Clinton, Sanders, Trump and Cruz on Israel and US Foreign Policy

Editor’s Note:  It’s important for us to know what the foreign policy of the next President is likely to be. Since the wars we in Western countries  helped create or finance in the Middle East, our interventions in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine,etc for the past fifty years, and the fallout from those wars and interventions,  will inevitably play a significant role both in foreign policy and in domestic policies  concerning “homeland security,” it’s worth our time to study carefully what the leading candidates are saying on these issues. The talks below given on March 21, 2016,  are worth reading and re-reading to get the feell and direction you can expect should one of these people be the next president of the U.S.

For a Tikkun Network of Spiritual Progressives approach to foreign policy, please read our proposed Global Marshall Plan at www.tikkun.org/gmp and for our specifc plan for how to bring peace to the Middle East, please order our book Embracing Israel and Palestine at www.tikkun.org/eip.

Hillary Clinton

It is wonderful to be here and see so many friends. I’ve spoken at a lot of AIPAC conferences in the past, but this has to be one of the biggest yet, and there are so many young people here, thousands of college students…

(APPLAUSE) … from hundreds of campuses around the country. I think we should all give them a hand for being here and beginning their commitment to this important cause.(APPLAUSE)

You will keep the U.S.-Israel relationship going strong. You know, as a senator from New York and secretary of State…

(APPLAUSE)

I’ve had the privilege of working closely with AIPAC members to strengthen and deepen America’s ties with Israel. Now, we may not have always agreed on every detail, but we’ve always shared an unwavering, unshakable commitment to our alliance and to Israel’s future as a secure and democratic homeland for the Jewish people.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: And your support helped us expand security and intelligence cooperation, developed the Iron Dome missile defense system, build a global coalition to impose the toughest sanctions in history on Iran and so much more.

Since my first visit to Israel 35 years ago, I have returned many times and made many friends. I have worked with and learned from some of Israel’s great leaders — although I don’t think Yitzhak Rabin ever forgave me for banishing him to the White House balcony when he wanted to smoke.

(LAUGHTER)

Now I am here as a candidate for president, and…

(APPLAUSE)

I know that all of you understand what’s at stake in this election. Our next president will walk into the Oval Office next January and immediately face a world of both perils we must meet with strength and skill, and opportunities we must seize and build on.

The next president will sit down at that desk and start making decisions that will affect both the lives and livelihoods of every American, and the security of our friends around the world. So we have to get this right.

As AIPAC members, you understand that while the turmoil of the Middle East presents enormous challenge and complexity, walking away is not an option.

(APPLAUSE)

Candidates for president who think the United States can outsource Middle East security to dictators, or that America no longer has vital national interests at stake in this region are dangerously wrong.

(APPLAUSE)

It would be a serious mistake for the United States to abandon our responsibilities, or cede the mantle of leadership for global peace and security to anyone else.

(APPLAUSE)

As we gather here, three evolving threats — Iran’s continued aggression, a rising tide of extremism across a wide arc of instability, and the growing effort to de-legitimize Israel on the world stage — are converging to make the U.S.-Israel alliance more indispensable than ever.

(APPLAUSE)

We have to combat all these trends with even more intense security and diplomatic cooperation. The United States and Israel must be closer than ever, stronger than ever and more determined than ever to prevail against our common adversaries and to advance our shared values.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: This is especially true at a time when Israel faces brutal terrorist stabbings, shootings and vehicle attacks at home. Parents worry about letting their children walk down the street. Families live in fear. Just a few weeks ago, a young American veteran and West Point graduate named Taylor Force was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist near the Jaffa Port. These attacks must end immediately…

(APPLAUSE)

And Palestinian leaders need to stop inciting violence, stop celebrating terrorists as martyrs and stop paying rewards to their families.

