Olmert courts Israel’s non-Jews

Ehud Olmert affirmed the importance of Israel’s non-Jewish minority to the state.

The Israeli prime minister convened leaders of the country’s Muslim, Christian and Druze communities at his Jerusalem residence Sunday to extend holiday season’s greetings on behalf of the Jewish mainstream.

“This is the first time that dignitaries from the entire non-Jewish sector have been guests in this house,” Olmert’s office quoted him as saying.

“This is a very important meeting for me and for the entire Israeli government, which is making an effort so that each of you will feel that you are an inseparable part of the State of Israel. There is no more appropriate opportunity to give expression to this feeling than now, a short time after Chanukah and Eid al-Adha and just before Christmas.”

Around 20 percent of Israel’s population is not Jewish, and inter-faith ties have been strained by the last six years of Palestinian violence. Among Israeli Arabs there is increasingly open opposition to Zionism, provoking animosity among the Jewish majority. Even the traditionally loyal Druze minority has voiced complaints about discrimination.

Olmert has vowed to maintain religious pluralism and combat prejudice in Israel.

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