“Just another guy with a blog.  No big whoop.”

December 1, 2009

"And they will mock him, and spit upon him, and scourge him" (Mk 10:34)

This Jerusalem Post article is sure to raise eyebrows, and perhaps tempers, among Jews, Catholics, and anyone else who thinks it's wrong and ugly to spit at someone because of his religious beliefs. This report says that Catholic and Orthodox priests and religious are regularly assaulted by Orthodox Jews who spit at them in a show of contempt.

Clearly, terrible things (far worse than spitting) were done by Christians to Jews over the centuries. No one (in his right mind) disputes this. But surely, modern Jews should have at least a dim collective memory of something very similar that started up in earnest against them in Germany, during the 1930s, right?

One would think.

With regard to this disturbing situation of religious Jews spitting on religious Christians, one of the underlying, and probably insoluble, problems here between Israeli Christians and the Jews who spit at them is that Judaism has historically followed the "eye for an eye" lex talionis (Exodus 21:22-27, Leviticus 24:18-20), while Christians are commanded by Jesus Christ to follow His injunction to "turn the other cheek" and to "do good to those who hate you" (Luke 6:27).

Anyway . . .

Mouths filled with hatred

Nov. 26, 2009

Father Samuel Aghoyan, a senior Armenian Orthodox cleric in Jerusalem's Old City, says he's been spat at by young haredi and national Orthodox Jews "about 15 to 20 times" in the past decade. The last time it happened, he said, was earlier this month. "I was walking back from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and I saw this boy in a yarmulke and ritual fringes coming back from the Western Wall, and he spat at me two or three times."

Wearing a dark-blue robe, sitting in St. James's Church, the main Armenian church in the Old City, Aghoyan said, "Every single priest in this church has been spat on. It happens day and night."

Father Athanasius, a Texas-born Franciscan monk who heads the Christian Information Center inside the Jaffa Gate, said he's been spat at by haredi and national Orthodox Jews "about 15 times in the last six months" - not only in the Old City, but also on Rehov Agron near the Franciscan friary. "One time a bunch of kids spat at me, another time a little girl spat at me," said the brown-robed monk near the Jaffa Gate.

"All 15 monks at our friary have been spat at," he said. "Every [Christian cleric in the Old City] who's been here for awhile, who dresses in robes in public, has a story to tell about being spat at. The more you get around, the more it happens."

A nun in her 60s who's lived in an east Jerusalem convent for decades says she was spat at for the first time by a haredi man on Rehov Agron about 25 years ago. "As I was walking past, he spat on the ground right next to my shoes and he gave me a look of contempt," said the black-robed nun, sitting inside the convent. "It took me a moment, but then I understood."

Since then, the nun, who didn't want to be identified, recalls being spat at three different times by young national Orthodox Jews on Jaffa Road, three different times by haredi youth near Mea She'arim and once by a young Jewish woman from her second-story window in the Old City's Jewish Quarter.

But the spitting incidents weren't the worst, she said - the worst was the time she was walking down Jaffa Road and a group of middle-aged haredi men coming her way pointed wordlessly to the curb, motioning her to move off the sidewalk to let them pass, which she did.

"That made me terribly sad," said the nun, speaking in ulpan-trained Hebrew. Taking personal responsibility for the history of Christian anti-Semitism, she said that in her native European country, such behavior "was the kind of thing that they - no, that we used to do to Jews."

News stories about young Jewish bigots in the Old City spitting on Christian clergy - who make conspicuous targets in their long dark robes and crucifix symbols around their necks - surface in the media every few years or so. It's natural, then, to conclude that such incidents are rare, but in fact they are habitual. Anti-Christian Orthodox Jews, overwhelmingly boys and young men, have been spitting with regularity on priests and nuns in the Old City for about 20 years, and the problem is only getting worse.

"My impression is that Christian clergymen are being spat at in the Old City virtually every day. This has been constantly increasing over the last decade," said Daniel Rossing. An observant, kippa-wearing Jew, Rossing heads the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations and was liaison to Israel's Christian communities for the Ministry of Religious Affairs in the '70s and '80s.

For Christian clergy in the Old City, being spat at by Jewish fanatics "is a part of life," said the American Jewish Committee's Rabbi David Rosen, Israel's most prominent Jewish interfaith activist.

"I hate to say it, but we've grown accustomed to this. Jewish religious fanatics spitting at Christian priests and nuns has become a tradition," said Roman Catholic Father Massimo Pazzini, sitting inside the Church of the Flagellation on the Via Dolorosa.

These are the very opposite of isolated incidents. Father Athanasius of the Christian Information Center called them a "phenomenon." George Hintlian, the unofficial spokesman for the local Armenian community and former secretary of the Armenian Patriarchate, said it was "like a campaign." . . . (continue reading)


  1. Actually, Patrick, Jews are required to be just as charitable as Christians. Hillel the Elder expounded the Golden Rule years before Jesus did. I like to think he learned it from the Lord and the Lord learned it from him.

  2. If I encountered one of these boys in the act I'd trip him up, pull down his trousers and give him six of the best with the handle of my Umbrella, I seem to remember Fr Corapi saying somewhere that being disrespectful to your neighbor is bad, but its ten times worse if your'e disrespectful to a priest.

  3. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reqard in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Matthew 5:11, 12