Activists from the anti-extremism Tag Meir organization met Thursday with the
Custodian of the Holy Land Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa to express their
regret for the vandalism perpetrated against a Franciscan convent on Mount Zion
in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
In the third so called “price-tag” attack
against Christian sites this year, vandals sprayed-painted the words “price tag”
and “Jesus is a bastard” on the door of the Franciscan convent, located adjacent
to the Dormition Abbey cathedral.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post,
Pizzaballa said that the incident must be sharply condemned to make clear that
such attacks are not acceptable.
“It is important to make clear that
these incidents are very serious since words can also do harm,” he
He also welcomed the Tag Meir initiative for showing “religion and
tolerance are not contradictory values,” as well as the “solidarity” expressed
for the monastery and the monks from around the country “which strengthens the
idea that these incidents do not represent Israel or Jews... and that we can
continue to live together in this city.”
Pizzaballa underlined the
importance of bringing the culprits to justice but said that he is currently
satisfied with the efforts of the police to apprehend those
The custodian of the Holy Land, or custos, is responsible
for all Catholic holy places in Israel, the West Bank and the wider
Gadi Gvaryahu, one of the Tag Meir activists and director of the
Yud B’Heshvan anti-extremism organization, gave a letter to the custos
expressing the anger and opposition to the incident.
2009, 17 places of worship, mosques and churches, have been desecrated or set on
fire in Israel and Judea and Samaria,” Gvaryahu said. “It is a great
embarrassment and we need to stop this.”
Gvaryahu also called on the Shin
Bet (Israel Security Agency) to do more to catch those involved in such
“When there is Arab terror, they know how to catch them. They
need to make greater efforts to catch these people, right now it doesn’t seem
like they’re doing enough,” he said.
Ron Kronish, director of the
Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel – a member of the Tag Meir
coalition – said the group represents the majority of Jews in Israel and that
the “price-tag” phenomenon is conducted by an outlandish extremist
The term “price-tag” attack, “tag mechir” in Hebrew, refers to
attacks, seemingly by radical settler groups protesting government policy in the
West Bank perceived as detrimental to the settlements.
Attacks have been
carried out against a series of targets including Muslim and Christian places of
worship, left-wing peace activists and organizations and even the
In September, vandals spray-painted the words “Jesus is a monkey”
and “mutual responsibility,” along with the names of settlement outposts Upper
Migron and Maoz Esther on the walls of the Latrun monastery.
police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, a unit established to deal with “price-tag”
attacks is conducting ongoing investigations into a number of recent incidents
and several suspects have been questioned and subsequently released over the
past few weeks.
No one has been convicted of a “price-tag”
Melanie Lidman contributed to this report.