(APPLAUSE)

Because we understand the threat Israel faces we know we can never take for granted the strength of our alliance or the success of our efforts. Today, Americans and Israelis face momentous choices that will shape the future of our relationship and of both our nations. The first choice is this: are we prepared to take the U.S./Israel alliance to the next level?

This relationship has always been stronger and deeper than the headlines might lead you to believe. Our work together to develop the Iron Dome saved many Israeli lives when Hamas rockets began to fly.

(APPLAUSE)

I saw its effectiveness firsthand in 2012 when I worked with Prime Minister Netanyahu to negotiate a cease fire in Gaza. And if I’m fortunate enough to be elected president, the United States will reaffirm we have a strong and enduring national interest in Israel’s security.

(APPLAUSE)

And we will never allow Israel’s adversaries to think a wedge can be driven between us.

(APPLAUSE)

As we have differences, as any friends do, we will work to resolve them quickly and respectfully. We will also be clear that the United States has an enduring interest in and commitment to a more peaceful, more stable, more secure Middle East. And we will step up our efforts to achieve that outcome.

(APPLAUSE)

Indeed, at a time of unprecedented chaos and conflict in the region, America needs an Israel strong enough to deter and defend against its enemies, strong enough to work with us to tackle shared challenges and strong enough to take bold steps in the pursuit of peace.

(APPLAUSE)

That’s why I believe we must take our alliance to the next level. I hope a new 10-year defense memorandum of understanding is concluded as soon as possible to meet Israel’s security needs far into the future.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: That will also send a clear message to Israel’s enemies that the United States and Israel stand together united.

It’s also why, as president, I will make a firm commitment to ensure Israel maintains its qualitative military edge.

(APPLAUSE)

The United States should provide Israel with the most sophisticated defense technology so it can deter and stop any threats. That includes bolstering Israeli missile defenses with new systems like the Arrow Three and David’s Sling. And we should work together to develop better tunnel detection, technology to prevent armed smuggling, kidnapping and terrorist attacks.

(APPLAUSE)

One of the first things I’ll do in office is invite the Israeli prime minister to visit the White House.

(APPLAUSE)

And I will send a delegation from the Pentagon and the joint chiefs to Israel for early consultations. Let’s also expand our collaboration beyond security. Together, we can build an even more vibrant culture of innovation that tightens the links between Silicon Valley and Israeli tech companies and entrepreneurs.

(APPLAUSE)

There is much Americans can learn from Israel, from cybersecurity to energy security to water security and just on an everyday people- to-people level. And it’s especially important to continue fostering relationships between American and Israeli young people who may not always remember our shared past. They are the future of our relationship and we have to do more to promote that.

Many of the young people here today are on the front lines of the battle to oppose the alarming boycott, divestment and sanctions movement known as BDS.

(APPLAUSE)

Particularly at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise across the world, especially in Europe, we must repudiate all efforts to malign, isolate and undermine Israel and the Jewish people.

(APPLAUSE)

I’ve been sounding the alarm for a while now. As I wrote last year in a letter to the heads of major American Jewish organizations, we have to be united in fighting back against BDS. Many of its proponents have demonized Israeli scientists and intellectuals, even students.

CLINTON: To all the college students who may have encountered this on campus, I hope you stay strong. Keep speaking out. Don’t let anyone silence you, bully you or try to shut down debate, especially in places of learning like colleges and universities.

(APPLAUSE)

Anti-Semitism has no place in any civilized society, not in America, not in Europe, not anywhere.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, all of this work defending Israel’s legitimacy, expanding security and economic ties, taking our alliance to the next level depends on electing a president with a deep, personal commitment to Israel’s future as a secure, Democratic Jewish state, and to America’s responsibilities as a global leader.

Tonight, you’ll hear from candidates with very different visions of American leadership in the region and around the world. You’ll get a glimpse of a potential U.S. foreign policy that would insult our allies, not engage them, and embolden our adversaries, not defeat them.

For the security of Israel and the world, we need America to remain a respected global leader, committed to defending and advancing the international order.

(APPLAUSE)

An America able to block efforts to isolate or attack Israel. The alternative is unthinkable.

(APPLAUSE)

Yes, we need steady hands, not a president who says he’s neutral on Monday, pro-Israel on Tuesday, and who knows what on Wednesday, because everything’s negotiable.

(APPLAUSE)

Well, my friends, Israel’s security is non-negotiable.

(APPLAUSE)

I have sat in Israeli hospital rooms holding the hands of men and women whose bodies and lives were torn apart by terrorist bombs. I’ve listened to doctors describe the shrapnel left in a leg, an arm or even a head.

That’s why I feel so strongly that America can’t ever be neutral when it comes to Israel’s security or survival. We can’t be neutral when rockets rain down on residential neighborhoods, when civilians are stabbed in the street, when suicide bombers target the innocent. Some things aren’t negotiable.

(APPLAUSE)

And anyone who doesn’t understand that has no business being our president.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: The second choice we face is whether we will have the strength and commitment to confront the adversaries that threaten us, especially Iran. For many years, we’ve all been rightly focused on the existential danger of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon. After all, this remains an extremist regime that threatens to annihilate Israel. That’s why I led the diplomacy to impose crippling sanctions and force Iran to the negotiating table, and why I ultimately supported the agreement that has put a lid on its nuclear program.

(APPLAUSE)

Today Iran’s enriched uranium is all but gone, thousands of centrifuges have stopped spinning, Iran’s potential breakout time has increased and new verification measures are in place to help us deter and detect any cheating. I really believe the United States, Israel and the world are safer as a result.

But still, as I laid out at a speech at the Brookings Institution last year, it’s not good enough to trust and verify. Our approach must be distrust and verify.

(APPLAUSE)

This deal must come with vigorous enforcement, strong monitoring, clear consequences for any violations and a broader strategy to confront Iran’s aggression across the region. We cannot forget that Tehran’s fingerprints are on nearly every conflict across the Middle East, from Syria to Lebanon to Yemen.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its proxies are attempting to establish a position on the Golan from which to threaten Israel, and they continue to fund Palestinian terrorists. In Lebanon, Hezbollah is amassing an arsenal of increasingly sophisticated rockets and artillery that well may be able to hit every city in Israel.

Tonight, you will hear a lot of rhetoric from the other candidates about Iran, but there’s a big difference between talking about holding Tehran accountable and actually doing it. Our next president has to be able to hold together our global coalition and impose real consequences for even the smallest violations of this agreement.

(APPLAUSE) We must maintain the legal and diplomatic architecture to turn all the sanctions back on if need. If I’m elected the leaders of Iran will have no doubt that if we see any indication that they are violating their commitment not to seek, develop or acquire nuclear weapons, the United States will act to stop it, and that we will do so with force if necessary.

(APPLAUSE)

Iranian provocations, like the recent ballistic missile tests, are also unacceptable and should be answered firmly and quickly including with more sanctions.

(APPLAUSE)

Those missiles were stamped with words declaring, and I quote, “Israel should be wiped from the pages of history.” We know they could reach Israel or hit the tens of thousands of American troops stationed in the Middle East. This is a serious danger and it demands a serious response.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: The United States must also continue to enforce existing sanctions and impose additional sanctions as needed on Iran and the Revolutionary Guard for their sponsorship of terrorism, illegal arms transfers, human rights violations and other illicit behaviors like cyber attacks. We should continue to demand the safe return of Robert Levinson and all American citizens unjustly held in Iranian prisons.

(APPLAUSE)

And we must work closely with Israel and other partners to cut off the flow of money and arms from Iran to Hezbollah. If the Arab League can designate all of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, surely it is time for our friends in Europe and the rest of the international community to do so as well and to do that now.

