Who is Danny Rothman, the Australian Jewish investor set to build a hotel in East Jerusalem’s Armenian Quarter?

danny rothman
7 min read
03 August, 2023

[This article is the first part of The Armenian Quarter Files, a series of investigations into a controversial land deal in occupied East Jerusalem].

Over the past few weeks, secret plans to build a luxury hotel over land leased from the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem to an Australian Jewish investor has provoked outrage within the Armenian community of the Old City, and concerns over the erasure of its presence.

Meanwhile, very little information on the company behind the hotel plans, Xana Gardens Ltd, or its director, Daniel "Danny" Rothman (also known as Daniel Rubinstein), has been made public. Media reports have described him as a “mysterious” investor.

"Many within the Armenian community fear that Christian presence will be forever changed in the Old City."

The New Arab (TNA) can now reveal many of Danny Rothman’s past business ventures, based on company and court records as well as open-source information. These ventures suggest that Rothman has extensive ties within the tourism industry, both in Israel and abroad.

TNA contacted Mr. Rothman for comments regarding his past ventures, his alleged Israeli nationality, as well as his plans for Jerusalem’s Old City. No response was received in time for publication.

Palestinian and Christian concerns

Armenian activists estimate that the extension of the project might reach 16,000 m2 (around 13% of the Armenian Quarter’s 126,000 m2).

Many within the Armenian community fear that Christian presence will be forever changed in the Old City. Mostly as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Jerusalem’s Armenian population has been in decline since the mid-20th century. 

"The land lease has not only alarmed Armenians but also Palestinian Arabs, because of its political implications."

The land controversy has led to the defrocking of Baret Yeretzian, the director of the Department of Real Estate of the Patriarchate.

Both the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Jordan have withdrawn their recognition of Patriarch Nourhan Manougian, due to his mishandling of “culturally and historically significant Christian properties in Jerusalem’s Armenian Quarter”. 

These properties are located in East Jerusalem, whose Israeli annexation is a violation of international law, as the area would fall under PA jurisdiction. The land lease has not only alarmed Armenians but also Palestinian Arabs, because of its political implications.

Jewish investors from all around the world have long sought to buy real estate in occupied East Jerusalem for various reasons, from religious to sentimental, political, and purely business ones. The Armenian Quarter is especially strategic as it intersects the main access roads between West Jerusalem and the Old City’s Jewish Quarter, making it “prime real estate in Israeli eyes”.

In 2019 an Israeli court ruling approved the purchase of property leases from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate by religious settler organisation Ateret Cohanim. Similarly to the Armenian land deal, foreign companies played a role in the purchase. Yeretzian, the defrocked real estate manager of the Armenian Patriarchate, has dismissed the parallels, saying that Rothman is instead “a secular Jew”.   

The rise of Rothman: From Club Royal to Nobu

Picture of Rothman
A profile picture of Danny Rothman, according to his LinkedIn profile. [LinkedIn/fair use]

Rothman, who also goes by Rubinstein according to company records, has declined to speak to the media, stating to AP that “I never get interviewed by the press.”

Examination of Xana Gardens’ company records has also led to a dead end, as the parent company, Xana Capital Group, is registered in Dubai, where company shareholder information is not publicly available. 

While the Emirates have always been an appealing destination for international firms due to tax avoidance and corporate secrecy, the normalisation of ties with Israel sanctioned by the Abraham Accords in 2020 has been a boost for trade between the two countries. 

Daniel Rothman’s first business endeavour in the Israeli tourism sector started in the 1990s with his appointment as director and chairman of then-Club International Marketing Israel. The company - later renamed Club Royal and owned by the late David Lewis, founder and owner of Isrotel - was engaged in the sale of timeshares, according to a 2003 article in Israeli daily Haaretz.

Mr. Rothman reappeared a few years later, this time in a much more exciting role. In 2008, he was part of a team of investors tasked with bringing a luxury hotel to Herzliya, according to another Israeli newspaper, The Jerusalem Post. 

