It may have been destiny – or prophecy – that orchestrated US President Donald Trump to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem, the same year as Israel’s 70th anniversary.
But whatever conviction one holds regarding the forces that created such apt timing for this event, Christian Broadcasting Network’s CEO, Gordon Robertson, does know one thing for certain: This is a time of celebration.
“I think it’s a wonderful time to celebrate. Certainly, 70 years has biblical significance, whether its the period of exile – what Jeremiah predicted and Daniel later interpreted – so here we are 70 years after the founding of Israel in 1948,” Robertson told The Jerusalem Post Magazine.
“I think [this move] is monumental and long overdue.
Israel is a sovereign state, and as a sovereign state, it has the right to designate its own capital. Israel is unique in the world, the only sovereign state in the world that has designated a capital that other countries do not recognize,” he explained.
“This is a time to celebrate in Jerusalem,” he asserted.
And to celebrate Jerusalem is exactly what CBN has planned on May 13, when it will host a landmark event commemorating Israel’s birthday. The gala event, which was organized in cooperation with The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, will be a night full of songs and rousing speeches highlighting Israel’s myriad of accomplishments.
Headlining the show, which will be held in Jerusalem’s Henry Crown Symphony Hall – the home of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra – is iconic singer Pat Boone.
“Pat Boone has been a long-standing, staunch supporter of Israel. To have a concert with him, what will be his farewell concert and have the Jerusalem Philharmonic Orchestra accompanying him, should make for a wonderful night,” he said. “I hope everyone that attends the concert will have a wonderful night of celebration honoring Israel’s 70 years.”
Boone will be joined by Shiri Maimon, Israel’s Eurovision finalist in 2005, David Broza and American singer and songwriter of Greek heritage Dino Kartsonakis as well as other dignitaries like Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky and International Fellowship of Christians and Jews president Yechiel Eckstein.
Like the Sabras (native Israelis) on stage, Boone feels at home in the Jewish state and has a long history of supporting the country and the Robertson family.
“Pat Boone approached us saying how often he’s been to Israel, how he’d been honored by the prime minister, who jokingly referred to him as ‘Speedy Gonzalez,’ because that was one of his biggest hits in the ’60s. I thought he’d be great at the event. We just love Pat Boone, he’s been a friend of my father’s for five decades and we just wanted to honor him and honor his tribute to Israel,” he said, referring to his father Pat Robertson.
Robertson hopes the night will shed light on Israel’s major contributions to the world across a variety of sectors from hi-tech to agriculture to medicine to humanitarian aid across the world, which he refers to as “the untold story” about Israel. He is fascinated and proud of Israel’s desire and ability to stick its neck out and help the less fortunate.
“Here is a country that is criticized almost on a daily basis and then critiqued routinely at the UN. Despite all that, Israel reaches out with compassion to the countries surrounding it as well as to disaster victims around the world,” he said, praising the country’s ability to turn the other cheek. “So whether it’s disasters after an earthquake like in Haiti or after the horrible typhoon in the Philippines or the Syrian refugees who wash up to the shores in Greece or Palestinian children that need heart surgery – Israel is there and providing much-needed help and assistance to people in need.”
CBN spotlighted that effort in its most recent documentary, To Life: How Israeli Volunteers Are Changing the World. The film, which was released last month, follows five Israeli organizations helping those in times of crisis. For CBN, one objective of these films is to help turn the tide against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
“With the films that CBN has put out, we had the tremendous success of In Our Hands last year, which was told from the point of view of the 55th paratroopers. That film exceeded all of my expectations.
I think when Christians in the United States or anyone understands the history of Israel and the League of Nations created the establishment of the Jewish state as a worthy goal – how the UN incorporated all the League of Nations resolutions into their original charter – when you understand all of that history, you become inoculated to the propaganda coming out from the BDS movement,” he said.
And while it is those BDS proponents, and some moderates, who blasted Trump’s embassy move, Robertson is pleased that critics so far have been proved wrong.
“It’s always been put off by this fear of what would happen in the ‘Arab street.’ The reaction, I don’t think, was what everyone expected,” he said. “Now we have a situation where the status of Jerusalem has been taken off the table in negotiations.”
Robertson has a rich personal history with Jerusalem. His first visit to Israel took place nearly 50 years ago and his memories of are fond ones and have only become more so over time.
“I remember Tel Aviv in 1969, the transformation of that city into a major world center for hi-tech and a variety of industry – it’s a city bustling with anticipation,” he recalled. “Jerusalem, the Old City hasn’t changed much, what was a fairly sparse neighborhood around Jerusalem has now been filled and its wonderful to see.” This article was written in cooperation with The Christian Broadcasting Network.