Armenian Assembly Honors JCRC, Nancy Kaufman

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By Daphne Abeel
Mirror-Spectator Staff

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The misty, wet weather outside the windows of the Grand Hyatt Regency penthouse did nothing to dampen the spirits of Armenian Assembly members and supporters who gathered, on Friday, May 9, to honor the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and its executive director, Nancy Kaufman, for continued leadership in the affirmation of the Armenian Genocide.

The event marked another step in the closer relations between the Armenian and Jewish communities in the wake of the national Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) refusal, last year, to fully acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. Kaufman and the JCRC were recognized for their moral leadership and their stance over many years of affirmation of the Genocide.

Kaufman, who was the featured speaker, on April 18, at the 93rd commemoration of the Armenian Genocide at the Massachusetts State House, said, on that occasion, “As a way of not letting the Armenian Genocide be forgotten, I would like to bear witness – to testify — if you will — to that history. It is particularly important for us, as Jews, to speak out in support of your community’s efforts to fight denial.”

At Friday’s ceremony, after welcoming remarks by Herman Purutyan, Armenian Assembly state chair for Massachusetts, Rev. Greg Harutounian delivered an opening prayer, in which he said, “Let us offer thanks for a wonderful occasion, for the pursuit of truth and let us give thanks to our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community, and especially Nancy for standing with us.”

Said Bryan Ardouny, executive director of the Armenian Assembly, “The Genocide Resolution may be on pause, but the play button is within our reach.How do we reach our goal? We have the determination, and we can assure that we will not rest until the Armenian Genocide is universally affirmed, so that we can play our part in preventing future genocides. We will continue our advocacy on Capitol Hill in support of
human rights, democracy and justice — concepts that we hold near and dear.”

Perutyan then referred to the recent actions by many Massachusetts towns, which have divested themselves of the ADL-sponsored program, No Place for Hate (NPFH), and mentioned, in particular the leadership of the city of Newton and its mayor, David Cohen.

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Cohen, who was present, said, “I am pleased, proud and honored to be with the Armenian Assembly of America, to stand up for what we believe and to acknowledge the indisputable truth of the Armenian Genocide.”

Referring to his family’s experience in the Holocaust, he said, “We have grown up with a sense of loss that shapes the Jewish psyche. In the last year, I have asked myself — how would I feel if the world didn’t care and wouldn’t even acknowledge the experience? The pain has increased around the Armenian Genocide, which was a horrible violation of human rights. We know it happened, we understand the suffering.”

Cohen added, “Armenians and Jews have a lot in common, the history of the Holocaust and the Genocide bind us together. In 1999, the JCRC passed a resolution that recognized the Armenian Genocide and when the ADL denied it, Nancy Kaufman stood up and said it was indisputable and it was genocide.”

Anthony Barsamian, chairman of the Armenian Assembly board and a member of the Board of Trustees, after recognizing several guests, including Hrant Dink’s pastor from Istanbul, then presented the Assembly award to the JCRC, an umbrella of 42 Jewish organizations, and to Kaufman.

Barsamian said, “The JCRC always speaks with one voice….The Armenian Assembly respects Nancy Kaufman and presents this award in recognition of continued leadership in the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.”

Following the presentation, Henry Morgenthau III, grandson of US Ambassador to Turkey Henry Morgenthau, said, “Nancy Kaufman is a worthy successor to Ambassador Evans. [The Assembly honored US Ambassador to Armenia John Evans in 2007 for his acknowledgment of the Genocide,] I am honored and humbled to represent the friendship that my grandfather started in 1915. That was before the word ‘genocide’ had been invented. My grandfather called the events ‘the murder of a nation.’ When he returned to the US, he started the Near East Relief, which aided many Armenian refugees. In recent years, the relationship between the Jewish, Turkish and Armenian communities has had its ups and downs. We must get away from the misguided concept that the US and Israel are dependent on Turkey.”

He added, “Nancy Kaufman is a worthy and courageous descendant of my grandfather and of all those non-Armenians who stood up in a difficult time and spoke out.”

In her acceptance of the award, Kaufman said, “Last week, we commemorated the end of the Holocaust and this week, we have marked the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel. What would have happened if the Nazis had persisted, if there had been no Nuremberg trials? It took years for Jews to speak out and the Nuremberg and Eichmann trials made it possible for Jews to speak out. There were public trials, witnesses and survivors. We vowed we would never stand by, but we have in Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia and Darfur. We must remember the words of Elie Wiesel who said that all that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. I will speak the truth. We will never forget the Armenian Genocide. We will work with you to remember the horrible events of the last century and work to end the genocide in Darfur.”

In closing remarks, Perutyan said, “Truth is hard to hide. And sooner or later the truth will prevail.”

The award ceremony was also attended by Edmond Azadian and Papken Megerian, cochairman of the Armenian Democratic Liberal (ADL) District Committee of the Eastern US and Canada. Mergerian presented a copy of You Rejoice My Heart by Kemal Yalçin to Newton Mayor David Cohen and Azadian presented a copy of the work to Nancy Kaufman.

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