Ukraine war shows need for Israel to have friends, MK says

Knesset Christian Allies Caucus launched for 18th year

SHAS MK Ya'acov Margi speaks during a debate over the Film Law in the Knesset Education, Culture and Sport Committee  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
SHAS MK Ya'acov Margi speaks during a debate over the Film Law in the Knesset Education, Culture and Sport Committee
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has highlighted for Israel the importance not only of diplomacy but of friendship, Shas MK Ya’acov Margi said on Monday at this year’s opening meeting of the Knesset Christians Allies Caucus.

“No less important than the work of the Foreign Ministry is your friendship,” said Margi, who is set to head the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee. “Your friendship is a critical piece of Israel’s security, especially in these troubling times.”

Dozens of Jewish and Christian leaders from Israel and around the world attended the opening meeting of the caucus, which is celebrating its 18th birthday. The mission of the caucus, according to its website, is to build direct lines of “communication, cooperation and coordination” between Knesset members and their Christian colleagues abroad.

“Faith-based diplomacy is the most effective weapon Israel has in its arsenal today,” said caucus director Josh Reinstein.

Without faith-based diplomacy, he said, the US, Honduran and Guatemalan embassies would not have been moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and Israel would not have been able to maintain its observer status at the African Union.

(From left) MK Ya’akov Margi, Keren Hayesod World Chairman Sam Grundwerg, Pastor Larry Huch holding his lifetime achievement award, Pastor Tiz Huch, MK Sharren Haskel, MK Orit Farkash Hacohen and Knesset Christian Allies Caucus Director Josh Reinstein (credit: LARRY HUCHMINSTRIES)(From left) MK Ya’akov Margi, Keren Hayesod World Chairman Sam Grundwerg, Pastor Larry Huch holding his lifetime achievement award, Pastor Tiz Huch, MK Sharren Haskel, MK Orit Farkash Hacohen and Knesset Christian Allies Caucus Director Josh Reinstein (credit: LARRY HUCHMINSTRIES)

“It was Christians like you who brought representatives to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and said, ‘We want Israel there,’ and President Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi stood strong,” Reinstein said.

This year’s caucus is one of the largest in the Knesset, with representatives from eight political parties from across the political map, including co-chairs Sharren Haskel (New Hope) and Yuli Edelstein (Likud).

There are more than 50 allied caucuses around the world that include 1,200 legislators.

Even as the world focuses on Iran and recovery from the corona pandemic, “we must not lose focus on the threat of Iran,” said Haskel. “We cannot let them hide behind a smokescreen or take advantage of what is happening in Europe.”She said that the Iranian nuclear deal being discussed would not prevent it from gaining nuclear weapons.“Iran is a threat to Israel, its neighbors and the entire world,” Haskel said. “Your voice is important here, and your support for Israel is greatly appreciated.”

Haskel cited the work of Christian supporters of Israel in combating a recent report by Amnesty International that labeled Israel an apartheid state, and in fighting the BDS movement and antisemitism.

“You are the ambassadors of truth on behalf of Israel,” she said.

Several Christian leaders also spoke at the meeting, including Bishop Glenn Plummer, who serves as the “Bishop of Israel” for the General Assembly of the Church of God in Christ. He and his wife moved to Israel about a year ago to “say to Israelis and the world that there are millions of African Americans who are unapologetically standing with Israel and supporting Israel.”

Palestinian Christian spiritual leader Dr. Naim Khoury, who runs a church in Bethlehem, shared his focus on bringing unity between Israel and Christian communities worldwide.

“As a Christian Palestinian, I am so thankful to find in the word of God the promises of God to God’s chosen people,” he said. “God made a covenant with Abraham, and no one can change it or erase it.”