Extremists vandalize Jerusalem church with Hebrew threats: ‘Death to heathen Christians’

Israel/Palestine
on 35 Comments

For the second time in a year, Israeli vandals targeted a Christian church in Jerusalem Sunday with extremist anti-Christian graffiti. Assailants tagged the religious site with threats in Hebrew: “Death to the heathen Christians, “the enemies of Israel”, “Let his [Jesus’] name and memory be obliterated” and “Christians to Hell.”

The Dormition Abbey is a 5th century church and monastery outside of the Old City walls by the Zion Gate that hosts interfaith programs between Jews and Christians. Last February the church was burned in an arson attack.

The caretaker of the church, the Latin Patriarch, said in a statement: “We hope that the perpetrators will be arrested before proposed threats are carried out.” It added, “The unique remedy for such behaviour is to control the kind of education given in the schools where these young people are  educated, and to follow up those who incite intolerance against Christians.”

Anti-Christian grafitti sprayed on the door of the Dormition Abbey church in Jerusalem. (Photo: Latin Patriarch)

Anti-Christian graffiti on the door of the Dormition Abbey church in Jerusalem. (Photo: Latin Patriarch)

Anti-Christian grafitti sprayed on the door of the Dormition Abbey church in Jerusalem. (Photo: Latin Patriarch)

Anti-Christian graffiti on the door of the Dormition Abbey church in Jerusalem. (Photo: Latin Patriarch)

The vandalization is also the second act of property destruction on Christian sites in less than a month, reflecting a rise in recent years of vandalism aimed at churches across Israel and the West Bank.

In December extremists burned crosses on six graves in a Catholic cemetery in Beit Shemesh south of Jerusalem. The 2015 property damage was the third anti-Christian assault on the Beit Jamal monetary and burial grounds. In 2013 the church was firebombed and assailants sprayed graffiti with the words “price tag,” “death to the Gentiles,” and “revenge.” The cemetery was targeted once before, in the 1980s when attackers also burned crosses over graves.

The most extensive damage to a Christian site in recent years occurred when extremists firebombed the Church of the Multiplication and Loaves in the Galilee in June 2015. The 5th century basilica was left with $1.8 million in damages and one monk was hospitalized, according to a National Geographic article on the rising number of assaults on churches in Israel, including “dozens” of such attacks since 2013.

The increase of arson and graffiti damage to Christian sites comes as part of a broader trend of settler attacks against Palestinians. The PLO’s Negotiations Affairs Department’s monitoring group found settler attacks against Palestinians and their property skyrocketed in general in 2013 to 936 incidents, and 1011 incidents in 2014—a dramatic increase from 93 attacks in 2012.

Despite thousands of attacks in recent years, police have arrested few extremists.

Last month, two West Bank settlers were charged for last June’s attack on the Church of the Multiplication and Loaves, when Israeli police announced indictments against six settlers for property damage crimes. Charges were brought forward at the same time as two settlers were indicted for the killing of three Palestinians in the West Bank town of Duma in an arson attack last summer.

Police indicted Yinon Reuveni and Yehuda Asraf for firebombing the church with gasoline they purchased at a gas station. Reuveni was previously charged for a 2013 attack on the Dormition Abbey, the church that was desecrated on Sunday.

Reuveni and Asraf are known figures in the “hilltop youth,” a movement of extremist West Bank settlers who seek to overthrow the state of Israel by way of violent acts against Palestinians, noted Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted on its website. The entry details the extremists founded their organization in 2013 under “an extremist ideology that aspires to change the regime and bring about the redemption via various stages of action.”

Reuveni, in particular was described as, previously having “been served with injunctions barring him from Judea and Samaria several times due to violent activity against Arabs and their property, and due to information that indicated his suspected involvement in perpetrating several acts of arson against Palestinian property and religious sites” in the West Bank.

No arrests have been made in connection with Sunday’s crime.

35 Responses

  1. Theo
    January 18, 2016, 11:21 am

    Those bloody idiots should remember that there are ca. 1.5 billion christians and the same number of moslems on this globe, a mouse should never tease two giant tigers. The end is a forgone conclusion.

  2. Mooser
    January 18, 2016, 11:38 am

    Ah, could this be the start of the “severe consequences”?

    • Annie Robbins
      January 18, 2016, 1:10 pm

      mooser, i can hardly detect your embed. now sure why my browser doesn’t show it.

