British Christian groups are circulating a declaration expressing appreciation for Israel as a safe haven for Middle East Christians, support for bolstering ties with the Jewish state, and a call to combat anti-Semitism.
Called the “Shalom Declaration,” the document states, “We deeply appreciate that Israel is the only country in the Middle East which extends freedom of worship to all its citizens and where the Christian community is growing,” the U.K.-based Jewish News reported.
“We grieve and stand with families in Israel and the wider Middle East, who have lost loved ones and with all who are persecuted by the rise of violent extremism and intolerance in the region,” the document adds.
The declaration also calls on Christians and U.K. leaders to work to combat the growing threat of anti-Semitism and forge closer British-Israeli relations.
Anti-Semitic incidents in the U.K. reached their highest levels ever in 2014, according to a report by the British watchdog group Community Security Trust.
The declaration has been endorsed by several Christian organizations, including Christian Friends of Israel and the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, as well as individual churches and prayer groups.
“Sadly, we often hear of negativity [about Israel] from elements within the churches in the U.K. The Shalom Declaration is a powerful reminder we have strong friends in the Christian community. They wish to promote the cause of peace in a way which recognizes Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East,” said Steven Jaffe, a consultant with the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
The declaration is expected to be signed by more than 800 Christians at a gathering in Westminster later this month, in addition to signing opportunities for Christians at an Edinburgh Friends of Israel event and a Christian event in Northern Ireland.