Dennis Prager

Adam and Dennis discuss the alliance between the U.S. and Israel. Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, columnist, author, and public speaker.

Transcript

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Transcript:

Adam Milstein: Hello, this is Adam Milstein and welcome to my podcast. This week my guest is the legendary Dennis Prager, one of America’s most respected commentators, authors and thinkers. Dennis, thank you very much for taking the time to join me and speak to the Israeli American community.

 

Dennis Prager: Adam, it’s a joy to be with you again. We have a wonderful relationship. It’s a delight to be with you. I will tell you this, I know we’re doing this in English but I would get such a kick out of addressing your listeners in Hebrew.

 

Adam Milstein: When I ask you a question, feel free to answer either way. We understand both.

 

Dennis Prager: I know you have a lot of American listeners so I’ll keep it to English.

אבל אני רוצה להגיד למאזינים הישראלים שאני מעדיף לדבר עברית.

Okay, over.

 

Adam Milstein: בכיף. סבבה.

 

Dennis Prager: Okay, okay. Back to English.

 

Adam Milstein: When you explained the value of Israel for Americans, what do you say? What do you think is the secret sauce behind the US, Israel alliance?

 

Dennis Prager: The first thing, believe it or not and I say believe it or not because we live in such a cynical world but the biggest thing is shared values. Americans are a very, generally speaking, are a very morally animated people. They may get it wrong but they’re animated by right and wrong I believe more than any other nation in the world. There are good people and bad people in America. There are good people and bad people in Sweden and in Uruguay and in Tibet. I know this, I’ve been to a hundred fifteen countries. There are beautiful people everywhere and ugly people everywhere.

 

However, America uniquely is animated by the question what is right and what is wrong? That is why America fought, for example, I wonder what percentage of your listeners know and I would presume it’s a very small percentage, thirty seven thousand Americans died fighting for Korea. Korea. How many people even know about the Korean War? In the 1950’s America liberated South Korea. If it weren’t for Americans dying and getting wounded and maimed and injured, South Korea would have been governed by the North Korean Communist tyrants, that crackpot family of the Kim’s.

 

All of Korea would be a concentration camp like North Korea is today. Instead, South Korea is one of the great economic engines of the world, thanks to Americans dying and keeping soldiers there. We think morally. Israel strikes most Americans as by far the most decent society in the Middle East and it is embattled. People want to destroy it. It’s the only country in the world, the only, it’s amazing to think. It’s the only country in the world targeted for extinction. There are many battles in the world but no country aims to alienate another. Israel’s enemies want to destroy Israel not conquer it, destroy it.

 

Americans have been sympathetic to Israel and they know that Israelis have a tremendous admiration for America so that first and foremost, there has been even earlier than that and there continues today, Christians have a deep, deep affinity for Israel for theological reasons. Then there are strategic reasons. During the Cold War, it was our America’s only ally really in that arena and to this day, it’s the only dependable ally that America has there.

 

Adam Milstein: Thank you Dennis, beautiful. The Israeli American Consul is the fastest growing Jewish organization in America. If you don’t believe me, you can ask AIPAC. It’s building new Israeli American identity that has people engage like never before. Do you think that Israeli American community has a unique role to play in American life? How can the community bring our unique perspective to strengthen America and strengthen the US Israel alliance?

 

Dennis Prager: You are an invaluable resource and I want to congratulate you because I believe this has not been easy. Israeli’s who have moved to America did not come to become politically involved by and large, totally understandably by the way. I’m not saying this in any way negatively. They came to improve their lives and they have contributed as individuals tremendously to America. Having said that, now that more and more are becoming active, clearly if someone says, “I am from Israel,” they have more credibility than anybody else speaking on behalf of Israel. I lived there, I grew up there.

 

I’d like to tell you my experience. No one else can say this is my experience. Allan Dershowitz is a tremendously articulate defender of Israel but like me, and I’m an articulate defender of Israel, I debated at Oxford for Israel, I broadcast my national show and often Israel comes up. I know that. Nevertheless, I can say, “Let me tell you something about life in the Israeli army,” or how we are instructed to treat civilians. I can’t say that. You can so that brings you a credibility in these matters that is unique.

 

Adam Milstein: Yeah, thanks Dennis. We feel we’re the nexus between the Israeli people and the American people because we lived in Israel. Some of us served in the army. We understand the neighborhood. We speak the language and now we’re living here. We are American citizens and we understand the sentiments of the American people so there’s nobody better than us to be the bridge between those two great nations.

