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Tensions in Jerusalem's Old City have flared following an incident during October in which a Jewish seminary student spat at an archbishop. It happened during a procession from the city's Armenian Quarter to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, a site commemorating Jesus' crucifixion and burial.

Israeli police arrested the seminary student, but Christian clerics living in the walled Old City say such assaults by ultra-Orthodox Jews are frequent.

"It happens maybe once a week," Armenian Bishop Aris Shirvanian told Ecumenical News International. "As soon as they notice a Christian clergyman, they spit. Those who are 'respectful' turn their backs to us or the large cross that we may carry. But the ones that are daring either spit on the ground or on the person without any provocation."

In the latest incident, a scuffle broke out after the Jewish seminary student spat at the cleric, whose cross was ripped from his neck. The seminary student later told police he saw the religious procession as idolatry. Police said an indictment is pending.

Shirvanian said spitting against Christian clergyman had been going on for years. He said the assailants are religious Jews—men, women, teens, and children. "This shows that it is a phenomenon that is prevailing in their religious education and it should be corrected," he said.

Daniel Rossing, director of the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations, said his organization plans to ask rabbis to teach their congregants to stop such attacks.

"All people are created in the image of God and to spit on another person is to spit on the image of God," Rossing said.

Related Elsewhere:

Articles elsewhere on the incident include:

Chief Rabbi Metzger Apologizing for Spitting Incident | Ashkenazi Chief ...
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Christianity Today
Spitting on God's Image
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In the Magazine

December 2004

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