Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon denounced a conference organized by the Israeli Open University to discuss the increasing violence on Christians and Christian sites in Palestine. These attacks, carried out mostly by Anti-Chrisitan Zionist hate groups, have increased at an alarming pace. Close to twenty incidents were registered between the end of 2022 and June of 2023.
High-level clergy in Jerusalem have blamed, at least in part, the far-right government, which includes ultranationalist ministers, for the growing wave of attacks. Nikodemus Schnabel, who presides over the Benedictine Abbey of the Dormition in Jerusalem, told the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung that attacks against Christians have increased because “those who hate Christians now sit in the government.” He was right.
The conference, sponsored and organized by the Center for the Study of Relations Between Jews, Christians and Muslims at the Open University of Israel and carrying the bizarre name, “Why do (some) Jews spit on Goyim,” was held in June 2023 in Jerusalem. The conference was supposed to take place at the King David Tower museum, but due to pressure from the Mayor’s office and the harsh criticism by Israel’s Chief Rabbi, Shlomo Amram, it had to be moved to another location.
The King David Tower museum sits in the citadel at the Old City of Jerusalem entrance, overlooking Jaffa Gate. The tower and the museum have nothing to do with King David, but the name and the museum are part of the Zionist propaganda machine that desperately tries to give historical legitimacy to the existence of the settler colonial project known as Israel.
Israeli officials refused to participate
According to a report in Axios, the Israeli Foreign Ministry decided to boycott the conference in Jerusalem that will focus on the growing wave of attacks by Jewish Israelis against Christians in Jerusalem. Yisca Harani, one of Israel’s leading experts on Christianity, organized the conference. “I got a call from a Foreign Ministry official who said that the name of the conference is inappropriate and, therefore, they are not going to attend,” she said.
There can be no surprise here. Israeli government officials, members of the Jerusalem municipality, and the Netanyahu government are themselves leading the hate groups and encouraging them to act.
Earlier this year, dozens of Israeli ultranationalist religious activists, including Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Aryeh King, demonstrated against a Christian prayer event for pilgrims near the Western Wall. Many of those who attended the event were evangelicals who prayed for Israel. Ultranationalist activists spat at the pilgrims, cursed them, and some pushed them. According to the Haaretz newspaper, King said at the demonstration that Christians should have freedom of worship only inside churches.
A political cover-up
If the report by the Christian Media Center is correct, the statements made during the conference are all but a cover-up of the real problem. One may think that spitting, and why Jews may or may not spit on Christians, is the issue. The Christian Media Center is the communication tool of the Custody of the Holy Land, Franciscan serving the Holy Land – an order related to the Catholic church.
For example, Dr. Iris Shagrir, from The Open University of Israel, said,
What interests us most is the fact that there is a contrast with the spitting phenomenon in Europe from many years ago when Jews were a small minority. It was a kind of defense, a kind of demonstration of courage against the act of humiliation they were suffering. What we are interested in today is the reversal that has happened here in Israel, and it happens here every day because the Jews, who are the majority of the population, are the ones who actually perpetrate this action.”
Brother Matteo, Munari of Studium Biblucum franciscanum, reminded the audience that:
Even within the Passion narrative, we find people spitting on Jesus, during the Jewish trial, but then also the Roman soldiers spitting on Jesus.”
Brother Munari ended with, “Pray for those who persecute you.” We are called to set an example of a love that has no boundaries, which goes far beyond the contempt we may suffer.”
Clearly, the comments above demonstrate a lack of ability to understand or desire to tackle the real issue. Zionism is inherently a hateful ideology that denies the right of any group but Jews to any part of the Holy Land, such as it is. I recall times as a child – secular and Israeli as I was – when friends would talk about how we must always spit when we walk by a church. Why? That was never made clear. It went along with the dream to build a Jewish Temple on the “Temple Mount instead of the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Domne of the Rock. Why? Because it is all ours and no one else’s.
The issue here is Zionism, and today’s manifestation of the purest and most honest Zionism can be seen in the members of the Israeli government. The hate groups that attack Huwara and Turmusiya, the ones who burned the Dawabshe family in the village of Duma, those who burned Muhammad Abu Khdeir by forcing gasoline down his throat and lighting him on fire, are the same hate groups that spit on people who do not share their hate-filled ideology. They are the ones who assassinated the late Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin. These are messianic Zionists who believe that they are religious Jews. Now they are in power.
In some reports, they were described as Ultra-Orthodox Jews, but this is far from being true. These are ultra-racist hate groups who roam the country armed and ready to kill and burn anyone who is not with them. The racist slogans sprayed on Palestinian homes that were burned were made by the same ones who desecrate churches and mosques throughout Palestine.
Christians live in fear
Christians who live in Palestine rely on the goodwill of the Israeli government. They need visas and permits to operate, which are not given willingly. A great deal is demanded of Christians who operate in Palestine. They must remain silent on all issues relating to Palestinian rights. They must stay silent on issues of human rights violations and not be seen demonstrating solidarity with the Palestinian people, not even the Christians.
I was once invited to speak to a group of American pilgrims who stayed at one of the Christian institutions in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is an old and respected institution whose name I shall not reveal here. An Israeli television crew came to cover my talk and interview me, and the authorities of the institutions were terrified. They begged the TV crew to conduct the interview as quickly as possible and to leave. Later the crew asked me why the priests were so nervous. They had no idea just how oppressive a life they lead as Christians in the Holy Land. Having Israeli youth spit on them is the least of what they face in dealing with the Zionist authorities.
Feature photo | A Christian man carries a cross along the Via Dolorosa ahead of the Good Friday procession in Jerusalem’s Old City, on April 2, 2021. Maya Alleruzzo | AP
Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”