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Armenian Assembly of America Welcomes Jewish Council for Public Affairs’ Call for U.S. Reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide

WASHINGTON, D.C. – During the Jewish Council for Public Affairs’ (JCPA) annual Town Hall meeting last month, the JCPA adopted a resolution acknowledging the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, and called on Congress and the White House to recognize the Armenian Genocide. This is the first time that a policy position on the Armenian Genocide has been adopted by the JCPA.

“The Armenian Assembly of America thanks the JCPA for adopting this important resolution and for advancing efforts for U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide,” stated Assembly Board Co-Chairman Anthony Barsamian. “The Armenian American community is grateful to the JCPA for the adoption of this historic resolution. The unity of millions of Jewish and Armenian Americans in standing up for the truth is an important step along the path of justice,” Barsamian said.

JCPA logoAmong its findings, the JCPA resolution states, “We must not let the politics of the moment, or the U.S. government’s relationship with Turkey, sway our moral obligation to recognize the suffering of the Armenian people.” The resolution also calls upon “the Congress and the President to officially recognize what started in 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, and resulted in the killing and deportation of approximately 1.5 million Armenians, as the Armenian Genocide.”

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), which operates under the JCPA, presented and passed the resolution at the JCPA annual Town Hall meeting. The national resolution was prompted by JCRC branches in Boston, Palm Beach, and Providence, with support from Atlanta and other chapters. The Atlanta JCRC adopted the draft resolution on the Armenian Genocide on August 18, 2015 during their local town hall meeting, which featured a presentation by Armenian Assembly State Chair for Georgia Dr. Vahan Kassabian.

“I am very pleased that the JCPA leadership and chapters across the country stand in support of U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide,” stated Assembly Board Member Annie Totah. “This resolution reinforces the cause of genocide prevention and amplifies the voice of those who shout ‘Never Again,'” Totah said.

As the Assembly previously reported, the Jewish American community has rallied in support of Armenian Genocide recognition throughout the centennial year. However, the grassroots movement of Jewish American support is founded in years of work by the Armenian Assembly Board and State Chairs throughout the country. Many cite 2007 as the turning point in the Jewish American community’s support of U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide when the JCRC of Greater Boston sparked the recognition process, which resulted in a tidal wave of support behind Boston Anti-Defamation League (ADL) director Andrew Tarsy who was fired for acknowledging the Armenian Genocide.

“We are proud that the Jewish Council for Public Affairs adopted this policy position on the Armenian Genocide, reflecting our deep solidarity with the Armenian American community,” Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Boston told the Assembly. “The ties between the Jewish and Armenian peoples are today stronger than ever, and will continue to strengthen,” Burton said.

In addition to its findings, the JCPA resolution on the Armenian Genocide calls upon the wider Jewish community relations field to consult and work with national Armenian organizations, major Jewish organizations, and interfaith coalition partners to further the aim of U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide. JCPA calls on the President to recognize the Armenian Genocide, in addition to urging congressional representatives to support resolutions in Congress that call for recognition.

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.

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Jets’ Bogosian Embraces Heritage

By Wayne Fish, Columnist
New York Hockey Journal

To be the best, you might as well learn from the best.

Winnipeg Jets defenseman Zach Bogosian subscribes to that theory, because one of his first coaches was one of the best to ever play the back line.

That would be Ray Bourque, the two-decade Hall of Famer who’s usually mentioned in the same sentence with the legendary Bobby Orr at Boston’s hockey watering holes.

Bogosian, a native of Massena, N.Y., hard by the St. Lawrence River, attended Cushing Academy in Massachusetts starting at the age of 14. Bourque’s sons, Chris and Ryan, also attended Cushing, so Ray came on board as an assistant coach.

He knew early on he had stumbled on to something really good.