(APPLAUSE)

At the same time, America should always stand with those voices inside Iran calling for more openness. Now look, we know the supreme leader still calls the shots and that the hard-liners are intent on keeping their grip on power. But the Iranian people themselves deserve a better future, and they are trying to make their voices heard. They should know that America is not their enemy, they should know we will support their efforts to bring positive change to Iran.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, of course, Iran is not the only threat we and Israel face. The United States and Israel also have to stand together against the threat from ISIS and other radical jihadists. An ISIS affiliate in the Sinai is reportedly stepping up attempts to make inroads in Gaza and partner with Hamas. On Saturday, a number of Israelis and other foreigners were injured or killed in a bombing in Istanbul that may well be linked to ISIS. Two of the dead are U.S.-Israeli dual nationals.

This is a threat that knows no borders. That’s why I’ve laid out a plan to take the fight to ISIS from the air, on the ground with local forces and online where they recruit and inspire. Our goal cannot be to contain ISIS, we must defeat ISIS.

(APPLAUSE) And here is a third choice. Will we keep working toward a negotiated peace or lose forever the goal of two states for two peoples? Despite many setbacks, I remain convinced that peace with security is possible and that it is the only way to guarantee Israel’s long-term survival as a strong Jewish and democratic state.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: It may be difficult to imagine progress in this current climate when many Israelis doubt that a willing and capable partner for peace even exists. But inaction cannot be an option. Israelis deserve a secure homeland for the Jewish people. Palestinians should be able to govern themselves in their own state, in peace and dignity. And only a negotiated two-state agreement can survive those outcomes.

(APPLAUSE)

If we look at the broader regional context, converging interests between Israel and key Arab states could make it possible to promote progress on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Israelis and Palestinians could contribute toward greater cooperation between Israel and Arabs.

I know how hard all of this is. I remember what it took just to convene Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas for the three sessions of direct face-to-face talks in 2010 that I presided over. But Israelis and Palestinians cannot give up on the hope of peace. That will only make it harder later.

All of us need to look for opportunities to create the conditions for progress, including by taking positive actions that can rebuild trust — like the recent constructive meetings between the Israeli and Palestinian finance ministers aiming to help bolster the Palestinian economy, or the daily on-the-ground security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

But at the same time, all of us must condemn actions that set back the cause of peace. Terrorism should never be encouraged or celebrated, and children should not be taught to hate in schools. That poisons the future.

(APPLAUSE)

Everyone has to do their part by avoiding damaging actions, including with respect to settlements. Now, America has an important role to play in supporting peace efforts. And as president, I would continue the pursuit of direct negotiations. And let me be clear — I would vigorously oppose any attempt by outside parties to impose a solution, including by the U.N. Security Council.

(APPLAUSE)

There is one more choice that we face together, and in some ways, it may be the most important of all. Will we, as Americans and as Israelis, stay true to the shared democratic values that have always been at the heart of our relationship? We are both nations built by immigrants and exiles seeking to live and worship in freedom, nations built on principles of equality, tolerance and pluralism.

(APPLAUSE)

At our best, both Israel and America are seen as a light unto the nations because of those values.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: This is the real foundation of our alliance, and I think it’s why so many Americans feel such a deep emotional connection with Israel. I know that I do. And it’s why we cannot be neutral about Israel and Israel’s future, because in Israel’s story, we see our own, and the story of all people who struggle for freedom and self-determination. There’s so many examples. You know, we look at the pride parade in Tel Aviv, one of the biggest and most prominent in the world.

(APPLAUSE)

And we marvel that such a bastion of liberty exists in a region so plagued by intolerance. We see the vigorous, even raucous debate in Israeli politics and feel right at home.

(LAUGHTER)

And, of course, some of us remember a woman, Golda Meir, leading Israel’s government decades ago and wonder what’s taking us so long here in America?

(APPLAUSE)

But we cannot rest on what previous generations have accomplished. Every generation has to renew our values. And, yes, even fight for them. Today, Americans and Israelis face currents of intolerance and extremism that threaten the moral foundations of our societies.

