Brookings Institute Conference on “Armenians and the Legacies of World War I”
On May 13th, 2015, I attended this one-day conference on “Armenian Legacies of World War I,” held at the Brookings Institute, in Washington, D.C. There were approximately 220 registrants, but, other than Günay Evinç and Fatoş Arabacıoğlu (ATAA), I did not know many of the other Turkish-Americans in the audience. I estimated there were about 150-200 attendees. Although genocide was missing from the title, that was the theme of this conference. I attended the meeting with an open mind, but was prepared to endure a day of Turkish bashing.... I was pleasantly surprised.
The meeting began at 9:45 A.M. and finished at 5:30 P.M. It consisted of three sessions, with panelists exclusively from academia, primarily historians and one journalist. The conference was, in general, most civil. Although the tragedies of that era were discussed, there were strong Turkish counterpoints, as well. The most impressive session, for me, included the former adviser to the first Armenian president, and an Egyptian journalist, both, in their moving talks, implicitly pleading with the Armenian diaspora to let this historical chapter take its place in history, come to peace, and move on. Both mentioned the fact that they loved Turkey and had good Turkish friends.
What disappointed me the most, was the failure to discuss the meaning of the word genocide. The way it was used, in this conference, included massacres of peoples, but without mention of the element of eliminating a race or a people. The fact that these killings occurred during an intense period of instability in the pre-Turkish Republic era ---when Russia encouraged the Armenian uprising, and when World War I's Gallipolli campaign was simultaneously raging on the West coast--- and that similar atrocities had occurred against the Turks, were mostly ignored. The mass deportations of that era, not unique to Armenians, continue to be an ugly chapter in the horrible book of battles and wars of humans. Even though the current Turkish Administration has apologized for these tragic events, there is a group that will neither forget, nor forgive. This, by itself, is tragic. I did not come away convinced, in any way, that these tragic acts were genocidal.
For additional information, I refer you to the Brookings Institute's web site, at:
...where the names and biographies of all of the panelists, including some of their works, are accessible. I encourage you to access this information.
(Past President, MATA; 6/2/2015)
Peace and Solidarity Walk of April 24th in D.C.
On April 24th, Cennet Köse Rivera and Orhan Suleiman, along with 2,000 - 3,000 Turkish Americans from around the nation, marched from Lafayette Square, in front of the U.S. White House, to the Turkish Embassy, on Massachusetts Avenue. The main theme of this march was to counter the charges of an Armenian Genocide ---celebrated by Armenians, on April 24th--- with a “Unite Us, Don’t Divide Us” message. There is an excellent website devoted to this subject, and I encourage you to check it out at: www.LetHistoryDecide.org.
(Past President, MATA; 6/2/2015)
Networking is becoming more and more important as a result of recent economic trends on employment; and it looks like these trends will continue in the foreseeable future... As professionals with ties to Turkey, and living and working in MD, VA and D.C., we are in need of establishing a networking group, not only to lessen the effects of these trends on employment, but, also, to raise our standards of living, and to flourish in this highly competitive metropolitan area.
We know that we have the potential! We just need to get together to activate that potential, and to continuously build on a talent powerhouse, which we strongly believe will gradually be a point of attraction for many companies looking for talented employees in our area.
As you can imagine, this new initiative will require a collaborative effort from its members. We will brainstorm, and find ways to move incrementally forward in any way that we think will benefit us.
We have had three meetings so far. Two of the meetings were held at the Savage Branch of the H.C. Library System, in MD, and one of them ---as a working brunch--- at the Cafe Divan restaurant, in D.C. We will continue to have networking meetings, and will keep you informed about their scheduling and their outcomes.
The MATA Networking Club is a talent networking group for professionals with ties to Turkey, their friends, and their companies' talent development representatives.
MISSION: To bring together a group of high quality professionals in order to create networking, career advancement, and job placement opportunities.
VISION: To become the top talent and networking resource for companies and individuals in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia.
VALUES & BENEFITS:
- Access to high quality talent pool
- Networking for career development and opportunities
- Lifelong networking & friendship
- Personal and professional references
We highly encourage every student and career oriented professional to join our club. To that end, please feel free to share this article with your friends.
To join the MATA Networking Club, on LinkedIn, please click on the link below:
(Vice-President, MATA; 5/10/2015)
Happy Hour at New York J&P Pizza Restaurant
Let's be honest!... I found it boring when my wife asked me if I had time to go to an Italian restaurant for happy hour. There was nothing special for me, having worked in the food and beverage business for over 25 years. I tried to get around the subject until I realized that I would not win this argument. My last resort was being late, to limit our time there...
At the moment we arrived to J&P's, I felt something special; I was pleasantly surprised to meet with the owner, Fikret. He personally welcomed us, in Turkish, at the door. He knew that I was in the business, and immediately started chatting about my favorite subject: wine.... That was something unique!
A few minutes later, MATA' s president, Cennet, joined us with a few friends. It was a second pleasant surprise to learn that there is a couple that lives very close to us, and we had never met before. Shame on us! After a short introduction, it didn't take too long to figure out our favorite soccer teams and start to bet on the next game. Fortunately, in short term, the ladies present brought delicious New York style pizza slices, which were complimentary from MATA, to keep our mouths busy. We knew that that was a sweet message to change the subject!
After we enjoyed a glass of Italian wine, we started to visit little chat groups to say "hi" to our friends. It was great to see Turkish-Americans, in various age groups, at every corner. Even my mother-in-law had found a few friends to talk about their grandchildren.
My wife was reminding me of the time just when we were in a hot political chat. She knew we could talk all night, because that is our second favorite topic; ...we could have talked until we closed the restaurant. Somehow, I didn't realize how 3 hours had passed and, even then, we finally stepped out of the restaurant 45 minutes after we had said "bye" to all.
On our way back home, my wife told me that I had been like a kid in a candy store. It was hard to admit, but she was right!
(MATA Member; 5/15/2015)
Valentine's Day at Rudy's Mediterranean Grill & Diner
Who remembers the 2015 Valentine's Day? Well we do! The day of February 14th, 2015 was filled with anticipation for the night's dinner party, at Rudy's Mediterranean Grill & Diner, in Columbia. There were a few flurries falling when we hurried back from grocery shopping to get ready for our party. By the time we left the house, half an hour later, we found ourselves in the middle of a huge storm that dumped 4 inches of snow around Columbia, within a couple hours! A typical 15-minute drive from our place to Rudy's took 30 minutes. Soon we realized that the drive was treacherous for our guests, coming from all over MD and even VA---but they all made it without any accidents. We heard stories, from our guests, of cars stranded on the roads, as they were driving in. A whopping count of 25 brave guests made it to Rudy's on that night, and we all had a wonderful time.
The highlight of the evening was "live music" provided by the new and hip Turkish music group Turkuaz. Food was delicious ---as always!--- and everyone had a chance to relax and enjoy the evening after a treacherous drive to the restaurant. We left Rudy's having made some new friends and with wonderful tunes from Turkuaz still in our ears... we noticed the snow had stopped, and driving home was a piece of cake! Now, ...who is ready for Valentines 2016?!!!
(Secretary, MATA; 5/15/2015)