Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category


By Lauren Gelfond Feldinger | 09:23 29.06.13 |

‘We are third-class citizens,’

says Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem


‘If Israel recognizes the Armenian genocide it won’t be the end of the world,’ says the new head of the Armenian Church in Jerusalem, which dates back to the 4th century. It might even help making the community feel less cut off from the rest of the city and country.

On a recent afternoon in Jerusalem’s Old City, the Armenian Patriarchate’s new leader was treated as royalty. Black-robed priests and pilgrims young and old, visiting from Armenia, snapped photos and grinned excitedly, as they waited in line to kiss Archbishop Nayrhan Manougian’s hand during a reception.

Elected the 97th Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem in January, Manougian is now one of the top Armenian Christian leaders worldwide, in a community scattered over the globe. In Jerusalem, where the Armenian Christian presence dates back almost 1,700 years, he is also one of the most powerful Christian clerics. The Armenian patriarch shares oversight at the ancient Christian holy sites with the Greek Orthodox and Latin ‏(Roman Catholic‏) patriarchs.

But despite the historical presence, the tiny Old City Armenian community often feels sidelined, Manougian told Haaretz. As the number of community members relentlessly shrinks, and is now only a few hundred, he worries if there will be future generations. Day-to-day life, he says, is also a balancing act, finding a place between the powerful Jewish Israeli and Muslim Palestinian communities. Israeli scholars echo the same concerns.

At the core of Armenian insecurities are successive Israeli governments that have ruled over them since 1967 but never officially acknowledged the 1915 Armenian genocide or its estimated 1.5 million deaths by Ottoman Turkish forces.

Many of Jerusalem’s Armenians, including Manougian, are the children and grandchildren of the survivors of the genocide. His father fled Armenia through the desert that became known as the “death fields,” as he headed to the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. Born in Aleppo in 1948 and orphaned by age 5, Manougian grew up in that city, with poor relatives and the stories of the survivors around him. After seminary and ordination, serving Armenian Christians took him from Lebanon, across Europe and the United States, and to Haifa, Jaffa and finally in 1998, to Jerusalem.

Here, Armenians believe that Israel’s silence on the events of 1915 is based on maintaining favor with Turkey. “If you ask me, [recognizing the genocide] is what they have to do,” said Manougian of Israel. “What if they accept it? It won’t be the end of the world.”

Manougian also felt marginalized by Israel, while waiting five months for the state to officially recognize his title. Manougian was elected after the 2012 death of Patriarch Torkom Manoogian. Palestinian and Jordanian leaders recognized him days after the January election. Israel did not do so until June 23.

Initially, the patriarchate postponed Manougian’s inauguration, waiting for Israel to reorganize the government following its January 22 elections. But as months passed and the recognition application continued to be ignored, the patriarchate on June 4 held the inauguration anyway.

There is no law requiring it, but sending a formal letter of recognition is a Holy Land tradition dating to the Ottoman era, Manougian said. “The first [Israeli] letter was signed by Ben-Gurion.”

The Prime Minister’s spokesperson did not give a reason for the delay. But Dr. Amnon Ramon, a Hebrew University and Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies expert on local Christians, said that his impression was that the delay was caused by bureaucracy and lack of priority. In researching his 2012 book, “Christians and Christianity in the Jewish State” ‏(in Hebrew, published by the JIIS‏), he found that Israel’s relations with Christians and church institutions are among the lowest priorities in policy and practice of the local and national government bodies, he said.

While Ramon works on improving government relations with Christians, he also encourages Christians, including Armenians, not to allow caution to stop them from lobbying for their own needs. Christians “have to look at the Israeli side, the Palestinian side, be very cautious, and sometimes this leads them to inaction.”

Old City Armenians live more closely with the Palestinians and say their relations with them are better than with official Israel or some of their Jewish neighbors. Bishop Aris Shirvanian says that “they don’t spit on us,” referring to a phenomenon sometimes encountered by Christian clergy in the Old City.

“We have no legal problems with them,” said Bishop Aris Shirvanian. But the Palestinians have also not recognized the Armenian genocide. “The whole of the Islamic countries do not recognize the genocide because Turks are Muslims,” he said.

Being Christian in Jerusalem is complicated, he added. “When you are dealing with two sides [Israelis and Palestinians], you have to not take one side against the other.”


First to adopt Christianity

Armenians have a long, continuous presence in the city, from at least the fourth century, after Armenia was the first nation in 301 C.E. to adopt Christianity as its official faith, said Yoav Loeff, a Hebrew University teacher of Armenian language and history.

Until World War I, most of the Armenians here were monks or other church people. After the war, the numbers in Jerusalem grew, as Armenians fled the genocide and developed a vibrant lay community here. There were also artisans who came to the city in 1919 under the patronage of the British Mandate to renovate the vividly decorated ceramic tiles on the Dome of the Rock. Their craft of hand-painting tiles and ceramics deeply influenced Jerusalem’s artistic heritage. This can be seen still today on signs and architectural facades, and in the pottery in Israeli and Palestinian homes. ‏The patriarchate also opened a photography studio here in the 1850s, and the period portraits done by some of its photographers are still renowned.‏

Until the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, local Armenians lived mostly in Jerusalem, with some in Haifa, Jaffa, Lod, Ramle and Ramallah too, numbering about 25,000 in total, Manougian says. While the majority fled the war to surrounding areas − Ramallah, Jordan, Lebanon − a few thousand ended up in the Old City’s Armenian Quarter. But with growing economic and political tensions and lack of opportunities, most left over the years.

There are no official statistics, but historians estimate that there are some 3,000 people of Armenian descent in Israel, but most do not identify with the community, coming from the former Soviet Union and having married Jews.

The community’s center of life today is in the Armenian Quarter, which has an elementary school, middle school, high school, a seminary, the 12th-century St. James Cathedral, the Church of the Holy Archangels, and the Armenian manuscript library. But barely 400 Armenians live there now, down from around 1,500 in 1967, said Manougian.

“I’m afraid that if things go on like this, there won’t be any Christians left in this country,” he said, alluding to the wider phenomenon of an ongoing exodus of Christians of all denominations from the Holy Land. The city and state are not helping Armenians to flourish, he added. “Nobody knows anything about Armenia or Armenians … It’s not even on the list of their [concerns]. We don’t belong to the community − they don’t [accept] us as members. We are third-class citizens.”

Fueling this feeling are occasional spitting incidents. On June 19, for example, an Orthodox Jewish man spat at the feet of patriarch Manougian, during a procession of senior church clergy as they walked toward the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Bishop Shirvanian, who was present, said that such spitting incidents have declined during the past year, but “you never know when it will happen while walking down the street …. Most Jews are respectful, but some of the ultra-Orthodox are obstinately spitting.”

A spokesperson for the Jerusalem police spokesperson said that it received two spitting complaints from the Armenians this year. A 16-year-old and an adult were both arrested and held for several hours. “We only know about it if a complaint is filed;” added the spokesperson. “We always offer [church] processions a police escort, because of this problem.”

Freedom of movement in and out of the Old City is also unpredictable. Nestled inside Jerusalem’s Old City walls, the Armenian Quarter relies on the Jaffa Gate for access to the rest of the city.

But the city closes the gate to vehicular traffic for several hours at a time on more than 40 days a year, during large events like the recent light festival and car races, church officials say. On June 16, the Latin Patriarchate issued a statement on behalf of Old City residents, pilgrims, churches and patriarchates, which said that Jaffa Gate provides “the only access to our patriarchates, churches and convents. Instead of finding solutions to these interruptions that cause great inconvenience and disruption, the situation has gone from bad to worse.”
In recent weeks, Manougian said he had to get a police permit to travel through Jaffa Gate on the Feast of Ascension, cancel plans to attend an event at a Tel Aviv embassy, and console pilgrims denied access to the Old City holy sites, because of closures. The municipality, he said, “should have called the heads of the communities and asked them, ‘What do you think?’ Instead, they just announce and do it.”

