Monday March 21, 2016
God bless AIPAC. I'm thrilled to be with you here today and let me say at the outset, perhaps to the surprise of a previous speaker, Palestine has not existed since 1948.
On Wednesday night of this week, in synagogues across the world, Jewish people will read the Megillah, which tells the story of Purim, the miraculous rescue of the Jewish people from the hands of a wicked Persian king. When the evildoer Haman plots to kill the Jews, he describes them as a nation that is scattered and spread out. The Talmud teaches that the Jewish people at the time were divided amongst themselves and that the lesson is that when the forces of good are divided, evil can prevail. But when we come together in unity, together we can defeat tyrants.
Today, we are reliving history, facing a similar time of challenge for America and for Israel. But today, I give you a word of hope, in the next few months, we will bring this country together. First by unifying the Republican party and then by reaching out and building a coalition of young people, and Hispanics, and African Americans and women and blue collar workers and Jewish voters and Reagan Democrats which will lead to a commanding victory in November that unifies this country and brings us together.
And standing together, America will stand with Israel and defeat radical Islamic terrorism.
I want to thank the delegates, the over 18,000 people here, the 4,000 young people, the leaders of the pro-Israel movement who are gathered here today. You will play a critical leadership role in making this happen and bringing us together, indeed. Just today, my colleague Lindsey Graham very kindly hosted an event for me here, which should allay any doubts anyone might have that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob can still do miracles.
I want to begin by asking all of us to remember Taylor Force, a Texan who hailed from Lubbock, an Eagle Scout, a West Point graduate, an army veteran. On March 8th, he was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist in Israel. The terrorist didn't ask for his passport. Influenced by the relentless campaign of incitement that has fostered genocidal hatred towards Jews, all he cared about was injuring or killing as many civilians as possible, at least 10 people were wounded by the time the terrorist was neutralized. The brutal murder of Taylor Force is yet another reminder that America and Israel are in the fight together against radical Islamic terrorism.
We need a president who will be a champion for America and we need a president who will be a champion for Israel. In my time in the Senate, I have endeavored to do both. In the four years I've been serving in the Senate, I've been privileged to travel three times to the State of Israel.
I had the great privilege of seeing the Ziv Hospital in Northern Israel where they have treated over 1,000 refugees from Syria wounded in that horrible Syrian civil war, have done so free of charge showing the heart and character of the people of Israel.
When the Nation of Iran named as their ambassador to the United Nations Hamid Aboutalebi, a known terrorist who had participated in holding Americans hostage in the late 1970s, people in Washington said there was nothing we could do. Well, I was proud to introduce legislation barring Aboutalebi from coming to America. That legislation passed the Senate 100 to nothing, it passed the House 435 to nothing and it was signed into law by President Obama.
When Israel was facing relentless rocket attacks from Hamas and the prayers of all of us and people across the world were with Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu powerfully observed, we are using missile defense to protect our civilians and they are using their civilians to protect their missiles.
I entirely agree with Prime Minister Netanyahu as Hamas would place rockets in elementary schools, they placed their headquarters in the basement of a hospital and I would note that Hillary Clinton, in 2014, explained this as follows, quote, "Hamas puts its missiles, its rockets in civilian areas, part of it is because Gaza is pretty small and it's densely populated."
Well, Madame Secretary, with all respect, the reason the missiles are in schools is not because Gaza is small, the reason the missiles are in schools is because Hamas are terrorist monsters using children as human shields.
And in response to this atrocity, I was proud to join with New York democrat Kirsten Gillibrand in authoring a resolution condemning Hamas's use of human shields as a war crime and that resolution passed both houses of Congress unanimously.
In the midst of these rocket attacks, we saw the Obama Administration cancel civilian airline flights in the nation of Israel. When that happened, I publicly asked the question, did this administration just launch an economic boycott on the nation of Israel?
The administration does not ban flights into Pakistan, does not ban flights into Yemen, does not ban flights into Afghanistan, indeed, did not ban flights into much of Ukraine, and Ukraine had just seen a passenger airliner shot down by a Russian Buk missile.
So why exactly was a disproportionate sanction put on Israel because one rocket fell harmlessly a mile away from Ben-Gurion Airport, one of the safest airports in the world?
And why was that time to coincide with John Kerry arriving in the Middle East with $47 million for Gaza that would inevitably end up with Hamas terrorists?
Well, when I asked that question, within hours, the State Department was being asked, is this an economic boycott of Israel? The State Department said, that question is ridiculous, we refuse to answer. So I responded, fine, I will place a hold on every nominee to the State Department. Shortly thereafter, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg rode a civilian airliner from London to Tel Aviv demonstrating that it was safe to fly to Israel.
And as a result of Mayor Bloomberg's efforts and my efforts and that of millions of others, the heat and light and attention became too much on this administration and within 36 hours, the administration lifted its ban on civilian air flights to Israel. Looking forward as president, I will lead very, very differently from the current administration.
Imagine just a few years ago if I had come to an AIPAC Conference and suggested that the prime minister of Israel was going to come to America, address a joint session of Congress and he would be boycotted by the president of the United States, the vice president of the United States and every member of the cabinet, that would've been dismissed as crazy, fanciful, that could never happen and sadly, that is exactly what did happen when Prime Minister Netanyahu came to address Congress.
In a similar vein, my leading Republican opponent has promised that he, as president, would be neutral between Israel and the Palestinians. Well, let me be very, very clear, as president, I will not be neutral. America will stand unapologetically with the nation of Israel.
So what does that mean specifically? Let's start with today's Persian king, the nation of Iran. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have said they would maintain this Iranian deal, although, Donald has promised he's going to negotiate and get a better deal. Well, my view is very different, on the first day in office, I will rip this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal to shreds.
This agreement gives over $100 billion to the Ayatollah Khomeini, the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. That dwarfs the $3 billion in military aid we give each year to the nation of Israel. That difference is not just unconscionable, it is fundamentally immoral and if I am president, on the first day, we will re-impose sanctions on Iran.
In a mockery of this Iranian nuclear deal, Iran has continued with missile tests, including launching a missile with the words printed on it in both Hebrew and Farsi, Israel should be wiped from the earth. Hear my words, Ayatollah Khomeini, if I am president and Iran launches a missile test, we will shoot that missile down.
And in January 2017, we will have a commander in chief who says, under no circumstances will Iran be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. Either you will shut down your nuclear program or we will shut it down for you.
A year ago when Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed Congress, I was honored to join the great Elie Wiesel on a panel discussion in the Senate about this disastrous Iranian deal. Not a single Democrat was willing to join Elie Wiesel, to sit alongside someone who witnessed firsthand the horrors of the Holocaust, who brings a moral weight and gravity second to none, was both powerful and humbling and I am convinced, after this election, the American people will stand and say together, never again means never again.
On my very first day in office, I will begin the process of moving the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the once and eternal capital of Israel. Now, I recognize for years, a whole lot of presidential candidates, both Republicans and Democrats, have said that indeed, I recognize, some candidates have said that standing here today. Here's the difference, I will do it.
And as president, I will do everything in my power to ensure that anyone who provides financial support to the BDS movement, including schools and universities will lose any access to federal funding. And to the extent that they have engaged in illegal behavior, they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
All of us here understand that Israel is not the barrier to peace. It is the Palestinian Authority in a so-called unity government with Hamas that celebrates the murder of women and children and incites and even compensates the terrorist attacks. If the Palestinians try to push through a United Nations resolution to unilaterally declare Palestinian statehood, American will veto that resolution.
Indeed, I tell you today, I will fly to New York to personally veto it myself.
Now, some have asked, why on earth did a Cuban-American Texas become one of the leading defenders of Israel in the United States Congress? Well, I would say there are several reasons. First of all, I understand that standing with Israel benefits America.
Israel is a liberal democracy that shares our values. Israel is a steadfast and loyal ally and our military aid to Israel is not charity, it is rather furthering the vital national security interests of the United States of America, whether it is missile defense from Iron Dome to David's Sling or whether it is intelligence and military cooperation, Israel provides an enormous benefit to keeping America safe and protecting us from radical Islamic terrorists.
But on a very personal level, for me, much of my view of Israel is framed by my family's story. My father was born and raised in Cuba. As a kid, he fought in the Cuban Revolution. He was imprisoned, he was tortured. My father fled Cuba in 1957. When he came to America, he had nothing. He had $100 sewn into his underwear and he washed dishes making 50 cents an hour.
He paid his way through school; he went on to start a small business. When I was a kid, my dad used to say to me over and over again, “when I faced oppression in Cuba, I had a place to flee to. If we lose our freedom here, where do we go?” And I will tell you, it is an incredible blessing to be the child of an immigrant who fled oppression and came to America seeking freedom.
And there is one other nation on earth like the United States of America that was created as an oasis, as a beacon of hope to people who had faced oppression, had faced horrible murder and persecution, the nation of Israel, like America is a beacon of light unto the world.
And all of us here understand, as Ronald Reagan did, that peace is achievable only through strength. This is what Israel understands when you are surrounded by neighbors who would drive you into the sea. Somehow you don't have time for political correctness.
Weakness is provocative. Appeasement increases the chance of military conflict. Indeed, I believe this Iranian nuclear deal is Munich in 1938 and we risk, once again, catastrophic consequences to allowing a homicidal maniac to acquire the tools to murder millions.
The way to avoid conflict is to stand up to bullies and it is worth remembering that this same nation, Iran, in 1981, released our hostages the day Ronald Reagan was sworn into office.
That is the difference a strong commander-in-chief can make and together, standing as one, we can and will do it again. Thank you. God bless America and am Yisrael chai.