Last night (Wednesday), insurgents set fire to the synagogue in Yerevan, Mordechai HaNavi, Armenia’s only synagogue. This is the second attack on the synagogue in two months. The first attack took place one and a half months ago, and in both cases, the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) claimed responsibility, as reported on their Telegram channel in Armenian and English. Both arson attacks were first publicized with video clips of the incidents on their channel, together with manifestos, which stated the reasons for these attacks, as well as new threats.
In October, the pro-Palestinian group called its attack a “warning”: “Our successful operation on 3 October in Yerevan is just the beginning.” The second time, they boasted of a “successful operation against the Word Jewish Center,” that “conducts espionage in the interests of the Zionist junta of Tel Aviv and Aliyev.”
According to their announcement, the arson attack is related to the situation in Gaza. “We commenced our activity three days before Operation Al-Aqsa Storm. Our second operation was a repetition of the success of the Palestinian resistance, and was carried out in solidarity with the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance movements against the Zionists.” ASALA claims that Israel exercised the “annihilation of thousands of children, women, and elderly” in Karabakh, a region of Azerbaijan that was returned to Baku following a 30-year period under the rule of the unrecognized separatist government.
ASALA said that they “fully support the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance” since they claim that Israel was behind the activity. According to their statement, the group also put up posters in Yerevan and other Armenian cities containing the emblems of Hamas and Hezbollah “which show that we have a common enemy.”
The manifesto contains a new threat, which states that “If the Zionist regime does not cease their armed attacks on the Armenian quarter of Jerusalem, and the confiscation of Armenian church property, our next operation will take place outside Armenia.” Their statement alludes to the lease of land in Jerusalem belonging to the Armenian Patriarchate for the construction of a hotel.
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the President of the Conference of European Rabbis, said that “In less than two months the Great Synagogue has been vandalized for the second time. A group of insurgents is harming the Jews in the name of a terror organization that beheads babies, and brutalizes and murders the elderly and the helpless. We must put an end to this. Jewish blood is not cheap. I demand that President Vahagn Khachaturyan arrest the members of ASALA and outlaw the group in light of its support for the murderous Hamas-Daesh terror organization. I expect the Armenian government to reinforce security for the Jewish community due to the war in Israel. Without an appropriate response, Jewish blood will be spilt in the streets and the Armenian government and its leader will be held accountable.
Rabbi Zamir Isayev, rabbi of the Georgian Sephardic community in Azerbaijan and a member of the international division of the European Conference of Rabbis said in response: “A few weeks before the first attack, I warned of the likelihood of action against the Jews due to their close relations with Azerbaijan. The return of Karabakh to Azerbaijani rule and the dissolution of the unrecognized republic using military units, which are forbidden according to agreements, ignited the fire of hatred against the Jews with the unfounded claim of Israeli responsibility for events in the region.
“Again we are witness to insurgents who see relations strengthening between Israel and Azerbaijan; supporters of the Armenian separatist regime in Karabakh, who launched an attack on the European Jewish community, which only intensified following the Swords of Iron War.
“I am sorry to see this materializing, but it was expected, since a discourse of hate always turns into 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 give in to threats and we utterly reject any such threat to inflict damage to Jewish holy places.”
This article was written in cooperation with Shuva Israel