From Survivor of Terror to National Security Expert — Brigitte Gabriel
From Survivor of Terror to National Security Expert — Brigitte Gabriel
She didn’t read history … she lived it. Brigitte Gabriel was born in what was once considered the Paris of the Middle East. But in the 1970s, Beirut became a hotbed of terrorism and war. After her home was destroyed, Gabriel and her parents found safety in Israel. And eventually, she journeyed to the U.S. to live out her American Dream in the land of opportunity. Gabriel discusses her journey to America, her nonprofit and the media’s erroneous coverage of Islamic terrorism with host Charles Mizrahi.
• An Introduction to Brigitte Gabriel (00:00:00)
• The Paris of the Middle East (00:02:40)
• War in Lebanon (00:05:41)
• Fighting for Survival (00:12:06)
• Israel’s Kindness and Support (00:20:38)
• Because They Hate (00:27:19)
• ACT for America (00:33:26)
• Standing Up for the Truth (00:39:30)
• Left-Wing Media Control (00:44:26)
• Activism and Community Organizing (00:48:50)
• Eradicating Evil Across the World (00:54:03)
Brigitte Gabriel is an author, entrepreneur and activist. Her breakout book, Because They Hate, is a New York Times bestseller and describes her harrowing story of survival, grit and perseverance amid war in Lebanon. Her latest book, Rise: In Defense of Judeo-Christian Values and Freedom, is also topping the charts and empowers readers to fight for their personal freedoms.
In addition to her work as an author, Gabriel founded ACT for America in 2007. This nonprofit grassroots movement works to preserve American freedom, integrity and security.
Before You Leave:
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Evil is parents using their children as human shields. Some are willing to kill their own children to make a political point. Our job is to stand up and defend these children. What’s so mind-boggling is that the media would stand up with Hamas — and the parents who are sending their children to die and sacrificing them — instead of standing up for the truth.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: My guest today is Brigitte Gabriel. Brigitte is a quintessential example of the 21st century American dream story. At 10 years of age, she survived a barrage of rockets exploding near her home in Lebanon — leaving her wounded and buried under the rubble. Brigitte and her family spent the next seven years in an 8’ by 10’ underground bomb shelter — fighting to survive.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: She’s also a New York Times bestselling author. And her latest book, Rise: In Defense of Judeo-Christian Values and Freedom, is topping the charts. She also runs ACT for America, the nation’s premier nonprofit grassroots movement dedicated to preserving America’s culture, sovereignty and security.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: I recently sat down with Brigitte to discuss what the media isn’t getting right with its reporting of the growing threat of Islamic terror — and what we can do about it.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Brigitte, I want to thank you for being on my show. I greatly appreciate it. I want to tell you: You’re one of the very few guests that I was really excited about because we’re kindred spirits. We’ll talk about that in just a minute. But in my opinion, when I watch you on TV, you epitomize a confident, strong woman. When you’re speaking the truth, you do not shirk from it. You are forceful. You remind me of many of my family members.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Oh, thank you so much. I am honored, Charles. I’m delighted to be with you. I’ve got that Middle Eastern chutzpah, and that’s what you’ve recognized. Ironically, this month, the Golda Magazine — named after Golda Meir and prints across the Middle East and Europe — chose me as “Golda of the month.” I was so honored when they approached me with that. I said: “You could not bestow a bigger honor than that because she was my idol.”
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Ben-Gurion, former prime minister of Israel, said: “She’s the only man in my cabinet.”
CHARLES MIZRAHI: OK. So, Brigitte, I want to talk. I want to start from the beginning because your life story is absolutely amazing. You didn’t read history. You actually lived through it. You lived in a lot of scenarios that are still hotbeds today — through terrible conditions in Lebanon. Beirut was the Paris of the Middle East. And you watched it destroyed. I want to go back there because I think it tells people what type of person you are, from where you came and why you have the views you have. It’s not that you have anger or hatred. You’ve seen all this stuff on the ground.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: I have passion because when you see evil — when you have been an eyewitness to evil and survived — you do everything in your power to stop, fight and educate people about it. A lot of people tell me: “You are the Anne Frank who lived to tell about it.” And that’s what I try to do — take that passion and fight for good, the underdog, the oppressed and the people that the world forgot about who are hurting and suffering. That’s why I speak out so forcefully in the way that I do.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: It’s interesting that you mentioned Beirut used to be Paris of the Middle East. I got an email to my website this week where someone asked me: “Why do they call Beirut Paris of the Middle East? Why do you mention that?” The new generation has no recollection of history, why Beirut was the Paris of the Middle East or why Iranian people were very westernized under the Shah, for example, before the arrival of Khomeini.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: A lot of things transpired that changed the world and world politics. And the situations of the people in these countries … Today’s generation in America or the West cannot fathom how fast countries can change and go from freedom to the dark ages. I was born and raised in Lebanon, which used to be the only majority-Christian country in the Middle East. We were open-minded. We were fair. We were tolerant. We were multicultural. We prided ourselves on our multiculturalism.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: And I wanted to insert that it was a financially-thriving community. It was a mecca for banking and finance.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Exactly. We were good at business. We built a lot of great companies, and we did not have any oil. We had open borders. We welcomed everybody from the surrounding Arab countries who wanted to come and study at our universities. We built the best universities in the Middle East. They graduated and worked in our economy because we had built the best economy in the Middle East — even though we did not have any oil.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Unfortunately, Charles, all that began to change when we started importing an influx of Palestinians into the country. People came into our country who did not share our values. And once they became the majority — especially with the importing of Palestinians out of Jordan. Lebanon was the only country in the Middle East to accept the third wave of Palestinian refugees. Their own countries did not want them — their Arabic brethren. We took them in. That’s what tipped the scales in Lebanon.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Hang on a second. Many of our viewers and listeners don’t know this history. And I think what you’re saying is extremely important. You talk about a third wave. So, the Palestinians happen to live in this area in the Middle East — which is Israel today — with the majority being in Jordan.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: On November 29th, 1947, there’s a partition. And 30% is to be the Jewish state, and 70% is the Arab state. And Jews were Palestinians. Palestine is a location — not a nation. It never was. There’s nothing culturally separate for the Palestinians that is not for the rest of the…
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Most of the Palestinians are from Mansoura. They’re mostly Egyptian. Right? Yasser Arafat was Egyptian. So, we have that. So now, in 1947, [there’s a] partition. In 1948, seven Arab armies invade Israel on May 15th — where Israel declares its independence. And we have a stream of Palestinian Arabs leave because the Arab army is going to come in. And don’t worry, we’ll destroy the Jews. And then, you’ll get all your land back — and then some. So, that’s first wave, correct?
