Israel is only place in Middle East where Christians are flourishing, Rivlin tells Archbishop

Two met today at Israeli President’s residence in Jerusalem


Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, has told the Archbishop of Canterbury his nation is “committed to the values of freedom of religion for all people of faith”.

In a meeting with the Most Reverend Justin Welby at his residence today, Mr Rivlin added that Israel was “the only country in the Middle East where the Christian community is flourishing.

“Jerusalem is a microcosm of our ability to live together. And we will continue to ensure freedom of religion for all faiths.”

The Archbishop said he had been impressed by the tradition of Israel's independent judiciary, having met the President of the Israeli Supreme Court, Miriam Naor, and Supreme Court Judge Salim Joubran, who is Christian.

“That shows some of the immense strength and depth of this society, its culture and history,” he said.

“There cannot be peace without every person in the region… being sure they can pursue their lives, pursue their aims without fearing the bomb or the bullet, without fearing persecution, recognized as being validly and legitimately who they are, knowing they can bring up children, and educate them to love their neighbours, respect them, and listen to them even where they disagree,” the Archbishop added.

Both men highlighted the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, which will be marked later this year.

President Rivlin took the opportunity to extend a second invitation to the Royal Family to visit Israel – the first was issued in March - while the archbishop said: “For some of us who are profound friends of Israel, who feel huge admiration, deep affection, and who loathe and hate antisemitism, and speak against it wherever it occurs, whether it is implicit or explicit, there is an element of unfinished business. Because until there is peace in region, the Balfour Declaration has an element of unfinished business.”

The archbishop was meeting Mr Rivlin as a part of a 12-day tour of the Holy Land.

He has been careful to hear voices from both sides of the conflict – including Palestinians in Gaza and Israelis living under the threat of rocket fire near the border with the Hamas-run enclave.

Since arriving in the region last Monday, Archbishop Welby has met King Abdullah of Jordan and visited the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem. He has also been to the holy sites of all three religions in Jerusalem’s Old City, made a brief trip to Gaza, and visited a Christian school and a kibbutz in the Galilee.

He is still due to meet with both the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.

The President stressed Israel’s commitment to bringing an end to the conflict with the Palestinians, stressing that an agreement required building trust between the sides.

“We must not allow voices which teach hatred or call for boycotts to divide the peoples. We must find ways to bring people together,” he said.

The Archbishop was accompanied by the Anglican Archbishop of Jerusalem, the Most Reverend Suheil Dawani, and Britain’s ambassador to Israel, David Quarrey.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive