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Church Flap in Jerusalem: Bad Blood And Saliva
By Eric J. Greenberg
Forward (www.forward.com) October 22, 2004
[accompanied by Michael A. Hoffman II's expert commentary]
It has been Jerusalem's dirty little secret for decades: Orthodox yeshiva students and other Jewish residents vandalizing churches and spitting on Christian clergyman as they walk along the narrow, ancient stone streets of the Old City.
Now, however, following a highly publicized fracas last week (Oct. 10) between a yeshiva student and the archbishop of Jerusalem's Armenian Church, the issue is generating unprecedented media attention in Israel. The fight started after a yeshiva student at the respected Har Hamor yeshiva spat on Archbishop Nourhan Manougian during a Christian holy procession in the Old City...
"These ultra-Orthodox Jews are the ones causing this scandal, those that live here in our neighborhood and the ones that come visit the Western Wall," said...(a top Armenian) church official, Aris Shirvanian, in a phone interview Monday (Oct. 18). He spoke from the patriarchate's world headquarters in the Armenian Quarter, one of the famed four quarters of the Old City of Jerusalem...
Har Hamor is one of the leading institutions of religious Zionism, Israel's equivalent of Modern Orthodoxy. Most sources interviewed for this article suggested that the abusive practices were more common in the ultra-Orthodox or Haredi community, which is characterized by greater insularity. But sources told the Forward that the pratice has recently been picked up by other segments of the Orthodox world, including visiting American yeshiva students.
The controversy comes as the Israeli government and Diaspora Jewish organizations have been attempting to focus international attention on what they describe as a surge in antisemitism across the globe. Beyond potentially undermining these efforts, the reports of anti-Christian harassment could weaken Israel's claim to be an effective guardian of Christian and Muslim rights in Jerusalem...
Besides the Armenian rite, clergy of other Christian churches have been targeted, Shirvanian said. "This is not happening only to Armenian clergy, but also to the Catholics, Syrians, Romanians and Greek Orthodox."...According to Shirvanian, church officials are frequently subjected to spitting, from yeshiva students as well as from ultra-Orthodox women and young children. He said ultra-Orthodox Jews also throw garbage on church doorsteps and break windows at churches and at Christian homes.
Daniel Rossing, a former adviser on Christian affairs at Israel's Religious Affairs Ministry, said there has been an increase in the number of such incidents recently, "as part of a general atmosphere of lack of tolerance in the country."
"I know Christians who lock themselves indoors during the entire Purim holiday" for fear of being attacked by Jews, said Rossing, now the director of a Jerusalem center for Christian-Jewish dialogue.
A spate of recent incidents has been reported in the (Israeli) press:
*A few weeks ago, an elderly man wearing a yarmulke spat on a senior Greek Orthodox cleric who was entering a government office in Jerusalem's Givat Shaul section.
*Stars of David were spray-painted on the entrance to the Monastery of the Cross, not far from the Knesset. The Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral, near Jerusalem police headquarters, in the so-called Russian Compound in downtown Jerusalem, suffered similar vandalism.
*Churches located in several Orthodox neighborhoods in Jerusalem complained that neighbors had thrown garbage into their yards.
The Armenian call for action comes several days after Manougian was spat upon while leading a procession marking the Exaltation of the Holy Cross near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City. In response, Manougian slapped the yeshiva student, Natan Zvi Rosenthal, 21, a resident of Beersheva. During the ensuing brawl Manougian's cross medallion, worn by Armenian archbishops since the 17th century, was damaged.
Police questioned both men (and were considering arresting the Armenian bishop: see Haaretz, Oct. 11 --reproduced below). The Jerusalem District Court barred Rosenthal from entering the Old City for 75 days.
Israel's failure to impose a harsher penalty drew sharp criticism from Manougian. "When there is an attack against Jews anywhere in the world, the Israeli government is incensed," the patriarch was quoted as saying. "So why, when our religion and pride are hurt, don't they take harsher measures?"
On Sunday (Oct. 17), Israel's Knesset held an emergency meeting and launched an investigation into the apparently rising level of assaults against Christian clergy and churches. But by then, the incident was reverberating throughout the world, with more stories in the Israeli press of harassment and vandalism directed by Orthodox Jews against several denominations.
Even as the Knesset's Interior and Environment Committee was interviewing Christian leaders and Jerusalem officials, a 6-year-old Haredi boy spat on a young Armenian priest, Shirvanian told the Forward. In keeping with a long-standing approach, the church did not report the second spitting incident to the police. "When a little boy and little girl do this, they are being taught by their parents," Shirvanian said...The spitting on priests has been occurring "since the unification of Jerusalem in 1967," Shirvanian said.
Scholars contacted by the Forward cited several ancient rabbinic sources as potential sources of anti-Christian attitudes.At least one talmudic passage advises Jews to say pejorative things when passing the homes or graves of idolators, and while most rabbinic authorities have denied Christianity was intended, some medieval commentators seem to suggest that some Jews viewed it that way, presumably reflecting Jewish resentment of Christian persecution.
(Most rabbinic authorities lie to the goyim about the outrageous obligation to curse, i.e. "say pejorative things" when passing gentile graves and Christian churches; however there is an unambiguous halakhic command to do so. I have the exact wording of the curse and the exact rabbinic source for the command --Hoffman).
Shirvanian said the Armenian church has generally "tried to ignore" the spitting incidents. He said most Christians do not report the incidents to the police because the authorities ignore them. "They just take the reports and of course, they release the offenders." A Jerusalem police spokesman, Gil Kleiman...confirmed that Christian clergy complain the harassment is frequent. But it took the attack on the Armenian leader to transform the matter into a public issue and national embarrassment.
Shmuel Evyatar, a former adviser on Christian affairs to the mayor of Jerusalem, called the situation "a huge disgrace," adding that most of the instigators are yeshiva students studying in the Old City who view the Christian religion with disdain. "I'm sure the phenomenon would end assoon as rabbis and well-known educator denounce it. In practice, rabbis of yeshivas ignore or even encourage it," he said.
Rabbi Avi Shafran, a spokesman for Agudath Israel of America, the leading advocacy organization of ultra-Orthodox Judaism here, said he was unfamiliar with assaults on Christians (Ha! --Hoffman).
"Were something of the sort to occur in the United States, our rabbinic leadership would likely address the issue," Shafran said. "Since, though, the incident and the accusation of more widespread abuse have taken place in Israel, our rabbis would leave any response to the incident and to the demands of Armenian clergymen to the rabbinic leaders in the Holy Land."
Hoffman coments: Note that Rabbi Shafran of Agudath Israel refuses to condemn these anti-Christian hate crimes; using a pretext to avoid doing so. (See "Revisionist History" newsletter no. 35 for a rare photograph of Catholic Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) being given his marching orders from the rabbis of Agudath Israel).
The fact is, no amount of hand-wringing or rhetoric will, of itself, alter the milieu that makes these anti-Christian hate crimes possible. Only the formal and solemn repudiation of the hateful anti-Gentile and anti-Christian polemic in the Mishnah, Gemara, Zohar, Mishneh Torah, Shulchan Aruch, Tanya and the rest of the rabbinic canon, which is imparted to Judaic youth at an early age, will bring any kind of genuine respite. Nothing less will do. No face-saving, band-aid approach will protect Christians. Only repentance and reparation on the part of the leaders of Judaism for the foul imprecations and teachings in the Talmud and rabbinic holy books, will suffice.
I repeat my challenge to the orthodox rabbis of Judaism: if you deny that there is a command incumbent on Judaics to curse the graves and churches of the gentiles and Christians, debate this writer in public and on videotape and I will prove you a liar before the whole world, by furnishing the exact text of the curse and its authoritative rabbinic source.
Since I first made this challenge in the Hoffman Wire column of October 11, the question must be asked if the preceding article from Forward newspaper published October 22, with its mention of "At least one talmudic passage (which) advises Jews to say pejorative things when passing the homes or graves of idolators," is not an attempt at damage control in relation to the original challenge in the Hoffman Wire column? (Reproduced below).
In other words, they seem to be conceding some of the substance of my charge, but muddying it by surrounding it with the usual weasel words about "idolators."
Yet the yeshiva student who did the spitting has admitted he was taught to equate Christians with idolators, so the explanatory apologetics fail to defuse the horrendous fact that "one of the world's great religions" commands its followers to curses the graves of gentiles and defile the churches of Christians and the person of their clergymen.
This is an incendiary truth which is now out in the open for all those who have eyes to see!
Hoffman Wire | October 11, 2004
Armenian archbishop quizzed over spat with yeshiva student
By Amiram Barkat
Haaretz (Israeli newspaper) October 11, 2004
The Armenian archbishop in Israel, Nourhan Manougian, was questioned under warning by (Israeli) police yesterday after he slapped a yeshiva student during a procession marking the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem's Old City.
The archbishop slapped the student after the latter spat at the cross the Armenians were carrying and at Manougian himself. The incident developed into a brawl during which Manougian's ceremonial medallion, which has been used by Armenian archbishops since the 17th century, broke.
The yeshiva student was also detained for questioning.Police are now considering whether to initiate criminal proceedings against the Armenian archbishop and to charge him with assault. Meanwhile, the incident has sparked much anger among the clergy of the small Armenian community in Jerusalem.
Religious Jews, among them yeshiva students, customarily spit on the ground as a sign of disgust on seeing the cross. The Armenians, who live adjacent to the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, suffer from this phenomenon more than any of the other Christian sects in the Old City.
Manougian says he and his colleagues have already learned to live with it. "I no longer get worked up by people who turn around and spit when I pass them by in the street; but to approach in the middle of a religious procession and to spit on the cross in front of all the priests of the sect is humiliation that we are not prepared to accept," he notes.
A policeman is customarily posted to guard the Armenians' religious processions, but doesn't generally do anything to prevent the spitting. The Armenians took the matter up with Interior Minister Avraham Poraz some seven months ago, but nothing has been done about till now.
"The Israeli government is anti-Christian," Manougian charges. "It cries out in the face of any harm done to Jews all over the world, but is simply not interested at all when we are humiliated on an almost daily basis"...
It is quite rare for this information about the outrageous and disgusting Judiac penchant for spitting at the Cross to see the light of a printed page. Note the travesty of arresting the bishop who was the victim.The Israeli authorities changed their tune after this story received worldwide coverage. Once the media spotlight was turned upon it, the criminal charges against the Armenian bishop were dropped. Had this story been deep-sixed, the Christian victim would have been prosecuted by the Israeli courts.
The truth is, this hate crime -- filthy spitting and bigoted contempt --derives from formal rabbinic teaching and it is no wonder that a Talmud ("yeshiva") student would do such a thing on a regular basis. Orthodox Judaics are commanded to utter a curse whenever they pass a Christian church or cemetery, and to spit at or near any Cross they see. I have the exact wording of the curse and I know the rabbinic book in which the command to utter the curse is given. I will divulge these when any rabbi who denies these facts is willing to debate their existence in public and on videotape.
Judaism is the deadly enemy of Christianity and those pseudo-Christians who assist Judaism or present it as "part of our western spiritual heritage," or describe our heritage as "Judeo-Christian," are traitors to Jesus Christ.
by Michael A. Hoffman II
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