Interview: Brigitte Gabriel—ACT! for America
We welcome the dynamic Brigitte Gabriel to the program this week. Brigitte is a New York Times best-selling author and leading terrorism expert. She founded ACT! for America, the nation’s largest national security grassroots organization. We’ll hear about her new book Rise: In Defense of Judeo-Christian Values and Freedom and what she sees as freedom’s biggest threat.
Sometimes it can seem impossible to stop the secularization and downfall of Judeo-Christian values in our country. But as you hear from Brigitte, you can make a difference. Although it might be small, we can rise to the occasion. We hope you are encouraged by Brigitte’s message.
If you’d like to learn more about ACT! for America, go to actforamerica.org
Steve Conover: This is The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover and with me is our host and teacher, Chris Katulka.
Today on the program, Brigitte Gabriel, who was a New York Times bestselling author, leading expert on global Islamic terrorism, and chairman of ACT! for America, the largest national security grassroots organization in the U.S. She'll join Chris to talk about her new book, Rise in Defense of Judeo-Christian Values and Freedom.
But first, the news.
A special Christmas gift from Australia could be coming to Israel. By Christmas, the Australian government plans to move their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The decision to move the embassy is popular among evangelicals and younger people in Australia. However, Malaysia and Indonesia strongly oppose the embassy move, and have added that it could increase the threat of terror in that area.
Chris Katulka: Since the U.S. embassy, the Guatemalan embassy, since they moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last May, countries like Australia, Brazil and Romania have considered making a similar move. This is really exciting, Steve. I think it's great to see how the U.S. has led in this area, how they have made the decision, a bold decision, to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is giving the confidence for other nations in South America, in Eastern Europe and even down in Australia, in all these other areas of the world, to move their embassy into Jerusalem. It's a bold statement for each of these countries, to make that Israel has the right as a sovereign nation to choose where its capital will be. And Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel since the beginning of the modern state's rebirth.
Chris Katulka: Brigitte, thank you so much for being on the program today. You have a new, important book out called, Rise in Defense of Judeo-Christian Values and Freedom, something more important today to talk about than really ever before. Your book released in September. Can you share a little bit about what the pressing topics are in your new book?
Brigitte Gabriel: Well, I wrote the book because America, as we know it, is being transformed before our very eyes. The flag that once flew on every street corner is now considered a hate symbol on college campuses. Athletes, who used to break out in tears of pride during the national anthem are now kneeling in protest. Patriotism is seen as hateful. Freedom of speech is being eliminated by the tyranny of tolerance. Our police are being killed by criminals and thugs, while the mainstream media victimizes their killers.
I wrote the book Rise because I wanted to light a fire under patriotic Americans, who love this country, who believe in our foundation, who believe in our principles, who believe in the country that our founding fathers gave to us. And many of them, Chris, died broke, trying to give us the country that we have today. The least we can do is preserve it for next generation.
I am hoping to get people who are sitting at the sidelines, who say, "I vote on election day and I'm praying for our country," I'm hoping to engage them, to light a fire under them, to make them understand what's at stake and why we need to be engaged in our political process and how we can make a difference for the country.
Chris Katulka: Tell me something, you know, I think oftentimes, especially when we talk to people who don't have a patriotic value of the Judeo-Christian values that come with America, there's a sense where people go, "This is a secular country. Don't bring those values into this." Can you talk a little bit about the importance of Judeo-Christian values and what it means to the citizen of America, whether they are an atheist or whether they are a religious person, somebody who believes in God, who follows God, who goes to church or synagogue regularly, could you share a little bit about that?
Brigitte Gabriel: Western civilization was founded on Judeo-Christian values and principles. America was founded on Judeo-Christian values and principles. What most people don't realize is even our freedom of speech, which most secular people say, "Oh my God, our freedom of speech," well where did that come from? The Bible tells us, come let's reason together. There are people in Judaism, in Israel, there are people who, their job, or their life all day, is to debate the Bible, to debate scripture, to learn from scripture.
Our modern interpretation of what that is, we call it freedom of speech, where we can say, "Well, in our country we can have a difference of opinion and we can sit around the table and we can debate passionately about issues and we agree to disagree." Well, that's exactly what Orthodox Jews do on a daily basis, in Israel, debating the Bible. This principle is a Judeo-Christian principle. So, you'd think, in our country, all these freedoms that we take for granted, that basically originated from the rights given to us by God, this is why we are who we are.
