Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem  – Statement on the recent vandalism and desecration of the Protestant cemetery on Mt. Zion

5 January 2023

“We, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, are deeply disturbed at the wanton desecration of more than thirty gravestones at the Protestant cemetery on Mt. Zion on New Year’s Day.

“Particularly troubling are the scenes recovered from the security camera footage from that afternoon. They reveal two young men wearing kippers and tall it kaftans maliciously smashing to pieces a stone carving of the second Protestant Bishop of Jerusalem, numerous stone crosses and the tombstones of Christian police officers of Mandate Palestine.

“The choice of these specific targets signals to us that the perpetrators of these criminal deeds were clearly motivated by religious bigotry and hatred of Christians. Moreover, we note that this is not the first such attack upon this cemetery, but part of a repeating pattern of attacks against Christian sacred sites and cemeteries on Mt. Zion and elsewhere that have been on the rise over the past decade.

“As we have done multiple times in the past with similar such atrocities, we condemn these terroristic acts against the Protestant Cemetery and call for the concerned authorities to tirelessly pursue, apprehend, and prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes to the fullest extent of the law, including those laws pertaining to hate crimes.

“Moreover, these acts cannot be seen as isolated incidents, but as a clear and systematic attempt to bring about exclusivity in favour of one side, and a fierce attack on the historical Status Quo enshrined in our beloved Holy Land and upheld by International Law, which ensures the protection of mutual respect and religious rights.

“We therefore invite religious and political leaders both in our region and around the world to join us in condemning and combatting these and other such violent acts of defilement against sacred sites, and to actively reaffirm and recommit themselves to the promotion of an environment of safety, mutual respect, and religious tolerance in this Holy Land that is held in reverence by all three of the Abrahamic Faiths.”