nothing more than
extensions of dictatorial governments. Their ideological and intellectual
support naturally steered clear of such tainted territory. They languished
and have since declined from their peak of representing over a third of
workers to representing something like an eighth today.

However, this is not solely a result of the union leadership’s ideological
and ethical bankruptcy. Starting with the trouncing of Barry Goldwater, the
right wing of the United States’ polity got the message. They got organized.
They dumped money into think tanks and training new cadres. They effectively
co-opted the media, most often by outright buying it! Otherwise, how could
morons such as Ronald Reagan and George Bush Jr. have gotten elected? How
else could the right wing have overturned 40 years of Democratic dominance
of both houses of Congress?

Today, and over the last decade, there has been something of a rebirth among
unions. The first boost may have come, ironically, from the government. By
ridding the leadership of major unions of criminal influences and elements,
it allowed those who were serious about unionism to reappear within the
organizations. The union-busting policies of government and corporate
management have gotten people to a point were they have no choice but to
fight back. Whether it’s because of wage stagnation or lack of health care
or increased hours of work required of even white collar employees, people
in the U.S. today have the greatest level of anxiety regarding their
economic well-being in a quarter of a century. But the biggest impact is
likely to be the effects of so called "free trade" agreements.

These nominally economy-boosting arrangements are nothing more than a means
of trapping people worldwide in a race to the bottom. They allow capital to
move freely around the world. They eliminate tariffs and other barriers to
trade. They subject local, provincial and even national governments to the
dictates of un-elected, money-interest-dominated panels that determine what
is allowed and what is not under the terms of these trade pacts. But they
are silent, or speak powerlessly- therefore irrelevantly-about the
environmental, health, labor and other human needs of the people of the
countries involved. I’ll coin the term "preventive internationalization" to
describe this phenomenon.

Thus, if some indigenous community in a South American country decides that
a certain area is sacred and therefore barred from oil development; or if a
state in the U.S. decides that products manufactured at
below-subsistence-level wages will be taxed to protect its citizens’ jobs;
or if an Asian country decides to give some sector of its economy a boost
through government intercession; or if something as large as the European
Union decides to protect its citizens’ health by banning genetically
modified foods, then all of these could be ruled as "unfair" trade
practices, and the offending country’s government would be obliged to change
the "offending" regulation or law. Otherwise, it could face huge fines or
lawsuits by money-grubbing corporations.

This kind of vicious spiral downwards is most evident in the realm of
agriculture and migrant labor. The developed countries all provide subsidies
to their agricultural sector. These came in to play for a variety of
reasons. But with the international trade regimes being foisted on the
people of the world, they have become contentious, and very damaging. Many
of these subsidies have either unintentionally, or deviously, ended up going
to huge corporate interests, particularly in the U.S. The outfits have
turned something as essential to life as land into a massive factory. Who
cares what happens to the land? Just dump in chemicals-fertilizers,
herbicides, pesticides-move it around with huge machines, harvest crops with
even bigger combines, and sell the insipid yet attractive-some would even
say toxic-crops of fruits, vegetables and meats at ridiculously low prices
to unsuspecting populations worldwide. Along the way, peasants, indigenous
peoples and family farmers who cannot compete with these huge economies can
no longer grow food and are driven from the land. Not only does this enlarge
the realm of the huge agro-interests, but it creates a pool of labor that
now seeks jobs. Often, these jobs are to be found in other countries, hence
the flow of migrants north to south in the Americas, the best known example
being Mexico and the U.S.

While this is happening, borders are "opened" to trade in non-agricultural
goods, as well. But who produces these goods? It’s the destitute,
economically dislocated people of the above paragraph who work at incredibly
low pay rates driving others out of work, including small manufacturers. Now
the pool of labor is enlarged and the money interests have more leverage.
Add to this the cheap labor similarly dislocated within countries, and you
can see how the desperation for gainful employment can drive wages down
worldwide, while huge corporations make fabulous profits moving the fruits
of desperate people’s labor around the world and selling it through outfits
such as Walmart. It’s only a matter of time before this process affects the
family businesses that constitute a significant portion of the Armenian
Diaspora’s economic prowess.

