IJCIC statement on protection of Christians in Israel

12 July 2023 / 23 Tammuz 5783

The International Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC), the official body which represents world Jewry in dialogue with other global faith bodies including the Vatican and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, views with dismay the recurrent expressions and demonstrations of intolerance in Israel perpetrated against Christians and Christian religious sites, such as spitting and desecration of graves and churches.

Israel’s Declaration of Independence declares that “it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture [and that] it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions.”

We support Israeli President Isaac Herzog who said, “I utterly condemn violence, in all its forms, directed by a small and extreme group, towards the holy places of the Christian faith, and against Christian clergy in Israel.”

We are encouraged that recently three young men were arrested on suspicion of spitting at a priest in the Old City of Jerusalem and that in a meeting with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Cardinal-Elect Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Amir Ohana, the Speaker of the Israeli Parliament (Knesset), strongly condemned the incidents of violence against Christian clergy and citizens.

Ohana said, “We are not ready to accept such a situation. We want Christians to feel free and safe here. The State of Israel upholds the values of freedom of religion and worship for all its citizens, and we will ensure that these continue to be preserved.”

IJCIC calls upon the security and law enforcement agencies of Israel to expend their full efforts to protect the safety, wellbeing, and religious freedom of Christians in the State of Israel by working to prevent such acts in the future, and by holding perpetrators accountable.