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Correct.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: OK, most of them go to Jordan. A lot of them go to Jordan.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: That’s right. The majority of them go to Jordan. And most people don’t realize — I know we’re getting into the Palestinian-Israeli conflict right now. We’re diverting a little bit. But this is important history. When the PLO was founded in 1964, Gaza was in the hands of Egypt, and the West Bank was in the hands of Jordan. They were Jordan and Egypt.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: So, when the PLO was founded in 1964, it was not founded to liberate the occupied territories. People think today: “Oh, it’s the West Bank and Gaza.” The PLO was founded to eradicate Israel and the Jews from the map of the Middle East. They wanted to get rid of them.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: So, after these wars — when they lost twice after doing preemptive attacks against Israel — the leftover Palestinians scattered. That’s when I said the third wave of Palestinians came into Lebanon. And that was after the war of 1973. Remember what King Hussein did to them. King Hussein, in Black September, killed thousands of them because he wanted to get rid of them. And a lot of them fled to Lebanon.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: So, when they came to Lebanon, they formed their own army by 1975. That’s when the Muslims in Lebanon — as well as the Palestinians who happened to be majority Muslims—put their heads together and created the Arabic-Lebanese army.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: And in Lebanon, Lebanese do not refer to themselves as Arab because Christians are not Arab. We’re Phoenicians. We are Arabophones. We speak the Arabic language because that’s what the Islamic conquerors — as they spread through the Middle East and conquered people — thought: What’s the best way to throw people out of their culture, identity and language?
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: We went from speaking the Aramaic language — which is the language that Jesus spoke. And it’s still practiced today. That’s how we conduct our church services. I’m a Maronite. And this Sunday, if you go to any Maronite church in the world, the liturgy is done in Aramaic — not the Arabic language. But we speak Arabic. So, Lebanese do not refer to themselves as Arabs. Arabs are Muslims.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: So, they created Jayish Lubnan al-Arabi, and they wanted the Arabic-Lebanese army. And Yasser Arafat wanted to use Lebanon as a base from which to fight the Jews, attack them and throw them into the sea.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: And actually, the Lebanese War started when a Palestinian went into a church on a Sunday morning and started shooting at people. And that’s what started what the world believes is the Lebanese Civil War. Basically, the war was between the Lebanese — [who were] trying to protect their country and sovereignty. And the guests that we welcomed — who became invaders — ended up turning against us, destroying our country and using our democracy to topple [itself]. We are seeing the same thing happen in America today.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: All right. Wow, that’s scary. OK, so at 10 years old, where were you living in Lebanon?
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: South Lebanon. I was born and raised in Marjayoun — five kilometers from the border of Israel. So, 1975 happens. The Palestinians and Muslims began organizing and taking over towns and cities in Lebanon. They started shelling my town. They wanted the army base above my town. My 9/11 happened when they blew up my home — bringing it down and burying me under the rubble. [I was] wounded. That’s what changed my life.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Was your family in there also? Was it your whole family or just you?
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: It was me and my parents. We were there. Thankfully, we all survived. I was wounded. I ended up in a hospital for two and a half months. And later, I ended up living in a bomb shelter — underground — in an eight-by-10 room because our home was destroyed. To get some food, we would crawl under the bombs and dig out dandelions because it was the only greenery that we had to eat.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Right before this unrest, tell me about what your town was and what your parents did. I want people to listen and understand that this wasn’t some backwater area. You lived in a very acculturated area. Lebanese spoke many languages — French being one of them. They are very worldly and culturally adept. Many of them were in high finance and banking — where most people pushing pushcarts. So, could you just give me a glimpse into what that life was like?
