The title is evocative, even shocking: “Why (some) Jews spit on goys? It is under this title that a conference was held on Friday, June 16 in Jerusalem aimed at understanding the acts of violence, on the increase, against non-Jews in the Holy City.
However, it almost didn’t happen. Indeed, a media pressure campaign led by Arieh King, one of the city’s seven vice mayors, known for his hostility to the Christian presence in Jerusalem, forced the Tower of David Museum, where she was to have place, to cancel the event. Finally, it was the Armenian seminar that received a reduced number of participants.
In the eye of the storm, Yisca Harani, a Jewish scholar. Energetic woman, whose deeply pious father was also a renowned intellectual and one of the founding forces of interreligious encounter in Jerusalem. Yisca Harani knows Christians well; she rubs shoulders with the monastic communities in the Holy City and often shares their daily life. As a researcher, she has also witnessed the physical, psychological and verbal violence to which people recognized as Christians are subjected. “I became an activist in my own right,” she explains.
This conference on the rise of a climate of violence was an opportunity to launch a line to identify these incidents. Victims do not, for example, often file a complaint after a spat, even less when his stay in Israel depends on the goodwill of the authorities. Yisca Harani believes, however, that at least one attack per day takes place in Jerusalem, if not more.
“I think Arieh King found himself in a bad spot after targeting evangelicals,” said one of the conference organizers. Indeed, on May 30, he had led a small team of teenagers to demonstrate in front of the Western Wall in Jerusalem against a group of Zionist evangelical Christians. “Go home, missionary,” chanted the demonstrators. According to this same source in the organization, Arieh King would have taken the pretext of holding this conference to fuel his arguments on anti-Semitism and the defense of Jewish identity which would be threatened even from within.
The historical origins of the fear of Christians, which encourages these reflexes of hatred, are nourished by violence and anti-Semitism, but also by the resilience of the Jewish people in their perpetual status as a minority in history. A status that the State of Israel has modified. “Today, the Jewish people must adapt to their role as the majority”, insists Karma Ben-Yohanan, professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, to break what she calls “the circle of fear”. .
The various observers recognize, however, that these attacks against Christians, which aim to gradually erase their presence and silence their representatives, are the work of a radical minority and that they are immoral and illegal in the name of Jewish religious law. For Alon Goshen-Gottstein, a rabbi involved in interreligious dialogue, “we have to find solutions at the source, in education, in the atmosphere in which children grow up”.
However, the national political climate in Israel does not seem conducive to this. “Violence is increasing partly because of our new far-right government. He encourages action, even indirectly,” worries Yossi Havilio, another vice-mayor of Jerusalem, with a centrist leaning, who came to the conference as a sign of solidarity.
Especially since the phenomenon seems to be increasing. Thursday, June 15, a stone thrown by a man who was arrested shattered a stained glass window in the Cenacle of Jerusalem, on Mount Zion. Earlier, the names of Christian places had been crossed out with a marker on an information board at the entrance to the Old City. And these acts go beyond Jerusalem. For two weeks, the Stella Maris monastery in Haifa has faced the intrusion of ultra-Orthodox Jews who ostensibly come to pray in the church’s grotto. Sunday, June 18, hundreds of people gathered in front of the church in support of the Carmelites.