On May 28, a confrontation broke out between Christians who attended a prayer event at the Davidson Center Archaeological Park adjacent to the southern wall of the Temple Mount, and hundreds of religious Jews came to protest against Christian proselytizing. The prayers called for Jews to accept Jesus as their Messiah. The Orthodox Jewish protesters became angry and antagonistic, with much shouting of the slogan, “Missionaries go home!”.
On the following day, Israel365News published an article about the incident and, on June 11, published another article titled “Leading Rabbi: Jews who harass Christians are not Torah observant, it is a sin”. The article cited a tweet by Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, one of Jerusalem’s deputy mayors who handles the tourism and foreign relations for the city. Hassan has been working to stop the harassment of Christians in Jerusalem.
“Jerusalem is a city that sanctifies freedom of religion, so when I received complaints about Christians being harassed in the Old City, we took action,” she wrote. “[I am] pleased the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem has sent out a public letter to clarify that this is against Jewish Law and should stop.”
The tweet featured an image of an English translation of a statement put out by Jerusalem’s Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar condemning the harassment of Christian clerics in Jerusalem.
Israel365News erroneously reported that the rabbi’s statement came as a response to the protest targeting the prayer event. World Israel News posted an article on Tuesday written by Atara Beck that corrected this report. The World Israel News report noted that Rabbi Amar’s letter was dated Iyar 25, 5783 — the Hebrew date that corresponds with May 16, 2023, i.e., before the incident at the Davidson Center took place.
While Fleur Hassan’s tweet did not specifically mention the incident at Davidson, it was dated June 5, eight days after the incident.
An article by Times of Israel about the incident at Davidson also cited Rabbi Amar’s statement, as did an article in All Israel. Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) released a statement that also understood Rabbi Amar’s statement as referring to the incident at Davidson.
World Israel News reached out to Rabbi Amar, and he responded:
“The letter by the Rishon LeZion and Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Shlomo Amar, was written on the 25th day of Iyar 2023 (16.5.23), and this was due to complaints from clerics representing different religions about harassment and acts [against them] that would not be done by truly God-fearing people,” the rabbi’s assistant, Yechezel Shabo, told World Israel News.
“The letter by the Rishon LeZion and Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Shlomo Amar, was written on the 25th day of Iyar 2023 (16.5.23), and this was due to complaints from clerics representing different religions about harassment and acts [against them] that would not be done by truly God-fearing people.
“There is no connection between the letter by the Rishon LeZion and any event noted by missionaries, whose purpose is to, God forbid, bring innocent people to their religion,” Shabo stated in the rabbi’s name.
“Certainly, any attempt to present the letter of the Rishon LeZion as support for those missionaries is nothing but complete deception bordering on crime.”
Israel365News would like to commend World Israel News and Atara Beck on their fine reporting and for setting the record straight. We apologize for any misunderstandings that arose and apologize to Rabbi Amar for misrepresenting his words. An editorial note has been added to the article to more closely represent the truth.
Unfortunately, the issue of antipathy between Jews and Christians is ongoing. The confrontation that took place at Davidson last month was repeated last Thursday when the Messianic Jewish Alliance of Israel (MJAI) hosted a “worship concert” titled “Peh Echad” or “One Voice” at the Pavilion in Jerusalem. Approximately 50 Orthodox Jewish protesters showed up and became overtly vocal and antagonistic.
Israel365News will continue to cover this issue and welcomes any opinions or comments that will improve our reporting.