A municipal spokesperson said that access is closed to residential vehicles only during certain hours announced in advance, during certain city festivals − such as the two days of the Formula One events and the nine days of the recent light festival. Additionally, there are sometimes temporary closures of Old City Gates on holy days of the city’s various religious groups. At those times, he said, residents with cars can use different gates.

In dealing with the Israel’s Interior Ministry, too, a frustrated patriarchate has to wait “months, or years,” says Manougian, to get visas to bring Armenians to study or teach at the quarter’s schools and seminary. Priests ordained for life to serve the Jerusalem patriarchate who do get visas find themselves having to return yearly to the Interior Ministry to renew them. Father Pakrad Derjekian, a patriarchate priest for 32 years, says that when he applied for Jerusalem residency, he was told that he had been living in the city for so many years on visas with no problem, so he should continue. Clerics are “most of the time refused for Jerusalem residency,” he said. “So we stopped applying.”

Christians of all denominations have problems getting visas to study and teach here, and those who have long-term assignments have trouble getting Jerusalem residency, confirmed Christianity researcher Yisca Harani.

There are even “Christian hospital directors and staff who dedicate their entire life to charity in state-recognized health institutions [who] are no more than temporary visa holders,” she said.


Improving dialogue

Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Naomi Tsur, who attended Manougian’s June 4 inauguration, said that she doesn’t think non-resident visa procedures for the capital are stricter than in other countries. Tsur says she considers improving dialogue between Jerusalem’s communities an important part of her job. A policeman was appointed liaison between Old City Christians and Muslims and the force, and there is also a liaison in the mayor’s office for minority communities, she said.

Tsur denied that City Hall sidelines the community. The mayor’s office meets often with Armenians, includes them in events, such as the recent “Green Pilgrimage Symposium,” and assists them with projects, she said.

However, she says, when it comes to closing certain thoroughfares during festivals that tens of thousands of people will enjoy, “you can’t please everyone all the time.”

“Of all the Christian communities in Jerusalem, the relationship of the municipality with the Armenian one is extremely positive,” Tsur says. “Their contributions to the city are immense.”

The Hebrew University’s Amnon Ramon says that while Israel does have many bodies dealing with Christians − police, Interior Ministry, Foreign Ministry, municipality − he doesn’t think the authorities show sufficient understanding in the way they serve the Christian communities. Israel, he says, ends up sidelining them for complex reasons: ignorance and lack of information, a memory of poor Jewish-Christian relations historically, ultra-Orthodox influence, the absence of a single body to coordinate Christian concerns, and especially a national agenda already overburdened with security, social and economic problems.

To help improve the situation, Ramon and other researchers and organizations like the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations, an NGO, bring members of Israeli state and city factions to meet Christians; he sees the benefits as being mutual.

Reflecting on Israel’s relationship with Christians in general and Armenians in particular, Manougian shrugs.

“I don’t know what [Israel] thinks. I feel that they could care less about minorities. Maybe in the back of their minds they are trying to diminish our numbers so there won’t be Armenians. Maybe? I don’t know.”

Asked to sum up in one word how Armenians here feel, Manougian replies, “unimportant.”

The Hebrew University’s Yoav Loeff, who is close to the Armenian community, speculated that, for starters, “If Israel would recognize the genocide, Armenians would feel better, because it’s the right thing to do from the moral point of view.”

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By Tavit Minassian


Mention Rouben Mamoulian and most people will respond with a blank stare. But mention what the director did on Broadway and in Hollywood and those same faces light up in recognition. Mamoulian directed the premieres of such groundbreaking musicals as Oklahoma, Carousel and Porgy and Bess, and classic films including Mark of Zorro, Queen Christina and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. His importance has finally been acknowledged in David Luhrssen’s new biography, Mamoulian: Life on Stage and Screen, published by University Press of Kentucky.

