Jonathan Hessen, TV7 Israel News
It’s important to know what’s going on in Israel, but there are many voices trying to spin the stories of the nation. If you’re looking for a reliable Israeli news broadcast, we recommend TV7 Israel News! Produced by believers, it is the only evangelical Christian news entity that is broadcast from Jerusalem and shared with the world.
Our guest on today’s show is Jonathan Hessen, CEO and editor-in-chief of TV7 Israel News. As a Christian Israeli born and raised in the Holy Land, Jonathan is driven to provide accurate reporting of what’s really going on in Israel from a biblical worldview. He speaks with Chris this week about the good work his organization carries out in Jerusalem and explains why it’s so important for you to have a true knowledge of what’s happening in Israel from the reports of faithful believers!
Check out TV7 Israel News at https://www.tv7israelnews.com/.
Steve Conover: Hello, and welcome to the Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. With me is our host and teacher Chris Katulka. With the Hanukkah season quickly approaching, you can surprise your Jewish friends with a Hanukkah gift box shipped directly to their door. Every festive gift box is loaded with Israeli goods like honey, chocolate, tahini, and spices. You can savor Israeli flavors while showing support to your Jewish friends. Order yours at foi.org/giftbox.
Chris Katulka: Steve, today we have a great program. We have Jonathan Hessen, who is the CEO and the Editor In Chief of TV7 Israel News. This is such a unique news agency because it's actually run and organized by Messianic Jewish believers from Jerusalem, so they're bringing a real unique perspective of what's going on in Israel, from a Christian perspective of someone who's grown up in the land. And so Jonathan's going to talk about TV7 Israel News what that means to him and why he thinks this is so important for Christians to be a part of.
Steve Conover: We look forward to it. But first in the news, ynetnews reports Israeli Defense Force Generals traveled to the Sinai for a rare public meeting with their Egyptian counterparts. During the committee meeting an amendment was signed on an agreement increasing the presence of Egyptian security forces, this in the Rafah area, the border between Egypt and the Palestinians in Gaza. The Egyptian Intelligence Chief is also expected to visit Jerusalem soon to present a proposal for a prisoner swap deal with Hammas.
Chris Katulka: Steve, this is interesting because Rafah is the only border gate that sits between the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza. And so this has become a really big problem for Egypt because there are a lot of radical Muslim groups that are doing training in the Sinai Peninsula. So this is really big news that Egypt and Israel are partnering together, and that Egypt is promising to increase security. What this is going to do for Israel is really take some of that tension off for providing safety in the region, in the Sinai Peninsula. So this is a great thing to see that Egypt and Israel are working together for the benefit of both of their countries.
Chris Katulka: I am so excited to have Jonathan Hessen with us online, from Israel, actually. Jonathan Hessen is TV7 Israel's CEO and Editor In Chief. He comes from a strong Christian background. Jonathan, great to have you on the program.
Jonathan Hessen: I appreciate it, Chris. It's a blessing to be part of your show.
Chris Katulka: So Jonathan, first of all, let's cut right to the chase for everybody. Let's tell our listeners about the uniqueness of TV7 Israel News. What is it? Why is it unique? And why should our listeners go to your website?
Jonathan Hessen: Well, first and foremost, news is news. The question is how is it delivered, and by whom, and to what do the listeners or viewers of the programming actually trust, put their trust in, in the people delivering it? And that is something unique about TV7 Israel News. We're believers who come together daily to gather the news, to communicate with our sources, with the different people on the ground, to go to the locations that are necessary in order to then package it in a way that would be understandable for the viewers all over the world, basically. And then highlighting the topic that we believe should be prayed for.
So we always pray every morning with the staff that the Lord will guide us in what programs, in what topics, and what focus he would like us to put. And as such the moment we touch on the news, it says, or there was a US Senator called Hiram Johnson who in 1918 actually said that, "The first casualty of war is truth." Now we know that God is truth, and that He is the only one who defines truth through His Word. And therefore we have the responsibility to provide the big picture rather than just omit all kinds of parts in order to tamper with the opinions of the public, so to speak. So through that, the Lord has really led us to bring about this reality, which started with the news, but today we have accumulated already 10 programs.
Chris Katulka: Wow.
Jonathan Hessen: And we are still growing more and more, which not only includes TV7 Israel News and other panels and senior practitioners who are part of TV7 Israel. But rather, we also try to utilize the millions of viewers who tune in every day to our programs and to encourage them to search what is the gospel about? Who is Jesus? And we're very vocal about our faith. News is news, so we can't insert what is not in the news, but we are able to be consistent in our faith, to walk and project the love of Christ through that, and it's truly a privilege and I'm humbled to be able to serve in such a capacity.
Chris Katulka: Jonathan, when we're talking about the news, I know that our listeners, if they keep up with Israeli news, they're going to Jerusalem Post, they're going to the Times of Israel, they're going to ynetnews. These are places that people go to get their resources and their news for what's going on in Israel. But what makes you unique is that you provide a Christian perspective on what's going on. And even more unique is a Christian perspective of an Israeli who was born and raised in the land. Can you talk about that a little bit?
Jonathan Hessen: Absolutely. My VP is actually somebody I know from kindergarten who we went to the Messianic school together, and every Saturday we used to go to the congregation and play together and praise God together. So, my background in the military as a special operations service member, Yetyir, who I just spoke about, was a captain in the Armors Corps, and we have our family backgrounds, our connections, if you may, with multiple people who are very senior up the ladder, and by the way, some of which are also believers, but we cannot always unveil that. For obvious reasons, to some, others may not understand this, but we're not in a Christian country.
Chris Katulka: Yes.
Jonathan Hessen: So some angles to this may be challenging. Nonetheless, the uniqueness ultimately is that we come with a purpose of delivering information so the body of the Messiah around the world can join together in prayer, that He may guide our leaders to make the right choices in accordance with His will, that we may understand as believers, the timepiece that we are experiencing in front of us, to really understand how to partake in the spiritual warfare that is as significant, and in my opinion, even more significant, than the physical one.
Chris Katulka: Yeah.
Jonathan Hessen: So the uniqueness of us as believers, of our capacity to serve, is we believe that we're here to establish this connection between the body around the world and the body here in Israel, and ultimately understand that God is in control.
Chris Katulka: Yeah.
Jonathan Hessen: Nonetheless, we also need to understand that we as the body need also to act in order to proclaim that Jesus is Lord, and to be an example to our surrounding in doing so. The TV7 Israel News is the only Christian news entity broadcast from Jerusalem to the world.
Chris Katulka: Wow.
Jonathan Hessen: There is no other in this capacity. There are reporters here who are serving Christian channels and small production teams, but not in this scale, not in this level of operation.
Chris Katulka: Does your program also go out? For us, if somebody's listening right now and they want to see TV7 Israel News, they can go to tv7isralenews.com. But, Jonathan, I'm thinking, is your program on the televisions of Israelis around the country as well? Are they tuning in to be able to watch news from a Messianic perspective?
Jonathan Hessen: So we are currently focused on reaching out to the world from Jerusalem, and specifically, however, our vision is to expand and become the first Messianic slash Christian.
Chris Katulka: Yeah.
Jonathan Hessen: Channel from Jerusalem to the world.
Chris Katulka: Wow.
Jonathan Hessen: And this of course also includes Israel, our backyard. But with that being said, we're currently on 17 separate channels going throughout the entire Pacific to Europe, where we initially started and directed our focus to, as well as Africa and we have in each continent and several millions following. There are a few smaller channels, regional channels in the United States who have asked us to take some of the productions and air them there, but we're working right now, in addition to, as you mentioned, tv7israelnews.com, to launch a 24/7 Christian broadcast from Jerusalem to the nations, by Israeli Christians and also foreign Christians, brothers and sisters in Christ joining together to serve the Lord in this medium.
Chris Katulka: Jonathan, that's fantastic. I have one more question before we take a quick break. You actually had to go to the Israeli government, you had to become an active member of the Israeli Government Press Office, the GPO. You're a member of the Foreign Press Association. Given that you're a believer in the Lord Jesus, was it difficult at all? Did you get any pushback from the Israeli government for the type of program that you're putting together, the news agency that you're putting together?
Jonathan Hessen: It's really amazing, but we haven't had any pushback whatsoever. The Lord is really good. He opened the right doors. He introduced us to the right people. I must confess that my late father, who was also a pastor in Jerusalem, was the Editor In Chief of Kol Yisrael in Arabic language.
Chris Katulka: Wow.
Jonathan Hessen: Which is the biggest radio station here in Israel. And he was also an advisor to different Prime Ministers in Israel and has served Israel since the early days, under actually Ben-Gurion.
Chris Katulka: Wow.
Jonathan Hessen: Being the assistant to his chief advisor, Professor [Goytin 00:11:53]. So it is a family background. I've had also uncles in Parliament and such, so they always provided me the backing necessary, even though they're not believers, they still support it.
Chris Katulka: Yeah.
Jonathan Hessen: And I'm praying for their salvation as well. Nonetheless, it's really humbling to see that today we have reached such a high level in the quality of what we do, at least what they tell us, that we have former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, who was also Deputy Foreign Minister of the State of Israel together with a former Deputy National Security Advisor and head of all strategic affairs planning for the state of Israel, jointly co-panel our Middle East review.
Chris Katulka: Amazing.
Jonathan Hessen: Then we have other productions, including Jerusalem studio, where one of the top experts on intelligence, who has served as a journalist in Israel for so many years, has joined us as a permanent panelist. We have Generals from all across the board, from the intelligence community, from governments, ministers, coming to get interviewed in TV7 because not only believers listen apparently, but also the holes of power throughout the world. We get messages from the Prime Minister's office in Greece and in Turkey speaking about how they keenly observe what we're doing. We have emissaries join and come and sit with us.
Jonathan Hessen: So God is really utilizing TV7 here in Jerusalem. And honestly, we as the body of Christ, to really provide quality information that will meet the standards far beyond what we're accustomed to today in the secular media.
Chris Katulka: Yeah. Listen, we're going to take a quick break, but if you're listening right now and you'd like to see TV7 Israel News and be a part of what they're doing, you can go to TV7israelnews.com. And there you can watch online, you can read the articles that are being put up there. And when we come back, I'm going to ask Jonathan why it's important for Christians, us, to keep up with news that's coming out of Israel. Be sure to stick around.
Chris Katulka: Over the last year, we've witnessed ongoing strife for our Jewish friends. In a time where it's easy to spew hate, we as Christians have an opportunity to offer our Jewish friends a gift of love. This Hanukkah, you can surprise your Jewish neighbors, teachers, coworkers, and friends by shipping a Hanukkah gift box directly to their door. Every festive gift box is loaded with Israeli goods like honey, chocolate, tahini, spices, and more. Celebrate this Hanukkah season and savor Israeli flavors with one of our hand packed and shipped Hanukkah gift boxes.
Steve Conover: The deadline to order is quickly approaching, it's this November 18th. Order yours today at foi.org/giftbox. Again, that's foi.org/giftbox.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back everybody. We are with Jonathan Hessen, TV7 Israel News' CEO and Editor In Chief. Jonathan, great to have you. Hey, listen, Jonathan, we only have a few moments remaining, but why is it important? I mean, this is what you're at the hub of. Your aim, as it says on your website, is to provide Christians with the required knowledge of how to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. I love that. But why is it important Christians to keep up with what's coming out of Israel when it comes to the news? I think this is very important.
Jonathan Hessen: We're living, I believe, that we're living in the latter days, where we can see all the various events take place right in front of our eyes. Some may say if you open your book to Ezekiel in 38, 39, you suddenly start reading the newspaper as if it's today. So really comprehending the time pieces, all those prophecies of old, all the various signs and tells that the Lord speaks about, they're there for us to recognize. And in order to recognize that it grants us also the opportunity to partake in the spiritual warfare for the peace of Jerusalem, as you said. In Hebrew, it actually says “Sha’alu Shalom Yerushalayim,” “ask for the peace of Jerusalem, “[Hebrew],” you will receive the piece of the Lord if you love the city.
Chris Katulka: Yes.
Jonathan Hessen: And it further continues at the end of the Psalm that, “I will do so. I will seek your peace for the sake of my brethren and the people who are close to my heart.” And this is a literal translation from Hebrew because I read my Bible in Hebrew.
Chris Katulka: That's right. I'm hearing it.
Jonathan Hessen: Yeah. But the Lord is good. And the reason He granted us all those tells of when the Lord may return, nobody knows when our heavenly Father will deem the time appropriate for Jesus to take us once again to Him, but we know that He's in control and He has granted us the signs and understanding to be relaxed, to know that He's in control, to know that the latter days are here so we can expect that we need to be prepared. We need to be like those five virgins who the oil is still lit in their candles. And just a final point, praying for the peace of Jerusalem, asking for the peace of the city. It is a city of contention, where all various aspects of spiritual warfare is conducted to claim the city. And we know who prevails at the end, but it is also our responsibility to share the gospel and to reach out to all those who do not know Jesus. And therefore it is also important to know how.
Chris Katulka: Yes. Jonathan, I always like to bring a contemporary way of seeing the ladies who were supposed to be waiting for the bridegroom and keeping their oil lamps full, which means you were able to have light for when he would come at any moment. And I always like to bring a more contemporary outlook of always making sure to keep your phone charged. You don't want it to die on you. And for our listeners, you can right now go on your phones and you can go to tv7israelnews.com, right there. And you can start watching the news that's coming out of Israel from a unique perspective, a evangelical Christian perspective, that's rooted in the people who love the Lord Jesus, right in Jerusalem, that are bringing it to you here, whether you're in the United States, Canada, or wherever you are around the world.
