An official letter on behalf of the Center for Armenian Culture and Education in Israel “Noyan Tapan”
We are writing this letter since recently a worrying trend is taking place in the State of Israel when nationalism raises its head against the ethnic and religious minorities in the country.
The same factors that are infected with the scourge of racism and intolerance towards the other, focus on the Armenian Christian minority as a victim of repeated attacks, it can be proven that the same cases of violence happen on a regular basis in the Armenian quarter of Jerusalem or near it.
We are following with great concern what is happening in the Armenian quarter of Jerusalem, when during the last two months several incidents happened:
1. Physical assault and spitting on the cross during a religious procession of the Armenian clergy by uniformed IDF soldiers (Givati Brigade).
2. contempt inscriptions on the walls of the Armenian monastery in Jerusalem “Surb Akop” (Saint James):
Death to the Armenians, death to the Arabs, death to the Christians.
3. The last case in which a group of young people caused heavy damage to an Armenian restaurant located in the Christian quarter of Jerusalem (miraculously no injuries were caused, only to the property of the restaurant).
Apart from the mentioned above, the Armenian residents of Jerusalem suffer violence against them daily when the same extremists waiting for the Armenians near the quarter recognize them and attack them.
*The last assault that occurred while writing this letter was the pepper spray of an Armenian priest and his believers near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
We would like to draw attention to the legal basis of the State of Israel:
* The Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel: “The State of Israel … will maintain full social and political equality of rights for all its citizens without distinction of religion, race or gender.
* The Human rights and dignity law:
Section 2 of the law: No one harms the life, body, or honor of a person, regardless of who he is.
Section 4 of the law: Every person is entitled to the protection of his life, body and dignity.
The Law on the Preservation of the Holy Places:
Section 1 of the law: The holy places shall be protected from desecration and any other harm and from anything that may harm the freedom of access of the members of the religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings towards those places.
Section 2 of the law:
(a) Whoever desecrates a holy place or harms it in any other way, his penalty is seven years imprisonment.
(b) Anyone who does anything that may harm the freedom of access of religious people to the places sacred to them or their feelings towards those places, shall be sentenced to five years in prison.
In all the cases mentioned in this letter, there are violations of all the laws and the mindset of the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel.
This appeal is, as stated, an official document on behalf of the Center for Armenian Education and Culture in Israel “Noyan Tapan” to all government officials in the country to act immediately to stop the criminal behavior on the part of those radical groups and individuals who act for nationalist reasons and hatred on an ethnic and religious basis.
For this reason, we chose to contact the following parties:
1. The Honorable President of the State Mr. Yitzhak Herzog please act at the state level in front of the religious leaders in the country about education for tolerance and acceptance of the other.
2. The Honorable Minister of National Security, Mr. Itamar Ben-Gvir, please allocate the necessary resources to prevent this type of violence.
3. The Honorable Mayor of Jerusalem Mr. Moshe Leon please make every effort to preserve the cultural-religious mosaic in the city while giving respect to all the city’s residents regardless of religion, gender, and race.
4. The Honorable Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi David Baruch Lao, please give emphasis to the congregation of your believers on the need to avoid harming others in accordance with the spirit of Judaism.
5. The UN Offices in Israel (Arbel Department 3) in charge of human rights in the State of Israel, please monitor on cases in which there is a major violation of human rights on a religious-national basis.
The Center for Armenian Culture and Education in Israel – “Noyan Tapan”.
The chairman of the center, Mr. David Galfayan
The spokesperson of the center, Mr. Mendel Korsunsky