  3. eljay
    January 18, 2016, 12:17 pm

    For the second time in a year, Israeli vandals targeted a Christian church in Jerusalem Sunday with extremist anti-Christian graffiti. Assailants tagged the religious site with threats in Hebrew: “Death to the heathen Christians, “the enemies of Israel”, “Let his [Jesus’] name and memory be obliterated” and “Christians to Hell.” …

    I guess these Zio-supremacist hate-mongers never got the memo from MaxNarr:

    … Recall these people are christians and Jesus was a Jew. So in the end, we are on the same time …

    Why do these supremacist Jews hate Jesus Christ, their Lord and Saviour, so much?! :-(

    • Philip Munger
      January 18, 2016, 9:30 pm

      Go easy. Jesus would forgive them of much more than this.

      • Another Dave
        January 18, 2016, 9:47 pm

        Yes, but no one ever listened to him on that subject.

        Some of his last words were ‘father, forgive them’ and after he died who gets the blame? Not the Romans.

      • Mooser
        January 19, 2016, 11:19 am

        “Go easy. Jesus would forgive them of much more than this.”

        That’s His problem. I’m Jewish, so I think about it a little differently. Can you think of a reason why I should forgive them?

      • MHughes976
        January 19, 2016, 11:26 am

        Is it your view, AD, that Jesus was forgiving his Jewish opponents and was not listened to? This seems to be a widespread reading and I note that Bart Ehrman shares it, arguing that the absence of these words from some important manuscripts is due to removal by anti-Jewish Christians. For years I had thought that the natural reading was that he forgives or calls on God to forgive the ignorant Roman squaddies – and was listened to.
        It could well be argued that people inflamed by fanatical talk and are young with no real experience outside their bubble ‘know not what they do’.

      • echinococcus
        January 19, 2016, 12:38 pm

        Hughes,

        As a totally irreligious guy with no Sunday or Saturday schooling, the natural and immediate reading is a request to forgive not only the “ignorant Roman squaddies” but mostly the Sanhedrin or whatever its august name and the street mob who forced the Governor to confirm their death sentence against his wishes. If this is what is to be understood from the Gospels, in the absence of Alison Deger reporting on site.

      • gamal
        January 19, 2016, 1:16 pm

        “Go easy…..”

        its a good joke P, i am not quite clever enough to get it, but i am laughing, so no one thinks me stupid.

        Mooser

        “I’m Jewish” thank God, according to Josh Rueh(?) (thanks to a4-rug) had you said “I’m a Jew” you run the risk of auto-offending, and no one likes to see that.

      • Another Dave
        January 19, 2016, 2:50 pm

        MHughes976

        Yep, that’s part of my view. The forgiveness includes everyone, there or not there, then and now. I have no texts to support the idea, I’d imagine the source of my belief is a perversion of the Zoroastrian beliefs. Which I’ve probably also got wrong. :)

        Of course, I’m not a believer in any of the religious paths that us humans have come up with.

        If I was god, I’d forgive everyone – including myself. Which means I’d never have a successful religion.

  4. David Doppler
    January 18, 2016, 12:38 pm

    The cultural and intellectual level of these houligans, their crimes and their graffiti reminds of redneck teenagers in the South during Jim Crow: Have a few drinks, then, “let’s go N***** Knockin’!” The burning of crosses – a remarkable link – raises that level from the juvenile deliquent to the KKK level of adult involvement and organization, with more sophisticated symbol selection to help broadcast the message.

    And it does fall to the educational and cultural support system in which the children are raised, and which the adults create, endorse, or tolerate: Their victims are ostracized as “other,” who are a threat, and, all “offenses” against the culture must be repaid tenfold.

    Netanyahu and Likud [and especially the points to their right] are George Wallace and Jim Crow Democrats, giving political voice and legitimacy to that culture.

    I’m sick of being part of the extended socio-political network and culture that tolerates and even supports this ugly bigotry.

    I’d like to see our presidential candidates debate the settlements, and, more broadly, what Zionism means to them. Hillary’s proud to say she’ll invite Netanyahu to the White House on her first day. She should be asked if her pride extends to his Arab baiting and promise never to make peace on his own election day, to Netanyahu’s boasts to his right wing about settlement building despite Obama’s pressure to halt it, to Netanyahu’s warmongering to halt the Iranian deal, to his “mowing the grass” in Gaza.

    • Shmuel
      January 18, 2016, 2:11 pm

      The cultural and intellectual level of these houligans …

      I’m not so sure. One of the scrawls is half a verse from Isaiah 34:8. “the year of vindication for Zion’s cause”. The half of the verse that is not quoted is “For [it is] the Lord’s day of revenge” (matching the message in the upper panel of the door — taken from Num. 31:2). Beyond the specific reference to “Zion” (the Dormition Abbey is on Mount Zion), the entire chapter (Isaiah 34) describes, in rather ghoulish terms, “the Lord’s fury against all the nations” — but against Edom in particular (identified in later exegesis with Rome and ultimately with Christendom). The “cartoon” in the upper panel of the door, certainly fits the imagery in verses 5-6: “For My sword has drunk its fill in heaven; behold, it shall come down upon Edom. … The sword of the Lord is filled with blood”.

      There is a clear ideology behind this, and apparently teachers. I can think of a few places to start looking, but I’m sure the Shin Bet can too — assuming it gets the orders to do so. They can always balance things out by claiming that B’tselem and Ta’ayush are “exactly the same”.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 18, 2016, 2:37 pm

        The half of the verse that is not quoted is “For [it is] the Lord’s day of revenge” (matching the message in the upper panel of the door — taken from Num. 31:2). Beyond the specific reference to “Zion” (the Dormition Abbey is on Mount Zion), the entire chapter (Isaiah 34) describes, in rather ghoulish terms, “the Lord’s fury against all the nations” — but against Edom in particular (identified in later exegesis with Rome and ultimately with Christendom). The “cartoon” in the upper panel of the door, certainly fits the imagery in verses 5-6: “For My sword has drunk its fill in heaven; behold, it shall come down upon Edom. … The sword of the Lord is filled with blood”.

        how depressing.

      • eljay
        January 18, 2016, 2:52 pm

        …. “the year of vindication for Zion’s cause” … “For [it is] the Lord’s day of revenge” … “the Lord’s fury against all the nations” … “For My sword has drunk its fill in heaven; behold, it shall come down upon Edom. … The sword of the Lord is filled with blood” …

        So…is this “Jewish State” culture, ethnicity or civilization? I’m pretty sure it’s not dessert topping or floor wax. (Sorry, Mooser.)

      • gamal
        January 18, 2016, 2:58 pm

        “The cultural and intellectual level of these houligans …”

        “I’m not so sure”

        I like that the gentleman terrorist

        link to youtu.be

      • Annie Robbins
        January 18, 2016, 3:21 pm

        lol!

      • Kris
        January 18, 2016, 4:39 pm

        @Shmuel: “There is a clear ideology behind this, and apparently teachers.”

        Commenter “jon s” says he is “an Israeli history teacher;” link to mondoweiss.net ; maybe he will give us a lead on this.

      • a blah chick
        January 18, 2016, 7:39 pm

        I greatly appreciate that comment from you, Schmuel. It shows that these are not garden variety thugs.

    • biggerjake
      January 19, 2016, 9:36 am

      I like Miko’s points:

      link to ahtribune.com

      Excerpt from An Open Letter to President Obama:

      “As President, for the last seven years you have given Israel your full support to kill, maim, arrest and torture men, women and children. The number of Palestinians made homeless, the number of Palestinian children arrested and abused and the number of Palestinian refugees waiting to return to their homes is getting higher by the minute, yet you supported Israel.

      Mr. President, in the summer of 2014, when Israel murdered thousands of Palestinian civilians, and young Palestinians in Gaza fought bravely to defend their homes and their families, futile though it may have been, instead of supporting those who seek peace and dignity, you chose to provide Israel with more arms and more money.

      Though you claimed, “for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken.” Then you allowed Netanyahu to disgrace you, to walk, like Cesar marching into Rome, his hands stained with Palestinian blood into Congress. He was a victor, while you cowered away in some corner and let him spew his hateful lies. Where, Mr. President was your spirit then?”

    • Annie Robbins
      January 19, 2016, 12:50 pm

      it’s not just the hooligans. the state does the worst damage.

      And speaking of the village of Aboud: Israel dynamited the ancient 6th century Byzantine church St Barbara of Aboud on May 31, 2002, a rare relic of Christian past of the Holy Land. The Israeli military claimed that they were unaware of the church’s significance and demolished it by mistake.

      – See more at: link to mondoweiss.net

      • eljay
        January 19, 2016, 1:11 pm

        Israel dynamited the ancient 6th century Byzantine church St Barbara of Aboud on May 31, 2002, a rare relic of Christian past of the Holy Land. The Israeli military claimed that they were unaware of the church’s significance and demolished it by mistake.

        “It was a mistake! Okay, yes, we were maintaining a military occupation and illegal colonization of territory outside of Israel’s / Partition borders. And, yes, we were sowing death and destruction everywhere. But, c’mon, we didn’t know this church mattered. I mean, jeez, it’s just a church fer chrissakes!”

      • Annie Robbins
        January 19, 2016, 3:08 pm

        yeah, we just happened to destroy the oldest Byzantine church in the holy land, sorry!

      • RoHa
        January 19, 2016, 6:03 pm

        Oop! Clerical error, there. Somehow, the church got onto our list of New York skyscrapers.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 19, 2016, 6:09 pm

        LOL!!!

  5. Annie Robbins
    January 18, 2016, 1:13 pm

    Reuveni, in particular was described as, previously having “been served with injunctions barring him from Judea and Samaria several times due to violent activity against Arabs and their property, and due to information that indicated his suspected involvement in perpetrating several acts of arson against Palestinian property and religious sites” in the West Bank.

    note how this is barely slap on the wrist. “several times” this is his punishment. maybe they should try imprisoning him for several years. not only might he get the message but his cohorts might too.

    • eljay
      January 18, 2016, 1:31 pm

      || Annie Robbins: note how this is barely slap on the wrist. … ||

      Zio-supremacist “logic” says that a slap on the wrist of a (war) criminal Jewish person is as bad as…heavens, no, it’s far worse than the cold-blooded assassination of a knife-wielding non-Jewish person.

      • mariapalestina
        January 19, 2016, 12:27 pm

        … or the cold-blooded assassination of an alleged knife-wielding non-Jewish person.

      • eljay
        January 19, 2016, 6:55 pm

        || mariapalestina: … or the cold-blooded assassination of an alleged knife-wielding non-Jewish person. ||

        Touché.

  6. Ossinev
    January 18, 2016, 2:12 pm

    “This is Jewish terror, and it is a threat not only for Muslims and Christians, but for the state of Israel itself,” says Gadi Gvaryahu, who directs Tag Meir, an organization that opposes extremist violence. “The attitude of the government was that this was just graffiti, and then just a few burned cars.”

    “Assaf Sharon, a philosophy professor at Tel Aviv University who has written about the history of Jewish terrorism, said the youth “are surrounded by institutions that condone, protect, and support them. And there is certainly authority behind them, including rabbis they look up to.”

    “In his writings and speeches, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion (1886–1973) emphasized his vision of the state of Israel as a moral and social beacon to the whole world, and by that, in his view, it shall implement the vision of the prophets. The selection of the Menorah as the Emblem of Israel was derived from the image of the state of Israel as a “Light Unto the Nations”.

    It is all making sense now – in order to create this light you have to set fire to Christian churches. Silly me I should have realized !

    BTW If you haven`t already seen it this from the NYT !! is “illuminating”.
    link to nytimes.com

    • bryan
      January 18, 2016, 4:39 pm

      Good article Ossinev, but the readers’ comments are outstanding – the times they are a changin’.

      Quick, Max, Jack, DS – scuttle off over there. Your country needs you at the NYT, and your really only wasting your time here.

  7. diasp0ra
    January 18, 2016, 3:45 pm

    Do Christian Zionists ever hear of these stories? Do their news sources never cover any of this?

    Then again, if they had any common sense and a critical mindset they would ask the actual Christians about how “great” Israel is, rather than rely on Israeli propaganda.

    • Shmuel
      January 18, 2016, 4:12 pm

      Do Christian Zionists ever hear of these stories? Do their news sources never cover any of this?

      Christian Zionism isn’t exactly interfaith. More like ‘See you at Armageddon. May the best saviour win!”

      If the Israelis are OK with Hagee, I guess Christian Zionists can handle some vandalism — especially of Catholic institutions.

    • Another Dave
      January 19, 2016, 2:56 pm

      Christian Zionists don’t care about what happens to the people in Israel.

      It’d be the ones who don’t buy into the end time nonsense that would be more concerned about vandalizing churches. If they were proper Christians they’d turn the other cheek and then pray that everyone just started to be nice to one another.

      (might be a bit off with that last bit. Especially given my most recent email convo with a certain bishop in Calgary who accused the province of being totalitarians)

  8. amigo
    January 19, 2016, 3:12 pm

    It might be a good idea for some “Christian extremists “to spray paint translations on these doors.Perhaps a few Christian tourists might stop and read the welcoming messages left by their hosts.It would also make for some interesting images to show back home.Greeting ,s from the holy land and all that.

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