Despite Tensions, Christians Keep Coming to Israel – And Giving Back

“For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat.” (Joel 3:1-2)

450 listeners of the Salem Radio Network gathered this week in Jerusalem for a historic “Stand with Israel” tour hosted by nationally syndicated radio personalities Mike Gallagher and Dennis Prager.

Salem is a leading media company serving a Christian and conservative audience. Both Prager and Gallagher broadcasted live shows from Jerusalem which aired on Salem’s 2,000 radio affiliates throughout the United States.

Unlike their previous tours to the Holy Land, “Stand with Israel” has a higher purpose, according to Salem President David Santrella. “This isn’t a vacation or a pilgrimage. We are not just here to see sites, but to make a statement and do something more,” he said.

One way Salem listeners did something more was by donating blood to Israel’s national blood bank coordinated by and in partnership with Heart to Heart. “Our listeners came here not asking what I can get, but what can I give? And the answer is: our blood,” Santrella told Breaking Israel News.

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Heart to Heart set up a blood drive at the Dan Jerusalem Hotel, which came at a critical time in light of the spate of recent stabbing attacks on the streets of Jerusalem.

However, in spite of the violence, “not only were there almost no cancellations” according to Santrella, listeners were especially eager to participate.

Apparently, “when blood is spilled, the desire to donate blood increases,” he said.

Jonathan Feldstein, director of Heart to Heart, discussed with radio host Dennis Prager the recent phenomenon of Christian Zionists donating blood and even ambulances to Heart to Heart.

When Feldstein mentioned in his interview that Pastor John Hagee just donated his ninth ambulance to Israel, the live studio audience erupted in applause. “The whole notion of Christians donating blood to Jews is very touching,” added Prager, himself Jewish, to his mostly Christian audience.

Radio personality Dennis Prager (l) interviews Jonathan Feldstein (r), director of Heart to Heart. (Photo: Courtesy)
Radio personality Dennis Prager (l) interviews Jonathan Feldstein (r), director of Heart to Heart. (Photo: Courtesy)

Other guests expressed their gratitude towards Evangelical Christian tourists, including former Israeli ambassador to the US, MK Michael Oren.

On air, Oren discussed with Prager that day’s meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama in Washington, but in a conversation with Breaking Israel News Oren remarked, “It is very important when Christians come to Israel, especially during these stressful times.

“In fact, during Operation Cast Lead back in 2008, I was on an El Al flight to Israel and looking around, I think I was the only Jew on a plane full of Christians.

“The Evangelicals never stop coming to Israel, even during times of tension.”

According to Heart to Heart’s Feldstein, the affection he sees between Jews and Christians is mutual and sincere. “I couldn’t believe how excited and effusive Mike Gallagher was in describing how meaningful it is for Christians to give blood and save lives in Israel,” he observed.

“Saving lives is a blessing. People are people, Jews, Arabs, Christians. Heart to Heart knows no boundaries in terms of which lives they save. They provide services to everybody. We are so proud to partner with Heart to Heart on this journey to Israel,” Gallagher said.

“I hope everybody will go to and do what you can to support Heart to Heart. One act can save three lives,” he continued.

Numerous Salem listeners rolled up a sleeve to donate blood, including Krecia Neese of San Antonio, Texas.

“I have the rarest of all blood types, A/B negative, which I wanted to donate in Jerusalem.” Neese explained to Breaking Israel News as her eyes welled up with tears, “but I love Israel, and I hope they never need to use it.”