JERUSALEM – It was with great sadness that I learned yesterday that Rush Limbaugh, my friend of 28 years, had passed away after a yearlong battle with lung cancer.
He was only 70.
We first met in 1993. In 1994, Rush hired me to write for his newsletter, The Limbaugh Letter, and to serve as his research director. Though I moved on in 1996 to work for a U.S. presidential candidate, Rush and I stayed in regular contact – mostly by email, and occasionally by phone.
Most people think of Rush as almost exclusively interested in American domestic, economic, social and political issues.
But the Rush I knew was fascinated with foreign policy, and especially Israel. Indeed, over the years, Rush proved to be the most influential pro-Israel broadcaster in the history of radio. He also educated millions – tens of millions – about the threat of radical Islamism.
These were the topics he and I most often discussed behind the scenes – and occasionally, on his radio program, heard by some 20 million people every week, as well as in the pages of his monthly newsletter.
As the world reflects on his legacy, I thought it might be helpful to share an exclusive interview that Rush did with me a few years in 2015 because it reveals his deep interest in the Jewish state and the region. He asked me about my family’s decision to make aliyah, my perspective on the rapidly changing dynamics in the Middle East, my views of Bible prophecy and what life is like for Christians in Israel.
We also discussed his only trip to Israel (in 1993), his respect for Prime Minister Netanyahu, and his passion for political thrillers about Israel and the threats that Americans and Israelis face from radical Islam.
Rush Limbaugh's Conversation with Joel Rosenberg
Rush: So great to speak to our old buddy Joel Rosenberg, a valued Limbaugh Letter staffer in the 1990s who has gone on to achieve greatness as a bestselling novelist and much more, and whose new book, The Third Target, I highly recommend.
Joel! How are you doing? It’s been way too long.
Rosenberg: I’m doing well. So great to hear your voice again.
Rush: You have recently moved your family to Israel?
Rosenberg: We have.
Rush: Tell me about that.
Rosenberg: Well, we became citizens of the State of Israel. We’re actually dual citizens. We have U.S. and Israeli citizenship. That means we get to vote twice. It’s like living in Chicago.
Rush: [Laughter] What about taxes?
Rosenberg: We have a 10-year grace period in Israel, and then things start to shift. We are not going for the taxes, though. They are higher in Israel. As you know, Rush, I’m from a Jewish background on my father’s side, a Gentile on my mom’s side. We’re Evangelical Christians, believers in Jesus as the Messiah. So we thought it might not even be possible to become citizens of the State of Israel. But because we really can prove our Jewish roots, they have an open door. If you’re Jewish enough to have been killed by Hitler, you’re welcome to Israel.
Rush: Isn’t this amazing, though? The image Israel has around the world is exclusionary, and yet they welcome you.
Rosenberg: You’re right. It is an oasis, and really a refuge for Christians in the Middle East. Obviously, most of the people who are there are Jewish, not believers in Jesus. There are also Arab Muslims. But you are the safest and freest as a Christian in Israel than any country in the Middle East. We arrived in August 2014, in the midst of 4,538 rockets and missiles landing on our new country. From our apartment, we are two hours from genocidal Syria, we are 90 minutes from Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, and about two hours from Hamas in Gaza.
Rush: This reminds me of when I took my five-day, really compressed trip to Israel in 1993. They took me to the Golan Heights, and said, “Over there, there’s Syria.” It was an IDF soldier, a young, 18-year-old guide: “They want to wipe me out over there. And over there is Jordan, and over there is Gaza,” and so forth. From up there you can see it, something United States citizens cannot relate to. It’s like living in New Jersey and having New York want to wipe you off the map.
Rosenberg: Exactly, that’s right. It’s a surreal place to be. One, obviously, because of the Biblical history and the amazing archaeological history — all of it is so rich, the spiritual dynamic. But the geopolitical environment is exactly why I termed it “the epicenter.” The eyes of the world are focused on that country, its neighbors, and its enemies. It is a fascinating and very challenging place to live.
