The Armenian Christian presence in Jerusalem dates back to the 4th century AD.
Attacks against Armenian Christians by extremist Jews in Jerusalem are on the rise, according to a report in The Jerusalem Post, noting that the near-daily harassment of spitting, cursing, and pushing is largely ignored by the police.
In the article, “Armenians in Jerusalem Live in the Crosshairs of Hate,” The Post notes an incident on Jan. 30, 2023, when “a bunch of young Jewish holligans” attacked a restaurant in Jerusalem’s Christian Quarter.
“Harassments that include spitting, cursing and pushing Armenian priests in the alleys of the Old City have already become routine,” reported The Post. “Young boys with an ultra-Orthodox appearance come in groups to identify the priests and harass and humiliate them.”
“This has been an almost daily occurrence for several years, but the police have so far failed to provide even a minimal response,” said the news outlet. “The Armenian residents claim that they do not receive an adequate response; there is no follow-up to the complaints submitted to the police; there are no updates; and, most importantly, there is no sign of this harassment abating. The opposite is the sad reality.”
In another incident on Jan. 31, 2023, “two Jewish extremists” tried to block traffic on a street where the Armenian Patriarchate is located. In addition, “two Israelis also struck a car in which a group of young Armenians were traveling on their way home from work,” reported The Post.
One of the extremists yelled at Fr. Aghan Gogchian, chancellor of the Patriarchate, “You don’t have a neighborhood here. This is our country. Get out of our country!”
In another incident a “group of Israelis” tried to get on the roof of the Patriarchate to “remove the flags of the Patriarchate and the Republic of Armenia.”
The owner of the restaurant that was attacked, Miran Krikorian, said, “We no longer want to file complaints with the police every time there is an attack because it’s clear to us that they won’t do anything about it anyway.”
Amnon Ramon, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Studies, told The Post “that this is a general attack on all Christians in the city.”
“It’s not just the Armenians, although the fact that the Armenian Quarter is closest to the Jewish Quarter, where most of the offending youths come from, exposes them more,” he said. “But really, in recent years, the attacks have been directed against Christians, against what these youth call pagan worship, and a strong desire to remove them from the Land of Israel and that, of course, is exactly what is worrying the Christian communities. … This should be the most secure section in the area, so how does this happen under the nose of the police?”
A rabbi, who asked not to be identified by name, told The Post that he knows why these Jewish extremists are attacking the Christians.
“I know from where and on what soil grows the ideology that activates these young people,” he said. “They are subject to the increasing influence of national haredi rabbis, who are becoming more and more extreme and mainly point the finger of blame at the Christians.”
“For them, the greatest threat to the Jews in the Land of Israel are the Christians, whom they see as merely idolaters who must be removed from the holy Land of Israel,” said the rabbi. “They are young, usually lacking any knowledge in the field, and subject to the influence and manipulation of those rabbis, while the eyes of the state and its institutions are focused away from this dangerous arena.”
According to the Britannica encyclopedia, Haredi Judaism is also known as ultra-Orthodox Judaism. Its practitioners “strictly observe Jewish religious law and separate themselves from Gentile society as well as from Jews who do not follow the religious law as strictly as they do. Ultra-Orthodox communities are found primarily in Israel, where they form about 13 percent of Israel’s population.”
Amnon Ramon said that the young extremists feel emboldened in their attacks because Likud party member Itamar Ben-Gvir is the Minister of National Security, which runs the police. Ben-Gvir has a history of anti-Christian activity, said Ramon, and the radicals “feel that they can afford to go wild and no one will stop them.”
In early January, two young Jewish men were charged with vandalizing a Christian cemetery on Mount Zion.