The California Courier Online, April 1, 2021

1 -        Azerbaijan, a So-Called Ally of Israel,
            Friend of Jews, Betrays Israel at the UN
            By Harut Sassounian
            Publisher, The California Courier
            www.TheCaliforniaCourier.com
2-         Pashinyan: He Will Step Down In April, in Anticipation of
Snap Elections
3 -        Azerbaijan Destroys Jebrayil Church after
            City Changes Hands following Artsakh War
4-         London Metro Removes Azerbaijani Posters
5-         Armenia Faces 3rd Wave of COVID-19 Cases
6-         Newsom Appoints Apkarian as OC Superior Court Judge
7-         In New Book, Israel Charny Exposes Israel’s Duplicity on
Armenian Genocide
8-         NJ Mom Marks 10 Years of Easter Baskets For Sick Kids
9-         Four Top Turkish Ex-Security Officers Sentenced to Life for
Dink Murder
10-       Armenia Defeats Iceland, Liechtenstein;
            Climbs to Top of World Qualifying Games

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1 -        Azerbaijan, a So-Called Ally of Israel,

            Friend of Jews, Betrays Israel at the UN

            By Harut Sassounian

            Publisher, The California Courier

            www.TheCaliforniaCourier.com

For three decades, the government of Israel and Jewish-American
leaders have been showering Azerbaijan with excessive and undeserved
praise for its alleged tolerance for its Jewish community and
friendship with Israel. There have been several visits by Israeli
leaders and prominent Jewish-Americans to Baku, glorifying the
government of Azerbaijan and flaunting the special affinity between
them.

This is hypocrisy of the highest form. The truth is that relations
between Azerbaijan and Israel have nothing to do with the treatment of
Jews in Baku. The two countries are basically engaged in mutual
exploitation, ignoring all humanitarian and ethical concerns.
Azerbaijan has purchased billions of dollars of advanced lethal
weapons from Israel in exchange for the sale of Azeri oil to Israel,
which imports 40% of its oil from Azerbaijan. It is disgraceful that
descendants of the Holocaust are arming Azerbaijan to kill survivors
of the Armenian Genocide for a fistful of dollars!

Israel has two other reasons for maintaining good relations with
Azerbaijan. The first is Israel’s interest in gathering intelligence
on Iran and having access to Azerbaijan’s airfields in case of an
Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear stockpile. This is probably what
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev meant when he compared his
country’s relations with Israel to an iceberg: “Nine-tenths of it is
below the surface.” Israel’s second reason is to cultivate good
relations with a Muslim country, given the Arab-Israeli conflict and
its isolation from the Muslim world. However, in light of the recent
rapprochement between Israel and several Arab nations, the value of
Azerbaijan to Israel in this regard is diminishing.

On the other hand, Azerbaijan expects to maximize its political
interests in the United States by benefiting from the influence of
Israel and Jewish-Americans in Washington, to counter the
Armenian-American lobby.

Nevertheless, Azerbaijan and Israel are concealing some of the
irritants in their relationship. First of all, Israel has opened its
Embassy in Baku in 1993, whereas Azerbaijan has refused to open its
Embassy or even a Consulate in Israel, out of concern for its
relations with Arab and Muslim nations, particularly Iran. This fact
alone belies the supposed friendly relations between the two
countries.

Another contradiction is Azerbaijan’s anti-Israel votes and speeches
at the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Azerbaijan’s most recent critical action of Israel occurred at the
United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, Switzerland on
March 18, 2021.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a frequent apologist for Azerbaijan,
quickly condemned the Azeri Representative’s remarks at the UN by
harshly accusing Azerbaijan of committing “a virtual ‘blood-libel’
against the Jewish state.”

Speaking on item 7 of the Council’s agenda, “human rights situation in
Palestine and other occupied Arab territories,” Kamran Seyfullayev,
Third Secretary at the Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the UN in
Geneva, gave a three-minute speech on March 18, in which he severely
criticized the treatment of Palestinians by the State of Israel. Here
is what he said:

“I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the
Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) [Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev is the
Chairman of the movement which is composed of 120 countries].

“For many years, the Non-Aligned Movement has maintained a firm
position of solidarity with the Palestinian people and their just
cause, and the condemnation of massive, flagrant and systematic
violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law
committed by Israel.

“The NAM also underscores the need to continue providing political,
economic and humanitarian support to assist the Palestinian people and
to bolster their resilience and efforts aimed at achieving their
legitimate national aspirations, including their inalienable right to
self-determination and freedom in their independent State of
Palestine.

