JERUSALEM (JTA) — In his yearly Christmas greeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would not tolerate attacks on places of Christian worship.
"Israel is proud of its record of religious tolerance and pluralism, and Israel will continue to protect freedom of religion for all. And we will continue to safeguard places of Christian worship throughout our country. We will not tolerate any acts of violence or discrimination against any place of worship. This is not our way, and this is something we cannot accept," Netanyahu said in his message released on Monday, Christmas Eve.
There were at least five attacks on Christian sites in 2012; the apparent price tag attacks were condemned in Israel and throughout the world.
"Price tag" refers to the strategy that Jewish extremists have adopted to exact a price in attacks on Palestinians and Arabs in retribution for settlement freezes and demolitions, or for Palestinian attacks on Jews, but appeared to extend this year to Christian sites as well.
"Today, Christian communities throughout the Middle East are shrinking, and many of them are endangered. This is, of course, not true in Israel. Here there is a strong and growing Christian community that participates fully in the life of our country," Netanyahu said in his message.
"So as you celebrate Christmas and your holy holidays, we hope that you will recall the places where Judaism and Christianity emerged, and then come see our ancient land with your own eyes: Visit Nazareth and Bethlehem, wade into the Jordan River, stand on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. And next year, come visit our eternal capital, Jerusalem," he concluded.