Guest / Limited Access /

Just weeks before Pope Francis makes his first pilgrimage to the Holy Land in late May, Christians in Israel are grappling with an upsurge in threats and attacks on churches by Jewish extremists.

Last week, an assailant defaced the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center, the local headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, scribbling graffiti in Hebrew reading, "Death to Arabs and Christians and to everyone who hates Israel." This followed a letter received by a top Catholic official that threatened to kill him and other Catholic clergy in Israel.

Vandals also damaged a Romanian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, spray-painting it with the words: "price tag," "Jesus is garbage," and "King David for the Jews." It was another of a wave of both anti-Christian and anti-Arab graffiti and vandalism that has swept through Israel in recent weeks.

The attacks are largely believed to be carried by Jewish extremists who are now almost daily defacing Christian and Muslim property and places of worship inside Israel and areas controlled by Palestinian authorities. The extremists say their graffiti and vandalism is the "price tag" for the government trying to restrain West Bank Jewish settlers.

On Sunday, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal, the Vatican's most senior cleric in Israel, said, "The unrestrained acts of vandalism poison the atmosphere, the atmosphere of coexistence and the atmosphere of collaboration, especially in these two weeks prior to the visit of Pope Francis."

The patriarch called the price-tag assaults acts of "terror." He accused the authorities of not doing enough to bring the perpetrators to justice, saying, "The actions are drawing ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current Issue5 Books to Read During an Internet Sabbatical
Subscriber Access Only 5 Books to Read During an Internet Sabbatical
Considering a break from the web? Let Esther Emery pick the right readings to keep you company.
RecommendedThe Bible Never Says 'All Men Are Created Equal'
Subscriber Access Only The Bible Never Says 'All Men Are Created Equal'
How the New Testament offers a better, higher calling than the Declaration of Independence.
TrendingWhy Do We Have Christmas Trees?
Why Do We Have Christmas Trees?
The history behind evergreens, ornaments, and holiday gift giving.
Editor's PickA Journey as Old as Humanity Itself
A Journey as Old as Humanity Itself
What’s behind our timeless fascination with religious pilgrimage?
Christianity Today
'Price Tag' Israeli Extremists Target Christians
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

May 2014

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.