Netanyahu to Christian media: Continue to tell the truth

PM Netanyahu speaking at 2018 Christian Media Summit (Photo courtesy)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked journalists attending the Christian Media Summit for their ongoing support and, responding to a suggesting, said he would consider appointing an ambassador to the Christian world reflecting Israel’s recognition of it evangelical allies.

“A great alliance with the evangelicals is something we do not apologize for,” Netanyahu said on Sunday. “We have no better friends in the world.”

Netanyahu told the gathered Christian media that they are “ambassadors of truth. You’re not merely the greatest ambassadors that Israel has around the world, you are champions of truth.” 

“Tell the truth about who wants peace and who doesn’t want peace,” he implored the journalists. 

Netanyahu said that Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian community thrives and grows. He used the Palestinian town of Bethlehem as an example where the Christian population dwindled from from 80 percent to now 20 percent because “Christians are being pressured. Christians are being persecuted.”

“Israel is the only country that protects the human rights of all. We protect the religious rights of all,” he said. “We don’t just protect Christian sites — we protect Christian people. Christians should enjoy all freedoms 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. We have no better friends in the world than our Christian friends.”

The second annual Christian Media Summit, which continues until Wednesday, is sponsored by the Government Press Office. The sessions also featured U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and several Knesset members. 

Friedman told the reporters on Sunday that be believes the world secretly respects the U.S. administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital despite a vote at the United Nations of two thirds condemning the move.

“Every nation, once off the public stage, has nothing but respect for what the president has done,” he said. “Because the president spoke the truth and, as we learn from the Book of John, ‘the truth will set us free.’”

America became the first country to move its embassy to Jerusalem on May 14 followed by Guatemala and Paraguay a few days later, though the latter has since returned to Tel Aviv.

During a question-and-answer session with Netanyahu, Monique Rijkers, a Christian pro-Israel activist from Jakarta, asked the prime minister to open his country’s borders to Indonesian Christians to visit the Holy Land, referring to a recent ban on visas issued to Indonesians.

“I will work on the visa, I will see what I can do,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu added that he wants to promote diplomatic ties with Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population. 

“Indonesia is very, very important for us. It’s a very important country. It’s one of the last countries on earth that doesn’t have an open and robust relationship with Israel,” he said. “We would like to have excellent relations with them.”

Netanyahu also hinted at burgeoning diplomatic ties with African Muslim-majority nations. He said many countries there are interested in cooperating with Israel in fighting Islamic terrorism. 

This “paves the way for additional countries to recognize the State of Israel, and I think you will be hearing about them very soon,” he said.