Knesset Christian caucus honors Hungarian journalist for balanced Cast Lead coverage

Knesset Christian caucus

sandor nemeth (photo credit: )
sandor nemeth
(photo credit: )
While European Union foreign ministers were passing resolutions dealing with the fate of Jerusalem in Brussels on Tuesday night, the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus and World Jewish Congress honored a European who has helped improve Israel's image on the continent. In a reception at Jerusalem's Inbal Hotel, MKs from across the political spectrum paid tribute to Sandor Nemeth, the founder and senior pastor of Faith Church in Budapest, who is also a senior producer at AGRO TV, an influential Hungarian news network that is watched throughout eastern Europe. During Operation Cast Lead last winter, Nemeth insisted that the network portray the IDF's invasion of Gaza as a defensive maneuver to protect Israeli civilians after thousands of Palestinian rocket attacks. The reports emphasized that other nations would have reacted the same way, if not more harshly. The channel's coverage inspired other media in eastern Europe to report the conflict similarly. Hungary ended up being one of only 18 countries that voted against advancing the Goldstone Report that alleged Israeli war crimes in the Gaza Strip during the operation. Christian Allies Caucus director Josh Reinstein said his organization decided to honor a European for the first time, because Nemeth was part of an emerging pro-Israel European leadership. "We hope that by honoring him and the work that he has done, it will encourage other Christian leaders in Europe to stand up and increase support for Israel," Reinstein said. "He went beyond the call with his fair and balanced portrayal of the Gaza incursion. While other European media was biased, he portrayed it as defensive, and that caused other stations in Europe to follow suit and change their narrative. This brought support for Israel in Europe in ways we haven't seen in quite some time." Nemeth said he had always been philosemitic, but he was prevented from visiting Israel and other Western countries while Hungary was under Communist control. Since the Iron Curtain fell, he has made a point of visiting the Jewish state at least once a year. "I do whatever I can to support the State of Israel out of inner convictions and deep faith," Nemeth said. "My motivations are spiritual and moral. I was surprised to win this award. But if I can do to my little part in my small country, and it is recognized in Israel, it is encouraging." Nemeth said he was moved by a visit to Sderot in May 2008, the day after a Kassam rocket attack. He visited the family whose home was hit and heard how their child was miraculously saved. Two months later, he arranged for 50 children from Sderot to vacation at Hungary's Lake Balaton. Asked about Israel's negative image in Europe, Nemeth said that the Holocaust still inspired Europeans to support the Jewish state, but he was troubled by the strengthening of Islamic extremists in western Europe and neo-Nazis in the east. "Countries like Germany, Hungary and Poland have a moral obligation to stand with Israel," Nemeth said. "The people feel shame about what their forefathers did to the Jewish people and they have drawn the right conclusions and supported Israel. More and more people in Europe realize that without a strong Israel, the massacre of the Jewish people would continue." Established in 2004 by the late MK Yuri Shtern, the caucus comprises 17 Knesset members and is currently chaired by Israel Beiteinu MK David Rotem. It aims to forge direct lines of communication between Knesset members and Christian leaders, organizations and political representatives in Israel and around the world. At the event, the caucus, together with the Tourism Ministry, also honored Michael Little, president of the US-based Christian Broadcasting Network, for his contribution to Israeli tourism.