by: Ilse Posselt
Tuesday, 17 October 2017 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday welcomed representatives from the Christian media to the gala opening of a first-of-its kind four-day summit on covering news emanating from Israel and the Middle East.
The Christian Media Summit saw editors, reporters, journalists and photographers from some 70 Christian outlets around the world flock to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem to listen to Israeli and international experts discuss the Jewish state’s biblical and modern history, its security challenges and its warming diplomatic relations with a number of countries in the region and beyond.
Netanyahu’s keynote address kicked off the summit. “I want to welcome you all to Jerusalem, the eternal, united capital of the Jewish people,” the prime minister said. “You know, you are joining us as we celebrate 50 years since the holy city [Jerusalem] was liberated and united; 50 years of religious freedom for all. You know that, because you walk around, you go to the holy sites, you go to the churches, others go the mosques, and you know this is a free city.”
Netanyahu had a special word of thanks for the Jewish state’s international Christian allies. “Israel,” he declared, “has no better friends—I mean that—no better friends in the world than the Christian communities around the world.”
The prime minister continued to highlight the vast difference between the treatment of Christians in Israel, a country that stands as one of the only safe havens for Christians in the Middle East, and other nations in the troubled region, where Muslim extremists have persecuted religious minorities mercilessly. “Israel,” Netanyahu pointed out, “is the one country in a vast region where Christians not only survive, they thrive.”
To illustrate his point, the prime minister held up Iran as a prime example of a country in the neighborhood where religious minorities suffer routine victimization and maltreatment. “Iran is a threat to the entire world, but today I want to focus on Iran’s war against Christians. As you all know, Christians are brutally persecuted in the Islamic Republic. Pastors are jailed for no reason, no reason other than for being Christian leaders. Christians have been lashed. You hear this? Christians have been lashed for sipping wine during prayer services; Christians have been brutally tortured for doing nothing more than practicing their faith.”
“Some world leaders are willing to ignore this repression and seek to appease Iran,” the prime minister said, “but I am not one of them.”
Netanyahu then called on the Christian editors, reporters, journalists and photographers seated in the audience to speak out on behalf of those who are targeted because of their religion. “Today I have a simple request for the media outlets in this room: Dedicate this week to highlighting the plight of the countless Christians suffering under Iran; profile the brave Christian leaders jailed for practicing their faith; sit with the families of the school teachers jailed for years merely for converting to Christianity; call out the lie and the lies of President Rouhani, who promised in 2013 that all religions would, quote, ‘feel justice in Iran,’ while so many Christians live there in constant terror.”
The prime minister also addressed Israel’s commitment to rush to the aid of disaster-stricken nations. Asked why the Jewish state, which has more than its fair share of threats and challenges to deal with, continues to come alongside nations in distress with humanitarian aid, Netanyahu answered, “Because we are a light unto the nations. That is the great fulfillment of that great prophecy, and in fact what Israel is doing.”
Mentioning a few examples of Israel’s recent missions to disaster-stricken areas, the prime minister addressed the question that many the world over ask: what does the Jewish state stand to gain from such missions? “The answer is we are not getting out of it anything. We are fulfilling our deepest values—Israel is a light unto the nations.”
The prime minister then turned his attention once again to the security threat posed by the Islamic Republic. “Now you talk about those who want to extinguish that light: Iran… It wants to build a Shiite arc, which is Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon. I said in the UN a few weeks ago that what they want from Tehran to Tartus, from Iran to the Mediterranean, they want this Shiite arc, to colonize it and control it, and everyone is concerned. All the countries… everybody is really concerned and wants to stop it, because this is an act of unadulterated aggression.”
Netanyahu also made it clear that Israel will not stand by idly as the Islamic Republic strengthens its grip on the region. “Clearly, we will not tolerate it, and we will act against any threats to our security.”
The prime minister concluded his address by expressing his appreciation to the summit attendees. “I want to thank you all for your continued support for the State of Israel. I think when you and your readers and viewers and listeners, when they look at the Middle East and they see the forces that are aligned against the values we hold dear, you see a beacon of light, a towering beacon of light.”
“Israel is not that big a country,” he said. “It is a small country, but it is a gigantic country, because we stand on the shoulders of giants: the giants of the Bible, the giants of Jewish history, the people who gave us our deepest values, which we share and which we cherish.”
Posted on October 17, 2017
Source: (Bridges for Peace, 17 October 2017)
Photo Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO
Photo License: Government Press Office
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