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Well, I came from a small town called Marjeyoun. Most professions in my town were lawyers, doctors or engineers. My kids always laughed because I would tell them: “You’ve got to grow up to become a lawyer, doctor or engineer. You’ve got to be a professional.” I’m an only child to a Lebanese businessman. My parents were married for a long time and were unable to have any children. And finally, I was born — later in life.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: By the time I was born, my father was retired. He was 60. He had taken all his money from his retirement and built a real estate compound. We had a home we rented. My father built a very famous restaurant in southern Lebanon. As a matter of fact, it was the most famous restaurant in southern Lebanon. People would drive an hour just to come to our restaurant, sit outside, look at the Hermon mountain and eat.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: I was raised watching television. My father had the first TV in town and put it in the restaurant. He was a very smart businessman. [He] attracted a lot of people. I was listening to conversations and eating at my dad’s restaurant every night. I listened to different conversations around the table — politics or people vacationing. We had a chauffeur to drive me to school, and we had a live-in maid. So, I came from a very privileged life.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Two days before our house was bombed, the banks in Beirut were robbed. People were killed. My father went down to the Bank of Beirut and pulled out his life savings and bank notes because he wanted to flee the country and bring us to the United States.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Two days later, my house was bombed, and his money was burned to ash. He became deaf. The bombing blew out his eardrums. So, the only way to communicate with my dad, since I was a 10-year-old child, was to basically yell so that he could hear me. That’s how we communicated. And he lost everything.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Our life went from being one of privilege to digging out grass to eat and crawling under sniper’s bullets to a nearby spring so we could drink some water. To warm up in the wintertime — we had no heat because we lived in a bomb shelter — my father would go out and break off twigs from the trees in our garden. He would bring them in and pour kerosene or benzene on the fire and light it so we could warm up.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Many nights, we would huddle around the fire to warm up. And we had an agreement. Whoever woke up first in the middle of the night would have to drag the other two out and slap them on the face.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Many nights, we would pass out because of carbon monoxide poisoning. We had no ventilation in our bomb shelter. And because we were so cold, we would huddle around the fire and fall asleep. And so, we always had that agreement at night. You woke up. You dragged the other two to make sure they were alive, breathing and awake. You didn’t just go back to sleep. This was how I lived. This was how my life was turned upside down. After three years of living in the bomb shelter, the first few years we thought…
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Hang on. You lived in a bomb shelter for three years?
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: I lived in that bomb shelter for seven years — from age 10 until 17 — robbed of my youth. Two weeks into our bomb shelter experience, we thought: “The world is going to wake up, and they’re going to see what’s happening to the Christians in Lebanon. America is going to come…”
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Hang on a second. What was happening to the Christians in Lebanon at the time?
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: At the time, there were mass massacres.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: They would kill people. People were being killed.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: They would kill people. One of the famous massacres in Lebanon in 1976 was in the city of the mar, which was a Christian city. The Christians hid in the church. They thought: “They’re not going to do anything to us if we are in a church because they’re not going to come into a house of worship.” But the Muslims and Palestinians came in and massacred everybody. They would go into towns and massacre children — shoot them in cold blood in front of their parents.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: And in the city of the mar, they even built crosses. They would hang the Christian men on crosses to die. They would not only nail them to the crosses, but they would also put honey on their chests so they could be stung by bees. And when they died, they would bring them down. They would cut crosses on their chests. They would cut the genitals off of the males, stick them in their mouths and laugh.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: What ISIS was doing just a few years ago to the Christians of the Middle East — and other people — was nothing new. This was exactly what the Palestinians did to the Christians in Lebanon. But the media was located in West Beirut — the area that Yasser Arafat controlled. And nothing came out of Beirut from the press that was not approved by Yasser Arafat. Thomas Friedman writes about that in his book: From Beirut to Jerusalem.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: That’s why the world did not hear about what was truly happening in Lebanon. And they called it a civil war because the world did not understand. It was like: “All these people over there — let them all kill each other.” Charles, they say this about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — even now — because they don’t understand it.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: So, Christians in Lebanon were being massacred. And we thought: “The world is going to wake up and hear what’s happening to the Christians, and they’re going to come and help.” We waited and waited. And nobody came.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Three years into the war, I was 13 years old. A friend of ours stopped by one day and said: “Brigitte, I just want you to know that we heard a lot of chatter on the radio. We know that we’re going to be attacked tonight. If I don’t see you tomorrow, I wish you a merciful death.” And he gave me a hug and left.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Charles, I remember, at the age of 13, dressing in my burial clothes because I wanted to look pretty when I was dead — knowing that when they came to slaughter me, there would be no one to bury me. I remember putting on my Sunday dress — my Easter dress. It was a blue dress with white daisies. And I remember sobbing — begging my mother: “I don’t want to die. I’m only 13 years old. Please do something. I don’t want to die.” And there was nothing my mother could say to me.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: I remember sitting in the corner of my bomb shelter, and my father started reading from Psalms. “I shall walk into the valley of death and fear no evil for thou art with me.” My parents said to me that night: “Look, we’ve lived a long life. You’re an only child. When they come to slaughter us, we will create a distraction. And we want you to run as fast as you can. Don’t look back. Just run toward the Israeli border.” We lived five kilometers from the Israeli border. We knew that if we ran to Israel and begged for help, the Jews were not going to slaughter us because we had more shared values with them than the Muslims.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Thankfully, Charles, I did not have to make that difficult decision that night. That’s the night when Israel came into Lebanon, established the security zone and set up artillery bases around my town — around the hills — to protect us from the Palestinians coming in and slaughtering us.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: That was how we lived for another five years until 1982 — when Israel invaded Lebanon. And the reason Israel invaded Lebanon was because Syria, at that time, was using Lebanese territory to shell Israel. Palestinians, Arabs and Syrians came from all over the Middle East to fight Israel in Lebanon. So, Syria was shelling Israel, using Lebanese territories and calling it the Lebanese resistance. We had nothing to do with it!
