Netanyahu vows ‘complete solidarity’ with Christians persecuted in Iran

Netanyahu vows ‘complete solidarity’ with Christians persecuted in Iran

Addressing Christians United for Israel’s annual summit, PM thanks US Evangelicals for recognizing ‘fundamental truth’ about Jerusalem

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

PM Netanyahu addresses a summit of Christians United for Israel in Washington, DC, July 23, 2018. (Twitter)
PM Netanyahu addresses a summit of Christians United for Israel in Washington, DC, July 23, 2018. (Twitter)

Israel will continue to speak out for and defend Christians being persecuted by Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a conference of pro-Israel US Evangelicals.

“Sadly, some countries don’t respect Christians. In Iran, Christians are brutally persecuted,” he said in a satellite address to the annual summit of Christians United For Israel in Washington, DC.

“Christian pastors have spent years in prison,” Netanyahu said. “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.”

“Why are so many people silent as Christians are jailed and tortured in Iran?” he asked.

“Well, I can say this: we in Israel will not be silent, and I will continue to raise the plight of the long-suffering Iranian people: Christians, Bahai’i, students, journalists,” the prime minister went on. “Iran’s regime is a point of darkness in the Middle East. Israel is a point of light.”

Israel is “the only country for thousands of miles where Christians not only survive, they thrive,” Netanyahu said. “Christian holy sites are protected and Christian worship is done without fear. Christians have achieved incredible heights in Israel.”

Christians United For Israel, founded and led by Pastor John Hagee, has millions of members and calls itself the “largest pro-Israel grassroots organization in the United States.” The event that started Monday is its largest summit ever.

The organization is said to have been a major factor in US President Donald Trump’s 2017 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there.

“Thank you President Trump, and thank [you to] our many, many Christian friends around the world, for recognizing this basic truth,” Netanyahu said.

Christians know a “fundamental truth,” he added: “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 wrapped up his five-minute speech by thanking the conference delegates for supporting Israel.

“You are truly among our greatest friends in the world. I cherish that friendship, and I cherish your solidarity,” he said.

Other speakers at the two-day conference include US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, Senators Ted Cruz, Lindsay Graham and Tom Cotton, and several other congressmen.

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