The vicious spiral to the bottom doesn’t end in just the economic and social
realms-dislocation, wage depression, dismembered families, increased health
and epidemic risks, and the associated psychological problems- but
insidiously, it winds into the very heart of politics and democracy. People
become so numb, so hopeless, so disillusioned, that they stop believing that
they can make a difference in their own societies. Participation in public
life-volunteer organizations or the electoral arena-declines. Those who
remain engaged are the well off, the ones profiting from this recreated
(from the worst old days of laissez-faire capitalism) regime. Naturally,
this skews policy even more in the same, bad, direction. After all, it’s
only to be expected that in a representative government, the elected will
represent the interests of their constituents, those who put them in office.

In Armenia, much of this doesn’t exist yet. One hears nothing of labor
unions or the needs/interests of labor in general. High unemployment and the
lack of an established comfort with the rule of law both conspire and
mitigate against labor. Policy and reality there seem to be at a stage where
if such organizing began, I suspect that the darker forces in society, the
so-called "mafia," would intervene brutally. Also, if the Turkish border is
opened, the flood of cheap goods (the same stuff so many of us shamelessly
purchase and consume in the Diaspora) would have the same ruinous effects on
Armenia’s blooming food products industry, and probably other less visible
ones, too. But the time to organize labor in Armenia is coming. People will
only tolerate the chasm between the new haves and have-nots for so long. As
the economic and security conditions of the country ameliorate, I suspect we’ll
see more movement toward economic justice through labor organizing. Who
knows, maybe the first steps in this direction will be taken in the upcoming
parliamentary and subsequent presidential elections. Let’s hope some of the
political parties functioning there take up this banner.

Similarly, our Middle Eastern communities reside in countries where there
are no labor movement to speak of. How could there be? There are so many
conflicts, authoritarian leaders and foreign destabilizing influences that
no social movement-much less labor-has much of a chance to get people’s
attention, except, obviously, extremist religion as a means of toppling the
very same tyrants that make life miserable.

Fortunately, there is hope worldwide. After three decades of right wing,
conservative, and even reactionary trending election results, Europe and the
Americas are experiencing a return of people-oriented,
left-liberal-socialist governments. These allow more space for labor to
thrive. The mad rush towards more "free trade" agreements has been thwarted
a few times in the U.S. in the last few years. South American countries who
would have been the next victim of such trade regimes are recoiling, or at
least taking a slower approach, not least because elections there have
brought people-oriented governments to power.

In the U.S., you’ll remember how a decade ago the UPS strike brought that
company’s workers to success. A handful of years ago, striking janitors won
well-deserved raises and benefits in the Los Angeles area. The hotel
industry’s workers are making gains slowly across the country. In most
cases, government employees are also able to hold their own. Unfortunately,
Southern California’s supermarket workers got screwed despite going on
strike. You’ll notice that these successes have come in what I’ll call
"landlocked" industries. Cleaners are needed where the buildings are.
Deliveries have to be made where people are. Government services are
provided in place. Unlike steel, cars or televisions that can be produced
anywhere, service oriented industries are tied to a place. These will serve
as the basis of a rejuvenated labor movement.

As labor, health and environmental concerns get woven into the fabric of
international trade, then we can have a virtuous spiral of improving
standards of living worldwide instead of the current mess. As a small part
of that, I’m hoping the City of Los Angeles will finally give those
employees represented by the Engineers and Architects Association (some
7,400 people) a decent, cost-of-living-based pay increase. That’s what we’ve
been striking for. It’s encouraging to see other Armenians on the picket
lines, too. Perhaps this experience can later be transferred to labor
organizing in Armenia, and even locally where I’ve heard
whispers-unconfirmed as yet-of exploitation of recently arrived immigrants
by the jewelry industry.

For Next Year

While I’m wishing for good things to come to worldwide labor next year, here
are a few more year-end thoughts and hopes.

On a negative note, good riddance to the likes of Augusto Pinochet, Ahmet
Ertegun, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Bulent Ecevit and Slobodan Milosevic who all
died in 2006. Each in their own way had made the planet a worse place.

Let’s hope Armenia’s strong economic growth persists and broadens to benefit
more of our compatriots rather than just a narrow sliver of the population.

Enough pushing might get Congress to force the Bush administration to pull
out of Iraq, admit the error of its ways there (it would be too much to hope
for the same on the internal policy front), and commence the healing process
to terminate the daily bloodletting that is life in Iraq today.

May more people get involved in the organizations serving the Armenian
communities of the Diaspora and homeland.

Why is it that U.S. foreign policy has become so odious that when the U.S.
is pitted against some of the vilest regimes in the world, people now feel a
twinge of doubt as to whether the Saddam Husseins, Recep Tayyip Erdogans, or
warlords in Sudan are in the wrong. Kind of a sad commentary on the state of
affairs of what used to be the beacon of human rights and decency in the
world, don’t you think?

