Cassandras, Jeremiahs Can Sabotage the National Dialogue

Team Keghart Editorial, 26 January 2010

How much easier it is to be critical than to be correct. Benjamin Disraeli (1860)

No matter the nature, origin or size of a group or organization, it will invariably have its share of individuals who, as if by reflex action, reject most proposals that are tabled for adoption or even for discussion.

Whether it’s due to a character trait, an ingrained attitude, experience or conviction, these naysayers are quick with their corrosive sarcasm or in dishing out reasons why a proposal or plan will not work. A favorite argument of theirs is the never-failing “it was tried before but it didn’t work out.”

Team Keghart Editorial, 26 January 2010

How much easier it is to be critical than to be correct. Benjamin Disraeli (1860)

No matter the nature, origin or size of a group or organization, it will invariably have its share of individuals who, as if by reflex action, reject most proposals that are tabled for adoption or even for discussion.

Whether it’s due to a character trait, an ingrained attitude, experience or conviction, these naysayers are quick with their corrosive sarcasm or in dishing out reasons why a proposal or plan will not work. A favorite argument of theirs is the never-failing “it was tried before but it didn’t work out.”

Predictably, the naysayers see themselves as realists; their opponents see them as jaded and tired cynics.
The ancient Hebrews called them Jeremiahs because of their predilection for negativity and to a “woe to us” mindset.

The ancient Greeks called them Cassandra, after the lachrymose seer who specialized in predicting doom and gloom.

We would like to call them wet blankets because they fear vigor, enthusiasm, and new ideas. They have the ability to ruin a party by their mere presence.

In 1978 Jan Morris, a British historian and doyenne of travel writers, essayed a perceptive article about Istanbul which she titled “City of Yok”. Morris memorably wrote: “The favorite epithet of Istanbul seems to be yok. I don’t speak Turkish, but yok appears to be sort of general-purpose discouragement, to imply that (for instance) it can’t be done, she isn’t home, the shop’s shut, the train’s left, take it or leave it, you can’t come this way or there’s no good making fuss about it, that’s the way it is…” Armenians also have their “yok” aficionados.

Another characteristic these doomsters share is their reluctance or inability to offer constructive alternatives.

Since the Western Armenian National Congress stepped to the plate to participate in the Armenian national dialogue, the Cassandras /Jeremiahs have—as is their habit–mocked the group and said the group is destined to failure– without bothering to offer an alternative vision. No offers of lifesavers from the negativists on how to pull out of the Diaspora quagmire.

For decades the Diaspora has been on a downward spiral. Our political organizations have been unable to put forth long-term and credible blueprints for the survival, let alone the strengthening of the Armenian Diaspora.

It’s the ultimate irresponsibility to throw rotten tomatoes at well-intentioned people who have volunteered their time, talent, knowledge and efforts to advocate—on international forums– the long-ignored rights of Diaspora Armenians, the children of the few who survived the Genocide.

We suggest that as long as the so-called realists confine their contribution to “it will not work”, they should keep their own counsel and let people of conviction and vision try to pull us out of the fog.


  1. Who are you self- appointed commissars?

    Who are you self- appointed commissars?

    My grand mom was from Mush; the other one was from Zangezur, a grandfather was from Kars, the other from Lori…

    Who are you self-appointed commissars to divide my entity, one and indivisible Armenia, into Western and Eastern, or Southern and Northern?

    Who are you gypsies, to divide one Armenia into many?


    1. Read first then comment

      Mr. Avetian, perhaps you haven’t read or understood the main tasks that WANCongress will try to achieve.  Please go back and read them in and then you might be enlightened as how important it is for all Armenians to have such an organization. 

      I didn’t see any mention of dividing the Armenians; can you please provide links as how you came up with such a wrong conclusion?

    2. Dear Vahe, You reminded me
      Dear Vahe,

      You reminded me a couple of popular songs that people used to sing in Armenia some twenty, thirty years ago. Probably they still do. No matter which wedding or other gatherings one would attend, invariably these songs, or  variations would come up. People would sing with determined looks, some would dance and the vodka bottles would get empty one after the other.

      One of the songs was:

      Հայաստանի քաղաքներից Կարս էր անունը,
      Հայրենի հարս,
      Ե՞րբ պիտի դու մայր Հայաստան
      Ետ վերադաոնաս:

      The other:

      Խեղճ Մշեցին մեոաւ լալով,
      Օտար երկրներ ման գալով.
      Մեոանք թուրքին հարկը տալով
      Զարթնիր Լաո մըոնիմ քըզի:

      Now a group of people are singing the same song in a different way. Instead of determined looks they have a plan, instead of dancing they want to challenge the courts, and rather than spilling vodka they will most probably waste tons of papers.

      So what’s wrong? Is it not an insult to call them self-appointed commisars?

      1. I love these examples!

        I love these examples Norair.

        What an accurate description of the concept.  History repeats itself in a different way – in a better way this time.

  2. Cassandras…

    Avetian’s invective is typical of the man. I have had the misfortune of reading his intemperate "contributions" elsewhere. He boasts that his family comes from various parts of Armenia, as if the rest of us were born in Central Asia. He also typically chooses to misunderstand one of the core goals of WAN-Congress. My understanding is that since the government of Armenia has shown a lack of enthusiasm in pursuing the rights of Western and Cilician Armenians, the Geneva-based group has stepped in to fulfill this important mission. Nobody is trying to divide Armenians, as Avetian imagines. 
  3. Misuse of Cassandra’s identity
    The Keghart Editors have mistakenly called naysayers, negativists and cynics "Cassandras."

