Israel: More and more acts of vandalism against Christian sites occur before the arrival of the Pope
May 16, 2014
According to the Latin (i.e. Roman Catholic) Patriarchate of Jerusalem, cited in an AFP news report dated May 7, graffiti in Hebrew reading “Death to the Arabs, to the Christians, and to all who hate Israel” were painted on May 5 in front of the office of the Assembly of Bishops at Our Lady of Jerusalem. Over the sentence was a Star of David. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, deplored the vandalism: “Our Lady’s Center [Le Centre Notre-Dame] is the property of the Holy See, and this provocation happened two weeks before the visit of Pope Francis to the Holy Land and to Jerusalem.” “The bishops are very worried by the lack of security and by the absence of any reaction on the political scene, and are afraid of an escalation of violence,” he added.
Elsewhere, the Benedictine monastery of Tabgha, on the Sea of Tiberias, entrusted to German Benedictines, was profaned on Sunday, April 27. According to a report by the news agency Fides dated April 29, 2014, several young men wearing clothing and hairstyles typical of Orthodox Jews threw stones at three crosses. Next they turned to the convent of Benedictine nuns, toppling a cross and covering with mud an open-air altar, and then they drew the sign of the Star of David on the pews and the chairs. With their stone throwing the vandals also injured a woman who was in the convent.
A press release by the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, cited by Fides, notes that on that same Sunday, April 27, a threatening letter was sent to the Patriarchal Vicariate of Nazareth. This letter, signed by a local rabbi, orders all Christians to “leave the land of Israel” if they do not want to incur “serious retaliation”. The agency Fides also reports without further explanation that, on the same day, the liturgy in the Greek Orthodox church of Al-Bassah, in Galilee, was disturbed.
A long series of profanations and acts of vandalism commenced in February 2012. Accordingn to AFP, extremist Jewish farmers who call their campaign “A Price to Pay” have committed more and more aggressive acts against Christian monasteries, churches and cemeteries as well as against mosques, Palestinians, Arab Israelis and even the Israeli Army, in reaction to government decisions that they deem hostile to their interests.
(Sources: apic/fides/afp – DICI no. 296 dated May 16, 2014)