In his latest effort to demonize the Jews of Israel, Macdonald pens an 1,150 word magnum opus about the Armenian community in Jerusalem. Loaded with rich historical narrative detailing the Armenian presence in the Holy Land -- which, by the way, Reuters never similarly provides for the 3,500 year Jewish presence in the Holy Land -- Macdonald's transparent agenda here is to portray Israel in a nefarious light, intent on ethnically cleansing non-Jews from Jerusalem:
Macdonald suggests that Israel is using control over building permits to "press Arabs and other non-Jews to leave" Jerusalem but as we noted here, Israel has in recent years approved more than 36,000 permits for non-Jewish housing in the city -- enough to accommodate even the rosiest population growth forecasts through 2020.Officials of the church, at the Armenian Patriarchate, share a view held by the mostly Muslim Palestinians -- that Israel's designation of the whole city as capital of the Jewish state means its control of residence and building permits is being used to press Arabs and other non-Jews to give up and leave.
"The withdrawing of ID cards is becoming very serious," said historian George Hintlian, a former Patriarchate secretary. Five local-born Armenians lost residence rights last month, he added.
Non-Jews, a third of today's 750,000 population in greater Jerusalem, have had residence rights but not citizenship since Israel seized the Arab east, including the Old City, from Jordan in 1967. Israel, which promotes Jewish immigration, says it is not obliged to grant re-entry to other residents who emigrate.
It says it respects the access of other faiths to Jerusalem and denies any policy to discriminate or to push non-Jews out. But the Armenians see double standards and fear for their land.
Macdonald then quotes a former Armenian Patriarchate secretary to suggest that Israel is withdrawing resident ID cards in an effort to expel non-Jews. But as we noted here, that only occurs if a resident spends more than seven consecutive years outside Israel, or adopts foreign residency or citizenship -- a policy not materially different from that maintained by European governments. Indeed, in the UK and France, the government may terminate residency after an absence of only two years.
Both of Macdonald's assertions are actually red herrings for while the former Bureau Chief is sure to remind readers that non-Jews in Jerusalem "have had residence rights but not citizenship since Israel seized the Arab east", he conceals by omission, the fact that all Palestinians were offered Israeli citizenship at the time and the vast majority refused. With concern that a future peace agreement may divide the city and leave them under Palestinian authority, thousands of non-Jews have recently rushed to apply for Israeli citizenship.
Ultimately however, on the question of demographics, the proof is in the pudding and as our right-column graphic clearly illustrates, the Arab population in Jerusalem has increased its share of the total from 26 percent to 34 percent, nearly quadrupling since Israel liberated the city in 1967. The current Armenian population numbers anywhere from 2,500 to 3,000 depending on source, a figure that has historically fluctuated and only about five-hundred fewer than the estimated 3,500 residents living in Jerusalem just prior to 1967. And while Macdonald alleges poor treatment of the Armenian Christians by Israeli authorities and Orthodox Jews, he is silent on their maltreatment at the hands of Palestinian Muslims -- a reality which has driven many Christians to emigrate from the region.