With Christians suffering in most of the surrounding nations, local Christian leaders took this Christmas season as an opportunity to thank Israel for protecting them and their freedoms.
That message was delivered by Greek Patriarch Theophilos III during the annual Christmas and Hanukkah gathering at the presidential residence in Jerusalem.
Addressing Israel President Reuven Rivlin directly, Theophilos stated:
"We take the opportunity of this holiday gathering to express our gratitude to you for the firmness with which you defend the freedoms that lie at the heart of this democracy – especially the freedom of worship.
“The State of Israel takes pride in the fact that [it] was founded on democratic principles in the Middle East and that it guarantees full freedom of worship; and we are confident, Mr. President, that you will continue to resist any restrictions on religious practices.”
Rivlin himself strongly condemned the abuse of Christians in Syria and other neighboring countries. He and Theophilos openly prayed together for God’s protection over the Christians of the Middle East.