WCC condemns attack against Christian rally in Jerusalem
By Lisa Zengarini
The World Council of Churches has joined in condemning a violent protest by far-right Jewish activists against an Evangelical Christian event in Jerusalem on 28 May, the latest in a number of acts of intolerance and harassment against Christians in the Holy Land.
The incident took place at the Jerusalem Archaeological Park - Davidson Center, adjacent to the Western Wall and the Jewish holy site of the Temple Mount, where hundreds of Christians, including Evangelical supporters of Israel, had gathered for a prayer rally.
The worshippers were met by dozens of far-right Israeli protestors insulting and spitting on them, destroying windows, and shouting at them to leave. Among them Rabbi Zvi Thau, the spiritual leader the far-right Noam Party, the chairman of the Ateret Cohanim organization, Matiyahu Dan, and the deputy mayor of Jerusalem, Arieh King, who was reported as saying to the crowd: "Let them pray in their churches, not at the holiest place to Jews, at the south entrance to the Temple”.
Ten of the protesters were reportedly arrested by the police.
Anti-Defamation League: a despicable hate speech by Jewish extremists
The violent protest has sparked an outcry of condemnation, including that from Israel’s Anti-Defamation League which described the protestors’ actions as “Despicable hate speech by Jewish extremists against Christian worshippers in Jerusalem.”
The Secretary General of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Jerry Pillay, also condemned the incident on Tuesday, upholding - once again - that “Jerusalem is a shared Holy City of three religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam”.
WCC: Violations to the Status Quo bring violence
“Violations to the Status Quo bring division, hardship, and violence,” he said, urging the support of the international community and all people of good will “to keep Jerusalem as a city that respects the rights of all the people in the Holy Land”.
While not referring to the protest explicitly, the Israel Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it condemned "any violation of freedom of religion and worship in Jerusalem and any violence against religious officials in the city”.
Christian community under increasing attack
Churches in the Holy Land have repeatedly raised concerns about attacks and harassment by extremist elements in Israeli society, and the grave threats posed to the Christian presence in the region.
Attacks targeting churches and Christian properties, in addition to physical and verbal abuse against Christian clergy have become a regular occurrence in recent times, with the most right-wing government in Israel’s history emboldening extremists.
In a recent statement commemorating the Palestinian al-Nakba, on May 15, the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem called again upon the international community to play a greater role in supporting the protection of all communities and in preserving holy places as established by the “Status Quo” rules.