<– click on the image for a larger view
<– click on the image for a larger view
But a more serious problem is the legal status of the Patriarchate. Thanks to our checkered history and the Ottoman laws of governance, the Patriarchate is an autonomous entity with its own by-laws. Although affiliated with the Holy See in Etchmiadzin, the Catholicos has no say in the affairs of the Patriarchate. Thus the Patriarch and the 37 members of the Brotherhood, who control one-sixth of the Old City of Jerusalem—the most precious and most fought-over real estate in the world—run Patriarchate affairs without oversight from the 9 million Armenians around the globe, including local Armenians.
The external dangers Armenian Jerusalem faces are more serious and numerous than the internal ones.
Prior to the Arab/Jewish war 1948, most of 16,000 Armenians in British Mandated Palestine lived in Jerusalem. Following the founding of Israel and the carving of Palestine, many Armenians left the region for safety and economic reasons. Another major migration wave followed the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in the Six-Day War of 1967.
The dwindling number of Jerusalemite Armenians has created a “demographic challenge” in the words of George Hintlian, Armenian historian and a former secretary of the patriarchate. As Alastair Macdonald of Reuters wrote recently, “Their [Armenian] society and extensive land holdings risk becoming collateral damage in a demographic conflict for land and power in the holy city between Israel and Palestinians.” Simply put, the Israeli government might move to confiscate Armenian lands because the 230-acre Armenian Quarter is barely occupied. In the past the Israeli government has made a habit of confiscating non-Jewish lands in the Old City and the rest of the West Bank.
Because of the small pool of marriageable mates, intermarriage with Christian Arabs has become fairly common. As a result of the Israeli Occupation, Armenian Palestinians have also been cut off their brethren in Syria and Lebanon. Because Armenians are an “orphan” minority, they face job discrimination from Israeli and Moslem Arab employers. Lack of career opportunities further fuels emigration.
As a result of Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem and the mushrooming of illegal Jewish settlements in and around the city, Greater Jerusalem now has a population of 750,000. Thus the 1,000 Armenians make up about 0.1% of the city’s population. As well, relations between Moslem Arabs and Armenians have cooled because many Moslem Arabs have, in recent years, chosen the fundamentalist-xenophobic path. Meanwhile, relations with Christian Arabs are poisoned by the traditional rivalry between the Armenian Patriarchate and the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Patriarchates. The wealth, overseas political patrons and the number of their congregations (4,000 Palestinian Arabs) leave the Armenian Patriarchate and community at a disadvantage. Fights among the Armenian and Greek clergy at Christ’s tomb are familiar occurrences.
But most of the above perils pale when compared with the Israeli plan to apparently make the Old City exclusively inhabited by Jews. A recent tactic of this devious plan is to refuse residency permits or to confiscate the IDs of non-Jews who have no Israeli citizenship. Since the annexation of Arab East Jerusalem (including the Old City) in 1967, the Moslem and Christian inhabitants of East Jerusalem have lived in an identity limbo: they live in “Israel” but are not citizens. Now Israel is using this anomaly to confiscate the ID cards of Jerusalemite non-Jews to drive them out of Jerusalem, perhaps from the West Bank. In the past month, five Armenians have had their residency permits revoked, says Mr. Hintlian. Archbishop Nourhan Manoogian, former number-two member of the St. James Brotherhood, has had his residency challenged by the Israeli bureaucracy. Other victims of this new policy are Armenians who have returned to Jerusalem after a sojourn overseas. They, too, are facing residency problems. Israel says it is not obliged to grant re-entry to residents who have emigrated.
The residency permit ploy of Israel makes the Armenians vulnerable in a yet another way. Of the 22 members of the St. James Brotherhood, 10 are citizens of Armenia. As such, they can be threatened with the revocation of their residency permits anytime Israel wishes to put the squeeze on the Patriarchate.
Official Israel’s harassment of Armenians is augmented by harassment by ultra-Orthodox Jews, who have spat at Armenian clergy, pulled their crucifix and ‘veghar’ (cowl) and intimidated Armenians in general. These fanatics seemingly act as advance guards for the Judaization of East Jerusalem.
