The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III reportedly warned US President Joe Biden of extremist forces raising tensions in Jerusalem’s Old City, straining daily life and harming worshipers, according to the The Jerusalem Post citing a report from Channel 12’s Yaron Avraham.
“It is saddening that these groups are supported, in part, by right-wing figures in Israel’s political sphere. They are, together, trying to disrupt the longtime status quo in the city.”
In January this year, in an Op-Ed in the Times of London the patriarch accused radical Israeli groups of aiming to drive the Christian community from the old city.
“Our presence in Jerusalem is under threat,” the patriarch wrote.
“Our churches are threatened by Israeli radical fringe groups. At the hands of these Zionist extremists the Christian community in Jerusalem is suffering greatly, he said.
“Our brothers and sisters are the victims of hate crimes. Our churches are regularly desecrated and vandalized. Our clergy are subject to frequent intimidation.”
According to Haaretz, ‘by singling out extremists as Israeli, Theophilos’s criticism was more personal and trenchant than that of a collective statement issued by the heads of other churches in Jerusalem before Christmas.’
‘Their statement spoke of “frequent and sustained attacks by fringe radical groups” but stopped short of identifying them as Israeli.
‘A U.S. State Department report published last year on religious freedom around the world said Christian clergy and pilgrims continued to report instances of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem harassing or spitting on them.’