The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Rev. Jerry Pillay, has condemned a violent protest by far-right Jewish activists against an Evangelical Christian event in Jerusalem. The incident occurred on Sunday, May 28, at the Jerusalem Archaeological Park - Davidson Center. Hundreds of Christians, including Evangelical supporters of Israel, had gathered for a prayer rally.
Protest Against Evangelical Christian Event
According to a report from the Vatican News, the worshippers were met by dozens of far-right Israeli protestors who insulted and spat on them, destroyed windows, and shouted at them to leave. Among the protestors were Rabbi Zvi Thau, the spiritual leader of the far-right Noam Party, the chairman of the Ateret Cohanim organization, Matisyahu Dan, and the deputy mayor of Jerusalem, Arieh King. King reportedly said to the crowd: "Let them pray in their churches, not at the holiest place to Jews, at the south entrance to the Temple."
As mentioned, ten of the protestors were arrested by the police. Moreover, the World Council of Churches reported that Pillay said the WCC condemned attacks on Christians and others seeking to exercise their right to freedom of religion in the Holy Land. He added that 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 of the Status Quo bring division, hardship, and violence.
Furthermore, Pillay called on the Israeli government to take action to ensure that such attacks do not happen again and to protect the rights of all religious communities in Israel. He also called on the leaders of all religious communities to work together to promote peace and understanding. Accordingly, the WCC is a global fellowship of churches that seeks to promote Christian unity and work for peace and justice worldwide. The WCC has over 350 member churches in over 110 countries.
Recent Violence in Jerusalem's Christian Quarter
On Thursday evening, January 26, Israeli settlers attacked an Armenian restaurant near the New Gate in the Christian Quarter of the occupied city of Jerusalem, the Massis Post reported. The radical settlers attacked a group of diners, mostly Armenians, enjoying their meals at the Taboon Wine Bar. Video footage showed the extremist Jewish settlers hurling chairs at the restaurant and diners. Israeli police arrived at the scene one hour later and made no arrests among the attackers. After the assault, Christian leaders in the Holy Land condemned the violence, urged more excellent protection of minority groups, and warned of "radical aggression" by forces determined to impose an exclusively "Jewish character" on the city.
On Friday afternoon, January 27, Latin Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa visited the restaurant owners and adjacent shopkeepers, whose businesses were the target of attacks, in a show of solidarity by the church. Meanwhile, The Orthodox Jerusalem Patriarchate asserted that "allowing members of such radical groups to freely march and roam around the neighborhoods of Jerusalem while armed and having declared criminal intentions is considered complicit in the attack and displays unwelcomed leniency with the criminals." The patriarchate also asserted its right to take legal action to prevent future marches by radical forces.