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Encore | Why Israel Matters: A Conversation with David Siegel

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
May 22, 2021 3:00 am

Encore | Why Israel Matters: A Conversation with David Siegel

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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May 22, 2021 3:00 am

In this classic interview, Pastor Greg Laurie sits down with then Consul General for Israel, David Siegel, for a conversation about the significance of Israel in world history. They also discuss more contemporary issues facing the nation.

Siegel is highly knowledgeable in U.S. and Israel relations, Scripture fulfillment, and current events in the Middle East. 

This conversation explores the threats of other countries to the nation of Israel, the altruism of Israel toward global disasters, and the relationship of Israel with other countries.

Siegel served as the senior representative for the State of Israel for the Southwestern United States from 2011–2016.

This interview originally took place on the evening of April 30, 2015.


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Everybody Greg Laurie here. You're listening to the Grigori podcast and my objective is to deliver hopefully compelling practical insights and faith culture and current events.

From a biblical perspective to find out more about our ministry. Just go to our website so thanks for joining me for this podcast. Let's welcome David Siegel, the consul general of the nation Israel.

The southwestern United States. If you have thank you very much your dress. Much better than I am. That's because of the consul general in I'm just me so long of the title Well, it's great to have you here again.

We've actually got spoken before we did an interview before the radio and the pacifistic broadcasting hears kind of a heavy question to start with but we alluded to this in my little talk.

What role did the Holocaust play in the establishment of the nation of Israel while you know the Holocaust was a defining moment in our history. It was a devastating one third of our people were destroyed 6 million people over almost a decade, 1.5 million children. But this did the modern miracle of Israel begins 2000 years before that the promise of next year in Jerusalem which we say every year during our Passover running three times a day as we pray, was the light at the end of the tunnel so we were people that were dispersed in 100 nations all over the world and we came back 2000 years later.

So the Holocaust was maybe a final chapter and it and it's amazing that the same generation and almost saw the end of the Jewish people in 1945.

That same generation fought for its rebirth in 1948 so I would say the last chapter, but certainly not the reason there's that word out there that because of the Holocaust, Israel was created while Israel was created for thousand years before that type MM years before Christianity. Both of our religions have been here for very long time and are here to stay x-ray but yet there's force on the move in our world today.

Militant Islam and I in anti-Semitism is on the rise. I read a headline in the newspaper that said that 2014 was the first worst year for anti-Semitic attacks since 2009. Of course we remember what happened, not the undergoing Paris work Jewish people were specifically targeted.

I believe in media culture market of some kind so why do you think after all that happened in the Holocaust. You would think that that anti-Semitism would just stop and get it rolling. Why do you think that is David well you know you're up spread the virus to the Middle East. The virus of anti-Semitism.

The 19th century. In the 20th century it I found it's a home in the Middle East and hatred of Jews in Israel and now it's migrating back to Europe because as the Middle East is in flames you have populations shifting and moving and extremist moving out there not well integrated in the European countries. You have the old anti-Semitic forces converging with the new ones, and it's a very dangerous moment. So, seven decades after the Holocaust, here we are again in Europe where you cannot be a Jew safely in public places. Two thirds of Jews polled say that they feel the danger of anti-Semitism in their everyday lives. In Europe it saw its terrible.

It's one of the great threats Iran the delegitimization of Israel and the hatred of Jews which is anti-Semitism are the three major threats that we face today you take the threat seriously, don't you. We do very much. Iran is a huge danger to the world than the number one sponsor of terrorism in the world today. According to the State Department nudges, according to Israel there major threat in the Middle East. They are now in Lebanon and Syria in Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya and now in Yemen and there part of this endless war that is going on throughout the Middle East between all of these collapsing states and societies there, very dangerous, and over the last 25 years they've been developing a nuclear weapons program in ICBM program that now reaches deep into Europe and it's on its way to the United States its way over the heads of Israel, so the threat is not just Israel@the entire world in the Middle East. When the call for our destruction and they deny the Holocaust and they have cartoon competitions for denial of the Holocaust by all the world participants. This is a force of evil that has to be confronted has to be stopped before it's too late when the last termination threatened to eliminate the Jewish people. Look how many Jewish people died. So Europe typically spread seriously and so should we in the United States. They call us the great Satan called Israel. The little Satan and then the other proxy forces. In addition to developing these nuclear weapons they of Hezbollah who we were talking earlier is because how many potential rockets aimed at the nation Israel right now hundred and 20,000. That's more than Russia has today. Unbelievable. And they say they want to threaten Israel are they want to destroy Israel. Be specific. They say they want to wipe Israel off the face of the map they make no bones about that summer we enter into a negotiation with this nation. Can we trust what they say.

