Full Text Israel Political Brief March 5, 2012: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at AIPAC Policy Conference 2012 — Transcript

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Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Speech at AIPAC Policy Conference, 2012

6 March, 2012

Thank you. Todah rabah.

Thank you very much.

Sara and I want to thank you for that wonderful reception. This applause that could be heard as far away as Jerusalem .  Jerusalem – the eternal and united capital of Israel.

Thank you Howard, Rosy, Michael, and thank you all the leadership of AIPAC.  Thank you for everything that you do.

I know that more than a half of the members of Congress are in attendance here tonight.  I deeply appreciate your being here.

Michael, you said that when I spoke last May, in Congress, you – the members of congress – stood up to applaud the State of Israel.

Now I ask for another applause.  Now I ask the 13,000 friends of Israel who are here tonight to stand up and applaud you – the representatives of the United States for standing up for Israel.  Democrats and Republicans alike, I salute your unwavering support to the Jewish state

I want to send a special message to a great friend of Israel who is not here tonight:  Senator Mark Kirk, the co-author of the Kirk-Menendez Iran Sanctions Act.

Senator Kirk, I know you’re watching this tonight.  Please get well soon.  America needs you;  Israel needs you.

I send you wishes for a speedy recovery.  So get well and get back to work.

I also want to recognize Yossi Peled, who is here tonight.  Yossi, would you please stand up.

Yossi was born in Belgium.  His parents hid him with a Christian family during the Holocaust, World War II.  His father and many other members of his family were murdered at Auschwitz.

His mother survived the Holocaust, returned to reclaim Yossi, and brought him to Israel.  He became one of Israel’s bravest and greatest generals.  And today, he serves as a minister in my cabinet.

Yossi’s life is the story of the Jewish people – the story of a powerless and stateless people who became a strong and proud  nation, able to defend itself.

And ladies and gentlemen, Israel must always reserve the right to defend itself.

I want to recognize Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren.  Michael, you’re doing an outstanding job.  Thank you for all you do for our country.  And thank you for everything you are doing for the friendship between Israel and the United States.

I also want to recognize Ambassador Dan Shapiro, the United States’ Ambassador to Israel.  President Obama is right, your Hebrew is improving, though it is not on par with Michael Oren’s.  Dan, we appreciate your efforts to strengthen the alliance between America and Israel.

Are there any students here tonight?

Is there anyone here from Florida?

from New York?

from Wisconsin?  — that’s important. I’ll tell you about it later

from California?

You’re the future, and thank you all for ensuring the future of the great alliance between America and Israel.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Tonight, I’d like to talk to you about a subject that no one has been talking about recently…: Iran.

Every day, I open the newspapers and read about these redlines and these timelines.  I read about what Israel has supposedly decided to do, or what Israel might do.

Well, I’m not going to talk to you about what Israel will do or will not do, I never talk about that.  But I do want to talk to you about the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran.  I want to explain why Iran must never be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

President Obama has reiterated his commitment to prevent that from happening.  He stated clearly that all options are on the table,   and that American policy is not containment.

Well, Israel has exactly the same policy — We are determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons; we leave all options on the table; and containment is definitely not an option.

The Jewish state will not allow those who seek our destruction to possess the means to achieve that goal.

A nuclear armed Iran must be stopped.

Amazingly, some people refuse to acknowledge that Iran’s goal is to develop nuclear weapons.  You see, Iran claims to do everything it’s doing, that it’s enriching uranium to develop medical isotopes.

Yeah, that’s  right.

A country that builds underground nuclear facilities,  develops intercontinental ballistic missiles, manufactures thousands of centrifuges, and that absorbs crippling sanctions,  is doing all that in order to advance…medical research.

So you see, when that Iranian ICBM is flying through the air to a location near you, you’ve got nothing to worry about.  It’s only carrying medical isotopes.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then what is it?

That’s right, it’s a duck.  But this duck is a nuclear duck.  And it’s time the world started calling a duck a duck.

Fortunately, President Obama and most world leaders understand that the claim that Iran’s goal is not to develop nuclear weapons is simply ridiculous.

Yet incredibly, some are prepared to accept an idea only slightly less preposterous: that we should accept a world in which the Ayatollahs have atomic bombs.

Sure, they say, Iran is cruel, but it’s not crazy.   It’s detestable but it’s deterrable.

My friends,

Responsible leaders should not bet the security of their countries on the belief that the world’s most dangerous regimes won’t use the world’s most dangerous weapons.

And I promise you that as Prime Minister, I will never gamble with the security of the State of Israel.

From the beginning, the Ayatollah regime has broken every international rule and flouted every norm.  It has seized embassies, targeted diplomats.  It sends its own children through mine fields; it hangs gays and stones women; it supports Assad’s brutal slaughter of the Syrian people; it is the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism: It sponsors Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and terrorists throughout the Middle East, Africa, even South America.

Iran’s proxies have dispatched hundreds of suicide bombers, planted thousands of roadside bombs, and they fired over twenty thousand missiles at civilians.

Through terror from the skies and terror on the ground, Iran is responsible for the murder of hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans.

In 1983, Iran’s proxy Hezbollah blew up the Marine barracks in Lebanon, killing 240 US Marines.  In the last decade, it’s been responsible for murdering and maiming American soldiers in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

Just a few months ago, it tried to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the US in a restaurant just a few blocks from here.  The assassins didn’t care that several Senators and members of Congress would have been murdered in the process.

Now this is real chutzpa, Iran accuses the American government of orchestrating 9/11, and that’s as brazen as denying the Holocaust, and they do…

Iran calls for Israel’s destruction, and they work for its destruction – each day, every day

This is how Iran behaves today, without nuclear weapons.  Think of how they will behave tomorrow, with nuclear weapons.  Iran will be even more reckless and a lot more dangerous.

There’s been plenty of talk recently about the costs of stopping Iran.  I think it’s time we started talking about the costs of not stopping Iran.

A nuclear-armed Iran would dramatically increase terrorism by giving terrorists a nuclear umbrella. Let me try to explain what that means, a nuclear umbrella.

It means that Iran’s terror proxies like Hezbollah, Hamas will be emboldened to attack the United States, Israel, and other countries because they will be backed by a power that has atomic weapons.  So the terrorism could grow tenfold.

A nuclear-armed Iran could choke off the world’s oil supply and make real its threat to close the Straits of Hormouz.

If you’re worried about the price of oil today, imagine how high oil prices could get once a nuclear-armed Iran starts blackmailing the world.

If Iran gets nuclear weapons, it would set off a mad dash by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and others to acquire nuclear weapons of their own.  The world’s most volatile region would become a nuclear tinderbox waiting to go off.

And here’s the worst nightmare of all, with nuclear weapons, Iran could threaten all of us with nuclear terrorism.

It could put a nuclear device in a ship heading to any port or in a truck parked in any city, anywhere in the world.

I want you to think about what it would mean to have nuclear weapons in the hands of those who lead millions of radicals who chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

When you think about that m you’ll reach a simple conclusion: for the sake of our prosperity, for the sake of our security, for the sake of our children, Iran must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons!