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: So, Israel started working with the Christian Lebanese — working together and helping the Christians take back their democracy and kick out the radical Islamic element that had taken control of the country.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: By the time Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, we had 11 Islamic terrorist organizations operating out of Lebanon — including the PLO. So, Israel came into Lebanon, and that’s what drove Yasser Arafat and his cronies all the way out to Tunisia. And that’s how we came out of the bomb shelter and [started] rebuilding our lives.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, you came to the United States in 1982?
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: No. In 1982, I ended up going to Israel because my mother was wounded by a Muslim shell. This is a really important story that I want to share with you. And I know we have a lot to cover in 40 minutes, but this is an important story. As Israel was invading Lebanon, my mother was wounded by a shell that exploded in front of our bomb shelter. Palestinians were retreating and shelling us frantically.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: We had to take her to Israel for treatment because we didn’t have anything in our hometown. The hospital was bombed. We had only one room in our hospital that Israel had fixed and equipped with one doctor and nurses to give first aid to people who were wounded so that they could make it until they got to Israel.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Before we left and took my mother to the hospital, my father gave me $60. He said: “Here is some money in case you need it” — knowing that we were going to go to Israel. We went to the Lebanese bombed-out hospital — to that room. They gave my mother first aid. They put her in an Israeli-donated ambulance, which drove her from the Lebanese hospital to the Israeli border.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: On her way to an Israeli hospital — the driver was a Lebanese driver who actually knew my parents. We raced to the border — a 10-minute drive. We got to the border. They took my mother out of the ambulance on a stretcher and put her inside another ambulance that would drive her to the nearest hospital that could take care of her injury.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: The Lebanese driver walked around the ambulance and asked me: “Do you have any money for the fee for the ambulance ride?” And like an innocent girl, I pulled all my money out of my pocket and showed it to him. When you’re 17 years old, you’re not going shopping at the mall.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: So, I handed him all my money. He looked at it and said: “Give me $30” — which was half of the money I had. I thanked him very much. I gave him the $30, got inside another Israeli ambulance and we drove to the hospital. This time, the driver was Miluim. He was an Israeli soldier who was called in 12 hours prior. And he was giving us the ride.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: One second. Miluim means he was on reserve duty. He was an Israeli civilian who was doing military duty.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Correct. So, we were driving to the hospital. He was listening to the radio. And I was watching all these tanks getting ready to go into Lebanon. He explained to me how far Israel had advanced into Lebanon. It was what he was hearing on the radio. He treated me with such love and kindness. It was amazing. It made me feel very much at ease.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: We get to the hospital — out in front of the emergency room. They take my mother out on a stretcher into the emergency room. And I walk around the ambulance to pay the Israeli driver the fee, thinking: “My gosh. If the 10-minute ride cost me $30, I’m sure I don’t have enough money.”
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: So, I walked up to him and said: “How much do I owe you?” He looked at my money and said: “What is this for?” I said: “This is the fee for the ambulance ride.” He said: “Oh, no. You don’t owe me any money. This is a free service from us to you. You keep your money and take good care of your mother. I wish her a speedy recovery. And it was nice meeting you. Take good care of yourself.”
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: I couldn’t believe my ears or eyes. I thought to myself: “What a kind man. What an ethical man. This man could have taken my money, and I would not have known the difference. Actually, I would have been thankful that he only wanted $30.” And then, I became angry because I realized that the Lebanese driver — who actually knew my parents — had basically robbed me.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: That was my first lesson in the difference between Arabic and Israeli culture. We got into the hospital, and there were hundreds of people wounded on the floor of the emergency room. Palestinians were brought in from Lebanon. Christians were brought in from Lebanon. Muslims were brought in. Israeli soldiers were brought in. It was a war scene. And the doctors treated everyone according to their injury. They did not see nationality. They did not see politics. They did not see religion. They saw people in need, and they helped.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: The doctor treated my mother before he treated the Israeli soldier laying next to her because her injury was more severe. It was an amazing thing, Charles. I spent 22 days in that hospital. Those days changed my life, the way I watched television and the way I listened to information. I realized Arabs are fed a fabricated lie about the Jews and Israel that is so far from reality.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: I had to go back to Lebanon because I was an only child and had to take care of my parents. But I vowed that, one day, I would return to Israel. One day, I would live among those people. These are the characters I wanted to adopt. That was exactly how I wanted to be. And I ended up moving back to Israel in 1984 and working as a news anchor for World News — based in Jerusalem. I worked at the nation’s building based in JCS Capitol Studios.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: My book is a must-read. My first book is: Because They Hate. It’s a New York Times bestselling book, and it details my life’s story and how I ended up in America. The book sold over a million copies. It is a must-read — Because They Hate. Everybody listening to this podcast: If you think the story is interesting, you have got to get that book.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: And you didn’t even put the good parts into this, right? That’s absolutely amazing. So, you became a news anchor. How long did you stay there?
