AJ Paz of Christianity Daily writes that the recently elected Israeli government has been accused of turning a blind eye to growing violence against the Christian community in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won the recent November election, forming a government of nationalist and religious members of the Israeli Parliament, including the far-right, pro-settler Otzma Yehudit Party.
The Christian community is mostly of Arab descent, although there is a sizable Armenian presence in the Old City of Jerusalem dating back over 1,500 years. East Jerusalem has a majority Muslim and Christian population, with a growing Israeli Jewish minority. It is also disputed territory, and the presence of settlers in East Jerusalem has been highly controversial, especially after repeated clashes between the two groups.
Christians in East Jerusalem are victims of the ongoing violence. According to the Jerusalem Post on Mount Zion, which is thought to be the site of Jesus’ Last Supper, one recent event involved the vandalism of a Christian grave. Such events include spitting, cursing, and pushing Armenian priests in Old City alleyway
Miran Krikorian, owner of a Wine Bar in the Old City of Jerusalem, was not even surprised when he received a call that reports that a group of Israeli settlers was attacking his bar last January. The attackers shouted, “Death to Arabs, death to Christians!” Even with the lack of efforts of the police, Krikorian already knew the situation they were in.
The emergence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nationalist-religious cabinet early this year has raised concerns among Christian leaders about rising violence against their minority. Some people worry that the Christian population, which is no longer seen as being crucial to the identity of the city, may be squeezed out by the rise of Jewish neighborhoods around the Old City of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives.