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Jerusalem Dateline: 11/30/18 US Ambassador Sees His Role thru Lens of Scripture

CBN News interviews US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. Friedman addresses the historic US Embassy move; the peace plan and evangelical support for the Jewish state. Plus a look at why Airbnb is de-listing Jewish homes in the biblical heartland. Read Transcript


(horn music)

- This week on Jerusalem Dateline,

CBN News exclusive interviewwith President Trump's envoy,

U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

Friedman addresses the historicmove of the U.S. Embassy,

the long awaited peace planand why evangelical support

is so important to the Jewish State.

Plus, we'll take a look at why Airbnb

chose to eliminate it'slisting of Jewish homes

in the Biblical heartland.

Hello and welcome to thisedition of Jerusalem Dateline,

I'm Chris Mitchell.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman

discussed a number of pressingissues in the region with me,

the upcoming peace plan ofthe Trump administration,

the danger of Iran andthe changing politics

in the Middle East andwhy evangelical support

is so important to Israel.

Take a look.

Only one U.S. ambassador inhistory holds the distinction

of serving in Israel's capitalJerusalem, David Friedman.

Now he sits at theepicenter of the Middle East

going through historic changes,a much needed peace plan

and as we found out,unprecedented relations

between the two allies.

- The Trump administration

is the most supportive administration

in regards to Israel in American history.

And I think that's helpedIsrael in direct ways.

- [Chris] A widely anticipated peace plan

remains shrouded in secrecy,although Friedman explained

one of it's guiding principles.

- Nobody should be asked totake incremental security risks

in pursuit of somethingthat is yet to bear fruit.

So we're very cognizant ofIsrael's security needs.

- The new regional alliancesthat seem to be emerging

between Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States,

Jordan, Egypt and Israel, isthat part of the calculation?

- It's all opening up and Ithink it's just beginning.

I think that environment I think

creates opportunity and I thinkit gives the Israeli public

some confidence thatthey're not being asked

to jump into an empty pool.

- Another marker of theTrump administration

is change.

During his address at thestart of the Jewish New Year,

Ambassador Friedman talked about slaying

some of the sacred cowsof the peace process,

like defended UNWRA, the right of return

and the so-called pay to slay,

rewarding terrorists and their families.

One other aspect it seemsto be over the peace plan

is the relationship withPalestinian businessmen

and Israeli businessmen and some would say

you crossed the red line whenyou went to the green line

in Ariel for the first time officially.

What was the importance of that meeting?

- On a practical levelI met with, I don't know

eight or 10 Palestinian business leaders

and to a person, what they all said to me

is let's do business, let'sget going, let's do some work.

We wanna work with Jews, wewanna work with Israelis.

- [Chris] Yet, overshadowing

any Middle East peace plan is Iran.

- Iran is the danger.

Iran, right now is the leadinginternational state sponsor

of terrorism.

- [Chris] Friedman noted thatnew sanctions against Iran

will make a difference.

- They're extraordinaryand I think they are going

to ultimately put the Iranian government

in a position where theycan end this malign activity

or they won't and thesanctions will continue

and ultimately I believetheir regime will fail.

- [Chris] We also talkedabout why evangelical support

is so important to Israel.

- It strengthens the President's resolve

to I think, be the bestpresident Israel has ever had.

- [Chris] An observant Jew,Friedman often sees his role

through the lens of scripture

and showed me a constantreminder of how he hopes to serve

as ambassador, a paintingof the sin of the ten spies

from the Book of Numbers.

- I've got this painting to remind me

that the one sin I hope notto commit while I'm here

is the sin of the spies notto have faith, confidence

and vision, I thinkthose are the qualities

that really are essential forme to do my job the right way.

- [Chris] And as a diplomat,Friedman sees God at work.

- I try to look at everything from a lens

of what is best for the United States.

That's my job, I representthe United States.

Look, we are a nation under God,

we're built on Judeo-Christian values

and much as I try I cannot help

but see the majesty of God's work,

the miracles that happenin this incredible country.

- We'll have more ofour exclusive interview

with Ambassador Friedmanlater in Jerusalem Dateline.

But first, a number ofJewish-American citizens

who own property in Israel havefiled a civil rights lawsuit

against Airbnb alleging

that the internet hospitality company

enacted a new policy thatdiscriminates against them

based on their religion.

The suit came after Airbnb

decided it would no longerlist Jewish vacation homes

in Biblical Judea andSamaria or the West Bank.

Some are even callingthe boycott anti-Semitic.