Of course, the best outcome would be if Iran decided to abandon its nuclear weapons program peacefully.  No one would be happier than me and the people of Israel if Iran dismantled its program.

But so far, that hasn’t happened.  For fifteen years, I’ve been warning that a nuclear-armed Iran is a grave danger to my country and to the peace and security of the entire world.

For the last decade, the international community has tried diplomacy.  It hasn’t worked.

For six years, the international community has applied sanctions.  That hasn’t worked either.

I appreciate President Obama’s recent efforts to impose even tougher sanctions against Iran.  These sanctions are hurting Iran’s economy, but unfortunately, Iran’s nuclear program continues to march forward.

Israel has waited patiently for the international community to resolve this issue.  We’ve waited for diplomacy to work.  We’ve waited for sanctions to work.  None of us can afford to wait much longer.

As Prime Minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Some commentators would have you believe that stopping Iran from getting the bomb is more dangerous than letting Iran have the bomb.  They say that a military confrontation with Iran would undermine the efforts already underway; that it would be ineffective; and that it would provoke an even more vindictive response by Iran.

I’ve heard these arguments before.  In fact, I’ve read them before — In my desk, I have copies of an exchange of letters between the World Jewish Congress and the United States War Department.

Here are the letters:

The year was 1944.  The World Jewish Congress implored the American government to bomb Auschwitz.  The reply came five days later.  I want to read it to you.

Such an operation could be executed only by diverting considerable air support essential to the success of our forces elsewhere…

and in any case, it  would be of such doubtful efficacy that it would not warrant the use of our resources…

And, my friends, here’s the most remarkable sentence of all, and I quote:

Such an effort might provoke even more vindictive action by the Germans.

Think about that – “even more vindictive action” — than the Holocaust.

My Friends,

2012 is not 1944.  The American government today is different.  You heard it in President Obama’s speech yesterday.

But here’s my point:

The Jewish people are also different.  Today we have a state of our own.  And the purpose of the Jewish state is to defend Jewish lives and to secure the Jewish future.

Never again will we not be masters of the fate of our very survival. Never again.

That is why Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.

We deeply appreciate the great alliance between our two countries.  But when it comes to Israel’s survival, we must always remain the masters of our fate.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Israel’s fate is to continue to be the forward position of freedom in the Middle East.  The only place in the Middle East where minorities enjoy full civil rights; the only place in the Middle East where Arabs enjoy full civil rights; the only place in the Middle East where Christians are free to practice their faith; the only place in the Middle East where real judges protect the rule of law.

And as Prime Minister of Israel, I will always protect Israel’s democracy – always.  I will never allow anything to threaten Israel’s democratic way of life.  and most especially, I will never tolerate any discrimination against women.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This week, we will read how one woman changed Jewish history.

In Synagogues throughout the world, the Jewish people will celebrate the festival of Purim.  We will read how some 2,500 years ago, a Persian anti-Semite tried to annihilate the Jewish people.

And we will read how that plot was foiled by one courageous woman – Esther.

In every generation, there are those who wish to destroy the Jewish people.

In this generation, we are blessed to live in an age when there is a Jewish state capable of defending the Jewish people.

And we are doubly blessed to have so many friends like you, Jews and non-Jews alike, who love the State of Israel and support its right to defend itself.

So as I leave you tonight I thank you for your friendship.  Thank you for your courage.  Thank you for standing up for the one and only Jewish state.

Thank you all and happy Purim.

PM Netanyahu’s Speech at the AIPAC 2012 – Washington DC

Israel Political Brief March 5, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu in AIPAC speech: Israel cannot afford to wait much longer on Iran

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Netanyahu in AIPAC speech: Israel cannot afford to wait much longer on Iran

Netanyahu warns the U.S. of danger of a nuclear nation of ‘death to America’ chanting crowds, providing a nuclear umbrella to terror.

Source: Haaretz, 3-5-12

Following his meeting with US President Obama in Washington Monday morning, Prime Minister Netanyahu speaking at the AIPAC conference, calls on the international community to acknowledge the fact that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

“If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck – it’s a nuclear duck. It’s Time for the world to call a duck a duck,” Netanyahu said.

netanyahu - GPO - May 20 2011 U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the White House Lawn.
Photo by: GPO

In his speech, Netanyahu reiterated the fact that Israel reserves its right to protect itself. He added that for Israel all options remain on the table. “I will never gamble on the security of the state of Israel,” he explained.

Netanyahu warned of the dangers of a nuclear Iran. “We need to talk about the cost of not stopping Iran. I will give terrorists a nuclear umbrella,” he said.

Netanyahu also hinted at internal Israeli issues criticized lately by the American Jewish community such as the exclusion of women from the public sphere. “I will defend the Israeli democracy. I will never allow discrimination of women in Israel.”

Israel Political Brief March 5, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu at AIPAC: Israel cannot wait long on Iran

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Netanyahu: Israel cannot wait long on Iran

Source: JTA, 3-5-12

Sanctions and diplomacy have not stopped Iran’s nuclear push, and Israel cannot wait much longer for these efforts to succeed, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

“I appreciate President Obama’s recent efforts to impose even tougher sanctions against Iran, and these sanctions are hurting Iran’s economy, but unfortunately Iran’s nuclear program continues to march forward,” Netanyahu said in his address Monday evening to the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual policy conference.

“We’ve waited for diplomacy to work, we’ve waited for sanctions to work, none of us can afford to wait much longer. As prime minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihiliation,” he added.

Netanyahu’s speech came after his meeting earlier in the day with President Obama. In a pre-meeting appearance before reporters with Netanyahu at the White House, Obama said that there was “still a window that allows for a diplomatic resolution” to the Iranian nuclear issue.

Israeli leaders have begun to speak openly of the prospect of a military strike to stop Iran’s suspected nuclear program. Obama and his top officials have endeavored to persuade Israel to give U.S.-led efforts to isolate Iran more time.

Israel Political Brief March 5, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s AIPAC Speech: Israel won’t live under shadow of annihilation

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Netanyahu: Israel won’t live under shadow of annihilation

Source: USA Today, 3-5-12

By CHRIS KLEPONIS, AFP/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds documents from World War Two regarding the possible bombing of the concentration camp in Auschwitz while speaking to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) at their annual conference in Washington DC, March 5, 2012.

In a speech before the chief American-Israel lobby group late Monday, Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu said he was running out of patience with international sanctions meant to force Iran to give up their nuclear program and vowed not to gamble with Israel’s security.

“I will never let Israel live under the shadow of annihilation,” said Netanyahu, in his addresss before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Hours after meeting with President Obama and other administration officials, Netanyahu took a tough line with Iran and members of the international community that don’t share Israel’s position that time is running out to deal with Tehran. He bristled at those who question the costs of stopping Iran with military action.

“It’s about time we start talking about the cost of not stopping Iran,” Netanyahu said.

The U.S. and other European allies have said that Iran has not yet made a definitive decision to develop a nuclear weapon, a notion that Netanyahu has issues with.