Here’s one last hoping-against-hope wish: that our old friends, the EI’s
(electoral idiots) don’t make a massive comeback in the upcoming Glendale
municipal elections!

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3.’Screamers’: A Great Success
By Vartkes Sinanian

Maybe it is wishful thinking on my part, but it is my fervent hope that
every Armenian sees the documentary, "Screamers." It has already sparked
unusual and illuminating interest among theatergoers here in Los Angeles,
due mainly to the featuring of the internationally popular, multi-platinum,
Grammy-award winning rock band, System of a Down.

To understand the movie, you have to know the epic story of 97-year-old
Stepan Haytayan, the grandfather of Serj Tankian. Tankian is the lead singer
of the rock band and is one of the leading characters of the movie. He has
been a strong voice in raising awareness of the Armenian Genocide. Haytayan’s
horrifying accounts of the murder and destruction are deeply moving.
Although the documentary is the brainchild of director and award-winning
journalist Carla Garapedian, the credit mostly goes to System of a Down for
being at the forefront of the crusade for recognition of the Armenian

The documentary includes concert footage of the Armenian-American band, as
well as interviews with various scholars and legislators, including Harvard
professor Samantha Power and Turkish-American activist Sibel Edmonds, who
was fired from the FBI for allegedly shoddy work and security breaches.
There are rare historical photographs along with testimonies by several
survivors, whose numbers are dwindling by the day. What makes this
documentary so interesting and revealing is the inclusion of the disturbing
scenes of other genocides-from 1915 to present-day Darfur in Sudan.
Basically, though, it is a recording of the evidence of the massacres,
deportations and death marches of the Armenian population in Turkey. It is a
plea to the world’s conscience and to the perpetrator of the Armenian
Genocide-Turkey-to put its emotions aside and realistically deal with its

"Screamers" is an undeniably powerful and gripping documentary that aims to
support the efforts by the Armenian Diaspora for Genocide recognition. It is
tough to wage war against forces of denial that for political reasons
disseminate doubts and lies in people’s minds. Garapedian’s gentle effort
for truth and justice is highly commendable. She has succeeded in delivering
her message creatively and forcefully. The more times people see this movie
the greater its lasting effect.

—————————————– ———————————-

4. ARF Eastern Region Holds 110th Convention

The ARF Eastern U.S. Region held its 110th regional convention from December
8 to 10 in New Jersey.

The convention reviewed the activities of the region over the last two years
and evaluated its achievements and failures. One of the most important
achievements was the swearing in of about 30 young Armenians into the ARF
ranks. The convention determined that over the next two years, emphasis
should be put on organizational, youth, Hai Tahd and political issues. The
convention also offered a forum for the discussion of various political and
regional challenges, as well as expectations from the community regarding
continued support of Armenia and Artsakh. The discussions concluded with the
ratification of resolutions.

The convention also elected a new Central Committee. Its members are Ungs.
Haig Oshagan, Garabed Ketsemanian, Ivan Ardhaljian, Aram Adishian, Artin
Dermenjian, Onnik Bedrosian and Ned Apigian.

The chairperson of the Central Committee is Haig Oshagan.
—————————————– ———————–

5.Will ‘Rocky’ Take Deniers to the Ring?

DENVER, Colo. (A.W.)-In Denver to publicize his new film "Rocky Balboa,"
actor Sylvester Stallone talked about his "dream project," reported the
Denver Post.

"So what is the Stallone Surprise, the project he’s always wanted to write
or direct?" asked the Denver Post’s Micheal Booth. "For years Stallone’s
wanted to create an epic, and the book that intrigues him is Franz Werfel’s
The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, detailing the Turkish genocide of its Armenian
community in 1915."

Booth continues, "French ships eventually rescued some Armenians, and
Stallone has his favorite scene memorized: ‘The French ships come, and they’ve
dropped the ladders and everybody has climbed up the side. The ships sail.
The hero, the one who set up the rescue, has fallen asleep, exhausted,
behind a rock on the slope above. The camera pulls back, and the ships and
the sea are on one side, and there’s one lonely figure at the top of the
mountain, and the Turks are coming up the mountain by the thousands on the
far side.’"

The movie would be "an epic about the complete destruction of a
civilization," Stallone said. Then he laughed at the ambition. "Talk about a
political hot potato. The Turks have been killing that subject for 85

MGM Studios attempted to produce a large-scale epic version of Musa Dagh in
1934, though it was met with stringent opposition. Threats were made by the
Turkish government that the making of the film would result in boycotts of
all American movies in countries under Turkish influence. Legendary radical
producer Irving Thalberg, now commemorated annually by the Academy of Motion
Picture Arts and Sciences with the Thalberg Oscar for Best Producer, tried
valiantly to push through production of the film. However, when opposition
to the film was presented even by the Greek Ministry of the Interior and
looked to be supported by other nations in the region, the project died a
quick death. Thalberg conceded, saying, "I can’t fight that."

A low-budget version of Musa Dagh was produced by John Kurkjian in 1982, but
received notice only by Armenian groups and film historians that were aware
of its significance.
———————————— ——————————-

6.The Gift of Christmas
By Knarik O. Meneshian

It is December’s first evening. Colorful lights and decorations already
illuminate and adorn windows, doors and streets. Snow has fallen. Shrubs and
trees bow under the weight of the shimmering whiteness. Icicles glisten in
the night lights, appearing at times like flickering candles, while tracks
in the snow appear and disappear with the whims of the wind. Occasionally,
the smell of wood smoke drifts through the cold, crisp air. Above, the stars
are brilliant. The Christmas Season-a time of Joy and Celebration, a time of
Charity and Compassion-is here.

Listening to Sharagans softly playing in the background, I place the final
ornament, a silver star, on top of our Christmas tree, bright and full with
a rainbow of lights, tinsel, silvery garlands and ornaments, both handmade
and store bought. As I stand back to look at the tree and the nativity scene
beneath it, I think of the many Christmases my family and I have celebrated
around this symbol of Love, Sharing and Giving. A passage from Kahlil Gibran’s
book The Prophet comes to mind: "You give but little when you give of your
possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give." I am
reminded of the Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, especially
those in the remote village of Heshtia in Javakhk, Georgia, and the letter
we received from them a few days earlier describing the work they continue
to do in that region. Sister Dalita, who is from Syria, wrote:

".The other Sisters [Sister Hageent, who is from Lebanon, and Sister
Datevik, who is from Javakhk] and I wanted to let you know that we are well
and as usual busy with our work tending to the needs of our people. For two
months this past summer, we held classes for the village children. We taught
Armenian history, since this subject is not taught in schools here, sewing,
needlework, haircutting and computers.

"Imagine, during computer class we had 60 students and one computer! That
computer was sent to us by Sister Arousiag [Superior of the Our Lady of
Armenia Convent and Center/Orphanage in Gyumri]. Because these children had
never seen real computers before-they had only heard of them, though some
had seen computers on television-you should have seen their excitement when
they saw one for the first time, especially when they first touched the
keys! Despite the lack of computers, the students were able to gain basic
computer knowledge. At the conclusion of our summer program, both students
and parents were extremely happy with the classes that had been offered and
the things learned.

Sister Dalita"

In a phone conversation with Sister Hageent, she had said, ".I’ve just
returned to Heshtia and cannot believe how life here has deteriorated since
I left three years ago to serve the Armenian community in Lebanon. [Prior to
her departure, Sister Hageent had worked in the village of Heshtia for 10
years.] I am stunned by how even poorer the people have become, how even
more difficult the living conditions are in this region. There really is no
work here, and the salaries of Armenian teachers are extremely low, while
those of the Georgian teachers, whose numbers are increasing, are good by
comparison. The Armenian population has decreased even more since I left,
morale is much lower, and hopelessness is even greater now. The good news,
though, is that two new young priests have been sent to our village, one
from overseas and the other from Akhalkalak. Together, we are working to
help our people in any way we can. Just yesterday, Sisters Dalita, Datevik
and I, along with the two priests, had a meeting and planned ways to at
least boost the morale of the people a little. We decided that the first
thing we would do is bring some Christmas cheer to the children in this
region, so we are now preparing small gifts to distribute to them."

As I turn off the lights, I can still see the tinsel, garlands and star
glimmer on the Christmas tree, and I think of the Sisters-those heroic and
selfless women, serving not only God, but the Armenian people. From cities
to towns to remote and primitive villages they go, fulfilling spiritual
needs, teaching, nurturing, comforting, caring for the sick, the abandoned,
the needy, and the orphaned. Giving of Themselves.

