Los ANGELES, CA – Despite calls from thousands of Armenian Americans nationwide, a major story in the Los Angeles Times, and growing interest on the part of local, state, and federal lawmakers, the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles has yet to take demonstrable steps to establish an exhibit on the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR).
In response to an ANCA-WR campaign initiated last week, several thousand concerned citizens have visited the ANCA website to send free ANCA WebMail to the Museum. These messages have specifically noted that the Museum’s exclusion of the Armenian Genocide runs counter to the mandate and mission of the Museum. The ANCA-WR is in discussions with a broad range of Los Angeles area, California, and national political leaders on this matter as well.
The Director of the Museum of Tolerance, Mrs. Liebe Geft, has sent an email form letter to many ANCA WebFaxers that falls short of addressing the ANCA-WR’s concerns: 1) the letter avoids the direct use of the proper term- the Armenian Genocide – to describe Turkey’s systematic destruction of its Armenian population between 1915 and 1923; 2) She never responds to the request for a full explanation as to why the Armenian Genocide is absent from the museum 3) the letter cites the input into the “tragedy” (a euphemistic term used in place of the term “genocide”) from Turkish scholars, despite the fact that it is common knowledge that, sadly, the vast majority of the Turkish educational establishment operates as part of the Turkish government’s campaign of Armenian Genocide denial, and; 4) she makes no specific commitment to when and how the Armenian Genocide will be included in upcoming displays and exhibits.
In the article that appeared in “The Los Angeles Times” on Monday, February 3,2003, the issue of the absence of the Armenian Genocide in the Museum was raised. In the article, written by Times staff writer Christopher Reynolds, the point is made that “The museum has backed away from its own pledges to include the first genocide of the 20th century — the Armenian genocide of 1915 — as a part of its permanent exhibition. That genocide is effectively absent, some of those critics suggest, because of a 21st century political alliance between Jewish leaders and the Turkish government whose predecessors carried out that genocide.” The Times quoted Ardashes Kassakhian, ANCA-WR’s director of governmental relations as saying, “It’s kind of ludicrous, if you’re going to talk about the 20th century, not to mention it. It’s like teaching U.S. history and beginning with the Civil War.”
Armenian Americans are encouraged to visit www.anca.org to send a free ANCA-WR WebMail to Museum of Tolerance Director, Mrs. Liebe Geft, urging that the Museum include a major exhibit on the Armenian Genocide.