Armenia reaffirms its title as the "most anti-Semitic country in post-Soviet space"
    Another act of vandalism in Yerevan

    ANALYTICS  13 June 2024 - 14:41

    On June 11, yet another blatant act of anti-Semitism occurred in Armenia, as an unidentified individual hurled a stone through the window of a Jewish religious centre in Yerevan. Following the incident, which could not be concealed, the Armenian leadership attempted to mitigate the negative fallout. Araik Harutyunyan, Chief of Staff of the Armenian Prime Minister's Office and Chairman of the Council for National Minorities of Armenia, was deployed to preserve the government's reputation.

    Harutyunyan acknowledged the attack on the Jewish synagogue as alarming. "Law enforcement bodies are currently investigating the circumstances of the incident. Armenian authorities and society unequivocally condemn any act or attempt of national and religious xenophobia. Our society maintains an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual respect towards national minorities. Furthermore, representatives of national minorities are involved in all spheres of public life. We are confident that law enforcers will do their utmost to uncover the details of this incident," he stated.

    However, this appears to be another attempt to mask a serious issue with superficial reassurances. Harutyunyan's (the namesake of the former head of the Karabakh junta) portrayal of the incident as an isolated, extraordinary occurrence is misleading. His claims of an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual respect for national minorities in Armenia ring hollow. This is the same country whose second President publicly declared the "genetic incompatibility of Armenians and Azerbaijanis," showcasing a distorted version of "tolerance" to the world.

    Yes, Robert Kocharyan is no longer a representative of the Armenian government and is now in the opposition. However, as a former head of state, he still commands significant support. This was evident in the early parliamentary elections held on June 20, 2021, where 21.04% of voters backed the "Armenia" bloc, a coalition of Kocharyan and Dashnak supporters. To put it in numbers, 268,165 citizens of Armenia endorsed Kocharyan's views, including his stance on the "genetic incompatibility of Armenians and Azerbaijanis." This clearly undermines Araik Harutyunyan's claims about an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual respect for national minorities in Armenia.

    Furthermore, Armenia has a troubling history of Judeophobia. On October 3 of last year, a synagogue in Yerevan was attacked. A group called ASALA_Young, which claims to be the successor to the historic terrorist organization ASALA (Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia), took responsibility for this and a subsequent attack. On November 15, there was an attempt to set fire to the only synagogue in Yerevan. This was notably the second instance of arson at a Jewish religious site worldwide since the Arab-Israeli conflict's escalation, and the first outside the Middle East (the previous instance occurred in Tunisia on October 18 of last year). Armenia's Chief Rabbi Gershon Burshtein recounted to Channel 5 of Armenian TV how the arsonists tried for 40 minutes to ignite the synagogue, first with a small amount of petrol, then bringing more.

    Both attacks on the synagogue in Yerevan sparked a significant outcry. The president of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), one of Europe's largest rabbinical organizations, demanded that the Armenian authorities detain ASALA group members, outlaw the organization, and increase security for the Jewish community. The CER warned, "If there is no proper response and Jewish blood is spilt in the streets, the responsibility will be on the head of the Armenian government." Despite this, none of the perpetrators were detained. Israel's Ambassador to Armenia, Joel Lion, also called on the Armenian government to condemn all forms of anti-Semitism, thoroughly investigate the crime, and bring the perpetrators to justice.

    The Jerusalem Post, an Israeli English-language publication, labelled Armenia as "the most anti-Semitic country in the post-Soviet space," citing that 58 per cent of the population harbours anti-Jewish sentiments. This context highlights the dishonesty of Araik Harutyunyan, Chief of Staff of the Armenian Prime Minister's Office and Chairman of the Council for National Minorities of Armenia, who claimed that "an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual respect for national minorities reigns in Armenian society."

    In contrast, Azerbaijan exemplifies true tolerance. The country hosts seven Jewish confessional communities, with functioning synagogues in Baku, Guba (the settlement of Krasnaya Sloboda), and Oguz. Baku is home to the largest synagogue in the entire Caucasus region. There has never been a single case of xenophobia or Judeophobia in Azerbaijan, where Jews have lived, continue to live, and will live happily.

    Caliber.Az

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