Yitzhak Herzog was elected today as the new president of Israel. This position in Israel is symbolic and similar to the position of the queen of Britain. Herzog, Israel’s 11-th president comes from an Israeli 'royal family' as his father was the sixth president and his grandfather was the Chief Rabbi of Israel.
Herzog is a well-known politician and was once the leader of the labor party. He is a moderate politician that I respect.
I met Herzog in 2006 at Nazareth Village, where I served as a board member. Herzog was the Israeli minister of tourism and Nazareth Village is a farm and tourist attraction inside the city of Nazareth that tells the story of Jesus of Nazareth who lived in a first-century Jewish town.
Few board members and employees of Nazareth Village accompanied Mr. Herzog during his private visit to the farm. The following are some quotes from the visit that I recorded 15 years ago. The conversation was in Hebrew and the host was another board member, Dr. Nakhle Bishara, a medical doctor from Nazareth.
The conversation sadly shows Mr. Herzog's lack of knowledge about Christianity.
At the carpenter's house: "Yes, isn't this the house of the father of Jesus?" asked Mr. Herzog, trying to begin a conversation with his host.
And thus began a dialogue between the host and Mr. Herzog:
Herzog: Until what age did Jesus live in Nazareth?
Host: Until the age of 30.
Herzog: And, then he began the revolution?
Host: It was not exactly a revolution. He moved to the Jerusalem area and began his ministry.
Herzog: With Paul, no?
Host: No, it was Peter. Together they were 12 disciples
Herzog: Yes. I have heard of the twelve disciples.
Herzog: What do you say about the latest findings in the National Geographic? (Referring to the finding that Judah Iscariot did not betray Jesus)
Host: Well, this is not new. When the first council of the church met in the year 325 this was already known and they announced this as false teaching.
Herzog: Yes, I know. This meeting was done in the Vatican.
Host: No, the first council met in Nicaea. The Vatican did not become a center for Christianity until later on.
This happened 15 years ago. This lack of knowledge about Christianity is very typical to many people in Israel, including some very influential people. I hope Israel’s new “first citizen” invested the time needed in the last 15 years to learn more about Christianity and the person of Jesus Christ, as this knowledge is crucial to be the president of all citizens in Israel, including Christians.