Now in a democracy, we’re going to have differences. But what Americans are hearing on the campaign trail this year is something else entirely: encouraging violence, playing coy with white supremacists, calling for 12 million immigrants to be rounded up and deported, demanding we turn away refugees because of their religion, and proposing a ban on all Muslims entering the United States.

Now, we’ve had dark chapters in our history before. We remember the nearly 1,000 Jews aboard the St. Louis who were refused entry in 1939 and sent back to Europe. But America should be better than this. And I believe it’s our responsibility as citizens to say so.

(APPLAUSE)

If you see bigotry, oppose it. If you see violence, condemn it. If you see a bully, stand up to him.

(APPLAUSE)

On Wednesday evening, Jews around the world will celebrate the Festival of Purim, and children will learn the story of Esther, who refused to stay silent in the face of evil. It wasn’t easy. She had a good life. And by speaking out, she risked everything.

But as Mordecai reminded her, we all have an obligation to do our part when danger gathers. And those of us with power or influence have a special responsibility to do what’s right. As Elie Wiesel said when accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

So, my friends, let us never be neutral or silent in the face of bigotry. Together let’s defend the shared values that already make America and Israel great.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Let us do the hard work necessary to keep building our friendship and reach out to the next generation of Americans and Israelis so the bonds between our nations grow even deeper and stronger. We are stronger together, and if we face the future side by side, I know for both Israel and America, our best days are still ahead.

Thank you so much.

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Bernie Sanders

{Editor’s note: In past years, major speakers invited by AIPAC have been given the option of speaking to the event on a t.v. hook up, but when Senator Sanders requested that this year, his request was denied. So he gave this speech where he was compaigning but the 20,000 people attending the AIPAC conference did not ge tto hear him.]

I was invited along with other presidential candidates to be at the AIPAC conference in Washington, but obviously I could not make it because we are here.

The issues that AIPAC is dealing with are very important issues and I wanted to give the same speech here as I would have given if we were at that conference.

Let me begin by saying that I think I am probably the only candidate for president who has personal ties with Israel. I spent a number of months there when I was a young man on a kibbutz, so I know a little bit about Israel.

Clearly, the United States and Israel are united by historical ties. We are united by culture. We are united by our values, including a deep commitment to democratic principles, civil rights and the rule of law.

Israel is one of America’s closest allies, and we – as a nation – are committed not just to guaranteeing Israel’s survival, but also to make sure that its people have a right to live in peace and security.

To my mind, as friends – long term friends with Israel – we are obligated to speak the truth as we see it. That is what real friendship demands, especially in difficult times.

Our disagreements will come and go, and we must weather them constructively.

But it is important among friends to be honest and truthful about differences that we may have.

America and Israel have faced great challenges together. We have supported each other, and we will continue to do just that as we face a very daunting challenge and that is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I am here to tell the American people that, if elected president, I will work tirelessly to advance the cause of peace as a partner and as a friend to Israel.

But to be successful, we have also got to be a friend not only to Israel, but to the Palestinian people, where in Gaza unemployment today is 44 percent and we have there a poverty rate which is almost as high.

So when we talk about Israel and Palestinian areas, it is important to understand that today there is a whole lot of among Palestinians and that cannot be ignored. You can’t have good policy that results in peace if you ignore one side.

The road toward peace will be difficult. Wonderful people, well-intentioned people have tried decade after decade to achieve that and it will not be easy. I cannot tell you exactly how it will look – I do not believe anyone can – but I firmly believe that the only prospect for peace is the successful negotiation of a two-state solution.

The first step in that road ahead is to set the stage for resuming the peace process through direct negotiations.

Progress is never made unless people are prepared to sit down and talk to each other. This is no small thing. It means building confidence on both sides, offering some signs of good faith, and then proceeding to talks when conditions permit them to be constructive. Again, this is not easy, but that is the direction we’ve got to go.

This will require compromises on both sides, but I believe it can be done. I believe that Israel, the Palestinians, and the international community can, must, and will rise to the ocassion and do what needs to be done to achieve a lasting peace in a region of the world that has seen so much war, so much conflict and so much suffering.

Peace will require the unconditional recognition by all people of Israel’s right to exist. It will require an end to attacks of all kinds against Israel.

Peace will require that organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah renounce their efforts to undermine the security of Israel. It will require the entire world to recognize Israel.

Peace has to mean security for every Israeli from violence and terrorism.

But peace also means security for every Palestinian. It means achieving self-determination, civil rights, and economic well-being for the Palestinian people.

Peace will mean ending what amounts to the occupation of Palestinian territory, establishing mutually agreed upon borders, and pulling back settlements in the West Bank, just as Israel did in Gaza – once considered an unthinkable move on Israel’s part.

That is why I join much of the international community, including the U.S. State Department and European Union, in voicing my concern that Israel’s recent expropriation of an additional 579 acres of land in the West Bank undermines the peace process and, ultimately, Israeli security as well.

It is absurd for elements within the Netanyahu government to suggest that building more settlements in the West Bank is the appropriate response to the most recent violence. It is also not acceptable that the Netanyahu government decided to withhold hundreds of millions of Shekels in tax revenue from the Palestinians, which it is supposed to collect on their behalf.

But, by the same token, it is also unacceptable for President Abbas to call for the abrogation of the Oslo Agreement when the goal should be the ending of violence.

Peace will also mean ending the economic blockade of Gaza. And it will mean a sustainable and equitable distribution of precious water resources so that Israel and Palestine can both thrive as neighbors.

Right now, Israel controls 80 percent of the water reserves in the West Bank. Inadequate water supply has contributed to the degradation and desertification of Palestinian land. A lasting a peace will have to recognize Palestinians are entitled to control their own lives and there is nothing human life needs more than water.

Peace will require strict adherence by both sides to the tenets of international humanitarian law. This includes Israeli ending disproportionate responses to being attacked – even though any attack on Israel is unacceptable.

We recently saw a dramatic example of just how important this concept is. In 2014, the decades-old conflict escalated once more as Israel launched a major military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli offensive came after weeks of indiscriminate rocket fire into its territory and the kidnapping of Israeli citizens.

Of course, I strongly object to Hamas’ long held position that Israel does not have the right to exist – that is unacceptable. Of course, I strongly condemn indiscriminate rocket fire by Hamas into Israeli territory, and Hamas’ use of civilian neighborhoods to launch those attacks. I condemn the fact that Hamas diverted funds and materials for much-needed construction projects designed to improve the quality of life of the Palestinian people, and instead used those funds to construct a network of tunnels for military purposes.

However, let me also be very clear: I – along with many supporters of Israel – spoke out strongly against the Israeli counter attacks that killed nearly 1,500 civilians and wounded thousands more. I condemned the bombing of hospitals, schools and refugee camps.

Today, Gaza is still largely in ruins. The international community must come together to help Gaza recover. That doesn’t mean rebuilding factories that produce bombs and missiles – but it does mean rebuilding schools, homes and
hospitals that are vital to the future of the Palestinian people.

These are difficult subjects. They are hard to talk about both for many Americans and for Israelis. I recognize that, but it is clear to me that the path toward peace will require tapping into our shared humanity to make hard but just decisions.

Nobody can tell you when peace will be achieved between Israel and the Palestinians. No one knows the exact order that compromises will have to be made to reach a viable two-state solution. But as we undertake that work together, the United States will continue its unwavering commitment to the safety of Israeli citizens and the country of Israel.

Let me just say a word about an overall agenda for the Middle East.

Of course, beyond the Palestinian question, Israel finds itself in the midst of a region in severe upheaval.

