JERUSALEM — There have been multiple verbal and physical attacks by Jews since the beginning of the year against Christians and Christian sites in Jerusalem in what has become a worrying phenomenon. Hate crimes in Jerusalem are nothing new, but they have generally been treated as a fringe occurance. That perception has changed in the last few months.
Why did two young Jews spit at a disabled priest upon leaving the Greek Orthodox monastery in Jerusalem’s Old City? Why did they threaten another priest who was trying to help their victim with pepper spray? What caused a young Jew to enter the Tomb of the Virgin Mary on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives with an iron bar and to threaten worshippers with it?
Tag Meir, an anti-racism organization, documented the two events that took place just days apart in March. The group’s chair Gadi Gvaryahu is convinced that these attacks can be attributed to the current rightwing-religious coalition.
Gvaryahu, who documents hate crimes against Christians and Muslims and tracks the authorities’ responses to them, told Al-Monitor he believes that this influence can explain why this year and especially over the last few weeks there has been a disturbing rise in the number of violent attacks and incidents of vandalism targeting Christian clergy, pilgrims and institutions. Victims have been jostled and spat at, religious symbols and icons were defaced and inflammatory graffiti appeared near Christian institutions. Most of these attacks have taken place in Jerusalem’s Old City, near churches and monasteries.