WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.–Activists from the Armenian National Committee of South Florida (ANC of S. FL) and ANCA Eastern Region Executive Director, Karine Birazian met earlier this month with Congressman Ron Klein (D-FL-22) and District Director Felicia Goldstein in West Palm Beach, Florida. The purpose of the meeting was to thank him for his instrumental vote in the House Foreign Affairs Committee this past October on the Armenian Genocide Resolution.
"We are very grateful to Congressman Klein for his principled stand on genocide recognition. We look forward to continuing to build a relationship with him and his staff," commented local constituent and ANC activist Hasmig Eskandarian.
During the thirty-minute meeting, Eskandarian, ANC of S. Florida Chairman Albert Mazmanian, former Florida activist Nora Keomurjian, and Birazian thanked Congressman Klein for his support of H. Res. 106 which he insisted he stands firm on. The meeting also provided an opportunity to give further insight on other Armenian related issues that the ANCA pursues, including aid to Armenia, military parity, and self -determination for Nagorno Karabakh.
During the House Foreign Affairs Committee mark-up on the Armenian Genocide Resolution on October 10th, Klein was one of 27 Representatives who voted in favor of the resolution. In his powerful remarks to the Committee Klein commented: "; And it wasn’t so much of just teaching the Holocaust, but teaching of what happens when man’s inhumanity is allowed to fester over a period of time, and the result was the Holocaust and other genocides that have occurred before and after. And I think the reason that I believe it is important that this historical event is acknowledged and understood is what the survivors of the Holocaust use as their two-word phrase: Never again. Never again;"
Congressman Klein, first term Democrat, has been proudly been serving the Boca Raton community since 1992, first in the Florida House of Representatives, and later the State Senate. One of his proudest achievemen’s was the passage of the Holocaust Education Act, which mandated the teaching about the lessons of the Holocaust in all of Florida’s public schools. Currently Klein serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Committee on Financial Services. Congressman Klein has been active in promoting Darfur legislation on Divestment this Congress and currently has an "A" on the Darfur Score Cards a project organized by the Genocide Intervention Network.
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
Left to Right: ANC activist and constituent Hasmig Eskandarian,
Congressman Ron Klein, ANCA ER Director Karine Birazian, ANC
activist Nora Keomurjian, and ANC of S. Florida Chair Albert
Text Of Rep. Klein’s Statement On H. Res. 106 During House Foreign Affairs Committee Markup On October 10, 2007
I think many of us in this room are students of history. We studied history. Many people in this room lived the history that we’re discussing in this resolution today.
But my experience has been through the study of the Holocaust. And in Florida, where I was in state legislature, I worked with many people in the community, including a number of Armenian residents, to require teaching the Holocaust in our public schools.
And it wasn’t so much of just teaching the Holocaust, but teaching of what happens when man’s inhumanity is allowed to fester over a period of time, and the result was the Holocaust and other genocides that have occurred before and after.
And I think the reason that I believe it is important that this historical event is acknowledged and understood is what the survivors of the Holocaust use as their two-word phrase: Never again. Never again.
And I know the people that survived the Armenian genocide, the families, and other situations since that time also believed never again, but yet we live in a world today that we continue to allow these things to exist.
The more we can learn from our past, the more we can educate our children, our adults, our grandparents, the more we can learn from these experiences in our country and around the world, and we can be a beacon along with other countries of high moral values and understanding that this is unacceptable on so many levels, the better we will be and the better our children will be and future generations will be. And it’s going to take vigilance to do that.
I also understand the importance of the Turkish relationship with the United States and with our allies in the Middle East. And I can’t speculate what is going to happen. I don’t think any of us can do that. We’ve heard signals, we’ve heard expressions.
I would only hope that we who recognize — and I think this entire Congress and most of the United States recognizes that the Turkish country, the Turkish government of today, is a very important ally of the United States. They provide support for our military, they work with us in intelligence, and they’re friends of our friends in the Middle East.
We need to continue to have that relationship with them, and hopefully this will not provide any long-term disruption, hopefully not even any short-term, because they need us and we need them.
And I stand ready to do what we need to do to make sure that Turkey understands that message. This is an historical situation that took place in a different time, in a different government. But there still needs to be a historical recognition and acknowledgement.
My friends who came forward and asked me to support this Armenian population in my community said: "This is not about reparations; this is not about restitution. This is about an historical acknowledgement."
I take them at their words for that; that this is not going to open up some future discussion about that. But the point is that this is an important moment in time that we recognize what did happen. There was loss of life. There was terrible inhumanity. And, for that reason, I will support this resolution today.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.