Peace in the Middle East is being stymied by a culture of violence being taught to Arab youth and children, Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger said on Thursday.

Speaking to a gathering of Christian leaders in Jerusalem, Metzger said that peace could not take root when suicide bombers are made into celebrities and glorified in a culture.

“If suicide bombers are holy, if people are growing up to hate, how can we believe in peace for the future?” the chief rabbi asked.

Metzger made his comments at a biannual leadership conference of the Christians for Israel organization, which is being held in Jerusalem.

The five-day conference brings Christian leaders from around the world together to strategize with Israeli and Jewish counterparts to improve and maintain ongoing cooperation.

During his remarks, Metzger also addressed past Christian persecution of Jews in the Diaspora, saying that “Hitler had learned to create ghettos” from the historic precedent set by Christian rulers, referencing the first establishment of a Jewish ghetto in Venice in the 16th century.

He said, however, that the adoption of the Nostra Aetate by the Catholic Church in 1965, which repudiated the notion of Jewish guilt for the killing of Christ, had provided an important opportunity for reconciliation between the two faiths.

“I want to give you our thanks for your support and to say that you are truly the sons of Abraham and our brothers,” Metzger said at the conclusion of his speech.

“We are thankful for your support and help for us to fulfill the right to be citizens in the Holy Land, and may God bless you for coming to visit us,” he said, ending with a plea to fight Christian proselytizing of Jews.

Speaking next, Christians for Israel executive director Andrew Tucker read a declaration on behalf of the organization, reiterating the group’s public backing of the Jewish state and denouncing recent criticism of Israel by several Churches and Christian denominations in recent months.

Last October, 15 senior leaders of mainline Protestant churches in America sent a letter to Congress calling for an investigation and possible suspension of US military aid to Israel.

While acknowledging that “Israel is not perfect,” Christians for Israel’s statement declared, “We are outraged that the nations of the world are doing so little to protect the Jewish people and defend their right to live in the land in peace and security.

“We are especially alarmed at the plans to divide Jerusalem,” it continued.

The declaration rejected the notion of supersessionism, or Replacement Theology, a Christian doctrine establishing that the Christian Church became the “new Israel” and that God’s promises to the people of Israel were transferred to Christianity.

Andrew Tucker says the doctrine has been heavily promoted by Palestinian Christian activists as part of the struggle against the State of Israel, and is a phenomenon which his organization is trying to combat.

The main goal of CFI, Tucker explains, is to reach out to Christians to promote an understanding of the return of the Jewish people to Israel as the “fulfillment of biblical prophecy, in preparation for the coming of Messiah and the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth.”

Practically, the organization, established in 1979 and present in 40 countries, focuses on providing educational tools to Christians to promote the main principles of this message, as well as conducting political advocacy and providing financial support for Jewish immigration to Israel and humanitarian projects inside the country.

“As Israel celebrates its 65th birthday, we wish to demonstrate to the nation of Israel and the Jewish people that they are not alone,” Tucker said. “The negative statements coming from the leadership of some Church denominations do not represent Christianity as a whole. There are millions of Christians across the world – in Europe, in Africa and in Asia – who believe that the Jews have every right to live in the land as a nation in peace and security, and are taking up a stand on their behalf,” he said.

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