After months of incursions by a group of ultra-Orthodox Jews at the Stella Maris Monastery in Haifa, Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau strongly condemned the incidents in a letter to Abbot Jean Joseph Bargara.
“I strongly condemn harming clerics in particular, and any person in general, just because of their faith,” Lau wrote in the letter initiated by officials in the Haifa municipality.
In August and July, an ultra-Orthodox group repeatedly tried to enter and pray at the monastery, claiming the facility to be a Jewish holy site. The incident resulted in a scuffle and later escalated into physical violence.
“Throughout history, the Jewish religion has been harmed more than any other religion because of its faith, and this obliges us all the more firmly to insist that no action involving violence should be taken,” Lau said.
“It is an obligation for all human beings to respect each other and behave appropriately towards all human beings. We have a rule in Judaism, ‘Don’t do to your friend what is hateful to you.’”
Rabbi Lau ended his letter with the expectation that the authorities would exhaust the law with the extremist group.
“Let us pray to the heavens that we will live in a world of peace, a world in which the words of the prophet will be fulfilled, ‘they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks,’ days of peace and quiet for all the inhabitants of the earth.”
Israel’s President Isaac Herzog and Police Chief Kobi Shabtai visited Stella Maris in August, together with representatives of Christian churches.
During the visit, Herzog condemned recent violence against Christians in Israel as “unacceptable.”
The Israeli president promised to ensure that “the peace and tranquility in this place and in all the churches and in all the holy sites of the Christian communities in the State of Israel, in the Holy Land, will be preserved as they have been from time immemorial.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.