Jerusalem Mayor Tells Archbishop He’s Deeply Offended by His Column

The mayor of Jerusalem has told Cardinal John O’Connor of New York that he is “deeply personally offended” by the “one-sidedness” of a column published by the prominent Catholic prelate last week in the newspaper Catholic New York.

O’Connor’s column denounced the move of 150 Orthodox Jews into the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem as “obscene” and speculated on whether a “conspiracy” exists against Christians in Israel.

Mayor Teddy Kollek wrote a letter to O’Connor on Sunday, saying he was “upset by your column, which appeared after our meeting in New York, when I clarified not only my opinion of this stupid and reprehensible incident but also the factual situation, assuring you that it is not in any way part of an anti-Christian policy of the Israeli government.”

Kollek has spoken out against the presence of the Orthodox Jews, who on April 11 moved into St. John’s Hospice, a 72-room complex near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher that they had subleased.

All but 20 of the Orthodox Jews have left the complex, under the order of a court that is considering an appeal of the lease’s legality from the Greek Orthodox Church, the hospice’s owner.

Kollek said O’Connor is fully aware of “the Israeli government’s long record of respecting the rights of the Christian community in Jerusalem,” but “made no mention of it” in the column.

The archbishop’s decision “to subscribe to this conspiracy syndrome,” he said, will “surely not help in our efforts to reinstate the understanding and harmony” that have marked relations between Jews and Christians in Jerusalem.

He added that there is “no question that the action of the Jewish settlers was political, but I feel more and more strongly that politics is equally the motive behind a good deal of the reaction.”

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