Representatives of the Armenian National Committee of America and senior executives of the Americana shopping mall in Glendale met on September 5 and agreed to put their future relationship on a better footing.
This was the first meeting in more than a dozen years between the two groups, precipitated by the refusal of Americana to provide paid advertising space on its billboard for “Architects of Denial,” an Armenian Genocide documentary. The producers of the documentary were told by Americana that the subject was “too political.” This was a puzzling and irritating response since Americana had seen neither the documentary nor the text of the display ad that was being rejected simply because it was about the Armenian Genocide.
After several attempts asking Americana officials to explain the true reason for rejecting the display ad, they became even more adamant in their refusal. The most insensitive sentence in one of their emails to the documentary producers was that Americana had received comments on this controversy “ranging from the Armenian community to the Turkish Consulate.” This highly offensive statement was equating the voices of descendants of the Armenian Genocide to that of a Turkish diplomat who represents a denialist autocratic regime the predecessors of which had committed the Genocide!
To make matters worse, this was not the first time that Americana had taken a negative position on an Armenian Genocide-related issue. Three years ago, Americana officials had refused to allow three young Armenians who had leased a kiosk from Americana to sell T-shirts that carried texts related to the Armenian Genocide. After an outcry from the local Armenian community, Americana reversed its decision allowing the sale of the T-shirts. They called their initial decision “a misunderstanding.”
In a similar development last month, shortly before the Glendale Chapter of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) had called a press conference on the public portion of Americana grounds to announce a boycott, Americana officials reversed themselves, not only allowing the display ad for the documentary, but showcasing it “at no cost to the producers.”
This was a positive first step. Americana’s owner, Rick Caruso, agreed to meet with the Armenian National Committee of America to discuss how to improve relations between the local community and the shopping mall.