WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES (WCC) General Secretary the Rev Prof Dr Jerry Pillay has expressed concern over a violent protest by right wing Jewish activists against an Evangelical Christian event in Jerusalem on 28 May.
The protestors – who included a prominent far-right rabbi, the chairman of the Ateret Cohanim organisation, and a deputy mayor of Jerusalem – are reported to have chanted insults, spat on participants, and smashed windows at the Davidson Centre near the Western Wall in Jerusalem where the event was taking place.
The Anti-Defamation League Israel described the protestors’ actions as “Despicable hate speech by Jewish extremists against Christian worshippers in Jerusalem”. While not referring to the protest explicitly, the Israel Foreign Ministry condemned “any violation of freedom and worship in Jerusalem and any violence against religious officials in the city. The State of Israel considers freedom of religion and worship in Jerusalem which is holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims, a central value to the fabric of life in the city.”
Heads of churches in Jerusalem have repeatedly raised concerns about attacks and harassment by extremist elements in Israeli society, and the grave threats posed to the Christian presence in the city and in the region.
Referring to the violent protest, Pillay condemned attacks on Christians and others seeking to exercise their right to freedom of religion in the Holy Land. “The WCC has consistently affirmed the long-held understanding that Jerusalem is a shared Holy City of three religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – and violations to the Status Quo bring division, hardship, and violence”, he said .
“We urge the support of the international community and all people of good will to keep Jerusalem as a city that respects the rights of all the people in the Holy Land.”
* Source: World Council of Churches