Soon, the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations and festivities will begin.
Of the birth of the Christ Child, Krikor Naregatsi wrote, ".Eternal glory to
Him, newly born savior, the king. And to the One who adorns Him." And of the
New Year, Missak Medzarents wrote, "Give me, my God, that kind of happiness
that has no self. Let me gather it like flowers in other people’s eyes. Give
me an impersonal joy to share like the stars. Let me gather it from the
souls of common and uncommon man, and give it back."
————————————– ———————————-

7.The True Meaning of Christmas
By Tom Vartabedian

What is Christmas?

Christmas is many things to many people, and to some it’s nothing at all
because poverty and ignorance or both prevent them from celebrating this
most blessed of holidays.

What is Christmas to me? It’s hard to describe, so maybe we had better jot
down a few thoughts at random. It comes out like this.

Christmas is a time for decorating your home with bright-colored lights and
tucking those precious gifts under the tree-then making sure all your doors
are locked.

Christmas is watching children open those beautiful cards the mailman
brings-and shaking each one before reading it, looking for the dollar bill.

It’s a time when business districts ring your head dizzy with carols-but
only during store hours.

Christmas is sending Season’s Greetings to all your friends-then dashing out
two days before to buy another dozen cards to answer those that arrived to
your house late.

Over the years, Christmas has meant huddling over a foxhole in some
Godforsaken corner of the world and reading a letter from home-which
complains that gasoline went up a nickel a gallon.

It’s walking through the Holy Land on a starlit night, much like the one
Jesus was born on, in a stable-and grumbling over the weight of the rifle
and ammunition on your shoulder.

Christmas is a tree decorated with popcorn balls and blinking lights,
peppermint sticks and tinsel-a tree that cost $5 more this year than last.

It’s passing a little old man on a darkened street-and asking yourself a
minute later why you didn’t wish him a happy holiday.

Christmas is working a picket line in the snow and cold-and worrying over
what the future may hold.

It’s a comfortable bed and a warm blanket-and the tear on a soldier’s pillow
in Iraq as he thinks of home.

Unfortunately, Christmas is a new national record for highway deaths. It’s a
time when we stock up on turkey ‘n fixins at a festive table setting, then
rush for the bicarb at 2 a.m.

Christmas is another pair of woolen socks from your mother-in-law- which she
has been giving you ever since she found out you were allergic to wool.

It’s your daughter asking Santa for a $50 doll-and you wanting to punch his
big red nose when he says she’ll get it.

Christmas is getting a nifty-looking green tie with red polka-dots from a
friend, then remembering it’s the same one you gave him a year ago.

It’s a hockey stick that winds up being broken on that very first slap
shot-and a saucer sliding down a steep hill with you and the kids in the
middle as your bursitis suddenly reappears.

Christmas is shaking the hand of a friend-and knowing he’s a true friend and
not just some acquaintance.

It’s watching your son shovel out an elderly neighbor’s walk, then sneaking
away so he won’t know who did it.

Christmas is a cease-fire on the battlefield of any nation that wants to
call itself civilized and a truce in the everyday war of life.

It’s opening a box of chocolates and discovering they’re all soft-centers,
your favorite.

Christmas is putting the little guy to bed, then laying out the toys hidden
in the garage for a month. It happens to be the great midnight taste of
cookies and milk you put out for "Santa."

Christmas is shorts and socks for dad, nylons for mom.

It’s a very ordinary church choir putting its best voices forward during a

Christmas is pumpkin pie with whipped cream that doesn’t come from a can.

It’s a cheap bottle of shaving cologne bought out of your son’s $2
allowance-and handed to you just as your last bottle runs out.

Christmas is Midnight Mass and the crisp crunch of snow under your feet.

It’s opening a late piece of mail and finding out there’s been a mistake and
the department store owes you $20.

It’s the boss saying to the office crew, "Have a happy holiday, but no one
leaves until 2:30-and finding out it’s because he couldn’t get the bonus
checks processed in time.

Christmas is the love of a family-and strength against whatever bad times
come down the pike.

It’s chocolate-smeared little hands creeping into yours and saying, "Thanks
Dad, thanks Mom. I love you both."

It is many, many wonderful things-some commercials, yes, but the one-day,
24-hour feeling it brings all over the world far outweighs phony tinsel, the
buying and the bills.

More to our ethnic side, it’s singing the "Hayr Mer" at a special service
and getting a hand-made Christmas card made in Armenian School. It’s a
youngster giving you an Armenian greeting and another celebration that falls
on Jan. 6. It’s a Genocide survivor in some rest home that may dwell upon
the Christmases celebrated in the homeland. Give them a special blessing
this Christmas because they’re so precious and few.

