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"the conflict in this region is not a war about religion, it is a war against hate" photo by Mark Neiman (GPO)
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"the conflict in this region is not a war about religion, it is a war against hate"

28 December 2015

President Rivlin hosts Christian community leaders for reception marking civil New Year: "A faithful Jew cannot be anti-Christian or anti-Muslim"

President Reuven Rivlin this morning (Monday), hosted the traditional annual reception for leaders of Israel's Christian communities to mark the civil New Year.

Speaking at the event along with the President was Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Theophilos III. In addition, the event was attended by heads of various churches in Israel, senior members of the community, and representatives of the Israeli government.

President Rivlin began by noting that the last year had marked fifty years since the Nostra Aetate declaration, which defined the Catholic Church's policy against anti-Semitism and - as the President noted - paved the way for dialogue between the Jewish and Catholic communities. The President said, "I was honored this year, to meet with the Pope in the Vatican, where we spoke about how this relationship has grown stronger over the years.. Pope Francis said, 'A true Christian cannot be an anti-Semite'. Let me say – a faithful Jew cannot be anti-Christian or anti-Muslim"

The President added, "I am proud that Israel protects the freedom of worship and expression for everyone, of every faith. It is not enough for us to only be a safe home for Christians. We want the community to prosper, and play a part in Israeli society."

He concluded by wishing the Christian communities a joyful festive season, and said, "Jerusalem is the center of the world. Billions of people look to this city in hope and prayer. We all have a duty - at the beginning of the New Year and every day - to stand together and show the world that the conflict in this region is not a war about religion, it is a war against hate"

In response, representing the Church heads, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem His Beatitude Theophilos III said, "In this festive season, we greet you Mr. President, and wish to express our appreciation for the strong stand you have continued to take in demonstrating respect for all religions, and your condemnation of violence from whatever side it comes. We understand the importance in the region of healthy diversity of ethnic and religious traditions, with true coexistence, mutual respect, and security for all. We join you in these affirmations and condemnations. Allow us to reiterate our commitment to education based on the principles of moral values that derive from our common heritage. This is paramount to the shaping of our social fabric."