Thursday, September 6

Attack on Christian church shows pattern of religious abuse in Israel

‘Price-tag’ attackers call Jesus ‘a monkey’
(CHICAGO 08/04/2012) – The American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), a national grassroots organization dedicated to educating the public about Palestine, condemns the desecration of a Christian monastery, the Abbaye de Notre-Dame de Sept-Douleurs, near Jerusalem. On Tuesday morning monks found the front door in flames and anti-Christian graffiti spray painted on the walls.
 The vandalism was a so-called “price-tag” attack by militant Jewish settlers, who say there is a ‘price’ for the state-mandated dismantling of settler outposts, built illegally on stolen Palestinian land. The graffiti mentioned the words, “Migron,” the name of an outpost evacuated last weekend, and “Jesus is a monkey.” 
“While this unfortunate attack against the monastery is completely hateful, it serves to illustrate that the situation in the Middle East is not a Muslim vs. Jewish problem,” said AMP Chairman, Dr. Hatem Bazian. “This attack shows how the Israeli occupation policies and the resultant illegal settler movement target all Palestinians regardless of religion in an effort to ethnically cleanse the indigenous population from Palestine.”
Though this was the first such attack at the monastery, there have been several incidents  against Christians and churches over the past several months. Vandalism almost always involves anti-Christian graffiti, such as ‘Death to Christians,’ and “Jesus drop dead,’ according to media reports. Churches have been burned and car tires slashed, as well.
Among the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Christian clergy report being spit upon by yeshiva students, who also yell slurs at them.
Religious bias, whether in the form of price-tag attacks, state policy or rabbinical decree, is not new in Israel. In fact, the state does not recognize several Protestant denominations such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church and Baptists, though they’ve been in Palestine for generations, according to the U.S. State Department’s “International Religious Freedom 2011” report.  
This has a direct impact on members’ personal status, such as how they can marry and where they can be buried. Since personal status matters for Jews are controlled by the Chief Rabbinate, which does not recognize non-Orthodox converts to Judaism as Jews, Reform and Conservative converts in the country cannot marry or divorce in the country and cannot be buried in Jewish cemeteries, and the nearly 60,000 Bedouin living in unrecognized villages within historic Palestine are not allowed to construct mosques.
Most troubling is the fact that Israeli authorities at times revoke citizenship of Israeli Christians and Messianic Jews. “Interior Ministry officials continued to revoke citizenship or deny services to some citizens based on their religious beliefs … This included cases in which the Ministry of the Interior attempted to revoke the citizenship of persons discovered holding Messianic or Christian beliefs, or denied them some national services, including child registration, social benefits, Israeli identity cards, and passports,” the report states.
It is time for the United States to hold Israel accountable for his utter disregard for human rights, including the right to practice religion freely and in peace. AMP calls upon U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to hold Israel to the same human rights standards as other countries.

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