PM met with Kenya’s Christian communities supportive of Israel; Netanyahu: Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Christianity is thriving, expanding and safe.
Prime Minister Netanyahu met with members of Christian communities supportive of Israel while in Kenya, speaking to the group as part of his four-day tour in Africa. The group greeted the Prime Minister by blowing shofars, carrying Israeli flags and singing songs in Hebrew.
Netanyahu began by personally inviting the group to Israel, speaking of the future of Israel’s relations with Africa, particularly in the areas of agriculture and water, and reaffirming Israel’s commitment to continue to assist Africa with Israel’s innovation and technology, relating the struggles Israel faced during its establishment due to limited natural resources to Africa’s similar challenges.
He started speaking to the group by asking them who had and had not visited Israel, stating, “those who of you who were, come again- those of you didn’t come, come [for] the first time. You’ll visit Jerusalem, you will visit Nazareth, you will come to the Sea of Galilee. Well, the Sea of Galilee, this year I think our water situation is good, but it goes up and down- by the way we solved Israel’s water problem, it doesn’t make a difference if it goes up or down because we make water!’’ the crowd cheering and clapping in unison.
He then told the story of the discovery of a fishing boat at the Sea of Galilee, “One season the water went down and on the mud banks of the Sea of Galilee, one member of a kibbutz saw something odd… it looked like a piece of wood. They brought the archeologists and they found that it was a boat, an ancient boat… It’s a fishing boat. And they carbon dated it and it’s right at the time of Jesus…When you come you’ll see it. I can’t tell you that Jesus was on the boat, but I can tell you that boat was in the time of Jesus, in the same place, in the Galilee. Capernaum, all the places you read about in the Bible- these are real places and they speak to you and they speak to us.”
He went on to state, “We came back to the land of Israel and realized the dreams of the prophets, of the ingathering of the exiles and the big light shines from Jerusalem and I am glad to have had the opportunity, the privilege really, to meet you. We have no better friends in the world, none! We appreciate this friendship and we are expanding it into the continent of Africa.
He spoke of his meeting with African heads of state during a summit in Uganda in which he described “a remarkable meeting in Uganda hosted by the President of Uganda, six other African leaders including President Kenyatta there. Seven leaders from seven African countries talking about how to expand Israel’s relationship with their countries, but with all the countries of Africa,” adding “Israel is coming back to Africa. Africa is coming back to Israel… And I believe that this is important for all Africans, Christians, Muslims- all Africans, because we want to see Africa be the success story it can be and we want to be part of it… In everything- in water in agriculture, in dairy production… We produce water. We have substantial decline in rainfall since the establishment of modern Israel. And our population had grown ten times and our GDP per capita has grown 40 times. We should have a big water problem but we don’t, we have a water surplus. We have a water surplus because we’ve developed ingenuity to overcome this. And we are eager to share all of this with our African friends. This is the importance of this meeting.”
He referred to Kenya and President Kenyatta as true friends of Israel and announced Israel’s commitment “to continue and expand this relationship here and in the other countries. But at the heart of it, the connection with the people is a very sound idea, it’s the right idea and that’s why I am expecting you in Jerusalem.”
Ending his speech he stated, “And I have one other thing to tell you- we have a common heritage. And I want you to know that we view it beyond expedience. We view it as something that defines who we are and what we are.” He then spoke of the struggle and persecution Christians face in the Middle East, stating “in the Middle East today, unfortunately, the attitude towards Christians and Christianity is not a good one. You see what is happening with Daesh [Islamic State] in Iraq, what is happening to Christian communities and to the Yazidis and others,” Netanyahu said. He then spoke of Christianity in Israel, stating “There is one place in the Middle East where the Christian community is not only not shrinking, it’s thriving and it’s expanding and it’s safe, and it’s welcome and that place is Israel. You’re welcome in Israel. I’d like to receive you there, in Jerusalem.”