Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Graffiti in Hebrew, with the words "Death to Christians" appeared two days ago near the Upper Room, one of the most precious holy sites of Christendom. The vandalism took place in the Vatican in Rome the Plenary of the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel was being held.
The graffiti in black paint appeared along the wall of the Basilica of the Dormition on Mount Zion, a few meters from the place where Christians remember the birth of the institution of the Eucharist and the Church at Pentecost. The writing was immediately removed in order not to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Jews.
Church sources say that the authors are probably young Jewish nationalists, members of some yeshiva (Jewish seminary). Is not the first time that these young people have tried to offend the Christian presence and the holy sites in that area. Often, on the doorstep of the church of the Cenacle Room, run by the Franciscans, these groups carry out their physiological needs in open contempt of the site; other times, in dozens of cases, they spit at priests or nuns passing along the street; once they destroyed a stone cross along the wall.
The Church of the Cenacle is not the Upper Room itself, the place where Jesus instituted the Eucharist. This holy place is now owned by the government of Israel, although since the 14th century it had belonged to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. In the 16th century the Ottomans expelled the Franciscans, but they have never renounced their right to the property.
The graffiti incident took place while discussions were taking place in Rome regarding the return of the Cenacle and other holy sites to the Catholic Church. In this regard, Daniel Ayalon, Deputy Foreign Minister and head of the Israeli delegation, before and after the meeting said that "Israel would not give up its ownership of the Upper Room or other holy places under its direct sovereignty."
This episode and other offences cast a shadow of doubt on the ability (or willingness) of the State of Israel to protect the holy places and especially the Upper Room.