Armenians of Palestine/Israel: The Rise and Decline of a Community

The Armenian presence in Palestine dates back to the fourth century a.d., when Armenian pilgrims began arriving in Jerusalem after the uncovering of the holy places of Christianity (which had been built over by the Romans), ascribed to Saint Helena, mother of the newly converted Emperor Constantine I. A proliferation of monasteries, many of them Armenian, soon grew up in the Holy Land. The Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church (also known as the Armenian Gregorian Church) had its own bishop in Jerusalem as of the seventh century.

The Armenian community of Palestine during the British Mandate has been a marginalized topic in Palestinian historiography. This stems partly from language constraints, as most of the relevant material is in Armenian, but the period represents challenges even for Armenian scholars because of the inaccessibility of the Armenian patriarchal archives and the absence of local Armenian daily or even weekly newspapers in the period under study.

Other factors pertain to the community’s small size and its relative marginalization with regard to the great political issues that absorbed Palestine during the Mandate.

Source: Der Matossian, Bedross, “The Armenians of Palestine 1918-48” (2011). Faculty Publications, Department of History. Paper 121.


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