Rush: How is Obama perceived there? We’re never going to know the truth from the America media.
Rosenberg: There is deep anxiety about him. It was worse before he came to visit [in March 2013]. Then his numbers popped in the polls, and everyone thought, “Okay, now he gets it.” But that is all fading. There is real concern that in his last two years in office, with no need to face the voters again, that he may turn against Israel in very significant ways. But we’ll see.
Rush: Your books are just superb. I know you’re an Evangelical, and as such, you have studied and written about that, and you’ve incorporated prophecy into many of your books. I know it comforts you, if you can translate the Biblical prophecy you believe in, to present-day events. If it’s something that you’re persuaded is actually happening, it’s actually kind of comforting, given your faith. Is Obama accounted for in any prophecy that you know of, or have written about? I mean his presence at this time, with his apparent allegiance to the enemies of Israel.
Rosenberg: That’s an interesting question. First, when I write novels, some of them look at what would happen if certain prophecies came true in my lifetime. I don’t know that they will; I’m not saying, “This is exactly how it’ll happen” — but I am curious about it. Second, the fact that Israel exists as a country, and that the Jews are coming back from all over the world, those are big end-times Bible prophecies. So that’s very interesting.
Rosenberg: In terms of President Obama, look, the scriptures are clear, both the Old and New Testament, that in what’s called “the last days,” all nations will eventually turn against Israel. There is a major prophecy in Ezekiel 38 and 39 where Russia and Iran form an alliance with Turkey and several other countries. They try to attack Israel. Nobody comes to Israel’s defense, not a single country. And then in [the book of] Revelation, every single country on the planet turns against Israel. Will these events happen in our lifetime? It’s too soon to tell. But that being said, for the first time, under President Obama, Americans and Israelis can begin to see the possibility of the United States not standing with Israel when times are hard.
Rush: Exactly what I’m asking.
Rosenberg: I’m not saying that it’s a fulfillment of prophecy, but it’s suggestive of what it might look like when an American President decides to abandon Israel or turn actively against her.
Rush: I know, but it makes your books prophetic in their own way. That’s what’s fascinating about it. I know that you’re not predicting, but you are taking what’s believed by some and incorporating it into novels. And it’s fascinating the way you’ve done it.
Rosenberg: Well, I appreciate it. Working in Washington for 24 years, I know people are cynical about the Bible generally, and certainly about prophecy. Even a lot of Christians think it’s a little nutty. I get that. So I’ve tried to write Tom Clancy-esque political thrillers that will capture and hold a reader the way you try to capture and hold an audience every day, and draw them in with something that they could dismiss — that’s fine — but it would be so organic to the plot that they might think, “That’s interesting, I didn’t even know that was in the Bible, I didn’t know that was possible.” But my geopolitical scenarios have to be realistic enough to hold people.
Rush: Before we get to ISIS, give everybody here just a brief tease about The Third Target. Because you were writing that book before most people even heard of ISIS or ISIL.
Rosenberg: Well, yes. And when I started, I had not heard of ISIS. I’ll get to that in a moment. First, just the quick summary. The Third Target is a new political thriller, first of a series. It’s about a New York Times foreign correspondent who hears a rumor that ISIS, the Islamic State, has captured chemical weapons inside Syria. The reporter wants to go in and interview the commander of ISIS and confirm or refute the story, but his editor won’t let him. So he and his colleague decide to go into civil-war-torn Syria anyway. And what ensues is this reporter trying to determine, number one, does ISIS have genocidal weapons? And number two, if so, who would they use it against? ISIS is currently trying to bring down the government of Syria and the government of Iraq. So the question is, what’s the next target, what’s the third target, and that’s the title and the essence of the novel.
Rush: Awesome. I went to iBooks and bought it.
Rosenberg: I would’ve sent it to you!
Rush: I know, but I like to have the electronic version. I have it on my iPhone 6 Plus right now.
