Chicago Jewish leaders decry attack on Israeli monastery

Calling the desecration of a Christian monastery in Israel "abominable and despicable," leaders of JUF's Jewish Community Relations Council, the Chicago Board of Rabbis, the Jewish Federation and others have reached out to Chicago's Cardinal Francis George to express their regret and outrage.

"We unequivocally deplore this and all acts of hatred and violence perpetrated by any Israeli against individuals and institutions because of their religion," the group wrote in a letter to the cardinal.

In the incident, which is believed to be a so-called "price tag" attack, the door of the Latrun Monastery was set on fire early Tuesday morning, Sept. 4, and the names of West Bank outposts were spray-painted on the walls, as was the epithet "Jesus is a monkey."

No one was injured in the attack, which occurred slightly after 3:30 a.m.

The Jerusalem District Police have opened an investigation into the attack.

Security forces had been on alert for potential price tag attacks in the wake of the evacuation of the Migron outpost on Sunday. Price tag refers to the strategy that extremists have adopted to exact a price in attacks on Palestinians and Arabs in retribution for settlement freezes and demolitions, or for Palestinian attacks on Jews.

"Those responsible for this reprehensible act need to be punished severely. Freedom of religion and freedom of worship are among the most basic foundations of the State of Israel," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

"We must fight this with an iron fist, and we must put an end to this severe phenomenon that stains the name of the state of Israel. We must eradicate this phenomenon from its very roots," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in a statement.

Last week, Palestinian cars were torched and vandalized in a village near Ramallah. The words "Price Tag," "Migron" and "Revenge to Arabs" were spray-painted on the cars.



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