Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reassured Diaspora Jews visiting Israel as part of the Birthright Taglit program that despite Iran's most recent threat against Israel and the looming danger it still poses, the Jewish state will continue to stand strong.
"Last week in Tehran, they put a clock counting down to Israel's destruction- but we will be here long after their theocratic tyranny is just a part of history," the premier told the men and women participating in Birthright's "Mega Event," which saw thousands of Diaspora Jews gather in central Israel on Sunday evening.
Netanyahu was referring to last week's erection of a digital clock that was unveiled in the Iranian capital during Al-Quds Day festivities. The clock does not tell time but instead is counting down to the destruction of Israel
, set for 2040. The date is inspired by a speech Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave in 2015 in which he threatened that the "Zionist regime will cease to exist in the next 25 years."
Israel is "a strong country ready to defend itself from threats and also reach out in peace for those wishing it," Netanyahu told participants in the event, which included benefactors of the Birthright program, partners and participants from the UK, Canada, Argentina and Israel.
The prime minister also made a statement that could be interpreted as a stab at pro-BDS advocates worldwide. "When they attack us, stand proud and say who you are with: the free people of Israel or those severing off heads? If you stand for the free, stand for Israel, for the truth."
"Tell everyone to come see it for themselves," Netanyahu encouraged listeners. "We will be waiting for you. This is your birthright," he continued.
The Birthright program encourages young Jews from across the world to visit Israel and learn about their heritage and roots. This summer marks a milestone for the program, who will facilitate the journey of 33,000 participants aged 18-26 to Israel for a 10-day trip.
Overall, 600,000 people have participated in the program since it was established in 1999.