Yet another Armenian fear is that when and if Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) come to an agreement about the permanent status of the Old City, PA would gain sovereignty over the Moslem, Greek Orthodox, and Roman Catholic areas, while Israel would obtain the Armenian Quarter, in addition to the adjacent Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall. This is not a baseless fear: When some years ago President Clinton was acting as honest broker to bring the Israeli/Palestinian conflict to a peaceful resolution, he suggested that the Armenian Quarter be placed under Israeli sovereingty. Armenians prefer to be part of a future Palestine, fearing the community would disappear in the face of Israeli discrimination and encroachments, in addition to intimidation by ultra-Orthodox Jews.
Armenians of Jerusalem had reason to celebrate July 4 this year because Mahmoud Abbas, president of PA, handed US special envoy George Mitchell a list of proposals for reaching a peace agreement with Israel, which included leaving the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall under Israeli control. The rest of Jerusalem, including the Armenian Quarter, would become the capital of Palestine, according to Mr. Abbas.
However, a few days later Jerusalem’s Planning and Building Committee announced that it’s ready to approve an unprecedented master plan that calls for the expansion of Jewish neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem, a move largely based on construction on privately owned Arab property. ‘Ha’aretz’, a leading Israeli daily, said, “The plan creates a spate of bureaucratic obstacles for Palestinians who wish to build in the city…thickens the Jewish presence in the city.”
Many of the threats Armenian Jerusalem faces are intractable. Many are beyond the control of the Patriarchate and the tiny community because these challenges are linked to the Arab-Israeli conflict. For example, if the Abbas proposal is accepted, Israeli encroachments on Armenian lands would vanish; so would ultra-Orthodox Jewish harassment. The creation of a Palestinian State would end the isolation of the community whose members will once again be in contact with Armenians living in the Arab Middle East. Following such a development, it would be safe to assume that intermarriage with Christian Arabs would decline as Armenians marry fellow Armenians from Arab countries. Perhaps such a welcome change would once again encourage Lebanese and Syrian Armenian young men—a traditional source for Jerusalem clergy—to join the St. James Brotherhood, which in recent years has depended on novices from Armenia to replenish its ranks.
While changing the autonomous status of the Patriarchate is impossible at the present time, Diaspora Armenians who send donations to the St. James Brotherhood, to Sts. Tarkmanchats School and to other charities could demand an accountable, transparent, and responsible management of the Patriarchate. At the present time, the Patriarchate meets its expenses through rents from its properties and from Diaspora donations. One also hopes Patriarch Torkom’s successor will be a strong and politically astute leader who will bring into line irresponsible Brotherhood elements.
Another positive development would be the establishment of an Armenian Embassy in Israel. While a resolution to the Arab/Israeli conflict remains in suspension, an Armenian ambassador “can keep an eye on our rights,” according to a long-time observer of Armenian Jerusalem.
There was a time, long ago, when St. James Brotherhood members did research and published books about our Church history, national history, illuminated manuscripts, and Armenology. Some even wrote poetry. Now the almost-defunct St. James Press used to publish the SION (quarterly) in those halcyon days.
Us – The Armenians
We have survived this much and I think we can survive forever but we have to fight back against all odds. Kurds are doing it and their numbers are similar to ours – I say an eye for an eye and a sword for a sword. That’s the only way to be. There is no justice in this world, countries are all too busy for their own geopolitical interests and revenues, and who cares about us.
We must stand united and we must make ourselves heard over and over again.
As a bible believing
As Armenians, if we want to be blessed by God and prosper, we must at all times stand by Israel and bless Israel, and pray for the peace of Jerusalem. The land of Israel was chosen and mapped by God, who are we to stand against God? Salvation is of the Jew. Jesus Christ our Lord is a Jew, to love the Jew and Israel is to love our Lord Jesus Christ, to hate Israel and the Jew, is to hate our Lord Jesus Christ.
Naive faith of fundamentalist Christians
Here we go. What Martirossian writes is the essence of Zionist Christian ideology. I say ideology rather than theology because Christian fundamentalist religious tradition is manipulated by Zionists for political ends. These Zionist Christians ignore or are not aware that there is no room for them in racist Israel. They are not aware that Israelis are using the naive faith of fundamentalist Christians to advance the political and nationalistic aims of Zionism. It’s a waste of breath to debate the issue with these drugged sheep: anytime you try to have an intelligent debate with them about this issue, they quote the bible. Circular argument. A dead end. A book of legends, pseudo-history, dubious miracles (autonomous pregnancy, people walking on water, one fish turned into a thousand, a man talking with Satan, the return of a man from the dead, and rise of another not only from the dead, but his flight to the sky–I guess there was less pollution then) is used as the ultimate proof that what they say is a verified historic narrative.
But it becomes irresponsible to ignore these simple-minded fundamentalist Christians because they–in their blind faith–support a racist, theocratic, militaristic, expansionist state which has stolen Palestine and continues to mistreat Palestinians, including Armenians. Note Martirossian says nothing about Palestinians or the plight of Armenians. I am sure she doesn’t care–as long as Zionist Israel rules supreme. I am certain that if Christ appeared in Jerusalem today, he would be deported by Israeli goons as a lunatic–if not terrorist–Christian Palestinian.
Where is Christian Justice?
Stella S. Martirossian,
I can’t argue with your faith, but I feel very sorry for your mind and soul. What a twisted message you want to share with us!
"As Armenians, if we want to be blessed by God and prosper, we must at all times stand by" Armenia and not what you are preaching.
After all what you have read in the article and the comments, you are indirectly telling that it’s OK for Israel to confiscate Armenian lands. You call yourself a Christian. Where is your sense of Christian Justice?
Kurdish population: 50+ million
Herosouhi, the Armenian and Kurdish populations are not close in number.
Torkom should have shaved some of the clergy, but he did nothing and some clergy are taking advantage of the situation.
You need the Diaspora Armenians’ pressure on the Pariarchate to include lay civilians with experiance, education and and no personal interest. The fact that there is a Bank account in USA for the Armenian Patriachate’s use with the condition that AGBU has placed that a civilian accountant will see that the money is spent correctly , and not fro the personal pockets of some clergy.
In the past, a cvilian Kaghakasti Armenian was always a member of the Synod. The seat of the local Armenian was neglated by Yeghishe and Tokom also did not want any civilian to be part of the Synod.
Jerusalem is a manifestation of what ails us.
Let the president of Armenia
I, for one, have been waiting for leadership to come from Hayastan.
Reply to Darwin
Many of the conferences and seminars that the Ministry is either sponsoring or participating in can competently be organized by NGOs. "Thankfully" there is no scarcity of them either in Armenia or the Diaspora. They keep on mushrooming by the day. One wonders who is financing them in Armenia where poverty is rampant, and thus cannot be supported locally.
Toss out the corrupt and immoral elements.
Without being critical of the ailing Patriarch Torkom Manoogian, I pray his successor makes his own accession a time of renewal, resurrection, and re-dedication for the St. James Brotherhood. Reading the editorial, I get the distinct impression that a long-overdue house-cleaning is in order. The word "garkazourk" comes to mind. Toss out the corrupt and immoral elements. In plain English: "Good riddance to bad rubbish." While an anti-corruption drive would not, by itself, resolve all the challenges of Armenian Jerusalem, it would be a great and inspiring start.
Shavarsh, let the concern for
Pope John Paul touched my heart along with the rest of the world by his association and pilgrimages to visit his people. Are Armenians less capable?
When Catholicos Vasken visited New York to inspire us over Karabagh, Armenians came by the bus loads. I never felt prouder.
Let Catholicos Karekin do the same. No clergy or anyone else can pilfer even one more inch of sacred land away in Jerusalem. Until that day comes, I will continue to pine for my people.