By the way, even atheists in our country, when you have families who don't even go to church or don't even go to a synagogue, are not even professing ... are total atheists, they teach their little children, "Now Johnny, don't lie. Johnny, treat others the way you want to be treated." Those are Judeo-Christian values.
So, America's culture is that, and we need to make sure we preserve that, especially today, Chris, when we are looking at groups like Antifa, thugs, who believe you can show up to rallies, you can hit your other fellow Americans, you can attack them just because they disagree with you. We need to change that. The way we change that is, we need the body of Christ to be more engaged and more involved in trying to make a difference for the country.
Chris Katulka: That's right. They look at free speech as something that was a right given. Today, I think culture looks at free speech as a right that was given by America. But what they forget is that those principles of free speech, the principles of freedom, the principles of liberty that we have as a country, aren't something that America invented. It's something that the founders looked back to as a greater power, a higher power, God himself, who gives us these rights to freely speak, to have liberty and freedom in our country. That's the importance of the Judeo-Christian value that you're talking about.
Brigitte, I was reading through your book, and one of the sections that really stuck out to me was the institutions, I love the way you said this, “the institutions of higher censorship”. And if I can just read this one section, you're talking about something that happened at the University of California in San Diego, where a student who was a part of the association of Muslim Students Association confronted David Horowitz.
This is what you write. You write, “When Horowitz asked the young woman if she supported the terrorist organization of Hamas, she replied, "If I say something, I'm sure that I will be arrested for reasons of Homeland security." In other words, you write, “of course she supported Hamas, but she didn't want to be arrested or investigated on terrorism charges if she essentially admitted that she was a terrorist.” But Horowitz, genius, pressed further. "I'm a Jew," he said, "The head of Hezbollah said that he hopes that all will gather in Israel so he doesn't have to hunt us down globally. For it or against it?," he asked her. And she paused. And the Muslim student leaned into the microphone and with a cold, calculated voice, stated, "For it."
This is just mind-blowing. On college campuses today, we are seeing that nobody is criticized for saying ... You have to call that out. You have to write about it. But Ben Shapiro has to get security, a Jewish man has to get security to voice his opinion on college campuses, Dennis Prager, yourself, I'm sure. Can you share about what's happening on our college campuses, where liberal education is supposed to be educating about free speech and the rights that we have, when really, it's oppressing us once again?
Brigitte Gabriel: Oh, my goodness. I called our universities occupied territories, because when you are a speaker who is pro America and pro Israel, like me, like Ben Shapiro, like Dennis Prager, you need a team of security fit for a president, to be able to speak on a college campus. We have seen, just in the last year, at UC Berkeley, at different universities, the damage, the leftist students coming out. Not just the Muslim Student Association, but the leftists students. In my book, I talk about how we lost our universities, but I'm going to elaborate a little bit here, because most people don't realize how the process started.
You see, with the influx of money from Saudi Arabia, the Muslims started giving millions of dollars to our universities, back starting in 1991. That's ten years prior to 9/11. We're talking over a quarter of a century now. They started giving millions of dollars to our universities, setting up Middle East study departments and political science departments and appointing Arab professors, who are anti-Israel, anti-America, to teach our students that America is so bad, that Israel is evil, and that the Islamic world and the rest of the world is the underdog.
To give you an idea of the peddling from foreign money that has come to our universities to set up such departments to bring our students, let me share some numbers: $20 million was donated to the University of Arkansas from the king of Saudi Arabia, $22 million donated to Harvard University from two Saudi sheikhs linked to Al-Qaeda, $28.1 million donated to Georgetown, $5 million to MIT, $1.5 million to Texas A&M, $5 million to Rutgers University, $5 million to Columbia, which, by the way, denied the receipt of the funds. Other recipients of this type of money include UC Santa Barbara, Johns Hopkins University, Duke University, American University, UCLA, Howard University and many more.
People ask me all the time, Brigitte, "Why is the media, why are they anti-Semitic and anti-American?"
And I tell them, "Why are you surprised?" Because for the last 25 years, all this money that has poured into our universities, feeding our children and brainwashing them, feeding them a steady diet of hate and resentment against America, Produced today, the news anchors that we have today. Those students who have been fed this steady diet of hate are now the news anchors, the news reporters, the news writers, the newspaper editors, the foreign policy makers. Is it any wonder why we have the anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism we are witnessing today?
That's why, in my book, Rise, at the end of every chapter, no matter what I am talking about, at the end of every chapter, I have a section titled, Rise up and Act, where I give people tips and ideas as to what they can do, how they can be engaged to make a difference for the country. For example, three things you can do under 10 minutes that will make a difference for the country, and you can do them while sipping your cup of coffee in the morning, sitting in your pajamas at the privacy of your own home.
Chris Katulka: Before we go to our break here, that's what I was going to tell my audience. When I was reading through your book, it was all this fantastic information, Brigitte, about how we ended up where we are right now in our country. But then, at the very end of each chapter, you have that section, Rise up and Act, practical ways, not just theoretical ways, practical ways that your readers can make a difference today. Because you know what? We can make a difference.
I think the administration that we have today, the Trump administration, is a response to those people who said, "I've had enough of seeing the values of this country, the Judeo-Christian values, being swiped out from underneath of us." So they voted, they acted. Well, there's other ways that we can act.
When we get back, we're going to have Brigitte, and she's going to share with us a little bit about her thoughts of what happened in Pittsburgh recently. So be sure to stick around.
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Chris Katulka: Brigitte, recently, we've seen something terrible happen in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, at the Tree of Life synagogue, where 11 people were systematically murdered by a terrorist. Now, it's not a Muslim terrorist in the way that we often think of terrorists. It was domestic terrorism. It was someone who hated the Jewish people. Can you share with our audience your thoughts on what happened in Pittsburgh?
Brigitte Gabriel: What happened in Pittsburgh is a tragedy. It's a tragedy that we cannot tolerate against any people, regardless of faith. This is something that we need to come together as a nation. The civilized world must band together in solidarity to ensure that people of all faiths, Chris, can live in peace and harmony and that Jews are never persecuted and victimized by barbaric, murderous ideologies ever again. It doesn't matter who perpetrates the crimes against them. To allow anti-Semitism to continue to exist unchecked in the 21st century destroys a piece of everyone's humanity. There is simply no room for such hatred in the world.
Chris Katulka: It's amazing to think, one of the people who died, Brigitte, was a Holocaust survivor. I was just talking with my wife, and she was saying, "It's amazing to think that a woman who escaped the persecution of the Nazi regime, who could have died for being Jewish, 70 years later, still dies for being Jewish in what's supposed to be one of the freest countries in the world."
Brigitte Gabriel: It's so sad, so sad. Hatred cannot exist and we need to bring down the rhetoric in our countries, Chris. The rhetoric right now is so dangerous, when leaders entice people to violence and push them to violence and justify it, against people that they don't like or they don't agree with them politically. People feel they have a license to go out and basically express their anger, their hatred, their venomous attitudes. That should not be tolerated against anybody in our country. I hope that they will prosecute this person to the full measure.
The United States needs to stand up together and show the Jewish community that we are not going to allow or tolerate people being killed simply for their faith, especially innocent people, praying, on the holiest day of the week in their religion, on a Saturday morning, on a Shabbat morning, at their temple. It is such a tragedy and it should not be tolerated in our country.
Chris Katulka: This is really what gets right back, as we're getting back to your book here, Brigitte, Rise in Defense of Judeo-Christian Values and Freedom, these Jewish people were simply living out the freedoms that they have here in America and that's why your book is so important for our listeners to get their hands on.
Brigitte, can you share some ways that our listeners can find your book and connect with you in the mission that you're on right now?
Brigitte Gabriel: Thank you. The book is available on amazon.com and also barnesandnoble.com. But even better, please go to a bookstore in your community and get it. We need your support. I challenge you to get this book, not only for you to read it, but share it with your friends. Buy four books, one for you, and three to donate to public libraries in your community. Buy extra three to give them to teachers in your community. Mail them to your local elected official. Mail it from you. We need to become more engaged in educating people what's at stake.
The last chapter of the book, chapter 15, the whole chapter is about political activism and what you can do, even includes letters to the editor, to your local newspaper, about different topics. All you have to do is literally sign your name, put the name of your newspaper, and send the letter. The same thing with letters to elected officials. We need to come together and make a difference. I encourage people to go to our websites, actforamerica.org, actforamerica.org, and sign up and join us. Get our emails, get our action alerts. You need to be receiving the information that we send out. It is vital for our country.
We named the organization, Chris, ACT! for America, not think about America, not wish for America, not help for America, not pray for America. You can do all that, and you should do all that. But without taking action, nothing happens. ACT! for America. I hope today will be your defining moment, no matter where you are listening to us right now: on the Internet, on the radio. I hope that today will be your defining moment to say, "Today, I'm going to take action. I'm going to become more engaged, more involved, to defend our Judeo-Christian foundations and freedom, and stand up for my country."