This is Villa Herodion in Tekoa,

about 15 minutes south of Jerusalem.

Owned by American IsraeliLewis Weinger and his family,

it's one of some 200 properties affected

by Airbnb's West Bank boycott.

The Weinger's host eventsand can sleep up to 14 people

in their luxurious home.

It has a spectacularview of the Judean hills

and it's listed onAirbnb but not for long.

- I mean, it's crazy, itjust doesn't make any sense

that I can't list my propertybut Mohammad down the street

in Bethlehem can list hisproperty and call it Palestine.

- [Chris] Airbnb operates in 191 countries

and 81,000 cities but itsaid in a press release

when we applied ourdecision making framework,

we concluded that weshould remove listings

in Israeli settlementsin the occupied West Bank

that are at the core of the dispute

between Israelis and Palestinians.

- It's obviously takinga political position

that I believe isdiscriminatory and anti-Semitic.

- I think our reaction should be

that we should boycott Airbnb.

Anybody that cares aboutIsrael, the Jewish people

is willing to fight against anti-Semitism,

should fight against Airbnb.

- [Chris] Israeli governmentMinister, Michael Oren

says the Airbnb boycottcould be just the beginning.

- It sends a signal thatnot just to Jewish companies

in Judea-Samaria can beboycotted but the Jewish State

can be boycotted.

And we've known throughouthistory that waves

of anti-Semitism most recentlythe Nazi anti-Semitism

of the 1930's, 1940's began with a boycott

of Jewish goods, this is the way it began.

- Airbnb's policy discriminatesgrossly against people

of the Jewish faith and peopleof the Jewish ethnicity.

They treat Jews living in the West Bank

different from any other group.

- [Chris] Professor Eugene Kontorovich

said out of the whole world,

Airbnb chose to make a point here.

- There is indeed a politicaldispute about the West Bank

but they're not sayingwe're not taking listings

from the West Bank, they'resaying we're not taking listings

from Jews in the West Bank.

That's not just a double standard,

that's naked discrimination.

- [Chris] Weinger'sneighbor Rabbi Eitan Levi

explained the Jewish roots of the area.

- Tekoa itself was thehome of the prophet Amos

and in the ninth chapter of Amos

it says God will returnhis people to Israel,

they will rebuild their conquered cities.

They will sink downtheir roots and nevermore

be uprooted from the land.

And right here you cancome to the modern Tekoa

and here we are, we're livingout those prophecies today.

- For now Weinger says he doesn't know

what impact being unlisted

on Airbnb will have on his business

but whatever happens Levisays God will provide.

(upbeat music)

Up next, Ambassador Friedmantalks about the historic move

of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

and the state of U.S.-Israel relations.

Here's more of our exclusiveinterview with U.S. Ambassador

to Israel, David Friedman.

(dramatic music)

Ambassador Friedman it'sso great to be with you

and thank you for beingwith us on CBN News, yeah.

- It's my pleasure, thank you.

- May 14th, 2018, would youtake us back to that day

and what did that mean for theUnited States and for Israel?

- Well, I think first and foremost

it was the day that Ithink the United States

put itself on the right side of history.

I would suggest maybe youraudience might agree with me,

put itself on the right side of God.

It was the day that we recognized really

one of the great historicaltruths of our time

that Israel has Jerusalem as it's capital,

has always had Jerusalem as it's capital.

People mention to me in that context

over around that period oftime, what's the big deal,

everybody knows Jerusalemis the capital of Israel,

isn't it just symbolic?

And the answer is just the opposite.

The fact is that everybodyrecognized Jerusalem

as the capital of Israel.

Three presidents recognizedJerusalem as the capital

of Israel, Congress recognizedJerusalem as the capital

of Israel by overwhelming majorities

but don't do anything about it.

And when something is trueand you fail to recognize

an obvious truth, that failureit could be very debilitating

from the perspectiveof your foreign policy.

So President Trump closedthe deal, he sided with truth

and I think that decisionhas now resonated

throughout his foreign policyin all kinds of directions,

it's I think strengthenedus with regard to Iran,

North Korea, other maligninfluences in the world

and I think it was just

an extraordinarily importantdecision for the United States.

- And in a few days, we'recoming up on the anniversary

of December 6th, 2018,the one year anniversary

when he recognized Jerusalemas Israel's capital.

Did you see that as apivotal moment as well?

- Well, I think that was the first step,

it was in order to movethe embassy to Jerusalem,

you had to recognize thatJerusalem was the capital.

