ND Expert: Anti-Christian vandalism in Jerusalem should 'challenge simplistic ideas'

Author: Michael O. Garvey

Gabriel Said Reynolds Gabriel Said Reynolds

A recent spate of vandalism on church buildings in Jerusalem should “challenge the simplistic ideas of certain Christian supporters of Israel who imagine that Christians and Jews are natural allies against a dangerous Arab enemy,” according to Gabriel Said Reynolds, professor of Islamic studies and theology at the University of Notre Dame.

Earlier this week, vandals spray-painted “Death to Arabs and Christians” in Hebrew on the Vatican’s Notre Dame Centre in Jerusalem’s Old City. On Thursday night (May 8), similar graffiti was written on a wall close to a Romanian Orthodox church. Pope Francis is due to stay at the Notre Dame Centre during his two-day trip to Jerusalem and Bethlehem later this month. The Notre Dame Centre is not affiliated with the University.

“These two incidents of anti-Christian graffiti this week reveal the complications in Israeli society,” Reynolds said. “The Israeli government is eager to use the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to improve its image internationally, while militant elements connected to the settler movement are eager to undermine that visit.”

Reynolds, whose scholarship largely concerns interactions between Christians and Muslims, said that “the Church can use these incidents of vandalism to shine light both on similar acts of vandalism against mosques and Muslim homes and on the precarious situation of Christians in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East.”

A leader of an international effort to form an independent association of Qu’ranic scholars, Reynolds is at work on a book on “The Qurʾan and the Bible: A Guide to the Qurʾan’s Relationship with Biblical Tradition.”

Contact: Gabriel Said Reynolds, Reynolds@nd.edu