Israel's Interior Minister: 'Stop Spitting on Christians'

Jeff Hook

Rare mention of strange Jewish tradition.

Avraham Poraz, Israel's interior minister, today [2004-10-13] issued a half-hearted statement condemning an increase in attacks on Christian clergy. Poraz urged Jews to "stop the repeated attacks on the religious minority."

It seems that the tradition of spitting on the cross is getting media attention outside of Israel, and fears are that it might damage the ethno-state's image.

The latest incident was last Sunday, when a Jew spit on a cross carried by Armenian archbishop Nourhan Manougian. The attack led to a scuffle in which the archbishop's medallion, worn by Armenian archbishops since the 17th century, was broken.

Jewish yeshiva The Jew, a student of the Talmud, received no jail time or fine.

Meanwhile, Jews are considering whether to initiate criminal proceedings against the archbishop. They may charge him with assault for slapping the yeshiva student. [Image: a Jewish yeshiva (religious school), where students learn that love of their fellow Jews is the highest moral duty, and that hostility toward non-Jews and disrespect for their religious symbols are obligatory expressions of piety.]

Archbishop Manougian says he and his colleagues have already learned to live with the spitting. "I no longer get worked up by Jews who turn around and spit when I pass them by in the street; but to approach in the middle of a religious procession and to spit on the cross in front of all the priests of the sect is humiliation that we are not prepared to accept," he said.

"The Israeli government is anti-Christian," Manougian added. "It cries out in the face of any harm done to Jews all over the world, but is simply not interested at all when we are humiliated on an almost daily basis."

Christians in Jerusalem want Jews to stop spitting on them

by Amiram Barkat

A few weeks ago, a senior Greek Orthodox clergyman in Israel attended a meeting at a government office in Jerusalem's Givat Shaul quarter. When he returned to his car, an elderly man wearing a skullcap came and knocked on the window. When the clergyman let the window down, the passerby spat in his face.

The clergyman prefered not to lodge a complaint with the police and told an acquaintance that he was used to being spat at by Jews. Many Jerusalem clergy have been subjected to abuse of this kind. For the most part, they ignore it but sometimes they cannot.

On Sunday, a fracas developed when a yeshiva student spat at the cross being carried by the Armenian Archbishop during a procession near the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City. The archbishop's 17th-century cross was broken during the brawl and he slapped the yeshiva student.


According to Daniel Rossing, former adviser to the Religious Affairs Ministry on Christian affairs and director of a Jerusalem center for Christian-Jewish dialogue, there has been an increase in the number of such incidents recently, "as part of a general atmosphere of lack of tolerance in the country."

Rossing says there are certain common characeristics from the point of view of time and location to the incidents. He points to the fact that there are more incidents in areas where Jews and Christians mingle, such as the Jewish and Armenian quarters of the Old City and the Jaffa Gate.

There are an increased number at certain times of year, such as during the Purim holiday. "I know Christians who lock themselves indoors during the entire Purim holiday," he says.

Former adviser to the mayor on Christian affairs, Shmuel Evyatar, describes the situation as "a huge disgrace." He says most of the instigators are yeshiva students studying in the Old City who view the Christian religion with disdain.

"I'm sure the phenomenon would end as soon as rabbis and well-known educators denounce it. In practice, rabbis of yeshivas ignore or even encourage it," he says.

Evyatar says he himself was spat at while walking with a Serbian bishop in the Jewish quarter, near his home. "A group of yeshiva students spat at us and their teacher just stood by and watched."

Excerpted from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, October 12, 2004.

The Jewish Hatred Towards Christianity

by Israel Shahak

Dishonoring Christian religious symbols is an old religious duty in Judaism. Spitting on the cross, and especially on the Crucifix, and spitting when a Jew passes a church, have been obligatory from around AD 200 for pious Jews. In the past, when the danger of anti-Semitic hostility was a real one, the pious Jews were commanded by their rabbis either to spit so that the reason for doing so would be unknown, or to spit onto their chests, not actually on the cross or openly before the church. The increasing strength of the Jewish state has caused these customs to become more open again but there should be no mistake: The spitting on the cross for converts from Christianity to Judaism, organized in Kibbutz Sa'ad and financed by the Israeli government, is a an act of traditional Jewish piety. It does not cease to be barbaric, horrifying and wicked because of this! On the contrary, it is worse because it is so traditional, and much more dangerous as well, just as the renewed anti-Semitism of the Nazis was dangerous, because in part, it played on the traditional anti-Semitic past.

This barbarous attitude of contempt and hate for Christian religious symbols has grown in Israel. In the 1950s Israel issued a series of stamps representing pictures of Israeli cities. In the picture of Nazareth, there was a church and on its top a cross -- almost invisible, perhaps the size of a millimeter. Nevertheless, the religious parties, supported by many on the Zionist "left" made a scandal and the stamps were quickly withdrawn and replaced by an almost identical series from which the microscopic cross was withdrawn.

Then there was the long-drawn-out battle about Christian influence in elementary arithmetic. Pious Jews object to the international plus sign for it is a cross, and it may in their opinion, influence little children to convert to Christianity. Another "explanation" holds it would then be difficult to "educate" them to spit on the cross, if they become used to it in their arithmetic exercises. Until the early 1970s two different sets of arithmetic books were used in Israel. One for the secular schools, employing an inverted "T" sign. In the early '70's the religious fanatics "converted" the Labour Party to the great danger of the cross in arithmetic, and from that time, in all Hebrew elementary schools (and now many high schools as well) the international plus sign has been forbidden.

Similar development is visible in other areas of education. Teaching the New Testament was always forbidden, but in the old time conscientious teachers of history used to circumvent the prohibition, by organizing seminars or sending the students to libraries (not the school libraries, of course). About 10 years ago there was a wave of denouncing such teachers. One in Jerusalem was almost sacked, for advising her history pupils, who were studying the history of Jews in Palestine around 30-40 AD, that it would be a good thing if they would read a few chapters of the New Testament as a historical aid. She retained her post only after humbly promising not to do this again.

However in recent years, anti-Christian feelings are literally exploding in Israel (and among Israel-worshipping Jews in Diaspora too) together with the increase of the Jewish fanaticism in all other areas too.

The real enemies of truth here, as in many other aspects of the Israel reality, are the socialists, "liberals", "radicals", etc. in the USA. Imagine the reaction of the US Liberals, and of such papers as The Nation and New York Review of Books, not to speak of the New York Times if in any state whatsoever, the government financed spitting on a Star of David? But when here in Israel, the government finances the spitting on a cross, they are and will continue to be, quite silent. More than this, they help to finance it. United States taxpayers, who are of course mostly Christians, are financing at least half the Israeli budget, one way or another, and therefore the spitting on the cross too.

The late Professor Shahak was an Israeli citizen, former prison camp inmate during WWII, and the founder of Israel's Human Rights League. His Jewish History, Jewish Religion, which discusses Jewish hatred and contempt toward Gentiles, is highly recommended.


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