Life on Stage and Screen paints a panoramic picture of Mamoulian’s many accomplishments. He was born in Tiflis, Georgia, in 1897, a time when Armenians dominated the city’s political and economic life. His mother, a vigorous patron of Armenian theater, was an important early inspiration. Mamoulian studied theater in Moscow in the studio of the influential director Konstantin Stanislavsky and left Russia during the turmoil of the civil war that followed the Bolshevik coup of 1917. After debuting as a director on the London stage, Mamoulian was offered an appointment at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, which became a steppingstone on the way to Broadway. After a successful career as a theater director, Mamoulian accepted offers from Hollywood. His first movie, Applause (1929), displayed his flair for innovation and helped restore motion to talking pictures, which had been static and slow moving because the early recording devices were cumbersome. Life on Stage and Screen shows that Mamoulian helped pioneer many things taken for granted today, including multi-track recording, voiceovers and full-color feature films. Unlike many Broadway directors who went to Hollywood, Mamoulian kept one foot in the theater world and returned to New York in between movie assignments to direct a remarkable run of productions.

During his time in Hollywood, Mamoulian directed many of the era’s prominent stars, including Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Fredric March, Gary Cooper, Gene Tierney, Henry Fonda, Mickey Rooney and Fred Astaire. Always a perfectionist, he was a thorn in the side of studios and producers and eventually paid for his dedication to the art of filmmaking by being cold-shouldered by the industry. He made no pictures after being fired from the 1963 movie Cleopatra, whose star, Elizabeth Taylor, he had recommended for the role. But Mamoulian remained busy through the end of his life in 1987, publishing a children’s Christmas book and a translation of Shakespeare into contemporary English as well as giving talks at film schools and film festivals.

Life on Stage and Screen is the first book to consider Mamoulian’s ethnic background, including the influence of Armenian theater and the pageantry of the Armenian Church, and explores his failed attempt to film Franz Werfel’s novel The Forty Days at Musa Dagh. The book’s author, David Luhrssen, is film critic for Milwaukee’s Shepherd Express newspaper and has written several previous books, including Hammer of the Gods: Thule Society and the Origins of Nazism and Elvis Presley: Reluctant Rebel. He has been a contributor to the Armenian press, covering Armenian events in Milwaukee for the national papers.

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Shantal Der Boghosian

The Armenian Weekly
Sept. 1, 2012

Since the beginning of time, Space has been a source of mystery for man—a mystery they sought to decipher. Thanks to the scientific curiosity of Ptolemy, Galileo Galilee, and Isaac Newton, man has discovered numerous planets, landed on the Moon, and has even captured ancient images of space with the Hubble telescope that shine light on the Big Bang. Scientists know that our planet Earth has the perfect components for life, but as Earth begins to feel the effects of global warming and human overpopulation, it is only natural that scientists start looking to Space for answers- particularly from our neighbor, Mars.

(L-R) Toorian, Gharakhanian, Sarkissian, Ohanian, Hartounian, Khanoyan, Gorjian, Zadourian, Aintablian, Demirjian, and Karapetian.

August 5, 2012 at 10:31p.m. PDT, the Mars Rover Curiosity successfully descended on parachute and landed upright on Martian soil. Curiosity is part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, a long-term robotic exploration of the red planet so close to our own home! Curiosity was designed to assess Mars’s habitability, and to see if it ever had the proper environment to support small life-forms called microbes. The rover carries the largest, most advanced suite of instruments ever sent to Mars and will analyze samples scooped from the soil and drilled from rocks. Any planet’s geology record is essentially stored in rocks and soil- particularly in the formation, chemical composition and structure. Curiosity has an on-board laboratory and it will study rocks and soil in order to detect any chemical building blocks of life in order to piece together Mars’s past.

One of the most impressive features is Curiosity’s power source. The rover carries a radioisotope system that generates electricity from the heat of Plutonium’s radioactive decay. Radioactive decay is the process by which an atomic nucleus of an unstable atom loses energy by emitting ionizing particles. In turn, an ion is created when an atom gains or loses a charged particle, such as an electron or a proton. This power source is strong enough to give Curiosity a life-span of one Martian year, or 687 Earth Days, and also gives Curiosity more operational flexibility and greater mobility than any previous Mars mission.

