by: Ilse Strauss
Monday, 15 October 2018 | Israel has no better friends than Christians. This was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s message to representatives from the international Christian media at the gala opening of the second annual International Christian Media Summit in Jerusalem last night.
Hosted by the Government Press Office, this year’s summit sees a group of 140 editors, broadcasters, journalists and photographers representing 70 Christian outlets from 40 countries around the globe gather in the Israeli capital for an intensive study session and dialogue on covering news emanating from Israel and the Middle East. Over the course of the four-day conference, the select group will hear from Israeli and international experts discussing the Jewish state’s Biblical and modern history, its security challenges and its warming diplomatic relations a number of countries in the region and beyond.
The prime minister’s keynote address kicked off the summit with a special word of thanks to the Jewish state’s international Christian allies. “We have no better friends in the world than our Christian friends and I take this opportunity to thank you for your steadfast support. You are standing up for Israel and you are standing up for the truth and we stand up for you,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister continued to highlight the vast difference between the treatment of Christians in Israel—a country that offers one of the only safe havens for Christians in the Middle East—and other nations in the troubled region, where Muslim extremists persecute religious minorities mercilessly.
Israel is a robust democracy. It supports and protects the rights of all: the rights of Jews, Christians, Muslims—of all,” Netanyahu pointed out. “And we are the only ones who do so in a very broad radius. I think there’s something unusual for Christians because Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian community thrives and grows.”
“We protect the religious rights of all,” he continued. “We don’t just protect Christian religious sites—we protect Christian people. Christians should enjoy all the freedom to worship as they please in the Middle East and anywhere else and the only place in the Middle East where they can do so is Israel.”
To illustrate his point, Netanyahu compared Israel’s treatment of Christians and Christian sites to that of the Palestinians. “You know the town of Bethlehem? Yes. You have a connection to it. We all do. And among other things, we have a connection to King David, the history of Ruth as you know, but also the story of Jesus. Now, Bethlehem had when we handed it over to the Palestinian Authority a Christian population of roughly 80%. Now it’s about 20%. And that change happened because in the Palestinian Authority areas, as well as throughout the Middle East, Christians are being constricted, they’re being pressured, also they’re being persecuted.”
Addressing the simmering tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, Netanyahu blamed Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas for blocking the prospects of peaceful coexistence by actively encouraging terror. “Look at what President Abbas is doing. I mean, he’s rewarding terrorists. Pay for slay. The more they kill—the more they get paid. He has on his law books a rule, a law that says that if you sell land to Jews—you’ll be executed. Some peace and some coexistence.”
The prime minister also addressed regional instability, hailing Israel as a stabilizing force in a highly volatile area. “Without Israel, radical Islam would overrun the Middle East easily. Israel not only protect itself but also protects the neighborhood.”
In contrast, Netanyahu held up Iran as a prime example of a country that seeks regional and international upheaval. “Iran wants to base itself right next to Israel in order to destroy Israel. They say so openly. We will not let them do so. We back up these words with actions, including now in these days, as we speak. Nothing has changed. We’ll continue to do what we need to do to protect ourselves and defend ourselves against those who would destroy us.”
Netanyahu then turned his attention to Israel’s warming ties with various Islamic countries, including Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population and a number of Muslim-majority countries in Africa. The growing threat of terrorism on the African continent has prompted many African nations to seek Israel’s help in fighting the phenomenon, the prime minister explained. The increased cooperation, he continued, “paves the way for additional countries to recognize the State of Israel, and I think you will be hearing about them very soon.”
The prime minister also stressed the importance of Israel’s relations with its Christian allies and welcomed a suggestion by one of the journalists to appoint a special Israeli government emissary to the Christian world. “I think it’s a great idea. I think I’m going to do it,” he said.
Netanyahu concluded by issuing a challenge to his audience of 140 Christian editors, broadcasters, journalists and photographers. “You are ambassadors of truth. You’re not merely the greatest ambassadors that Israel has around the world—you’re champions of truth. And if there’s one thing that I can ask you to do is to tell the truth. Tell the truth about our history, tell the truth about our present, tell the truth about who wants peace and who doesn’t want peace.”
Posted on October 15, 2018
Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 15, 2018)
Photo Credit: PM of Israel@IsraeliPM/twitter
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