“If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck…It’s time the world started calling a duck, a duck,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu, who made his address before thousands who convened for the annual AIPAC conference, recalled that the Jewish people were only saved from being wiped out by the help of the U.S. and their own determination.

“In every generation, there are those who wish to destroy the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said. “In this generation, we are blessed to live in a time when there is a Jewish state capable of defending the Jewish people,” he said.

Israel Political Brief March 5, 2012: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Speech Outlines Threshold for U.S. Intervention in Iran at AIPAC Conference

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At AIPAC Conference, McConnell to Outline Threshold for U.S. Intervention in Iran

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell will deliver a major policy address to the 2012 AIPAC Conference tonight in which he outlines the threshold for American intervention to end the Iranian nuclear weapons program. The proposal provides clarity and specificity to the administration’s stated policy on Iran’s nuclear efforts as well as a concrete plan for the role of Congress in providing authority for the use of military force if required.
“If at any time the intelligence community presents the Congress with an assessment that Iran has begun to enrich uranium to weapons grade levels, or has taken a decision to develop a nuclear weapon — consistent with protecting classified sources and methods — I will consult with the President and joint congressional leadership and introduce before the Senate an authorization for the use of military force,” McConnell said in prepared remarks. “This authorization, if enacted, will ensure the nation and the world that our leaders are united in confronting Iran, and will undermine the perception that the U.S. is wounded or retreating from global responsibilities.”

McConnell stressed that he has the same goal as the administration in stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapons program. But the White House’s repeated insistence that ‘all options are on the table’ in dealing with Iran became a threat that has ‘lost its intended purpose,’ and has blurred what McConnell identified as an important option in preventing a nuclear-armed Iran — military action to end Iran’s nuclear program before it is successful.

“The administration has used this same language about preserving all options in developing its policy toward Libya, Iran, and, now, Syria,” McConnell said. “Clearly, the threat has lost its intended purpose. And the markers this administration has identified, whether they be a program to enrich uranium to weapons grade levels, or a decision to construct a weapon, are only truly red lines if crossing them brings about painful consequences.

“Another way to put it is that the administration’s mistake has been to pursue negotiations, and sanctions consecutively rather than simultaneously, without articulating a clear military consequence for the crossing of red lines.”

McConnell said the only way the Iranian regime can be expected to negotiate is if the administration imposes the strictest sanctions while at the same time enforcing a “firm declaratory policy” that reflects a commitment to use force.

“This is so crucial a step, I believe, that tonight I am prepared to propose such a policy — that is, a policy which has the clarity and the specificity that the situation demands,” McConnell said in prepared remarks. “And that policy is this: if Iran, at any time, begins to enrich uranium to weapons grade levels, or decides to go forward with a weapons program, then the United States will use overwhelming force to end that program.”

A full text of McConnell’s prepared remarks will be released shortly.

Israel Political Brief March 5, 2012: Sen. Mitch McConnell AIPAC Speech — Authorize force if Iran launches nuclear weapons program

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McConnell: Authorize force if Iran launches nuclear weapons program

Source: JTA, 3-5-12

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate minority leader, proposed threatening “overwhelming force” against Iran should it enrich uranium to weapons-grade level or launch a weapons program.

“If Iran at any time at any time begins to enrich uranium to weapons grade levels, or decides to go forward with a weapons program, then the United States will use overwhelming force to end that program,” McConnell told the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual policy conference on Monay night, to a standing ovation.

McConnell said the policy of making clear that “all options are on the table,” used both by President Obama and President George W. Bush, was not explicit enough.

He said that should the intelligence community report to Congress that either trigger had kicked in, he would consult with the president and the congressional leadership to authorize “overwhelming military force.”

McConnell’s proposal is not attached to any legislation.

Israel Political Brief March 5, 2012: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Democratic and Republican Congressional Leaders Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell Address Bipartisan Gala

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Israeli Prime Minister, Democratic and Republican Leaders to Address Gala

Source: AIPAC, 3-5-12

While Washington, D.C. is increasingly consumed with bickering between Democrats and Republicans, the U.S.-Israel relationship remains the one issue that transcends the partisan divide. In a display of this bipartisan spirit, more than half of Congress will attend tonight’s Gala, along with representatives from 51 countries, administration officials, congressional candidates and other VIPs.

Due to the extraordinary number of attendees, the Gala will take on a different format this year. All 13,000 Policy Conference delegates will fit in Halls D/E, where they will be treated to a pre-Gala concert featuring musical guests from the U.S. and Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will deliver the keynote address. The prime minister’s speech will come a few hours after his meeting with President Obama.

In addition, two longtime supporters of the U.S.-Israel relationship—Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Democratic Leader of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)—will speak at the Gala.

The Gala will be the end of a full day of Monday programming. The morning kicks off with an address by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

After the morning plenary, delegates will head to panel discussions on topics affecting the U.S., Israel and the Middle East, as well as lobbying workshops, where they will learn from AIPAC’s top experts how to make the case for Israel on Capitol Hill tomorrow.

Israel Political Brief March 5, 2012: Pres. Shimon Peres & PM Benjamin Netanyahu discuss Jonathan Pollard release with President Barack Obama

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Peres, Bibi bringing up Pollard release with Obama

Source: JTA, 3-5-12

Israeli President Shimon Peres asked President Obama to release convicted spy-for-Israel Jonathan Pollard.

Peres told Pollard’s wife, Esther, on Monday that he discussed the possibility of releasing Jonathan Pollard, who has been jailed for 27 years since being convicted of espionage in 1987 and sentenced to life in prison, during his meeting with Obama on Sunday at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also was set to raise the issue of releasing Pollard with the U.S. president during Monday’s meeting, the Prime Minister’s Office told Ynet.

American Jewish groups have long sought Pollard’s release, arguing that he has received a sentence far harsher than others convicted of similar espionage crimes. Pollard also has expressed remorse and is said to be suffering from medical ailments.

In recent years, a renewed push on his behalf has gained support from a number of members of Congress from both parties as well as former U.S. government officials.

Israel Political Brief March 5, 2012: House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s Speech / Remarks at AIPAC American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s Policy Conference — Transcript

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Leader Cantor’s Speech To AIPAC

Source: Majority Leader, 3-5-12

Today, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) will address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference. The embargoed text of his speech, as prepared for delivery, appears below:

Good afternoon. It’s always such an honor to speak before you at AIPAC. You have gathered here because you have faith, because you have commitment, and because you have love for America and her great friend, Israel.

America and Israel are two lights among all nations. They are envied by many, but known for their dedication to human freedom, opportunity and growth. In thinking about the differences in worldviews that exist today, I come to a conclusion.

It is the province of idealists to dream. It is the province of realists to wake up. Let me emphasize, we need idealists. Idealism animated America’s Founding Fathers and Israel’s Founding Fathers. But we also need idealists who transition into the realists personified by the Founding Fathers of both America and Israel.

In the Middle East, now is the time to be realists – to wake up, before all dreams turn into an unbearable nightmare. We must stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb. To minimize the Iranian threat is to fall into the same trap that led to the Holocaust – a lack of imagination about how far evil can go.