Look, it should have beendone a long time ago.

That recognition is foundin the Jerusalem Embassy

after 1995 and I think it was a set back

for the United Statesto have waited so long

and by the same token it was I think

an enormous accomplishmentby the Trump administration

to correct what really hadbeen an unjustifiable slight.

- And how would you describeU.S.-Israel relations two years

after President Trumphas taken over office?

- I think they're at alevel that's unprecedented

whether it's commercialrelations, intelligence sharing,

military cooperation, I thinkjust sort of the feeling

that Israelis have for theirsupport from the United States.

The Trump administration

is the most supportiveadministration with regards to Israel

in American history.

And I think that's helpedIsrael in direct ways

from, as I mentioned the direct contacts

but also I think it'sgiven Israel a stature

with regard to it's neighbors,with regard to the region

that I think enables itto branch out in ways

that we really haven't seen before.

So I think we're seeingextraordinary things happening

with regard to Israeland they're all positive.

- What lessons from the Bible do you apply

to being an Ambassador of Israel?

- Well, the primary lesson I would think

is on the paintingthat's right behind you.

It's a painting with regardto the sin of the spies

who came back after spyingon the land of Israel

and told Moses with the exception of two,

the exception of Joshua and Caleb,

the other 10 said we justcan't conquer this land.

And God considered it to be a great sin

that the spies didn't havethe confidence and the faith

and the courage to believein him and to go forward

and so to me the greatBiblical lesson to me

is that I will, I have nodoubt I've committed many sins

in the past, I'll commitmany more in the future

but the one sin I hope notto commit while I'm here

is the sin of the spies, which is the sin

of not having faith or visionor courage or confidence

in God's will and thedirections of the President,

I think we're on the right track.

(dramatic music)

- Coming up, Ambassador Friedman

talks about why evangelical Christians

mean so much to Israel.

(dramatic music)

Here's what Ambassador Friedman had to say

about the support ofevangelical Christians.

You referred to our viewers earlier,

millions of evangelicalChristians really see Israel

as maybe their number one issue.

What do you say and whatwould President Trump say

about the support of evangelicalChristians for Israel

and for your stand on Israel?

- Well, look, I think thatthe support for Israel

is a principal decision

but when you have a principal decision

that also has the benefitof being supported

by a mass of 50, you knowbetter than me the number

but a large number ofmillions of believers

of evangelical Christians,

it really strengthens the decision.

It strengthens the President's resolve

to I think be the bestPresident Israel has ever had.

So I think Israelis across the spectrum

have great appreciation and gratitude

to the evangelical community.

- And you said Israel is a very country,

you think there's thingsthat the American people

don't know about Israelbecause they're not being told

about it in the media?

- I think there's lots of things

that they don't know about Israel.

One of the most important things

is just in practical terms howimportant an ally Israel is

to the United States.

Without going into detailsthere are numerous events,

dangerous events, terror eventsthat were threatened against

the American homeland on American soil

that Israelis, Israeliintelligence help to prevent.

The Israelis do a lot for us.

We do a lot for them andmaybe a generation ago

the relationship was more one sided

where America was more of the giver

and Israel was the taker.

The relationship hasgrown much more reciprocal

over the last generation andIsrael is a very important ally

to the United States with regard

to keeping Americans safe at home.

- A lot of people areinterested in the peace plan

that the President, youhad been part of that.

I know you pushed back, perhaps yesterday

about the White Householding back the timing.

Could you tell us a littlebit about the possible timing

and about general principals perhaps,

I know you can't go intodetails about the peace plan.

- Well, look, in terms of the timing,

you know they say timingis everything in life

and we really need to getto a point where we feel

that we have something whichwill get the best possible

reception from across thespectrum of all the players,

obviously the Israelisand the Palestinians

and the regional players as well

and we're working on it, we'rehaving ongoing conversations

and so I think we justneed to kind of hit it

at the right time andwith the right message

and we'll get there butwe're not there just yet.

- The new regional alliancesthat seem to be emerging

between Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States,

Jordan, Egypt and Israel isthat part of the calculation?

- Well, it is, surebecause I think this all,

this is a small area andan interconnected area

and I think theopportunities that Israel has

are much greater just asthe risks have changed,

the opportunities are also much greater.

Look, you saw they playedHatikvah in Abu Dhabi

a couple weeks ago whenthe Judo championships,

the prime minister visited Oman.

There's relationships with Bahrain,

the Prime Minister of Chadarrived at Israel yesterday.

It's all opening up.

