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Armenian Churches Urge Trump to Reconsider Divisive Jerusalem Declaration

(L to R) His Holiness Aram I and Lebanese President Michel Aoun (Photo: Press service of the Catholicosate of Cilicia)

BEIRUT—One of the oldest cities in the world, Jerusalem is a historic center for ethnic and monotheistic communities of the Middle East. The Armenian presence in Jerusalem dates back to the fourth century A.D., when Armenia adopted Christianity as a national religion, and the Jerusalem Armenian community is one of the oldest pockets of the Armenian Diaspora.

Because of Jerusalem’s significance to Armenians, leading figures in the Armenian religious community were quick to voice condemnation of the the recent declaration by United States President Donald Trump regarding the status of Jerusalem. In a press conference, President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, stating that doing so would be “nothing more or less than a recognition of reality.” He also called for preparations to begin moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In response, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem released a statement, signed by the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate and Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate, calling for the President to reconsider the decision and “continue recognizing the present international status of Jerusalem.”

“Any sudden changes would cause irreparable harm…. We are certain that such steps will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division,” read a part of the declaration.

His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia, also rejected President Trump’s recent recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

During the Catholicosate’s World General National Assembly’s visit with Lebanese President General Michel Aoun on Thursday, Aram I said that the move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital may have negative repercussions in a volatile region of the Middle East and may jeopardize the ongoing peace process.

The Catholicos also emphasized the need to respect the legitimate rights of Palestinians and to preserve the rights of three monotheistic religions in Jerusalem.

During the meeting with World General National Assembly representatives, President Aoun reiterated his stance on Trump’s Jerusalem decision, saying it was dangerous and threatened the credibility of the U.S. as a peacebroker in the region.

The World National General Assembly of the Holy See of Cilicia convened on Dec. 4 under the presidency of Aram I and with the participation of around 100 clergy, lay delegates, and invited guests representing the prelacies of the see across the world. The meeting will conclude on Dec. 8.

Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Eduard Nalbandyan also released a statement, highlighting Armenia’s interest in preserving peace in Jerusalem, citing the historic Armenian community there, and calling for negotiations between the parties.

26 Comments on Armenian Churches Urge Trump to Reconsider Divisive Jerusalem Declaration

  1. Why should Trump take Armenians seriously if the “one million” strong American-Armenian Diapspora has been singing the praise of the Anglo-American-Jewish empire for decades? Just like how Clinton was led by left wing Jews, Trump is led by right wing Jews. Washington long time ago stopped serving the interests of the United States.

  2. His Holiness Aram I is not a political figure. Best for him to be quiet and let politicians talk about this matter!

    • GB, what kind of a foolish remark is this? Pope also is not a political figure. Can you deny the impact that he has on political matters?

    • In an ideal world, leaders of invisible god cults would not be considered credible commentators on serious matters – and certainly not seen fit to pontificate on problems actually created by invisible god cults.

  3. avatar john padhayan // December 8, 2017 at 11:57 am // Reply

    This is a bad deal for the world because of this action the repercussions are going to be severe from the Arab world. If you’re going to give away Jerusalem as a capital to the Jews then you should have made them give back all the settlements that they build on the Palestinian land. This trade would have been a fair deal and I’m sure the Palestinians would’ve gone for it. Nothing good is going to come out of this except the Jews are the winners all by themselves on this deal

  4. avatar Peter Mikaelian // December 8, 2017 at 4:17 pm // Reply

    Armenians all over the world should stand and demonstrate against Trump’s announcement. Nethanyahu is delighted because his agenda of killing the two state solution is being strengthened by America. If Jerusalem becomes 100% Israel territory, the Armenian quarters of Jerusalem will suffer its existence.there have already been clashes between Armenian clergy and Israeli settlers who were trying to occupy parts of the Armenian sector to build settlements. On the other hand the whole world has already lashed back at Trump calling his action against human rights, war mongering and very dangerous. Obviously many people will suffer death and destruction . Trump’s madness should stop.

  5. avatar John Mardian // December 8, 2017 at 10:30 pm // Reply

    Just like during the Ottoman Turks invasion …”look the other way don’t cause any trouble”.
    It’s better to stand up to bullies.

