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Netanyahu Encourages Christian Journalists to 'Tell the Truth' in Middle East Coverage

Christian Media Summit, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: GPO
Christian Media Summit, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: GPO

The Israeli government invited Christian journalists from around the world to see for themselves what the country is all about. 

More than 180 journalists, broadcasters, publishers and communicators from some 30 nations gathered for the three-day event entitled, "70 Years of Israel."

"You are ambassadors of truth. You're not merely the greatest ambassadors that Israel has around the world – you're champions of truth," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told journalists at the second Christian Media Summit in Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Addresses Journalists at Christian Media Summit

"And if there's one thing that I can ask you to do is, to tell the truth. Tell the truth about our history. Tell the truth about our present. Tell the truth about who wants peace and who doesn't want peace," Netanyahu said.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who is an orthodox Jew, was among the speakers and stuck with the theme of truth.

"While I do not observe in a religious sense the teachings of the New Testament, I'm quite fond of many of its insights and what it has to say. None more so than the statement from the Book (Gospel) of John, chapter eight, verse 32. It says, ‘Then you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.'"

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and GPO Director Nitzan Chen

Participants heard from Israeli government and military officials and other leaders about Israel's achievements and challenges facing the Jewish state in the international and media arenas.

Nitzan Chen heads the Government Press Office, which sponsored the event.

"We need Christian media because we know that you love us from the bottom of your heart and you don't need to pretend," Chen said. "And we've got so many enemies, so many obstacles toward the future, therefore, we decided that we would like you to be our – on our side – not just once in a while but every year. And I hope that we will find a way to celebrate the Christian Media Summit every year."

Panel at Christian Media Summit

Author Joel Rosenberg said the fact that Israel hosted such an event shows how much it values Christian reporting.

"I think what it's showing is Israel feels very much under siege not from bullets, bombs, missiles, and terrorists, although that remains a real threat, but from the propaganda war that's being waged against them in the UN, in the media, all over and they're reaching out to a constituency, a set of allies, the Christians," Rosenberg told CBN News.

"It's encouraging to see that the government of Israel realizes that Christian journalists are at least willing to consider their perspective and in fact communicate a fair picture of what's going on," he said.

Participants of Christian Media Summit at the Knesset

Participants said the summit was important to their understanding of Israel.

"So much of the information that journalists get – let's be frank – filtered or got a lot of spin to it, maybe some bias or even fake news, makes its way through the internet, even from other sources. Here we're getting, you know, what we call original source material," said Jerry Johnson, president of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB).

"We're hearing a lot of fresh, primary source news and that's what a good journalist should want," Johnson told CBN News.

Author Arlene Bridges Samuels said she is impressed by the warming of relations between Israelis and Christians over the years. 

"There's such a wonderfully diverse community here and I think sometimes in the evangelical community we don't grasp that about Israel.  So it's a tapestry," Samuels told CBN News.

"Even with the conflict, even with the diversity, somehow they make it work on many, many levels," she said.

"You read about things in the news but when you come here and you hear all of these speakers and then you understand from all these different perspectives what's happening in this land and the media bias, the stuff that's going on, the negativity against Israel," John Riley of American Family Radio, told CBN News. 

"And you hear the truth about what's happening in this land firsthand, it really opens up your eyes to everything that's going on here," he said.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin summed up the Israeli sentiments.

"Dear friends, thank you again for coming to Jerusalem. Please take home with you a message of peace from the Holy Land and a love for Israel. Even more importantly, come back soon!" he said.

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