 

Dennis Prager: And between I believe Israeli Jews and American Jews, that’s an additional function that you can play.

 

Adam Milstein: Absolutely. Let me switch the discussion to BDS. Why has this movement emerged as a growing threat to Israel and the Jewish people in recent years?

 

Dennis Prager: Now you’re asking me the sixty four thousand shekel question because my answer will I think surprise many of your listeners. You’re really asking, at least I believe this, you are really asking why is Israel the target of unique hatred in the world. That’s really the question, not specifically only BDS. There are so many evil countries. Why is a decent country so attacked? Are people trying to economically strangle Iran? That would make sense. No, they welcome the same people who wish to economically strangle Israel were thrilled about the agreement with Iran which liberated a hundred and fifty billion dollars for the Iranian’s to spend on whatever they want including terror organizations around the world.

 

According to the United States government, they’re the biggest sponsor of terror on earth, the Iranian government. Why aren’t Iranian’s “scholars”, who are basically functionaries of the theocracy, the anti-women, anti-gay, anti-freedom theocracy of Iran. Why aren’t they targeted for BDS? Why is Israel targeted? Such a decent country. That’s the question Israeli’s need to ask themselves as well as anybody else. I don’t think the average Israeli understands how unique Israel hatred is and it is unique.

 

Now my own theory, this is the part that I think will surprise your listeners, I happen to believe that in the final analysis, it’s because Israel is the only Jewish state and there is a role that Jew hatred has played in human history unlike all other bigotries and all other forms of prejudice. I believe that Jew hatred first of all is the greatest moral compass that we have. Once you know of a group or an individual who is a Jew hater, you know all you need to know about their moral compass. It’s broken. Jew hatred starts with Jews but it never ends with Jews.

 

The people who are trying to economically strangle Israel are morally confused human beings who are a danger to western civilization, not just to Israel. To your original question, I think there’s something specific about Israel being Jewish and about Jew hatred. They’re the only rational explanations for BDS. There is no other rational explanation why such a decent country, alone among all the nations of the world is targeted for a boycott of vestment and sanctions.

 

Adam Milstein: Thank you, Dennis. You said that whatever starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews.

 

Dennis Prager: That’s right.

 

Adam Milstein: Do you see danger to America, to our Judea Christian values, to our western civilization, to the way and the manner we leave her from BDS?

 

Dennis Prager: Yes, exactly. It really is developing on the point that I was just making that it’s not a coincidence that the people who are most anti-Israel are also the most anti American and the most anti-Western. The professors at universities who are for BDS are the same professors who would have marched with Jesse Jackson at Stanford University decades ago, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ. has got to go.” These people don’t like western civilization and Israel is simply the tip of that iceberg.

 

Adam Milstein: Thanks, Dennis. Very wise. Let me end, Dennis, with an interesting question. We are an immigrant community, the Israeli Americans. We are Israeli Americans, we are actually Jewish Americans and people ask, “What are we first? Are we first Jewish or are we first Americans?” How can you organize this very important question for us?

 

Dennis Prager: It’s a fascinating question. This might be of help because it was actually an Israeli audience in Los Angeles that I was first asked this question about twenty five years ago. We actually did the interview in Hebrew and he asked me, “Are you a,” and I think it was his last question. He said, “Dennis, are you first an American or first a Jew?” I had never been asked that publicly so I never had a developed answer but I thought quickly and the response I gave, I have since used over and over and over to anybody, even if they don’t ask it, I tell it.

 

I said, “I have two fathers and they are Avraham, Abraham, our patriarch. Abraham Avinu, and George Washington.” That was not a line for public consumption, that is what I do feel. I am twice blessed being a member of the Jewish people and the American people. There is no conflict. They only aid and strengthen one another because remember, becoming an American is not becoming ethnically different. America is made up of everybody. America is an idea, not an ethnicity. Swedish is ethnicity. Brazilian is ethnicity. America is an idea and it’s the only country that’s an idea. If you subscribe to our idea and identify with it and become a citizen of this country, you are an American. You don’t have to give up your sense of Israeliness whatsoever. Nobody’s asking you to but you can fully embrace this blessing of being an American as well.

 

Adam Milstein: Beautifully said Dennis. Thank you very much again for your time, it’s a pleasure.

 

Dennis Prager: Adam, you do great work Adam, it’s a joy to be with you.

 

Adam Milstein: Thank you very much.