According to JPL, Curiosity represents a huge step in Mars surface science and exploration because it demonstrates the ability to land a very large and heavy rover to the surface of Mars, as well as demonstrating the ability to land more precisely in the calculated landing circle. This is a large feat! Not only am I proud as a scientist, but I’m also proud to know that there were fourteen Armenians who collaborated in this project’s success! Arbi Karapetian, a group supervisor at JPL, joined the project during the design and implementation phase. He was a Test Conductor during Assembly, Testing and launch. When asked how he felt about the project’s success, Arbi said “As an engineer you’re aware of statistical analysis and reliability. Every engineer understands that you do the best you can, but there’s always room for failure. This project was exponentially more complicated than any previous project because of the advances in engineering. The complexity was so high that you could no longer have one engineer, the work had to be spread amongst many engineers, which allowed more room for error.” Arbi was very proud of the team’s accomplishment, and the success was the greatest reward for all the long, arduous hours they put into the project. “If you love doing what you do, then you’ll never work a day in your life. There are very long hours which are taxing on everything you do. If this is really your passion, then all of that lines itself up, and it’s not hard to get motivated to do what it takes.”

The following Armenians made significant contributions to the success of the MSL (Mars Science laboratory) Project: Avo Demirjian, Vache Vorperian, Alfred Khashaki, Felix Sarkissian and Hrair Aintablian in the field of Electronics; Garen Khanoyan and Richard Ohanian on the Landing Radar System; Serjik Zadourian and Vazrik Kharakhanian in Assembly Test and Launch; Gayaneh Kazarians in Biology; Hanry Hartounian in Flight Software; Armen Toorian in Mechanisms and Testbeds; and Zareh Gorjian in Computer Animation.

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By Tom Vartabedian On July 4, 2012

Just when you think life has dealt you a pat hand, along comes a conniver to steal your pot.

For the past four years, members of our Armenian Genocide Education Committee of Merrimack Valley have filtered in and out of high schools north of Boston.

We’ve also expanded our reach to include schools around Greater Boston like Newton South. Scores of children have benefitted from our lessons. In most every case, instructors have been overwhelmed by the impact being made, for they, too, come out learning a valuable lesson in history.

There hasn’t been one repercussion, not even a grunt from a naysayer—until now. A vile and vindictive article from a pro-Turkish website (History of Truth) crossed my eyes bearing the headline: “Armenians Spreading Their Lies at High Schools.”

The gutless piece failed to carry a byline, thus making it more intolerable.

What’s more, a photograph of Wilmington High students holding samples of postage stamps they had designed carried the inscription: “Their Lies Reached to Schools.”

The group photo also had the two presenters that day, myself and Albert S. Movsesian. The ideas for a postage stamp were being sent to the postmaster general of the United States in an effort to get a commemorative stamp minted for the 100th anniversary in 2015.

A completely harmless project meant to both elucidate and arouse our younger non-Armenian population was slurred with malice.

The rebuttal was generated in response to an all-encompassing piece written by chairman Dro Kanayan giving readers a fairly detailed account of the progress made in schools this year. How effective has it been?

While attending a grand niece‘s Chelmsford High graduation party the week before, I approached a table occupied by students who had been addressed during a genocide class taught by Jennifer Doak.

“Hey, you look familiar. Aren’t you the guy who spoke to us about the Armenian Genocide?” a co-ed remarked.

“Yes, that’s me,” I replied. “What do you remember most about the class?”

“How difficult it was for your race to be slaughtered like that,” she replied. “We loved the story about the Calvin Coolidge Orphan Rug and how it found its way to the White House.”

The article goes go to say that the “Armenian Diaspora is spreading its lies by telling them at high schools.”

