The National Jewish Assembly commends the Israeli Police for their actions in ensuring safety during the Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Recent allegations by church leaders claiming that the Israeli police were infringing on Christians’ freedom of worship were refuted by a letter, which has now been made public, that indicates restrictions were imposed at the request of a Greek Orthodox official. (Click here to view the letter)
NJA Vice Chairman Laurence Julius said, “When reporting on religious freedom, the press must report facts accurately, as these issues are especially sensitive, and may cause great offence and incite hatred.”
The letter emphasised that the maximum number of visitors for the ceremony should be 1,800 inside the building and 200 more in the courtyard due to safety concerns. Israel, which imposed similar restrictions on the “Holy Fire” event last year, states that its goal is to prevent another disaster after a crowd crush at a packed Jewish holy site in 2021 left 45 people dead.
Contrary to claims made by the Greek Orthodox Church, the Israeli police did not initiate the cap on crowd size, and it was instead a “necessary safety requirement” set by a safety engineer affiliated with the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The NJA condemns the spreading of fake news to deliberately slander Israel and stoke religious tensions. The NJA calls on all parties to work together to ensure that events like the Holy Fire ceremony can be celebrated safely and without unnecessary controversy.
For further inquiries, please contact Heath Sloane – NJA Press and Marketing Manager (firstname.lastname@example.org)