Chris Katulka: Well listen, Frank Luntz says, "Say the name of the book seven times to get it into people's minds." So I'm going to say it one more time, Rise in Defense of Judeo-Christian Values and Freedom.
Brigitte Gabriel, thank you so much for spending your busy time with us. We really appreciate it. We want to encourage our listeners to be sure to go and get her book, Rise in Defense of Judeo-Christian Values and Freedom. Brigitte, thank you very much.
Brigitte Gabriel: Thank you, Chris. I appreciate being with you.
Steve Conover: Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life and ministry of Holocaust survivor, Zvi Kalisher.
Mike Kellogg: It is now the time of year when we Christians celebrate the Lord's birth. In Israel, people are also celebrating the Feast of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. I recently visited an ultra orthodox school, and talked with some of the students about Christmas and Hanukkah.
One student said, "Hanukkah is a very holy feast."
I responded, "Then why is it not mentioned in the Jewish scriptures, and yet Christmas is mentioned several times? Hanukkah only lasts for a few days, and then the light of the festival goes out for another year. But those of use who celebrate Christmas have an everlasting light in our hearts. We celebrate the coming of the Lord, in whom there is no more darkness and no more sorrow."
The pupils listened carefully, but when I finished, one of them said, "Show us where this one is written in the Bible."
I told them, "I will be glad to show you passages that speak of Him, and then you must show me where the Bible speaks of Hanukkah."
And they agreed. I then read Isaiah 7:14, "Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Emmanuel."
They thought they had trapped me, since this passage did not mention Bethlehem. But then, I read Micah 5:2, "But you Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to me the one to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting."
This made them uncomfortable. I told them, "Now, show me where the Bible speaks of Hanukkah." This put them in an unpleasant position, because they knew there was no reference to Hanukkah in the scripture.
One said, "You act as if you own this synagogue."
I responded, "If you call this a house of prayer, then it should be a place where all people can come to worship their heavenly father."
Soon, a teacher entered and one of the students told him what was happening, and the teacher became angry with his students. He then asked, "Who are you? Are you a teacher?"
"No," I replied, "But if I were, I would want to be considered an honest teacher. You and your colleagues are not being honest with your students. Many of these students have spent most of their lives here studying under your tutelage. But they do not worship God. Rather, they worship books of tradition and the false teachers who wrote them. As one who believes in the true and living God, I must show them, and you, the right way to worship God, according to the Bible."
The teacher then asked, "How did you come to speak about Christ? Do you know who he is?"
I replied, "I say Christ, but you say, in Hebrew, Messiah. If you like, we can continue in the Hebrew language only. Then we can speak freely about Yeshua, Jesus, salvation."
The teacher was visibly shaken, and excused himself saying he had no more time to talk with me. I was sad the students and teacher are still living in deep darkness. I pray I will have further opportunities to speak with them. Then, perhaps some year, they too will be able to sing “joy to the world, the Lord is come.”
Steve Conover: Thank you for joining us today. We're so glad to have had Brigitte Gabriel as our guest today. You can learn more about Brigitte's work by visiting actforamerica.org. That's actforamerica.org. You can also purchase her book, Rise in Defense of Judeo-Christian Values and Freedom. Again, that's actforamerica.org. We want to take a moment to mention that the Friends of Israel Today is a listener-supported program, and we're asking if you would prayerfully consider becoming a monthly supporter of this ministry. You can find out more at foiradio.org. That's foiradio.org, or call our listener line at 888-343-6940. That's 888-343-6940. Be sure to let us know where you listen when you contact us.
Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione, co-written by Sarah Fern. Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. And I'm Steve Conover, executive producer.
The Friends of Israel Today is a production of the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide Christian ministry, communicating Biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while fostering solidarity with the Jewish people.
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Apples of Gold: Christmas and Hanukkah
As many Christians around the world are celebrating the Lord’s birth, Jewish people are celebrating Hanukkah, the festival of lights. Zvi visited an ultra-orthodox school and talked to some of the students about Christmas and Hanukkah. One student mentioned that Hanukkah was a “holy feast.” Zvi responds with a series of questions about Hanukkah and Christmas. His approach to these students is something we can all learn as we talk to our unbelieving friends this time of year.
Zvi’s story is available in Elwood McQuaid’s book, “Zvi: The Miraculous Story of Triumph over the Holocaust,” available at our online store.
More stories from Zvi are also available in his book, “The Best of Zvi,” available at our online store.
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.