The next paragraph quoted Kanayan’s story: “Armenian researcher Dro Kanayan said for those people who feel that our elders and the youth cannot work together, don’t worry. Kanayan and both of his peers, Albert Movsesian and Tom Vartabedian, have been working together to have the so-called Armenian Genocide included in the high school curriculum on Human Rights in the Merrimack Valley.”

“They are teaching students about the so-called Armenian Genocide and Armenian culture.”

The story went on to say how we have “poisoned” the students in over 10 high schools, providing individual classroom presentation on comparative genocides over the past 100 years.

It proceeded to include other high school students, including a deaf student we encountered at Newton South who had learned about the genocide through American Sign Language.

Adding more insult to injury, a second photo was used of Dro Kanayan holding a picture of his famous grandfather General Dro, who led the siege at Bash Abaran during World War I.

I should be fuming over such poppycock. Instead, I hold no regret over those who are ill-informed and continue to show their absurdity. The more Turkey refutes historical fact, the more scornful it becomes.

The more truth will prevail and people will see how superficial the Turkish government continues to remain. What people lack in intelligence, they usually make up for in stupidity.

I recall once how vandals had climbed to the top of a billboard in Watertown and defaced a genocide sign that had been sponsored by activist/artist Daniel Varoujan Hejinian. For years, Hejinian has been putting up these notices to draw attention during April 24th.

For the most part, the Armenian papers publicized the act, but it also caught the attention of the American press, which matters more. The fact that some screwball scaled a building at night to commit an act of degradation suddenly became media hype. It appeared in newspapers and television networks, giving the Armenian Genocide more exposure than normal.

During a commemoration that week in Merrimack Valley, a local priest approached the podium and talked about the insanity.

“If that’s the way our genocide is going to catch the outside public’s eye, then let the billboards be vandalized,” he lashed out. “And let those responsible find guilt in the process.”

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Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)



       One of the main episodes of the repression exerted against the Armenian leadership in the initial phase of the Armenian genocide was the case of the Hunchakian Party activists who were hanged in Constantinople in 1915.

        The Social Democratic Hunchakian Party was founded in Geneva in 1887 by a group of Eastern Armenian students. It had pursued revolutionary activities with the aim of the self-defense of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. After the 20gallows Ottoman Revolution of 1908, it maintained a certain distance from the Young Turk party. The coup d’état of early 1913 that practically concentrated the power in the hands of a triumvirate (Talaat, minister of Interior; Enver, minister of War, and Djemal, minister of Navy) was not well-received by the Hunchakian Party, which was concerned with the safety of Ottoman Armenians. The 7th General Convention of the Party, held in Constanta (Romania) in September 1913, stressed that the dictatorial government of the Young Turks would make impossible that the aim of an independent Armenia (which was the declared aim of the party in its political program) would be accomplished.

        The convention adjourned with two main objectives:

        1. The party would become again a clandestine organization.

        2. It would carry a plan to assassinate the leaders of the Young Turk party.

        An Armenian double-agent, who was also a member of the party and attended the meetings, reported these developments to the Turkish government. The Ottoman Armenian delegates to the convention were arrested as soon as they went back to Constantinople. By the end of 1913, a total of 140 members of the party had been arrested.

        Lengthy mock trials followed, while the prisoners endured terrible conditions in the Turkish prison. Finally, twenty-two members of the party were sentenced to death by hanging. The sentence was carried out for twenty of them (two were fugitives) on June 15, 1915, in the central square of Constantinople, known as Sultan Bayazid Square. As one of the prominent Hunchakian leaders, Paramaz, who was among the sentenced, said before his hanging, “You can only hang our bodies, but not our ideology.” The sacrifice of the Twenty Hunchakian gallows, also known as the “Twenty Hunchakian martyrs,” became an example and inspiration for political action of the following generations.

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The Turkish Coalition of America (TCA) has been on a rampage in recent years, filing lawsuits against scholars, public officials, and civic groups who support the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Last week, a federal appeals court put an end to TCA’s legal tirade against the University of Minnesota by unanimously upholding a federal court’s decision dismissing TCA’s baseless allegations.

The Turkish advocacy group had filed a lawsuit against Prof. Bruno Chaouat, Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota, for labeling TCA’s website and others as “unreliable.” The university’s webpage had posted the following stern admonition to students: “We do not recommend these sites. Warnings should be given to students writing papers that they should not use these sites because of denial, support by an unknown organization, or contents that are a strange mix of fact and opinion.”

Initially, TCA had complained that the inclusion of TCA’s website on the university’s list of “Unreliable Websites” violated the Turkish group’s freedom of speech. The university rejected TCA’s allegation, although, the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies revised its website on Nov. 18, 2010, removing the “Unreliable Websites” and recommending new resources for genocide research. The university asserted that the revision was not prompted by TCA’s complaint and denied any wrongdoing. On Nov. 24, 2010, Prof. Chaouat posted a statement on the Center’s website explaining that the list of “Unreliable Websites” was removed because he did not want to “promote, even negatively, sources of illegitimate information.”

TCA then filed a lawsuit against the university, its president, and Prof. Chaouat, claiming that including its website on the same list as websites denying the Jewish Holocaust, stigmatized the Turkish organization. The court dismissed the lawsuit.

A three-judge panel of the 8th circuit federal appeals court upheld the lower court’s decision on May 3, 2012, ruling that the university did not violate TCA’s First Amendment rights, since it neither blocked nor restricted access to the Turkish website.

The judges also rejected the Turkish group’s second claim that it was defamed when the university stated that TCA’s website is “unreliable,” engages in “denial,” presents “a strange mix of fact and opinion,” and is an “illegitimate source of information.” In a sinister attempt to win the lawsuit, TCA claimed that its website did not deny certain underlying historical facts, affirming that “certainly hundreds of thousands of Armenians died.” However, since the Turkish website had alleged that it is “highly unlikely that a genocide charge could be sustained against the Ottoman government or its successor,” the judges ruled in favor of the university asserting that TCA had in fact engaged in “denial.”

TCA’s malicious lawsuit disturbed many US scholars who were worried that this case would set a dangerous precedent and have a chilling effect on academic freedom. The gravity of these concerns had prompted the Middle East Studies Association to demand TCA to withdraw its lawsuit.

Although TCA failed in its bullying tactics against the University of Minnesota, there is no guarantee that this Turkish group will stop suing other academic or civic organizations for refusing to cave in to Turkey’s denialist campaign. It should be noted that TCA spent $630,000 on legal fees out of its 2010 budget of $3.6 million. Significantly, no mention was made in its annual report of the sources of TCA’s funding, except a passing remark that it is “supported entirely by private donations.” The Boston Business Journal reported that Turkish-American Yalcin Ayasli, founder of Hittite Microwave Corp., contributed $30 million to TCA in 2007.

TCA engaged in the following wide ranging activities and political objectives with its $3.6 million budget in 2010:

– Delivered 75 position papers to members of Congress and US opinion leaders; – Monitored the American media; – Took a Native American business delegation to Turkey; – Lobbied the Congress against the Armenian Genocide resolution; – Advertised in Roll Call and Washington Quarterly; – Organized Summer internships in Washington for Turkish students; – Provided scholarships to African-American, Armenian-American, Hispanic American, Native American, and Turkish-American students to study in Turkish universities; – Awarded grants for academic conferences; – Offered research fellowships to professors Michael Gunter, Justin McCarthy, Hakan Yavuz, and others; – Contributed $100,000 grants to each of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations and Federation of Turkish American Associations, and a smaller amount to the Azerbaijan Society of America; – Spent $630,000 on lawsuits against various entities that support the Armenian Genocide issue; – Funded congressional trips to Turkey, and – Filed a report with the US government accusing the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) of being a “hate group.”

Given TCA’s tax-exempt charitable status, the Internal Revenue Service should investigate the legality of this Turkish group’s involvement in such extensive political and lobbying activities.


