Christians in Jerusalem have attacked what they say is the increasingly common phenomenon of ultra-orthodox Jews spitting on them.
The statement followed a brawl between an orthodox Jewish yeshiva (religious school) student and an Armenian archbishop.
They clashed in Jerusalem’s Old City after the student spat at a cross being carried by the clergyman during a procession near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Archbishop Nourhan Manougian slapped the student and in the ensuing scuffle, his 17th century ceremonial medallion was broken.
Both were questioned by police and the student is facing charges. He has been banned from the Old City for 75 days. The Armenians say the action was inadequate.
Archbishop Manougian told an Israeli newspaper that Israeli leaders must speak out about the “daily” abuse. “When there is an attack against Jews anywhere, the Israeli government is incensed, so why when our religion and pride are hurt, don’t they take harsher measures?” he asked.
His critique has encouraged other Christian leaders to speak out, including a senior Greek Orthodox clergyman who has disclosed that he was recently approached by an elderly man wearing a skullcap who spat in his face.
Daniel Rossing, the director of a Jerusalem centre for Christian-Jewish dialogue, said there had been an increase in such incidents recently as “part of a general lack of tolerance”.
A statement by Professor Israel Shahak
Dishonouring Christian religious symbols is an old religious duty in Judaism. Spitting on the cross, an especially on the Crucifix, and spitting when a Jew passes a church, have been obligatory from around AD 200 for pious Jews.
In the past, when the danger of anti-Semitic hostility was a real one, the pious Jews were commanded by their rabbis either to spit so that the reason for doing so would be unknown, or to spit onto their chests, not actually on the cross or openly before the church.
The increasing strength of the Jewish state has caused these customs to become more open again but there should be no mistake: The spitting on the cross for converts from Christianity to Judaism , organized in Kibbutz Sa’ad and financed by the Israeli government is a an act of traditional Jewish piety. It does not cease to be barbaric, horrifying and wicked because of this! On the contrary, it is worse because it is so traditional, and much more dangerous as well, just as the renewed anti-Semitism of the Nazis was dangerous, because in part, it played on the traditional anti-Semitic past.
This barbarous attitude of contempt and hate for Christian religious symbols has grown in Israel. In the 1950s Israel issued a series of stamps representing pictures of Israeli cities. In the picture of Nazareth, there was a church and on its top a cross – almost invisible, perhaps the size of a millimeter. Nevertheless, the religious parties, supported by many on the Zionist “left” made a scandal and the stamps were quickly withdrawn and replaced by an almost identical series from which the microscopic cross was withdrawn.
Then there was the long-drawn-out battle about Christian influence in elementary arithmetic. Pious Jews object to the international plus sign for it is a cross, and it may in their opinion, influence little children to convert to Christianity. Another “explanation” holds: it would then be difficult to “educate” them to spit on the cross, if they become used to it in their arithmetic exercises.
Until the early 1970s two different sets of arithmetic books were used in Israel. One for the secular schools, employing an inverted “T” sign.. In the early ’70’s the religious fanatics “converted” the Labour Party to the great danger of the cross in arithmetic, and from that time, in all Hebrew elementary schools (and now many high schools as well) the international plus sign has been forbidden. Similar development is visible in other areas of education.
Teaching the ‘New Testament’ was always forbidden, but in the old time conscientious teachers of history used to circumvent the prohibition by organizing seminars or sending the students to libraries (not the school libraries, of course). About 10 years ago there was a wave of denunciations of such teachers. One in Jerualem was almost sacked, for advising her history pupils, who were studying the history of Jews in Palestine around 30-40 AD, that it would be a good thing if they would read a few chapters of the ‘New Testament’ as a historical aid. She retained her post only after humbly promising not to do this again.
However in recent years, anti-Christian feelings are literally exploding in Israel (and among Israel-worshipping Jews in Diaspora too) together with the increase of the Jewish fanaticism in all other areas too. The real enemies of truth here, as in many other aspects of the Israel reality, are the socialists, “liberals”, “radicals”, etc. in the USA.
Imagine the reaction of the US Liberals, and of such papers as ‘The Nation’ and ‘New York Review of Books’, not to speak of the ‘New York Times’, if in any state whatsoever, the government financed spitting on a Star of David? But when here in Israel, the government finances the spitting on a cross, they are and will continue to be, quite silent. More than this, they help to finance it. United States taxpayers, who are of course mostly Christians, are financing at least half the Israeli budget, one way or another, and therefore the spitting on the cross too.