The Roman Catholic church is demanding Israel take action after Hebrew graffiti reading "Death to Arabs and Christians and to all haters of Israel" was daubed on its Notre Dame headquarters on the seamline between east and west Jerusalem on Monday.
"Mere coincidence?" said a statement by Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, noting the graffiti was painted on a property owned by the Holy See just weeks before the arrival of Pope Francis to Israel.
"The bishops are very concerned about the lack of security and lack of responsiveness from the political sector, and fear an escalation of violence," it said, noting there had been "no gesture of solidarity or condemnation" from Israel's political establishment. "We feel neither safe nor protected."
Church leaders in Israel plan to make security and political officials “aware of their responsibilities,” according to the statement.
The statement is in line with the current talking points of the Israeli leftist media and politicians, who downplay daily Arab terrorist attacks, from rock throwing and firebomb attacks to heinous murders, and play up Jewish nationalist crimes, which have not gone beyond graffiti and vandalism in recent years.
The pope is due to arrive on May 25. "Security measures are being taken and prepared for this important visit of the pope, units are training and there is liaison between security here and (Vatican) security," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.
"We would do anything to prevent any incident whatsoever, on any level, be it criminal or terrorist among all the different communities."
It is not known if the Patriarchate has issued any kind of statement regarding the persecution of Christians in the areas administered by the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria.
The pope will visit Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority May 24-26. Francis is scheduled to meet with Israeli leaders including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, as well as the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians.
Last month, the US State Department for the first time included a mention of Price Tag violence in its 2013 Country Reports on Terrorism.
The move was not well received in Israel, with police saying such incidents could not be compared with bloody nationalist attacks.