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Jerusalem Christians Fear for Their Future Amid Rise in Hate Crimes

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In Jerusalem, Christians have been facing increasing harassment by Jews in recent years, and in particular since the swearing in of the current Israeli government. What were once isolated events have become a trend that is forcing members of local Christian communities to reconsider their attitude toward the state and its institutions. The Israeli government’s response to the attacks and harassment against Christians ranges from weak to non-existent, despite the profound consequences not only for local Christians’ stance toward Israel, but also for the ties between Israel and Christian communities around the world.

On the morning of June 5, the Greek Orthodox Church held a ceremony on Mount Zion, just south of Jerusalem’s Old City, under heavy security on the occasion of Pentecost. Three hours before it began, police and security guards had already closed the David’s Tomb complex and the adjacent Greek Garden to visitors, and Jewish volunteers dressed in hi-vis vests arrived to protect the worshippers.

There was tension in the air because a week earlier, during the Catholic Pentecost ceremony in the same place, about 20 ultra-Orthodox Jews blew trumpets and cursed loudly to sabotage the ceremony. “We are very concerned about the religious freedom of Christians in Jerusalem,” said a representative of the U.S. State Department who was present to closely monitor the security of the ceremony.

Toward 10:30 a.m., the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, his entourage, and worshippers left the Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Trinity and marched through the Greek Garden to the David’s Tomb complex. There, they went up to the Upper Room in which the Last Supper was said to have taken place, where they held the celebratory mass. Outside the compound, a handful of ultra-Orthodox Jews made noise with the help of an entertainment system. Despite this, the ceremony went ahead almost without interruption. But less than two weeks later, on the evening of June 15, a Jewish man smashed the window of the Upper Room, joining a growing list of attacks on Christians and their symbols in the city.

Since the beginning of 2023, a large number of cases of vandalism have been recorded in Jerusalem’s Old City. On the first day of the year, for example, about 30 graves in the Mount Zion Protestant Cemetery were toppled over and vandalized and have not yet been repaired. A list of anti-Christian incidents, compiled by Tami Lavie Nissim at the Jerusalem Intercultural Center, includes 20 hate crimes against Christians since the beginning of the year, from graffiti that reads “death to Christians” and “Jesus son of Mary the whore” to physical assaults.

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Faithfully Magazine is a fresh, bold and exciting news and culture publication that covers issues, conversations and events impacting Christian communities of color.


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