ON THURSDAY EVENING, a US visitor to Jerusalem was apprehended for vandalizing two ancient Roman statues at the Israel Museum. The suspect, a 40-year-old radical Jewish American tourist, condemned the pieces as idolatrous and contrary to the Torah. Eli Escusido, the head of the Israel Antiquities Authority, expressed deep concern over religious extremists’ destruction of cultural heritage. One damaged statue was a second-century marble representation of Minerva, found in 1978 near Beit She’an, and the other was a griffin holding a wheel of fate, representing the Roman-Egyptian deity Nemesis, discovered in 1957 in the northern Negev desert.
US Tourist’s Jerusalem Rampage: Roman Artifacts Damaged
The unnamed perpetrator has been directed to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Despite police labeling him a radical Jewish American tourist, his attorney, Nick Kaufman, argued that the actions were prompted by the “Jerusalem syndrome.” This condition, characterized by religiously-themed delusions or psychosis triggered by a visit to Jerusalem, is said to typically resolve upon departure from the city.
The Israel Museum reopened on schedule the following morning, and while officials refrained from estimating the damages or the statues’ value, they confirmed that restoration efforts were underway. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced derogatory conduct towards any religion, responding to a separate incident involving ultra-Orthodox Jews spitting at Christians in Jerusalem’s Old City, leading to five arrests.Read:Biden Resumes Border Wall Amid Democratic Backlash
This incident follows a trend of religiously motivated acts, including a Jewish-American tourist damaging a statue of Jesus in February at the Church of the Flagellation and two Jewish youths’ prior vandalization of Christian tombstones at the Mount Zion cemetery.