This area (above) of the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem has become the object of a struggle which today led to violence in Jerusalem.
Here below are two screen shots of an “urgent communique” about the dispute posted on the Armenian Patriarchates website today at this link.
Letter #184, 2023, Thursday, December 28: Armenian Quarter
Violence broke out today in Jerusalem, reportedly in connection with a contract to sell about one-quarter of the Armenian Christian section of Jerusalem (the area depicted in the photo above) to developers, after the Armenian Church recently canceled the two-year old contract.
The Armenian Patriarchate today issued a statement (screen shots above) saying that about 30 armed provocateurs “attacked a group of Armenian bishops, priests, deacons, and other citizens” today.
“The Armenian Patriarchate filed a lawsuit to cancel an agreement it made over two years ago to lease a fourth of the Armenian Quarter to Australian Jewish developer Danny Rothman (Rubinstein) and his Christian Arab partner George Warwar (Hadad) for 98 years,” The Jerusalem Post reported today. “Once local and international Armenians understood what had happened, they began protesting, including holding a weekly vigil, to pressure the Patriarchate to cancel the deal.”
Here below is an December 28 article from The Jerusalem Post, a Jewish newspaper in Jerusalem. —RM
Armenian Christians attacked in Jerusalem, some in serious condition (link)
Patriarchate: “Armenian clerics in Jerusalem are fighting for their lives.”
By MAAYAN JAFFE-HOFFMAN
DECEMBER 28, 2023 16:18
Updated: DECEMBER 28, 2023 22:17
Over 30 armed provocateurs wearing ski masks and some carrying lethal weapons attacked a group of Armenian bishops, priests, deacons, and other citizens on Thursday in the Old City of Jerusalem, according to the Armenian Patriarchate.
“A mass and coordinated physical attack was launched,” the Patriarchate wrote in an official letter to the Police and Israeli government, which The Jerusalem Post reviewed. “Several priests, students, and indigenous Armenians are seriously injured.”
“They attacked us,” Bishop Koryoun Baghdasaryan, director of the Real Estate Department for the Patriarchate, told the Post.
Armenian Patriarchate Chancellor Aghan Gogchyan said the attackers used pepper spray and other chemicals, which they targeted at seminary students, several of whom were taken to the hospital.
The Police confirmed that it received the letter and said that arrests were made on both sides — both Armenians and Muslims who allegedly carried out the attack. No one has been officially charged, the Police said.
“There was an unfortunate incident where some Arab Muslim men and some men from the Armenian community got into a brawl in the old city of Jerusalem,” Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum told the Post. “Police came promptly to separate the parties, and arrests were made on both sides.
“The city of Jerusalem will not tolerate any criminal activity, whether religiously motivated or otherwise, and the police will prosecute those responsible,” she said.
‘Existential threat’ to the Armenian Patriarchate
The Patriarchate claimed that the attack was in response to its submitting a lawsuit to the District Court of Jerusalem for the Cows’ Garden Land deal, which was officially received by the court sometime earlier this week.
The Armenian Patriarchate filed a lawsuit to cancel an agreement it made over two years ago to lease a fourth of the Armenian Quarter to Australian Jewish developer Danny Rothman (Rubinstein) and his Christian Arab partner George Warwar (Hadad) for 98 years.
Once local and international Armenians understood what had happened, they began protesting, including holding a weekly vigil, to pressure the Patriarchate to cancel the deal.
The deal became known as the Cows’ Garden Land Deal because the developer was going to build a luxury hotel on the grounds of what is currently a parking lot on a plot of land with that name.
The developer also planned to take down several homes and a seminary.
About two months ago, the Patriarchate finally sent a letter stating it intended to withdraw from the contract.
As a result of that letter, Baghdasaryan said, the developers came with bulldozers and started tearing down buildings and preparing the area for construction.
In addition, about six weeks ago, a similar violent attack occurred.
“Instead of going through a legal process, they brought criminals and attacked our community,” he told the Post. “We do not live in Somalia,” the real estate department director said. “Armenians are quiet, peaceful people. We follow the rules of the land. Israel is a lawful country. The Police cannot leave these people unpunished.”
Gogchyan expressed similar sentiments: “We ask the Israeli representatives to interfere in this issue and try to do everything in order to stop these violent actions.”
Neither the Police nor Hassan-Nahoum could confirm any connection between Thursday’s brawl and the developers.
In an investigative report by the New Arab on Jewish Australian developer Rothman, they said that he has declined to speak to the media.
He told the Associated Press, “I never get interviewed by the press,” according to the English-language news website.
The Jerusalem Post reached out to Rothman via LinkedIn, but he has yet to respond.
In his letter, the Patriarchate called on the Police to open an investigation.
“The Armenian Patriarchate’s existential threat is now a physical reality,” the letter concluded. “Armenian clerics in Jerusalem are fighting for their lives against impure provocateurs.”
[End, Jerusalem Post article]
P.S. Here are two other links:
The first is to a number of brief videos I have done and posted on our Instagram pilgrimage website, two of which have (unexpectedly) gotten more than 1 million views. (link)
The second is to a series of reading of the story of the 4th Wise Man read by my son, Christopher. The reading is done well and deserves a wider audience (link).
P.S.S. Any donation to support this letter is appreciated: here