Rosenberg: I appreciate it. You asked about the research. You’re right. I started it about two years ago, the research phase, and I had not heard of ISIS. Obviously, I’d heard of al Qaeda in Iraq, but I thought it was sort of fading because of U.S. efforts in Iraq. So I sat down with two former CIA directors who’ve become friends over the years. One is Jim Woolsey, who served with President Clinton, so he’s a Democrat.
Rush: Yeah. He’s a good guy, right?
Rosenberg: He’s a great guy. I don’t know how he ever ended up working for President Clinton, but he’s a Scoop Jackson Democrat, he really gets the world. I like him very much. Then Porter Goss from Florida, who was the CIA director under President George W. Bush, after George Tenet. Porter is also a great guy and has become a wonderful friend, as has his wife. So I sat down with them individually, and I said, “What keeps you guys up at night? I’m writing a new series. I need a new enemy. I want to write about something that’s, say, four or five years out, but something that’s emerging that you think people ought to know about.” I’m not just trying to write a high-octane, high-speed, keep-you-up-all-night type entertainment novel. I want to warn, I want to educate.
Rush: You are using real-world questions.
Rosenberg: I’m trying.
Rush: You’re asking about real-world events in your books.
Rosenberg: Yes. So they both said, “You’ve got to watch al Qaeda in Iraq. They’re morphing into something different. It looks more dangerous to us, and we think they’re going to be a huge problem, in Syria and then possibly Iraq.” I then went to Israel, before we moved, and I sat down with the former head of the Mossad, and I asked the same questions. He gave me the same answer. Then in the course of writing the novel, I decided, “I want the perspective of a Sunni Arab Muslim leader.” I wanted to meet with the King of Jordan, King Abdullah II. That didn’t quite work, but the embassy set me up in Amman, Jordan, with the prime minister of Jordan, the Foreign Minister, the Interior Minister, and a Prince who was a senior advisor to the King. And that was good enough. I really got to spend time with them, asking about ISIS, about the region, about their precarious situation. And the interior minister, Rush, said, “Is this going to be like a Tom Clancy novel?” I said, “Well, I hope so.” He said, “Good. Sit down, get your notebook out. Let’s go on the record. I want to give you this information because the King has appointed me to make sure your scenario never happens, at least in our country.”
Rush: [Laughs]. This is fascinating.
Rosenberg: It was. I couldn’t believe they would let me do it.
Rush: I can’t believe this access you had. This is incredible.
Rosenberg: It was. That is one of the unintended events or developments from writing the novels, and then being reasonably successful, that has happened. I totally did not expect this. Doors have opened. Porter Goss contacted me. The reason I know the former CIA director is because when he retired, he called and invited my wife and I to dinner. We didn’t know each other. When we sat down for dinner, he pulled out a copy of my nonfiction book, Epicenter. It was all dog-eared, written up. We started talking, and I said, “How come you never invited me over when you were running the agency?” [Laughs]. But anyway, doors have opened in a way I would never have expected.
Rush: It’s exciting to me. It adds credibility to the story as well. Something else about this. Here you’re talking to these guys in Jordan. We hear about ISIS, the Khorasan Group, al Qaeda in Yemen, Hamas, militant Islam, Islamist extremists. Just today I was talking about this. Jimmy Carter said the great thing about Paris is all this terrorism is going to make people look deep into Islam to find out what’s great about the religion.
Rush: Now, he’s nuts. Then he started talking about all the moderate Muslims speaking out against terrorism. I don’t know of any except [President Abdel-Fattah] el-Sisi in Egypt. We never hear, Joel, we never hear that. But you’re talking to these guys in Jordan. One of the common assumptions to make, and I fall prey to it myself, is that there’s no moderate Muslims, that some are just more bellicose than others, but they all secretly want Islam to be the world’s dominant religion, even the king of Jordan, even the people we think of as moderates. Is that true or not?
