Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) - "In recent months, attacks on Christian clergy, churches and holy places have roused the anxiety of many of our Christian faithful, particularly in Jerusalem and Haifa", says a statement sent to Fides by the Justice and Peace Commission
Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land. "Spitting, verbal abuse, sometimes physical violence as well as vandalism and graffiti writing are mostly carried out by extremist religious Jews", Justice and Peace reports. "Unfortunately, as in the past, those responsible for enforcing law and order rarely identify and arrest those perpetrating these attacks and even more rarely are the perpetrators made to account for their actions".
The most recent provocation, reports “Justice and Peace”, has been the Stella Maris Monastery, atop Mount Carmel. "This site", the statement underlines, "is visited by hundreds of Christians and believers of other religions, both local and foreign, who show respect for the place and its traditions".
"In recent weeks, however, religious Jewish disciples of Haifa-born Rabbi Eliezer Berland have been repeatedly invading this shrine, ignoring the caretakers of the sanctuary, even making claims to own it", asserts “Justice and Peace” which reports the concern of "many in the Christian community" who are wondering whether "a marginal minority might indeed start a trend that might lead to stronger and stronger outside intervention by such extremist groups at this Christian site and may eventually end in them taking full control over the site, as previously happened in Nablus and Hebron".
"The State of Israel repeatedly professes to guarantee all of its citizens freedom of religious practice", recalls “Justice and Peace”. The State also professes to protect its citizens from crime and unrest, guaranteeing law and order. It is incomprehensible that these manifestations of contempt can be allowed to continue", says “Justice and Peace”, sadly noting that "most of the perpetrators are young people, some even underage".
"We know that we are not alone in this appeal", says “Justice and Peace”. We thank the many who have voiced their horror at what is happening. We appreciate the work of the individuals and organizations from all communities and all religions, who seek to combat these aggressive manifestations of contempt. Many say that these are the acts of a small fringe minority; we say that remaining silent and refusing to act emboldens this minority. History has sadly taught us that what seems the outrageous behavior of a minority today can become the accepted practice of a majority tomorrow unless it is called out immediately and stopped at the source", it concludes. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 28/7/2023)