April 6, 2024 - 14:43 AMT
“They are armed. We are not”: Jerusalem Armenians seek help

The Armenian community of Jerusalem is calling the world to raise the public profile of an existential crisis amid rising tensions involving the Armenians of Jerusalem and the Armenian Quarter and Church.

“We are representatives of the Jerusalemite Armenian community, which includes social, charitable, youth and political clubs and associations and, of course, the SavetheArQ movement. We urgently appeal to the international community for support in safeguarding the historical Armenian Quarter at a terribly crucial moment for our community,” the urgent appeal to the international community from the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem reads.

“Recent actions by the Israeli police have added a dangerous layer to the already existential threats we are facing. Despite ongoing legal proceedings initiated by the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Jerusalem Armenian community seeking to nullify the illegal transaction involving the Cows’ Garden property, the Israeli police have now joined Israeli settlers to actively escalate tensions, forcefully change the facts on the ground and critically endanger our 1600-year-old presence in Jerusalem. To be clear, we declare in one united voice that any transaction regarding the Cows’ Garden is void, threatens our existence as a community and violates our property rights. The very existence of the Armenian Patriarchate and the Armenian community of Jerusalem is now under historic threat.”

The letter implored the international community to recognize the significance of the Armenian cultural and historical heritage in Jerusalem and to “stand with us in defense of our rights to exist as Armenians in Jerusalem”.

“The Armenian Quarter is not merely a geographical location; it is a symbol of our enduring presence and identity. Any encroachment upon it not only undermines our community and Patriarchate, but it also threatens to destroy the very tapestry of the Old City,” the appeal said.

“We call upon all concerned parties—including heads of state, diplomatic missions, international organizations and advocates for human rights—to raise the public profile of this existential crisis, unite in solidarity with us and exert maximum efforts to halt further encroachments into Armenian properties and preserve the status quo in the Armenian Quarter.

“We also call upon all those who care about the integrity of Jerusalem, its history and the viability of all of its communities to demand that the government of Israel order the Israeli police to cease aiding, abetting and even spearheading the company’s assault on the Armenian community, the Armenian Quarter and the seizure of the community’s precious properties.

“They are armed. We are not. The rule of law—not illegal and forceful encroachment of Israeli settlers aided by the Israeli state police—must prevail. Our physical security, the pending legal processes and the status quo must be protected. Right now, all are in jeopardy because of the actions taken by the Israeli police and settlers.

“The protection and preservation of our heritage are not only a duty but also a testament to the shared values of respect, tolerance and cultural diversity that must be upheld in Jerusalem.”

The appeal was signed by the Save The ArQ Movement, the Jerusalem Armenian Benevolent Union, the Armenian Young Men’s Society Hoyetchmen Club, the Homenetmen Club, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party, and the Armenian Relief Society.