Rosenberg: There’s no question that there’s not nearly enough leaders in the Muslim world who have the courage to stand up and not just denounce radical events, but to deconstruct radical religious thinking within the Muslim world. But interestingly enough, Rush, the three leaders in the world who really are the Winston Churchills of this moment, who see the gathering storm and are taking action and speaking out, none of them are found in Washington, London, Paris, or any Western capital that’s our ally. They’re all in the Middle East. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be the leader, in my view, but then President el-Sisi in Egypt, and King Abdullah in Jordan. These three men have created an alliance that the Western media is not covering, the President of the United States does not care about and is not joining, but these three men have created a quiet, historic alliance against radical Islam. It’s one of the most extraordinary developments in modern geopolitical history, and our President is on the wrong side.
Rush: Speaking of the wrong side. Where does King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia come down on this?
Rosenberg: Well, he’s dying, but in the royal family, at the leadership level, I believe there are shifts happening, quietly.
Rush: They’re building a giant, 600-mile-long fence. They’re scared to death of ISIS. King Abdullah warned his new ambassadors about ISIS late last year when they gathered at his home to be welcomed to the country, and he sent them back home and said, “You guys better tell everybody, Europe, United States, all together, you’d better be worried about these ISIS people.”
Rush: But the Saudi royal family runs militant Islam, Wahhabism. I think they’re more in the center of this than even Iran is.
Rosenberg: I think there’s a difference. Look, the Saudis have a lot of troubles, and people can tell me I’m wrong, but my perception is that post-9/11 the royal family has taken a significant shift away from radical, violent Wahhabism. They are trying to make the kingdom safe for themselves, first of all. But economically, they’re so interconnected to the West that it’s economic suicide to allow Wahhabism to become the world’s most feared terrorist movement. Mostly it’s self-preservation, both political, in terms of their actual lives, and economic. They are actually quietly siding with the Egyptians and the Jordanians, and very quietly with the Israelis —
Rush: Is that right?
Rosenberg: — and with the Gulf Emirates, in an alliance against two forces, Rush. One is against radical Sunni Islam, ISIS, and then, even more importantly, against radical Shia Islam and an Iranian nuclear state.
Rush: Well, that’s comforting to hear. I knew the royal family is opposed to Iran getting nuclear weapons. Did you happen to see in The Daily Beast, and if you haven’t, you should, the piece by Leslie Gelb titled, “This Is Obama’s Last Foreign Policy Chance”? Leslie Gelb, former New York Times reporter, Council on Foreign Relations president for 10 or 12 years, now president emeritus. If there’s a go-to establishment foreign-policy intellectual leftist, it’s this guy.
Rush: He rips Obama to shreds over not going to Paris. Maybe he’s helping Hillary here too, but he concludes that Obama is unfit. He concludes that Obama is unqualified, that Obama and Valerie Jarrett and everybody in the foreign policy/foreign affairs apparatus needs to be fired. He names replacements, most of them Republicans, and he sounds scared to death.
Rosenberg: Amen. I have not read it. I will. It’s consistent with two former Obama Defense Secretaries, Bob Gates and Leon Panetta, both of whom warned the President not to withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq — that Iraq’s leadership and government simply wasn’t ready for that, and you’d create a vacuum into which radical Islam would storm in. And that’s exactly what has happened. I’m glad when I hear stories of Democrats beginning to wake up and speak out. But I have to say overall the danger of complacency, of moral murkiness versus moral clarity, is so predominant. Not just in the United States, but of course in Europe. This is what’s going to destroy us, or deeply damage us, unless we turn this thing around.
Rush: You’ve got too many people trying to appease them. Look, I want to get to the poll you conducted on ISIS with the McLaughlin [& Associates firm]. The results are interesting. Seventy-four percent of Americans fear ISIS is going to launch a catastrophic terror attack in the U.S. Were you surprised how many people knew about ISIS and were giving it this much thought?
