Attacks against Christians in Jerusalem have been increasing in recent days, fueled by a protest of Jewish extremists who claim that Christians are planning a “provocative religious event” at the foot of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Furthermore, a group of Christian tourists was attacked at the entrance to a church in the city.
Father Aran of the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem tells Ynet: "I heard from our priests that this has happened in the past, but I feel there is an escalation now. Because of the current government, young people feel empowered to do stuff like this more often. We even sent such videos to the Foreign Ministry.
It has been intensifying in recent months. When we go down to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, they spit on us. Tourists ask about it, and we answer that when they see a Greek or Armenian priest with a robe, they spit on them."
"For Jews, the goal was always to come to Jerusalem, to come to the Western Wall, to pray. Is someone going to make them convert?
In our culture, if you are Christian, you must be in Jerusalem at least once. Do these tourists come to be missionaries? They don't even know the language. They come to pray here in our churches.
Armenians never caused any problems. We are the only community here since the 4th century that never did anything to anyone and never got involved in politics. We are the closest to Jews. We suffered genocide, and you suffered the Holocaust. Why do such things?"
The rabbi condemns, tourist bureau warns
Following the reports and footage of the attacks, Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Shlomo Moshe Amar issued a stark rebuke of the violence targeting Christians in the city.
"We were sorry to hear from non-Jewish clergymen that some young Jews, some of whom pretend to be God-fearing, curse them, desecrate the name of God and etc. while walking in the city streets,” he wrote in a public letter.
“There is no doubt that this was done by irresponsible people who are not Torah observant. We declare that such behavior is absolutely forbidden. We must not disrespect any human being who was created in the image of God...
In addition to the obvious prohibition mentioned above, this behavior also constitutes a desecration of God's name, which is a serious sin and not the Jewish way. It is known that during the time of the Temple, seventy bulls were sacrificed during the seven days of Sukkot for the seventy nations of the world, and prayers were held for peace, their peace, and the spread of peace in the world. It is also a duty for young people to behave with respect and honor as is the way of the Jewish people."
The rabbi’s public statement came after CEO of the Incoming Tour Operators Association Yossi Fatael appealed to Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion in a warning that "there is a serious concern about the impact on tourism in the capital following harassment and humiliation."
According to him, "Spitting has become something normal in our country. We must deal with this and bring people to justice. It will harm us. It's a spit in the face of the Jerusalemite who relies on tourism. How would we react if they spat on us because we are Jews? It's a spit in the face, in the image and in the status of Israel in the world."