Christians tuned in to a love of Israel


A garden shed in Surbiton is not where you might expect to find a hotbed of fervent Zionism.

But it is here, behind a smart townhouse, that you find the British base of Revelation TV - an award-winning Christian channel watched by tens of thousands of supporters of Israel.

Not many within the Jewish community tune in to its range of shows, including one called Stand Up For Jesus. But the channel, founded in the mid 1990s, is dedicated to defending Israel and the Jewish people, and regularly hosts guests outspoken in their philosemitism. It is widely available, broadcast daily on Sky, Freeview and online.

The south-west London shed turned into a high-tech recording studio is occupied by Simon Barrett, host of the channel's Middle East Report. It is a weekly news programme in which the broadcast journalist interviews prominent figures from pro-Israel groups, religious organisations and the media.

"We want to implore viewers to stand with Israel and we wanted to bridge the gap between the Christian and Jewish communities," Mr Barrett explained.

"In so many churches the message of Israel has not been taught. Revelation TV founder Howard Conder took it upon himself to produce documentaries about Israel. The channel is a passionate supporter of Israel."

Mr Barrett fell in love with Israel after studying Middle East history at university. The three months he spent on an ulpan course in Israel "were the best experience of my life", he said. "I became immersed in the Jewish community."

The Hampshire-born presenter, who is a former Zionist Federation press and parliamentary officer, initially found himself behind the camera at Revelation TV, setting up interviews with Israeli politicians. He was soon fronting his own shows.

His big break came when he interviewed the then-Israeli ambassador to Britain, Ron Prosor, in front of a live studio audience. Since then his guests have included Knesset members, Israel's deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon and successive deputy ambassadors.

"At no point in the programme do we evangelise the Jewish people. It's a matter of mobilising support. Particularly in the recent Gaza conflict we have highlighted the media bias," he said.

That Revelation TV is the only television news network allowed to film inside the Israeli embassy in London is a source of considerable pride.

Some of the channel's programmes receive around 90,000 viewers on Sky every week, and its website records around one million hits a month. But its value, 39-year-old Mr Barrett believes, runs deeper than the viewing figures.

"In recent years we have seen the erosion of our Judeo-Christian heritage. Israel is under siege and Bible-believing Christians have also been side-lined.

"Christians have a duty to stand with the Jewish people in fighting antisemitism and supporting Israel. We are seeing the walls break down between the two communities. The Jewish people have given us our moral code and for that we are truly grateful."

Revelation chairman Gordon Petite echoed his view. "The Bible calls the Jewish people the 'apple of God's eye'. Those who God loves, we should love," he said.

"The history of previous wars that Israel has been drawn into has shown the media to be biased against Israel. There is a need for untruth to be exposed, and truth proclaimed. Revelation TV is seeking to do that."

Mr Barrett is due to continue his presenting duties after he takes over as communications director at Israel advocacy group Bicom next month. He believes there is great potential for cross-over work between the Jewish and Christian communities.

"Standing together we can be a strong force. It's important for society and the nation for us to stick together. We are two minority communities now."

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