The young say it’s "swift." Adults say it’s "great." But it’s the one time
that words do not matter.

It’s Christmas and there’s no other animal like it, folks.

Sadly, the fellowship and love may be packed away with old decorations to be
dusted off again in 2007.

But for now, at least, we say "Merry Christmas" from the bottom of our
hearts and a prosperous new year.
——————————————– ———————-

8.Two Short Films by Apo Torosyan Share a Slice of Life
By Andy Turpin

WATERTOWN, Mass. (A.W.)- Apo Torosyan, filmmaker and visual artist, has
recently released two independent short films.

The first, "The Gates" (2005), was filmed last February in New York and
documents the reaction of New Yorkers and visitors to the 16-day art
exhibition of the same name. The project-23 miles of orange curtains and
arches through the entirety of Central Park-was the vision of couple Christo
and Jeanne-Claude. Christo is of Bulgarian origin and Jeanne-Claude is of a
French colon background. Information on the artists and their previous work
may be found online at www.

Torosyan is silent for most of the 30-minute film, as peoples’ reaction to
the Gates are the focus of the film. No names or locations are given, as it
is not a documentary of documents, but rather in the school of the "slice of
life" filmmaking or "art imitating art."

The public’s reactions are noteworthy, though not riveting. Quiet art, even
on such a grandiose scale as the Gates, tends to express itself in
reflective approval or tactful enmity.

One woman was of the Quaker-like opinion that the gates were "light from
within" and reminiscent of "walking through a temple." Another woman,became
emotional to the point of weeping and said that it was "as if they were
prayers." She continued, "The world needs it now. Kudos to New York for
having the courage to do it."

Intriguing from a socio-anthropological perspective was the fact that the
majority of white New Yorkers expressed their approval of the exhibition
using words like "beautiful," "Buddhist" and "golden."

In contrast, the majority of black and Hispanic minorities-primarily school
children-polled by Torosyan looked at the piece disapprovingly. A black
child spoke to the camera, asking, "Twenty-eight million dollars for a bunch
of sticks? They could have spent it on helping homeless people. And they’re
gonna tear it down after 16 days?" A Hispanic child was even more frank when
she stated, "It looks like a big construction site."

The second film, "Water" (2006), is as descriptive as its namesake. It is 14
minutes of footage gazing at the ocean, shore and beachhead off the coast of
New England. It represents an appreciation of nature for its own sake,
calling to mind the sanctity for the subject matter that is in the
possession of the viewer-from images of an antediluvian paradise, to those
poets who may cite Charlemagne and sigh quixotically," Let my armies be the
rocks and the trees and the birds in the sky."

The running theme of both films, perhaps, is impermanence. As one gazes upon
the orange decadence of the arches and watches the sea lapping, it is eerie
to conjure images of America and Atlantis side by side and think of those
boasting trunk-less icons described by Percy Bysshe Shelley in "Ozymandias"
when he wrote:

"’My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains.
Round the decay of that colossal wreck,
boundless and bare,
the lone and level sands stretch far away."

Water (2006) and The Gates (2005) are both available in the Hairenik
————————————– —————————–

9.For Verse Junkies – Your Weekly Fix of Poetry
By Khatchig Mouradian
Translated by Tatul Sonentz


Already the newspeak Pegasus
Pines wasted in the stable
It never ventured a visit
To its native clouds.
Tomorrow when its body
Is committed to the soil
And its soul to radiance,
We shall long lament the fact
That it was fed hay instead of words.



Tonight as I dock
The boat of silence
Endless words old and new
Thrash restless in my net.
Tomorrow morning
Dear reader
I shall bring to your table
The flaming loot of treasured mementos
Ablaze with longings.

(Oct. 15, 2000)


Love was eternal-
An Eternity of mere months.
And now, memories frolicking
A few fortnights in the backyard of dreams,
Dreams limping along behind the pause,
Come ever closer in single file
To sprinkle a fistful of soil.

They approach one by one
To sprinkle a handful of dust.
As you slip into the new infinity
Patched up by your fancy
Your love still prompts my thoughts
>From the great beyond.

(June 13, 2000)

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10.There’s No Place Like Home
Cambridge, Ontario, Welcomes Isabel Kaprielian’s ‘Like Our Mountains’
By Betty Apigian Kessel

ONTARIO, Canada (A.W.) -The word "home" has many meanings for Ontario native
Isabel Kaprielian-Churchill. Now a full professor of Armenian and
Immigration History at California State University, Fresno, her roots are
deep in the Hamilton-Brantford area of Canada. She was born there, but her
family’s real beginning is in Keghi in Historic Armenia. She is a Ph.D.
product from the University of Toronto, and taught there as well as at the
Ryerson and York Universities.

