Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, believes that the State of Israel finds itself nowadays in a significant crossroads.
“It’s time for Israel to grow up,” he told the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast audience on Thursday.
The former ambassador, who currently heads the Friedman Center for Peace Through Strength, said “we are in a very critical time in the development of the State of Israel.”
In his speech, he divided the development of the Jewish state into three main periods.
The first began well before Israel’s establishment, from the earliest part of the 20th century through the Six-Day War in 1967. The Ambassador defines this period as the time of Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, who conceptualized and envisioned Israel as a Jewish state and until David Ben Gurion, the country’s first prime minister, laid its foundation.
“Israel was created by idealists, socialists,” Freidman explained. He claimed that back at the time, it took a type of collective effort to get over the massive challenges and build a new country for the Jewish people.
The second period, according to Friedman, began in 1967 after Israel won the war against Arab invaders and expanded its territory. Right-wing leader Menachem Begin then came to power and started shaping Israel as a strong country with a strong military – a path that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau continued to follow and lead in his 13-year tenure.
That stage lasted up until the end of the Trump administration and strengthened Israel’s significance as a Jewish state. During that period, Israel has defeated most of its enemies and has become intentionally recognized as a successful powerful nation, Friedman said.
The third stage is now, according to the former Ambassador. He believes it is time for Israel, as a mature country, to be able to answer the following question: “What is your Eastern border?”
Freidman says that if Israel does not decide its border for itself, then some other international entity or country made decide it for the Jewish State. In that case, he warns, “Shame of you and you, and you might not be the happy with the outcome.”
“The world will respect Israel if Israel will respect itself,” Freidman stresses.
He calls on the Israeli government to create a national consensus around the holy sites – to both Judaism and Christianity – raising a rhetorical question, “How could this not be part of the state of Israel?”
Friedman listed a few holy sites in the West Bank such as Hebron, Bethlehem, Nazareth and Shiloh. He revealed to the crowd that both he and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have recently filmed a show for TBN traveling across Route 60, which he refers to as “the biblical spine of the Jewish and the Christian faith.”
“Route 60: The biblical highway” is a show aimed to educate viewers about where the bible happened. “It's the same road that Jesus came when he visited the temple... the same road that Abraham traveled when he began in the north and headed down to Beersheba,” Friedman said
The former Trump administration officials used three film crews and three helicopters for the shootings. The production started in Nazareth and ended in Beersheba, with several stops in Judea and Samaria or Area C of the West Bank. It is set to be released in October.
According to Friedman, the essence of the documentary is not political. “We don't talk about a political outcome, but people will understand how foundational this area is to Judaism,” he added.
When asked whether the successful Abraham Accords were a missed opportunity to annex the biblical heartland of Israel - Judea and Samaria, Friedman replied that “the Jewish people have the right to remain on this land.”
He emphasized that Israel did not ask to cancel its annexation plan for the West Bank, but rather, “just put it off a little bit.”
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.