WASHINGTON (February 22, 2005)– A recent attack on Christians in Israel appears to exhibit "deep prejudice against Christians," said the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' International Policy Committee, and could make it "difficult for the Christian community to maintain its historical place within Israeli society."
In identical letters to the Latin Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Melkite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ, of Pensacola-Tallahassee, expressed his "strong solidarity" with the Christian community in the Holy Land, and expressed hope that the recent attack could serve as an occasion for the Druze and other religious communities to come together to work for a "more tolerant, just and peaceful society within Israel."
Two days of clashes between Druze and Christian residents of the Galilee village of Maghar in Israel erupted February 10, resulting in a number of injuries and the departure of many Christian families, according to news reports.
In a separate letter to the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Daniel Ayalon, Bishop Ricard said he was disturbed at the initial lack of a response to the attacks on the part of Israeli authorities.
"The fact that so many Christians felt a need to flee their homes and business is not only a sign of personal insecurity but also reflects a lack of confidence in the local authorities to protect their safety," Bishop Ricard said.