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: I worked in Israel from 1984 to 1989. I was based in Jerusalem. That’s when I started seeing the world really change. That’s when we started seeing a rise of terrorism worldwide. And as a news anchor, who was reporting the news night after night, I started realizing that there was a pattern developing. I was reporting on terrorism on four continents across the globe.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: I started to realize that no matter where the terrorist activity took place, the names of the perpetrators were always Islamic — Ahamed, Muhammad, Hossain. The names of the victims were always Western, Christian and Jewish — Terry Waite, Terry Anderson, Colonel Higgins the Achille Lauro, TWA and the Pan Am flights. I could go on and on.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: I quickly started realizing that what I used to think was a regional problem with the radical Islamic Middle East — which was trying to kill or expel the minority Christians and Jews — had become a worldwide problem. But the world was not paying attention. The world did not connect the dots. I came to the United States by marriage in 1989, and I thought I left all the crazies behind. I wanted to build a new life in the United States, and I did. I started my own business. I started a television production company — working six months out of the year and enjoying the good life. I have two children.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: [I was] with my children, playing mother and enjoying the perks of the entertainment industry until 9/11/2001. It was a defining moment for the United States. It changed the way we lived. In 2001, we all did the same thing. We were glued to our TV screens. We couldn’t get enough news. We weren’t sad. We were depressed. Some of us cried. We could not believe that someone hated us so much that they used airliners as human missiles and flew them into skyscrapers. We all did the same thing. It was a defining moment for our nation. But it was an especially defining moment for me.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: That day, my kids came home from school. And of course, they didn’t tell them what had happened. My daughters came home, and I was watching the images of the World Trade Center come down again and again. We all did the same thing on September 11th. My youngest daughter looked at me and said: “Mommy, why did they do this to us?” And I found myself repeating to my daughter the exact same words that my father said to me when I was lying in a hospital bed in Lebanon when I was 10 years old — her age — and hooked up to IVs in both arms. I asked my daddy: “Why did they do this to us?” And I said to my daughter: “They hate us because they consider us infidels, and they want to kill us.”
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Here we were — two generations and 30 years apart. I was a young Lebanese girl who spoke Arabic. She was a young American girl who spoke English — 8,000 miles and 30 years apart. We were two continents apart. And I found myself repeating the same words to my daughter. That day was my defining moment. That day, I vowed that I would do everything I could to make sure my daughter would never ever have to look into her child’s eye and repeat to him or her what my daddy said to me — and what I had to say to her. That day was my defining moment. That day, I was reborn as an activist.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: I sat on my couch — September 11th happened on a Tuesday morning — until Sunday. I was in my family room — in my nightgown — watching television and crying. It was a flashback. When I was watching the images of the World Trade Center, I could smell the smoke because I knew what the smell of bombs smelled like. I could hear the wailing of parents yelling for their children because I could hear the wailing of my own parents yelling for me as I was pinned and wounded under a wall. I could taste the blood that I tasted as I was wounded — dripping blood on my face and mouth and drinking it. [I] thought: “What is this terrible tasting thing I’m drinking?” It was a flashback to me.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: I started thinking: “What can I do to make a difference for my country? What can I do?” I started searching: “What can I do?” And by Sunday, I realized that I was going to start an organization. I was going to educate millions of uninformed Americans about the threat of radical Islam to world peace and national security. I was going to fight against evil. I was going to mobilize citizens to stand up to evil and terrorism in any form — Islamic, Christian, Jewish or otherwise — and stand up for those who were unable to speak.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: I found my purpose at a very young age. I was in my mid-thirties when September 11th happened. Many people live a lifetime without realizing their purpose or destiny. I was one of the fortunate ones. So, I started an organization called ACT for America. And I named the organization “ACT for America” — not “Think About America,” “Wish for America,” “Hope for America” or “Pray for America.” ACT for America. You can do all the thinking, hoping, wishing and praying. But if you don’t act, nothing happens.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: So, I encourage people to go to our website: actforamerica.org. Check us out. Join us. Get involved. Start standing up so we can save our country, the United States of America. My past is America’s future unless we stand up together today — Jews, Christians, Muslims, atheists, people of faith and all of us who value this amazing, incredible country that was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. These are the foundation of Western civilization. That’s where we get our freedom of speech. That’s where we get our freedom of religion. That’s where we get all the incredible blessings that we share in this nation.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Charles some of your heritage is Middle Eastern. I’m Lebanese. But we came to this country and became successful — very successful in some measure — because America is the land that gives people like you and me an opportunity to start from zero — with degrees in our back pockets — and become somebody. [We can] become successful, build a life and provide jobs for others. Now is the time to stand up and fight for the nation that blessed us so much that our children and grandchildren can enjoy the freedom we both have.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Can I get a question in here? Your life is a history of what actually happens. Instead of hearing it through news reporters or newspapers, this is the reality of it. So, even that short insight into a Lebanese ambulance driver and an Israeli reservist on duty driving you tells amazing tales of two different cultures and religions. And Israel was doing the same thing with Syrian refugees in 2012. So, it doesn’t stop.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: May I add something about what they’re doing with the Syrians? I went back to Israel in 2013 because I wanted to visit my parents’ graves. My parents are buried with Oskar Schindler on Mount Zion. If you’ve ever visited Oskar Schindler’s grave, you have literally walked by my parent’s grave. So, I took my family and went back to Israel. I wanted to show my parents’ grave to my children.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: I went to Safed, visited the hospital and went into the room that my mother was taken care of. I took my daughter because I wanted her to see it. And my husband was with me. And in 2018, they were treating Syrians who were brought in because of the war in Syria — with ISIS and everything.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: They were hiding them in the hospital because the Syrians did not want anybody knowing that they were being treated because their families would be killed in Syria. And many times, these Syrians would be brought to the border of Israel with yellow pads or notes pinned to their clothing. “This person was blown up by this and that.” And that was all the Israeli doctors had to go on.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: It’s happening today. And the world doesn’t want to talk about it. The world doesn’t want to acknowledge it. And when the Israelis bring it up, the world doesn’t want to listen.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: I’ll bet that when Hamas was sending rockets from Gaza, its family members were being treated in Israeli hospitals.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: That’s right.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: I want to get to something you said earlier, Brigitte. What does “Brigitte” mean in Arabic?
