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Tag Meir voices Christian solidarity against vandals
By JEREMY SHARON
05/10/2012
Anti-extremism group meets with Father Pizzaballa to express regret for Fanciscan convent vandalism in J'lem.
 
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 said.

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 responsible.

The custodian of the Holy Land, or custos, is responsible for all Catholic holy places in Israel, the West Bank and the wider region.

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.

“Since December 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 attacks.

“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 minority.

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 army.

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.

According to 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” attack.

Melanie Lidman contributed to this report.
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