  6. I fail to see how the rights of the Armenian community are prejudiced by the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. There is complete freedom of religion in Israel. Armenian Christians have free access to their holy places in Jerusalem. On the other hand, if the Old City were to be turned over to the Palestinians, there is a very good chance that the rights of Armenians would be restricted. The Christian population of the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority has been decreasing due to Muslim persecution. Few Christians are left in Gaza. The city of Bethlehem, 86% Christian in 1950, is now only 12% Christian. Why on earth would anyone think that Armenians and other Christians are likely to be treated better under Muslim rule?

    • Armenians didn’t forget the cases of spitting on the images of Holy Mother of God and Jesus Christ during processions in Jerusalem. Or encroachment on the boundaries of the Armenian quarter by the Israeli authorities. This is your freedom of religion? Jerusalem should be given a special status in the international law. The city is so sacred to three major world religions that it cannot serve just an administrative capital of the state. And, on a separate subject, there are many Muslim countries where Armenians are treated well. Iran and most Arab countries come to one’s mind. And, I guess, non-recognition of the Armenian genocide by a nation that herself became a victim of the genocide is one hell of a good treatment case, isn’t it?

    • This is nonsense. Armenians have lived in Arab countries and been respected by the communities there since the genocide and well before.

      And these two sentences, “The Christian population of the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority has been decreasing due to Muslim persecution. Few Christians are left in Gaza.” are a doozy. You must be a lawyer.

      You say Christians are leaving the “areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority”–in other words, the areas under occupation. People don’t like to live under occupation. That is why they are leaving.

      “Few Christians are left in Gaza.” Yes, because every few months Gaza gets destroyed by Israeli bombs. If I lived there, I would leave too.

    • John,
      Israel’s shameful and hypocritical non-recognition of the genocide is not even the worst it does to Armenians. Israel arms Azerbaijan, knowing full well that these weapons are intended to be used to kill Armenian civilians.

  7. Not only is Trump administration’s decision a slap in the face of the United Nations resolutions, but also an insult to Christendom and the Islamic world. Jerusalem cannot be a capital of a state, it should be given a special status. The holy city is revered equally by the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims all over the world. How do you strive to establish peace and tranquility in the region by introducing such divisive and one-sided decisions, Mr. Trump?

    • No, Jews need a homeland and part of Jerusalem should be their capital. But a small part should be given to Palestinians too.

  8. These churchmen find themselves on the same side as mad dog erdogan of Turkey. Aren’t they ashamed? Don’t they see something wrong with being on his side?

    By the way, as you may know, the Armenian church owns a lot of real estate in Jerusalem, both on the east side and the west side. The Church rents out commercial and office space to mainly Jewish tenants, including the Govt of Israel. Now how is Trump’s step divisive? The Arabs don’t want peace on any reasonable terms that Israel can accept. So what Trump’s declaration does is to take west Jerusalem off the bargaining table. To clarify, since 1948 the USA and other Western powers have refused to agree that even west Jerusalem was part of Israel. Yet there is no legal basis for that position since the UN General Assembly partition recommendation of Nov. 29, 1947, was just that, a recommendation. The Jewish side accepted it and the Arabs rejected it. So it became a dead letter. However, the Western powers refused to recognize Israel’s sovereignty in a city where Jews have been the majority since the mid-19th century [since 1853 if not before]. Maybe the Powers wanted to keep Jerusalem as a potential international city. But that would be a very bad situation and neither Arabs nor Jews want it. How would you like it if the Powers said that Stepanakert had to be internationalized because the Azeris claim it too? Or how would you like it if they said they might recognize Artsakh in the old borders of the Nagorno-Karabakh ASSR but demanded that the Armenians give up the subsequently conquered Azeri territory beyond the borders of the old ASSR? Your situation has more in common with Israel’s than you might realize.

    • When has Israel helped Armenia, Diaspora Armenians or the Armenians of Jerusalem, who cannot get permits to fix their property?

    • avatar Vartan Zoravar // December 10, 2017 at 10:50 pm //

      just like Israel take side with Azerbaijan and sell weapons to destroy a already oppresses Armenian people Armenians will do the hell they want . Jerusalem belongs to people of all three faiths . Christ our Lord Jesus came to save the world not divide yet your Zionist regime has not learnt from its past mistakes we Pray to hasten his glorious return to judge the living and the dead Jews MUST repent .

