- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Israel gives thanks

Israel may not celebrate Thanksgiving, but Israeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon gave thanks to America for supporting the Jewish nation when he visited a church in Texas this week.

“On behalf of my country, on behalf of the government and people of Israel, I am here to bring greetings to all of you and give thanks and gratitude for all that you are doing for the relationship between Israel and the United States, for strengthening Israel and also for the prayers in the name of God,” he told the congregation of San Antonio’s Cornerstone Church on Sunday.

Mr. Ayalon praised the 5,000 worshippers at the church’s annual “Night to Honor Israel,” saying, “It is really exhilarating, heartwarming and uplifting to see so many good people, faithful and God-loving people, who come together to celebrate the bond between the United States and Israel.”

The ambassador recalled the resilience of the Jewish people in the Holy Land throughout a history of persecution.

“We have been tried before so many times,” he said. “We have been attacked and expelled by Assyrians, Babylonians, the ancient Greeks, Rome and the Ottoman Empire.

“Now if you look at all these great nations of the past, all that is left of them is just a dead letter, an inscription in history. But we are still here.

“We are still here because this is God’s will. We are going to still be here because of our bond with you [and] because of all of your prayers and support.”

The ambassador called American Christian support for Israel “so important in this day and age.”

“It is a trying age for good and God-loving people,” he said. “It is a trying age for those who believe in liberty and democracy [and] for those who want to cherish and pray for God without being killed in the streets of Jerusalem or New York or Washington or Bali or anywhere else in the world.”

Mr. Ayalon’s appearance at the Texas church is the latest in Israel’s outreach campaign to American Christians. Tourism Minister Rabbi Benny Elon is returning to the United States next week to continue his contact with evangelical Christians.

Mr. Elon, a conservative member of the Israeli parliament, will be in Washington on Dec. 4 and then travel to Oklahoma to meet Gov. Brad Henry and address Jewish and Christian communities. In August, he visited several Southern states in what an aide called his “Bible Belt tour.”

“I am visiting the United States to continue to spread the message that tourists are continuing to visit [Israel]. While the ‘road map’ isn’t working, our Jewish and Christian friends stand by us and continue to visit,” he said, referring to the U.S.-backed Middle East peace plan that has been stalled.

Burns to Mideast

A top State Department official will try to help revive Middle East peace efforts when he visits Israel and the Palestinian territories this weekend.

William Burns, assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, is expected to also stop in Egypt before meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders who are promoting a new peace plan called the “Geneva Agreement,” a State Department official told Reuters news agency.

Mr. Burns plans to join Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on his trip next week to North Africa.

Hillary visits troops

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will spend Thanksgiving in Afghanistan, visiting American troops, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul announced yesterday.

The New York Democrat will visit soldiers of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division at Bagram air base, about 30 miles north of the capital.

“Her stated objective is to visit the troops on Thanksgiving,” an embassy spokeswoman told the Agence France-Presse news service.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]washingtontimes.com.


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