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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Jewish leader praises ‘religious tolerance’ in Russia

Chief rabbi Berel Lazar said that the peaceful coexistence of all faiths in the country can be an example for the world

Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar said on Wednesday that Israelis and Palestinians could follow the example of Russia, where all religions live in peace. He stressed that people of different faiths live as friends in the country.

Speaking at a meeting of representatives of the country’s religious associations alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, Lazar noted that “there is peace between Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists – all religions and all peoples” in the country. He insisted that such a model is an example for the whole world.

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The rabbi said that national unity is a unique feature of Russia. “We feel peace and mutual respect between people of different nations, different cultures, different confessions all the time,” he added.

During the meeting, Putin recalled Moscow’s position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which is based on the UN Security Council’s decisions to establish two independent sovereign states – Israel and Palestine. The president again expressed his condolences to the families of the victims of the October 7 attack on Israel by the Palestinian militant group Hamas but added that “innocent people should not be held responsible for crimes committed by others.”

The fight against terrorism cannot be conducted according to “the infamous principle of collective responsibility,” the Russian leader said, referring to the situation in Gaza, where Israel has launched a massive bombing campaign and imposed a blockade on food, fuel, and electricity in response to the attack.

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The main goal now is to stop the bloodshed and violence; otherwise, further escalation of the crisis will have dire consequences not only for the Middle East region, Putin said.

Gaza has been under a total blockade by West Jerusalem since Hamas launched its surprise attack on Israel over two weeks ago. The Palestinian enclave does not have access to water, electricity, fuel, and medical supplies, while the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continues to carry out daily airstrikes.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, the death toll in the territory has exceeded 7,000, including nearly 3,000 children. Israeli officials reported more than 1,400 casualties from the Hamas attack.