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ANCA-WR Joins Jewish World Watch for
First Annual iWitness Awards

LOS ANGELES—The ANCA-Western Region welcomed yet another opportunity to work with Jewish World Watch (JWW), a Los Angeles based humanitarian organization, in spreading awareness on the Armenian genocide.

The ANCA-WR, along with its local ANC affiliates from across southern California, joined JWW on the occasion of the first annual iWitness awards, which honored genocide scholars for their contributions to genocide studies and raising awareness about the Armenian genocide.

Chief Rabbi Jeff Bernhard of Adat Ari El and Rabbis Harold Schulweis, founder and chair of the JWW Board of Directors, were joined by City Council president Eric Garcetti and Armenian Church Western US Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian in opening the evening’s commemoration.

JWW president Janice Kamenir-Reznik was joined by ANCA-WR Board member Souzi Zerounian-Khanzadian, who spoke on behalf of the Armenian-American advocacy community in closing the event.

JWW presented the first annual iWitness awards to Drs. Richard Hovanissian and J. Michael Hagopian at a ceremony in at the Adat Ari El synagogue in the San Fernando Valley.

Last month, JWW hosted two events in an effort to raise greater awareness in the San Fernando Valley community regarding the Armenian genocide. JWW hosted a screening of Hagopian’s “Voices from the Lake” documentary about the Armenian genocide and on April 27 the organization hosted an inter-faith Shabbat dinner in commemoration of the genocide along with local Armenian Church leaders.

“This event and the events of the last few weeks mark an important page in the collaboration of the Armenian-American and Jewish-American communities. Our shared past as victims and survivors of genocide obligates us to serve the world in educating and spreading awareness about this terrible crime and prevent it from recurring,” said Zerounian-Khanzadian in her remarks at the award ceremony.

In a letter written to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in early February, Jewish World Watch implored her to bring the Armenian Genocide Resolution, H.Res.106, to a prompt vote in the House of Representatives.

Later that month, the ANCA-WR and JWW joined Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in hosting a press conference on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall to announce the city’s Sudan divestment initiative as well as a letter from Mayor Villaraigosa to Speaker Pelosi urging her support for the quick adoption of H.Res.106.

In March, JWW organized a screening of the anti-genocide documentary movie “Screamers” in which the ANCA-WR and San Fernando Valley ANC participated. The movie features System of a Down and its work with the ANCA and world-wide community to push for Armenian genocide recognition and justice. The screening was hosted at Temple Valley Beth Shalom.

Working with JWW during the evening’s award ceremony, the ANCA-WR provided audience members a petition letter to Speaker Pelosi urging her to lead the U.S. House in speedily adopting the resolution and passed out postcards from its “Click for Justice” campaign on the same issue.

“With organizations like Jewish World Watch, the ANC leads the charge to ensure that the works of these two distinguished scholars is used to educate our leaders, our peers, and our youth so that the Armenian genocide as well as those that followed may be addressed with some measure of justice,” said Zerounian- Khanzadian.

The award ceremony is the first of JWW’s annual iWitness Awards. JWW is a project of a coalition of synagogues working together to mobilize synagogues, their schools, their members and the community to combat genocide and other egregious violations of human rights around the world. It does so through educational programs aimed at mobilizing the public to generate a response from the United Nations and U.S. policy makers. It also seeks to provide assistance to the survivors and victims of genocide and other human rights violations.

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