Attacks against Christians in Jerusalem ‘reprehensible,’ Jewish historian says

Wolfson Michael Wolffsohn. | Credit: Raimond Spekking/CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Following the spitting attack on a Benedictine abbot on Feb. 3 in Jerusalem, a Jewish historian has decried such incidents as reprehensible and called for an end to the hatred. 

“Especially in Jerusalem, orthodox activists consider themselves exemplary Jews when they spit on or even beat Christians or Muslims,” Michael Wolffsohn wrote in the Jüdische Allgemeine, a weekly Jewish newspaper published in Berlin, on Feb. 8.

“Those orthodox Jews immerse themselves in Torah, Talmud, and tradition for hours on end, day in, day out, but elementary Judaism is obviously not part of their curriculum,” noted Wolffsohn, an Israeli-born German historian and former professor at the University of the German Armed Forces

“We Jews have rightly complained about hatred of Jews for thousands of years. Jewish hatred against Christians or Muslims is just as reprehensible,” he said. 

‘I always pray for the perpetrators’

The historian’s words followed the Feb. 3 attack against the abbot of the Abbey of the Dormition, Father Nikodemus Schnabel, OSB, and a reported rise in attacks by orthodox and nationalist Jews in Jerusalem against Christians.

“Normally, I am used to the fact that people spit on me — this is a very daily experience, especially at Mount Zion [where the monastery is located],” Schnabel told CNA a few days after the incident.

“I have no hate,” the German monk said. “I prayed for the two guys who harassed me as I always pray for the perpetrators. This is the DNA of my being as a Christian.”

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem condemned “the unprovoked and shameful assault” against the abbot in a statement on X.

“The prosecution of such hate crimes is an important tool for deterrence and for enhancing the sense of security of the Christian clergy in the Holy Land, particularly in Jerusalem,” it said. 

Concern for communities and pilgrims

The patriarchs and heads of the churches in Jerusalem expressed their solidarity in a letter to the Benedictine abbot published Feb. 10 on X

The letter said: “We are aware that this is not the first such assault you have faced, but your fortuitous recording of it has exposed to the world the reprehensible behavior that you and many of our church leaders and parishioners have had to endure over the years, especially in recent times.”

The patriarchs also wrote that they pray that “legal action against the perpetrators will not only serve to underscore the unacceptable nature of these attacks, but also lead to a constructive dialogue between our interfaith communities, facilitating the promotion of mutual respect, peace, and goodwill between all who live in the Holy City as well as for those visiting here on pilgrimage.”

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