Jewish Israelis welcome Christians and denounce 'unholy' spitting at Jerusalem March

The show of solidarity came after Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis condemned the 'disgraceful behaviour'


Thousands of Christian Evangelists and Israelis march at a parade in center of Jerusalem, marking the Jewish holiday of Sukkot or the Feast of the Tabernacles, October 4, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** מצעד צעדת ירושלים סוכות חג מרכז העיר משלחות דגל ישראל

Jewish Israelis lined the streets of Jerusalem to welcome Christian worshippers after footage of a group of strictly Orthodox Jews spitting at pilgrims drew international anger.

The show of solidarity for Christians taking part in the annual Jerusalem March came as the UK Chief Rabbi added his voice to the chorus of condemnation.

In footage posted online on Monday, a group can be seen leaving a church carrying a wooden cross.

They are forced to stop to avoid walking into a procession of Charedi men and boys celebrating Succot, several of whom then spit on the floor in front of the Christians.

Police in Jerusalem said that they had arrested five suspects on Wednesday morning for spitting at Christians.

UK Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis voiced his anger at the behaviour of those filmed, saying: “It is difficult to find the words to adequately condemn such disgraceful behaviour, which is the very antithesis of Torah values.

“In particular, seeing children apparently following the example of those who should know better, is shameful. We have a responsibility to unequivocally reject such conduct.”

His remarks came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “strongly condemned” what he characterised as “derogatory conduct”.

The premier said: "Israel is totally committed to safeguard the sacred right of worship and pilgrimage to the holy sites of all faiths.

"I strongly condemn any attempt to intimidate worshippers, and I am committed to taking immediate and decisive action against it.

"Derogatory conduct towards worshipers is sacrilege and is simply unacceptable. Any form of hostility towards individuals engaged in worship will not be tolerated."

“It’s a chilul Hashem [desecration of God’s name]. It desecrates the name of Jews and the name of God in the world,” one man told the Times of Israel.

Another man told the newspaper: “It is truly a joy that everyone is coming like this for us, for the Jewish people.”

The annual Jerusalem March, a tradition that began in 1955, takes place during the week of Succot and draws tens of thousands of people to the city. Christian pilgrims began attending the celebration in 1980 in a show of solidarity with the State of Israel.

David Parsons, a spokesman for the International Christian Assembly Jerusalem, said: The vast majority of Israelis we encounter… have warmly welcomed us for Succot once again, especially since the Hebrew prophets foresaw long ago the presence of the nations here at this unique and joyous pilgrimage festival.”

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