Jewish Center in Armenia Vandalized Amid Strengthening of Israel-Azerbaijan Relations

The vandalized shul in Yerevan, Armenia.

Overnight Wednesday, the only synagogue in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital city, was vandalized, as a reaction to the strengthening of ties and support between Israel and Azerbaijan.

Recently, a 30-year conflict ended in Karabakh, a segment of land in the Caucasus Mountains, under the control of Azerbaijan, yet populated by Christian Armenians, who have established an unrecognized republic. In light of the strengthening of Israel-Azerbaijan relations, supporters of the Armenian separatist regime in Karabakh set fire to the synagogue in Yerevan.

At the same time, the organization issued a statement proclaiming, “The Jews are the enemy of the Armenian nation, collaborators in crime with the Turks and the bloody regime of Aliyev against the Republic of Armenia and Artsakh, partners in the forced deportation of more than 100,000 people from the Armenian motherland. Israel supplies arms to Aliyev’s criminal regime, and American and European Jews actively support him. Turkey, Aliyev’s regime, and the Jews are the sworn enemies of the Armenian state and the Armenian people.

Their statement conveys a direct threat to the Jewish communities: “If the Jewish rabbis in the United States of America and Europe continue to support Aliyev’s regime, we will continue to burn their synagogues in other countries. Every rabbi will our target. No Israeli Jew will feel safe coming to our countries.”

President of the Conference of European Rabbis, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, said that “The vandalism of the Jewish center in Armenia is a cause for concern. The Armenian Jewish community is not party to the conflict in Karabakh. I appeal to President Vahagn Khachaturyan to condemn this heinous act. The Armenian government must reinforce security for the Jewish community and exhaust the law in bringing to justice those responsible for this anti-Semitic act. I am holding the hands of the Armenian Jewish community and pray that it can continue celebrating the festival of Sukkot and its extended activities.”

Rabbi Zamir Isayev, the rabbi of the Georgian Sephardic community in Azerbaijan, responded by saying, “A few weeks ago, I had warned that staying in Armenia is dangerous for the Jews. I am not the only one who conveyed this warning – the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs in Israel twice stated that in the past month in particular there would likely be acts committed against the Jews due to their close ties with Azerbaijan.

“Returning Karabakh to the control of Azerbaijan and the dissolution of the unrecognized republic with the aid of military units is prohibited according to agreements, and it ignited the fire of hatred against the Jews with the unfounded claim of Israeli responsibility for the events in the region. I am afraid that words do come true. However, it was to be expected since a discourse of hatred always manifests in acts of violence.

“The desecration of a synagogue anywhere in the world is a serious crime and under no circumstances should such a barbaric act be accepted without an appropriate response. We must not surrender to threats and we reject with disgust every threat like this to harm the holy people of Israel.”

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