“We recognize and commend the efforts of the United Nations and its
agencies and particularly the United Nations Relief and Works Agency
for Palestine refugees in the Near East and the Committee of Exercise
of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian people. The Movement
encourages continuation of their support. The NAM takes note with
appreciation of the report of the Secretary General presented to the
43rd Session of the Human Rights Council on the Israeli settlements in
the occupied Syrian Golan.

“The NAM expresses its grave concern at the continuing Israeli
settlement policy and related activities, including the expansion of
settlements, the expropriation of land, the demolition of houses, and
the confiscation and destruction of property, which has changed the
physical character and demographic composition of the occupied
territories and the occupied Syrian Golan.

“The General Assembly, the Security Council and the Human Rights
Council have all confirmed that the construction and expansion of
Israeli settlements and other related activities in the occupied
Palestinian Territory and the occupied Syrian Golan are illegal under
international law. The NAM is also deeply concerned over numerous UN
official reports, particularly by the recent report of the Secretary
General, which have reaffirmed the continued human rights violations
of the Palestinian people by Israeli force, throughout the occupied
State of Palestine.

“In this regard, the NAM urges the international community to exert
its pressure in order to cease immediately the continuation of this
illegal trend by Israel which is a blatant violation of international
law.

“Furthermore, the NAM strongly believes that Israel, as the occupying
power, has to be held accountable for its continued grave and
systematic violations of both international human rights law and
international humanitarian law in all occupied Arab territories,
including Syrian Golan.

“The NAM emphasizes that Israel, as the occupying power, should
immediately release all Palestinian prisoners, particularly children
and women. It should also cease serious violations of international
law and fully lift the blockade of Gaza to remedy the ongoing punitive
measures against the civilian population and release Palestinian
children in detention in accordance with international standards, in
particular the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“In conclusion, the NAM extends its full support to the Government of
the State of Palestine in its ongoing efforts to put an end to the
occupation of the land of the State of Palestine and realize the
legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.”

It is ironic that the Simon Wiesenthal Center officials, after years
of kowtowing to Azerbaijan, repeatedly visiting that country, and
praising it as a close friend of Israel, are now complaining about
Baku’s harsh criticism of Israel. I hope Jewish and Israeli leaders
realize that they have been fooled by Azerbaijan all these years and
learn the valuable lesson that a wolf in sheep’s clothing cannot be
trusted. They should also realize that, as the saying goes, when you
go to bed with dogs, you wake up with fleas. Israeli and Jewish
officials do not seem to have learned anything from their experience
of being deceived by Turkey. After decades of backing Turkey, even
going as far shamefully blocking the congressional recognition of the
Armenian Genocide, Israeli and Jewish officials are now accusing
Turkey of anti-Semitism and hostility to Israel. Armenians kept
warning them for years, to no avail, not to trust Turkey and that they
will be stabbed in the back when they least suspect it. In this vulgar
game of mutual exploitation, Israelis and Jewish Americans got the
short end of the stick. The same thing is happening now in their
relations with Azerbaijan. It will only get worse, unless they quickly
come to their senses.

Not everything should be measured by oil, weapons and money. There is
something much more valuable like humanity, justice and truthfulness
than financial gain and self-interest. But in this selfish world, it
is too much to expect such decent behavior.

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2-         Pashinyan: He Will Step Down In April, in Anticipation of
Snap Elections

(Deutsche Welle)—Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has announced his
resignation as a means of curbing the political turmoil in the former
Soviet republic. The embattled Armenian prime minister has announced
snap parliamentary elections for June 20.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan will resign in April to hold
snap elections in June, he announced in a video on his Facebook page
on Sunday.

“I will resign in April. I will resign not to resign, but in order for
early elections to take place,” he told a crowd during a visit to the
northwest of the country.

“I will continue to serve as interim prime minister,” he added.

Pashinyan announced the snap elections earlier in March. In line with
Armenian law, snap elections can take place once the prime minister
steps down and parliament fails to elect a replacement two times.

Pashinyan has been under increasing pressure to step down following a
military defeat against neighboring Azerbaijan and an ongoing spat
with Armenian military leaders.

Pashinyan has faced constant calls to step down after signing a
Russian-brokered ceasefire with Azerbaijan in November.

The conflict ended with Armenia ceding control over the de facto
autonomous region of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan.

In the ensuing row between the government and the military over who
was responsible for the humiliating defeat, the military joined calls
for Pashinyan’s resignation. The prime minister in turn tried to
remove the military’s chief of staff Onik Gasparyan, claiming that
there had effectively been an attempted coup. Gasparyan refused to
step down and President Armen Sarkisian refused to enforce the prime
minister’s order. Thousands of protesters have also called on
Pashinyan to leave power, blaming him for the country’s military
defeat.

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3 -        Azerbaijan Destroys Jebrayil Church after

            City Changes Hands following Artsakh War

(BBC)—BBC correspondent Jonah Fisher recently investigated the
disappearance of an Armenian church that changed hands in the
Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) war that started in September 2020 and
ended in November 2020. Fisher traveled to the region to investigate
the “disappearance,” since a video posted online clearly showed the
church was intact when the town was captured by Azerbaijani forces.

As of March 25, 2021, the Holy Mother of God Church in Jebrayil
(Mekhakavan) is no longer.

Fisher traveled to the exact location of the church, where not a
single trace of it is left. When he asks a police escort what happened
to the church, he replies that he has no information. When asked
again, the Azeri policeman falsely claims that perhaps the church was
destroyed during the war – something that couldn’t have happened
because the videos clearly show that the area had come under
Azerbaijani control when the church was still intact.

Azerbaijan has said ethnic Armenians are welcome to stay in
Nagorno-Karabakh but Armenia has accused it of damaging and destroying
Armenian cultural heritage left behind in the region, including
churches and monuments. Both sides accuse the other of war crimes.

The Armenian authorities have numerously warned the international
community to take action and prevent the Azerbaijani policy of
eradicating Armenian cultural and spiritual legacy in Nagorno
Karabakh.

The Surb Hovhannes Mkrtich Church in the town of Shushi has suffered a
similar fate.

Official Baku on Friday, March 26 justified Azerbaijan’s complete
destruction of a church in Artsakh’s occupied Mekhakavan by claiming
that the church was “illegally” built during what it called Armenia’s
“nearly 30 years of occupation” of the area.

Armenia’s foreign ministry was quick to blast Baku, saying “any
attempt by Azerbaijan to justify the barbaric destruction of a place
worship is concerning and deplorable.”

In its statement, Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry indirectly blamed the
OSCE, claiming that the international body, whose Minsk Group
co-chairs are tasked with mediating a settlement to the Karabakh
conflict, essentially did not take action when Baku addressed the
matter.

“In 2017, following the Republic of Azerbaijan’s appeals to the
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Co-Chairs
from the OSCE Minsk Group agreed to visit the chapel in Jebrail. The
Republic of Azerbaijan raised grave concerns that the Armenian forces
were altering the demographic, cultural and physical character of the
occupied territories of Azerbaijan,” said Azerbaijan’s foreign
ministry. “Following their visit, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs
concluded that the chapel had been built as part of a military
compound in Jebrail for use by Armenian soldiers.”

“The chapel cannot be considered a part of Jebrail’s cultural history
when its construction, reportedly only five years ago, solely served
the occupying forces of Armenia,” official Baku added.

Armenia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anna Naghdalyan on Friday said
that through its statement Baku was acknowledging the “deliberate,
pre-planned and complete” destruction of the church, proving that
Azerbaijani authorities were fully aware of the plan.

“Once again we emphasize that the international community, and first
of all the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and Co-Chair countries, as well
as UNESCO must immediately intervene to preserve Armenian
historical-cultural heritage,” said Naghdalyan.

“It is worth noting,” she said, “that at the same time the Azerbaijani
side is keeping dead silent over the accusations and facts on the
destruction of the more than 200-years-old Church of St. Hovhannes
Mkrtich (Kanach Zham) in Shushi, Republic of Artsakh, probably unable
to find any ‘justification’ for this barbarism, even an imaginary
one.” **********************************************************************************************************************************************

4-         London Metro Removes Azerbaijani Posters

(Public Radio of Armenia)—After formal complaints put forward by the
Embassy of Armenia as well as the UK-Armenian community organizations,
posters on the London Underground, displaying Armenian historical and
cultural heritage as Azerbaijani, were removed from 46 of 50
underground and mainline train stations of the Transport for London
(TfL) network, the Armenian Embassy in UK informed on March 22. The
digital adverts showed various cultural landmarks and included slogans
such as “Shusha, Karabakh – Cultural Capital of Azerbaijan” and
“Azerbaijan, centre of multiculturalism”. “This digital advert was
approved by our media partner Global on behalf of TfL, as being in
line with TfL’s advertising policy. “However, following feedback, it
has now been removed from our network,” said a spokesperson for
Transport for London network.

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5-         Armenia Faces 3rd Wave of COVID-19 Cases

Armenian health officials are sounding the alarm of a third wave of
COVID-19 cases just as the country commences the vaccination phase.
The most recent rise in coronavirus infections following a loosening
of COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings.

On March 23, 1,164 positive cases were reported from 5,330 tests.
Armenian Minister of Health Anahit Avanesyan previously warned of a
steady increase. “As of yesterday, we had 491 positive findings or
16-percent out of a total of 2,922 tests,” she said on March 4. “Only
5 to 7 percent of the tests conducted were positive in January and
February. We can see that the toll has increased to 16 percent, and
forecasts show that this figure will be up again next week.”

There were 15,169 active cases in Armenia as of March 29. Armenia has
recorded 190,741 coronavirus cases and 3,476 deaths; 172,096 have
recovered.

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6-         Newsom Appoints Apkarian as OC Superior Court Judge

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced the appointment
of Isabel Apkarian as a judge in the Orange County Superior Court.
Apkarian, 44, of Newport Beach, has served as a Commissioner at the
Orange County Superior Court since 2021, the governor’s press office
said. She served as Senior Deputy Public Defender at the Orange County
Public Defender’s Office from 2003 to 2020. She was a Budget
Management Research Analyst in the Orange County Executive’s Office
from 1998 to 1999.

Apkarian earned a Juris Doctor degree from Whittier Law School. She
fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Franz E. Miller.

Apkarian is one of 18 judges appointed on Thursday by Newsom to serve
in the superior courts of several California counties.

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7-         In New Book, Israel Charny Exposes Israel’s Duplicity on
Armenian Genocide

A well-know fighter for recognition of the Armenian Genocide, who was
the recipient of the Armenian Presidential Gold Medal for his work on
the denial of known genocides, Professor Israel W. Charny of
Jerusalem, has published a new book titled Israel’s Failed Response To
The Armenian Genocide: Denial, State Deception, Truth versus
Politicization of History.

When the Turkish government demanded the cancellation of all lectures
on the Armenian Genocide at Israel’s First International Conference on
the Holocaust and Genocide which was organized by Prof. Charny, and
that Armenian lecturers not be allowed to participate, the Israeli
government followed suit.

This book follows the author’s gutsy campaign against his government
and his quest to successfully hold the conference in the face of
censorship. A political who dunit based on previously secret Israel
Foreign Ministry cables, this book investigates Israel’s overall
tragically unjust relationship to the genocides of other peoples.

The book also closely examines the figures of Elie Wiesel and Shimon
Peres in their interference with the recognition of other peoples’
genocidal tragedies, particularly the Armenian Genocide. Additional
chapters by three prominent leaders — a fearless Turk who has paid a
huge price in Turkish jails (Ragip Zarakolu); a renowned Armenian
American who was one of the earliest writers on the Armenian Genocide
(Richard Hovannisian); and a Jew, who was responsible for the
selection of all the materials in the pathbreaking U.S. Holocaust
Museum in Washington (Michael Berenbaum) — provide added perspectives.

The book has earned strong praise from Armenian and Jewish leaders and
genocide scholars. Archbishop Nourhan Manoogian, Armenian Patriarch of
Jerusalem, states, “Israel Charny has brilliantly captured over a
hundred years of evasions and denials by the Turkish Government for
the genocide that extinguished the lives of a million and a half
Armenian souls. I heartily congratulate Charny for deftly exposing the
many contradictions in our world towards our nation’s Genocide, and
pray that this book will serve the purpose to wake up Israeli
politicians.”

Prof. Gregory Stanton, a renowned genocide scholar and president of
Genocide Watch says, “Israel Charny has single-handedly produced at
least half of the seminal ideas in the history of genocide studies and
genocide prevention. I wish there were a Nobel Prize in Genocide
Studies. If there were, he should get the first one.”

The book is being published in April in honor of Armenian Genocide
Remembrance Day and Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel. It is
available from Academic Studies Press, Amazon, Eurospan (recommended
outside USA), and other book sellers, and The California Courier plans
to publish a review.

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8-         NJ Mom Marks 10 Years of Easter Baskets For Sick Kids

By Angeline Sheridan

Every Easter since 2011, Northvale mom and Discovery Toys Educational
Consultant Toleen Farah has been organizing an Easter Basket Drive for
the sick children and their siblings that are temporarily residing at
the Ronald McDonald House. Many families travel far from home to
receive treatment for their seriously ill or injured children. The
baskets are filled with learning games and toys to bring some joy to
these children and their families, during a very difficult time in
their lives.

This year, donations to support the House’s mission is more important
than ever. However, fundraising efforts have been more challenging. In
the past, Toleen would go door to door to local businesses to solicit
sponsorships for the baskets. But with COVID restrictions, this has
been more difficult to achieve.

For $30, a donor can sponsor one basket filled with educational toys
and games.  For $100 or more, a donor can put a name or business logo
to be advertised for a year on the head banner of the RMH Easter
Baskets for Children at the Ronald McDonald House Facebook Page. 100
percent of donations—including Toleen’s commission—are spent on
filling Easter Baskets with Discovery Toys for the children to keep,
and filling the House’s Family Room with new toys for residents
throughout the year. She will also restock their “Gift Closet” with a
variety of fun, learning toys for all ages, which the House can
distribute to residents as they see fit: as a welcome present, a
birthday gift or another special occasion or a congratulatory or
departure gift.

For more information, call 201-677-8697.

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9-         Four Top Turkish Ex-Security Officers Sentenced to Life for
Dink Murder

Turkish judges on Friday, March 26 handed life sentences to two former
police chiefs and two top ex-security officers over the 2007 killing
of a Agos editor Hrant Dink, local media reported.

According to Agence France Presse, 76 suspects were facing charges
including failing to uncover the plot to Dink’s murder.

His murder plunged Turkey’s Armenian community into mourning and
sparked a sprawling trial that lasted over a decade and involved
senior security officers who were accused of being aware of the murder
plot but failing to act.

Istanbul’s main court sentenced the city’s former police intelligence
chief Ramazan Akyurek and his former deputy Ali Fuat Yilmazer to life
in prison for “premeditated murder,” according to Agos.

Former top Istanbul interior ministry officers Yavuz Karakaya and
Muharrem Demirkale were also jailed for life while charges against
another top city police chief were dropped due to the statute of
limitation.

Ogun Samast, who was an unemployed 17-year-old at the time, had
confessed to the murder and was sentenced to almost 23 years in jail
in 2011.

Ali Oz, a former interior ministry commander of the Black Sea region
of Trabzon where the gunman came from, was sentenced to 28 years in
jail on Friday.

Dink’s supporters and human rights activists still believe that the
most senior police officials have gone unpunished and want the
investigation and trials to run on.

“Some of those responsible for this assassination, including the
sponsors, have still not been prosecuted,” Erol Onderoglu, Turkey
representative for Reporters Without Borders (RSF), who has closely
followed the trial told AFP. “This partial justice rendered after 14
years leaves a bitter taste and should not mark the end of the search
for the truth.”

The Istanbul court on Friday ruled that Dink’s murder was committed
“in line with the objectives of Feto” — an acronym Ankara uses for
Fetullah Gulen’s banned movement, NTV reported.

Dink’s widow, Rakel, had said in January that blaming the Gulen
movement for her husband’s death nearly a decade before the failed
coup was like “I didn’t kill him, but my hand did,” AFP reported.

Claire Evans, International Christian Concern (ICC) Regional Manager
for the Middle East, said, “Although Turkey’s courts are pushing the
FETÖ narrative regarding the assassination of Hrant Dink, we cannot
forget that there is a Grey Wolf element in this case and that the
Grey Wolves are currently carrying out genocidal activities and plans
intended to wipe out the Armenian Christian community. They are doing
so with the approval and help of the Turkish government; this is not
only a proven fact, the Turkish government is proudly claiming their
role in this. Hrant Dink was murdered because he wanted
reconciliation. Delayed, partial, and denied justice has defined this
court case for 14 years. And now today, we see that same ideology
responsible for his death also responsible for the displacement and
deaths of more Armenian Christians. It is time to name the Grey Wolves
for what they are: an entity of particular concern for religious
freedom.”

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10-       Armenia Defeats Iceland, Liechtenstein;

            Climbs to Top of World Qualifying Games

YEREVAN—With two victories in a row, Armenia’s soccer team climbed to
the top of Group J, where it competes with Germany, North Macedonia,
Romania, Lichtenstein, and Iceland for the World Soccer tournament,
which will take place in Qatar in 2022.

A few days ago, Armenia defeated Liechtenstein in Liechtenstein when
midfielder Noah Froemmeled accidentally scored a self-goal into his
own team’s net, thus making Armenia off to a great start. Yerevan
collected its first three points granted to the team, which gained its
victory. On Sunday, March 28, after more than a year break because of
COVID-19, an international soccer game was played in Yerevan’s
Republican Stadium.

With the first half of the gaming ending with no goals, Armenians were
significantly more successful during the second half. First, on the
53rd minute, Tigran Barseghian hit a goal, then, 21 minutes later,
Khoren Bairamian doubled the score. On the 77th minute, Iceland’s
coach made two substitutions, bringing a midfielder and a striker,
aiming to increase the pressure over Armenia’s team.

Iceland attempted several goals during the remaining time; however,
Armenia’s defense and the goalkeeper played well. Armenia temporarily
leads its group with six scores, although Germany’s predicted victory
against Romania will bring the German team back to the leading
position.

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