The Armenian Council of America condemns the threats posed to the sanctity and continuity of the Armenian Quarter in East Jerusalem. We earnestly call upon the United States Administration, elected officials in the U.S., and allies of Israel to demand that the Armenian community receive equitable treatment and due process amidst the ongoing land dispute.
Encompassing approximately one-sixth of Jerusalem, the Armenian Quarter stands as a testament to a vibrant history that stretches back 1,600 years to the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine. Armenians, having settled in Jerusalem as early as the first century BCE, forged a resilient presence that remains an integral part of the broader Armenian Diaspora today. The Quarter has also hosted the Jerusalem Patriarchate of the Armenian Apostolic Church for over a thousand years.
In July 2021, the Armenian Patriarchate entered into a 98-year lease agreement for the “Cow’s Garden” with Australian developer Danny Rubenstein to construct a luxury hotel, resulting in the demolition of existing structures. This agreement met with staunch opposition from the local Armenian community and the wider Armenian Diaspora, raising concerns about the encroachment and destruction of historically significant community buildings.
Despite the Armenian Patriarchate’s announcement on November 1, 2023 canceling the contentious deal, Danny Rubenstein’s company, XANA, has obstinately rejected the cancellation and proceeded with construction. This led to peaceful protests by local Armenians which in turn was met with regrettable violence from Israeli police and civilians. Some Israeli civilians faced down the peaceful protesters with firearms and dogs. Rather than adhering to due process, it appears that Danny Rubenstein and George Warwar of XANA International are resorting to coercion and intimidation to dissuade the Armenian community from safeguarding its rights.
It is of the utmost importance to shield the cultural heritage of the Armenian Quarter from developers and armed settlers who seem intent on dispossessing the area of its historic Armenian inhabitants. We firmly stand in solidarity with the Armenian community as they peacefully oppose this development through well-coordinated demonstrations and by their unwavering presence in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem.