I was saddened two weeks ago to learn that the Church of The Loaves on the Sea of Galilee was burned down. It’d been torched by right-wing Jews who left graffiti on the walls stating things like “pagan”. I’d been to the church, located on a place marking where Jesus did his miracle of the loaves and fishes. It’s a beautiful location and the church housed wonderful mosaics. Many Christian tourists stopped there during their Israeli tours. I guess not anymore.
This isn’t the first church attacked by Jews in Israel. Over the past couple years, there have been a marked increase in attacks on Christian sites inside the country. The government does very little to prevent or even make arrests for that would mean upsetting the right-wing supporters of the government.
Religious freedom has always been tedious in Israel. Churches normally keep a lookout at their doors during services as Jewish extremists will often attack parishioners or try to disrupt services. I have a friend who represented a pastor’s family a few years ago after the family received a bomb disguised as a Purim gift. Unfortunately, one of the children, thinking it was a holiday gift, opened it first, setting off the bomb.
I’m not sure when destroying churches or historical ruins came into vogue. The Taliban and ISIL have been doing it for awhile – and like this Jewish attack use the excuse of it being pagan. Does it make the perpetrators feel more powerful? Do they think that by burning a church, blowing up a Roman theatre or Buddhist statue that they can wipe out the other civilization? The only thing they do is make a historical mark that their small-mindness will never equate the civilization they are attacking.
Of course, we in the States have our church burnings but of a racial nature. In the past week, half-dozen black churches have been set ablaze. Anger at the backlash aftermath of the Charleston shootings, no doubt. The only thing they do is prove the case that it is long overdue for things like the Confederate flag to be put in the dustbin of history.
Places of worship (whatever faith) and historical sites need to be protected. Governments need to do their part in preventing these senseless attacks. I wonder if I can find my old pictures of the Church of the Loaves. It use to be a lovely place.