Chris Katulka: So I want to encourage you to go to tv7israelnews.com to keep up with what's coming out of Israel. As Bible believing Christians, we really hold fast to the Genesis 12:3, "I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you." God still has his hand on Israel and the Jewish people. And they, really, if you will want to know what God's doing in these latter days, as Jonathan was talking about, we look at what's going on in Israel. Jonathan, thank you so much for being with us, brother.
Jonathan Hessen: It is really humbling. And I thank you very much. And God bless.
Steve Conover: Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life and ministry of Holocaust survivor Zvi Kalisher.
Mike Kellogg: Recently, I found work in a Jerusalem hospital as a handyman. The day after I started working there, something happened that was a clear sign of the Lord's guidance. When I walked into one of the wards I saw a Polish Jew, a man about 50 years old, who had been in Israel for 35 years. He was in critical condition. I felt led to witness to him. The man told me the tragic story of how his family had been killed during the Arab pogrom in 1930 and Hebron.
"When my family perished," he said, "I was left alone, a teenage boy. I soon got into bad company with a gang of Arabs who smuggled morphine across the border. It was risky work, but they paid me well. In a short time, I became addicted to the dope I was smuggling, and would do anything to get it. My companions took advantage of this and sent me to the most dangerous assignments, mostly to Egypt and Lebanon. Only one day, the British police caught me and I was imprisoned for a year, desperately sick and craving morphine.
"After my release from prison, I had nowhere to go. So I returned to my old gang in Jaffa. They received me gladly and assigned me a new job. They bought camels from Bedouins and instructed me to drive the animals across the border into Egypt. At first, I could not understand why they were doing this, but I soon learned the reason. They were inserting in each camel's stomach, 15 bottles of morphine worth about $4,500. The cost of a camel was only about $25 to $30. When I took the camels to Egypt, their Egyptian partner would pay the high price of the morphine and kill the poor animals right away.
"By now I had enough money to indulge my vice, but I was caught again and handed over to a British court in Jerusalem. The judge was Jewish. I confessed everything and told them about my partners in crime. He sentenced me to three years in prison. Altogether, I've spent 10 years in prison, and now I am on my deathbed and no one cares to speak to me to relieve my anxious soul. You are the first person to listen."
I told him that I believed in the Living God, the judge of the living and the dead, and that because He loves us, He sent His own son to save sinners like us. All of a sudden, he began crying and said, "I'm unworthy of anyone telling me about God and His salvation." I told him, "Christ died for sinners that they may have eternal life. It's up to you to receive the Lord Jesus as your savior so that you may have that eternal life. This may be your last opportunity."
He then said, "Please pray for me," which I did. Then he looked at me and said, "Now I am ready to receive the Lord." He was very weak, but I was sure that he truly believed. I asked, "Do you believe that Jesus is your savior?" In a soft voice he answered, "Yes. And I'm ready to be with the Lord Jesus. I am no longer afraid because I will go home to Him."
When I said goodbye, his last words to me were, "You saved my life." The next morning, I was told that my friend had gone to his eternal home.
Steve Conover: Thank you for joining us today. It was a joy to have Jonathan Hessen with us. To learn more about TV7 and to support their efforts, visit tv7israelnews.com. To order a Hanukkah gift box, visit foi.org/giftbox, and remember you have until November 18th to do so.
Chris, where are we headed next week?
Chris Katulka: Thanksgiving is coming soon, so we're going to actually go to one of the first mentions of the word thanks. The Hebrew word for thanks is toda, and it's actually associated with what's called a Thanksgiving offering. And we're going to show you, right from the Scriptures, how the Jewish people gave thanks to the Lord. It's really an interesting connection to the Thanksgiving that we celebrate ourselves.
Steve Conover: Join us next time. Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold and I'm Steve Conover, Executive Producer. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry, proclaiming Biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
Apples of Gold: An Employee and a Witness
Zvi was working in a Jerusalem hospital. He saw a man that was in critical condition, and he felt led by the Lord to witness to him. Zvi listened as the man told him about his life. He had experienced tragic things but also made choices that had destroyed his life. Zvi shared with him about the Living God, the One who would judge for all their sins. Hear what happened next as this man heard the gospel.
The Friends of Israel Today theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
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