A day after it was discovered on the exterior walls of a Jerusalem Baptist church this week, graffiti declaring “Death to Christianity” had been cleaned up and a host of officials from the Israeli government had visited with apologies and expressions of concern.

But for the Christian community in Israel, the environment remains inhospitable.

A small but eclectic population of indigenous Palestinians, foreign clergy, messianic Jews, Russian immigrants and expatriates, Christians are free to practice their faith and only very rarely are victims of actual violence. But centuries of anti-Semitism have left many Israelis with a poor view of Christianity and that occasionally bubbles over into attacks on people and property, say Christian clergy and Israelis who work in interfaith ties.

“I don’t think a majority would engage in such a vandalistic act, but it is a manifestation of anti-Christian feeling in Israeli society,” Hana Bendcowsky, program director for the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations (JCJCR), told The Media Line. “The main problem is ignorance, a lot of stereotypes and the history of Jewish-Christian relationships in Europe that influence the attitude of Israelis toward local Christians.”

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