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Israeli President Herzog Speaks Against Attacks on Christians
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In a resolute demonstration of support for religious freedom and harmony, Israeli President Isaac Herzog embarked on a poignant visit to the Stella Maris Monastery in Haifa. This visit came in the wake of a series of distressing attacks carried out by Jewish extremists against the monastery and various Christian places of worship across Israel. President Herzog's visit aimed to convey a powerful message of solidarity, underscoring the nation's commitment to safeguarding religious diversity and promoting an atmosphere of tolerance within its borders.
Photo credit: Pompi
"I come here on behalf of the entire state and people of Israel to reinforce our commitment to the full protection of freedom of religion and worship in the State of Israel," Herzog stated during the visit on August 9th.
Over the past months, Israel has witnessed a concerning surge in incidents targeting Christian denominations, exacerbating tensions among the communities. The attacks have not been confined to places of worship alone but have spilled into cemeteries and even onto the streets. President Herzog expressed his deep concern about this disturbing trend, labeling it utterly unacceptable in any civilized society. He emphasized the need to uproot this phenomenon and applauded the efforts of law enforcement agencies for taking the matter seriously.
The Stella Maris Monastery, a historic site established by the Carmelites in the 12th century, was a focal point of these attacks. In late July, members of the Breslov Hasidic movement clashed with Christians at the monastery in Haifa. The situation escalated as extremists attempted to breach the monastery's premises, causing disruption and unease among those engaged in prayer. In response, the monastery erected a protective fence to deter future intrusions.
To address this alarming escalation of violence, President Herzog engaged with prominent figures during his visit, including Stella Maris Monastery's abbot Jean Joseph Bergara, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa, and Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III. The presence of Israel's police inspector general, Yaakov Shabtai, underscored the commitment of law enforcement agencies to maintain the sanctity of religious spaces.
In a concerted effort to confront these challenges head-on, Jerusalem's leading police officials convened with Christian leaders at the Tower of David museum on August 8th. This meeting aimed to forge a closer alliance between law enforcement and religious communities to counter the escalating hate crimes that have targeted Christians across the Holy City throughout the year.
District commander Doron Turgeman expressed the police's unwavering dedication to ensuring the security of all citizens, regardless of their faith. He acknowledged the significance of collaboration between the police and Christian leaders and vowed to utilize all available resources to address these reprehensible acts.
Despite the challenges, Israeli law enforcement has shown its commitment to tackling the wave of hate crimes targeting Christians. Since January, they have initiated investigations into numerous incidents, underlining their resolve to uphold the peace and security of all residents and visitors.
The rise in hate crimes has also sparked controversy and debate within Israeli society. Some officials, such as Jerusalem's deputy mayor Aryeh King, have refrained from condemning the attacks, leading to tensions and concerns within the Christian community.
President Herzog's visit to the Stella Maris Monastery sends a clear message to the nation and the world: the importance of unity, religious tolerance, and respect for all faiths. By standing against these acts of violence and advocating for interfaith understanding, President Herzog's actions resonate as a beacon of hope, striving for a future where diversity is celebrated and coexistence prevails.
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