Netanyahu addresses Christian summit, points to Iranian persecution
GALI TIBBON (AFP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded Israel’s democracy while calling attention to “the plight of the long-suffering Iranian people” during his satellite video speech to the 13th Annual Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Summit hosted in Washington DC.
“Iran’s regime is a point of darkness in the Middle East. Israel is a point of light,” he said.
“In Iran, Christians are brutally persecuted. Christian pastors have spent years in prison. Now, this is an issue which I believe should concern everyone. And let me say clearly: Israel stands in complete solidarity with persecuted Christians in Iran. And I ask: Why are so many people silent as Christians are jailed and tortured in Iran?”
Meanwhile, Netanyahu pointed to Israel as a “miracle”, calling it a beacon of democracy in the region where Christians “not only survive, they thrive.”
He pointed to an Christian Arab-Israeli Supreme Court Justice as an example of the “pluralistic, open society” he ascribed to the Jewish state throughout its 70-year existence.
But he also took the opportunity to point out the “fundamental truth” known to Christians that “Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years. Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for 70 years. And Jerusalem will always be our capital.”
He thanked Israel’s Christian friends around world and US President Donald Trump for his landmark decision announced in December that upended decades-long policy by recognizing the holy city as Israel's capital, the status of which is one of the most contentious issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The recognition and subsequent embassy move sparked mass demonstrations and increased violence, resulting in the death of some 150 Gazans and hundreds more injured in recent months.
Notwithstanding its strength and prosperity, the Israeli premier made sure to mention the threats facing his nation.
“Israel still faces many threats. On our southern border, the fanatic terrorist group Hamas calls for genocide of Jews. In the north, Hezbollah is stockpiling massive numbers of missiles aimed at Israel. And Iran, well, Iran openly calls for Israel’s annihilation.”
But he vowed that Israel’s spirit, not just its army, makes it resilient, in addition to its global support from different entities, such as the CUFI.
The CUFI touts itself as the largest pro-Israel grassroots organization, which “strive[s] to act as a defensive shield against anti-Israel lies, boycotts, false theology, and political threats that seek to delegitimize Israel’s existence and weaken the close relationship between Israel and the United States.”
While seeking to distinguish itself from dispensationalism, which holds that the modern state of Israel has a central role in bringing about the second coming of Jesus Christ), CUFI still is founded on biblical teachings that God will bless those who bless the Jews and curses those who curse the Jews, noting that Christian faith could not exist with Judaism.
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