In a joint-Easter message this year addressing Israeli violence against Christians, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem said: “[W]e call upon international community and local residents of goodwill to advocate on our behalf, in order to help secure the safety, access, and religious freedom of the resident Christian community and the millions of Christian pilgrims annually visiting the Holy Land—as well as the maintenance of the religious Status Quo.”
Let us not ignore their plea for help.
The number of Jewish extremists' attacks on Christians in the Holy Land has dramatically increased in recent months, partly due to Israel's new government comprising several powerful ministers who espouse “racist and Jewish supremacist” views.
This includes Itamar Ben-Gvir and his Jewish Power party, who during his election victory speech last November praised his fellow party member Bentzi Gopstein who refers to Christians as “blood sucking vampires” and “the Christian church” as “our deadly centuries-old enemy” while calling for the expulsion of all Christians from the country.
With such leaders in power, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa has warned that extremists on the ground are now evermore emboldened to harass Christian religious and clergy, while committing vandalism against this community’s property as well.
Call on Congress to condemn the anti-Christian attacks of Jewish extremists.
“The frequency of these attacks, the aggressions, has become something new,” Pizzaballa said last week from his office in Jerusalem’s Christian Quarter. “These people feel they are protected… that the cultural and political atmosphere now can justify, or tolerate, actions against Christians.”
Even before the latest coalition government formed, a 2016 Pew Research Center survey found that nearly half of Israeli Jews believe Arabs (including Christians) “should be expelled or transferred” from the country.
Since Netanyahu’s new government has taken power, these attacks include a radical Jew entering the Church of the of the Flagellation in February and pulling down a large statue of Jesus Christ and smashing it on the floor, then defacing it with a hammer.
In March, two Israeli terrorists entered the Church of Gethsemane in Jerusalem that encompasses the empty tomb of the Blessed Virgin Mary and attempted to vandalize icons and attack the presiding bishop, and another priest, during Sunday morning mass.
And even earlier, Franciscan Friars of the Custody of the Holy Land decried “a group of religious Jews who entered the New Gate” near their headquarters and attacked tourists while committing acts of vandalism, “throwing chairs, tables and glasses, and transforming the Christian quarter into a battlefield.”
Tell Congress to condemn the persecution of Christians in the Holy Land.
According to the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, the police didn’t arrive for an hour, when they finally “took the attackers away.”
Other incidents include a January desecration of a Christian cemetery in Jerusalem, “Death to Christians” graffiti being written on the walls of a monastery in the Armenian quarter, and an act of vandalism being committed against a Maronite center.
Such incidents have occurred over the years with perhaps less frequency, including Jewish radicals spitting on Christians, disrupting their prayer and likely firebombing their property, including the 2015 torching of the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha in Galilee.
“We see that most incidents in our quarter have gone unpunished,” lamented Father Aghan Gogchian, chancellor of the Armenian Patriarchate. He went on to convey his disappointment that law enforcement authorities don’t prosecute the culprits of such anti-Christian hate crimes with the grave charges they deserve, but rather accommodate them as individuals suffering from mental illness.
“The police try to paint each attack as something isolated, and try to paint the attackers as mentally unstable,” Amir Dan, spokesman for the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, told The Times of Israel. “In doing so, the police remove themselves from all responsibility.”
When Orthodox Christians celebrated Easter last weekend, these same law enforcement authorities moved to restrict access to the Holy Fire Ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher due to “a necessary safety requirement,” and demanded Church authorities issue invitations limiting attendance to around 18% of what attendance has been in previous years.
Christian leaders called such restrictions “unreasonable,” “unprecedented,” “heavy-handed,” and unnecessary for an annual ceremony which has been held in the same way for centuries. As a result, these bishops and priests invited all who wished to attend as usual, “leaving the authorities to act as they will.”
Two pivotal members of Israel’s majority coalition in the Knesset (parliament) had even proposed legislation in March to punish anyone who shares their faith in Jesus Christ with significant prison time.
Moshe Gafni and Yaakov Asher from the United Torah Judaism party (UTJ) sponsored the failed legislation which would have penalized anyone “who solicits a person, directly, digitally, by mail, or online in order to convert his religion” with “one year imprisonment” and if the person is under 18 years of age, “two years imprisonment.”
In their official explanation of the bill, Gafni and Asher emphasized their motivation to target Christians in particular.
“Recently, the attempts of missionary groups, mainly Christians, to solicit conversion of religion have increased,” the UTJ legislators warned. Such activities involve “many negative repercussions, including psychological damages, [which] warrant the intervention of the legislature.”
Call on Congress to condemn violence against Christians in Israel.
Latin Patriarch says new Israeli gov't has emboldened Jewish extremists to attack Christians - LifeSiteNews