Panel Discussion: Parallels Between Armenia and Israel: Reflections on the Current Discourse in Armenia

YEREVAN, Armenia – On June 27th, the American University of Armenia (AUA) hosted a panel discussion organized by BA in English and Communications Student Ani Baghumyan with the support of the Political Science and International Affairs program. The panel, moderated by AUA Professor Gregory Areshian, was consisted of Nancy Kricorian, Markar Melkonian, Alvina Hovhannisyan, and Harutyun Marutyan, and was aimed to address the following questions:

Should Armenia be like Israel, if yes, then how? And what does it mean to be like Israel?

It has become a popular discourse in Armenia via various media outlets and everyday conversations claiming that Armenia should follow the model of Israel. The discussion contributed the common discourse with a critical analysis on whether these parallels can be drawn. The discussion was followed by an interactive Q&A session.

Nancy Kricorian is a novelist, poet, and social justice activist who lives in New York City. She is the author of the novels: “Zabelle, Dreams Of Bread and Fire,” and “All The Light There Was”. In 2010, she traveled through the West Bank as part of the Palestine Festival of Literature (www.palfest.org) and in 2011, she taught at a Palestine writing workshop in Birzeit. Ms. Kricorian was on the staff of CODEPINK Women for Peace (www.codepink.org) since 2003, and since 2009, she has been the manager for CODEPINK’s Stolen Beauty boycott campaign (www.stolenbeauty.org) targeting the Israeli cosmetics company Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories because of it’s violations of international law. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Armenia Tree Project, and is a member of the PEN American Center. Ms. Kricorian joined the discussion via Skype.

Markar Melkonian is a philosophy professor and a non-fiction writer based in California, USA. He holds several graduate degrees, including a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He was one of the founders and directors of a California 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that aided the disadvantaged in the Republic of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh for 10 years. His books include, “Marxism: A Post-Cold War Primer,” and “Richard Rorty’s Politics: Liberalism At The End Of The American Century”. In addition, he contributes to a monthly opinion piece to Hetq.am, the online publication of the Investigative Journalists of Armenia (http://hetq.am/eng/). Mr. Melkonyan also joined the discussion via Skype.

Alvina Hovhannisyan is an assistant professor at the Yerevan State University, Department of Arabic Studies. She holds PhD. in Arabic philology from Yerevan State University. In 2009, Dr. Hovhannisyan completed a one-year academic program at Paideia, The European Institute for Jewish Studies in Sweden. Her areas of interest include: Jewish-Arab relations in the middle ages, comparative linguistics, medieval philology, Modern Israeli literature and she has published articles on these subjects. Starting from 2010, with other alumni of Paideia, she has organized and led series of seminars and workshops on Jewish and Israeli studies with the cooperation and support of different universities and organizations. Currently, Dr. Hovhannnisyan is working on a translation project of Hebrew literature.

Harutyun Marutyan is a leading research fellow at the Department of Contemporary Anthropological Studies in the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, and a visiting professor of anthropology at the Yerevan State University. He was educated at YSU (History Department, M.A., 1978) and the Institute of Ethnography, Academy of Sciences of the USSR, in Moscow (Ph.D., 1984). He received his second PhD. in 2007 at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Yerevan. He is an IREX/RSEP (Michigan University, 1998), Fulbright (MIT, 2003-2004), and DAAD (Berlin, 2013) alumnus.From 2009-2010, he was at the Diane and Howard Wohl Fellow at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, US Holocaust Memorial Museum (Washington, DC). Dr. Marutyan is a recipient of the President of the Republic of Armenia Prize (2011) in the nomination of persons having made a valuable contribution to the recognition of the Armenian Genocide for his methodologically innovative research into the continuity of the memory of the Armenian Genocide and its relationship with the Karabagh Movement.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.

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