Anti-Christian Incidents in Israel Condemned

Hostilities against evangelicals seen during Feast of Booths.

Israel Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock alongside the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem. (Edmund Gall, Creative Commons)

Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock alongside the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem. (Edmund Gall, Creative Commons)

(Morning Star News) – The uptick in anti-Christian acts in Israel that began last December continued last week when police arrested five suspects accused of harassing Christians in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Four adults and one minor were arrested Wednesday (Oct. 4), charged with assault for allegedly spitting at Christians and their sacred sites in Jerusalem, according to police and Israeli media sources.

The incidents took place during Sukkot, the week-long Jewish “Feast of Booths (or Tabernacles),” with the alleged harassment taking place against Christians celebrating the holiday. Several thousand Christian tourists were in the city to celebrate their version of the Feast of Tabernacles.

The first known incident occurred on Monday (Oct. 2) when a group of foreign pilgrims exited a church building with a large, red, wooden cross to begin a procession through the Old City, as passing Orthodox Jews spat on them or at their feet, according to local media reports.

In a video of the interaction that surfaced online shortly after the incident, at least seven Orthodox Jews in dark suits, along with small children, can be seen spitting on the ground beside the group of Christians.

Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Turgeman said in a press statement that continued harassment of Christians in the Old City was a “shameful and ugly phenomenon.” He said officers in the Old City have redoubled their focus on stopping such attacks.

“We will not tolerate expressions of hatred towards anyone, whether Jews, Muslims or Christians, in the Old City and anywhere else in Jerusalem,” Turgeman said. “Violence and hatred, however they manifest, are unacceptable.”

But Elisha Yered, an ultranationalist leader in Israel’s settler movement, defended the accused. He wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that spitting at Christian clergy members and at churches was an “ancient Jewish custom.”

Yered made the statement while under house arrest for his alleged involvement in the politically motivated killing of a 19-year-old Palestinian man.

Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel’s Minister of National Security, said on Army Radio that spitting at Christians was “not a criminal case.” Like Yered, Ben Gvir had previously defended the act of spitting on Christians as a Jewish custom.

At the same time, the incident and subsequent video were met with widespread condemnation from religious and government leaders across Israel, including both the Chief Ashkenazi and Sephardic rabbis of Israel and the rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites in Jerusalem.

Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef said in a statement that the attacks must be condemned, adding, “This is nationalism that has no place and has nothing to do with Judaism.”

The alliances that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has formed with ultra-Orthodox political parties is said to have contributed to such harassment, but he spoke out against anti-Christian acts such as the incidents during the Feast of Tabernacles.

“Israel is fully committed to safeguarding the sacred right of freedom of worship and pilgrimage to the holy sites of all faiths,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “Offensive behavior toward worshippers is a desecration and is unacceptable. We will show zero tolerance toward any harm to worshippers.”

The tension during Sukkot wasn’t limited to spitting. A group of around 50 ultra-Orthodox Jews protested against the Christians’ celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem on Tuesday night (Oct. 3). The protestors, mostly adolescent boys and children, were cordoned off behind police barricades on a street corner opposite Jerusalem’s Pais Arena, where the event was held.

The Christians’ celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles is one of the largest annual celebrations by evangelicals in Israel. Organized by a Christian Zionist organization known as the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), it brings thousands of Christians from around the world to Israel for an eight-day celebration during Sukkot.

Mina Fanton, a former Jerusalem city council member, called for the demonstration, warning against “missionary traps” that she said would be set at the ICEJ event.

Protestors chanted “missionaries go home” and held up signs that read, “No to a Jewish holocaust.” They accused the ICEJ of declaring a “spiritual war against Jews.”

Emboldened Fringe Groups

Sporadic attacks of Christians living and worshiping in Jerusalem have happened on and off for years, but until late 2022, they usually were seen only as a nuisance.

That changed in December 2022, when Netanyahu was forced to establish alliances with extremists and ultra-Orthodox political parties in order to form a voting bloc in the Knesset.

Almost overnight, members of Israeli fringe groups appeared to be emboldened and empowered by a newfound sense of impunity. Groups of extremist ultra-Orthodox Jews and “anti-missionary” militants dramatically stepped up their attacks against Christians in Israel, according to Christian leaders in Jerusalem.

