C&B’s Fascinating Discussion with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu –…
CLAY: We are now joined by Israel’s incoming prime minister, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu. The autobiography is Bibi: My Story, and first of all, we appreciate the time. I know our audience is thrilled to hear from you. I just want to start here. For people out there who may not understand how big of a deal it was, what was moving the embassy to Jerusalem like for purposes of the United States and Israel relations? So far as you understand it, how revolutionary was that?
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Well, it was a belated affirmation of a historic truth that’s only 3,000 years old.
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Jerusalem was declared our capital by King David in the Bible. King David declared it our capital 3,000 years ago, and yet — even though the state of Israel was established and reaffirmed that commitment by making Jerusalem our modern capital — for the last 75 years and Israel’s existence, no country, no major country in the world — least of all, the United States — was willing to recognize that simple historical truth.
And I was very appreciative of the fact that President Trump did decide to do that. He recognized Jerusalem as our capital, he moved the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, where it belongs, and he corrected this historical anomaly. Imagine that we said, “Well, New York is the capital of America. We don’t recognize Washington. Washington is not your capital, and we’re going to put our embassies in New York or in, I don’t know, in Richmond, Virginia.” I mean, that would be absurd. (crosstalk)
BUCK: The food is a little better.
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: (crosstalk)
BUCK: But, yes, it would be it would be absurd, Prime Minister Netanyahu.
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Richmond — Richmond would be — (crosstalk)
BUCK: Just a little New York-DC joke there.
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: (crosstalk)
BUCK: But anyway, I wanted to ask you, sir — we’re speaking to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has a new book out right now — the biggest challenges right now as you come into the prime minister’s role once again in Israel. I assume Iran is high on the list, but I wanted you to address for us what is top of your mind as you take on this incredibly important role once again for your country?
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Well, as I explain in my book, I’ve been fighting Iran’s attempts to acquire and acquire — to develop — nuclear weapons, which they openly say they’ll use to try to annihilate Israel, the Jewish state. But also, they declare and chant not only, “Death to Israel.” They declare, “Death to America! Death to the infidels!” So to have this horrible regime whose true face has been now unmasked by the brave men and especially the brave women of Iran for all the world to see, to have this ayatollah thuggery have nuclear weapons with which they can threaten the entire world, and every city in the United States is the height of folly.
So for me, the number one goal is to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons. We did a lot of things that set them back probably by decades so they wouldn’t have them, including — as I described in the book — sending in the Mossad, Israel’s secret agency, to the heart of Iran to bring back a secret atomic archive that Iran was hiding from the world, proving they’re trying to develop nuclear weapons. We have to make sure that they don’t have it.
That’s the top of my list: Iran must not have nuclear weapons. It’s the first of three goals. I can tell you that the other two are to continue to expand the historic Abraham Accords that we had for peace with many other Arab states. And the third goal is to continue through free-market policies to make Israel the innovation juggernaut of the world. And these are three worthy goals. I have another 12, but you don’t have time on your program.
CLAY: (laughs) Prime Minister Netanyahu, you also talk a lot in your book about the three American presidents that you worked with Clinton, Obama and Trump, all very different leaders. How did you find them all to work with? How would you describe them in your experience?
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Well, you know, I think they were each entirely different people. But I would preface this by saying that regardless of who leads America, the bond between Israel — and the United States is so powerful — that it returns administrations and also transcends Israeli governments. I mean, Israel is probably the most pro-American country in the world. It’s just — and that really cuts across party lines here. And the same, I think, is true, despite the fact that we can have differences. Do you have any differences in your family, arguments within your family?
Well, that’s exactly what we have within the family that is American and Israel. So, yes, I’ve had my differences with the successive American presidents, and I’ve had my agreements with them as well. I would say that Clinton was… You know, I was asked to identify each one or characterize them in single words. I said that Clinton is charming — he is, indeed — that Obama was analytic, and that President Trump was irreverent. You know, he would just defy convention and conformity, and each of them had his strengths and each of them had his special approach.
But I throughout dealing with them, always remember the fact that America is our indispensable ally. Of the many alliances that we developed during my tenure, because of the rise of Israeli power, the rise of Israeli technology through free markets — our exceptional capabilities and intelligence, military intelligence and cyber security that have saved countless lives, including American lives. Despite, you know, these new alliances that we’ve had in the world, I always say, “No one can replace — no country can replace — our alliance with America.”
We’re the old “promised land,” the original promised land; America is the new promised land where two countries formed on purpose. Our purpose was to rebuild the life of the Jewish state and gather the exiles — like the biblical prophecy says — in our ancient homeland and rebuild our national life. And America was built as the new promised land. And its purpose is to be the guardian of liberty throughout the world. And as long as we remember that and remember how we are beholden to each other, I think that our future is secure.
BUCK: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he has a book — Bibi: My Story — and folks should go and pick up a copy of it. Mr. Prime Minister, appreciate you, sir, and your wonderful country. And thank you so much for joining us.
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Thank you. And God bless America. Thank you.
BUCK: Thank you so much.