More Jewish sites vandalized in Israel than Muslim and Christian
Jewish holy sites in Israel and the West Bank have been vandalized and desecrated more than Muslim and Christian sites combined. These are the findings of a first of its kind registry detailing attacks on religious sites compiled by an organization called Search for a Common Ground.
Out of nearly 140 sites reported to have been attacked since September 2011, 52% were Jewish, 26% were Muslim and 22% were Christian.
The list of attacks is based on media and watchdog reports and does not include violence on the Muslim-Jewish flashpoint on the Temple Mount.
“We, the Jewish community, often see ourselves as victims of attacks perpetrated by other ethnic groups,” Sharon Rosen, co-director of Search for Common Ground’s Jerusalem office, told The Times of Israel, noting that many perpetrators of the attacks against synagogues, gravestones and cemeteries, are believed to be Jews.
“The registry reflects violence within our own society, as well as the external violence we all know of,” Rosen told TOI.
The registry is a tool inspired by the Universal Code of Conduct on Holy Sites, a document written by Search for Common Ground and other organizations in order to encourage cooperation among various religions in resolving conflicts.
He said he is still awaiting official police corroboration for the information gleaned from the media and from other monitoring groups.
“I was surprised to discover the number of esoteric attacks against Jewish sites across the country, which people hardly hear of,” Eran Tzidkiyahu, a program coordinator at Search for Common Ground and manager of the registry, told The times of Israel. “Many synagogues are broken into for reasons which are assumed to be criminal, and there’s lots of violence against Conservative and Reform [synagogues], which we presume are carried out by Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox elements. In some cases synagogues are vandalized for nationalistic reasons, especially in border areas.”
According to Tzidkiyahu, Mount Zion in Jerusalem — home to many important holy sites and religious institutions for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike — is a notorious hotbed for religious attacks.
“There are seven Christian cemeteries on Mount Zion,” Tzidkiyahu said. “In recent months, we’ve witnessed the shattering of tombstones, spray-paint attacks on the Dormition Abbey and the burning of a Greek Orthodox priests’ seminary on the western slopes of the mountain.”
As a result of the attacks, a permanent police station was recently opened at the site.
You need to be logged in in order to post comments. Sign up or log in