(photo: MARK NEYMAN / GPO)

(photo: MARK NEYMAN / GPO)

By Greer Fay Cashman - December 28, 2016

Originally appeared here in The Jerusalem Post

The annual reception hosted by President Reuven Rivlin for spiritual and lay leaders of Christian communities in Israel has not only been an opportunity for the exchange of holiday greetings, but also for Christians to air their complaints via Greek Patriarch Theophilos III.

Though couched in the most diplomatic language to soften the barb, the Patriarch’s speech invariably contained elements of the dissatisfaction of the Christian community with the status quo.

This year, with the exception of a reference to “all peoples to have their own legitimate rights to self-determination and freedom,” there was not even a hint of criticism of Israel, and even this remark could easily have related to Syria and other countries in the region, as it did not specifically mention the Palestinians.

Overtures made by Rivlin and Interior Minister Arye Deri over the past year to the leadership of the various Christian denominations have obviously borne fruit.

Addressing Rivlin directly, Theophilos said: “We take the opportunity of this holiday gathering to express our gratitude to you for the firmness with which you defend the freedoms that lie at the heart of this democracy – especially the freedom of worship.” Read More