In his public Christmas message in English posted on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett wished all Christians in Israel and around the world a merry Christmas.
“From the holy city of Jerusalem, I want to wish all Christians in Israel and across the world a Merry Christmas,” Bennett began.
Merry Christmas to all those celebrating in Israel and around the world. pic.twitter.com/tAAXLaGpHi
— Naftali Bennett בנט (@naftalibennett) December 23, 2021
He also highlighted what he described as the “common heritage” of both Jews and Christians.
“It's here in this ancient land where our forefathers lived the stories we all read in the Bible from the Galilee to the Holy City of Jerusalem, right here,” he said. “You see, the land of Israel is the land of our common heritage, and it remains a beacon of religious freedom, tolerance, and prosperity.”
Noting the increased persecution of Christians in the region, Bennett highlighted Israel's role in protecting Christian life there.
“In a region where Christians are routinely persecuted, there's only one place, one country, that protects Christian life — where the Christian community is growing, thriving, and prospering — and that's right here in the state of Israel,” he said.
Stating, “We're brothers and sisters, and we're all united in our love for Jerusalem and our prayers for peace,” the prime minister wished “warm greetings” from Israel's historic capital.
“So, as you celebrate the holidays in Israel and around the world, I would like to send you all warm greetings from Jerusalem,” he said.
He concluded by expressing appreciation for Christians who support the Jewish state.
“I also want to thank you for caring about us; we know that you're out there fighting for the state of Israel,” he said.
“I'd like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year,” he added.
“Israel is firmly committed to the wellbeing of Christian churches and communities in the Holy Land and the Middle East,” he said.
This year saw Christian populations persecuted in countries around the world despite a lack of significant media coverage, as the number of nations documenting such persecution has doubled in the past 15 years.
The Christian advocacy group Open Doors, whose ratings for Christian persecution track fairly well with the State Department's annual Report on International Religious Freedom, revealed over 340 million Christians are facing “high levels of persecution” across the globe, equalling roughly one-eighth of the total Christian population.
In its latest annual religious freedom report, the Pew Research Center found that Christians are “the most persecuted religious group in the world,” with 153 nations reporting attacks or discrimination against them.
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.