Hundreds of devout Jews, including Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Aryeh King, stage a protest at the near the Western Wall in Jerusalem over what they are describing as Christian worship at the holy site.
The protest at the Davidson Center coincides with the final day of a 21-day period of prayers and fasting by Christians “for the increase of God’s salvation promises and plans for Jerusalem and Israel,” as organizers of those activities describe it.
Some participants in Israel of the global initiative are celebrating its conclusion at the Davidson Center, an archaeological site that borders on the Western Wall, where authorities allow forms of Jewish worship – including by men and women together — that are banned at the main Western Wall plaza because they do not conform to Orthodox customs.
Videos of the protest show police shoving the protesters out of the way as other individuals walk past the demonstrators toward the part of the Davidson Center where a segment of the Western Wall can be accesses. The protesters are shouting “missionaries go home.”
כך נראית עליונות יהודית וייהוד ירושלים – עכשיו ליד הכותל – סגן ראש עיריית ירושלים אריה קינג מוביל הפגנה נגד נוצרים שזקוקים לליווי משטרתי כדי להיכנס, כשברקע ההמון קורא להם מיסיונרים לכו הביתה. שבוע שעבר זה היה מצעד הדגלים, עכשיו זו קבוצה של נוצרים ומה יהיה בשבוע הבא? pic.twitter.com/hGYdAepTyL
— עמק שווה (@EmekShavehHeb) May 28, 2023
Christian worship in Jerusalem is a boon for the Israeli economy thanks to hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who visit the country annually, and for the country’s relations with predominantly Christian nations and audiences.
Many Israelis oppose proselytization by some Christian groups — including those that self-identify as Messianic Jews — to Jewish Israelis. King, the far-right deputy mayor, cites both Christian worship at the site, which is holy to Jews, and proselytization by Christians as the reason for the protest.
King in a statement hails those who came to protest the decision by the Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, which is responsible for the Davidson Center.
“To allow Christian missionaries to hold a Christian worship and ceremony designed to prepare a missionary effort directed at Israeli residents,” he said. “It is a dignified and just protest against a government company that allowed this, and against the missionaries. As far as I’m concerned, let every missionary know they are not welcome in the Land of Israel.”