Vandals spray-painted profanities on the entrance to and on three vehicles belonging to the Monastery of the Cross in Jerusalem overnight Tuesday in the latest in a spate of so-called “price-tag” attacks on Christian institutions in Israel over the past year.
The vandalism at the church is the second such attack on the site this year, with a similar attack occurring some ten months ago. In both cases, police have made no arrests. The Orthodox Greek church, which lies in Jerusalem’s Valley of the Cross close to Sacher Park in Rehavia, also had graffiti spray-painted on its entrance which read: “Jesus is a son of a bitch” and “Jesus is an ape.” The cars were spray-painted with the messages: “Victory of the Maccabees, and Happy Holidays.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the vandalism, saying in a statement that the perpetrators’ actions did not reflect the Jewish people as a whole. “It goes against Jewish values we have been raised on and the values we pass on to our children,” Netanyahu said Wednesday. “The continued freedom of worship for all religions in Israel will be safeguarded and we will make sure the lowly vandals are brought to justice,” he said.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said the attack was an attempt to disrupt the religious coexistence in the city. Father Claudius, who runs the church, confirmed the vandalism and mentioned that a similar attack occurred 10 months ago at the exact same place.
“I forgive those who did this and I say Happy Hanukkah. I am not angry. I believe in peace and the love of the religious people. The people who did this have no peace in their hearts,” the father told Israel Radio.