Monday March 5, 2018
Chuck Schumer: Hello, everybody. It is great to be here tonight. I want to thank all of you for being here, great leadership of AIPAC, my friends, Ambassador Haley, Vice President Pence and all of you.
Now, you know I always start off with a story. This is dedicated to my father who's 94. My father struggled his whole life, he had a small little exterminating business. He paced the floor Sunday nights at 2:00 a.m., because he hated going to work. But when he retired, my brother, who's the financially successful Schumer, bought them a house in Florida. And every winter, they'd drive from Brooklyn down to Florida.
My father never played golf. He took up golf, they'd see their friends who moved there. But as they got older, they ran out of things to do. He couldn't play golf anymore, his legs went bad, their friends were passing on. So those of you from Florida know that Florida Atlantic University – hello, Florida way down there in the south part of the convention center.
Anyway, Florida Atlantic University lets every senior citizen enroll in any course for free. So my dad and mom would roll up to Florida Atlantic University every Thursday at 4:00 p.m., because they enrolled in the course called “Humor.” Now, what was the course called “Humor?” Some erstwhile comedian, who never made it in the Catskills, would get up and tell jokes for 45 minutes, a different comedian each week.
My dad never went to college. He said, “Gee, college is pretty easy, I should've gone.” But each week they'd call me back with their favorite joke. Here's one of the favorites. Mrs. Goldfarb is brought before the judge, the judge rolls her eyes – rolls his eyes and said, “Mrs. Goldfarb, you're back.”
“Yes, your Honor, I'm back.”
“And what did you steal this time, Mrs. Goldfarb?”
“I stole a can of peaches from the supermarket down the road.”
The judge is exasperated. He says, “Look, Mrs. Goldfarb, I know you're a kleptomaniac and I know that this is an illness and I know you could easily afford a can of peaches, but for Lord's sake, Mrs. Goldfarb, this is the 17th time you've been brought before me for shoplifting this year and it's only March. I have no choice, I've got to sentence you to some time in jail. Now, how many peaches were in the can?”
“Your Honor, there were four peaches in the can.”
“Then I have no choice, I'm going to sentence you to four nights in jail, one for each peach.”
He's about to bang the gavel and pronounce sentence when in the middle of the courtroom, a man gets up all agitated. “Your Honor,” he says. “May it please the court, I'm her husband. She also stole a can of peas.”
So when you all retire, you can go to Delray Beach, enroll in the course called “Humor” and call the kinderlach back home with your favorite joke.
Now, seriously, tonight I want to address the cause that brings us together, the cause of Israel, her security, her prosperity and her prospects for peace. These issues are all related, but let me begin by addressing the issue of peace. Many wonder: “Why don't we have peace in the Middle East?” even though a majority of Israelis want peace and believe like I do and most of you do, that there should be two states, a Jewish state and a Palestinian state.
Now, some say there are some who argue the settlements are the reason there's not peace, but we all know what happened in Gaza, Israel voluntarily got rid of the settlements there, the Israeli soldiers dragged the settlers out of Netzarim, and three weeks later the Palestinians threw rockets into Sderot. It's sure not the settlements that are the blockage to peace.
Some say it's the borders. Oh, Israel wants different borders, but they forget during the negotiations in 2000, Ehud Barak was making huge territorial concessions that most Israelis didn't like, it was Arafat who rejected the settlement. It's not the borders neither. And it's certainly not because we've moved the embassy to where it should belong in Yerushalayim. It's not that either.
Now, let me tell you why – my view, why we don't have peace. Because the fact of the matter is that too many Palestinians and too many Arabs do not want any Jewish state in the Middle East. The view of Palestinians is simple, the Europeans treated the Jews badly culminating in the Holocaust and they gave them our land as compensation.
Of course, we say it's our land, the Torah says it, but they don't believe in the Torah. So that's the reason there is not peace. They invent other reasons, but they do not believe in a Jewish state and that is why we, in America, must stand strong with Israel through thick and thin. We must, because that is the reason, not any of these other false shibboleths why there is not peace in the Middle East.
Too many people don't understand that here in America. Now, the rest of my speech I want to address to you one of the great problems that Israel faces in the future, not immediately, but in the future, but we have to worry about it. I'll be having lunch with the prime minister tomorrow and I intend to talk to him about this and what we can do about it.
The fact of the matter is that too many of our younger generations don't share the devotion to Israel that our generations have. That's a problem. We have to face it and deal with it. Now, it's certainly not true in AIPAC, we have thousands of students here who go home and spread the word of Israel. Students, stand up, we want to applaud you. 3,500 students here at AIPAC, God bless you.
But we all know the problem: Too many of the younger Americans don't know the history and as a result, they tend to say, both sides are to blame. Many Americans, younger Americans didn't grow up knowing Israel was attacked time after time. They think Israel has always been strong. They do not realize that if Israel were weak, her enemies would immediately seek her destruction.
