Can the Abraham Accords bring a biblical era of peace to the Middle East? - interview

Former US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and TBN President Matt Crouch talk Abraham Accords documentary, the biblical narrative and the future of the Middle East.

 (L-R) TBN President Matt Crouch and David Friedman in Jerusalem (photo credit: CAYLAN CROUCH)
(L-R) TBN President Matt Crouch and David Friedman in Jerusalem
(photo credit: CAYLAN CROUCH)

In the annals of ancient history of the Middle East, a man named Abraham receives a promise from God that he will become the father of many nations.

So begins the second episode of a new documentary called The Abraham Accords, named for the peace treaties signed by Israel and its Arab neighbors last year.

On the surface, it is an unexpected opening for a film about the signing of a diplomatic breakthrough agreement. But according to the film’s executive producer, former US ambassador to Israel David Friedman, the Abraham Accords also hold “a very important place from a biblical perspective.

“I always felt that [the accords] marked the reconciliation of Jews and Muslims, something which was viewed favorably among biblical authorities,” he said.

The first episode of the documentary, produced by Trinity Broadcasting Network – the world’s largest Christian television broadcaster in the US – aired earlier this year. The second episode is slated to run on Friday, December 3.

It was not by accident, Friedman said, that a Christian producer was selected to make this film.

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 'The Abraham Accords' (credit: CAYLAN CROUCH)Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 'The Abraham Accords' (credit: CAYLAN CROUCH)

A little more of the biblical narrative, as described in the documentary: The children of Israel are the Jewish descendants of Abraham’s son Isaac, from his wife Sarah. The children of Ishmael are Abraham’s Arabic descendants from his handmaid Hagar.

From the House of Israel, the Jewish prophet Moses was born and the Torah was written. Centuries later, from the House of Israel, Jesus – considered by Christians to be their Messiah – was born and the New Testament was written. And then, from the House of Ishmael, the Prophet Muhammad was born and the Koran was written.

“Through the centuries, the three religions of the Abrahamic faith have collided in no place more so than Jerusalem,” the documentary states.

“I always felt that the reconciliation of Jews and Muslims... was the fulfillment of God’s will,” Friedman said.

He noted that this biblical undertone is not the “major part” of the story of the peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco, but “I wanted it to be a part of the story, and I thought TBN would understand in ways more secular producers might not.”

The film itself – around four hours, with each episode lasting about an hour – was not directed at any particular faith, but to everyone. Friedman said he wanted to tell the story of the Abraham Accords through the voices of those who made it happen – from American leaders like former US President Donald Trump to former vice president Mike Pence, and the Israeli, Emirati and other leaders.

“We did not target faith, but we kind of weave in the notion that there is more going on than just a diplomatic breakthrough,” Friedman explained. “The Abraham Accords are an event that can be seen to those who view the world through a biblical lens as the beginning of the actualization of Isaiah’s prophecy.”

This prophecy is carved into a wall across from the United Nations complex in New York: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

 TBN President Matt Crouch and David Friedman with former US president Donald Trump (credit: CAYLAN CROUCH) TBN President Matt Crouch and David Friedman with former US president Donald Trump (credit: CAYLAN CROUCH)

TBN PRESIDENT Matt Crouch recalled the day that Friedman called him about the documentary.

“I received an unsolicited phone call one night from former ambassador to Israel David Friedman saying something I’ll never forget. He said, ‘You’ll recall that the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael reconciled briefly to bury their father – and have been warring ever since. The sons of Abraham are back together for the first time in 3,000 years.”

“Let’s go tell that story!’” Crouch said. “I agreed to co-producing the documentary with him then and there.”

Crouch has had what he described as a “loving and long-tenured” relationship with Israel since he was young, and that his parents were equally attached to the Jewish state. He has been to Israel more than 100 times.

“I was raised among the Evangelical Christian people of America, and we love and support Israel,” he said.

That love, he said, is rooted in verses in the Bible, such as Genesis 12:3, which states, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.” He said he and his broadcasting company also draw inspiration from the book of Psalms.

To make the film, TBN provided an extensive budget and a multiple-person film crew to travel the world – from Florida to Washington, to Jerusalem, Dubai and Casablanca, among other places.

The documentary includes dozens of interviews, from former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, former Trump senior adviser Jared Kushner, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, former vice president Mike Pence and Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani.

It takes viewers back through recent history, the day when the White House recognized the Golan Heights, the Peace for Prosperity conference in Bahrain, the announcement of the Trump peace plan and so much more. Each story is told through interviews between Friedman and the other people who were there with him when it happened.

The film includes riveting music and captures newsreel and secondary footage to help depict what is being described in words.

In addition to its American stations, TBN is broadcasting the documentary on some of its international channels. TBN broadcasts 24 hours a day in 17 languages on 33 different global networks, including several channels in the Middle East.

But Crouch said Friedman was the “key to this project,” bringing both his passion for the subject matter and his connections made during his time as ambassador.

Another two episodes are expected to air in January and February. Eventually, the plan is to do a “mashup” of the four-hour film that will be highlighted sometime in March, Crouch said.

He added that he does not believe the documentary is finished but will be modified as potentially new agreements are signed or success between the peace partners is achieved.

“People around the globe recognize that the Abraham Accords mark a fundamental shift in Arab-Israeli relations, and they will undoubtedly go down in world history as one of the most significant measures ever taken to encourage peace and mutual prosperity in the Middle East,” Crouch said. “I believe our extensive four-part documentary, containing in-depth interviews with the major players, unpacks the challenging and intricate details of this long-awaited, historic agreement that reunites the sons of Abraham.”

If this is the biblical era of peace, will there be another agreement soon?

“We will have to let God answer that question,” Friedman said. “But I believe we have begun a process of creating peace between Israel and the Muslim world and that is a big part of bringing peace to the entire world.”