First, the so-called Islamic State – ISIS – threatens the security of the entire region and beyond, including our own country and our allies. Secretary of State Kerry was right to say that ISIS is committing genocide, and there is no doubt in my mind that the United States must continue to participate in an international coalition to destroy this barbaric organization.

While obviously much needs to be done, so far our effort has had some important progress, as airstrikes have degraded ISIS’ military capacity, and the group has lost more than 20 percent of its territory in the past year.
So we are making some progress.

But we are entering a difficult period in the campaign against ISIS.

The government in Baghdad has yet to achieve a sustainable political order that unites Iraq’s various ethnic and sectarian factions, which has limited its ability to sustain military victories against ISIS. Unless there is a united government, it’s going to be hard to be effective in destroying ISIS.

More inclusive, stable governance in Iraq will be vital to inflict a lasting defeat on ISIS. Otherwise, ISIS could regain its influence or another, similar organization may spring up in its place.

In Syria, the challenges are even more difficult. The fractured nature of the civil war there has often diluted the fight against ISIS – exemplified by the Russian airstrikes that prioritized hitting anti-Assad fighters rather than ISIS. And, just like in Iraq, ISIS cannot be defeated until the groups that take territory from ISIS can responsibly govern the areas they take back. Ultimately, this will require a political framework for all of Syria.

The U.S. must also play a greater role disrupting the financing of ISIS and efforts on the Internet to turn disaffected youth into a new generation of terrorists.

While the U.S. has an important role to play in defeating ISIS, that struggle must be led by the Muslim countries themselves on the ground. I agree with King Abdullah of Jordan who a number of months ago that what is going on there right now is nothing less than a battle for the soul of Islam and the only people who will effectively destroy ISIS there will be Muslim troops on the ground.

So what we need is a coalition of those countries.

Now, I am not suggesting that Saudi Arabia or any other states in the region invade other countries, nor unilaterally intervene in conflicts driven in part by sectarian tensions.

What I am saying is that the major powers in the region – especially the Gulf States – have to take greater responsibility for the future of the Middle East and the defeat of ISIS.

What I am saying is that countries like Qatar – which intends to spend up to $200 billion to host the 2022 World Cup – Qatar which per capita is the wealthiest nation in the world – Qatar can do more to contribute to the fight Against ISIS. If they are prepared to spend $200 billion for a soccer tournament, then they have got to spend a lot spend a lot more against a barbaric organization.

What I am also saying is that other countries in the region – like Saudi Arabia, which has the 4th largest defense budget in the world – has to dedicate itself more fully to the destruction of ISIS, instead of other military adventures like the one it is pursuing right now in Yemen.

And keep in mind that while ISIS is obviously a dangerous and formidable enemy, ISIS has only 30,000 fighters on the ground. So when we ask the nations in the region to stand up to do more against ISIS – nations in the region which have millions of men and women under arms – we know it is surely within their capability to destroy ISIS.

Now the United States has every right in the world to insist on these points. Remember – I want everybody to remember – that not so many years ago it was the United States and our troops that reinstalled the royal family in Kuwait after Saddam Hussein’s invasion in 1990. We put these people back on the throne. Now they have the obligation to work with us and other countries to destroy ISIS.

The very wealthy – and some of these countries are extraordinarily wealthy from oil money or gas money – these very wealthy and powerful nations in the region can no longer expect the United States to do their work for them. Uncle Sam cannot and should not do it all. We are not the policeman of the world.

As we continue a strongly coordinated effort against ISIS, the United States and other western nations should be supportive of efforts to fight ISIS and al-Qaeda. But it is the countries in the region that have to stand up against these violently extremist and brutal organizations.

Now I realize that given the geopolitics of the region this is not going to be easy. I realize that there are very strong and historical disagreements between different countries in the region about how ISIS should be dealt with.

I realize different countries have different priorities. But we can help set the agenda and mobilize stronger collective action to defeat ISIS in a lasting way.

