Bibi: Christian Zionists Vital to Israel's Rebirth

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- The Christian bond with Israel grew stronger recently, but it didn't make international headlines. It did, however, lead Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to credit Christian Zionists with a crucial role in founding the modern State of Israel.

In the heart of Jerusalem overlooking the Old City, a windmill that has been a landmark for more than 150 years is working again, thanks to a team effort.

The Jerusalem Foundation, a group of Dutch Christians, and Israeli government ministries paid for the restoration work. That effort prompted praise for Christian Zionists from the prime minister.

"I don't believe that the Jewish state and modern Zionism would have been possible without Christian Zionism," Netanyahu said at the dedication ceremony. "I think that the many Christian supporters of the rebirth of the Jewish state and the ingathering of the Jewish people in the 19th century made possible the rise of Jewish Zionism."

Sir Moses Montefiore, a wealthy British Jew, established the windmill in the mid-1800s as part of the first Jewish settlements -- or suburbs -- outside the Old City walls.

Montifiore's great, great nephew Simon Montefiore, an historian and author, spoke with CBN News about the windmill's history.

"This is really the beginning of the new city, the modern city, the rebirth of Jerusalem," he said. "And so from this little windmill and these Montefiore cottages just outside the Jaffa Gate started all the suburbs around the Old City Walls and that grew into the huge modern city of Jerusalem."

During Israel's War of Independence, Jewish fighters used the windmill to defend the city.

In 1948, the British blew up the top of the windmill in what they called Operation Don Quixote. It was later repaired, but only for looks. It never worked again as a mill after that.

"From my Bible interest, I came [to] this country and almost every year I was here and I see the mill and I feel the pain of the mill and I think one day we have to give new life to the mill," windmill expert and Dutch Christian Gerrit Keunen told CBN News.

Keunen initiated the restoration project and got others involved.

"And I believe with the help of God -- and I think it's the plan of God -- to repair to restore the windmill because it's more than windmill, it's a symbol," Keunen said.

Dutch millwright Willem Dijkstra (pronounced Dike-stra) studied old photos and materials for the restorations before starting work on the windmill, which took about for about three months.

"It's not like rebuilding; you do a reconstruction so you have to try to find the most closest way how it was in the early times," Dijkstra said.

A few months from now, shafts and machinery will be installed to grind flour as the mill did for its first 20 years.

"For me it's more than a mill," Keunen said. "My family for more than 100 years were millers," he explained.

"Personally I'm convinced that this mill is a sign of hope for the Jewish people here in Israel. It's connected to the resurrection of the State of Israel after 2,000 years," Keunen said.

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Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl

CBN News Mideast Correspondent

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