Sep 22, 2021

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A visit from Zionist movement Im Tirtzu following the defacement of the Dormition Abbey earlier this week demonstrated a real desire for coexistence and cooperation. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, student members of the organization visited the Jerusalem church late Sunday night, bringing a letter of support.

The organization describes itself as “an extra-parliamentary movement that works to strengthen and advance the values of Zionism in Israel”, established in 2006 by “Israeli intellectuals, students and IDF reservists”. Its objective is “a renewal of the Zionist discourse, Zionist thinking and Zionist ideology, to ensure the future of the Jewish nation and of the State of Israel and to advance Israeli society in coping with the challenges it faces.”

One of these challenges is the rising tensions between Jewish Israelis and various other groups in living in the country. Late Saturday night, anti-Christian slogans were scrawled on the walls of the Dormition Abbey and other church property was damaged. Two teens were later arrested for the vandalism.

On Sunday night, however, before any suspects had been detained, Im Tirtzu chairman Matan Peleg denounced the vandalism. “[We] see this as an act that is at its very core both anti-Zionist as well as anti-Israeli, an act which dangerously threatens all of the Israeli society,” he said.

Peleg also offered words of encouragement to Christians taking active roles in Israeli society. “We strengthen the Christian Israelis serving in the Israel Defense Forces and in the civil-national service who were hurt by this event and promise to continue our fight against this phenomenon.”

Father Gabriel Naddaf, chairman of the Israel Christian Recruitment Forum and the spiritual leader of the Aramaic-Christian community in Israel, expressed his appreciation for Im Tirtzu’s support.

“This is an important step that shows those radical elements that the majority are disgusted by their actions and that another way is possible,” he said. “While others talk, Im Tirtzu shows that it acts towards true coexistence and out of a true and sincere concern for the relations between the Jews and the Christians and to strengthen the Israeli society.”