There is some type of harassment almost every week now. It is commonplace for settlers or Haredim to intimidate Christians by threatening them with pepper spray. Christian symbols and cemeteries are vandalized. Yeshiva (Orthodox seminary) students routinely spit and yell threats, insults and profanity at priests, nuns and pilgrims. Worship services and religious processions in the Old City are disrupted by demonstrators bearing lists of grievances and often blunt weapons.

Police have been criticized for reportedly not taking the attacks seriously and refusing to treat the incidents as part of a trend. Response times of police in the Old City, a place where the security presence is ubiquitous, for unknown reasons can be dismal.

After an attack at the Tomb of the Virgin Mary in March, it took more than half an hour for police to arrive at the scene from a security outpost only six minutes away by foot. The rapid arrest of suspects during Sukkot and police statements emphatically supporting the religious freedom of Christians in the Old City may be a sign that Jerusalem police have been receptive to the criticism leveled against them.

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  1. Bro. Nick Nicholas says

    Oh WOW – ‘Christians’ at ‘Holy Sites’ ??? – have been ‘spat on’
    The ‘timing’ of this article is ‘interesting’ – For it is posted on the THIRD day of the War started by the ‘Palestinian’ Terror group Hamas against “Israel”
    – And at least 800 men – and women – and boys – and girls – and babies from “Israel” and several other countries have been murdered
    – For numerous atrocities against Israeli citizens have been committed by the Palestinian Terrorists in this ongoing attack against “Israel” – including the wanton murder of at least 260 young people at a music festival
    — IDF spokesperson: ‘Hamas was more barbaric and more brutal than ISIS’ —
    I am a Biblical “Christian” (Acts 11:26 ~ Romans 10:8-13 ~ Ephesians 4:4-6 ~AV) who lives in the increasingly “antichrist” and anti-“Israel” spirited country of America
    – So I am personally very-very-very thankful unto “the LORD JEHOVAH” (Isaiah 26:3-4 ~AV) for every one of “my brethren” “in Christ Jesus our Lord” who live in countries all around the world
    – For it is “we” who have been Biblically ‘led’ by “the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost” (John 14:6, 26 ~AV) to pray Biblically for all men because “we” “believeth” in “the words of truth” that are written unto “us” in 1 Timothy, Chapter 2 [AV] :
    [1] I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
    [2] For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
    [3] For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
    [4] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
    [5] For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
    [6] Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
    And it is also we who “hath” chosen to Pray Biblically for “Israel”
    – For “the words of truth” are written unto “Christians” in Psalm 122:6 [AV] :
    Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.
    ~~~> Psalm 121:4 ~ Zechariah 12:2-3 ~ Hebrews 13:1-3 [AV]

    • Bro. Nick Nicholas says

      Ps – as of 10 AM (C), 9 Oct
      — Iran is the guiding hand behind Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel Saturday that has so far left over 700 dead and more than 2,384 injured, mostly civilians, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday. — World Israel News –
      — FYI – Iran was known as “Persia” until 1935
      – And “Persia” is Prophetically written about “in the latter times” :
      Daniel 10:10-21 [AV]~[KJV]

  2. Bro. Nick Nicholas says

    — About Persecution of Christians in “Israel” —
    The “antichrist” spirited devout fundamental followers of Mohammedanism are now publickly proclaiming their actual goal – that is the very real World-Wide destruction of both the “Jews” and “Christians”
    – For the ‘link’ to following article is by one of the co-founders of Hamas who publickly stated
    — NOT JUST ISRAEL: Hamas vows to cleanse world of Christianity —
    – World Israel News – October 10, 2023 –
    – But “the Lord Jesus” personally spoke the Prophetic words of WARNING to “Christians”
    – For “it is written” in John, Chapter 15 [AV]~[KJV] :
    [18] If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
    [19] If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
    [20] Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
    [21] But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.
    [22] If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.
    [23] He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
    [24] If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.
    [25] But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.
    As a Biblical “Christian” I “continueth” to personally be so very-very-very thankful unto “the LORD JEHOVAH” (Isaiah 26:3-4 ~AV) for every one of “my brethren” “in Christ Jesus our Lord” who live in countries all around the world who truly do “believeth” in “the words of truth” that are written unto “us” about Biblical “prayers” in 1 Timothy, Chapter 2 [AV]

  3. Please dont pay attention to these isolated incidents of nut case jewish religious fanatics and their anti christian nonsense. They dont represent the majority of isralies. I can guarantee you that most of us truly appreicate your support in the USA for Israel and are very happy to welcome you.

