April 12, 2011
Letters to the Editor: Ashot Egiazaryan, Richard Goldstone and Jay Sanderson
Ethnic Armenian Denies Anti-Semitism Charge
Peter Zalmayev (“Hiding in Beverly Hills,” March 9) suggests I am a racist bigot. Yet he does not present a shred of evidence to support this inflammatory rhetoric for the simple reason that there is none.
For the record, I condemn anti-Semitism. As an ethnic Armenian, I am all too familiar with the history of pogroms in Russia and the bigoted attitudes in Russia today toward people from the Caucasus region.
Mr. Zalmayev makes unfounded assumptions about my views through my association with the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR). Contrary to what he says, I am not a member of the LDPR, but a nonparty candidate nominated to its parliamentary group. As such, I am neither bound to the LDPR’s party program nor the decisions of its leadership, much less to personal views expressed by its individual members.
The important question that I cannot address in a 200-word letter for the print edition of The Jewish Journal is why Mr. Zalmayev seeks to label me as an anti-Semite.
Mr. Zalmayev identifies himself as director of the Eurasia Democracy Initiative, which he holds out as an organization “dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism and xenophobia.” I invite readers of The Journal to visit the Web site of Eurasia Democracy Initiative. It does not carry a single example of its “fight against anti-Semitism.” In fact, there is no mention of this aim at all. Interestingly, Internet searches do not flag up any associations between Peter Zalmayev and opposition to anti-Semitism beyond this single article in The Jewish Journal.
Your readers are probably also unaware that Mr. Zalmayev appears to offer “human rights advocacy services” on a commercial basis. According to Radio Liberty, the Kazakh political refugee Rakhat Aliyev has maintained that he hired Mr. Zalmayev to support his cause, but when Mr. Aliyev refused to renew their agreement, Mr. Zalmayev began to actively lobby against him. As evidence, Mr. Aliyev has posted to his Web site copies of an agreement and invoice issued by Eurasia Democracy Initiative for “PR and lobbying services” amounting to $180,000 payable to the bank account of a Mr. Peter Zalmayev.
Mr. Zalmayev has claimed that all the documents exhibited by Mr. Aliyev are fabrications.
Whether or not these documents are real, it is clear to me that Mr. Zalmayev is doing someone’s bidding, and I suggest that it is not anyone who is motivated by concerns about anti-Semitism.
In my case, Mr. Zalmayev apparently advocates my removal from the United States but makes no mention of the circumstances preventing my return to Russia: My family and I have been subjected to all manner of attacks, including death threats, as a result of litigation I recently brought exposing the corruption of high-placed officials in Russia. Indeed, on Dec. 7, 2010, one of my relatives in Russia was brutally murdered shortly after he informed my cousin that he had refused an overture from one of the defendants, Russian billionaire senator Suleiman Kerimov, seeking to enlist his assistance against me.
Mr. Zalmayev is entitled to express his opinions, including about me. However, there are two types of opinion: those based on an evaluation of facts, and those driven by bias. Mr. Zalmayev’s article is an example of the latter, and has been used to mislead readers of The Journal. It is no coincidence that Mr. Zalmayev’s opinion piece was immediately posted to a fraudulent Web site whose sole purpose is to attack my reputation.
Did Goldstone Lead by Example?
It is admirable for Richard Goldstone to try and correct the damage done to the State of Israel, its leaders and people in his initial report (“Never Mind: What Does Richard Goldstone’s Change of Heart Mean for Israel?” April 8). In fact, there is a certain courage and nobility to his actions, which have been notably absent with Israeli leaders that have never admitted that Oslo was a well-intentioned error, and that the destruction of Gush Katif was a bad mistake that empowers Hamas, and that the abandonment of Lebanon and our Christian allies has led to wars and the ascendancy of Hezbollah.
It would be refreshing to see similar admissions of guilt by these leaders.
Communal Professionals Deserve Respect
As a proud graduate of the School of Jewish Communal Service (now School of Jewish Nonprofit Management), chair of the SJNM Alumni Association and a member of the Los Angeles Jewish community, I am deeply saddened by [Jay] Sanderson’s disappointing and appalling remarks (“Jay Sanderson Pushes for Change,” April 1). Most specifically, about the preparedness — in his words, the lack thereof — of Jewish communal professionals entering the field.
If Sanderson shows no faith in, nor respect for, these passionate, well-educated, committed professionals — with whom does he plan to partner and continue the important work of this community?
With so much work to be done, my sincere hope is that Sanderson recognizes his behavior and his words are causing irreparable damage. My humble advice: less LeBron James and more Phil Jackson.