Christians honor outgoing ambassador Ayalon [p.4]

In the first event of its kind, Christian supporters of Israel are organizing an evening to honor an outgoing Israeli ambassador. In mid-January, a coalition of Christian groups will mark the end of Ambassador Danny Ayalon's tenure in Washington. Ayalon concluded his term last month, but will return to the US capital for the event, to which US President George W. Bush has been invited. Improving relations with Christian supporters of Israel, particularly the strong evangelical bloc, was a priority of Ayalon's term. Once the foreign policy adviser to former prime minister Ariel Sharon, Ayalon was instructed by Sharon upon his selection to foster connections with the constituency. Ayalon told The Jerusalem Post that this event demonstrates the "cementing of ties" between Christians and Israel. "It celebrates the very close relations that have developed, especially in the last two years, between Christians and Jews in America on the basis of love of Israel and support for Israel, and a belief that a strong Israel is not only of special moral value, but also of strong importance to the peace, security and stability in the Middle East and beyond," he said. The January event is being organized by groups including the Christian Embassy and Love for Israel, Ayalon said.