The term ‘price tag attack‘ – typically referring to reprisals (by a small radical fringe) against Palestinians for Israeli government action against settlement activity – is a curious term as used of late by UK journalists, as it’s employed to characterize crimes ranging from violence against Palestinians to racist graffiti scrawls on churches and mosques.
As the latter property crimes represent the overwhelming majority of such ‘price tag attacks’, we were curious upon reading a Guardian report on May 9th (Christians in Israel and Palestine fear rise in violence ahead of Pope’s visit) which included a claim of violence against “Christian pilgrims”.
The Guardian report focused on Christians who reportedly “fear an escalation of violence against them after a spate of vandalism in Jerusalem churches by hardline Jewish nationalists ahead of Pope Francis’s visit this month”, and largely detailed reports of vandalism, as in this passage:
Earlier this week vandals wrote “Death to Arabs and Christians” in Hebrew on the Vatican’s Notre Dame centre in Jerusalem’s Old City and on Thursday night offensive graffiti was written on a wall close to the Romanian Orthodox church.
And, then, there was the report of “violence” against people.
Both incidents come just weeks after a spate of attacks against Christians in Galilee, where a place of worship was vandalised and stones thrown at pilgrims.
However, though we searched widely for reports of physical attacks on “pilgrims in the Galilee” we weren’t able to find any such instances. We contacted Israel Police Spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld who similarly couldn’t recall any such rock attacks against Christians in the Galilee.
We did, however, find an April 29th report at an Arab Christian website called Abouna, (Galilee: A wave of anti-Christian fanaticism and violence), which claimed that there were stones thrown by ‘a group of orthodox Jewish teens’ at a big cross situated beside the church altar at Tabgha Sanctuary (Church of the Multiplication) on the northwest side of Lake Tiberias. However, there was no claim that anyone (Christian or otherwise) was attacked with stones.
Additionally, the radical NGO Alternative Information Center reported, on April 30th, the vandalism at the same church (Spate of hate crime against Palestinians in Israel), but again there was no claim that stones were thrown at Christians.
Also, the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) reported on April 29th (Settlers Vandalize Christian and Muslim Holy Sites) that Israeli “settlers” [sic] “smashed the cross and vandalized the church pews” at Tabgha Sanctuary, but there was no claim that Christians were attacked with stones.
Interestingly, IMEMC’s report seems to have been based on an April 29th story from the Palestinian news agency WAFA (Israeli settlers vandalize church, threaten Bishop of Nazareth) which itself doesn’t claim that Christians were attacked with stones.
It’s of course certainly possible that such a stone-throwing incident did in fact occur, but it seems strange that, beyond the Guardian report, we can find no other news story alleging that it took place.
Finally, if Guardian reporters want to find a real incident of stone-throwing (and other physical violence) at a church, they may be interested to learn that CAMERA recently reported on a violent incident involving stone throwing and a stabbing at St. George’s Church.
However, come to think of it, they likely won’t be interested, as those involved weren’t Christians and Jews, but, rather, Christians and Muslims. Oh, and there’s additional information which would dissuade an enterprising Guardian reporter from covering the incident: it didn’t take place in Israel, but just outside of Beit Jala – a town under the control of the Palestinian Authority.