JERUSALEM—An official from the Foreign Ministry appealed to Christians to show their support of Israel by speaking up in their countries against the radical Islamic groups that are targeting the Jewish state.
“You have seen our towers, ramparts and citadels, we are relying on you to carry the message to your own people and governments to stand with Israel,” said Sharon Regev, director of the Department for World Religions. “Coming to Israel is more than recharging our spiritual batteries or walking in the footsteps of one’s faith. It is a form of worship that comes with responsibility. When we walk these streets, our feet are praying. Our biblical teachings are amplified here more than in any other place in the world.”
Regev made the appeal during the annual Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast where local Christian and Jewish leaders gathered, joined by others who tuned in from around the world to the live streamed event.
She noted that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and that Jews, Muslims and Christians are free to worship as they choose.
“Israel is the only country in the region whose Christian community is growing and thriving,” while in the region in general the ancient Christian population has shrunk from 20% to 3%, Regev said.
“We yearn for peace, we want to live in peace and security with our neighbors, we want our neighbors to thrive,” Regev said.
During the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas, some 4,300 rockets were fired by terror organizations at Israeli civilians in 11 days last month. Regev said that “Israel went to unprecedented lengths to prevent civilian casualties and collateral damage by targeting terrorist sites with the greatest possible precision and accuracy.”
“As we have heard this week, the IDF employs such tactics as ‘roof-knocking’ and calling Gazan civilians to give them advanced warning to evacuate an area before a terror target is struck,” Regev explained, and the “reason the IDF even has to engage in such precautions is that Hamas uses its own civilians as human shields.”
Yet, Israel lost the public relations battle, coming under heavy criticism on social media and even by the mainstream media.
These reports contributed to a “horrifyingly sharp increase in anti-Semitism that we have been witnessing, not only in Europe but also in North America,” Regev said, which is why Israel is appealing to Evangelical Christians for their vocal support in their own countries.
In fact, Israel was not the only victim of Hamas – so were the people of Gaza, Regev noted: “They are prisoners and they are used mercilessly as human shields. Hamas has purposely embedded its headquarters, weapons caches, and rocket launchers deeply within its civilian areas – in schools, in hospitals, in homes – for years.”
“Our message to the people of Gaza is simple – Hamas is both our enemy and yours,” she said. “It’s time to free the Palestinians from Hamas and Iran.”
Here is her speech in full:
Dear friends, shalom and good afternoon.
It is my great honor and pleasure to take part in the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast 2021 .
On behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I would like to express our deepest appreciation to the organizers of this important event Mr. Robert Ilatov and Mr. Albert Vexler.
I also want to thank each and every one of you, ladies and gentlemen, for coming here during these challenging times of COVID-19 in solidarity with the State of Israel.
Thank you for supporting Israel and for encouraging others to be the Ruths and Esthers for Israel.
You are our partners in fulfilling the prophecy of Israel becoming a light unto the nations.
People like you, Watchmen on the Wall for Zion who stand in the gap for Israel and the Jewish people.
God has put into your hearts the call of Israel and you have accepted it.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
As the director of the Department for World Religions, I feel so blessed. I truly love the mission of serving Israel’s Foreign Ministry in the advancement of the Jewish-Christian relationship.
As part of my job, I walk the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem and I follow the paths of King David, King Solomon and all our prophets.
Every day, I witness miracles. I rejoice each day in the miracle of being born in a sovereign, reborn Jewish state.
In May 1948, amidst the ashes of the Holocaust, the modern State of Israel was founded in its historic homeland – the Land of Israel, where the Jewish people's spiritual, religious and political identities were shaped.
After 2,000 years of exile, during which time our people prayed towards Jerusalem three times a day, a Jewish state was founded with its capital in that same city, the holy city of Jerusalem.
It has been only 73 years since the rebirth of modern Israel.
In its short existence, the reborn state of Israel has reached tremendous achievements.
We have made the desert bloom. Israel has become one of the most creative and innovative countries in the world. A start-up nation. Our technology is cutting edge and our economy is booming. Thank God, our military is one of the finest in the world.
Without natural resources, we have influenced the world in medicine, commerce, technology and agriculture. We became a first world power where people from around the world wish to invest in. Our accolades are only through the grace of God and His protection over the Land and the people.
We were the ones to first come out of COVID-19.
Even Wonder Woman has become Israeli!
From technology to humanitarian aid, we are serving, as a nation state, the tenets of the Bible where all human beings are created in the image of God.
However, we see that not everyone acknowledges “the image of God” in humanity.
If fact, there are evil, radical forces, in this region, who are actively seeking the destruction of people who do not subscribe to their brand of religion.
Their ideological hatred is willing to murder their own brothers and sisters who identify with Islam.
Radical Islam is using networks of terror to take away the biblical foundation that has shaped not only Western civilization, but also Islam itself – that the image of God is in every human being, and that all of us are the children of God and were all created in His image.
Instead, radical Islam wishes to enslave and destroy that fundamental teaching, insisting that the only valid human being is one who is like them.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Your presence here in Israel is coming just a few days after the conclusion of operation "Guardian of the Walls".
The State of Israel was attacked by ruthless terrorists who were, and still are, determined to murder and injure as many innocent Israeli civilians as possible.
In just 11 days, more than 4,300 rockets were fired indiscriminately by the Hamas murderous terrorist organization at Israeli civilian centers in order to kill as many Israelis as possible.
Hamas, whose motto is to wipe Israel off the map, attacked Israel as part of its desire to weaken the Palestinian Authority and moderate forces who are interested in maintaining regional stability. It is stoking the same kind of Islamist extremism that the entire Middle East experienced under ISIS.