    In Greek mythology, Cassandra had been granted the power of foresight and correctly predicted destruction.

    Her curse was that no one believed her and so her warnings went unheeded !

    1. Cassandra
      Ghazaros is accurate in his description of Cassandra, the mythical seer who foresaw the disaster of the Trojan War for all concerned. However, over the three millennia since Homer sang about her, Cassandra has, at least in the English language, changed shape and has become a symbol of negativity, someone who cries wolf at all occasions.

  4. About WANCongress

    As I was reading the comments written about WANCongress, I felt so sad thinking that our nation will never learn from the past. We are always in doubts and continue to be so , instead of coming out and for once in our lifetime unite and work as one.

    I think that this is the time to decide and work as a whole or else we are going to lose all that remains, even our country, in this dirty political turmoil of the world.

    1. Exactly!…
      I totally agree.  But would like to see a logical argument that can convince us otherwise.  Those who are opposing WANCongress or the idea of what they are doing, let them give their opinions in a logical manner and show us that the concept is not good.  But please don’t generalize and don’t say that this will never succeed.  Trying is better than being passive!

  5. Cassandra

    I must admit, Cassandra had eluded me.

    Google and Wikepedia came to my rescue. According to Wikipedia "Apollo put a curse on her so that no one would believe her predictions". It is claimed that she foresaw the destruction of Troy but could not do anything about it because no one would believe her. I wonder now what to make of the Cassandras when it comes to the Western National Congress.

    That does not mean I do not support the WNC’s participation in national dialogue, I do.

  6. Cassandras etc.

    Can someone answer a question please? When WAN-Congress takes shape does anybody think that Ramgavars, Hunchaks, Tashnags will support it? It is unfortunate that they all have different agendas, but do you think they are focused other than their own vision of things to be?

    What makes you think that they will shed their 100 plus years of expectations, experiences and support WAN-Congress?

    Although the effort is well meaning I think it is a wishful thinking…Call me Jeremiah or Cassandra..

    1. You are correct that the

      You are correct that the political parties will not relinquish.  However, those parties are becoming old-fashioned and gradually will fade away.  Now don’t say it’s not possible, we witnessed what happened to communism…puff gone!

      I am not saying that the WANCongress will replace them, NO!  their mission is completely different.
      But they might not need the support of those stagnating parties after all…hopefully.

  7. Cassandras etc.

    I would certainly not use words as strong as Vahe Avetian’s, but I understand his feelings very well. What surprises me is that in nearly all the views expressed in Keghart the terms West Armenian and East Armenian are taken for granted, as if Armenians were two distinct nations, each with its own sphere of concerns.

    The mere name of the congress implies the existence of a nation needing an assembly of its own,
    and the way it styles itself heir to genocide survivors, suggests the exclusion of many Armenians from the national cause.

    Why not call it WWAC (for World Wide Armenian Congress) and invite the whole Diaspora to join?

    1. Arpiar Petrossian’s remarks

      Arpiar Petrossian’s remarks are well taken.

      To my understanding the intent of the organizing committee is not to exclude any participants wherever they are, whatever their geographic roots and orientations may be. Anushavan Danielyan, the present chair of the IOC, for example, is former prime minister of Artsakh, and the executive director Karen Mikaelyan is from Armenia, and has served in the UN as a representative of former USSR. At least two of the deputy directors that I know of are what amongst ourselves would call western Armenian. One of them being Souren Seraydarian, originally from Syria, who too has served in the UN representing the Secretary of that organization in some hot spots.

      Hence, as we notice, there is no distinction of Eastern or Western Armenian right at the start in the initiating committee itself.

      My impression is that the term Western is used because of the particular nature of the claim which is related to present day Turkey and traditionally is known as Western Armenia, and is understood as such in international politics. What Mr. Petrossian proposes, i.e. WWAC is already exercised by participants in IOC, but having such a name for the organization could potentially create legal complications, because it entails inclusion of Armenia as a state. Such a designation would definitely be objectionable by courts and international institutions, including Armenia as a sovereign entity. It would be an infringement. I am sure you know the controversy between Macedonia and Greece.

      The goal is not creating yet another Armenian organization for Armenians for the content of what some call the "disgruntled". That would be a misadventure. The concept is to have a representative organization that can present claims to Courts and International Organizations.

      Let me give you an example. Here in Canada up to few years ago there was an organization calling itself Armenian World Alliance. Nobody did object to the name as long as it was functioning within the Armenian community and in the Canadian context. It would have been a different matter if it tried to present itself as representative of worldwide Armenians on the international scene. That name definitely would have been unacceptable, to begin with by Armenia.

      Some have suggested to call the proposed congress as Diasporan. That too is faulty, because there are citizens of Armenia who are descendents of the Genocide survivors and are legally considered claimants. The term would exclude them.

      My hunch is that the term "Western Armenian" is arrived at following long discussions with legal experts. Viken Attarian too is suggesting change of name, but again, he as well is raising the possibility that those terms may have been adopted because of legalities. Please see his excellent remarks at

      Between now and November, when the Congress is proposed to take place in Paris, I am sure, many such comments about the name will be made. Ultimately those who gather at the convention and elect an Assembly will be the ones that will decide following legal advice. Incidentally, the IOC has a committee of legal experts and the organization is registered in France.



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