We usually like to post positive news here, but in the Jerusalem everyday reality, not all is positive. This past weekend, in the middle of the night, the walls of our neighbors on Mount Zion, the Dormition Abbey and both the Armenian and Greek cemeteries, were littered with anti-Christian graffiti. (Click here for the news story from the Jerusalem Post.)
In addition to across the board condemnation by both Jewish and Arab Israeli leaders, we, the residents of Mt. Zion, thanks to the Window on Mt. Zion project, released the following statement:
“We, the institutions, organizations and individuals residing on Mount Zion, harshly condemn the writing of anti-Christian hate slogans on and around Christian sites on Mount Zion – Jerusalem, which took place tonight, January 17th 2016.
The vandalism included curses and violent threats. We, residents of Mount Zion, call on the public to preserve the security and mutual respect of the Holy Places to all religions on Mount Zion. When one of these places is desecrated, it affects not only the site itself, but also all other holy sites on Mount Zion. In addition, these repeated acts of desecration undermine the delicate fabric of coexistence in the Holy Land in general and in the Holy City of Jerusalem in particular.
On behalf of:
* The Diaspora Yeshiva on Mount Zion
* The Armenian Patriarchate, Armenian Cemetery on Mount Zion
* World Benei-Akiva on Mount Zion
* The Christian Department, the Ministry of Interior Affairs, the Room of the Last Supper on Mount Zion
* Arik Pelzig – Harp of David on Mount Zion
* The Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion
* Dr. Zigmond Zigler Cohen, Mount Zion resident
* The Jerusalem University College on Mount Zion
* Custodia Terra Sancta, Ed-Cenaculum Franciscan Monastery on Mount Zion
* The Jerusalem Intercultural Center on Mount Zion
This is probably the first time in the long history of Mt. Zion (at least 1000 years of inter-religious conflicts!) that a joint statement of the resident institutions of the mountain issued a shared condemnation against the desecration of a holy site on Mt. Zion! So, while we’re deeply saddened by this incident, as well as other tragedies that have happened in the past few days, we are proud of the Window on Mt. Zion program, which has enabled us to reach this unprecedented collaboration.
We’re operating the Window on Mt. Zion program in cooperation with Search for Common Ground’s Jerusalem office, thanks to a grant from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). This amazing program has raised, in a few months, awareness about the different and varied religious sites on Mt. Zion – Christian, Muslim as well as Jewish – to thousands of people, young and old, Israelis and tourists, Jews, Christians and Muslims. The goal – to make Mt. Zion a place that welcomes people of all backgrounds and faiths to the very special sites that are of utmost importance to people of all faiths throughout the world.
The next day, an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish leader, Nahum Shlezinger, came to Mount Zion just to apologize in the name of Judaism, and to tell the Christians that the anti-Christian graffiti is not the Jewish way. Helped by the excellent cooperation between the local police and the church – as a result of our efforts, the connection was made and the dialogue between the Jewish leader and the Christian representative happened. You can see it here and on a Facebook post on the Window on Mount Zion Facebook page:
May we continue to bring only good news.