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B’nai B’rith International President Seth J. Riklin and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:

We unequivocally condemn the toppling earlier today of a Christian religious statue at the Church of the Flagellation on Jerusalem’s Via Dolorosa.This was a contemptuous, criminal act, and we commend both church personnel and the Israel Police for quickly apprehending the perpetrator, who reportedly may be examined for possible mental health issues. No matter the circumstances, however, faith-based aggression violates Israel’s tradition of respect for the multiplicity of religious groups that comprise its society. We join Israel’s national leaders in consistently deploring any such act of intolerance or violence.At the same time, we are compelled to admonish the rush by new World Council of Churches General Secretary Rev. Dr. Jerry Pillay to claim in a public statement that “the statue of the scourged Saviour was targeted by an Israeli settler.” The offender is said to be an American tourist. It is irresponsible, not least for religious leaders, to assert incendiary facts before they are firmly established. Pillay has a history of extreme views on Israel and Israeli Jews, and his new position requires a far more careful and responsible approach.