The inaugural event of the Friedman Center for Peace through Strength took place at a gala dinner held on October 11, 2021, at the Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem. The dinner featured the world premiere of The Abraham Accords, a five-part documentary providing important insights into these historic agreements, co-produced by Ambassador Friedman and the TBN Network. The entire documentary will begin airing on the TBN Network in the late Fall.
The launch event for the Friedman Center was co-sponsored and co-chaired by Larry A. Mizel and Sylvan Adams, two business leaders whose philanthropic efforts align with the Friedman Center’s mission of promoting peace, ending Israel’s international isolation and strengthening the relationships forged by the Abraham Accords. Mr. Mizel is the chairman of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and a founder of The Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem. Mr. Adams is well known for bringing large scale sports and cultural events to Israel to build bridges between Israel and other nations.
The dinner was attended by business and thought leaders and government officials from the United States, Israel and the Arab world. Former Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attended. The President of FIFA, Gianni Infantino also attended the event at the invitation of former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and making his first trip to Israel as President of FIFA.
“The road to peace goes through Jerusalem," said Ambassador Friedman. “The key to the Abraham Accords was the trust between a small group of people. The Friedman center is committed to expanding that trust beyond a small group of people.”
“With trust there are no limits. And with trust, we can and will change the world," he said, “With strength, the strength to stand with our allies and our principles. These are the ingredients for achieving peace.”
Ambassador Friedman presented former US Secretary of State Pompeo the Peace through Strength award, saying, “no secretary of state has projected America’s values to the world than Mike Pompeo”
Pompeo, after receiving the award, stated that “the Roman Emperor Hadrian spoke about peace through strength, President George W Bush spoke about peace through strength, Ronald Reagan spoke about peace through strength.”
“The central thesis of our administration was to make sure that America was strong in every dimension," he said.
"Peace is difficult to maintain if one is unwilling to acknowledge the truth," Pompeo added. "One needs to be unambiguous about who the good guys are – we know the problems that the Islamic republic of Iran was driving in the region.”
“Clarity matters – peace follows from strength, truth and clarity. To deliver peace through strength requires not just military might and truth and clarity – but all the strength that sovereign nations are willing to muster,” Pompeo added.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: "Football (soccer) is the most important of the less important things in life. Especially now where we hopefully come out of a pandemic, we need to speak about positive things and enjoy and have fun."
"Football is much more than a sport. It is a passion, it is joy, it is tears too. It is enthusiasm and commitment. It means chance and opportunity, the chance to have a different life for so many, or to believe in something. This is why it has such a important role in our society.
"Football has the power to bring people together. Football unites countries, when their national team plays. In the Israel national team you have Jewish and Muslim players playing together - whatever belief you have - football brings people together, and brings children together," Infantino said. "It teaches resilience - when you lose, you get back up and you can only do this when you rely on your teammate."
Philanthropist Sylvan Adams who sponsored the event, stated: "I remind everyone that a couple of years before the signing of the Abraham Accords, which I attended—thank you again David and Aryeh for including me—Israel hosted the Giro d’Italia bike race, an event seen by a billion television viewers around the world. Teams from Bahrain and the UAE—our Abraham Accord partners as it turned out—raced here on Israeli soil, a first."
"Later, our Israeli Judoka (I also support our Israeli Judo team) won in Abu Dhabi. For the first time the Israeli flag was raised and Hatikva played in an Arab country. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house in our Israeli delegation," Adams said.
"Finally, my Israel Start-up Nation bike team raced in the Tour of the UAE just six months before the signing of the Abraham Accords, where we raced with the name Israel emblazoned on our jerseys. Arab kids stood in line to collect our riders’ autographs and a souvenir water bottle with the name Israel on it. I said at the time—rather prophetically as it turned out—that we were building people to people bridges and creating friendships with our Emirati neighbours. When one day our leaders could find common ground for a political peace agreement, we would have set the conditions on the ground for a warm peace, which is exactly what has transpired. Little did I realize it would happen so soon.
"I think that all of these sporting events were confidence builders, showing the Arab leaders that their people didn’t actually object to relations with Israel.
"A final brief warm story post Abraham Accords. With the tragic and catastrophic US pullout of Afghanistan, I was approached to help extract the members of the Afghan Women’s National Cycling team. Working with an amazing Israeli NGO called IsraAID and its brilliant and devoted CEO Yotam Polizer, we have managed so far to extract 165 souls from that sad country. And, hearing that Israelis were involved in this rescue mission, who were the first to volunteer to act as a transit country so we could bring out these Afghans to safety and freedom? Our peace neighbors, the Emiratis," Adams concluded.