And I think it's just beginning

and I think that environmentI think creates opportunity

and I think it gives theIsraeli public some confidence

that they're not being askedto jump into an empty pool.

- You mentioned in thisyear's Rosh Hashanah speech,

three things, you mentionedIran, the United States

pulling out of the deal.

I think you mentionedslaying the sacred cows

of the calcified thinking

of the peace process and Jerusalem.

In terms of Iran, how important is that,

what danger does itpose to Israel, the U.S.

and even the world?

- Well, I think Iran it is the danger,

I mean, there are others as well

and I don't wanna leak out others,

North Korea is certainly dangerous,

Russia is certainlydangerous but Iran right now

is the leading internationalstate sponsor of terrorism

and it's tentacles are reaching

throughout the Middle East into Europe.

See now there were recentlysome terrorist attacks

that Iran had applauded on European soil

that Israelis were ableto get out in front of.

So we have to stop that andit's not just nuclear weapons,

although nuclear weapons isobviously the significant part

of it but it's ballistic weapons,

it's general malign activity,it's this adventurism

that's created a conflict inYemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon.

It all has to stop and the sanctions

that we've imposed andthey're just kicking in now.

We're now really in thesecond full week of those

or the third full week of those sanctions,

they're extraordinary and I think

they are going to ultimatelyput the Iranian government

in a position where theycan end this malign activity

and their adventurism andtheir nuclear ambitions

in favor of their own people or they won't

and the sanctions will continue

and ultimately I believetheir regime will fail.

But I think that we're in anextraordinarily strong position

right now with Iran and based upon

what I've learned sinceI've had this position

I can tell you that the Iran deal,

as bad as I thought it was whenI was outside the government

with the benefit of what I know now

and the benefit of a yearor two of observations

of the post-deal environment,

boy was that a terrible dealand thank God the President

was able to get us out of it.

(dramatic music)

- Up next, President Trump, King Cyrus

and the Jewish people.

(dramatic music)

Outside the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem,

Ambassador Friedman told me

how he sees President Trump's relationship

to the Jewish people.

(dramatic music)

Ambassador what does it mean for you

when you come out here andtake a look at the plague?

- Well, it's kind of overwhelming,

I walk past here and seemy name inscribed here.

Of course it's the thirdname behind the President

and the Vice President andthey deserve all the credit

for this but it issomething to see your name

on something so historical.

So it's deeply meaningful to me

and I just can't imaginebeing prouder of anything else

other than my kids.

- What was that day like, May 14th, 2018?

- It was an interesting day

because apart from allthe things that you saw

from being here, all ofa sudden I'm a producer

of a live television show.

- That's right.

- So I had to worry about things like,

when they pull the curtainhere is it gonna open.

- [Chris] Exactly.

- [David] And the daybefore it didn't open.

- [Chris] Oh really.

- [David] Yeah, we had a so light,

said, listen get somebody up there

to make sure this thing opens, you know.

We only get a chance to do it once.

- [Chris] Sure.

- So sure we had a lot oflogistics to worry about

but I thought it came off really nice,

I was really happy with it

and of course it was deeplymoving from start to finish.

- Prime Minister Netanyahuon that day said,

we're living history, didyou have that sense as well?

- Oh yeah, absolutely, yeah,

but I'm living history everyday.

May 14th was an amazing day

but I try to make everyday like that

and not take it for granted

and try to do somethingproductive everyday.

Can't always be opening an embassy

but there's as I saidearlier there's a lot to do

and we try to make everyday count.

- You feel like you're making progress?

- I do, yeah, I thinkwe're on the right track.

- And it was almost formany people it felt like,

at least Israelis talk aboutPresident Trump is King Cyrus.

- I think what he didwas incredibly historic

and it took tremendous courage.

I was with him as hewas making the decision

as he was getting advice from others,

as he was hearing from world leaders,

the pressure on him not to do this,

the pressure on him tojust keep the status quo

was tremendous and I sawit first hand the courage

and the strength andconviction that he had

in making this decision.

So I certainly don't thinkthat comparison is overstated.

He deserves everything that I think people

appreciate him for.

- It was an honor to sitdown with Ambassador Friedman

and please pray for thisGodly man as he serves

in a very strategic rolefor such a time as this.

Well, that's all for thisedition of Jerusalem Dateline.

Thanks for joining us,remember you can follow us

on Facebook, Twitter,Instagram and YouTube.

I'm Chris Mitchell,we'll see you next time

on Jerusalem Dateline.

(dramatic music)

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