Netanyahu, Chief Rabbi condemn ultra-orthodox spitting on Christians in Jerusalem

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Netanyahu, Chief Rabbi condemn ultra-orthodox spitting on Christians in Jerusalem

Christian denominations in the holy city have complained about the phenomenon for years, but the number of attacks have risen sharply this year.

FILE FOOTAGE: Christian pilgrims in Jerusalem.
FILE FOOTAGE: Christian pilgrims in Jerusalem.

Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, ministers in his government and the Chief Rabbi all condemned yet another incident of ultra-orthodox Jews spitting on Christian worshippers in Jerusalem. 

The incident, which was caught on video, is the latest in a series of attacks against Christians in Jerusalem. Christian denominations in the holy city have complained about the phenomenon for years, but the number of attacks, which include spitting, vandalism and violent assaults, have risen sharply this year.

Priests and nuns have said they are being spat on every day in Jerusalem, but that police rarely do anything to find the assailants.

Jewish News has seen a report by Religious Freedom Data Center for documenting anti-Christian attacks, which says that 30 assaults have been reported to the hotline between June 16 and mid August.

In January, two religious Jews were caught on video vandalising 28 tombstones at the Protestant Mount Zion Cemetery.

In March, the Greek Orthodox Church condemned a “heinous terrorist attack” against an Archbishop who was physically attacked at the church at the Tomb of the Virgin Mary in Jerusalem.

The Armenian church has also reported incidents of vandalism against its property, with graffiti spray painted on its walls saying “death to Armenians.”

“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,” Netanyahu said following Tuesday’s incident.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry also condemned the spitting, while conveying a message on behalf of the Chief Rabbi of Israel, David Lau.

“Israel’s Chief Rabbi David Lau wishes to clarify that on the holiday of Sukkot, at the Temple era, the Jewish people would pray and offer sacrifices in the Temple for the peace of the 70 nations of the world. We too, nowadays, will continue to pray for them and respect all the nations that come to honor the Holy City of Jerusalem. I strongly condemn harm to any person and any religious leader. These immoral phenomena have certainly nothing to do with Jewish law,” the statement read.

Religious Services Minister Michael Malkieli, from the ultra-orthodox Shas party, also condemned the attacks: “This is not the way of the Torah, and there is not a single rabbi who supports and legitimises such despicable behavior. It is our duty to condemn and continue to respect all peoples who come to the gates of the Holy City.”

Meanwhile, an old clip Israel’s current National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, resurfaced on social media, in which he tells KAN Public Broadcaster: “There is an ancient Jewish tradition when we (Jews) pass by a monastery or a priest, we spit. We can agree or disagree, but when we spit on the priest or the church, I don’t think this expresses any violation.”

Elisha Yered, a popular settler activist and former spokesperson for Jewish Power party lawmaker, Limor Son Har-Melech, also defended the spitting in a post on X (formerly Twitter), saying: “It’s a good time to mention that spitting near priests or churches is an ancient Jewish custom, and there’s even a special blessing in Jewish law that should be recited when you see a church.”

Yered was arrested last month on suspicion of being involved in the murder of a Palestinian man in the West Bank but was later released from custody.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: