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Syrian Armenian Relief Fund

GLENDALE—The Joint Committee in Support of the Syrian Armenian Community in the Western U.S.A. assigned an executive committee to coordinate the fundraising effort in support of the Armenian Community in Syria.

Zaven Khanjian, the representative from the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America, who was recently elected to chair the Executive Committee, noted, “This is a crucial time for the Syrian-Armenian community, and all Armenians. Our committee, along with other similarly structured committees in Diaspora communities, will do our outmost to help sustain the Syrian-Armenian community, and give them hope.”

The call to action is for all to make a donation to help our sisters and brothers, who are suffering on a daily basis due to the wrath of the conflict. We urge our community to give generously, so that humanitarian assistance can make a difference.

Send your checks, in any amount, large or small, payable to the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund, P.O. Box 1948, Glendale, CA 91209-1948.

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9 Comments

  1. Hratch said:

    After 20 years of independence, we still have large and permanent Armenian communities around the world. Why are these Armenians still living in exile? Who is suppose to live in Armenia? We may say we support Armenia, but actions are louder than words. The diaspora is never going to settle in today’s Armenia. And today’s Armenia is never going to accept the diaspora as equal partners. They did not accept them back in 1945 and they will not going to accept them today in 2012. The Armenians in Armenia do not care nor support anything foreign to their Eastern ways. They couldn’t care less about Western Armenia or its traditions. To them the Western dialect, literature, songs, food and traditions are dismissed as nothing to consider. They have collectively erased that part of Armenian history.

    Our short sighted and petty interests have destroyed us in the past and will do so again in the future. The Western Armenians are foreigners in today’s Armenia. Perhaps the diaspora Armenians should stop mesmerizing about the mythical Armenia and reconsider their priorities.

    • Sam said:

      Here is what you say:

      1. “The diaspora is never going to settle in today’s Armenia.”

      “Never,” really never? You provide no support for this. In fact, your statement is factually incorrect. Consider that as of today, there are families, who were previous members of the diaspora, but now reside in Armenia. See 2,000 Armenians from Syria Residing in Armenia Currently (Aug. 16, 2012), available at http://massispost.com/archives/6917.

      2. “And today’s Armenia is never going to accept the diaspora as equal partners.”

      Again, where in the world did you come up with this? I’m not even sure what you mean by “today’s Armenia,” and “diaspora.” Do you mean Armenian citizens, the government, institutions, what exactly? Is it not enough, as a first step, to see that the AGBU, AAA, ANCA, ARF, AYF, BirthRight, among others, operate in Armenia and bring annually “diaspora” youth to Armenia? Or what about, just as an example, Hovnanian (Vahagni Taxamas), Eduardo Eurnikian (concessional owner of 3 airports in Armenia), Raffi Hovhannisian (leader of Heritage Party), and the other diaspora Armenians who now reside in Armenia?

      3. “They did not accept them back in 1945 and they will not going to accept them today in 2012.”

      1945, you mean after WWII? When Armenia was a Soviet Republic? Even if we accept your premise that “they did not accept,” it’s still a question whether the “they” you refer to was the Soviet Union or Armenia? And second, in what way did “they” not accept them?

      4. “The Armenians in Armenia do not care nor support anything foreign to their Eastern ways. They couldn’t care less about Western Armenia or its traditions. To them the Western dialect, literature, songs, food and traditions are dismissed as nothing to consider. They have collectively erased that part of Armenian history.”

      First, you give absolutely no proof of this, not even an example showing that this is the case. You also lay blame on “they,” I’m guessing Armenian citizens, without considering whether they are, in fact, blameworthy. But most importantly, this is hyperbole and simply untrue. And since you are making these outlandish claims, the burden is on you to provide some sliver of evidence, even a website, that tends to show what you are claiming.

      Your analysis is unfair and inaccurate. If it comes from the streets of California, consider that you may just be talking about your own fragmented Armenian community.

      • Hratch said:

        Sam:

        1. Your complete blindness to the obvious is precisely the reason why we will never prevail from the doldrum we find ourselves in. The 2,000 or so Syrian Armenians currently residing in Armenia is nothing to be proud of. It not only represents a small fraction of worldwide Armenians, it would not even show up on the radar of Syrian Armenian population statistics. No one in Armenia or Syria would feel the effects of the increase or decrease of such a small minuscule number.

        2. The few examples you cite are elite wealthy types that have nothing in common with ordinary citizens. Their wealth and power is the reason why they are tolerated by corrupt politicians and the oligarchy.

        3. I don’t think the derogatory term “Aghper” was in Russian nor Soviet inspired. It was coined by the racist and ignorant natives that saw it suitable to abuse and harass genocide surviving immigrants. Immigrants who thought they were safe in their motherland. The term “Aghper” was loosely used to describe the trash being imported. Whether official or street talk it does not matter. The damage was done. If you fail to acknowledge this fact, then there is not much to discuss.

        4. You need to provide us with examples of Western Armenian culture that has been accepted or being practiced in today’s free Armenia. Without such accommodations, you can not expect Western Armenians to immigrate and suddenly adopted Eastern traditions. Traditions, I may add, are not entirely Armenian. Soviet and Russian traditions that were wholeheartedly accepted by the natives. Well it will never happen. Western Armenians would feel like foreigners in a foreign land. The only solution is to mesh the two cultures together and create one great Armenian culture. By removing foreign cultural influences from each, we need to create a culture that is indigenous to all Armenians. But in order to do this, one must be open to accept the other. Not call them derogatory names and segregate and label them as Syrian, Lebanese, Kharapagh, Gumri, etc….Armenians. To describe Western dialect as “Beirutsi Armenian” is perhaps the most gross example of ignorance of the great Western dialect and culture.

        Overall, your analysis is flawed in that you leave no room for discussion or improvement. Your mentality is a left over from the failed Soviet Union. The place where people were indoctrinated and brainwashed into believing that they were the greatest thing on earth and that no one new any better then them….a place where everyone could claim to be a graduate on the INSTITUTE !!!

        • Mher said:

          I’m pretty sure it was ‘aghpar’ not ‘aghper’ and you don’t refer to trash as ‘aghper’. ‘Aghper’ means brother.

          What traditions are you speaking of that are Western that need to be accepted by the Easterners? What traditions of the Easterners are you referring to as Russian or Soviet Influenced?

          What have Westerners brought to the table that is ethnically Armenian that has been rejected by the people of present day Armenia?

          My parents and grandparents always speak of certain foods or music that the new comers brought with them to present day Armenia that Armenians enjoy and accept today as everyday Armenian cuisine including lahmajun, kufta and many other things.

          You forget that most of present day Armenia is composed of families who have come from Western Armenia and settled there after the genocide including my family. Why would those people make fun of genocide survivor immigrants or be derogatory to them if/when they tried to move back and live as Armenians on their own soil?

          I do know back in 1945, it wasn’t just Western Armenians that just moved in that had a bad experience during Soviet rule. The natives were also persecuted and executed and millions of Russians and other peoples were also sent away to Siberia and executed by Stalin.

          You shouldn’t act like the present day Westerners are the only victims. In present day Armenia, the entire nation is persecuted by the government itself and by this Russian influence you speak of. This is what we need to fight as a united people.

          Wherever we go whatever we do, we will be influenced by a particular culture or people. That’s just human nature. Those who live in Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere adopt certain Arabic traditions; those who live in the United States become Americanized and so on…You can’t really stop or change that cycle. Naturally Eastern Armenia being under Russian influence has adopted certain Russian elements. Maybe Easterners like saunas whereas Westerners prefer a Turkish (or Western Armenian) bath, Easterners have adopted certain elements of Russian music; Westerners have adopted certain elements of Arabic music. Easterners smoke cigarettes, Westerners smoke the hookah and so on. Stupid examples, but you get the point. A small minority is naturally influenced by the overwhelmingly large majority, but these are not the things that make up our culture that you speak of. Our culture is our history, is our traditional folk music, is our rich Christian history and our Christian traditions and Christian morals and values. Today neither the East nor the West upholds our Christian morals and values. The shame or ‘amot’ of the past is no longer existent. Our girls/women are rarely pure and innocent when married. These are the things we need to worry about most. We have failed to live up to these deep rooted and extremely important Armenian and Christian standards which you speak of.

          Yes we need to cleanse our culture of foreign influence. There should be no Russian influence in our culture, music, food or religion although they do share the same Orthodox Christian faith whereas in Lebanon and Syria and elsewhere, the culture is predominantly Muslim influenced. We shouldn’t be dancing to Arabic music and bringing in belly dancers and smoking hookah at our events and weddings or at all for that matter.

          We can though and should take and accept anything positive from others because as a people and as individuals, we can learn a lot from others.

          The diaspora that has been the diaspora since the genocide has missed out on 100 years of torment that Armenia continued to go through and continues to go through today including continued persecutions, being banned from practicing religion, the earthquake, the war – being drained economically – all kinds of things. People in Armenia are not sitting there all holly jolly waiting and capable to embrace anyone that comes in from the outside. They are living in torment and fear. If you expect those people to be understanding and accepting of the current diaspora then please be so kind to be understanding and accepting of what that people continues to go through now. Rarely will you find a family that is in tact; that doesn’t have an immediate family member working outside of Armenia to send in money to support the family. Rarely will you find a family who doesn’t have relatives that have been impacted by the earthquake, the war, the persecutions of Stalin’s time or even the genocide. People are living in poverty. Being from there it is even tough to go be a guest at someone’s house whether family or friends because you know they don’t have the means to welcome you as they would so love to and you feel bad because of it. And if you do go you always take gifts, money or w.e in which case they are very ashamed to accept and feel very bad. It’s just a bad situation all around. Please don’t separate the East and the West. We have enough to deal with.

