LOS ANGELES—Representatives of the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region met with the leadership of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles (J-Fed LA) on May 20 to discuss issues of importance to the Jewish and Armenian communities and explore opportunities for future collaboration.
Representatives of both organizations discussed the concerning rise of Armenophobia and Anti-Semitism during the Artsakh 44-Day War in 2020 and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the rise of hate crimes both communities have faced in Los Angeles, including targeted violence at the hands of hate groups, and the widespread misinformation aimed at demonizing and inciting violence against community members.
“While this was only the first of what we hope will be a series of dynamic discussions between ANCA-WR and the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles to explore real opportunities for cooperation,” said Lina Davidian, ANCA-WR Board Member. “The Armenian experience during the Genocide and the Jewish experience during the Holocaust provide a solid foundation for mutual understanding and a strong base for collaboration.”
President and CEO of J-Fed LA Rabbi Noah Farkas also serves at the Valley Beth Shalom temple, one of the largest synagogues in the Los Angeles area, and has worked tirelessly to support peace and security for all communities. During the 44-Day War, Farkas and more than 70 other Jewish community organizations and leaders stood with the people of Artsakh and released a letter condemning the Republic of Azerbaijan’s violence against the indigenous Armenian population of Artsakh. The letter also brought awareness to the Turkish government’s complicity and assistance to Azerbaijani violence which targeted civilian centers through its provision of arms, mercenaries, and F-16 aircraft, and contextualized the conflict as a clear continuation of Turkey and Azerbaijan’s genocidal aspirations to eliminate the Armenian people from their ancestral homeland.
Other topics of discussion included developing further intercommunal dialogue through public events, coordinated advocacy based on shared values and experiences, community education, and uplifting the successes of Armenian and Jewish businesses.
“We look forward to developing intercultural and interfaith relations between our vibrant communities in Los Angeles, and working with the Jewish Federation in drafting and passing legislation that promotes the rights of our communities and realizes the aspirations of our people,” said Edward Barsoumian, ANCA-WR Government Affairs Coordinator.
The first of many productive meetings to come, intercommunal dialogue between the Jewish and Armenian communities stands to strengthen the advocacy and cohesion of both communities, elevate the cause of justice for victims of genocide, enact legislation which protects communities from hate crimes, build robust security measures to protect Jewish and Armenian community organizations from vandalism and targeted violence, and empower our businesses to thrive.
Attendees included ANCA-WR Board members Lina Davidian and Hermineh Pakhanians, as well as staff members Interim Executive Director Verginie Touloumian, Executive Director Sarkis Balkhian, and Government Affairs Coordinators Edward Barsoumian and Ruben Karapetian. From the J-Fed LA, President and CEO Rabbi Noah Farkas, Chief of Staff Alisa Finsten, and Director of Civic Engagement Rachel Zaiden.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.