On Sunday, Nov. 26, after the U.S.’s Thanksgiving holiday, my husband and I
invited Keghetzi cousin Ned Apigian to join us as we again traveled to the
Cambridge Armenian Community Centre on 15 International Village Drive, in
the newer part of Cambridge, Ontario. Isabel-Kaprielian Churchill was giving
a talk on her book Like Our Mountains: A History of Armenians in Canada. It
was only our second visit there but we were given a warm Hyegagan welcome by
Garbis and Hasmig Haneshian, and Carl and Padiann Georgian. We arrived
early, at the conclusion of their church services, allowing us to join
during coffee hour and to meet new members of their vibrant community before
the lecture.

Prof. Kaprielian may have traveled to many Armenian enclaves for a book
signing, but no community could possibly have received her more warmly and
with more pride than host city Cambridge. The audience included guests from
Brantford, Hamilton, Kitchener, St. Catherines, Guelph, Detroit and

Prof. Kaprielian was introduced by Toronto’s Arpi Panossian, who is enrolled
in a Ph.D. program in adult education at York University in Toronto. She
read excerpts from the author’s new book and was accompanied by her daughter
Ani Koulian, who made additional interpretations. Ani is a policy research
analyst for the Ontario Ministry of Health. She has an MS in environmental
change and management from the University of Oxford in England.

Isabel’s parents are both from Keghi and many Keghetzis populated this part
of Canada prior to the 1915 Genocide; large numbers arrived much earlier in
the century to work and send their earnings back to Keghi in support of
their agrarian families. It is said that there were three waves of
immigration: before WWI to the Brantford area, after WWI to St. Catherines,
and after WWII to Hamilton and Montreal.

Kaprielian-Churchill said that Armenians are peaceful people and that
wherever they go they have been builders. But their loyalty to their
homeland has been consistent. "Whenever Armenians needed humanistic help, we
are there to help," she says. "Fear of extinction brings us together."

Like Our Mountains required exhaustive research, taking 20 years before it
was ready for publication. "I had no intention of writing this book," she
says. "It snowballed. I just started by writing about Hamilton. This book
was always with me, it wouldn’t leave me alone. It totally engulfed my life.
I went through all the emotions. The long journey was worth it. It’s a
scholarly book for historians." Her book ends with the 1988 earthquake, but
this brilliant daughter of Keghi is not resting on her laurels. When
questioned if another book was in the offering, her reply was in the

She is clear when she says the book is written for the educated reader and
that it has a strong theoretical base. Isabel says, "I try to incorporate
women and children into this book. This is really my memoir but I try to
weave it in so it is unknown. I was objective. It’s my family’s story."
Isabel’s brother Paul Kaprielian proudly sat nearby, resplendent in flowing
white beard and hair, listening intently as he leaned upon his cane.

She said that the Genocide is a unique topic. Most people do not know that
during the years of the Depression, the Canadian government gave Armenians
$300,000 for reparations-a lot of money at that time-although some did not
accept it.

She wanted to tell the story of Brantford, home to the earliest Armenian
settlers in the early 20th century. She accomplished it in several ways. She
interviewed survivors, got memoirs, and used the federal and Brantford city
archives. She searched the records of the Grace Anglican Church, where many
Armenians wed and baptized their children. She checked the ARF rolls, school
records, property tax rolls, cemetery gravestones, and the Hairenik and
Hunchak newspapers. How she collected and organized the information is just
as interesting as the book itself. Kaprielian-Churchill’s talk was grand. We
all felt a strong kinship to the Fresno professor and felt more like we were
in her living room having a family conversation.

She covers it all: how the men arrived and where they took employment; the
Armenian girls needed for wives so the men wouldn’t run off with "painted
women." The boarding houses they inhabited were outposts of their former
villages, where they sang village songs, collected news from their villages,
and looked out for each other. Although they were mostly farmers in the old
country, here they took factory jobs and used it as a springboard to other
things like owning coffee houses, shoe repair shops and barber shops.

Of great interest was when she said, "Their eyes were open. They had a
network." The Armenian Press was a powerful tool. Libraries were very
important. "They knew what was going on in Flint, Mich.; St. Louis, Ill.;
and Lynn, Mass. This shows how many of them who had begun in Ontario
eventually ended up in other states to earn a living. To the outsider it may
look like they were a houseful of foreigners but on the inside there was a
vitality. Gradually they integrated into the larger society."

