Hundreds of Christians gathered at the Davidson Center, an archaeological park near the Western Wall, as part of Pentecost 2023 Vision: A Global Day of Prayer for Jerusalem and the Nations. The theme of the event centered on Psalm 122, which commands God’s people to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”
During the event, several Orthodox Jewish activists, including a prominent rabbi and the deputy mayor of Jerusalem, took part in a protest that eventually turned violent, with several protesters hurling insults at Christians gathered in the area and others spitting on them. Windows at the Davidson Center were smashed during the protest, an Israeli newspaper reported, adding that 10 Jewish protesters were arrested during the gathering but were not identified.
The official website of the Christian Pentecost group said that they are “a coalition of believers in Israel and the Nations, denominations, missions and prayer organizations,” which are “calling believers everywhere to set aside an hour to pray both for Jerusalem and the Jewish people and for the Gospel to go to the ends of the earth and communities of worshiping disciples to be raised up everywhere.”
כך נראית עליונות יהודית וייהוד ירושלים – עכשיו ליד הכותל – סגן ראש עיריית ירושלים אריה קינג מוביל הפגנה נגד נוצרים שזקוקים לליווי משטרתי כדי להיכנס, כשברקע ההמון קורא להם מיסיונרים לכו הביתה. שבוע שעבר זה היה מצעד הדגלים, עכשיו זו קבוצה של נוצרים ומה יהיה בשבוע הבא? pic.twitter.com/hGYdAepTyL
— עמק שווה (@EmekShavehHeb) May 28, 2023
“Israel Today” reported that some signs that protesters held cited the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70 by Rome and the Holocaust as reasons for the protest. One sign reportedly read, “We haven’t forgotten our temple that was destroyed by Rome nor the equitation in Spain and all the pogroms. We have not forgotten all the bloodshed nor the six million who were murdered in the Holocaust.”
Among those who participated in the protest were Rabbi Zyi Thau, the spiritual leader of the Noam Party, and Arieh King, the deputy mayor of Jerusalem, who equated Christian missionary activity with radical Islamic terrorism. “Missionary terrorism is as dangerous as Islamic terrorism,” King said. “Do you think they would have allowed the Jews to hold a prayer service at the entrance to the Vatican? Or in Mecca? This is a provocation.”
King called participants in the prayer and worship event, which was live-streamed to millions of viewers, part of “the Christian cult.”
“It is the duty of every Jew to save all Jews from descending into the Christian cult,” King told protesters. “They want to pray? Let them pray in their churches, not at the holiest place to Jews, at the south entrance to the temple, the Huldah Gate staircase.”
Since 2021, the Christian community in Israel, comprised largely of Arab Christians, has been the target of criticism by Orthodox Jews and other Israeli conservatives, who have urged missionaries to “refrain from such offensive behavior” as sharing the gospel with the Jewish people.
Evangelicals remain ardent supporters of the Jewish people and Israel but tension has grown with a small segment of Israel’s ultra-orthodox community. Many of the community’s members equate American foreign policy with that of all Americans, especially Christians.
Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry promptly responded to the protests and attacks saying it “condemns any violation of freedom of religion and worship in Jerusalem and any violence against religious officials in the city. The State of Israel considers freedom of religion and worship in Jerusalem which is holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims, a central value to the fabric of life in the city.”
Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, Deputy mayor of Jerusalem, tweeted that she condemns “the demonstration today against our Christian Zionist friends who come to support our country and our eternal capital Jerusalem.”
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice