On the first week of November Israel’s Government Press Office hosted its 3rd annual Christian Media Summit (CMS). 150 Christian journalists from around the world joined together in Jerusalem to network, celebrate, and most importantly learn how to accurately report on Israel. While the journalists were diverse in their professional niches and countries of origin they all shared an appreciation for Israel’s profound place within their Christian faith.
The CMS festivities began Sunday night at the Friends of Zion Museum where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman addressed the participants. Both Netanyahu and Friedman expressed appreciation for the solidarity of Christians in the fight against anti-semitism and international bias against Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu put it best when he said “We have no better friends in the world than our Christian friends .”
To help participants continue to factually report on Israel the summit included an educational component where attendees got to learn about everything from Israel’s security threats to BDS. Dr. Einat Wilf gave an impassioned lecture about the danger of the Palestinian idea of the “Right of Return.” They heard from a panel of speakers about the BDS movement and the various anti-semitic ways it manifests itself around the world. Co-creator of Fauda and journalist Avi Issacharoff spoke to the group about his military experience in Gaza and how it affected the series. A panel of experts talked about the double standards of international law as it applies to Israel. These discussions and others gave the participants an idea of the scope of obstacles Israel has to face on a daily basis.
However, despite these challenges the group saw that Israel has managed not only to survive but thrive. This was most salient in their trip up north where they got to witness the country’s beauty, strength and progress. They visited the Mount of Beatitude, a military post, the Beresheet fruit factory, and Kibbutz El Rom where they had a briefing with Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus about Israel’s current state of security. One of the final visits on their trip north was to Trump Heights Village in the Golan. There the group participated in a proclamation ceremony where a Rabbi, a Reverend and a Druze Sheikh signed a prayer for peace in the Golan. Given the United States’ recent recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan the ceremony held historical weight that was moving for many. It was a beautiful example of intercultural cooperation and commitment to a future of continual coexistence.
Concluding the monumental four day summit was a trip to the President’s Residence where President Reuven Rivlin expressed his gratitude for the group’s commitment to journalistic integrity when writing about Israel. He also emphasized Israel’s commitment to freedom of worship and respect for holy sites of all religions. The journalists left the summit armed with knowledge and as participant Arlene Bridges Samuels put it with a “tool box of facts…to advocate for Israel in a factual and educated way.”
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