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: It’s a French name. Remember: Lebanon used to be a colony of France. So, all Christians have Christian, French names.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Yeah, you’re very highfalutin. Here’s the thing: All the Lebanese people I know are very cultured. They’re like you — in a very nice way.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: I hope that’s a good thing!
CHARLES MIZRAHI: It’s only a good thing. The way you carry yourself … the Lebanese are a beautiful people. You said something earlier: “The world doesn’t get it.” And you said it’s already here. So, here’s my question to you: From all the positions and vantage points, you’ve seen this — from being a child buried in rubble to 9/11.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: By the way, I just want to show you this. This sits on my desk here.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Oh, wow.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: And for the listeners of the podcast, I have a picture of 9/11. I remember when this actually happened — when the firemen raised the American flag. They kept hoping. Every day, we were waiting to see who was buried underneath and who would come out. And unfortunately, no one [did]. They all evaporated. But these guys worked so hard. And you can see the white dust on their clothing — which breaks your heart again. That was asbestos and all. Many of these people today — firemen and first responders — are dying from cancer. They gave so much to try to help during one abominable act.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: So anyway, I just want to want to bring up one point. Why doesn’t the civilized world get this? Why doesn’t it get the message? You’re not fabricating anything. These are facts on the ground, yet the news media is skewed toward the Islamic militant. Why isn’t this message of peaceful coexistence out there? Why are we hearing all these terrible things about how Israel is living — and that America is a terrible country? What are we missing?
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: I can tell you as somebody who comes from a television background. Today, in the visual age, people look for something that makes for good TV. So, when you have Palestinians screaming, wailing, yelling, beating their chests, rolling in the dirt at the foot of crumbled buildings and showing the little teddy bears of the kids, it pulls on the heart strings of the world. And they stop listening to logic.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: That’s why, when the Palestinians come to America and start speaking about Palestinian suffering…
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: You’ve got Jewish lawyers on television trying to explain UN resolutions — Article 41 and 42 — talking all this legal mumbo jumbo and trying to make a case. All the Palestinians need to say is: “Palestinian women — pregnant women — are being held at this checkpoint for eight hours in the sun. She’s breastfeeding her baby and suffering.” People can picture that.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: So, this is why people like you and me — who speak the truth about the situation — are called “haters” or “bigots.” Well, nowadays, everybody is called “haters,” “bigots” or “racists.” You’re a white supremacist because you are anti-brown people. Palestinians are brown people. So now, because they cannot argue with the facts, they stick labels on you. You’re a hater. You are apartheid. Israel is an apartheid state. Israel is the oppressor. They use buzzwords, but they don’t explain anything. They just call you names.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: So today, when you Google people who speak up in defense of Israel or what’s happening on the ground, they’re called “haters.” People don’t tell you why we’re haters. They just accuse you of being a hater. They accuse you of being a racist because you are anti-brown people. I’ve got tan, Middle Eastern skin. I’m still accused of being a racist simply because I do not speak the language of the left — which is now turning everything into racism.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: So, you have Linda Sarsour — who’s whiter than milk, but she’s the Palestinian spokesperson — being called a brown person and oppressed. No, she belongs to the brown group because she’s a Palestinian. Race is no longer important in that situation. So, it’s a pick-and-choose. But this is why we — who are speaking the truth — need to realize that we all need to stick together. Don’t let the labels bother you.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: The New York Times not only called me Islamophobic but also a “radical Islamophobe.” Why? Because they couldn’t find, after a two-hour interview with me, one sentence that they could use against me and the way I speak. So, they titled the article — when they did one about me for their New York Sunday magazine — “a radical Islamophobe.” CARE, which is a Hamas front in America, was calling me an Islamophobe to silence me when I spoke in defense of Israel.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: They couldn’t argue with my facts as a Lebanese “Arab woman” — if you want to call me that — who lived in Israel and could speak about who lived on the ground. Because they couldn’t dispute my facts, they had to slap a label on me. That’s why, when you Google any conservatives who are called these labels, you need to ignore it. We are speaking the truth. We need to stick with that, stick together and lift each other up.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, you started talking about how they’re already here. These Islamic, fascist terrorists are already here in this country. We’re under assault. One, where do you see that? And No. 2, how fearful are you for America?