Rosenberg: The numbers surprised me with how enormous the fear is, that it’s across partisan lines, it’s across ideological lines, it’s across racial and socioeconomic lines. The country gets this. It shows the enormous disconnect between Washington generally, the president in particular, and the rest of the American people. I was thinking maybe this would be a 52/48 percent breakdown. But it’s 74/20. Also significant is how they reacted to the concerns about Israel. Seventy-three percent said that ISIS will attempt genocidal attacks against Israel if they can. I included a question about Jordan because it’s one of the elements in this novel, but 65% of Americans fear that ISIS would try to overthrow the King of Jordan — they see him as an important moderate ally — and then use Jordan as a base camp to launch attacks against the United States and Israel. Again, I don’t think most Americans care much about Jordan, but they are seeing this situation much more clearly than Washington political folk realize they do.
Rush: I wonder why. The media is not focusing on it. I mean, we have stories of beheadings, and that does carry a lot of weight with people who see the videos on the internet. But the mainstream media is not really covering this.
Rosenberg: I think those things have broken through. The establishment in Washington is so out of touch on so many issues, and this is one of them. When you see a series of Americans beheaded you think, “These people are coming, and they’re worse than al Qaeda.” Al Qaeda is denouncing ISIS as being too radical. We’ve entered a bizarre universe, Rush, when al Qaeda looks like the moderate.
Rush: Exactly. It’s heartening that so many people are worried that it’s possible they would attack here. Because let’s face it, a lot of Democrats and a lot of people in the media have done their best to erase 9/11 from people’s memories. On the anniversary every year, you will not see video, except on Fox. You won’t see photos, you won’t see any of the horror. You’ll see the ceremonies of people’s names being recited.
Rush: But your poll also found that some 47% think that Obama will abandon or fully turn against Israel in these next two years.
Rosenberg: Yes, 47.4% said they believe that, and 38% said they disagree. Now, that’s a pretty strong plurality.
Rush: What would that mean for Israel? Some people think he already has turned against Israel, for all practical purposes.
Rosenberg: Right. Israel and President Obama requires a very mixed and complicated set of analyses. For all of his emotional and relational disconnect and hostility towards Prime Minister Netanyahu, and for trying to force Israel to divide Jerusalem and roll back to the 1967 borders — which are not defensible — for all that, President Obama has supported the funding of our Iron Dome rocket defense system. He continues to provide arms and high-tech weaponry, intelligence sharing. So I’m not sure that I can explain it. But I can tell you right now, the Obama Administration is quietly gunning, politically, for Netanyahu. They want Netanyahu gone. They want a center-left guy to emerge on March 17 when Israel holds elections. They desperately want Netanyahu removed from leadership.
Rush: What do they want the next Prime Minister to do? They want him to give away even more of the country?
Rosenberg: Yes. They want a deal. They want an historic legacy “peace deal” that would divide Jerusalem, create a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, and roll Israel back, again, to the pre-1967 borders. The United States is trying to pressure, and almost force a settlement, rather than have the Palestinians negotiate one. Now, here’s the thing. I’m developing really wonderful friendships with Palestinians, even before we moved there, but especially now. I love the Palestinian people. I want them to have civil rights, human rights. I want them to have autonomy. Their lives don’t need to be run by Israel. But I don’t believe in a sovereign government, because I don’t believe it’s stable, and I believe it’s dangerous. What if Jordan does get taken over by ISIS or some other radical group? What if Hamas takes over the West Bank the way they’ve taken over Gaza? Then you’ve got people willing to behead you on the mountains of Jerusalem. I live nine miles from the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority is nine miles east of my apartment. I do not want to see ISIS butchers within nine miles — because to my back, to my west, is the coast of the Mediterranean. There’s no way out.
Rush: Yes. I’m sorry, I don’t understand the thinking behind this whole “peace process,” Joel, that they want to go back to ’67 borders, they want Israel to continue to give up land and get smaller and smaller. I can’t come to grips with it intellectually. This is never going to end until one side defeats the other. You’re not going to negotiate this away.
