Editor's Note: We are sharing with you excerpts from the welcome statements by Dr. Mike Evans and President Shimon Peres delivered on September 8, 2015, at the Friends of Zion Heritage Center.
His Excellency, President Shimon Peres
Ladies and Gentlemen, dear Mike, dear friends, I want to thank you for joining this beautiful ceremony. Many of you have come to inaugurate a very special place. The Friends of Zion Museum is more than an exhibit. It is a monument.
In 1942, a Jewish volunteer in the British army was sent to Greece along with his brigade. Their mission was to sabotage a forming Nazi air force and push back the German occupation. Having fallen captive over the Nazi forces, he fled for his life and found a safe haven in a Greek monastery. There he was protected, fed, and hidden from the German authorities. The monks saved his life well knowing they were risking their own by hiding a Jew.
After having stayed at the monastery for a year, he decided to escape with a group of others. They fell hostage to the Luftwaffe, and the Germans discovered that he was Jewish. He was sentenced to be shot in front of other prisoners. Among the prisoners was an Australian priest. Just a moment before the Nazis were ordered to fire, the priest jumped out between the man and the firing squad. The priest said that this was a crime against the Geneva Conventions—that it would never be erased and that its executioners would have to live with it forever. He cried out in the name of humanity and saved the life of the Jewish man standing at a stake.
That man was my father, Yitzhak Perski. Under the general amnesty in Germany, the Australian priest was freed, and my father never learned his identity. But back home my father told me, my wife, and our children his incredible story. He told us of the courage of the monks when danger entered their lives. He told us about the courage of the Australian priest. The Talmud teaches us that he who saves a life saves a world.
The courageous men and women commemorated in this museum are heroes. The righteous among the nations are not a legend of the past; they are relevant to each and every one of us today. Not only do many of us owe them our existence, but all of us owe them humanity’s claim to righteousness. They embody human dignity, respect for human life, human courage, hope of humanity. The Friends of Zion, the Christian friends of Zion, exemplify morality, which keeps us human. Be human.
My friends, I have spent my whole life building this country. Zionism was not only a dream, it was a battle. Throughout history, our people have enjoyed the support of many from all around the world. The longer journey of Zionism is the dreamers of hope. Our friends throughout the centuries who stood with us and are not here made this remarkable nation possible. Among those friends is Mike Evans. The Christian friends I mentioned are chronicled in Mike’s remarkable book, but he has omitted his own name, which stands as a reproach to his editor.
Mike has shown the most outstanding commitment to the strengthening of the state of Israel. He, his family, his friends, have stood in the gap for the Jewish people for which I am so grateful in the name of our people. Mike, your vision has come true today, and your name is engraved in the House of the Friends of Zion both in stones and in our hearts. Thank you, Mike!
Ladies and gentlemen, what you and your friends have done here today is unprecedented and unmatched. It is reminding us that each of us, all of us, were created in the image of the Lord. I would like to end by sharing King David’s beautiful words: “The righteous will never be shaken. They will be remembered forever.” Thank you very much.
Dr. Mike Evans
Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for your support of the Friends of Zion Heritage Center. Zion is an amazing tale of two people groups—Jewish and non-Jewish. Jewish Zionists have been the most effective people group in history— mobilizing, uniting, inspiring, and activating support for the birth and defense of a Jewish state against all odds.
The second group of Zionists must also be remembered— non-Jewish Zionists. Prime Minister Netanyahu has said: “I don’t believe the Jewish state and modern Zionism would be possible without Christian Zionism.”
If I asked who was one of the founders of the Geneva Convention, the Red Cross, and was the first Nobel Peace Prize winner whom Herzl first coined as one of the first Christian Zionists, would you know his name? John Henry Dunant was a Swiss humanitarian who campaigned vigorously for the establishment of a Jewish state in 1867. Dunant was the dedicated Christian founder of the Red Cross and upon whose ideas the 1864 Geneva Convention was based. In 1867, he called for the founding of the Association for the Resettlement of Palestine. Herzl coined the term “Christian Zionist” on behalf of his friend, John Henri Dunant.
If I asked who was the Christian Zionist who led the first Jewish fighting force in 2,000 years—the Zion Mule Brigade—and who was the godfather of Jonathan Netanyahu and after whom Jonathan was named? It was John Patterson. Who was the Christian Zionist who trained Moshe Dayan and founded the night squads in 1938 and trained and commanded the Jewish fighting force that many believe gave birth to the idea of the IDF? It was Orde Wingate.
Who were the Dutch Christians who risked their lives to house and save the Anne Frank Family? Or another Dutch Christian family—the ten Booms—who began a weekly prayer meeting in 1844, which lasted for 100 years until 1944? They prayed for the Jewish people to be able to return to their land—until the family was taken to the concentration camps. Those are Christian Zionists of the past who we present in this museum.
There are presently hundreds of millions of Zionists worldwide. It may be shocking for you to hear that the vast majority of those men and women are not Jewish. Israel’s friends are a thousand times greater than her enemies. It is time to focus on those friends.
Today’s Goliath is not a physical enemy, but a spiritual enemy. Demons do not clear customs. Ideas and computers pass through unchecked. Today’s newspapers and books have been largely replaced by social media. Knowledge is doubling worldwide every 13 months. With the expansion of the Internet, it will soon double every 12 hours.
Modern man speaks only one language—the language of computers that navigate the cyber-world.
Today, the depth of the book must compete with the speed of the screen. It hypnotizes but ultimately distorts. The Friends of Zion Heritage Center will address these issues through a research institute to unify Christian Zionists through a global communications network that will communicate in real time with Christians worldwide.
The Ambassador Institute will utilize mobile technology to train thousands of ambassadors to defend Zion. It will wage a public opinion war, economic war, and media war. BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] is just the beginning; the invisible wars are the most lethal. But they can be won with the strategic support of all Zionists—Jewish and nonJewish. Thank you.