Hamas, who instigated this confrontation, is cynically exploiting the control it wields over the people of the Gaza Strip. It is celebrating the suffering of its own people. The people of Gaza are victims, taken hostage by Hamas.
Israel had no choice but to take action to defend its citizens. We embarked on an operation that we did not want but were prepared for, and ultimately attained many achievements that severely damaged the power and capabilities of the terrorist organization.
- Our message to the people of Gaza is simple: Hamas is both our enemy and yours. It’s time to free the Palestinians from Hamas and Iran.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
- Israel went to unprecedented lengths to prevent civilian casualties and collateral damage by targeting terrorist sites with the greatest possible precision and accuracy.
- As we have heard this week, the IDF employs such tactics as “roof-knocking” and calling Gazan civilians to give them advanced warning to evacuate an area before a terror target is struck.
The reason the IDF even has to engage in such precautions is that Hamas uses its own civilians as human shields.
The people of Gaza are victims of Hamas – they are prisoners and they are used mercilessly as human shields. Hamas has purposely embedded its headquarters, weapons caches, and rocket launchers deeply within its civilian areas – in schools, in hospitals, in homes – for years.
This is a double war crime – against both the Israeli population they are targeting, as well as their own people. When there are civilian casualties it is because they purposefully put their people – often children – in harm’s way.
Just this week, UNRWA admitted that they discovered a terror attack tunnel underneath one of their schools in Gaza that had been struck as a terror target by the IDF during the operation.
Nonetheless, many have criticized Israel. We saw it in many social media outlets as well as mainstream media.
We see the mainstream media, time and again, playing into the hands of Hamas, promoting their false and deceptive narrative, and propagating strong anti-Israel sentiments across the Western world.
These actions directly correlate to the horrifyingly sharp increase in anti-Semitism that we have been witnessing, not only in Europe but also in North America.
Within living memory of the Holocaust, anti-Semitism has returned. Jewish communities around the world are under constant threat. Anti-Semitism has mutated into a new form of anti-Zionism.
This is an early warning sign of dangerous dysfunction within society and culture. The hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews.
-Criticizing Israel without proportion and applying on it a special moral standard which is not applied on any other nation is dangerous to all democracies.
It serves to encourage and support the terrorists, which is detrimental to all those who want peace and a better future.
Those who should be criticized are the perpetrators of double war crimes, who are hiding behind civilians while firing on civilians.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I say this with a heavy heart, as in the same places in the Middle East where Jewish communities once existed; Christians are now refused their core basic rights.
They are persecuted, murdered, abducted, living under terror and constant threat.
We are very concerned about the deficit of religious freedom in our wider region. The historic Christian communities are in a process of severe contraction.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Christians made up about 20% of the Middle Eastern population. Today, this number is somewhere between 3-5%.
Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, and it is fully committed to protecting freedom of religion and freedom of worship.
For the first time ever in the Land, Jews, Christians and Muslims alike live their religious lives as they see fit.
Israel is the only country in the region whose Christian community is growing and thriving.
Religious freedom is at the very heart of the Jewish tradition. Our founding patriarch, Abraham, departed Ur of the Chaldees at the command of God, seeking to worship freely one God, Who was not an idol and Who could not be seen, but was all knowing and all powerful, the Source of truth, the good and the Creator of everything.
From the ancient Israelites in Egypt, the Maccabees, the Great Revolt against the Roman Empire in 66 AD, the Spanish Inquisition, to the heroic struggle of Soviet Jews, whose religion and identity were crushed under communism, the Jewish story is a quest for religious and spiritual freedom.
For this reason, Israel, the state of the Jewish people, is particularly sensitive to the protection of religious worship for all religions in Israel, and for the advance of this cause throughout the world.
Israel is committed to peace. Our vision is to fulfill Isaiah’s vision – “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
Unfortunately, there are nations like Iran who do not subscribe to this ideal of peace.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is an authoritarian, theocratic regime that strictly imposes Sharia law in Iran. It has become a force for destabilization, terror and insurgency across the Middle East.
For over 20 years, the regime has been working to obtain nuclear weapons capabilities, all the while threatening the total destruction of Israel.
Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems are the greatest threat to world peace today. Its ballistic and cruise missiles have the capability to carry nuclear warheads not only to Israel, but as far as to the heart of Europe.
Iran has declared repeatedly its intentions to wipe Israel off the map. It is building an aggressive empire. It is seeking to build a land bridge from Tehran to the Mediterranean through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
It is moving its army, its air force and its navy to Syria to be able to attack Israel from closer. Through its proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, it is seeking Israel’s destruction.
Therefore, we must be able to defend our State and expose those whose intentions are to destroy us.
In Psalm 48, God commands to Walk about Zion, go around her, number her towers, consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels that you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God.
You have seen our towers, ramparts and citadels, we are relying on you to carry the message to your own people and governments to stand with Israel.
Coming to Israel is more than recharging our spiritual batteries or walking in the footsteps of one’s faith. It is a form of worship that comes with responsibility. When we walk these streets, our feet are praying. Our biblical teachings are amplified here more than in any other place in the world.
We ask you today, to speak up. We must take action against the spread of radical ideology, evil, hatred and violence.
As Israel is in the forefront of the battle against Islamist extremism and radicalism, supporting Israel is supporting our shared values of mercy, love, peace, stability and security.
We know that we do not stand alone in the fight against evil. We have friends. Friends of Zion, like you. Like the thousands of people who have assisted the Jewish nation during the last few generations, sometimes at the price of risking their own lives and the lives of their families. Friends of Zion whose inspiring story we can witness here.
I want to thank you again for your support of Israel and I wish you grow from strength to strength.
May God bless you.
Thank you. We hope to see you all next year in Jerusalem!
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.