As part of this effort, Danny Rothman partnered with the Tidhar group and members of the Strauss family to operate a subsidiary of Nobu Hospitality in Israel. Nobu is an American hotel and restaurant chain founded by actor Robert de Niro and chef Nobu Matsuhisa.

The Strauss family are controlling shareholders of the Strauss group, the second largest food manufacturer in Israel, with NIS 9.5 billion ($2.68 billion) of revenue in 2022 alone.

The Tidhar group is an Israeli construction and real estate company, and was responsible for building the campus of Microsoft in Herzliya Pituach in 2019.

Nobu would later cancel its plans due to the 2008 financial crisis. 

Lesser known ventures

Previous ventures by Danny Rothman seem to have been less flashy. 

According to company records obtained by TNA, Rothman started multiple companies in Israel within the travel and timeshare industries. In November 1994, he launched D.R. Tamar Tours, while a second company, Ben Air Ltd, followed suit in February 1995.

Rothman is a director for both these companies, and is their majority shareholder through Hillwood Services, an offshore company in Ireland.

Excerpt from the company records of Hillwood Services, filed with the Companies Registration Office in Ireland
Excerpt from the company records of Hillwood Services, filed with the Companies Registration Office in Ireland (CRO). [CRO]

Some of these endeavours ran into financial and legal problems.

In a 2002 case, Rothman was taken to court over unpaid fees amounting to NIS 92,950 ($19,879) to one of his law firms. 

According to court documents from another case in 2009, D.R. Tamar Tours had to declare insolvency as it was unable to pay NIS 500,000 ($132,716 at the time) worth of sales commissions to one of its former employees. 

Finally, in December 2013, another one of Rothman’s companies, Tamar Resorts and Residences Ltd, was liquidated by court order, after it had failed to reach a settlement over the alleged mismanagement of the then-Tamar Residence hotel in Jerusalem.


Rothman is also involved in other business ventures worldwide.

"When contacted by TNA, the London School of Economics stated that it 'can find no record of a Daniel Rothman or Daniel Rubinstein graduating from LSE'."

In June 2016, he became the director of two companies engaged in ship management in Cyprus. 

In October of that same year, the Cyprus Securities Exchange Commission (CySEC) fined him €100.000 ($112,198 at the time) for reportedly not possessing “the academic titles that he claimed to possess”, adding that “the relevant documents submitted were counterfeited.” The Cypriot commission also accused Rothman of submitting “tax statements for the years 2013 and 2014 that were falsified”. CySEC banned Rothman from the financial sector for five years, while referring his case to the Attorney General for criminal investigation.

On his LinkedIn profile, Danny Rothman claims to have received a Bachelor’s of Applied Science from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). When contacted by TNA, the university stated that it “can find no record of a Daniel Rothman or Daniel Rubinstein graduating from LSE”.

Excerpt from decision by CySEC to fine Daniel Rubinstein in 2016
Excerpt from decision by CySEC to fine Daniel Rubinstein in 2016. [CySEC]

Rothman was also seen at a Town Hall meeting in the Bahamas in June 2018, where he represented Skyline Investments in their bid to build a $2 billion resort. Rothman was presented as Chief Operating Officer of the Canadian firm. 

Ultimately, the resort plan was scrapped by August 2019.

Where is Danny Rothman now?

The current whereabouts of Rothman are unclear. 

His LinkedIn profile suggests that he works as Chief Operating Officer for Wellspring Investments Holdings, a Japanese hospitality subsidiary of a private equity firm. In this role, he seems to be overseeing the launch of a resort on Mount Moiwa, in Japan. This is further confirmed by a comment he left on the website of one of its collaborators on the project.

While his plans remain unknown, it is clear from Rothman’s past business endeavours that he has expansive ties within the tourism and hotel industries. This is all more relevant, as the Armenian community gears up to legally challenge the lease of the Armenian Patriarchate’s land in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem-based Jessica Buxbaum contributed to this report.

For questions, comments and complaints please email Andrea Glioti (head of TNA investigative unit) andrea.glioti@newarab.com or Anas Ambri (TNA investigative researcher) anas.ambri@newarab.com .

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