Well, we cannot trust Iranians because it's a dictatorship it's oppressing 70 million people day they've been lying about their program for the last three decades. You go you inspect them.

They don't let you in the know let you into other secret sites of inspectors don't really know and it's very similar to North Korea only more dangerous job so you cannot trust them, and we believe that it has to be rolled back in has to be dismantled just like the chemical weapons were removed from Syria before Syria collapsed nights were in the midst of its collapse. So Iran should not have nuclear weapons because they're dangerous but they'll breed a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. The other Arab countries are threatened by Iran just like Israel is and they will armed with nuclear weapons in order to contend with Iran. This is no way to heal the Middle East our time. It's very dangerous. Well, I think that a minister net you have set some along the lines of to win the conflict with ISIS in the lose with Iran is to win the battle and lose the war is a formidable foe in in years past Israel had to take matters into their own hands when Iraq was building the nuclear reactor and course roundly criticized but that was a great move. I think or all of the world as we entered into a complicated the United States with Iraq, but if I ran develops or enriches uranium to weapon rate status weapons grade status what you think is overdue and is it even possible through a military solution to stop this program.

We have no doubt that is possible, and certainly if the United States with all of its capabilities took those steps to make sure that the Iranians understand that the world is serious Iran would pay notice, but Israel even though were small we are tiny country were smaller than New Jersey. As you said before were number 160 something in the world, but we know how to defend ourselves. We are very very quick on her feet.

We also have faith in a God that he sustained us for 4000 years. That year he will sustain us well you know Isaiah promises that no weapon formed against us will prosper that any time which rises against us in judgment.

They themselves will be condemned for those who curse Israel, and so on so weak this were aware of this but it doesn't mean that it's not in our hands to do what we need to defend ourselves and we work very hard at it. The smartest missile defense systems in the world iron dome that is taken down 90% of the rockets were fired at us. Israel is probably the most strongly equipped country in terms of its own self defense after the United States and the world we work together with America, with the military with we just met with a group of firefighters from Arizona yesterday who came back from Israel. You should see the passion in their eyes and in their hearts of this this real camaraderie that they have the room is really calling to first responders and how we learn from each other how to do our jobs better to service our communities. That's what democracies do.

That's what American is together yet. I think that's one of the unknown things about the nation Israel is all the amazing things that you do around the world. We were talking earlier about how you been involved over in Haiti and Nepal. I without huge group of people even more lenient then the United States supplied. Maybe you can elaborate on that. This is something of a terrible tragedy and a power but a moment of great pride for Israel were small country were far away from Nepal. We sent the largest medical delegation in the world. We have 260 medical professional, surgeons, doctors on the ground right now. We set up the only militant field hospital in Nepal today in Israeli team rescued a young woman in her early 20s who was under the debris.

For five days.

Thank you, but interestingly the other people on the ground are American and they saved a young boy today both both the young woman and the young boy were taken to the Israeli field hospital for lifesaving treatment babies being born operations are being conducted. This is an amazing story of you know, hospital directors and leave their hospitals at a moments notice. Join this crew of 260 people planning the hospital as the plane is flying into an earthquake.

They get there so quickly they can even land because of the aftereffect aftershocks and they had to wait a further eight hours. The hospital is up and running it will be there as long as it's needed.

This is what Israel does in Nepal in the Philippines in Haiti and Japan, and Turkey as in the last five years, realizes the spread of you think that's because your people have suffered so greatly that you have an empathy for others who are suffering and you want to do something for them.

