I'd be the first one to sign up to do it again."
Soghomonian was among those who camped out in front of the Simon
Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance, vowing to do without food
until museum officials agreed to include a permanent Armenian
Protesters ended their hunger strike Monday afternoon following a
meeting with Museum of Tolerance Director Liebe Geft. But some
Armenian leaders say they are skeptical anything will be done to
enhance the profile of the genocide, which resulted in the deaths of
up to 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks
beginning in 1915.
Ardashes Kassakhian, government relations director for the
Armenian National Committee of America's Western Region office in
Glendale, called the meeting with Geft "an exercise in double speak."
"We left as confused as we were before the meeting, but with a
better understanding of what's going on," Kassakhian said Tuesday,
adding that Geft offered "no clear commitment from the museum in
terms of a permanent exhibit."
Geft, meanwhile, contradicted claims by protesters that no
permanent museum exhibit presently exists. She said a film describing
the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust has played since the museum
opened its doors in 1993. Geft added that additional information on
the Armenian Genocide can be found in the museum's library,
multimedia center and archives.
"We are certainly very respective of their concerns," Geft said.
"But the Museum of Tolerance has always recognized the Armenian
"What I told them is that we are continuing to develop additional
references to the Armenian Genocide and other important issues in the
tolerance center that will enhance the educational experience of our
visitors," Geft said Tuesday, adding that she would like to see the
upgrades completed by June.
The Armenian Assembly of America, meanwhile, issued a press
release Tuesday praising the Museum of Tolerance for efforts to
educate the public about the Armenian Genocide.
"Despite reports to the contrary, the Museum of Tolerance
continues to show an excellent introductory film on the subject of
the genocide," the release stated. "The museum also includes
substantial information on the Armenian Genocide in its library,
multimedia center, teacher resources and on permanent exhibit."
Vicken Sosikian, a member of the youth federation's executive
board, questioned the validity of the film, which he said contains
about two minutes worth of information about the genocide, much of
which he added is inaccurate.
"I don't consider that substantial," he said Tuesday. "It's
definitely not permanent, and it's definitely not an exhibit."