      And iff you are so moral Then get your stupid government to Recognise the Armenian Genocide . or are you going to cry and bitch again about Erdogan and then go back into bed with him .

    • You are asking the Armenians “Aren’t they ashamed?” Ugh… Have you—as a nation defined as a territorial state division—any sanctity at all? It is 2017, hello…, and the Israeli state, after 102 years, shamelessly keeps its mouth shut about recognizing the genocide that befell the Armenian people before the Jewish holocaust and that deprived the Armenian nation of the larger part of its ancestral homeland. It is the same Israeli state and worldwide Jewish lobbying organizations that obstruct recognition of the Armenian genocide. The same state that is BFF with the genocide perpetrator nation (defined as a territorial state division) of Turkey and sells weapons to another Turkic state, our enemy in the east? You are shaming the Armenians?! Ugh…

    • There are about 25 differences between the situation in Artsakh and the situation in the Palestinian territories, in case you’re interested. For one, the liberation of Artsakh was a realization of a people’s right to self-determination, while Israeli’s occupation of the Palestinian territories is a denial of it. For another, Armenia did not move beyond its internationally recognized borders–it is the people of Artsakh who control the land you mention–whereas Israel went beyond its borders and occupied territory. For another, displaced Azeris can live as citizens in Azerbaijan while displaced Palestinians have no Palestine to go to. For another, Armenia does not blockade anybody (on the contrary, it is the victim of a blockade), while Israel blockades the Palestinians in Gaza. For another, the territory “Armenia” “occupies” has become a democracy, as confirmed by Freedom House, whereas the territory Israel occupies has become an Israeli police state. I can go on.

      If the Israeli and Armenian situations have so much in common, why does Israel unequivocally side with Azerbaijan and not Armenia?

      Withdraw your spurious comparison.

  9. avatar History with Hagop // December 11, 2017 at 12:59 am // Reply

    The problem with all this is not so much that “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel” – but the extremely one-sided, not to mention racist, claims of “Jerusalem is the eternal undivided capital of the Jewish people”. This claim, being propagated by the likes of Netanyahu and his hardliners has actually made it into the mouths of American politicians. This basically amounts to a people trying to take over a holy city all to themselves, to be placed at their disposition however they see fit at a future date, instead of acknowledging its triple significance for all three religions.

    First I have a request. Please tell me what “Jewish people” means. Until now based on my own research, I have no clear answer to this, other than what I believe to be a people who have kept their culture through teachings of the Talmud for about 1500 years, and thus which have no real historical continuity to what is today known as ‘Israel’, the country, at least not any more than various Christian nationalities of the Middle East. This accounts for ‘most’ (90-95%?) of those calling themselves ‘Jews’ i.e. ‘Rabbinical Judaism’. Remember: just because a country is called ‘Israel’, it does not mean that it is ‘Israel’ of the Bible. I am not making this up, the source for it is the Bible itself.

    Thus claiming that “Jerusalem is the eternal undivided capital of the Jewish people” is not only false, it is preposterous considering that Jerusalem is actually the eternal capital of… CHRISTIANITY. As the capital of ‘Israel’, it -might- have worked, if Israel was also defined properly. It isn’t. While there are millions of Arabic-speaking Palestinians living there, once again Jewish-Israeli hardliners want to define Israel as a “Jewish state”. (Notice I said Arabic-speaking, not ‘Arabs’, this should be clear why).

    For the future Palestine: again, It will only be fine in my view if Jerusalem is defined properly and not on a similar nationalistic angle of “Jerusalem is the eternal undivided capital of the Palestinian people”. This is no better. Jerusalem is not, and shouldn’t be the capital of ANY nationality. Unfortunately, the chances of the correct first proposal of the UN of making Jerusalem an international city has all but disappeared. Here is where I am disappointed at world Christendom, including the Vatican, who are just sitting idly by and not making any real demands of their own on behalf of our religion. That’s why this whole thing has become a mess with no resolution or a solution in sight.