Yes, absolutely. It's it's a Jewish ethic is an Israeli ethic. It's an article at the given biblical ethics strategy Judeo-Christian ethic about repairing a hurting world.

There was a medical conference in Israel last year during the Ebola crisis in Africa that was when you and in you winning at your own risk. There were hundreds of doctors in the hall and they were asked are you willing to go to Africa right now to treat Ebola patients. 80% of the people in room razor in their hands to help. So this is the ethic the medical ethic to humanitarian ethic which we share as to democracies, and if something were very proud when there's so many similarities between our countries, you know, I mean, you guys did. First of course with the 10 Commandments and God choosing you but we took, as you said that Judeo-Christian ethic, and we built a nation on those principles and I think one of the reasons that our nation is struggling today is we've gone so far from that foundation and we need to return to it again but do you think that most Jewish people in America today support the nation Israel. I think the short answer is yes. You know, we support that we debated the same time so you know we have this joke that the difference between a Christian doesn't believe in God and a Jew who doesn't believe in God is that the Jew continues arguing with God so so we have we have arguments we have our politics no everything is very partisan but II know as a representative of Israel here. I embrace anyone who wants to have a relationship with Israel whether they disagree or not. It's not about politics it's about 4000 years of history and the, the, the redeeming miracle of returning know is was almost 7 years old.

We celebrated her 67th anniversary last week. Birth happy birthday Israel thing I the kingdom of David was 80 years and then Solomon came and built the temple and I was another 40 years. I was 120 years as our golden era wherever well disposed to reach that goal and 202 Even Go Way beyond that, because were a democracy. This is something I'm looking at my kids in the next generation after us there smarter. They are just as patriotic even more passionate in defending this this this cause of the nation of Israel.

The only democracy in the Middle East. The only place where everyone can practice a religion freely right and in peace with your Muslim or Christian or Jewish or Baha'i or anything else. And this will continue in perpetuity. The prophecies say there were two dispersions not three.

And that's a very significant thing to keep in mind we are here to stay were the only democracy in the only pro-American country in the Middle East after and that brings us to topic work here.

There are people that that may be imposed Israel because they don't understand what's going on because you're sometimes criticized for not letting the Palestinians have a homeland and they don't understand the relationship that Israel has with Arab people and how they're allowed to use as you said to freely participate in the elections in your country to vote and what is it 20% of your population did you tell me earlier zip.

So let's talk a little bit about this. The Palestinians and and their plight right now and in what would you say to the critics, he would say, why don't you let them have a homeland. Why won't you give them more territory. Well first of all the Palestinians do have a homeland right now on the West Bank and what we call today and Samaria and historic terms.

They have their own government and we wish them well. The problem is and maybe give you an anecdote just to drive home to you a few years ago there was a terrible tragedy. There was a Jordanian soldier who evidently had had emotional problems he opened fire into Israel and seven schoolgirls were killed and this was a good 15, 20 years ago, the King of Jordan was on his way to Great Britain, and he flies his own aircraft as a pilot.

The moment he heard and he already had peace with Israel. Israel and Jordan have a peace treaty. The motive moment he heard about this tragedy. He turned around the plane and he asked for permission to land in Israel and he went to each and every one of those seven grieving households and begged for forgiveness and repentance. That's what a piece leader does. The leader of the Palestinians today calls public squares in the names of mass murderers, terrorists call soccer stadiums in the names of terrorists, hills, and glorifies and pays bonuses and salaries to the families that bred terrorism educates to Hayden the schools.

This is a peace partner that is deeply flawed. Now Israel is tiny and our narrowest point we are 9 miles wide between Isis and Iran and the ocean.

We have to be very careful when we give back more territory to make those compromises which were willing to do with a partner that is safe, reliable and bold enough to make peace with us. The tragedy is when not there yet.

But even if were not there are many other good things are happening on the ground because people human beings are human beings and Palestinians.

Most Palestinians want a future for their children, and a good education for the children healthcare for their parents and jobs for themselves. These are what normal people want and the majority of Israel want a peaceful solution and I believe that eventually will get there because the Middle East needs Israel. We are number one in the world in creating water. We will need your help now. Yes, there is a reason why I'm sorry I'm there is there is a reason why California chose Israel as its strategic partner in fighting the drought and signed an agreement with us last year. The problem is it's complicated.

You have 2000 water authorities and utilities in the state. We have one so were number one in the world and recycling watering desalinated water in plugging leaks under cities. Tel Aviv is losing less than 10% of its water.

Jordan is losing 60%. It is give you an we have taken water in the desert in science and culture and cybersecurity now as national priorities we tackle them and were very very good at it work after California is Rosa number two innovation center in the world. There is a reason why Apple your iPad maker and iPhone maker is now opening its second-largest research and development center in the world in Israel hiring 1000 engineers and computer programmers and Facebook and Google and on and and IBM and Intel is the largest private employer in Israel with six plans including a $6 billion plan. They must be doing good because her blessing us and were blessing them half of Israel's exports are high-tech, much of it is coming from the global American companies that are sitting in Israel, gobbling up startups as we speak and I want to say one more thing.

We are known as a start up nation, but were also startup were 67-year-old startup and so is America. It's a little bit older than us, but in historical terms were two startups were two democracies, the art arc of history is not about democracy. This is very special which is why were very close, which is why I believe that the deep roots that connect us from the Puritans until today and connect us with Israel are roots that are here to stay, so we may have political disagreements in the news, but that comes and goes, the basics of their absolutely your x-ray events. But you know I would ask what the biggest misconception about Israel. I don't think will realize how high-tech you guys are in really many ways with with all that you develop, it's because you have to you have to know how to defend yourself because your enemy could strike and be in your country within seconds, I suppose, perhaps minutes and I am not that long ago Hamas was firing rocks over in a Rockets over the Israel and then you discovered all these intricate and complex tunnels that the bill probably with money that's been sent for aid for the Palestinian people that they were using to come into your nation and you destroy those tunnels, but you have to be on your toes as they say, because your very survival depends upon a definite absolutely does and we are on our toes.

We have to be very strong and very smart to continue doing what were doing in the Middle East and will continue to do that and will do that together with America and Congress and future administrations and friends that we have and people of faith because this this is what will save Israel.

The biggest misconception is looking at us and looking at the Middle East and judging us only by the headlines on Santa because if you did that yourself. If you judge your communities by your local news. It wouldn't be a very welcoming place either term Israel is a real, it's not a political campaign that needs to be one. It's a real country with 8.3 million human beings Jews from over 100 countries. The ingathering of the exiles, the prophecies of come true and speaking over 80 languages and 20% as you said, that are Arab that are Christian that are Muslim Baha'i people that are persecuted in Iran and throughout the Middle East are converging in Israel their world headquarters is in Israel.

Christian groups come to Israel you know that the Middle East is to be 20% Christian is now less than 4% Christian because of the persecutions in Egypt and Syria and Lebanon and in Iraq and everywhere else you look work and Hamas in Gaza. What they did to the Christian population. It really doesn't exist there anymore.

Many of them escaped Israel Israel to become a refuge for the minorities in Middle East for the Christian community in the Middle East.

They sit there they broadcast TV and radio back to their communities in the Middle East because I can't do it elsewhere. So I think it's a very special place. It's misjudged by the headlines. Just flatten out everything there's no soul, and that we need to bring the soul back in whenever we lead attorney Israel people say are you crazy it's so dangerous over there and also you know what I feel safer in Israel than I would feel in many American cities at night you know and that's the absolute truth. We can do for starters you know you have soldiers everywhere who if something were to happen if the terrorist were to do something that would be an immediate response.

But you know I mean, relatively speaking, every time there's an act of violence initials on the front page of the newspapers, but we have cities in America that would far surpass the violence of Israel. But those things you know people get the perspective of that do you think it I mean we can only speak relatively there is danger everywhere begin to get safe to take a tour to Israel on the father of three kids and I would go today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, with no questions. I have complete confidence in Israel's ability to defend itself were probably the best organize in the world and defending ourselves of the crime rates in Israel are almost nonexistent.

If you would come to my community and please don't come all at once, but come when you want. We live in the mountains of Jerusalem. It's beautiful.

We live in the in a place that is so special that you can build without a permit from the archaeological society and in case your building on the ruins from Byzantine times or or or what have you kids walk our streets at 9 o'clock at night, 10 o'clock, and I completely say C kids completely free, it is a completely different reality than what you might assume from the headlines and I'll just end by telling you that Hollywood has become enamored with Israel. That's good about but anyway I know if you seen the show dig which is about antiquities in Jerusalem, so that is very interesting and they had a debate last summer whether to continue or not. Because the situation and they brought in a consultant from Chicago and it was Fourth of July after Fourth of July weekend and there were 32 shootings in Chicago and they asked him, is it safe to go to Israel and he started laughing and he said, just like you said, think of what we we just went through this July weekend in Chicago. So again, everything has to be taken into context, you can't live a risk-free life there there obviously are challenges Israel faces, but I think it handles him very, very well. Every tourist feels very confident yeah you know we we did many trees over there over the years and I've taken my grandchildren over and I've actually had Israeli people thanked us for bringing our grandchildren will be. We feel it's a safe place. They have a great time at what great memories for a child again often friending what have I think a trip to Israel literally can change your life and there's a lot of beautiful places you can go on the world and to be very honest, you know you'll go to more beautiful places than Israel but you will never go to a more significant place in the never be able to walk in a place and look at things that Jesus would have seen the sea of Galilee in the road that he walked all the rich biblical history that just unbelievable and and I find that these memories stay with you and then later you know when you're reading your Bible, you remember, you know that the soundness well the feel the warmth of the areas you read these stories are especially many good a place like Galilee, which is so much like it would've been in the time of Christ and in and much more. But you know when we go to Israel David we don't just visit biblical sites we take people to God. The sham I because we want people to understand because if you have to understand the suffering that your people of experience to understand what Israel is about the day and what you have faith in what you are facing still and we want to educate Christians on that so they have an understanding and a love for the Jewish people, but it was speaking of antiquities, I we have some of your amazing antiquities in California right now. Don't wait.

We have the book of the part portions of Isaiah we have one of the world's oldest marriage certificates between a man and a woman. We almost got the debt, the 10 Commandments here, but they wanted in the vault, so we have a replica and this is amazing. Of those, 13,000 fragments, most of the book, so we know the Old Testament the dead, the 10 Commandments were found intact not touring completely intact and the entire verse 12 of that includes it for you we we feature that we have a 3 ton stone from the Western Wall here. Hundreds of thousands of prayers as he taken his carry-on on the plane or they took it as carry-on, it actually is feeling tells me for minute so the so the scrolls are so precious that you can't fly them on on you can fly all the scrolls on the same plane, so to experts or to scrolls per expert. They have to take at least two or three different planes to get here, but the entire 600 artifacts were sent on one transport plane 40 tons with the rock from the Western Wall and we certainly aren't you worried if it crashes it will be lost. They started laughing. They said will open our hangers and you'll see how much we have, this is nothing. Well, so it just gives you a sense of it. It is incredible. There antiquities there from them. The time when the Israelites left Egypt and entered the promised land. There are a line of ancient viruses from that journey that are being featured. It is unbelievable. Fantastic. Please come. Yes, that's a great we want to see that David, we want to thank you for coming out here tonight and we want you to know that times you guys like it makes those over there as to where our country stands what we want to know speaking for this church and for thousands and thousands of evangelical believers around the United States that we love the nation Israel. We love the Jewish people. We pray for you and we stand with you or your friend to give her come to think David Siegel for coming. Everybody Greg Laurie here.

Thanks for listening to our podcast in the learn more about harvest ministries. Please subscribe and consider supporting this show. Just go to By the way, if you want to find out how to come into a personal relationship with God. Go to know that's key NOW

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