Tuesday, July 08, 2008

State Dept.'s David Kramer Owes an Apology for Misusing "Anti-Semitism" Card Against Armenia

Executive Publisher/Managing Editor


In a June 28 article titled "American Stick and Carrot," published by Yerevan-based Azg Daily, an opposition daily non-aligned with Ter-Petrossyan, commentator Armen Manvelian wrote: "During all his encounters in Armenia, Mr. [David] Kramer was emphasizing that 'Anti-Semitism in Armenia' was unacceptable. We can't disagree with such an idea, but first and foremost, let's try to understand what does Mr. Kramer have in mind when talking about 'Anti-Semitism.'"

One wonders why "Anti-Semitism" is being monopolized by Hebrew people when there are other Semitic languages: Arabic, Aramaic, Syriac-speaking peoples such as Christian and Muslim Arabs, Christian Assyrians and Chaldeans among others?

If the Deputy State Secretary means Anti-Hebrewism, then let's note that Mr. Kramer is in the wrong country to make that kind of statement. Right next door, in our two neighboring countries, Iran and Turkey, the "Anti-Hebrewism" or "Anti-Zionism" is much commonplace. In the first case, it is on state level, and in the second case, it has penetrated in the wide circles of society, wrote Mr. Manvelian.

If by doing so, Mr. Kramer wants to defend the Ter-Petrossyan extremist wing of the opposition then he has unwittingly validated the public notion that Ter-Petrossyan is the protégé of the Neo-Conservatives in Washington and the America Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC).

In a June 27 open letter to former President Levon Ter-Petrosyan, Dr. Ishkhan Babajanian of the United States, an independent political thinker wrote to Ter Petrossyan: "I remember when you were elected as Armenian president. We liked you and we were very happy and enthusiastic. Your picture was hanging on my living room wall for many years, until March 2008, when your ruinous action started to divide Armenians and to destabilize Armenia (creating a new Azeri attack on March 4th in Levonarch). Now, once again you're going too far by attempting to declare the President of Artsakh Republic (Nagorno-Karabakh) a "Persona Non Grata" in Armenia. Your offensive remarks about Artsakh Army Defense Forces is nothing but an interference in Artsakh/Karabakh's internal affairs by discrediting the Armenian heroic Defense Forces. Also your statements are aimed at destabilizing and weakening the united Artsakh/Karabakh; and at creating hostility between Armenia's and Artsakh/Karabakh's Armenian people. This is not acceptable to the Armenian people and makes us suspicious of your intentions and that is why in Diaspora we question: 'Why do the West and the Turks prefer you to come to power?'"

In a June 26 a commentary titled "He Comes, He Sees, He Instructs," published in Yerevan-based "Hayots Ashkharh" daily (The Armenian World), Arthur Hovhannisyan wrote: "On June 25, Assistant US Secretary of State on Issues Regarding Democracy, Human Rights and Labor David Kramer gave a press conference in the US Embassy in Armenia, saying that 'My visit is aimed at familiarizing myself with the process of works in the spheres of politics and human rights,'" falsely claiming that during the recent months Democracy has "collapsed" in Armenia.

Regarding the implementation of journalistic work and the eradication of intimidation towards them, it is really ridiculous to speak about these so-called "restrictions on the freedom of press," when anywhere in the world despite any kind of intimidation, journalists usually do their work. It is another issue that we must struggle against these condemnable intimidations. By the way, "these intimidations are aimed not only against pro-opposition newspapers but also 'Hayots Ashkharh' and many other pro-governmental newspapers. These intimidations are prevalent even in the most developed European countries and the USA," underlined Hovhannisyan.

As for illegal demonstrations, "the freedom of demonstrations in many Council of Europe and European Union member countries the right to demonstrations is not exclusive. … According to the Constitutions of those countries and Human Rights International Basic Document, it is subject to legal restrictions. Touching upon those detained for their 'political stances,' Mr. Kramer simply avoided listing even one or two names of those 'political' detainees," clarified the daily. Regarding the inquest on March 1 sad events "does David Kramer or the State Secretariat possess any facts that refute the results of the inquest? Of course not! We asked the Deputy State Secretary whether or not he is familiar with the materials of the inquest," inquired the commentator.

"In my view, it is enough to say that I completely trust the information provided by my colleagues from the Embassy. Frankly I trust this information more than the inquest materials," retorted Mr. Kramer.

Mr. Hovhannisyan concluded: "I think it is quite clear from where Kramer's colleagues take the above-mentioned information." Obviously, that information is very suitable to Ter-Petrossyan's supporters and in turn suitable to Mr. Kramer. One wonders if Mr. Kramer is simply carrying out orders that are especially favoring the foreign policy objectives of his Neo-Conservative bosses in Washington and inside the Bush administration.

Referring to the political naiveté of certain leaders' surrogates, Manvelian added: "Incidentally, do you remember about 'Democracy and Human Rights?' In order to expand its hegemony around the world, the Soviet Union used to export 'Workers' Revolution,' and Ayatollah Khomeini spread the 'Islamic Revolution.' In this 21st century the best marketable brand seems to be 'Democracy and Human Rights.' In any case, The U.S. Deputy State Secretary's visit to Armenia has once more highlighted the bankruptcy of our political elites' provincial mentality in the ranks of both the pro-government and pro-Ter-Petrossyan supporters. The latter, not having any statesmen's way of thinking, is tying the future of an entire sovereign state to a statement made by a Western diplomat, and is trying to extract something out of it, by becoming joyous or sad with it."

"The U.S. official, who also met Ter-Petrossyan, singled out the continuing imprisonment of dozens of opposition leaders and activists, saying that he had "extensive discussions" on the issue with Prime Minister Sarkisian as well as Justice Minister Gevorg Danielian and Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian," reported Ruben Meloyan and Emil Danielyan in a June 25 article on www.armenialiberty.org.

"We did express concerns that the vast majority of people detained in connection with the March 1-2 events were from the opposition, And so we reiterated our hope that people detained for expressing their political views would in fact be released promptly," reportedly said Kramer.

But Mr. Kramer fails to mention that by uttering the word "opposition" in this case, he means the Ter-Petrossyan-led extremist wing of the main opposition. Of course most of the detained are from that particular group. My question: How come not a single member from other opposition groups was detained?

Because the other segments of the Armenian opposition have wisely refrained from falling to the extremist leaders' propaganda and instigations to get ample supply of rocks, iron bars and – reportedly- even hand grenades and handguns in order to use them against their own municipal authorities, and unarmed Armenian soldiers for the ultimate purpose of executing a coup d'état! Ten people died during the tragic events of March 1-2, and the culprits, and surely at the head of them Mr. Ter-Petrossyan, must be brought to Justice.

The June 20 demonstrations led by Ter-Petrossyan attracted a smaller crowd than he anticipated. However, this time the demonstrators were not instigated to resort to violence as their predecessors were on March 1, and obviously no one was arrested. In a rare glimpse of fairness, Mr. Kramer commended the authorities for not breaking up last Friday's rally.

In a separate meeting, Mr. Kramer encouraged Ter-Petrossyan's supporters to hold anti-government rallies in front of the U.S. Embassy in Armenia.

How about if a foreign diplomat came to Washington DC and encouraged American demonstrators to hold their demonstration in a certain location on American soil, a sovereign country, what would have been the reaction of American officials and the public?

During his meetings with Armenian officials and the ensuing news conferences, Kramer condemned Armenian state television for "making anti-Semitic comments in its continuing verbal attacks on Ter-Petrossyan. Citing the Jewish origin of Ter-Petrossyan's Russian-born wife Lyudmila," the state-controlled Public Television as well as some pro-government newspapers have alleged in recent weeks that the opposition "leader's" bid to return to power was part of a "Judaic-Masonic" conspiracy against Armenia.

The Armenian Premier was quoted as describing that rhetoric as "extremely condemnable and inadmissible." Justice Minister Danielian told the visiting U.S. official, however, that Public Television's controversial reports "can not be unequivocally deemed 'Anti-Semitic.'"

"For a country with a proud history of relations with the Jewish community and with the state of Israel, we made clear that anti-Semitism has no place in Armenia. … And based on the reaction that we heard from people in the government, it is my hope that there will be an immediate end to such rhetoric," said Kramer.

Mr. Kramer's exaggerated views on the so-called "Anti-Semitism" in Armenia, and his inflammatory rhetoric amount to slandering the Armenian people.

Since when officialdom America has began allowing individuals like Kramer in the U.S. State Dept, act like an official in the Foreign Ministry of Israel?

For how long more, will the Kramers of this world continue to abuse the "Anti-Semitism" card? What if Armenians accuse Mr. Kramer of "Anti-Armenism?"

By abusing the "Anti-Semitism" card, Mr. Kramer has rendered a major disservice to the righteous Jews who consciously abstain from such missteps. He owes Armenia and the Armenian People an apology for misusing the "Anti-Semitism" card against Armenia.

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