CMEP Bulletin: Christian Monastery Vandalized, DNC Jerusalem Controversy
Weekly update from CMEP
Christian monastery targeted after Migron evacuation
On Tuesday September 4, monks in Latrun, a village 15 miles west of Jerusalem, woke up to find their monastery’s doorway in flames and inflammatory graffiti on the walls. The incident bears the hallmark signs of a “price tag” attack, which Israeli police say they have been preparing for after the evacuation of settlers from the Migron outpost.
At 3:30 am, a monk from the monastery awoke and saw the doorway to their building on fire. After the monk called for help, the abbot Father Louie says “I went outside and saw the entire door on fire. He put out the fire with an extinguisher we had. If he hadn’t done that, everything would have caught fire.” Offensive words about Jesus and the names of illegal Israeli outposts in the West Bank, including Migron, were spray-painted onto the outside walls of the building.
The attack came just two days after the September 2 eviction of almost 300 settlers in Migron, an outpost built on private Palestinian property without the proper approvals from the Israeli government. The outpost has been the subject of legal wrangling for years and the government has repeatedly tried to avoid removing the families living there. The police had to forcibly remove a few holdouts, but most residents left without resistance and moved into the new temporary homes in a nearby settlement. Later this month, they will move into homes built by the government on a hillside a mile away from Migron.
Despite the evacuation process going smoothly, settler activists are angry and showing the Israeli government the “price tag” for such actions by vandalizing Palestinian and Israeli security property. The price is getting steeper as the attacks continue and the international community takes notice. After the attack on the monastery, the Israeli embassy in Paris sent a cable to the Foreign Ministry that reads, “The media coverage (of the vandalism) is causing grave damage to Israel’s image in France.” Ynet News reports that other embassies in Europe sent similar reports indicating the desecration “has resulted in a major hit to Israel’s image in the continent.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the attacks saying, “Those responsible for this reprehensible act need to be punished severely. Freedom of religion and freedom of worship are among the most basic foundations of the State of Israel.” Defense Minister Ehud Barak echoed the prime minister and stated, “Defense Minister Ehud Barak: “We must fight this with an iron fist and end these kinds of incidents, which stain Israel. It is our duty to eradicate this phenomenon.”
As with most “price-tag” crimes, Israeli police have not made any arrests thus far. This does not surprise prominent settler leader Danny Dayan, who disagrees with the extremist settlers’ violent tactics. He blames the Israeli security forces for the lack of arrests and prosecution for price tag criminals saying, “It’s unacceptable that the Shin Bet produces zero indictments and 100% failures… It’s inconceivable that our glorified Shin Bet cannot handle these groups of thugs.”
The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land released a statement condemning the attacks and elements in Israeli society that foster hatred. The communiqué says, “Sadly, what happened in Latrun is only another in a long series of attacks against Christians and their places of worship…What kind of ‘teaching of contempt’ for Christians is being communicated in their schools and in their homes? And why are the culprits not found and brought to justice?” The statement concluded with Psalm 34:14, “Which of you desires life, and covets many days to enjoy good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.”
Click here to continue reading this week’s CMEP Bulletin, including an item on the Democratic National Convention Jerusalel platform issue.