Vehapar took the first plane out
Vrej, It’s hard to believe
The bottom line is the feeling of isolation in Jerusalem. Do those that still live there feel that they’ve been left to their own devices? It’s just how the Armenians of Iraq must have felt when nobody would stand up for them. Knowing that Jerusalem has no moral support is akin to rubbing salt into the wound.
St. James Brotherhood is drifting rudderless
Besides, at this juncture mean-spirited and corrupt clergymen might nurse an exaggerated sense of their power: they could believe they would be courted ($$$$?) during the eventual election "campaign." Perhaps the Vehapar can influence the outcome of the inevitable election by talking to the 15 St. James Brotherhood clergymen who serve in overseas parishes. To get elected, a candidate needs 22 votes. I don’t know anything about the 10 clergymen from Armenia who are members of the St. James Brotherhood. One would assume that they could be influenced by the Catholicos in Holy Etchmiadzin during the election process.
The Patriarchate of Jerusalem is a separate entity and NOT under the jurisdiction of Etchmiadzin, therefore it would require changes to take place with the laws that govern the Armenian Patriarchate to have a new Patriarch selected under the influence of Etchmiadzin.
Further to this, only members of the Brotherhood of St. James can elect a new Patriarch and the laws are such, that the sitting Patriarch remains in office until he passes away.
I know both Archbishops of whom you speak. They both have their strong points Given my knowledge of their capabilities, I would lean toward Archbishop Aykasian for the following reasons: He has just completed his 2-year tenure as President of the National Council of Churches; He is multi-lingual; He is world traveled and knows many individuals of influence internationally; He is outstandingly gifted at dealing with people; He was born in the region-Turkey; He is smart and without question would know to immediately bring in the necessary business heads around him to handle the Patriarchate, the Israeli Government, the other primary/secondary Christian groups responsible for the Holy Sites as well as coordinate efforts with Etchmiadzin.
This is a very complicated situation to which I do not believe the current Patriarch has much he can do about changing the course of events. He, nor the Patriarchate are a government to be able to negotiate this situation with the Israelis.
When Catholicos Karekin
When Catholicos Karekin visited Archbishop Torkom in February to bestow the Mesrob Mashdots medal on Torkom’s 20th anniveresary in Jerusalem, he invited two members of the Brotherhood of St James to attend.. They were Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese, and Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, the Diocesan Legate.
Both of the above archbishops are best known for their organizational strengths. This could possibly be a testing of the waters. Both Archbishops are 59 years old.
I certainly would not want to see a conflict of parties rear its head again such as what happened between Derderian and Nersoyan.
Lord give us strength!
“It is not the Promised Land. It is our Land”
The Importance of the Christian, Jewish and Moslem Holy Sites
It is very unfortunate that this unending conflict between the Jewish and Moslem people has continued for thousands of years. Part of me wants the struggle to end by letting the Jews have their Israel with the displaced Moslems finding home and futures throughout the Moslem world. Surely, there is enough land available for those countries to welcome their brethren.
The continual argument of whose land it is has no doubt been a major sticking point for thousands of years. If one accepts what the Bible says, then God did in fact promise the ‘land of milk and honey’ to His chosen. ONLY, there is one point that the Jews of the world may have chosen to overlook…they were promised this land by God, IF they adhered to God’s Covenant.
Unfortunately, they have not…so should they, from a religious point of view, be entitled to this land? I say this without malice, as I also believe that many other religious groups have also failed to follow God’s Covenant…as we all basically share the same Covenant with God. Or have I missed something?
What concerns me, at the moment, is the fact that the Israelis seem to have lost memory of their many trials and struggles. It wasn’t that long ago that they were slaughtered at the hands of the Nazis with everything taken away from them. So the continual irritating point in my mind is ‘why are they behaving in such an aggressive manner’?
I firmly believe that Jerusalem is the most important Holy Place for Christians, Jews and Moslems throughout the world, has with it a built in power for the state of Israel. If, Israel begins a campaign to eliminate this critical weapon in their arsenal…they will eventually cause their undoing.
