CITY COUNCILORS meet Armenian Patriarch Archbishop 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy of Meir Margalit)
Jerusalem City Council members from the Meretz party met on Thursday with the
Armenian patriarch, to apologize for the increase in ultra-Orthodox spitting at
priests as they walk in the Old City.
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According to Meir Margalit, the
Meretz city councilor who holds the east Jerusalem portfolio, the phenomenon of
haredim spitting at the ground as priests walked by has gone on for years but
has gotten considerably worse in the past six months. The issue was
highlighted in an October court case against a Greek Orthodox priest who punched
a haredi man who spat at him. The judge dismissed the case after saying that the
haredi man had provoked the priest.
“Needless to say, spitting toward the
accused when he was wearing the mantle of the church is a criminal offense,”
Judge Dov Pollock said in the October 31 ruling.
Local Meretz activists
joined city councilors Laura Wharton, Pepe Alalu and Margalit for the meeting
with Armenian Patriarch Archbishop Torkom Manoogian. Two weeks ago, the group,
along with two rabbis from Rabbis for Human Rights, held a similar meeting with
Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III.
“We went to ask forgiveness in
the name of the Jewish nation and the citizens of Jerusalem,” Margalit said on
“I grew up in Argentina during a period when there wasn’t a small
amount of anti-Semitism. When I heard this, it immediately brought me
back to Argentina. How can the Jewish people be doing something that they
used to do to us not so many years ago?” Margalit asked.
that both meetings with the church leaders had been positive, and that Manoogian
had said he believed the problem stemmed from a lack of education in the haredi
Margalit said he would appeal to the haredi city councilors to
ask rabbis to denounce the practice. But he also encouraged the police to stop
it “once and for all” by using the many security cameras in the Old City to
identify and arrest the men spitting at priests.