I remember being in high school, James Madison High School, Brooklyn, New York,in 1967. I carried a transistor radio to my ear. You young people will not know what that is. I wouldn't let it go from my ear, because it was during the '67 War in June '67, and I was deathly worried that Israel would just be pushed into the sea by the Arab onslaught. But you may – and we were praying to HaShem to please save Israel.
Now, the younger generation never experienced this. They haven't lived through a time when Israel's very existence was balanced on the edge of a knife. Fortunately, these days have passed, but Israel faces challenges that no other nation must face. While Putin enables Assad's atrocities in Syria, while a humanitarian crisis unfolds in Yemen, while human rights abuses happen every day to so many in Iran, somehow, to some, Israel receives the blame for a chaotic Middle East.
The world celebrates the most incremental progress by Israel's neighbors and ignores the generous cooperation between Israel and her fellow nations, including her former enemies. The world draws a false moral equivalence between Israel's actions to defend herself and the actions of terrorists who use children as human shields in their evil campaign to push Israel into the sea.
The unfairness springs from a deep well of bias that has always existed, unfortunately, against Eretz Yisrael. If only the younger generation knew more about this unfairness, I believe it would affect them powerfully. And there are two things we can do immediately that will help rectify this situation.
First, we must pass and highlight the Taylor Force Act, which will bring an end to American dollars that directly benefit a Palestinian Authority until it ceases making payments to the families of terrorists, stops calling the martyrs, stops giving them parades.
My friends, this is not just about funds to the Palestinian Authority. Too many believe that this Palestinian Authority is moderate and really wants peace. The Taylor Force Act will confront the world to – will confront the dark, which will force the world to confront the dark truth that the Palestinian Authority, every day, actively aids and abets terrorism. We will pass the Taylor Force Law and that will show the world what the Palestinian Authority is actually doing. That while Israel justifiably defends its borders, the PA celebrates and compensates terrorists as martyrs.
Second, we must continue to stand firm against the profoundly biased campaign to delegitimize the State of Israel through boycotts divestment and sanctions. While Iran publicly executes its citizens, Turkey jails its journalists, scores of Arab nations punish homosexuality with imprisonment and torture. Why does BDS single Israel out alone for condemnation when there is such a double standard – when the world treats everybody one way and the Jew or the Jewish State another way?
There's only one word for it; anti-Semitism. Let us call out the BDS movement for what it is. Let us delegitimize the delegitimizers by letting the world know when there is a double-standard, whether they know it or not, they are actively participating in an anti-Semitic movement.
And finally, my friends, we must highlight the danger that Israel faces from a newly-resurgent Iran now so active in Syria. A few weeks ago, as you know, an Iranian drone came into Israeli airspace. Iran and its proxies are gaining a foothold in Syria near Israel's northern borders. Last summer Congress, Democrats and Republicans together, granted the administration new authority to counter Iran's malign activity.
Now it must use it not only to combat Iran, but to push Russia to repel Iranian proxies in Syria. We can never be complacent about any threat near Israel's borders and Iran is a threat right now. So we must do these things and more to ensure Israel's security to educate the younger generations about the true nature of the situation in the Middle East, for the cause of Israel is too important to you and to me.
As a boy, I grew up hearing stories about my great-grandmother in the town of Chortkiv, in Galicia. In 1941, the Nazis invaded her part of Galicia. They told my great-grandmother to gather her whole family on the front porch of their house from elderly people to little babies. There were more than 17 of them. They said you all have to leave. My grandmother said no. And the Nazis brutally machine-gunned down every single one of them.
Now, my great-grandmother, my friends here, could never imagine that one day there would be a country for Jews. The idea seemed like an absurdity in that world. Jews had been scattered to the winds, foreigners in their own country, derided by their neighbors, forbidden to farm or become academics or tradesmen. We were scapegoats; we were second-class citizens throughout our history. Just imagine if you could go back and tell the Jews of the shtetl that one day there would be a Jewish State of Israel.
Imagine if you could tell the Russian Jew, chased from town to town by angry mobs and burning torches, that one day he'd have a state where he could seek refuge and live like anybody else. Imagine if you could whisper to the Polish Jew, who they came for one day and loaded on a train, separated from his family, forced to labor day after day and watch those wreaths of smoke rising under a silent blue sky. Imagine if you could tell him one night that someday soon there would be an Eretz Yisrael, that after two millennia of wandering the desert, the Jewish people would return home where we could live in freedom and raise families in peace. If only we could tell them.
My friends, we must never forget what Israel and its freedom mean to the Jewish people and what the friendship of the United States means to securing that freedom. As long as HaShem breathes air into my lungs, I will not forget, I know you will not forget and together we will forever fight to protect the Jewish people and the Jewish State of Israel.
Am Yisrael Chai! Am Yisrael Chai!