  10. avatar Herosoohi Vesmadian // December 11, 2017 at 6:15 am // Reply

    MAD DOG Trump is let loose again. Israel is hardly a state let alone have Jerusalem as it’s capital. We Armenians were there & will remain there as 1st Christians & no state can deny or deprive our rights. Aram 1 has every right to protect our quarters, which is more than what our President & other Patriarchs are doing for Jerusalem. Israel has never recognized Armenian Genocide & rest assured will deport all minorities (including Armenians) from Jerusalem once it is declared their Capital city. MAD MAD MAD

  11. The Anglo-American-Jewish alliance (i.e. the political West) is the number one reason why the Middle East is being emptied of its ancient Christian populations. The West is behind the rise of militant Islam. The West is behind wars that have utterly destroyed regional nations and radicalized millions of people.

  12. Trump could not give a hoot about what the Armenians say. They are a minority. The U.S. does not even recognize the Armenian genocide. What do you expect from a dumb President that puts his country and all Christians at risk by proclaiming his decision? There will be more terrorist attacks and more blood will be shed.

    • The US has recognized the Armenian Genocide, but it happened so long ago nobody remembers it. Harut Sassounian’s article of April 25, 2017 states:

      “Armenians and Turks seem to forget that the United States has not only recognized the Armenian Genocide, but has done so repeatedly at the highest levels: The House of Representatives recognized the Armenian Genocide twice in 1975 and 1984. So did President Reagan in his Presidential Proclamation 4838, issued on April 22, 1981. Most importantly, the United States Government officially recognized the Armenian Genocide in a report filed with the International Court of Justice (World Court) in 1951.”

    • The House did not “recognize” the Armenian genocide in the juridical sense of the word. The House resolution adopted in 1975 “[…] authorized the President to designate April 24, 1975, as ‘National Day of Remembrance of Man’s Inhumanity to Man'[…]” This is not recognition per se similar to resulutions adopted by the parliaments of France, Russia, and Germany, among others.

  13. What a foolish attitude and position to take. Just change “Catholicos Aram” to “Ilham Aliyev” and “Jerusalem” to “Nagorno Karabagh” and we could be reading a typical press release by Azerbaijan. Unless we are seeing extreme hypocrisy and double standards in action, by implication these Armenian supposed religious leaders are saying to the world that it should not recognize the current “reality” of NK (its independence) but “continue recognizing the present international status of NK” (i.e., that it is part of Azerbaijan) because to do otherwise “may have negative repercussions in a volatile region”, “may jeopardize the ongoing peace process” and would not “respect the legitimate rights of the Azeris”.

  14. avatar vart adjemian // December 13, 2017 at 6:00 pm // Reply

    Too much emotional outburts and unsavory adjectives thrown at Trump.
    Here are some observations of facts and realities.
    1- Israel has never been a friend of Armenia; that will not change because they have this unfounded fear that if the Genocide is recognized, somehow the Holocaust will be diminished and the German cash cow will vanish.
    2- The Israeli /Palestinian conflict has existed since 1948. For the past 69 years nothing has changed and nothing will change. The reality is that neither party wants a resolution and the UN has been useless.
    3- When Isreal was created, about 400,000 Palestinians were dislocated and became refugees in various refugee camps/settlements.
    Today Palestinians number 4.0 million; Neither Israel nor any other Arab country can reasonabley absorb these many people. Billions have been spent by the UN, the EU and various countries to sustain the refugee camps.That will continue with no solution is sight.
    4- Artsakh/Armenia/Azerbeijan. The OSCE-Minsk group has been in existence for many many years. Not an iota of prgress has been made. The status quo has not changed and most likely will not change. the Azeris will continue to violate the LOC, Armenians will continue to fight and lose their young,
    and the Minsk group will put the blame on both sides- This will be a very very long term conflict.
    4- The blind and one sided support of Israel by the US will not waiver. This has been the policy of US Administrations, whether Democrat or Republican. There are many reasons for that, but this is not the forum to cover them.
    5-Trump’s decision has definely had a severe negative reaction. what is new? We have to be patient and see what the final result/outcome will be, which will take years, and may, just may not happen.
    This was a political move and religious considerations were not taken into consideration. The concept of mixing politics with religion historically has not yielded any positiove results.
    Vart Adjemian

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