26 FEBRUARY 2018
A BILL that would give the Israeli government the right to confiscate church land was reminiscent of laws enacted against the Jews in Nazi Germany, Christian leaders in the Holy Land said this weekend. They announced the closure of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in protest at a “systematic campaign of abuse against Churches and Christians”.
A statement issued on Sunday was signed by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem; the Catholic Custos of the Holy Land, Fr Francesco Patton, a Franciscan priest who holds responsibility for guardianships of the holy places on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church; and the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, Patriarch Nourhan Manougian. It said that the campaign had reached its peak in the Bill of Church Lands, a “discriminatory and racist bill”, which is before the Knesset (News, 10 November)
Announcing the closure of the fourth-century Holy Sepulchre, regarded by many Christians as the holiest site in the world, they condemned a “systematic and unprecedented attack against Christians in the Holy Land” which “severely violates the most basic, ab antiquo and sovereign rights, trampling on the delicate fabric of relations between the Christian community and the authorities for decades”.
WE TRIED TO MAKE AN ISSUE OUT OF THIS; YOU DIDN'T CARE??????????
29 SEPTEMBER, 2017
Christians in Jerusalem are lamenting the lack of legal action regarding the wave of church desecrations that has occurred in the city in the past few years.
Over 80 incidents of vandalism against churches and Christian sites have been recorded in the past decade, according to Wadie Abunassar, the adviser to the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land. But in most cases, no arrests or indictments have been made against perpetrators.
In the latest incident that took place on Sept. 20, unidentified vandals smashed a statue of the Virgin Mary and damaged furniture inside Stephen's Church in the Beit Jamal Monastery, near Beit Shemesh. It was the third time the Catholic church had been damaged by vandals in recent years, according to Times of Israel.
A statement condemning the desecration has been issued by the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, but some people have criticized its "weak language" and asked, "How long will we be tolerant?"
"Unfortunately, in these situations we feel how vulnerable we are," one commenter on Facebook wrote.
Salesian Fr. Antonio Scudu, the caretaker of the church, noted that the monastery is open for visitors, and it generally has no problems with its Jewish neighbors, including the residents of an ultra-Orthodox town.
"I was shocked," Scudu said, as reported by Catholic News Service. "I didn't expect to see something like this. The church is always open. If you see what happened, you feel they did it with hate. They smashed everything," he added.
In 2013, a firebomb was thrown at the monastery's door and hateful slogans, such as phrases like "price tag," "death to the Gentiles," and "revenge," were scrawled on the walls. In January 2016, vandals toppled dozens of crosses at Beit Jamal's cemetery.
29 September 2017
Since 2009, at least 53 churches and mosques have been vandalized in present-day Israel and the occupied West Bank. The vast majority of those cases – 45 – have been closed without any charges against perpetrators.
In all, there have been just nine indictments and seven convictions, according to Israeli government data reported by the newspaper Haaretz. Only eight of the cases remain under investigation.
They were usually dismissed on the grounds of unknown perpetrators.
A lawmaker raised the matter in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, at the request of Tag Meir, an organization that monitors racially motivated crimes. According to Haaretz, public security minister Gilad Erdan wrote to the lawmaker that the attacks “were perpetrated from various motives, ranging from negligence through mental illness and, in extreme cases, incidents of arson that appear deliberate.” The newspaper noted that Erdan’s assertion “seems to contradict the fact that most of the cases were closed on the grounds of ‘perpetrator unknown.’” Moreover, according to Haaretz, all the cases involved arson. The name of the organization Tag Meir is a play on the Hebrew words tag mehir – or price tag – the term Israeli settlers and extremists have adopted to describe their sometimes lethal attacks on non-Jews and their property, especially Palestinians.
October 26, 2016
Yesterday, I posted about Christophobia among the Israeli settler set, which has led to scores of hate crimes against Christians in Israel. This has included church burnings, graffiti desecration, physical assaults on priests, and a bombing which left one Christian permanently maimed.
Vandals have torn down concrete crosses marking dozens of graves at a Christian cemetery in central Israel, a church official said on Thursday.
Father Antonio Scudu, responsible for the upkeep of the Saint Stephen’s Church graveyard, within the Beit Jamal monastery, said the damage was spotted by nuns at an adjoining convent on Wednesday.
“But the deeds surely go back further,” he told AFP.
He said that the abuse of 26 grave sites was an act of desecration rather than random vandalism.
“They wanted to smash, to pull down, a symbol of the Christians, the cross.”
“Many, many Israelis come here and are happy, they come with their families because they know there is a beautiful and peaceful place,” he said.
“So we don’t know why they (the attackers) are against these symbols of our religion — the cross.”
One of my coleagues at the Church of Scotland, Rev Loren McGrail and I visited the Monastery at Bet Gemail (there are a whole range of spellings for this Monastery near Beit Shemesh) yesterday. We visited as we had heard of an attack on the church. It fits into a series of attacks on churches in Israel that have taken place over the last few years (the most famous of which was the arson attack on the Church of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabga). I had just returned from Syria where I saw icons defaced by Jihadist Islamic groups such as Isis. Many of them had the faces of the figures on the icons disfigured. I was appalled by the similar destruction at the Church of St Stephen. We were told that this had been carried out by extreamist Jews from Beit Shemesh. I deplore any desecration of holy site of any religion. I was shocked to see this church left in this state.
Jerusalem, May 7, 2018 / 04:27 pm ().- Church leaders are defending the need for a Christian presence in the Old City of Jerusalem, as some report increased vandalism, verbal abuse, and aggressive property acquisition by Jewish settlers.
“Today the church faces a most severe threat at the hands of certain settler groups. The settlers are persistent in their attempts to erode the presence of the Christian community in Jerusalem,” said the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, in an interview with the Guardian.
“These radical settler groups are highly organised. Over the last years we have witnessed the desecration and vandalism of an unprecedented number of churches and holy sites and receive growing numbers of reports from priests and local worshippers who have been assaulted and attacked,” he continued.
Catholic institutions and individuals have also been subject to such attacks, according Jerusalem-based Catholic priest, Father David Neuhaus, an affiliate of the Pontifical Biblical Institute.
“What Patriarch Theophilos describes is correct in that church properties and Christian individuals have been attacked,” Father Neuhaus told CNA.
ACN Interviews Auxiliary Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
For the past 10 years, there has been a notable increase in the number of anti-Christian attacks and incidents in the Holy Land. Perpetrated by Jewish hardliners, they have been regularly denounced by the Christian Churches of the Holy Land, who have appealed about them to the civil authorities. The pontifical foundation ACN International, summaries this last decade after speaking to Auxiliary Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the patriarchal vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine.