Israel “has no better friends in the world than the Christian communities around the world,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a group of top Christian media professionals in Israel Sunday evening.
Netanyahu spoke at the opening gala of the first-ever Christian Media Summit in Jerusalem, a conference jointly sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and the Government Press Office.
In his remarks, Netanyahu spoke of the close ties with a staunch support for Israel by the Evangelical Christian world. This bond has been strengthened since the inauguration of the Trump Administration. Trump focused much of his campaign on white Evangelical Christians, which comprise more than 25 percent of America’s Christian population, according to the Pew Research Center. Vice President Mike Pence and US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley are both Christian Zionists.
Netanyahu described his relationship with US President Donald Trump as “Excellent. There is a sense of warmth and instinctive understanding on many important things.”
Netanyahu focused most of his talk on praise for and defense of Trump’s “courageous step” to decertify the Iran deal. He said Trump “correctly identifies” that Iran is not part of the solution in the Middle East, but “perhaps the biggest problem in the Middle East, the source of so much aggression, terror, and misery.
“He could have kicked the can forward, he could have said it is not going to happen on my watch – Iran is going to become a nuclear power with a nuclear arsenal but it won’t happen on my watch. He said, ‘No.’
“It is the duty of leaders…to warn of danger before it becomes apparent to everyone, because when it becomes apparent to everyone, it may be too late.”
Netanyahu said that he himself sees the Iranian threat as an “existential threat” and that when Israel and Arab countries in the region see eye-to-eye, the world should pay attention. He noted that Israel would work closely with Trump, and back its own words with deeds.
“The resoluteness with which Trump put forward this case made a big impression…on Iran and they should be worried, trust me so,” Netanyahu said.
The Christian Media Summit comes at a time when Israel is facing increasing attack by the international community. In recent months, the connection between many of Jerusalem’s historic sites and the Bible and Judeo-Christian history has been called into question by the UN and others.
In an interview with Breaking Israel News, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Ze’ev Elkin said he hoped the conference would help bring the truth about the city’s history to the forefront. He said he does not believe the conference is preaching to the choir, but that Christian journalists serve a strategic and important role in telling Israel’s story.
Nitzan Chen, director of the government press office, said the summit is meant to give reporters “an understanding of the real facts on the ground.”
The Christian Media Summit includes expected tracks, such as those focused on security and democracy. It also includes sessions on archeology and Biblical roots, diversity within Israeli society, and the State of Israel and Christian media. Chen said the conference aims to demonstrate the “fusion of old and new” in the Holy City.
Netanyahu said Israel is not that big of a 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 we cherish.”
He said Israel is a “towering beacon of light” in the region: “We are a light unto the nations, the fulfillment of the great prophecies.”
The Christian Media Summit runs through October 18 in Jerusalem.