Israeli premier denounces defacing of Orthodox Christian monastery


Vandals have spray-painted  graffitti the proclaims “Death to Christianity” and “Jesus, son of a whore” on a Greek Orthodox monastery in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu denounced the vandalism, which occured overnight on December 12. This is one of a series of attacks by vandals on Christian monuments and churches in Israel in recent months.
A spokesperson for Israeli police, Micky Rosenfield said on December 12 that the vandals also sprayed the words 'price tag' in Hebrew on the monastery's outer wall. This is taken to have been done by Jewish extremists as a form of retribution on the part of settlers and sympathizers against institutions perceived to be favorable to the Palestinian cause.
At the Holy Cross Monastery, vandals also spray-painted several cars and punctured their tires. Father Claudio, the abbot at the monastery, said he discovered the damage on the morning of December 12. “I forgave them the first time, I will forgive them the second time. I will forgive them the seventh, and 75th times, the 77th time I forgive,” he said. “This person needs to write outside. Okay. But he needs to come inside the Monastery. Sit with me, drink a coffee, and I will explain to him why I believe in Jesus and why that is my freedom [to believe],” Father Claudio said. “He needs to come face to face. And I will tell him, ‘Welcome.’ Or with me, or with another priest. Let’s sit, and speak. This is the heart of the religions... I say to these people, ‘Hanukka Sameach’ [‘Happy Hanukka’].” The priest gave assurances that he knows that 99 percent of Israelis support his church, and only 1 percent are extremists. 
“This is terrorism. It is terror against Christians,” said Maroun Reem, who lives in the monastery. The tires of her car were slashed, the same car that had graffiti spray-painted in the previous price-tag attack on February 7. Then, the vandals wrote: “Jesus, drop dead,” “Death to Christians” and “Kahane was right.” They called themselves “The Maccabees of Migron [an outpost in the Binyamin region]” and also left the words “price tag.” “They did it because I have a cross in my car,” said Reem. “This does a lot of damage to the country.”
This is the fifth price-tag attack against a Christian site this year, including the previous vandalism at the Valley of the Cross Monastery, and at the Latrun Monastery, the Baptist Church in west Jerusalem, and the Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion.
Similar attacks have been made on mosques and Israeli military bases, besides the latest attack on the Monastery of the Holy Cross. Israel has 155,000 Christian citizens, less than 2 percent of its nearly 8 million people.

Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.


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