|Graffiti reads, “Jesus, son of a bitch, price tag”|
(terrasanta.net) So far this year, anti-Christian graffiti was sprayed on the walls of a Catholic institution in Jerusalem, and three synagogues and a mosque were attacked and vandalized. It is not the best start to a new year. The year 2013 saw a sharp increase in graffiti attacks from previous years. The full list of reported attacks on religious sites in the Holy Land can be viewed here.
The abusive graffiti was sprayed on the walls of the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center on Jan. 8. Two synagogues were broken into and Torah scrolls desecrated on Jan. 10. The other synagogue, on the Sirkin military base, was vandalized on Jan. 9. The mosque in Deir Istiya in the West Bank was set on fire and graffitied on Jan. 15.
The attacks have prompted condemnations from the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, which describes them as “despicable” and which it says contribute to “a divisive and hostile environment.”
The Council, which is registering all the attacks on its website, calls on the authorities in charge “to do their utmost to prevent such attacks and restore safety and respect for Holy Sites of all religions.”
The attacks often contain the graffiti “price tag” which means to exact a price from local Palestinians or from the Israeli security forces for any action taken against Jewish settlements. Such acts of vandalism are usually carried out by young Jewish extremists.
During a meeting with local Christian religious leaders at the end of December, Israeli President Shimon Peres condemned the attacks and stressed that Israel will not such abuse of holy sites.
“The State of Israel will not tolerate aggression against members of the clergy,” he said. “I feel angry at the insults some religious leaders in Israel have faced recently. Israel has always been and will always remain committed to freedom of worship, freedom of religion. We will continue to guarantee access to holy sites for all.”
He said he prayed that in 2014 “harmony and coexistence” would reign in Jerusalem “as an example and an inspiration for the togetherness of faiths across the world.”
“Wherever intolerance appears we will continue to take firm action against it,” he said. “There is no place for violence in our society, even more so when it targets people or places of faith.”
Although the majority of “price tag” attacks appear to be carried out by Jewish extremists, some have been proven false or staged by Arab and left-wing activists.
Jewish community leaders in Judea and Samaria have regularly expressed concern that “price tag” accusations are being used by left-wing and Arab extremists as part of a campaign of anti-Jewish incitement.