As Christians around the world and in Israel prepare to celebrate Christmas, I want to wish you all the merriest of holidays.
Today, Christian communities throughout the Middle East are shrinking, and many of them are endangered. This is, of course, not true in Israel. Here there is a strong and growing Christian community that participates fully in the life of our country. Israel is proud of its record of religious tolerance and pluralism, and Israel will continue to protect freedom of religion for all. And we will continue to safeguard places of Christian worship throughout our country. We will not tolerate any acts of violence or discrimination against any place of worship. This is not our way, and this is something we cannot accept.
So as you celebrate Christmas and your holy holidays, we hope that you will recall the places where Judaism and Christianity emerged, and then come see our ancient land with your own eyes: visit Nazareth and Bethlehem, wade into the Jordan River, and stand on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. And next year, come visit our eternal capital, Jerusalem.
Happy holidays to all of you. May you all be blessed with a year of security, prosperity and peace.