A visit to Israel’s Holocaust Memorial, Yad Vashem, provides all of us a reality check. The first time I went there, I was struck by the Hall of Names. It is a room that contains about 2.5 million pages of personal testimonies about the identities and life stories of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their accomplices. How tragic that we Jews, known as the People of the Book, should have to assemble a book of the slaughter of our innocents.

On January 3 of this year, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke darkly of what he called the Zionist regime – Israel – and he referred to quote, “the endpoint of its existence.” To that, today we reply, Mr. Ahmadinejad, Israel’s existence will endure, long after you are gone.

To ensure that, we have to transition from confusion to clarity in the Middle East. A major source of confusion is: Where is the leadership? Who is leading from the front with a finger pointing in the right direction rather than a finger pointing in the wind? America needs to be a compass, not a weathervane, in the Middle East.

Even many of Israel’s adversaries are clamoring for clarity. They fear Iran’s efforts to foment instability and extremism in the region more than they fear Israel, as I found out on my recent visit to countries in the Gulf. They want a balance of power in the Middle East, not an unbalanced power like Iran.

America’s role is not to put its hand on the scale and balance it against Israel. America’s role is to put its fist on the scale to weigh down the terrorism, fanaticism and anti-Semitism of Iran and its proxies.

So, let us not send mixed messages when it comes to Israel. That only serves to confuse the world, including Israel’s enemies. As elusive as peace has been in the Middle East, the only way it can be approached is through strength.

Time and again, the countries of the Middle East, and especially the terrorists who reside there, have sent the clear message that all they respect, all they respond to is strength. Strength is the only language that our enemies, and Israel’s enemies, understand. No translation is required.

To deny our enemies their deadly options, we must keep all our options on the table: diplomatic and military. The time for illusions is over. The reality is that Iran is moving closer and closer to attaining a nuclear weapons capability. Neither Israel nor America can afford to be nuclear re-actors. Leadership requires action, not re-action.

But to be effective, leadership requires three assets: Superior intelligence. Superior capability. And Superior will.

For years, Iran has been scoffing at the United States and Israel, signaling that it believes it has nothing to lose. America and Israel must now demonstrate that we do have the intelligence, capability and will – both military and moral – to persuade Iran that we will meet its folly with force.

I, for one, do not apologize when I say that Israel and America, while not perfect, have the two most morally responsible militaries in the world. Might exercised with righteousness is might that makes right. The soldiers of Israel and America are trained to be moral and responsible, and are held to the highest ethical standards. Our militaries operate at great expense and with great risk to conduct operations that place a premium on avoiding collateral damage. By contrast, many of our adversaries intentionally target innocent women and children.

When it comes to Iran, Al Qaeda, the Taliban or any of our other enemies, it is not true that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

It is not liberty or freedom that our enemies are fighting for. Our enemies have made it plain that they oppose the freedoms that Israel and America uphold.

These are freedoms that people worldwide cry out for and often die for. We have seen those people die in the streets of Tehran, Cairo, Tripoli, Aleppo and many other places. So, when world bodies such as the United Nations single out Israel as an oppressor, we must ask: have you no eyes, have you no hearts, have you no judgment – and who are you to judge?

Anti-Israel propagandists would have you believe that Israelis have stolen the freedom from Palestinian people. But what kind of freedom is it when Palestinian terrorists like Hamas in Gaza use their own women, children, elderly and other innocents as human shields? They reprehensively calculate that a maximum of civilian casualties will generate a maximum of worldwide condemnation of Israel.

What kind of democracy have the Palestinians built for themselves? An intra-Palestinian civil war in Gaza that gave way to a Hamas-controlled terrorist rump-state? Or a corrupt Fatah Party in the West Bank that has resisted political reforms and undermined Prime Minister Fayyad’s efforts to build democratic institutions and promote economic growth?

Yes, Israel fights but in self-defense. And it is in self-defense that Israel lives. But you will rarely read of the toll that takes on Israel’s own innocents.

In 2005, Israel unilaterally pulled out of the Gaza Strip in a concession to try to further peace, leaving the border areas under the control of Egypt and the Palestinians. Since then, the Gaza Strip has been turned into a base for Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorists to lob rocket attacks on Israel. Many of these groups are supported by Iran.

Sderot, a western city near the Gaza Strip, has been the target of those attacks for years. When I last visited there, I was told a story about life for one Israeli mother and her young children. In just six months, more than 160 rockets were fired at their city. When a rocket is detected, a siren goes off.

It gives residents about 15 seconds to rush for shelter in the safe room of a house, in a car – anywhere they can flee to try to protect themselves. This constant barrage has traumatized this woman’s children. They are afraid to leave her side. They have regressed in their growth habits like bathroom training. Their anxieties are so intense that if they hear a car door slam they jump with fright – sometimes under a table.

Sadly, this reminds me of Golda Meier’s remark that “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”

We must stop following mirages in the Middle East and start following through on this reality: our mission in the Middle East is to drive our stake in the sand with our values – to proclaim our values rather than apologize for them. And no country in the Middle East stands aligned with America’s values more than Israel.

Start with the American Bill of Rights and the value of freedom of speech. In Israel, there is so much freedom of speech, it makes your head spin. Sadly, as we’ve seen elsewhere in the Middle East, attempting freedom of speech can make you lose your head.

Consider the American value of freedom of religion. In Israel, you are not only free to practice any religion you wish, you can choose to practice no religion at all. Where else in the Middle East is this the case?

Then there is the American value of freedom of the press. In Israel, there is the old joke of two Jews, three opinions – and you can get all those opinions in the newspapers, on TV, on the Internet, on the radio – even in the graffiti on the walls. Elsewhere in the Middle East, sometimes when you publish, you perish.

Let’s look at the American value of freedom of assembly to come together in meetings, discuss problems and plan actions, in a peaceful way and also to petition your government. Let’s be honest, Israel is not only known for its kibbutzniks; it’s especially known for its kibitzers. To meet, talk, plan, protest and that includes criticizing your government. That’s in Israelis’ DNA. But in countries that surround Israel, large and small gatherings of citizens voicing their concerns too often produce bloodshed, brutality and jail sentences.

Finally, in America and Israel, women’s rights are deeply enshrined in our laws and our cultures and there are many protections for minorities – whether they be religious, racial or of sexual orientation. But as you travel through other parts of the Middle East, women and minorities are suppressed and repressed, denied rights and their dignity.

Because Israel shares American values, Americans should value Israel all the more. America’s job should not be to micromanage Israel. It should be to macromanage the proliferation of our values in the Middle East, values that Israel cherishes just as we do.

It is often said that if you don’t stand up for something, you will put up with anything. This is another thing I heard in country after country in our trip to the gulf. Confusion about where America stands has raised questions about what some of our leaders in Washington are willing to put up with. That’s not just about Iran, it’s about Syria, it’s about Iraq, it’s about Egypt and it’s about Libya.

In order to see the bigger picture in the Middle East, some in Washington must stop standing small – stooping to belittle Israel by taking for granted its sacrifices, its security and its solidarity with America. We must stand tall by our allies, and no ally stands taller for us than Israel. We must stand by our commitments, and no commitment is greater than Israel’s is to us. Let us do unto Israel as Israel keeps doing unto us. Loyalty deserves loyalty. Trust merits trust in return.

That is why, as Whip Hoyer mentioned, we will be introducing the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act. This bipartisan bill will reaffirm our enduring commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship and expresses Congress’ support for a number of steps to make Israel and America more secure.

The reality is that Israel has a problematic situation, but Israel is not the real problem in the Middle East. The problem is that you cannot negotiate with those who deny your very existence. When nations or terrorists openly proclaim their unshakable determination to destroy you, to wipe you off the map, to visit a Holocaust upon you, whether you are America or Israel, you do not jabber about even-handedness and moral equivalency. You come down firmly and do what is right, real and required.

In America and in Israel, there is much disagreement about policy. And plenty of politicians argue about them day in and day out. But in both countries, most of the politicians have shown themselves capable of uniting around a single cause. That cause is that Israel deserves not just to survive, but also to thrive.

Many of us have been to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. There, people from around the world stuff messages written on paper in between the stones of the ancient wall. The message I would like to place in that wall, signed jointly by the leaders of America and Israel, is a single phrase in Hebrew: L’chaim – to life.

Let us all come together around that message: long live America, Israel, and righteous people everywhere, in the Middle East and around the world.

Thank you.

Full Text Israel Political Brief March 5, 2012: House Steny Hoyer’s Speech / Remarks at AIPAC American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s Policy Conference — Transcript

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Hoyer Remarks at AIPAC Policy Conference

Source: Democratic Whip, 3-5-12

House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered remarks today at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) annual policy conference. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Yesterday I returned, along with a number of my colleagues, from an annual pilgrimage to Selma, Alabama, site of the Civil Rights marches in 1965.  It was led by Representative John Lewis – who, as a young activist, was beaten nearly to death on the original march.

“Two weeks after that ‘Bloody Sunday,’ citizens of every race and creed joined together to complete the march that had been halted so violently, and they sang these words as they walked forward into history:  ‘Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us; sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us.’

“Among the marchers in Selma was Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who locked arms with Martin Luther King at the front of the group.  He later said that at Selma his feet were praying.

“Rabbi Heschel knew the power of a dream born of faith and hope.  He understood its endurance, its energy, how it could smolder without end until a single breath brought revival and rekindling.  As energetically as he campaigned for the dream of civil rights in America, Rabbi Heschel eloquently supported the rebirth of the State of Israel out of the dream of Jewish history.  He wrote that Israel emerged from ‘a stream of dreaming, the sacred river flowing in the Jewish souls of all ages.’

“Israel is truly the product of a dream fulfilled.  I have been personally enriched each of the twelve times I have visited Israel.  The most recent was last summer, when I brought twenty-six Members of Congress with me.  Now that I’ve been there twelve times, I guess you could say the next visit will be my ‘bar mitzvah’ trip.

“To land in Israel is to confront the reality of a harsh land made beautiful and productive by the love and labor and courage of an extraordinary people.  A people besieged, tormented, and with millions murdered through millennia.  But, a people who, through faith and conviction and an incredible will to honor their history, have brought forth a country, like ours, conceived in liberty and dedicated to peace and freedom; democracy and free markets; freedom of worship for those of all faiths; and the determination to survive and succeed in the face of daunting odds and opposition.  A people who, upon setting foot in Israel, break into joyful and hope-filled song:  ‘He-vey-nu Shalom Aleichem – We have brought peace unto you!’

“We are living in an age of uncertainty.  The peace process has slowed to a near-halt, and Iran-sponsored Hamas remains in control of the Gaza Strip.  Palestinian textbooks continue to preach the hatred of Jews and the eventual destruction of Israel.  At the same time, the threat of terrorism looms around the world and just on the other side of Israel’s security fence.  Across the Arab world, popular discontent has sparked a wave of protests and uprisings that give promise of empowerment of the people but threaten, as well, such stability as has existed.   It remains to be seen whether this will portend democratic peace or unleash ethnic and religious hatred.

“Though much is uncertain in the region, one thing in the Middle East is always certain:  the bond that links the United States and Israel.  Our relationship, based on our shared values and shared interests, is unshakeable.

“Let me repeat:  Our relationship is unshakable.  It is enduring.  And no one should misconstrue difference of opinion or emphasis as in any way weakening a bond forged by principles, values, history, and common interests.

“Yesterday, you heard this same message from President Obama when he said:  ‘We are bound to Israel because of the interests that we share — in security for our communities, prosperity for our people, the new frontiers of science that can light the world. …That is why America’s commitment to Israel has endured under Democratic and Republican Presidents, and congressional leaders of both parties.’

“This is a president, as were his predecessors, committed to Israel’s security – who has proven through his actions that he is willing to do what it takes to stand up for Israel around the world.  A president who has continually reaffirmed a position so many of my colleagues and I share:  that Israel has a sovereign right to defend itself against threats to the security of its people.

“Today, the greatest threat to Israel’s security – and to stability in the region – is Iran.

“Again and again, Iran’s leaders preach the destruction of Israel and deride the values Israel and America share.  Its President, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, infamously called for Israel to be ‘wiped off the map’ and again this summer called the Holocaust ‘one of the biggest lies.’ In February, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei promised Iranian aid to any group opposing Israel, which he labeled ‘a cancerous tumor that should be cut [out].’

“Iran and its Revolutionary Guard continue to sponsor and arm Hezbollah and Hamas, putting Israeli civilians under the constant threat that rockets will again be launched against them.  Even this month, rockets still rain down on Israel’s southern communities.  So those who may doubt the imminence of the threat to Israel, let them go to Sderot.

“Iran’s refusal to accept international inspectors and its leaders’ violent rhetoric against Israel make it absolutely clear: the development of a nuclear capability represents a red line we cannot permit Iran to cross.

“President Obama made this clear yesterday.  He said– and I quote: ‘No Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of a regime that denies the Holocaust, threatens to wipe Israel off the map, and sponsors terrorist groups committed to Israel’s destruction.  And so I understand the profound historical obligation that weights on the shoulders of Bibi Netanyahu and Ehud Barak and all of Israel’s leaders.’

“A nuclear Iran would be not only a grave danger to Israel but also to the United States and our allies in Europe.  It would spark a nuclear arms race in the Persian Gulf and threaten the global oil supply.  It also would carry the risk of Iranian nuclear weapons technology potentially ending up in hands of terrorist groups intending to use them against American targets.  For these reasons, a nuclear Iran is threat to America’s national security.

“Let me be absolutely clear:  a nuclear Iran is a threat to the United States, and we must do all that it takes to eliminate that threat.

“Under this Administration, Iran is facing the toughest sanctions yet from both the United States and our European allies.  In November, after an IAEA report revealed that Iranian researchers were exploring nuclear weaponization, President Obama took swift action through an executive order to impose new sanctions on foreign companies that do business with Iran.  Furthermore, the Treasury Department designated Iran’s financial system a threat to foreign banks and other financial institutions.