Rosenberg: You’ll see, Rush, as you read The Third Target, that I’ve envisioned in the novel essentially a post-Netanyahu environment, where a center-left prime minister is elected in Israel, and he is working out a deal with the President of the United States. I’m not going to give it all away, but what’s interesting is the closer you get to a deal like that, to me, that’s when the radicals like ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas, that’s when they’re going to strike, because they don’t want a peace deal. They want to kill every Jew and Christian and control every inch of land.
Rosenberg: The fact that the liberal establishment, and honestly, a lot of Republicans, don’t understand that —
Rush: I don’t know how you can’t understand. They’ve told us what they want. They have made their intentions clear.
Rosenberg: Well, in a bipartisan way of explaining this, let me just say that this actually started, unfortunately, under President George W. Bush, who did a heroic job in fighting radical Islam. In many, many ways he did an extraordinary job against the jihadists. But he chose to become the first President in American history to call for the division of Jerusalem and the creation of a Palestinian sovereign state in the West Bank and Gaza. There’s a lot of backstory on why he might have done that, to help build the coalition he needed in Iraq and so forth, but nevertheless, he legitimized it. It was a bad move. And it’s causing bad dividends right now.
Rush: Wasn’t Yasser Arafat offered, at the end of one of these peace summits, virtually everything he demanded from Bill Clinton? And then turned away because he didn’t want it. He didn’t want it.
Rosenberg: Yes. In the year 2000, Yasser Arafat was offered 93% of the West Bank, half of Jerusalem, and all of Gaza by then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak at Camp David with President Clinton. Clinton couldn’t believe Barak had offered that much. The Israeli government, Barak’s own government, couldn’t believe it. I ended up working for Natan Sharansky, who resigned from the Barak government because he couldn’t believe Barak was giving that much away. But did Yasser Arafat take the deal? No. Arafat not only walked away, he went home and started the Second Intifada, with suicide bombings all over Israel, rather than accept a state. The state would be 15 years old this year if Arafat had agreed to Barak’s offer.
Rosenberg: And by the way, in 1947, the UN created a “Partition Plan,” and the Jews got less than they wanted, but they said yes. The Arabs said no. So we would have a Palestinian state 68 years old this year. They absolutely have refused it every single time. Ehud Olmert as the Prime Minister of Israel even made it 95% of the West Bank in 2008, and the Palestinians still said no. Look, the Palestine people need to be liberated, but not from Israel. They need to be liberated from the terrorists and the thugs and the despots who are enslaving their lives and ruining their future, and that’s the Palestinian leadership.
Rush: You can say that about certain groups in this country, actually. But we won’t. Time is growing short, and I need to ask you about domestic policy. Even though you’ve moved to Israel. By the way, as an aside here, that’s going to have a fascinating influence on your novel writing. You rip from the headlines. The headlines there may be a little different. You’ll still have access to American headlines, but your day-to-day life experience is going to undergo obvious changes. It’ll be fascinating to see how you incorporate those into your upcoming novels. But despite having moved there, I’ve been told by my spies, you’ve been meeting with potential U.S. Presidential contenders.
Rosenberg: Right, I have.
Rush: Now I’m not asking for any names and predictions or anything, but are you seeking them out? Are you in an advisory role here, or are you picking their brains?
