Political conflicts in the Middle East should not deter progress in relations between Christians and Jews, a Jewish representative said in his October 13 address to the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East.
Rabbi David Rosen, the inter-religious affairs director of the American Jewish Committee, said that advances in Catholic-Jewish dialogue in recent decades should be recognized as “a blessed transformation of our times.” He urged Christians to continue that dialogue, despite the pressure of political tensions.
Offering a strong defense of Israeli policy—in contrast with the criticisms that have been voiced by other speakers at the Synod—Rosen observed that while Christians have fled from other countries in the region, the Christian population of Israel has grown dramatically, with the influx of immigrations from eastern Europe and the Third World.
Rosen acknowledged that Christians living in Palestinian territory “often bear the brunt of security measures which the Jewish state feels obliged to maintain in order to protect its own citizenry against continuous violence.” He said that complaints about those measures are understandable, but lamented that the complaints are often voiced in terms that suggest hostility toward the Jewish people.
Rabbi Rosen defended a proposed Israeli policy requiring new citizens to swear allegiance to the Jewish state. In this context, he said, the term “Jewish” should be understood as a reference to the cultural character of the society rather than an exclusive religious reference.