President Rivlin hosts Christian leaders at his residence in Jerusalem. (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO)

President Rivlin and  the leaders of the Christian communities in Israel. (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO)

President Rivlin and leaders of the Christian communities in Israel. (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO)

The past year has been a brutally difficult one for Christians in the Middle East, but they can still feel at home in Israel.  

Israel is deeply worried as Christians continue to suffer bitterly at the hands of Islamist persecutors throughout the Middle East and Africa, President Reuven Rivlin said on Tuesday.

Rivlin made these statements as he hosted the traditional, annual reception for leaders of Israel’s Christian community  to mark the new calendar year, greeting them in Hebrew, English and Arabic. The event was attended by nine heads of various churches in Israel and senior members of the community.

Battle of Light and Darkness

Rivlin described the reality in the Middle East as a war between the forces of freedom and destruction. “Over the past months, we have been greatly concerned by the ongoing religious persecution and restrictions on freedom of worship for minorities in the Middle East. Because of their faith, hundreds of thousands are being exiled, forcibly converted, attacked, and brutally murdered. This is a war against extremism. A war being waged against those who want to spread a message of freedom of worship and coexistence, by those who carry the flag of destruction and hatred.”

Rivlin’s words were spoken as the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) and other Islamic terror organizations continue their rampage throughout the Middle East, slaughtering of forcefully converting any non-Sunni Muslims they encounter in their paths of annihilation.

“Due to an extremist and fundamentalist group, entire communities, especially, but not only, Christians and Yazidi, have suffered and continue to suffer inhuman violence because of their religious and ethnic identity,” the Pope said earlier in December. “Christians and Yazidi have been forced out of their homes; they have had to abandon everything to save their lives, but they have not denied their faith.”

Archbishop Amel Shimoun, exiled Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, Iraq, from which the Christian population has been expelled by ISIS, had warned the West: “You think all men are equal… Islam does not say that all men are equal. Your values are not their values. If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become victims of the enemy you have welcomed into our home.”

Israel – Only Safe Haven in the Middle East

Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest from Nazareth and a citizen of the State of Israel, told the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva in September that Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Christian minorities are safe.

“Across the Middle East, in the last 10 years, 100,000 Christians have been murdered each year. That means that every five minutes a Christian is killed because of his faith,” Nadaf asserted.

“In the Middle East today, there is one country where Christianity is not only not persecuted, but affectionately granted freedom of expression, freedom of worship and security,” Nadaf declared. “It is Israel, the Jewish State. Israel is the only place where Christians in the Middle East are safe.”

By Aryeh Savir
Staff Writer, United with Israel

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