          Let’s work to improve the standards and values of our society and reach the heights as a people both spiritually and physically which are granted to us through our faith in Christ and our ethnic traditions.

    • Kevork said:

      And what are our priorities? Western Armenians are fast failing to keep our culture alive. Just look at all the younger generation marrying foreigners… is that our priorities?

      I understand what you’re saying, but as a western Armenian, I have given up all hope. I saw our western Armenian culture lose its integrity thus far and today it is a pitiful version of its former self. I don’t think Armenia erased western Armenian culture, because many of them have their roots there, and any Armenian, whatever they are, the only hope for them to keep their culture alive if that is what they want, is to (eventually) move to Armenia, or stay put, assimilate and disappear.

      • Hratch said:

        Kevork:

        Our priority is not give up and let the Russian influenced Eastern traditions dictate our heritage and culture. The so-called Eastern Armenians are the ones that have wholeheartedly accept Russian as their cultural guidance. They have failed to acknowledge Western Armenian traditions as valid and worthy of consideration.

        The only reason why Western Armenian culture is dieing is because we have have failed as a nation to accept and support each other. We have been overrun by Eastern traditions that has no respect or place for their western counterpart.

    • Mher said:

      This is not true. Western Armenian culture simply needs to be re-introduced into present day Armenia. In a way because of the ‘exile’, it has stayed back in time by 100 years. The present and past cultures need to be re-united.

      Many villages in present day Armenia are named after those from Western Armenian and their inhabitants are direct descendants of Western Armenia. I was born in Yerevan, but my great grandparents are from Moush. Present day Talin in Armenia is where the Mshecis and Sasuncis reside and trust me the culture is well alive and has continued to grow and prosper throughout the years.

      Those who go back need to be mindful of the present and those in Armenia need to be mindful of the past.

      It sounds like you’re experience is from Yerevan only. That can be deceiving. You have to visit the other areas to see the village life and the older culture. Besides that there is a difference in culture in different areas of any nation and not just Armenia so that shouldn’t be taken personally.

    • HAIG said:

      Couldn’t agree with you more Hratch!
      There is still horrible stories passed on from my parents generation back when they moved to Armenia in the late 1940s. Not much has changed though today. Just because we have a few diaspora Armenians investing in the country doesn’t mean much. God knows how many diasporans have been swindled. We all know why the perception of Armenian people in LA has deteriorated in the last 15 years. They were quick to call diaspora Armenians traitors as they left, but they were quick to follow.

      Anyhow, we should support the Syrian Armenian community so they don’t lose everything they have worked hard for in the last 100+ years. Or else they will go through what people went through in the 1940s….. And that’s something I don’t wish on people.

  2. Kevork said:

    Hratch and others, you make good points, and I agree that some eastern Armenians (even western) have taken the ignorant route to unifying our cultures. The Russian influence is as it always has been: a necessary evil, but I would think today it is not as evil as it used to be, and I hope it actually turns to good someday.

    But let’s also consider something else: today’s Armenia does not have the restrictions that our relatives were put through in the 1940s as a result of the communist system. I would liken this as today, Armenia is what we make it, you, I, eastern Armenians, western Armenians, everyone, because we have choices. True, diaspora Armenians will have a hard time at first when they are confronted with eastern Armenians who are still under the sphere of the influence of the past, but people say this is slowly changing. When diaspora Armenians move in significant numbers to Armenia, the 1940s style “discrimination” would become irrelevant, because whether the current inhabitants like it or not, Armenia is the nation of ALL ARMENIANS, regardless of where they’re from and soon diaspora Armenians will simply become part of the system.

    I know what you feel, because I have often thought of it too. When Armenia was liberated from Communism, many of us made the mistake that the Armenians of the SSR “thought” and “felt” the same way we did: our patriotism for Armenia and our culture came before everything else, and we were all one people (despite that we all had different political ideas). But we found out the hard way that this was not true, as there was a lot of work to be done. For us, for a hundred years we (at least tried) resisted assimilation, kept our identities, and ultimately fought for recognition of the crimes committed against us, but the ideas of eastern Armenians were quite different, because while we were building our lives, they were struggling to just survive under their system. In the new Armenia they were still struggling while we waltzed in with money, and I think this is what bothers many of the eastern Armenians about diaspora Armenians, or at least it did in the beginning. Once again we come to the economy, and it may be sad but, when Armenia prospers economically, many problems will be solved between our cultures.

    This brings us to another point where I fault western Armenians: as you pointed out we are not unified politically, and I think in this day and age it is simply ridiculous and it is all our fault. First, we don’t need three parties, it is all a waste of time and resources. We need just one and it must be a party in Armenia. Are we ready for this? No side is willing to give in… I can go on and on but can’t say everything in a comment, so will leave it at that.

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