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: I am very fearful for America because the new generation of Americans does not only misunderstand history, but they have not read history. They could care less about learning about history. So, those of us who come from countries that are now falling apart…
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: There’s a humanitarian crisis in Lebanon right now. People are fighting in grocery stores for milk and bread for their children. The government robbed the people out of their money. There is no more money in the banks because the leaders robbed it. All the leaders are millionaires. They’ve got their money in Switzerland. All the people are hurting and suffering, and nobody is paying attention.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: We’ve seen this movie before in Venezuela, Cuba and Lebanon. It’s now happening right before our eyes. We have a country that went from the Paris of the Middle East to Venezuela — where people are fighting each other for milk in the grocery store. And so, when I see people in America calling for socialism, marching for Marxism, or condemning people like me who stand up for capitalism — which is what made this country great — or standing up for small government…
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: I may not agree with the way you think about something, but I would die fighting for your right to say it. Because that’s what made America great. Let’s debate ideas and let the best ones win.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Right now, the left is trying to silence us. It is using language to scare us into silence. When you have Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram — everything. They control technology. And they are silencing people like you and me. That’s a problem. And when you see groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center or the ADL — which is no longer an organization that’s in the middle fighting for the Jewish or oppressed people. It’s a leftist, activist, Marxist and communist organization that’s working to undermine the United States of America.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: So, when you have the ADL and the Council of American Islamic Relations — which is Hamas in the United States — you basically have a partnership between the ADL and Hamas. [They are] working together as one to undermine the United States of America. When you have the Southern Poverty Law Center working with NAIT, the North American Islamic Trust, or the ACLU working as the pro-bono legal firm for CAIR, the Council of American Islamic Relations — which is a Hamas front in America — we have a problem.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: So, when I talk about the influence operation within the United States, and you see the extent of the infiltration of the Islamic influence operation…
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: In Congress, [we have] Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar — who are now more influential than Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and have with millions of followers. We have a problem. We have infiltration.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Have you ever reached out or spoken to Ilhan Omar or Rashida in any context?
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: No.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Zero. They wouldn’t entertain any type of dialogue with you?
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: No, they would not. And I would not waste my time because I come from them. I know how they think. I understand my enemy. I know how my enemy thinks. And that’s what America does not understand. They think we can reason with people who have made up their minds and understand our weakness. Believe me, they understand our weakness. The West does not understand its own weakness. And that’s why we’re working very hard in the United States.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: My organization, ACT for America, is working very hard to stop critical race theory bills in schools. We’re working very hard on passing election integrity bills in different states. This year, we have passed 15 bills in multiple states, and we have 19 pending. And that’s why I encourage people to go to actforamerica.org. Join us. Get involved. Get our emails so we can reach you when there is a bill coming down for a vote.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Right now, we’re working on petitions to strip both Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from all their committee assignments. I don’t believe someone like Ilhan Omar or Rashida Tlaib should be serving on any influential committees — or any committees that have to deal with national intelligence or the Department of Homeland Security.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: The Department of Foreign Affairs.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Absolutely. Same thing.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, we have the 2022 midterm elections coming up. Have you been working with Republican congresspeople and those who are running for office in order to expand their majority in the House?
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Absolutely. I am a political activist as a person — not as the head of an organization. We can educate as a nonprofit. But as a person, I use my platform to mobilize and organize people to meet with their elected officials. In our organization, we encourage people, as American citizens, to participate in the American election process and run for their school boards and city council and as state-elected officials, governors and members of Congress.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: We have people by the hundreds that we know — within our own membership — who are running for elected offices.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: That’s great.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: We train them, and we teach them how to do it. We get people in their communities to go out and work with them. It’s all about grassroots. Grassroots is where it’s at. That is the wonderful thing about the United States — community organizing 101.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Yeah. All politics is local. It’s more important who your councilman is than who the president is. He’s going to pick up the garbage each week. So, those are the things. We had a great community organizer as president from 2008 for two terms. So, community organizers can move up. But I really applaud you and your organization for getting into grassroots because we need a reset.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: I’m not saying who to vote for — nor do I really want to give my opinion on it. If you listen to my show, you know who I’m thinking of. But the point is that we need to have people in office who share the same moral and ethical values and love of this country and freedom. And you don’t get it by sitting home and not voting.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Exactly.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: The penalty for refusing leadership is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself. And we’re seeing that. We’re seeing many members of Congress who should not be there. They don’t serve the same government, constitution or declaration. When you put Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan and the United States in the same tweet, there’s a problem.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: There’s a problem. Exactly. And a lot of things happen between votes. A lot of people think: “I did my duty. I went out and voted every two years.” But you’re forgetting about the importance of being active on the local level. It’s city council members who defund the police. They’re the ones who defund the police. It is the mayors who tell the police to stand down. It is the state delegates who decide to use the voting machines in their states. We need to be engaged on every level.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: We have done that. And it has worked — even under Obama. When Obama was president, we knew we could not pass any bills on the on the federal level. So, we started passing bills at the local level. And when Obama was in office — between 2008 and 2016 — ACT for America, my organization, passed over 75 bills at the state level to protect America.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: To date, right now, we are at 114 bills at the federal and state levels. And so, local engagement is fine. What I tell people is to go to actforamerica.org and sign up as an activist. Click on “get involved,” and sign up as an activist. You can be a keyboard activist. We’re not asking you to show up to a meeting. We’re not asking you to go out to a rally or demonstration. We’re asking you to sign up as an activist. So, when there’s an action alert about a bill coming down in your state for a vote, we are able to reach you in a timely manner to make your voice heard.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: To give you an example: Two days ago, we sent an action alert to Pennsylvania. There’s a CRT — critical race theory — bill coming down for a vote in Pennsylvania. We need people. We want it to be signed into law. Instead of waiting to get people elected for school boards …That requires time. [If] you get a state to pass a bill at the state level that bans critical race theory, you’ve done it with a click. It’s done now.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: We don’t have another year to waste on brainwashing another year of students. And so, that’s the importance of signing up to get our emails and signing up as an activist so you can be engaged. And by the way, let us know your address when you sign up as an activist. Don’t just give us an email. I will not know whether you live in Pennsylvania or Colorado unless I have your address. So, if there’s a bill coming down for a vote in Colorado and I don’t know that you live there, you’re not going to get a notification.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: I say this because I know we have a lot of people listening right now nationwide. And I want to make sure they understand the importance of local activism and activism in a smart way. And that includes being able to reach you and knowing where you are.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: You hit the nail on the head with school boards and federal judges — and the state and municipal levels. It’s more important who my mayor is than who’s running the country. And unfortunately, that’s de Blasio in New York. So, we’ve got a big problem. But hopefully, that’ll change.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Brigitte, I could literally spend another four or five hours talking to you. Well, I’m really not talking to you. I’m listening to you talk to me — which is beautiful. You make my job so easy. I just ask one question and sit back. So, you’re a dream. And I want to thank you. Agree or disagree with what she’s saying folks. But the fact is: She’s speaking from passion. She’s speaking from a good place — not an evil place. So, you can disagree with it if you want. But what’s there to disagree with if it’s to make this country a better place and unify people instead of separate them?
