All Israel

Prime Minister Netanyahu, we need your help to stop growing attacks on Christians here in Israel

And to order Israel’s Interior Ministry to stop denying clergy visas for pro-Israel Christian organizations

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers remarks at the weekly cabinet meeting, March 12, 2023 (Photo: Haim Zach/GPO)

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – The following is an open letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Dear Prime Minister – 

Greetings and best wishes. I am so glad to see that you have recovered fully from your recent hospitalization. Many of us were praying for you and are grateful for the Lord’s kindness to you and your family.

As I shared with you personally when I brought a delegation of Evangelical leaders to meet with you last year, no Israeli leader has ever done more than you have to welcome and embrace the friendship and support of Christians here in Israel and around the world for the Jewish people and the Jewish state.

Nor has any Israeli prime minister ever worked harder or more consistently than you have – and over so many decades – to cultivate this Christian friendship into an actual strategic alliance with the State of Israel.

For this, I want to again thank you from the bottom of my heart.

In this context, I am writing to raise an issue of great concern and to seek your immediate assistance.

Over the past several years – and especially this year – anti-Christian bigotry has been surging in Israel. 

Verbal and physical attacks against Christian citizens of Israel, and of Christians visiting Israel, have been rising.

Pastors and priests are being spat upon, cursed, and otherwise assaulted in Jerusalem's Old City. Christian churches and cemeteries are being vandalized. Christian tourists praying for the peace of Jerusalem near the Western Wall have been assaulted, cursed, and told to go home and never return. In May, police had to be called when extremists rioted at a recent Christian concert in Jerusalem. An 82-year-old man was punched by one of these extremists while trying to protect a 9-year-old child from the commotion.

Now we learn that Israel’s Ministry of Interior is systematically denying clergy visas for the staff of pro-Israel Christian organizations that operate here. This is not only a violation of written agreements these groups have with the Ministry, but it is severely limiting their ability to help Jews make aliyah, care for the poor and needy here in the Land and educate Christians around the world about the importance of standing with Israel against the global BDS movement and praying for the peace of Jerusalem.

To their credit, a number of Israeli leaders – including President Isaac Herzog, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, and former Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana – have spoken out to condemn these attacks and demonstrate their solidarity with the Christian community. 

My colleagues and I are deeply grateful to these leaders and trust that they will continue to speak out with moral clarity and urgency.

We are also deeply grateful for all that you have done to speak out and protect Christians over the course of your career, and in recent months.

That said, given the fact that these expressions of bigotry and hostility by various anti-Christian extremists around the country – as well as by misguided bureaucrats within the Interior Ministry – are spiking, I am appealing to you to intervene more decisively.

Given your authority as the head of Israel’s government, would you please take the following actions?

  1. Meet with Evangelical Christian leaders who live and work here in Israel so that we can brief you on our concerns in-person.

  2. Meet with leaders of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic community so that they can share their concerns and unique perspective.

  3. Deliver a major address soon on the high value you and your government place on protecting and advancing religious liberty for Christians and people of all faiths, protecting churches and Christian holy sites and sites sacred to people of all faiths, and promoting strong and healthy Jewish-Christian relations here in Israel and around the world.

  4. Direct the Minister of the Interior immediately to fix the problems inside his agency and urgently restore the issuance of clergy visas to pro-Israel Christian organizations, as has been done consistently for more than forty years.

  5. Direct Ministers in your government who are responsible for the police, internal security, and religious affairs to meet with Christian leaders to hear our concerns, and to pursue a zero-tolerance policy with regard to attacks against Christians, and to prosecute those who do attack Christians and our holy sites to the fullest extent of the law.

This would be enormously helpful, Mr. Prime Minister.

My colleagues and I know that this anti-Christian bigotry is in no way a reflection of your policies.

We also know that these attacks are perpetrated by a small stream of extremists and in no way reflect the views of the broader Jewish and Israeli society.

Still, something serious is occurring and growing worse and it must be confronted head-on. 

The fact that President Herzog and Foreign Minister Cohen have felt the need to speak out demonstrates just how serious the problem has become.

None of us want this trend to worsen, much less become a reason for Christian tourists to stop coming to Israel – especially during the 75th anniversary year of Israel’s miraculous and prophetic rebirth.

Nor do we want to let anti-Israel bigots around the world be able to use this trend as a weapon in the court of international public opinion.

We must work together to bring these assaults to an end quickly and completely.

Thank you so much, Mr. Prime Minister, for taking our concerns seriously.

We have every confidence that you will take the appropriate action and we stand ready to help.

May the Lord bless you and give you His wisdom and discernment to deal with this challenge.


NOTE: To provide you and your colleagues more context, I am including here a list of 18 articles that ALL ISRAEL NEWS has published that document this terrible and growing trend of anti-Christian bigotry. 

  1. August 18, 2023 — Israel’s Interior Ministry turns against Evangelicals, refuses to issue staff visas for pro-Israel groups like Christian Embassy 

  2. August 17, 2023 — 'Condemn anti-Christian attacks,' Anti-Defamation League appeals to Jerusalem mayor 

  3. August 9, 2023 — President Herzog and police chief visit Haifa church, strongly condemn anti-Christian violence 

  4. August 3, 2023 — Israeli foreign minister calls to prosecute attackers of Christians 'without leniency' 

  5. July 10, 2023 — President Herzog labels anti-Christian attacks in Israel 'a true disgrace' 

  6. June 19, 2023 — Stone thrown at stained-glass window of the 'Room of the Last Supper' causes damage in latest anti-Christian attack 

  7. June 2, 2033 — Israeli Messianic Jewish leader condemns violence by Orthodox protesters 

  8. May 31, 2023 — Former Israeli Religious Affairs minister apologizes to Evangelicals for attacks near Western Wall 

  9. May 29, 2023 — Jerusalem deputy mayor Aryeh King owes Christians an apology for 'missionary terrorism' comment

  10. May 29, 2023 — Jerusalem deputy mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum condemns protest of Evangelical Pentecost event, expresses support for Christian Zionists 

  11. May 28, 2023 — 'Missionaries go home!' Orthodox Jewish activists protest at Evangelical prayer event in Jerusalem's Old City 

  12. March 23, 2023 — Evangelical leaders in US, Israel praise Netanyahu for stopping legislation to ban the Gospel in Israel 

  13. March 21, 2023 — Pro-Israel Evangelicals urge Netanyahu to stop ultra-Orthodox bill to outlaw sharing the good news of Jesus in Israel 

  14. March 19, 2023 — EXCLUSIVE: Two Knesset members propose legislation to outlaw sharing the Gospel in Israel and send violators to prison – could it become law? 

  15. January 4, 2023 – Desecration at Christian cemetery in Jerusalem – 30 graves vandalized; Member of Christian community says violent actions, bigotry against Christians have increased in the city

  16. December 30, 2021 — EXCLUSIVE: Evangelical bishop says Israel must deal with attacks, discrimination against Christians coming from ‘radicalized’ Jewish groups 

  17. December 21, 2021 — Are Holy Land Christians on their way to extinction? Leaders of traditional churches feel they are being squeezed out, appeal to Israel for help 

  18. September 21, 2021 – During UN speech, Jordan’s King Abdullah claims ‘rights of churches in Jerusalem are threatened’

Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.

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