The Latin patriarch of Jerusalem is speaking out against acts of vandalism against Christian, Muslim and Druze properties weeks ahead of Pope Francis’ scheduled visit to the Holy Land
Patriarch Fouad Twal described the acts, which consist of anti-Christian and anti-Muslim graffiti on buildings and holy sites, as a “blight on Israeli democracy.”
“This wave of extremist actions of terror, are surely a grave concern to all reasonable persons. The government of Israel must be concerned, because it is very bad for the State of Israel’s image abroad,” he said in a prepared statement.
The statement, which was released 7 May after the vandalism was discovered, also called on authorities to take greater steps in prosecuting the vandals.
The graffiti was discovered on a column outside the Office of the Assembly of Bishops at the Notre Dame Center in East Jerusalem, where Pope Francis is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The interfaith Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land has also condemned the vandalism.
Acts of vandalism have been taking place since 2009 when a mosque was struck in the West Bank. Since then, the vandalism has spread into Israel with reports of graffiti in both Christian and Muslim religious sites and communities.
“The actions are only drawing condemnation by Israeli leaders but few arrests,” the patriarch said. ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,’ to use and often quoted line.”
In the lead-up to Pope Francis’ visit, which will take place 24-26 May, he said the “unrestrained” acts of vandalism poison the atmosphere of “co-existence and collaboration,” but added he was “encouraged” that Israel’s Justice Minister Tzipi Livni had convened an emergency meeting to address the incidents.