As an act of unity with the Jewish State, top politicians and leaders of Christian and Jewish communities, along with several hundred citizens of the Czech Republic, gathered in a historic cathedral to celebrate Jerusalem Day on Tuesday.
The event was based in interfaith support for Israel. Cardinal Dominik Duka, hosting the solemn assembly in famous St. Vitus Cathedral at the Prague Castle, spoke about the common spiritual heritage shared by Christians and Jews. He expressed hope that peace would come when all nations come together to embrace the faith of Abraham and the Ten Commandments of Moses.
Daniel Fajfr, Chairman of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, quoted Psalm 122 in his address, assuring the audience that Czech Christians follow the precept of praying for the peace of Jerusalem.
The festive meeting integrated both Christian and Jewish customs, starting with the ringing of cathedral bells and including a musical performance of Hebrew songs such as the famous Yerushalayim Shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold). Also performed was a song which bridged both communities: The Vlatava, a symphonic Czech nationalist poem composed in the 19th century by Bedřich Smetana which shares a heritage and melody with the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah (The Hope).
In his address, the newly installed Israeli Ambassador Daniel Meron noted that the unification of Jerusalem opened the holy city not only to Jews, but to Christians as well.
In honor of Jerusalem Day, Parliament Speaker Jan Bartosek announced that the government body had officially condemned a recent UNESCO resolution declaring Israeli sovereignty over its capital illegal. The Czech parliament called on the government to promote “respect for Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
The parliament describe the UNESCO resolution as
“…yet another confirmation of a continuing biased and antagonistic approach of UNESCO towards one of its member states, as well as improper politicization of this organization, clearly overstepping its mandate.
[The parliament calls] to oppose such actions of international organizations or common positions of the European Union which in a falsified and misleading way interpret the current situation or distort historical facts and which are imbued with the spirit of hatred of Israel.”
The motion was adopted by an overwhelming majority, with 112 of 156 deputies voting in favor.
The event was organized jointly by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), the Ecumenical Council of Churches, the Federation of Jewish Communities, the Czech-Israeli Friendship Society, the Zion Center and the Israeli Embassy under the patronage of Cardinal Dominik Duka and Minister of Culture Daniel Herman.
Relations between the Czech Republic and Israel have been quite close. Voting in favor of Israel in the 1948 UN vote, the Czech Republic was one of the very few nations that would sell arms to the fledgling Jewish State.
In 2013, soon after being elected, Czech President Miloš Zeman called for his country to move their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. His subsequent attempts to convince the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister were unsuccessful.