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Courtney Cachet
Designer, TV Personality, Style Slave, Writer, Ninja

April 24th marks the 97th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Armenians mark this date in 1915, when several hundred Armenian leaders were rounded up, arrested and later executed as the start of the Armenian genocide and it is generally said to have extended to 1917. In total, over 1.5 million Armenians were massacred by the Turks in what is known as the Armenian Genocide. It was the first Holocaust of the 20th century. This, the world knows for sure. Turkey still denies this and whenever another country — as so many have — stands up and recognizes what happened to the Armenians as a genocide, they flex their political muscle and governments cave.

The reasons for their denial are simple. They want to be members of the European Union. The reasons governments such as the U.S. always promise the Armenians they will do something and never do is equally political. They are a key NATO ally, they are in a strategic geographic location for the U.S. and we have a military base there.

The thing is, Turkey can deny what they did over and over again but there are men and women who survived the reprehensible atrocities they inflicted on the Armenian people. They’ve told their stories.

We know them and we know what you did.

One such person was my grandfather, whom I knew as Marcel Cachat. Let me tell you about his life as it was told to me by him.

I can’t tell you when he was born, because when he lost his entire family in the infamous death marches. He was just a little boy. After all, who else could survive countless days without food or water marching into the Syrian desert? Only young, strong children. He was rescued by Greek missionaries who raised him in an orphanage in Greece. As a young man, he made his way on a boat and went to the South of France where many Armenians had gone. There, he went to work for a farm family because that is what he knew how to do. He needed to learn the language. As a a kid, I visited that farm family with him and my father. Soon after his arrival, local authorities got wind of his presence and he was called down to the local office. The French naturalized him, but suggested he change his name, as to assimilate into French society a little easier.

His name was changed from Missak Kachadurian to Marcel Cachat. Date of birth: unknown.

Eventually, through the Armenian community in Marseille, he met my grandmother Ardemis Tashjian. They married, started a little business and had my father, Marc.

During World War II, my grandfather fought for the French army and was captured right away without ever firing his gun. He was kept a German prisoner of war for several years while my grandmother raised my father back in France. Till the day he died, the very little English he spoke was with a heavy German accent. Not only did he speak fluent German, but he spoke fluent Turkish, Armenian, Greek, French and enough English later in life to hold a job in New York.

My father came to New York as a young man and started his life here in America. After my grandmother passed away in 1969, he followed him to New York, as well. He never knew his birthday and he had no known blood relatives besides us. He told me he remembered lots of people in his home growing up, but the memories were sketchy, at best.

I remember him as kind man who possessed a level of intelligence that was mind boggling, given his obvious lack of formal education. He was generous, too. He would buy us frivolous gifts and cook us wonderful dinners on Sundays. My mother told me he used to send donations in to PBS because he appreciated the educational shows they aired. He was a painter and had a garden that would make people stop their cars and ask him who his gardener was. He was humble, hard-working and very funny.

Pepe Marcel eventually went back to Marseille after several years in New York. He was happiest there, I believe. After all, it was practically his country. He raised his family there and most of my cousins still live there today. He remained active, walking four miles a day on the Corniche, one of the most beautiful streets in Marseille. He ended every day with a glass of red wine, how very French. He was very French, but he was always an Armenian man. With no roots, very little memories of a childhood and no place to go back home. Nevertheless, he married an Armenian woman, remained active in the Armenian community and raised his family in the Armenian Church. My husband is also Armenian and we will raise our children with the same values instilled in most Armenians. We work hard, we value family, education and are widely considered as high achievers in business. And no matter what happens to us, we will endure as my grandfather did.

 A famous quote comes to mind today:

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

So to anyone who denies the Armenian Genocide ever happened I say only this. We know you did it and the world does, too. It will always be the stain you cannot remove from your history, no matter how hard you try to silence the truth.

More importantly, the survivors like Missak Kachadurian know you did it.

À la mémoire de mon Grand-Père Missak “Marcel” Cachat.

We will always remember.


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