In January 2000, I happened to witness an exceptional scene in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Three people were quietly standing by the Star of Bethlehem – President of the Palestinian Autonomy Yasser Arafat, President of Armenia Robert Kocharyan and Catholicos of All-Armenians Garegin II. For me, it became one of the most vivid proofs to the fact that we are a global nation.
The funeral of the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem Torgom Manukyan will take October 22. It seems that the leaders of our state and church only decided to send telegrams of condolence. Top officials or church representatives weren’t announced to take part in the funeral of the Patriarch in Jerusalem yet.
After the aggravation of the situation in Syria the disputes on what Armenia can do for supporting the Armenian communities when they find themselves in severe situations aren’t ceasing in Armenia. It’s just the day now when not much is needed for supporting the Armenian community of Jerusalem - the country’s and church leaders should just get seated in the plane and set off there.
When the Armenian President visited Israel and Palestine in 2000, Yerevan didn’t conceal that demonstration of moral support to the Armenian community was one of his main goals. In particular, spokesman for the President Vahe Gabrielyan said then that the issue of Jerusalem’s status concerns all Armenians as the spiritual and material values accumulated there belong to the whole Armenian people.
However, after the visit just a little was done and the Armenian community of Jerusalem kept on shrinking in number and losing influence. It’s clear that Armenia’s resources are limited and don’t allow implementing big projects outside the country. It’s also clear that Armenia’s such attempts can hardly make Israel happy. However, one can always find ways to reach if not 100% but partial results if he wants to.
We are proud of the presence we have in the Holy Land. Indeed, one feels indescribable sensations while seeing Armenian clergymen in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem or the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. But one should fight for preserving these riches. If none of Armenian leaders or leaders of the Armenian Church go to the Patriarch’s funeral it will be definitely beneficial for those who have “some intentions” on our heritage.
I suppose the support to the Armenian community in Jerusalem is of special importance now when tremendous changes take place in the Middle East. We can’t allow ourselves to reject the “card” called the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem. Let’s not forget that the issue of Armenian Quarter’s future became one of the principal issues that Israeli and Palestinians couldn’t agree upon in Camp David in 2000.
I think the leaders of our state and church should go to Jerusalem to say their last farewell to the Patriarch as he deserves and demonstrate the whole world that we are protecting the interests of the Armenian Quarter, Armenians living there and our heritage. Otherwise, it will mean that the concept of “the Armenian world” lacks real content.
Ara Tadevosyan is the Director of Mediamax.