  4. Bro. Nick Nicholas says

    And the ‘Southern Baptist Convention’ joins in the ‘Adversarial Comments’ against “Israel” by American Christians Religious Organizations
    — ‘Little confidence’ of safety for Christians sheltered in Gaza churches —
    – Baptist Press – By Diana Chandler, posted October 19, 2023 in International News, The Persecuted Church –

  5. Bro. Nick Nicholas says

    ===> How many ‘Religious American Christian People’ even CARE that this War started by the ‘Palestinian’ Terrorists of Hamas against “Israel” is now in its 15th day (Third “Jewish” “Sabbath”) ?
    – For ‘Morningstar News’ and very few – if any – other ‘Religious Christian Organization’ here in America – the self-proclaimed ‘Greatest Country in the World’ ARE NOT Biblically supportive of “Israel”
    ~~~> Proverbs 8:13 ~ Isaiah 5:20-23 [AV]
    – AND – “Israel” is written 2,565 Times in the Holy Bible [AV] aka [KJV]~[KJB]~[AKJV]
    But there are very-very-very few Biblical “Christians” (Acts 11:26 ~ Romans 10:8-13 ~ Ephesians 4:4-6 ~AV) who actually “believeth” in “the words of truth” written Millennia ago about the “Hebrew” people and their “God” given Eternal Homeland of “Israel” in Genesis, Chapter 12 [AV] :
    [1] Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
    [2] And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
    [3] And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
    ===> Food for thought – America is NEVER written in “the word of the Lord” [AV]
    I am a Biblical “Christian” who has been a supporter of “Israel” – the “Jewish” people – and their “God” given eternal homeland since before the ‘Six Day War’ of 1967
    – Now I am an old man who does not get out much anymore
    – But I DO NOT personally know ANYONE that calls themselves a ‘Christian’ who truly is a supporter of “Israel”
    – OR who actually cares that the ongoing War against “Israel” was a planned ‘Sneak Attack’ by the devout militant followers of Mohammedism – the Hamas Terrorists Jihad ‘Task Force’ of +/- 1, 500 who attacked from ‘Gaza’ into the sovereign country of “Israel”
    – NOR do they care – if they are even aware – that the ‘Terrorist Attackers’ were directed with ‘Malice Aforethought’ by the ‘Leadership’ of Hamas to commit inhumane murders – and torture – and rapes – and beheadings – and burning alive – and kidnappings of 1,400+ citizens of “Israel” ===> men – and women – and boys – and girls – and babies Proverbs 21:13 ~ Ezekiel 16:49-50 [AV]
    I am personally very-very-very thankful for “my brethren” “in Christ Jesus our Lord” who “continueth” to think about and pray for “Israel”
    ~~~> 1 Timothy 2:1-6 ~ 1 John 3:13-14 [AV]

    • Bro. Nick Nicholas says

      Paragraph #2 should read —
      – For ‘Morningstar News’ and very few – if any – other ‘Religious Christian Organization’ here in America – the self-proclaimed ‘Greatest Country in the World’ ARE Biblically supportive of “Israel”
      ~~~> Proverbs 8:13 ~ Isaiah 5:20-23 [AV]

    • Bro. Nick Nicholas says

      FYI – About the ACTUAL and ongoing Persecution of Christians in “Israel”
      ~ Genesis 12:1-3 [AV]~[KJV]
      {1} Hamas and Hezbollah Attacks on Christians Being Ignored
      – Jihad Watch – Jan 3, 2024 – By Hugh Fitzgerald –
      {2} Why Do Christian Leaders Ignore Attacks on Their Community?
      – United with Israel – Jan 2, 2024 –
      – However – “the words of truth” are written in the Biblical WARNING in 1 John, Chapter 3 [AV] :
      [13] Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.
      [14] We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
      [15] Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

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