July 21, 2011 - Jerusalem - An American Jewish Committee leadership delegation met this week with the heads of major Christian institutions in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as well as with government officials responsible for their welfare.
In Jerusalem and the Galilee the AJC leaders from across the United States met with the leading patriarchs, bishops and clergy of the various Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant communities that minister to the approximately 200,000 Christians living in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The group met with the leadership of the Latin and Greek Orthodox Patriarchates; the Melkhite, Lutheran and Anglican churches; as well as with the Papal Nuncio to Israel and Apostolic Delegate in the Holy Land.
AJC’s ongoing work with religious minorities in Israel is led by Rabbi David Rosen, AJC’s International Director of Interreligious Affairs, who is based in Jerusalem. The meetings provided the opportunity for frank discussions with the visiting AJC leaders regarding both domestic issues and the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Christian leaders described the challenges facing Israel’s Arab Christian minority, their commitment to being an integral part of the life in the State, as well as their desire to play a constructive role in the region as a whole.
“AJC’s interreligious activity brings us into regular contact with American Christian friends of Israel genuinely concerned about the situation of their co-religionists in the Holy Land,” said Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC’s director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations, who is based in at AJC headquarters in New York. “The region’s Christians are symbolically important to Christians everywhere. As Jews, it is both a strategic interest and a moral imperative that motivates us to build and maintain good relations with Israel’s diverse and vibrant Christian communities.”
The AJC group also met with several Israeli politicians and officials responsible for Israel’s relations with Christian populations, including Israel's Minister of Religious Affairs, Yaacov Margi, and Danny Ayalon, Israel's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In addition, the AJC delegation met with prominent Muslim religious leaders.
AJC leaders expressed solidarity with Israel’s Christian minority and applauded the ongoing growth and vitality of Israel’s Christian population since its founding. They also emphasized to government officials the importance that the welfare of these communities holds for American Christians and Jews.
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