CHARLES MIZRAHI: There’s one thing that Dennis Prager always says. He goes: “There are really two types of people. There’s the decent and the indecent.” And it’s our job to get rid of the indecent ones — the evil ones. Because the evil ones are destroyers. You can’t have a society with evil people. And when I say evil, you can’t say: “People aren’t evil.” When people behead, crucify and destroy [you] simply because of what religion you are or what country you come from, that’s the personification of evil. We have to call evil for what it is.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: And that’s why Ronald Reagan is, by far, my favorite president. One defining moment was that he was the only person in his time to say, as president, that Russia was “the evil empire.” To call evil “evil” during its time takes courage. During the time he was calling [Russia] evil, it was considered to be an alternate government. It was a different thing. CHARLES MIZRAHI: When they crossed it out three times in his speech — they didn’t want him to use it — he kept penciling it in. I think that’s what you’re doing. You’re calling out evil for what it is and how it affects all of us. And you’re standing on top of the mountain and screaming about it based on where you’ve been and what has happened in your life. In a heartbeat, your life went from happiness to sadness and destruction.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: In a flash. If I may add, Charles, evil is parents using their children as human shields. Some are willing to kill their own children to make a political point. Our job is to stand up and defend these children. What’s so mind-boggling is that the media would stand up with Hamas — and the parents who are sending their children to die and sacrificing them — instead of standing up for the truth.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: That’s why our job is difficult. But our job will be much easier if we all come together and agree that evil is evil. There is truth. And we need to speak the truth. You cannot sugarcoat evil. You cannot say: “It’s OK. They just want to kill one child. They’ve got another nine. So, let them blow up one child as a suicide bomber. That’s fine.” That is evil. That is child abuse in the highest form.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: When I face my creator at the end of my life, I want to be able to say: “I stood up for the weak. I fought as hard as I could against evil and for justice.” And for me, that is so important to pass on to my children so they understand the importance of standing up and speaking the truth. If good men don’t stand up and speak out, evil dwells. And it’s not going to happen in my lifetime. I will not be silenced. And neither will you. That’s what I love about you, Charles. Thank you so much for having me — and having the courage to have a strong woman like me — who’s not afraid to speak the truth — come on your podcast.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Today, we are in a society where people are afraid of their shadows and afraid to speak up — lest they be looked down upon or called names. And it’s going to take courageous people like us — you, me and our listeners. And I hope we have a lot of courageous people among our listeners. Stand with us. Support us. Speaking of support, please go to actforamerica.org and support us. If you are able to [support us] financially, we need you as well. The left has Soros. We don’t. We need you. Together, we can fight — and fight smartly — to win this war for truth.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: I don’t even know how to add to that. So, I’m going to end here. Could you come on again when we have more time? I’d love to revisit with you at the end of the year — just to see how things have changed for the better and hear what you’re doing in terms of your activism and organization. All the power to you. You’re a good force that’s continually pushing forward. And you’re up against a tremendous opponent with billions of dollars that is calling you out and threatening your life, family and everything you’re doing.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: It’s character assassination. They’re ruining my reputation because that’s what they do when you speak up in defense of truth.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Beautiful. Brigitte, thank you so much for being on the show. God bless you. Continue as you get stronger and stronger — if that’s even possible. I think you’re at the top. I look to you and say: “Wow, I’ve got so much more to do.”
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: I always seek to improve. You’re never at the top. You’re always trying to get to the top. There is no top. And that’s the secret to American success. We love that. Isn’t it great? It’s a new dream and challenge every day.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Beautiful. Brigitte, thank you so much. God bless you.
BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Thank you so much. Thank you for having me with you.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Thanks for listening to this episode of The Charles Mizrahi Show. If you’re a new listener, welcome! If you’ve been listening for a while, we’re glad to have you back. Either way, we’d love to know what you think of the show. Please leave a review if you listen on Apple Podcasts. Reviews make it easier for others to find the show. You can also see the video of the interview on The Charles Mizrahi Show channel on YouTube.
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