Armenia does not practice the saying “Do not do unto others, what you do not want others to do unto you.” What they do is claim victimhood of Muslim persecution from Muslim countries. Whether it is Turkey or Azerbaijan, now Armenians openly display anti-Jews-anti-Israel sentiments.
Since the 2020 2nd Karabakh War between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Israel has often appeared in media headlines. The cordial three-decade bilateral diplomatic relations between the two countries has also taken to new heights.
It has become known to the world that Israel’s military hardware, which Azerbaijan purchases from Israel has given the country a military advantage in its conflict with Armenia. That advantage helped Azerbaijan to finally liberate the Nagorno-Karabakh region from 30 years of illegal Armenian occupation. The powerful advanced weapons Azerbaijan purchased from Israel, ahead of its anti-terror offense during September 19-20, 2023, was rather helpful to have brought the ethnic Armenian remnants still residing in Karabakh back under Azerbaijan’s full control in no more than a 24-hour battle.
It is now revealed that Azerbaijani military cargo planes repeatedly flew between Israel’s southern Ramon airbase and an airfield near Nagorno-Karabakh, while western governments were still on the path to succeed in the ongoing peace talks between the two foes.
The high quality military hardware from Israel gave Azerbaijan an advantage over the Armenian army’s obsolete weapons and equipment.
The short-span battle took place between Azerbaijan’s armed forces and Armenian illegal military that remained in the region, against the signed 2020 Ceasefire Trilateral Statement. The battle’s outcome was that the leaders of the illegal self-declared Armenia entity named “Artsakh” signed a decree to dissolve its “government” and disarm the illegal military.
The region is heavily mined with anti-personnel and anti-tank mines planted by Armenia. Unfortunately, during the anti-terror operation Azerbaijan lost over 100 soldiers and one civilian.
Armenia Directs Its Defeat Anger Toward Jews and Israel
The Mordechai Navi Synagogue in the Armenian capital Yerevan, was opened in June 2011 with financial assistance from Armenian businessman David Galstyan. It is the only Jewish place of worship in Armenia, headed by Gershon Burstein, the Chief Rabbi of Armenia and serves as the Jewish community centre of the city and as a synagogue.
The Jewish community in Armenia has 2,000 years of history. That was when the first Jewish groups settled in Armenia after the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. Headed by Rima Varzhapetyan-Feller, despite the fact that Jews have been present in Armenia since the days of Tigranes the Great, presently, the Jewish community, mainly in Armenia’s capital Yerevan, counts approximately 500–1000 Jews.
On the morning of October 3, 2023, caught on video, the Mordechai Navi synagogue was vandalized and desecrated. The vandal splashed red paint and threw a Molotov cocktail at the Mordechay Navi Jewish Religious Center window.
According to Kan, Israeli radio station (in Hebrew), there are only about 200 Jews left in Armenia. Kan radio called upon the Armenian Jewish community, “One must not surrender to those who want to bring about a conflict between Armenians and Jews.”
Soon after the attack, a virulently anti-Semitic statement, justifying it was widely circulated on Armenian social media. The statement criticized Israel and the world’s Jewish community for allegedly supporting Turkey, blamed to be responsible for the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians during the 1915-16 years, and also Azerbaijan, which has fought 2 wars with its neighbor Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, to which Azerbaijan has a legal territorial integrity claim.
Armenian Victimhood Stoked By Palestinian Victimhood
Allegedly, a militant Armenian group that was armed and trained by the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) during the 1980s has claimed responsibility for the attack on the synagogue.
However, ASALA_Young, on their Telegram channel, created at the day of the vandalism act, claimed responsibility for the vandalism.
Judging by its name and logo, ASALA_Young promotes the ideas of Armenia’s Secret Army for Liberation of Armenia (ASALA). It is an Armenian paramilitary organization, created in 1975, and recognized by the United States and other countries as a terrorist organization.
According to ASALA_Young, the “act of intimidation” intended was to “take revenge on Israel and world Jewry for supporting Azerbaijan.”
In their Telegram Message ASALA_Young threatened and promised that, “If Jewish rabbis in the USA and Europe continue to support [Azerbaijan] Aliyev regime, we will continue to burn their synagogues in other countries. Every rabbi will be under our guns… We will start a war against Israeli Jews in Europe, America, Canada, Georgia.”
Israel’s Kan radio reported that the incident was not just an act of vandalism but the intent was to burn the synagogue by throwing a Molotov cocktail bottle into the building. Luckily, it did not ignite.
However, another provocation against the Jewish minority in Armenia took place recently.
On the Jewish Sabbath, September 9, 2023, during prayer service, an unidentified Armenian burst into the very same Mordechai Navi synagogue and began yelling curses and threats.
The Yerevan authorities ignored the incident and the need to provide security to protect the only center that serves the local Jewish community’s religious needs.
Had the Armenian authorities taken the necessary precautions, no one would have been able to freely vandalize and throw Molotov cocktails at a religious institution.
On September 17, 2023, Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs sounded the alarm that ”there are concerns about violent attacks against Jewish property (in Armenia) in the near future.”
On October 2, 2023, the day before the attack on Mordechai Navi synagogue, the Begin-Sadat Center, an Israeli think tank wrote: “The restoration of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over the entire territory of Karabakh triggered a wave of Antisemitism in Armenia.”
In June 25, 2019, years before Armenia lost its last foot in Karabakh and the “revelation” that Israel’s military hardware helped Azerbaijan to win its case of liberating its own land from illegal occupier Armenia, the Jerusalem Post, an Israeli English-language publication, came up with the headline: “Armenia’s Jewish problem – Israel’s deep relationship with Azerbaijan is no accident. Azerbaijan has no history of anti-Semitism and no contemporary anti-Semitism for that matter.”
While Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER) has called on the President of Armenia to condemn the attack on the synagogue in Yerevan and to “strengthen the security of the Jewish community,” it is noteworthy that the Armenian law enforcement agencies are still silent about these anti-Semitic events.
Vandalizing the synagogue in Yerevan is clearly the outcome of the animosity Armenians have for Muslims, whether because of the over a century old killing of Armenians in Turkey or the loss of Armenians presence in Karabakh which they illegally occupied and was liberated by its owner Azerbaijan.
Now Armenia’s animosity and anger is also directed at Israel, its military hardware had a significant effect on the 2020 44-day 2nd Karabakh War and the September 19-20, 2023, anti-terrorism 2-day operation that brought to an end Armenia’s occupation of Azerbaijan’s lawful land.
Reasons for Antisemitism Sentiment in Armenia
The surge in Antisemitism sentiments in Armenia could also be related to the Jewish people’s support of Azerbaijan, manifested in rabbis from around the world in a recent large-scale media campaign.
Since August 27, 2023, rabbis from Europe, the UK, the US, Canada, Latin America, and Israel actively opposed the use of “Holocaust” and “genocide” terms by Armenian propaganda in order to demonize Azerbaijan.
On September 6, 2023 dozens of leading Rabbis condemned Armenian leaders for using Holocaust rhetoric. The group of 50 senior leading European Rabbis signed a joint letter condemning the leaders of Armenia for using Holocaust rhetoric in its campaign against its neighbor, Azerbaijan.
“Expressions such as ‘ghetto’, ‘genocide’, ‘holocaust’ and others are inappropriate to be part of the jargon used in any kind of political disagreement”, the rabbis said in their letter addressed to Nikol Pashinyan, Armenia’s Prime Minister and the country’s President Vahagn Garniki Khachaturyan. The letter also expressed the rabbis’ concern over Armenia’s close ties with Iran, “a country which incessantly openly and publicly calls for destruction of the only Jewish country in the world.”
The letter, organized by the Rabbinical Center of Europe, a Brussels-based Jewish umbrella organization representing over 800 rabbis and Jewish communities in the continent, was signed by 50 leading rabbis from 20 European countries including, France, England, Germany, Austria, Italy, Norway, Holland, Belgium, Croatia, Spain, Gibraltar, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Malta, Cyprus, Estonia, and Ukraine.
The rabbis’ letter, that received widespread coverage in Israeli, Ukrainian and various European media, called upon the Armenian leadership to “explicitly and unequivocally clarify that the Armenian people recognizes and honors the terrible human suffering undergone by the Jewish people” and to stop “belittling the extent of the Jewish people’s suffering to further any political interest through incessantly using phrases associated with the holocaust suffered by the Jewish people.”
In response to the Jewish community’s organized actions, the Armenian diaspora in Europe launched a pressure campaign against rabbis who participated in public statements or signed letters while the Jews of Yerevan also began to come under pressure.
In an emotional speech, Rabbi Zamir Isayev, Chairman of the Georgian-Sephardic Jewish Community in Baku, expressed the pain of Azerbaijan’s Jewish community, in view of the smear campaign against the Azerbaijani authorities for ‘starving thousands of Armenians to death’ and comparing them, God forbid, to the days of the Holocaust. “There are events in the history of mankind, their use for any purpose other than preserving memory is wrong and forbidden,” he said.
“The Armenians,” the rabbi claimed, “are allies of the Iranians, and they cynically use the Holocaust for despicable political purposes.” In his speech, the rabbi called on the Jewish leadership in Israel and the Diaspora to support the Azeri people, who for generations stood by and protected the Jews and gave shelter to those who fled the [Russian] Pogroms and Nazi atrocities.
Rabbi Isayev also appealed to the rest of the Armenian Jews: “Leave before it is too late,” for fear of their fate.
Azerbaijan Policy of Respect for All Religions
Azerbaijan’s Interior Ministry in collaboration with police teams were assigned the responsibility to protect all religious, historical and cultural monuments in the Karabakh region.
Though the illegal Armenian enclave in Karabakh has begun dissolving itself, and unlike Armenia that vandalized, desecrated and destroyed all Muslim religious and Azerbaijani culture site in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, Azerbaijan guarantees police protection of churches in Karabakh region.
The Amaras Monastery, an Armenian monastery near the village of Sos, in the Khojavend District of Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh, was a prominent religious and educational center in medieval Armenia; Gandzasar Monastery, a 13th-century Armenian Apostolic cathedral near the village of Vank in the Kalbajar District of Azerbaijan, historically the region’s most important church since its foundation; and the cathedral and church in the Azerbaijani town Khankendi which the Armenian invaders named Stepanakert.
Just as the Azerbaijan authorities will protect the rights and ensure the security of Armenian residents in Karabakh, advise to Armenia, protect Armenia’s Jewish house of worship; protect the rights and ensure the security of the Jews in Armenia; put a stop to hate. Armenian citizens should not direct their sentiment of hate toward Jews and Israel just because Israel and Azerbaijan are allies.
Armenia, just remember do not do to others what you would not like to be done to you.