Knesset Member Matan Kahana, the official Israeli Knesset host of the 2023 Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast, addressed the Wednesday afternoon session at the Knesset in Jerusalem.
Kahana, a member of Benny Gantz’s National Unity party, also served as head of Israel’s Religious Services Ministry in the previous government.
The senior leader welcomed JPB delegates to Israel and thanked them for their support. He spoke of their “genuine friendship.”
“My friends, I am happy and delighted to be here with all of you today,” Kahana said. “For you are those who love Israel with all your heart. We are facing a challenging period and the constant and especially genuine friendship that you have for the Jewish people is so important and significant.”
Kahana commented on the Iranian threats to regional stability, noting that Iran “officially calls for the destruction of the State of Israel, who says clearly that they want to wipe us off the face of the earth.”
“They are nearer and nearer to the point of viable nuclear weapons,” he said, in reference to recent developments in Iran’s nuclear program. He talked about Iran’s support for terror groups like Lebanese terrorist proxy group, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
“Make no mistake, these are Iranian missiles,” Kahana said in reference to Hezbollah's growing arsenal of missiles. He said Iran has been actively working to damage regional instability for their own strategic interests, including providing aid to Hezbollah for their military endeavors.
The missiles pose “a strategic threat and could lead to a regional escalation, which falls exactly into Iran’s plans,” Kahana warned.
Kahana told the delegates that the successful completion of Operation Shield and Arrow showed the terror groups “how mistaken they were” to suppose “that we have taken our eyes off the ball and we are a divided nation.”
However, Kahana also acknowledged that the Iranian threat is not the only problem Israel faces today.
Referring to the growing phenomenon of anti-Zionism worldwide, Kahana asked delegates to advocate for Israel.
“Constant accusations are made that Israel is an apartheid state,” Kahana said, calling on the attendees to “go out to the streets of Israel and tell the world what you see.”
He spoke of the great diversity in Israeli society and government. “We had a Muslim minister and a Druze minister in the last years of the government,” Kahana stated.
Arabs serve in all sectors and all levels of society, Kahana told those gathered. Not only Israeli Arabs benefit from Israel’s openness, he said.
“Tell the world that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from Judea, Samaria and Gaza are treated in Israeli hospitals every year.”
At the close of his speech, Kahana again thanked the delegates for coming and specifically apologized for the "unacceptable' disturbance at the Pentecost 2023 Prayer Event on Sunday. Earlier this week, one of Jerusalem's deputy mayors, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum also spoke out against the protests, saying that Evangelicals are “the main pro-Israel lobby today.”
“A few days ago, some extremists, demonstrators shouted at a group of visitors to the holy places,” Kahana said. “The holy places are open to all and should remain like this.”
He continued, “I would like to emphasize that shouting at the people who are the great supporters of Israel is counterproductive. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for this behavior on behalf of the Knesset.”
In closing, Kahana told the attendees, “My friends, all I have left to say to you is thank you. Thank you for what you do for us. You are true friends. Thank you.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.