Israel's first-ever International Christian Media Summit was held in Jerusalem on October 15-18, 2017. 130 Christian media broadcasters, publishers, journalists and communicators from over 70 Christian media outlets, the majority of which are evangelical, attended it.
The conference was part of a series of Israel's celebrations to the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. The sponsor hoped that Christian media associates from 30 countries on five continents would become unofficial ambassadors for Israel. It expected the summit to strengthen the country's communication and friendship with Christians worldwide.
The conference received the official support of Israel and its capital. In the opening ceremony, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the coming of the media staff with gratitude for Christian friendship with Israel in a speech. "The Christian communities across the world are the best friends of Israel." He stated that the country values freedom of religion and people with different religious beliefs live there, including Christians who survive and thrive. He wanted the Christian media outlets to share the stories of Israel with more people.
Zeev Elkin, Israeli Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Minister of Immigration Absorption, addressed on Oct 16 that there were long Judaic traditions and Christian traditions in Jerusalem, which were important legacies and that the culture of the city played an essential role in shaping the Christian faith and biblical traditions. "Jerusalem was and is an important part of Christian faith."
Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem, stated at a special dinner that evening that Jerusalem was a special city built more than two thousand years ago and its vision was to become a city for worshiping God. The city where people with different religions and cultures live owing to historical reasons faced many divisions and conflicts. "My job is to make these become good things...live together with respect for difference."
President Reuven Rivlin hosted the attendants for lunch at his residence on the last day of the four-day event. Rivlin declared that he was a son of Jerusalem and the great-grandfather of his great-grandfather lived here. His forefathers left Lithuania for Jerusalem over two centuries ago. Fifty years ago, Jerusalem was reunited. He and many other Jews came back to the city and built it as a city blended with modern innovation and ancient inspiration.
What was more, he said that it was significant for people with different religions to live together in Jerusalem. Comparing Jerusalem to a microcosm, the president claimed,"If Jews, Muslims and Christians can live together in Jerusalem, we can do it all over the Middle East." He felt proud that Israel advocates freedom of religion for people of different faiths and promised that the country will remain safe as a holy place of all religions.
The conference included themed speeches and discussion for three mornings and the participants communicated and talked on key topics related to Israel and Christians.
The lectures on the first morning were given around the terrorism challenge Israel faces, the country's diversified society, and the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. A discussion on Israel's fight against radical Islam was conducted as well.
The second morning focused on "Israel in the eyes of the media", concerning false reports on Israel by the international community and how to report the Middle East from its own perspective.
Themes around Israel and Christian media, the relations between Jewish people and Christians in Israel, and factors impacting the future of the country were discussed on the last day.
In addition to these, the attendants visited historical relics and archaeological finds like the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Israel Museum, the City of David, and a cultural performance featured in Jewish traditions, etc. They also visited Jewish settlements on the west bank of the Jordan River and took tours to non-violent peace centers organized by people of different faiths.
- Translated by Karen Luo