President Isaac Herzog on Wednesday paid an official visit to the Stella Maris Monastery in Haifa to reaffirm Israel’s commitment to its Christian population.
The visit comes amid a growing wave of vandalism, as well as verbal and minor physical attacks by religious Jews against local Christians in various parts of the country.
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During the visit, Herzog met with local representatives of the Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Maronite and Anglican churches.
In his remarks, the president noted that Christianity is deeply rooted in the Land of Israel, and stressed that “the Christian communities are safe and sound, and protected, and thriving in the Holy Land.”
Herzog thanked the Police for taking harassment of Christians seriously. “We are committed to the story of the Christian denominations in the Holy Land, a special and unique story which has inspired people around the world,” he said, adding that for Jews as well as Christians the chief commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Father Jean Joseph Bergara, the Abbot of Stella Maris, thanked the Israeli leaders and authorities for “expressing support not only with words but also with very clear actions against all these phenomena.”
Police chiefs meet Jerusalem Church leaders
Jerusalem Police officials on Tuesday held a similar meeting with Church officials in the holy city.
The meeting took place at the Tower of David Museum and was chaired by Doron Turgeman, the Jerusalem District Commander, and Commander Avi Cohen. The purpose of the meeting was to establish an open dialogue regarding recent attacks on churches in Jerusalem, to strengthen ties and improve coordination between police and church leaders throughout the city.
A central theme of the meeting was condemning and combating hate crimes against Christians, particularly in the Old City. Commander Cohen presented the police’s ongoing operational measures and stressed his determination to vigorously combat such reprehensible acts.
Turgeman also commented on the issue, emphasizing: “We work to keep you safe all year round. We will continue to work to ensure the peace and safety of people of all faiths and denominations.” He added that increasing cooperation and tackling hate crimes remain top priorities for the police.
Since the beginning of the year, police have investigated 16 alleged hate crimes against Christian communities and churches in Jerusalem. These incidents have drawn concern and condemnation both nationally and internationally. The meeting served as a platform for police and Church leaders to work together to find solutions and ensure the safety of the Christian community in Jerusalem.
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