Would the Christians, as an example, of the world be as deeply concerned about Israel if Jerusalem was wiped out of its Holy Sites? For those who strongly believe that Jesus will return in Israel, the fact remains is that Jesus can return anywhere He so wishes to do.
I strongly suggest that the Israeli government take a second look at what they are doing and discontinue on this path that might eventually have many of their supporters look upon them with less favor.
Reply to Ms. Chorbajian
2. Contrary to your description, the conflict is not a thousand year old. It began in 1917 with the colonian Britain’s illegal Balfour Declaration which promised to Jews that Palestine would become their homeland.
3. Using the bible as a book of history serves no constructive purpose in an intellectual debate. And to continue to believe that Jews are the Chosen People of God is racism in reverse. What are Gentiles? Chopped liver?
4. Re the Nazis and the Holocaust, Israelis learned cruelty from the Nazis. They also learned racism.
5. It seems the Israeli government wants to turn the Christian part of Old Jerusalem into a Christian theme park (with some token Christians), which would enrich Christian-hating Israelis with money from naive, misguided or ignorant Christian tourists/pilgrims.
Although the core of the problems in Isreal are between Jews and Palistinians…the real story goes way beyond this.
Two months prior to 9/11, I was having dinner with a friend here in NYC who was a VIP at the United Nations. This very subject of Israel and the Palestinians came up when I asked her what the pulse on the situation was via the U.N. She said, "If the Western world thinks that this problem is only about those two groups of people, they are mistaken. The true threat toward us is the ‘whole Arab’ world". We all know what happened shortly thereafter and has not ended there.
Further to this, I came across the following article that just appeared in the Jerusalem Post, 7/19/10 entitled the Zionist Imam. You may go to that article via: http://www.jpost.com/ChristianInIsrael/Blogs/Article.aspx?id=181905
The Christian world is not threatening the Jews. Quite the contrary. The support of the Christian world, that I have mentioned, is a very powerful force for the Jews. It is the tsunami, which is building as support for the Palestian’s by the Arab world, most particularly the Moslem Arabs.
As for the beginning of this conflict…I have been attending Torah classes for 4 years. It is one of many biblical classes I have seriously participated in over the last 15 years, with the intent of learning from various teachers and scholars about the contents of the bible. Thus far, my experience in those classes has shown me that the conviction of the Jews about their place in Israel has ‘everything’ to do with what has been written in the Torah.
Whether the Torah or the Bible or the Koran is or is not documented history…a great many people live and die by it. That, to me is what makes it a key factor in this entire complex puzzle. Being too academic about the situation has nothing to do with the reality.
If you believe that the Jews where not God’s chosen people and it is racism…you might check with some high-ranking Christian leaders to ask their opinion on the subject. Without question we are all God’s children, but at the time of this designation, as I was told by His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, Armenian Patriache of Jerusalem, the Jews were the only group of God’s people that were suitable enough to accept God’s Commandments.
Armenian Jerusalem Besieged
Dear Ms. Chorbajian,
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my email.
Unfortunately, I can’t reply because your email is incomprehensible.
Sorry you find it so. Others
Sorry you find it so. Others who have read it and know of the situation there, and in the Middle East, did not find it incomprehensible. Maybe we are on two different planets.
Joyce, I believe the wheels
Remember the preceding presidents
Remember both last 2 Armenian presidents who took money from Mormons, Christan Scientologist Church and Jehovah’s Witnesses and allowed them to enter Armenia and practice. I hope you will get my drift.
What Happened to the Number of Readers?
I am not knowledgeable on the technical aspect and the webmaster will look into the matter. From what I understand the system was overloaded on a couple of occasions when many readers clicked at the same time, specially when new items were posted. This caused disruption (not to mention hacking on a few occasions in the past). Some features were removed. I hope the webmaster reinstalls the counter.
Amazingly the United States
Darwin: I think if you knew
I think if you knew Archbishop Torkom Manoogian as well as I do, you would never ask such a question!
You question does not dignify a further response.
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