“Support for Israel is a quintessential American value. Indeed, the Bible – so much of which is predicated upon God’s covenant to our forefathers to install and then later to restore the Jewish people to the Land of Israel – is foundational to the principles upon which America was founded,” said former US ambassador to Israel David M. Friedman on Tuesday evening at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.
Friedman represented the US in Israel for four years starting in 2017 and was instrumental in the 2018 move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem and the 2020 Abraham Accords leading to peace and normalization of diplomatic and economic relations among the State of Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
He was speaking upon his receipt of the Guardian of Zion Award for 2022, given for the 24th time by Bar-Ilan University’s Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies to honor those dedicated to the perpetuation and strengthening of Israel’s capital.
“I think you all know how much I love Jerusalem,” Friedman told the audience of over 100 guests. “Not only is it our home, but it is, to my thinking, the center of the world and the wellspring of all our values, so this award, for so many reasons, means the world to me.” He was praised for his contribution to the strengthening of Jerusalem by Bar-Ilan University’s president Prof. Arie Zaban, and Prof. Aren Maier, an American-born archaeologist who heads the Rennert Center.
Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer who was a close foreign policy adviser to former US President Donald Trump, noted that “one of the most common forms of antisemitism in America is the accusation that Jews have dual loyalty, that they support Israel more than America. In the four years that I was ambassador to Israel, I was on the receiving end of that terrible canard more than a few times – oddly enough, often by groups of Jewish Americans. It’s shameful, and it’s nonsense. Support for Israel by American Jews does not compromise or undermine support for our host country,” he said.
While America, unlike many other countries, has no national religion or house of worship, “the values of the Bible are deeply infused within our foundational roots,” he continued, “and it is the God-given nature of those values that make them unique and that makes America so great.”
The Bible is God’s gift to humankind – the formula for how to lead a just, fulfilling, and meaningful life. By many accounts, it is the most important written work of all time, Friedman continued. He suggested that the second-most-important document was the US Declaration of Independence, “which fundamentally changed the way in which we think about the relationship between a government and its citizens and declared that every human being was created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
How did our founding fathers know which rights God considered unalienable? “Remember, the Declaration of Independence doesn’t just say these rights are important – it says these rights are ordained by God. Our founders knew which rights God considered inalienable,” Friedman stressed, “because they all read the Bible. There can be no question that the American Republic was sculpted from the lessons of the Bible.” The former ambassador, who has a home in Israel, cited biblical quotations to prove the Holy Book was a clear basis for the American document.
Thus, continued the former ambassador, it is unthinkable that Jews could betray a “dual loyalty” when they support Israel because “Jews who support Israel stand for the very best of our American heritage and our American values. America is at its best when it supports Israel – it is a value deeply ingrained in our national DNA, and it is one that I believe has brought us blessing and bounty from the Lord.”
He maintained that there currently is an “existential crisis in America” that requires a return to the Judeo-Christian values upon which America was forged…As we grow more and more untethered from our values, we grow weaker as a nation… The greatest risk to the US-Israel relationship is that America no longer leads the world, whether because it no longer wishes to lead the world or possesses the moral authority to do so.”
Upon accepting his award from Ingeborg Rennert as her husband, billionaire businessman Ira Rennert looked on, Friedman said he challenged all Israelis and all Americans “to all become Guardians of Zion. To stand for Zion, for Jerusalem, as the eternal undivided capital of the Jewish State and as the wellspring of all that we hold sacred and worth preserving. In so doing we will stand for all that makes America and Israel the two greatest nations on earth and the last and best hope for our collective humanity.”