One has only to read the Sept. 30 issue of the Armenian Weekly (Feature, p.
8) to realize how this accomplished woman expresses her love of Keghi and of
being Armenian. Her recent visit there will entrance you as she describes
the sentimental journey back home. One would expect nothing less from her.
The emotional tug of beautiful mountainous Keghi being in Historic Armenia
cannot be denied.

Zevart Joulhaian entertained guests on the flute with selections including
"Dance" and "Prelude," and others by Alexander Spendarian.

The Armenian Community Center in Cambridge is about a three hour drive from
Detroit; you may want to consider a visit there. Before the talk began,
early arrivers were invited into the library and introduced to area
residents. Among those we chatted with were Ani Voskerchian-Montgomery;
charming Jack Boghossian, cousin to Kitchener-based author Ara Baliozian;
Arpi and Ani Panossian; and Paul Kaprielian. It was the quip by Iranian born
professor Eric Chilingirian that may persuade you to visit there. He said,
"They’re preparing a place much worse than Hell for me." We’ll have to make
another trip to find out why that is. Farewell to Cambridge for now. But
Like Our Mountains is available through the Hairenik bookstore.
————————————— —————————————

11.Exper t Panelists Give Frank Views on 34-Day War in Lebanon

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.-On Wed., Dec. 13, Armenians and the Left, in association
with the Harvard Alliance for Justice in the Middle East and the Harvard
Society of Arab Students, presented a panel discussion titled, "The ’34-Day
War’ in Perspective: the 2006 Israeli Offensive in Lebanon and its
Aftermath. "The panel discussion took place in the Belfer Case Study Room at
Harvard University.

The panelists were Elaine Hagopian, professor emeritus of sociology at
Simmons College), Ara Sanjian (associate professor of Middle Eastern history
and director of the Armenian Research Center at the University of
Michigan-Dearborn) and David Barsamian (founder, Alternative Radio).

David Barsamian is founder and director of Alternative Radio, the
independent award-winning weekly series based in Boulder, Colorado.

Hagopian, who once taught at the American University of Beirut and held
appointments with UNESCO and UNICEF in the Middle East, opened the panel by
discussing the historical context of Israel’s policies vis-à-vis Lebanon and
Syria’s role leading up to the war. Sanjian followed and discussed the
polarization in Lebanese politics after the extension of President Lahoud’s
mandate and the adoption of UNSC Res. 1559, and put the war within that
context. Barsamian concluded the panel discussion by speaking about U.S.
media coverage of the war in Lebanon and general U.S. policy in the region.

Armenians and the Left organizes conferences, talks and discussion groups
that take a critical look at-and offer progressive analyses of-a range of
issues pertinent to the political, economic and social situation of
Armenians within a global context. The public forums explore alternative
ways of understanding Armenia’s predicament, and examine how Armenian
activists can build coalitions with other dispossessed groups and
progressive movements.
————————————— ———————————-

12. Panossian Talks on ‘Disunited Nationalism’

NEW YORK (A.W.)-On Dec. 15, Dr. Razmik Panossian, director of Policy,
Programmes and Planning at the International Centre of Human Rights and
Democratic Development in Montreal, Canada, gave a lecture titled "Disunited
Nationalism: The Construction of Modern Armenian Identities" at the Graduate
Center of the City University of New York. Panossian’s new book, The
Armenians: From Kings and Priests to Merchants and Commissars, was recently
published by the Columbia University Press. The lecture was organized by the
Middle East and Middle Eastern American Center (MEMEAC) of CUNY. Over 60
people attended the lecture, despite its being held on a Friday night.

Panossian explored the evolution of Armenian identity in "multi-local"
environments-in India and Venice, for example-and the turning points in
Armenian history that helped to shape these disunified identities. He showed
how the multi-locality of Armenian existence has led to conflicts and
divisions among Armenians living both in Armenia and in the Diaspora.

Panossian then spoke about the peculiarities of nationalism-not necessarily
a unifying ideology in the Armenian case-and how contemporary theories of
nationalism fall short of understanding the Armenian experience. Panossian
concluded his lecture with an overall history of Soviet Armenians and the
role that nationalism and identity played in the formation of their state. A
lively question and answer period and a warm reception by the MEMEAC
followed the lecture.

* * *

(c) 2006 Armenian Weekly On-Line. All Rights Reserved.

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