Israeli Government Woos Global Christian Media With Jerusalem Summit
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says Jewish state has no better friends than Evangelical Christians
Nearly two hundred representatives of global broadcasting networks have descended on Jerusalem for the annual Christian Media Summit hosted by Israel’s Government Press Office (GPO).
Participants comprise journalists, anchors and senior executives, coming together from far-off places ranging from the United States to Ivory Coast to The Philippines.
The festivities kicked off with a gala that included a question and answer session with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, long noted for his reticence to give interviews.
“You’re not merely the greatest ambassadors that Israel has around the world—you’re champions of truth,” he asserted to a captive audience. “And if there’s one thing that I can ask you to do is to tell the truth…about our history, about our present, about who wants peace and who doesn’t.”
During the four-day conference, attendees will meet with high-ranking government officials such as President Reuven Rivlin, be briefed by other senior lawmakers at parliamentarian, and engage with influential policy makers. They will also be able to choose a day-long “track” that will highlight seventy years of Israeli innovation, culture, science or efforts to achieve co-existence with its neighbors.
“The State of Israel needs to strengthen relations with the Christian media because each person at this event has a huge impact in the entire world. And they are going home with materials that explain Israel’s policies, especially topics beyond the conflict [with the Palestinians],” Nitzan Chen, Director of the GPO stressed to The Media Line.
There are an estimated 500-600 million self-identifying Evangelicals, or about one in every four Christians, with the population having grown by more than three times the global rate from 1960-2000. The Evangelical community’s strong support for Israel is rooted in the Bible, in which God bestows the Holy Land to the Jewish people.
In the U.S. alone there are some 70 million Evangelicals, who are largely credited with influencing President Donald Trump to relocate the American Embassy to Jerusalem.
“Christians are people of the Book [Bible], which beginning with Genesis is very clear that God had a plan for the Jews. In fact, the Land [of Israel] is the first promise made,” Jerry Johnson, CEO of NRB emphasized to The Media Line.
“And in rereading the scriptures, I’ve been struck again by how often this is referred to and repeated. So we believe that the Jewish people have a connection to this Land and ought to be here. This is their home and it is important for Christian media to get this message out.”
Much of the mainstream media views Israel through the prism of the conflict and is often criticized for what some view as bias towards the Palestinians. By contrast, Christian channels tend to focus on Israel’s historical right to exist, along with the fact that, against steep odds, it is a thriving democracy that has made tremendous contributions to the fields of technology, medicine, agriculture, academia and others.
It is this side of Israel that the government appears committed to promoting and conveying as widely as possible through such gatherings.