Winnipeg's Zach Bogosian, 22, is the first player of Armenian heritage to play in the NHL. (Getty Images)

Winnipeg’s Zach Bogosian, 22, is the first player of Armenian heritage to play in the NHL. (Getty Images)

“Any time you’re around a Hall of Famer like that, he’s a real special person, on and off the ice,’’ Bogosian said after a Jets-Flyers game last month. He’d net his first goal of the season the next day in New Jersey. “He brought joy to the practices, always smiling — he would give us little tips, like coming into the zone late, getting point shots through. … He didn’t try to put too much on 10th-graders, but just his presence was the biggest thing.’’

Aside from his notoriety as one of Winnipeg’s prized home-grown products (drafted third in 2008 behind only Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty), the 22-year-old Bogosian is perhaps best known for being the first player of Armenian heritage to play in the National Hockey League.

Although Armenia is a mountainous country (a former republic in the defunct Soviet Union) and endures long, cold winters, the sport of hockey has been slow to develop there. It took an American-born player like Bogosian to break the barrier, so to speak.

Zach’s great-grandfather, Stephen, escaped Armenia in the early 1920s to get away from the genocide perpetrated on his countrymen. Some 1 million Armenians reportedly lost their lives during this holocaust.

The Bogosian family wound up in upstate New York, and Zach, a natural athlete at a young age, had a decision to make early on. He could follow his dad into American football (Ike was co-captain of the 1980-81 Syracuse University teams that featured future New York Giants running back and Super Bowl champ Joe Morris) or pursue a career in hockey.

Hockey won and Zach never looked back. And he’s proud of the fact that he’s a bit of a pioneer.

“Yeah, growing up with an Armenian heritage … you know, my grandparents are still pretty hardcore about it,’’ he said. “My great-grandfather came across when the genocide started.

“It’s just a hard-working family from a small town. I mean, if I can do it, anyone can do it. As far as being the first Armenian, obviously I’m very proud of it. But it’s not just on me; it’s on my parents and everyone who helped me throughout my whole career.

“It’s kind of fun to have that (first Armenian) next to your name.’’

As for not following his dad and older brother (Aaron, now playing for the Florida Everblades of the ECHL) into American collegiate sports, the Bogosians have cable TV to thank for that.

Zach grew up watching the Ottawa 67s junior team and that convinced him to eventually play youth hockey north of the border, joining the Peterborough Petes after graduating from Cushing Academy.

Massena is a town of about 12,000 in St. Lawrence County, which also includes former NHLer Mike Hurlbut (N.Y. Rangers, Quebec Nordiques, Buffalo Sabres) among its native sons.

“I played a few tournaments with Nick Palmieri (Utica, N.Y.) for the Syracuse Stars, but Massena is pretty secluded,’’ said Bogosian. “I was never really around anyone (of high hockey caliber) growing up. When I go home, it’s just me and my brother skating together.

“It’s a unique little town; I enjoy going back there in the summertime. I’m just proud to be from there.’’

Like a number of players in the organization, there were some mixed feelings about leaving Atlanta for Winnipeg a couple years ago. On one hand, the Thrashers were moving to a more hockey-crazed environment. On the other, a lot of local ties to Atlanta — from friends to schools to favorite restaurants — had to be broken.

“I’m from upstate New York, so the climate is not too much different,’’ said Bogosian. “(Winnipeg) is a great hockey town and we have great support. Obviously, it’s never easy moving from city to city. But the city welcomed us with open arms. It’s been a great experience so far.’’

The Jets believe they’re on the right track toward contention, with young stars like Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler, Evander Kane and, of course, Bogosian, forming a strong nucleus. The team stood 8-9-1 in late February.

“We’ve been together for a few years,’’ he said. “We’ve been through the Atlanta phase and now we’re going through the Winnipeg phase.

“Our core group might seem young, but we have a good mix of veteran guys, too. Any time you’re one of the young guys on a young team, it’s always fun, bringing that energy to the room and learning from the older guys.’’

This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of New York Hockey Journal and is reprinted with the permission of the author.