AIPAC Policy Conference

Pence: The story of Israel is a story of faith


Excerpts from Vice President Mike Pence’s address to AIPAC on Monday night:

As we gather here, our team — Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt — and our great ambassador [to Israel, David Friedman] are hard at work crafting our administration’s vision for peace. And while any peace will undoubtedly require compromise, know this: The United State of America will never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish State of Israel.

Now, we know that peace is possible, because history records that Israel has made the very difficult decisions to achieve peace with its neighbors in the past. Over just the last few months, I’ve had the privilege also to travel to Egypt and Jordan, two nations with whom Israel has long enjoyed the fruits of peace. I spoke with America’s great friends — President el-Sisi of Egypt, King Abdullah of Jordan — about the courage of their predecessors who forged an end to conflict with Israel in their time.

Last year in Saudi Arabia, President Trump convened an unprecedented gathering of leaders for more than 50 nations at the Arab Islamic American Summit. As we saw there, the winds of change are blowing across the Middle East, longstanding enemies are becoming partners, old foes are finding new ground for cooperation, and the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael are coming together in common cause to meet, as the president said, history’s great test, and conquer extremism and vanquish the forces of terrorism, and we will meet that task together. Radical Islamic terrorism knows no borders, targeting America, Israel, nations across the Middle East and the wider world. It respects no creed, stealing the lives of Jews, Christians and especially, Muslims. And radical Islamic terrorism understands no reality other than brute force. And together with our allies, we’ll continue to bring the full force of our might to confront and defeat this enemy in our time.

As I said, we’ve made great progress in the fight against ISIS. We’ve liberated nearly all the territory once held by those barbarians and we have beaten them on the battlefield time and again, but as the enemy retreats, we must be vigilant. We must be vigilant to prevent others from taking its place. And let me assure you tonight, we will not allow the defeat of ISIS to become a victory for Iran.

Iran hopes to recreate the ancient Persian Empire under the modern dictatorship of the Ayatollahs. As we speak, that regime seeks to carve out a corridor of influence running through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon creating an unbroken passage for its armies and its ideology. Last year alone, Iran spent more than $4 billion to achieve its ends, and at this very hour, it aids and abets terrorist groups that sit on Israel’s doorstep and fire rockets at our people. In just the past month, the mounting Iranian menace has been laid bare for all to see.

The Iranian drone that breeched Israel’s borders in February was a brazen act of aggression, but Israel’s swift and strong response sent a warning to Iran across the region that dangerous provocations will not go unchecked by Israel, America or our allies.

But the danger posed by Iran extends much further than its support of terrorism. As we all know, that regime continues to develop an advanced ballistic missiles that can threaten every square inch of Israeli soil and the lives of all their citizens. And the disastrous nuclear deal signed by the last administration, did not prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, it merely delayed the day when that vile regime can gain access to the world’s most deadly weapons.

President Trump has called on the Congress and our European allies to enact real and lasting restraints on Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions. Earlier this year the President waived sanctions to give our lawmakers and our allies time to act. But make no mistake about it, this is their last chance.

Unless the Iran nuclear deal is fixed in the coming months, the United States of America will withdraw from the Iran n uclear deal immediately. Whatever the outcome of those discussions today, I have a solemn promise to you, to Israel and to the wider world, the United States of America will never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.

For 70 years, Israel has overcome every challenge it’s faced and in this year of celebration, as we commemorate that miracle of history, I say with confidence that the Jewish state and the Jewish people will continue to inspire and awe the world for generations to come. Indeed, how unlikely was Israel’s rebirth, how more unlikely it’s been her survival and prosperity and how confounding and against all odds has been her thriving. …

In 70 years, Israel has transformed itself into a fountainhead of innovation and entrepreneurship producing astounding technological advances in nearly all fields of human endeavor. In a word, Israel is like a tree that’s grown deep roots in the soil of its forefathers, yet as it grows, reaches ever closer to the heavens, it gives shade and sustenance to all who seek shelter under it, the living testament to the power of freedom and the power of faith.

Because the story of Israel is a story of faith.

The Jewish people held fast to a promise through all the ages … that even if you had been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there he will gather you and bring you back to the land which your fathers possessed.

Through a 2000-year exile, the longest of any people anywhere, through conquest and expulsions, inquisitions and pogroms, the Jewish people held onto this ancient promise and they held onto it through the longest and darkest of nights — a night Elie Wiesel proclaimed as seven times sealed, a night that transformed the small faces of children into smoke under a silent sky; a night that consumed the faith of so many and the challenges of faith of so many still.

To this day, we grieve the loss of six million martyrs of the Holocaust and to this day, we marvel at the faith and resilience of a sacred and broken people once scattered who, just three years after walking through the valley of the shadow of death, rose up to reclaim a Jewish future and rebuild a Jewish state.

And in this 70th anniversary year of Israel’s rebirth, I say again, along with Jewish people everywhere, thanks to the L-rd our G-d who has kept us alive and sustained us and brought us to this day, shehecheyanu vekiymanu vehigi’anu lazman hazeh.

The miracle of Israel is an inspiration to the world, and the United States of America is proud to stand with Israel and her people as allies and cherished friends.

So tonight, I close with faith, faith in the good people of Israel and America and in the immutable bonds of friendship between us. Faith in the alliance between our nations nurtured by President Trump and leaders throughout the Congress in both parties that have ensured this alliance is stronger now than ever before. And faith in G-d that he will yet forge a brighter future where each can sit under their own vine and fig tree and none shall make them afraid in the Promised Land. … 

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