Rosenberg: [Laughs] That’s a lot of good questions. I’ll try to give you short answers. It’s a combination of doors opening to meet them when I’m speaking at an event, or mutual friends. I’ve been in the political world for a long time as, I would note, a failed political consultant. Everyone I worked for lost. I tell them all that. I say listen, here’s my track record. But I am trying to build friendships and relationships with any or all of the people who are thinking about running, for a very specific reason. I want to understand who they are. I want to pray for them. I also want to try to influence the way they see U.S.-Israel policy, policy towards Jordan and Egypt. I want to understand what they already know about radical Islam, what they’re going to do about it, and if I can be helpful in terms of connecting them with people they ought to know and be listening to, or to talk to them or have them read my books. So it’s been interesting. But I’ve got to tell you, as we head into 2016, there are key economic issues, there are key social and domestic policy issues. But I really believe, Rush, that we cannot afford a nominee on the Republican side who doesn’t already have a significant degree of experience in foreign policy and national security, and a really well-developed worldview that understands the threat from Russia as well as from radical Islam, and the challenge that China poses, and North Korea. I really don’t believe this round will be conducive for somebody who’s just getting into this with not much background. Whoever is pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-Israel, I would personally support, though I don’t think any of these guys want my personal endorsement. It’s not that type of thing. I don’t have that type of influence in the outside world. But in terms of helping them, yeah, I’ll help anybody who is even remotely good. But I think we all have to watch very carefully — I’ve been thinking about this for a while — because we cannot afford another rookie on the foreign-policy stage.
Rush: There’s no question about that. Look, congratulations on this new book.
Rosenberg: Thank you. I appreciate that.
Rush: I have been reading it, and it’s like your first one, The Last Jihad, in the sense I can’t put the thing down. That first book of yours just dazzled me. I was blown away. I never knew that you even had that interest, and that first book, to me, had the writing competence of somebody who’d been doing it for years, and it was your first offering. I was dazzled. This one’s hitting me the same way.
Rosenberg: Wow. I appreciate it so much. In many ways, the theme is still the same, which is: to misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it. I was concerned in 2001 that America would be blindsided by jihad, radical Muslims, if we didn’t understand what was coming. I didn’t expect it to happen as fast as it did. Again, when writing The Third Target, I thought this was a four or five years from now problem, in terms of ISIS. It’s come up much faster than I had anticipated.
Rush: This is the thing, folks, about Joel’s books. He writes them, and after they’re published, the events start happening. Everybody just racks their brains trying to figure how he knew. There’s no way you could have known, other than having your finger to the pulse of the people who make news. But it’s a bit uncanny.
Rosenberg: I learned some of that from you, Rush. You have the ability to seek information, and then you have an extraordinary capacity to process that information and draw conclusions that are ahead of what most people think that the data support. But you tend to be right. I was fascinated when I worked for you, because when I was doing research, you would often say things on the air, and I’d be like, “Where did he get that from?” You were your own research director. I was fascinated how you put information together and how you can see trends that a lot of political people still can’t see, even after the events have played out the way you said it would. I don’t know how much one can learn that, but I’ve tried to study it from you and from Netanyahu, whom I had the joy of working for, and Steve Forbes on the economic front, and trying to put that together in novels. I’m glad you’re enjoying them. It really means a lot to me.
Rush: Boy, they’re incredible, they really are, especially the first one, your rookie book.
Rosenberg: No one had heard of me, no one had heard of The Last Jihad, and you singlehandedly turned that into an 11-week New York Times bestseller. I couldn’t be more grateful. But I know you wouldn’t have done it just be nice to me, even though you’ve always been nice to me. You either liked it or you didn’t.
Rush: No, it was all that and more that I was describing. This one is, too. I can’t wait to see what you come up with next after having moved to Israel.
Rosenberg: My office is our bomb shelter in our apartment. [Laughter]. Apropos, I guess.
Rush: Right. You’ve got a close relationship with Netanyahu, too. I think he’s a great man.
Rosenberg: I’m closer to his team than to him personally, but he is a great leader. You should come back over to Israel. You’re due for a refresher.
Rush: I am. I think it’s an amazing place. Again, best of luck, and thanks for your time.
Rosenberg: It’s great to hear your voice and to get to talk to you directly and not just on the radio. One of the things I miss, having moved there, is I don’t get to listen to you the way I used to when I lived here.
Rush: It’s called Rush 24/7. Dittocam, audio streaming, or podcast, that’s definitely the way to do it.
Rosenberg: Good point. I’ll do that. God bless you, Rush. I really appreciate your friendship.
Rush: Same here.
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.