Sunday, 21 June 2015

When Islamic state jihadis demolish ancient artefacts, they justify it by pointing to Islam's condemnation of "idolatry". But Judaism, too, prohibits idolatry. And Jews, too, engage in religious terrorism.
Once again, a Church is vandalized by Jewish extremists. This time, however, the religious motive is more overt. Instead of “price tag”, the graffiti quotes a passage from the Hebrew prayer, appealing to the removal of idolatry. The attack on Tabgha is therefore not simply one more attack. It marks a new level of attack on Christian institutions. For the first time, Jewish sources are quoted, making the attack explicitly religious. Tabgha marks the launch of religious Jewish terrorism. 

The attack on Tabgha is not simply one more in a chain of attacks. It is closely linked to ongoing occurrences on Mount Zion. The brothers at Tabgha belong to the same community that inhabits the Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion. The monks on Mount Zion are subject to daily abuse, in the form of spitting or name calling. There has been an attempt at arson at the Dormition Abbey as well. Whether the arsonists are aware of it or not, what may be termed the epicenter of religious disharmony, Mount Zion, has sent shock-waves to peaceful Galilee. 
The attack on Tabgha is the worst since the wave of attacks on Churches and Mosques began. The damage is more extensive than in any other attack on a Church. 
The entire affair is fueled by a view of Christianity as idolatry. No matter how much state and religious officials condemn the arsonists, more is required than just condemnation. The youth, or hotheads or extremists or terrorists – call them what you like, absorbed a certain teaching, even if they misinterpreted it. Religious leaders and educators must deal with the root problem. In the slew of responses to the attack, I noted only one single response that addressed the core issue. Rabbi Amnon Bazak of Har Etzyon Yehiva stated out and out that Christianity is not idolatrous and therefore the graffiti is not mistaken in application, but in principle. Not a single one of the official religious speakers who condemned the arson touched on the core issue. Regrettably, the view of Christianity as idolatrous is growing in prominence; once a minoritarian position, it has eclipsed other views. Rabbis must deal with the root cause of this kind of religious extremism. Is Christianity “avoda zara” or idol worship? For whom? What are the implications of such affirmation? What room is there for an alternative view?


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