“In December, I was a cosponsor, along with Eric Cantor, the Majority Leader, of the Iranian Threat Reduction Act, which tightens sanctions on Iran’s energy and financial sectors, including the Central Bank of Iran, which has financed the activities of terrorist groups and has been linked to its nuclear program.  That legislation passed the House with over 400 votes, and the language on Iran’s central bank was included in the Defense Authorization bill signed into law.

“Last month, the President issued another executive order that imposes further sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran and freezes assets in the United States.  This followed a successful effort by the Obama Administration to secure additional sanctions from our allies in Canada and the European Union.

“Iran’s leaders are feeling the pressure.  We must continue applying that pressure – and increasing it – while refusing to deny ourselves any recourse to preventing a nuclear Iran.

“The President and Congress are in firm agreement when it comes to this point, which President Obama made here yesterday when he said:  ‘The effective implementation of our policy is not enough – we must accomplish our objective.  …Iran’s leaders should have no doubt about the resolve of the United States, just as they should not doubt Israel’s sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs.’

“And, the same when he said yesterday:  ‘I will take no options off the table. …I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.’

“Let me make this same point today:  The United States must not allow a nuclear-armed Iran.  Our policy is not containment but prevention.

“It is critically important that the United States and Israel work closely together to meet this threat, and that’s why I’m introducing this week, along with Republican Leader Eric Cantor, the U.S.-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act, which we expect will pass with overwhelming bipartisan support.  It will enshrine in law the deeper military and security cooperation this Administration has forged with Israel and made a high priority.  It is a reminder of the bipartisan support for Israel that has long brought Americans together across party lines.

“Military cooperation between the United States and Israel has never been closer.  Together, we are developing responses to common threats, exchanging vital intelligence, and sharing in the production of new technologies.  As I have said so often, Israel’s survival and success is and must be a central tenet of U.S. foreign policy.

“Israel inspires us as Americans.  We too are a nation built on a dream and know how powerful dreams can be.  As Israel has proven, even the passing of centuries and dark periods of persecution could not extinguish that ancient dream of a Jewish state reborn and living in peace.

“When they excavated the fortress of Masada, where Jewish fighters made their final stand against Rome, archaeologists discovered clay pots containing ancient seeds from the time of Masada’s fall.  Those seeds came from a date plant that had since become extinct.  Israeli scientists regenerated one of those seeds and planted it.  It grew.  It thrived.  Once thought lost forever, that 2,000-year-old date palm now lives again.

“The dream of Masada’s heroes lived on through the ages and has now borne fruit.  So too, we pray, shall the dream of peace for Israel and a secure future for its people.

“Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel exulted in this same power to endure through the ages when he described Israel, as I said earlier, as born from ‘a stream of dreaming,’ a ‘sacred river flowing in the Jewish souls of all ages.’

“America will continue to stand side-by-side with the nation born from that dream of the ages – the fulfillment of which can be heard in that song of arrival:  ‘He-vey-nu Shalom Aleichem – We have brought peace unto you.’

“Those words recall another of Rabbi Heschel’s joyous observations:  ‘A land that was dead for nearly two thousand years,’ he wrote, ‘is now a land that sings.’  Our joint mission must be to keep that song alive.  Our values demand it; our security demands it; and history demands it as well.”

Israel Political Brief March 5, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu: Israel ‘master of its fate’ on Iran at White House Meeting with President Barack Obama

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Netanyahu: Israel ‘master of its fate’ on Iran

Source: JTA, 3-5-12

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama meet March 5 2012 in the White House Oval Office to discuss coordinating policy on Iran. (Ron Kampeas)
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama meet March 5 2012 in the White House Oval Office to discuss coordinating policy on Iran. (Ron Kampeas)

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Makoto Otsuka, director general of the Holocaust Education Center in Fukuyama, Japan, with visiting schoolchildren in front of a photo of Anne Frank.

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Israel is the “master of its fate” and reserves the right to defend itself against Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told President Obama.

“When it comes to Israel’s security, Israel has the right, the sovereign right to make its own decisions,” Netanyahu told Obama in a photo op in the White House office on Monday before they began a meeting.

Much of the discussion, both leaders said, would focus on Iran and its suspected nuclear weapons program. Israeli leaders have suggested that Israel may strike before year’s end to disrupt the program.

“I believe that’s why you appreciate, Mr. President,  that Israel must reserve the right to defend itself,” Netanyahu said. “After all, that’s the very purpose of the Jewish state, to restore to the Jewish people control over our destiny. That’s why my supreme responsibility as prime minister of Israel is to ensure that Israel remains master of its fate.”

Obama stressed that he still favored heading off the nuclear program through diplomatic means, including sanctions.

“I know both the prime minister and I prefer to resolve this diplomatically,” the U.S. leader said. “We understand the cost of any military options.”

Netanyahu appeared to be reassured by Obama’s tough posture toward Iran, most recently in a speech Sunday to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual poilcy forum in which Obama said that military action remained an option and that he would not settle for containing a nuclear Iran. ”

“If there’s one thing that stands out clearly in the Middle East today, it is that Israel Israel and America stand together,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu will be speaking before the AIPAC conference later in the day.

Israel Political Brief March 5, 2012: President Barack Obama Vows Support for Israel at White House Meeting on Iran with PM Benjamin Netanyahu

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Obama Vows Support for Israel

Source: WSJ, 3-5-12

President Barack Obama on Monday said America’s support of Israel is “rock solid” as he sought to quiet criticism of his policy toward Iran, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed Israel must “remain master of its fate.”

“The U.S. will always have Israel’s back,” the president said in the Oval Office at the beginning of a meeting with Mr. Netanyahu, where the two are set to discuss Iran’s nuclear intentions and how best react to the Middle Eastern country.

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European Pressphoto AgencyPresident Barack Obama (right) with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) in the Oval Office of the White House Monday.

Attention is focused on the leaders, as concerns grow about Iran and its nuclear intentions. Tehran vows its nuclear facilities are for peaceful purposes, but their refusal to allow inspectors into certain plants is increasing concerns that the country is building a nuclear weapon.

Mr. Netanyahu said the U.S. and Israel “stand together,” and said the country must retain its ability to protect itself. He said Iran views the U.S. as “the great Satan” and Israel as the “little Satan.”

“For them we are you, and you are us. And you know something Mr. President, at least on this last point I think they are right. We are you. You are us. We’re together,” Netanyahu said.

President Obama said he and Mr. Netanyahu “prefer” to solve the conflict with Iran diplomatically. “We understand the costs of any military action, and I want to assure both the American people and the Israeli people that we are in constant and close consultation,” Mr. Obama said.

The U.S. President has been under growing pressure to solidify his support for Israel and explain what actions the U.S. is willing to take—and when—to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The president on Sunday answered some of his critics, saying, “I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say.” …READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief March 5, 2012: President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Remarks / Speeches at White House Meeting on Iran

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President Obama Meets With Prime Minister Netanyahu

Source: WH, 3-5-12


President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel (March 5, 2012) President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel deliver statements to the press prior to their bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, March 5, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

A day after speaking at the AIPAC Policy Conference, President Obama welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House.

Before the two leaders sat down for their meeting, they spoke briefly with reporters. President Obama said:

This visit obviously comes at a critical time. We are seeing incredible changes that are taking place in the Middle East and in North Africa. We have seen the terrible bloodshed that’s going on in Syria, the democratic transition that’s taking place in Egypt. And in the midst of this, we have an island of democracy and one of our greatest allies in Israel.

As I’ve said repeatedly, the bond between our two countries is unbreakable. My personal commitment — a commitment that is consistent with the history of other occupants of this Oval Office — our commitment to the security of Israel is rock solid. And as I’ve said to the Prime Minister in every single one of our meetings, the United States will always have Israel’s back when it comes to Israel’s security. This is a bond that is based not only on our mutual security interests and economic interests, but is also based on common values and the incredible people-to-people contacts that we have between our two countries.

Read the full remarks from both leaders here.

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel

Oval Office

10:53 A.M. EST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, I want to welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu and the entire Israeli delegation back to the White House, back to the Oval Office.

This visit obviously comes at a critical time.  We are seeing incredible changes that are taking place in the Middle East and in North Africa.  We have seen the terrible bloodshed that’s going on in Syria, the democratic transition that’s taking place in Egypt.  And in the midst of this, we have an island of democracy and one of our greatest allies in Israel.

As I’ve said repeatedly, the bond between our two countries is unbreakable.  My personal commitment — a commitment that is consistent with the history of other occupants of this Oval Office — our commitment to the security of Israel is rock solid. And as I’ve said to the Prime Minister in every single one of our meetings, the United States will always have Israel’s back when it comes to Israel’s security.  This is a bond that is based not only on our mutual security interests and economic interests, but is also based on common values and the incredible people-to-people contacts that we have between our two countries.

During the course of this meeting, we’ll talk about the regional issues that are taking place, and I look forward to the Prime Minister sharing with me his ideas about how we can increase the prospects of peace and security in the region.  We will discuss the issues that continue to be a focus of not only our foreign policy but also the Prime Minister’s — how we can, potentially, bring about a calmer set of discussions between the Israelis and the Palestinians and arrive at a peaceful resolution to that longstanding conflict.  It is a very difficult thing to do in light of the context right now, but I know that the Prime Minister remains committed to trying to achieve that.

And obviously a large topic of conversation will be Iran, which I devoted a lot of time to in my speech to AIPAC yesterday, and I know that the Prime Minister has been focused on for a long period of time.  Let me just reiterate a couple of points on that.

Number one, we all know that it’s unacceptable from Israel’s perspective to have a country with a nuclear weapon that has called for the destruction of Israel.  But as I emphasized yesterday, it is profoundly in the United States’ interest as well to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  We do not want to see a nuclear arms race in one of the most volatile regions in the world.  We do not want the possibility of a nuclear weapon falling into the hands of terrorists.  And we do not want a regime that has been a state sponsor of terrorism being able to feel that it can act even more aggressively or with impunity as a consequence of its nuclear power.

That’s why we have worked so diligently to set up the most crippling sanctions ever with respect to Iran.  We do believe that there is still a window that allows for a diplomatic resolution to this issue, but ultimately the Iranians’ regime has to make a decision to move in that direction, a decision that they have not made thus far.

And as I emphasized, even as we will continue on the diplomatic front, we will continue to tighten pressure when it comes to sanctions, I reserve all options, and my policy here is not going to be one of containment.  My policy is prevention of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.  And as I indicated yesterday in my speech, when I say all options are at the table, I mean it.

Having said that, I know that both the Prime Minister and I prefer to resolve this diplomatically.  We understand the costs of any military action.  And I want to assure both the American people and the Israeli people that we are in constant and close consultation.  I think the levels of coordination and consultation between our militaries and our intelligence not just on this issue but on a broad range of issues has been unprecedented.  And I intend to make sure that that continues during what will be a series of difficult months, I suspect, in 2012.

So, Prime Minister, we welcome you and we appreciate very much the friendship of the Israeli people.  You can count on that friendship always being reciprocated from the United States.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Mr. President, thank you for those kind words.  And thank you, too, for that strong speech yesterday.  And I want to thank you also for the warm hospitality that you’ve shown me and my delegation.

The alliance between our two countries is deeply appreciated by me and by everyone in Israel.  And I think that, as you said, when Americans look around the Middle East today, they see one reliable, stable, faithful ally of the United States, and that’s the democracy of Israel.

Americans know that Israel and the United States share common values, that we defend common interests, that we face common enemies.  Iran’s leaders know that, too.  For them, you’re the Great Satan, we’re the Little Satan.  For them, we are you and you’re us.  And you know something, Mr. President — at least on this last point, I think they’re right.  We are you, and you are us.  We’re together.  So if there’s one thing that stands out clearly in the Middle East today, it’s that Israel and America stand together.

I think that above and beyond that are two principles, longstanding principles of American policy that you reiterated yesterday in your speech — that Israel must have the ability always to defend itself by itself against any threat; and that when it comes to Israel’s security, Israel has the right, the sovereign right to make its own decisions.  I believe that’s why you appreciate, Mr. President, that Israel must reserve the right to defend itself.

And after all, that’s the very purpose of the Jewish state  — to restore to the Jewish people control over our destiny.  And that’s why my supreme responsibility as Prime Minister of Israel is to ensure that Israel remains the master of its fate.

So I thank you very much, Mr. President, for your friendship, and I look forward to our discussions.  Thank you, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you very much.

Thank you, everybody.

END
11:02 A.M. EST

Israel Political Brief March 5, 2012: Senator Joseph Lieberman’s Speech / Remarks at AIPAC American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s Policy Conference — Transcript

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LIEBERMAN REMARKS TO AIPAC POLICY CONFERENCE

Source: Lieberman Senate, 3-5-12

Today, Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) delivered remarks at the 2012 AIPAC Policy Conference. Senator Lieberman’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

Remarks to AIPAC Policy Conference

March 5, 2012

Dear friends, thank you. It is a privilege to join you today at this largest and perhaps most important AIPAC Policy Conference ever.

Later this week the holiday of Purim is celebrated in which we read the book of Esther, a story of a miraculous rescue of the Jewish people from annihilation. The hand of God is there on every page of the story of the book of Esther, but the work is ultimately brought about by the acts of a single, principled and courageous woman named Hadassah Esther. This week I would be remiss if I did not introduce to you the beautiful, principled and courageous woman I’m blessed to have as my wife, Hadassah Esther Lieberman.

For me, this is a special moment because it is the last time I will have the honor to stand before you at this conference as a United States Senator. But I want to make very clear that next year I am just leaving the Senate—I am not retiring. And I specifically pledge to you now: whatever the next chapter of my life brings and wherever it takes me, I will continue to stand with you, as you have stood with me, to fight for the causes that have brought us together year after year—a strong America, a strong Israel, and an unbreakable American-Israeli partnership.

I have been fortunate to serve in the Senate for twenty-four remarkable years, during which time the world has transformed in ways that have defied both prophecy and imagination:

The fall of the Soviet Union…

The rise of the Internet…

The 9/11 attacks…

In the Middle East, we have witnessed the Oslo Accords of 1993, raising such great hopes which have sadly yet to be realized…

On the other hand, in 1994, Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty which remains a mutually beneficial model for the rest of the Middle East…

In the twenty-four years, we have seen two terrorist two intifadas…

And now the Arab world’s historic democratic uprisings!

Through the ups and downs, Israel has grown more and more vibrant, diverse, and secure, and the U.S.-Israel relationship has grown closer and closer. The bond between our two great democracies and our two great peoples is deeper, wider, and stronger than ever.

And that is because Americans and Israelis have so much in common—from our humanitarian values to our technological innovations, from our system of justice to our systems of defense, from our belief in God to our faith that the Bible is the word of God.

Americans and Israelis come together not in an alliance of convenience, but in a relationship of family.

And that is expressed most powerfully in the long-term, unprecedented, bipartisan pro-Israel majority in both houses of Congress.

The truth is, the ultimate guarantor of the U.S.-Israel relationship is each of you. It is you the American people who—from every corner of our country—take the time to call on your elected leaders to stand with Israel.

That is why your presence today is so important. And that is why what AIPAC does every day is so important.

As much as we have accomplished during the last 24 years in the U.S.-Israel relationship, I must admit that I leave the Senate with two big items of unfinished business.

The first is that, despite a great deal of work, Israel still has not been able to achieve the peace with its Palestinian neighbors that its people want and deserve and that everyone in the Middle East would benefit from. But we will never stop working for that peace, and one day it will come.

My second personal disappointment is that the American Embassy in Israel is still not where it belongs— in the City of Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish State of Israel.

But neither you nor I will ever forget Jerusalem, and we will continue to fight for the day when the American flag flies proudly over an American Embassy there. And that day too I believe will come soon.

Today the United States and Israel face a new and even greater danger as Iran marches towards a nuclear weapons capability. And that challenge is rightly the focus of this conference.

Do not let anyone tell you that a nuclear-armed Iran is just Israel’s problem.

It is not.

Do not let anyone tell you we can learn to live with a nuclear-armed Iran.

We cannot.

Do not let anyone tell you that the problem with Iran’s nuclear program is what Israel may do about it and when.

It is not.

The problem is what Iran is doing with its nuclear program and when.

Iran’s nuclear program is a threat to the entire world, but especially to the United States, Israel, and the Arab nations.

If Iran is allowed to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, it will set off a cascade of nuclear proliferation, as other countries in the region seek atomic arsenals of their own.

If Iran is allowed to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, it will make its terrorist proxies, groups that already have the blood of thousands of Americans, Israelis, and Arabs on their hands, infinitely more dangerous.

If Iran is allowed to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, it will be able to bring the global economy to its knees, whenever it wants.

If you think gas prices are high now in our country, imagine what will happen if Iran could back up its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz with a nuclear weapon.

This is a future we cannot afford. It is a future we can and must prevent.

It is definitely within our power to stop Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability.

The question is not whether we can stop them—but whether we will choose to stop them.

And that is why, together with my colleagues Senators Bob Casey and Lindsey Graham, I have introduced a nonpartisan resolution that says—when it comes to Iran, all options must be on the table, except for one option, and that is containment.

That is precisely what President Obama has said. Now it is time for the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue to say the same thing. With your help this week, we will soon have much more than a majority of Members of the Senate supporting this resolution.

I do not believe that military action to disable Iran’s nuclear project is unavoidable. That choice is Iran’s.

We also have choices to make. If a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable, as we all say it is, we must make clear to the world that we are prepared to do whatever is necessary to prevent the unacceptable. The President has said he doesn’t bluff, and neither can we in Congress.

There is nothing more harmful to our chances of stopping Iran peacefully than the suspicion that, in the end, we will give up and let them have nuclear weapons.

The Iranian regime must hear this message from us, and we must state it loud and clear: either you peacefully negotiate an end to your illicit nuclear activities, or they will be ended for you by military attack.

It is time for us to make an ironclad pledge to our friends and enemies: the United States will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability—by peaceful means if we possibly can, but with military force if we absolutely must.

Some have asked why we say we must stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapons “capability,” rather than stop them from getting nuclear weapons.

There answer to that question is direct, and it is very important.

The time for action is before Iran has crossed the line of capability to put together a nuclear weapon, when all they have to do is combine the components they have developed to give them a nuclear weapon. If we wait until Iran has nuclear weapons, it will obviously be too late.

My friends, the threat from Iran is more serious than anything faced by the United States and Israel during my twenty-four years in the Senate.

But if America, Israel, and our allies stand together, I know we will meet and defeat this threat.

The great Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov once said, “A country that does not respect the rights of its citizens will not respect the rights of its neighbors.”

For the sake of the people of Iran and all of its neighbors—Israeli and Arab—the days of the despotic regime that now rules Iran must be numbered. And I am confident they will be because the vast majority of the Iranian people, who after all are heirs of one of the world’s great civilizations, reject the despotic and corrupt rule that they have been forced to live under. They want the same freedoms and rights as people everywhere.

That is the story we are seeing across the Middle East right now. It is the reason that the people of Syria are fighting courageously as we speak against Iran’s only ally in the Arab world, Bashar al Assad.

It is why we must do more to help them overthrow Bashar’s evil dictatorship and end his campaign of slaughter. We can no longer stand passively by. We must do more to speed the day when the people of Syria and the people of Iran will again be free.

Let me close now with a final word of thanks and encouragement to each of you. When you come to a conference like this, you step into history and try to influence its course.

The history of the Jewish State of Israel is not brief, as some of its enemies today still claim. Israel’s history didn’t begin in 1948.

It began thousands of years before in Genesis 12:1 when God called Abraham to go to “the land I will show you,” and promised Abraham “I will make you a great nation” there.

Through the millennia since then, through good times and bad, through statehood and Diaspora, the Jewish presence on the land of Island has been continuous.

In the late 19th century, Theodore Herzl began the modern Zionist movement to reestablish a Jewish state in Israel.

As you know well, when people told Herzl he was a foolish dreamer, he told them, “If you will it, it is no dream.”

He and so many after him, Jews and Christians, willed it and worked it, fought for it and died for it, and in 1948, the dream did become a reality again. And now we are blessed because we are “living the dream.”

But don’t ever take it for granted. Even divinely inspired dreams need the work of steadfast men and women here on Earth to keep them real and to keep them alive.

Standing before this enormous and devoted throng, I am full of confidence that in the years ahead, and in the generations to come, the work that you and I have been privileged to do together will go on. The dream will never die, and our destiny’s call, which is for universal justice and peace, will forever be heard.

Thank you, God bless you, God bless Israel, and God bless America.

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