Bottom line is the countries in the region – countries which by the way are most threatened by ISIS – they’re going to have to come together, they’re going to have to work out their compromises, they are going to have to lead the effort with the support of the United States and other major powers in destroying ISIS.

Another major challenge in the region, of course, is the Syrian Civil War itself – one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent history.

After five years of brutal conflict, the only solution in Syria will be, in my view, a negotiated political settlement. Those who advocate for stronger military involvement by the U.S. to oust Assad from power have not paid close enough attention to history. That would simply prolong the war and increase the chaos in Syria, not end it.

In other words, we all recognize that Assad is a brutal dictator. But I think that our priorities right now have got to be destroy ISIS, work out a political settlement with Russia and Iran to get Assad out of power.

I applaud Secretary Kerry and the Obama administration for negotiating a partial ceasefire between the Assad regime and most opposition forces. The ceasefire shows the value of American-led diplomacy, rather than escalating violence. It may not seem like a lot, but it is. Diplomacy in this instance has had some real success.

Let me also say what I think most Americans now understand, that for a great military power like the United States it is easy to use a war to remove a tyrant from power, but it is much more difficult to comprehend the day after that tyrant is removed from power and a political vacuum occurs.

All of us know what has occurred in Iraq. We got rid of Saddam Hussein, a brutal, brutal murderer and a tyrant. And yet we created massive instability in that region which led to the creation of ISIS. I am very proud to have been one of the members in Congress to vote against that disastrous war.

And the situation is not totally dissimilar from what has happened in Libya. We got rid of a terrible dictator there, Colonel Gaddafi, but right now chaos has erupted and ISIS now has a foothold in that area.

Bottom line is that regime change for a major power like us is not hard. But understanding what happens afterward is something that always has got to be taken into consideration.

In my view, the military option for a powerful nation like ours – the most powerful nation in the world – should always be on the table. That’s why we have the most powerful military in the world. But it should always be the last resort not the first resort.

Another major challenge in the region is Iran, which routinely destabilizes the Middle East and threatens the security of Israel.

Now, I think all of us agree that Iran must not be able to acquire a nuclear weapon. That would just destabilize the entire region and create disastrous consequences.

Where we may disagree is how to achieve that goal. I personally strongly supported the nuclear deal with the United States, France, China, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran because I believe it is the best hope to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

I want to thank the Obama administration for doing a very good job under very, very difficult circumstances.

I believe we have an obligation to pursue diplomatic solutions before resorting to military intervention.

You know it is very easy for politicians to go before the people and talk about how tough we are, and we want to wipe out everybody else. But I think if we have learned anything from history is that we pursue every diplomatic option before we resort to military intervention.

And interestingly enough, more often than not, diplomacy can achieve goals that military intervention cannot achieve. And that is why I supported the sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table and allowed us to reach an agreement.

But let me tell you what I firmly believe. The bottom line is this: if successfully implemented – and I think it can be – the nuclear deal will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And preventing Iran from getting the bomb makes the world a safer place.

Does the agreement achieve everything I would like? Of course not.

But to my mind, it is far better than the path we were on with Iran developing nuclear weapons and the potential for military intervention by the United States and Israel growing greater by the day.

I do not accept the idea that the “pro-Israel” position was to oppose the deal.
Preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon will strengthen not only the United States’ security, but Israel’s security as well.

And I am not alone in that idea. While Prime Minister Netanyahu is vocally opposed to the accord, his is hardly a consensus opinion in Israel and it’s important that everyone understand that. Dozens of former security officials, including retired Army generals and chiefs of the Shin Bet and Mossad intelligence agencies support the agreement. Netanyahu may not, but many others in Israel do.

But let me be clear: if Iran does not live up to the agreement, we should re-impose sanctions and all options are back on the table.

Moreover, the deal does not mean we let Iran’s aggressive acts go unchecked. The world must stand united in condemning Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests as well as its continued support for terrorism through groups like Hezbollah.

Going forward, I believe we need a longer-term vision for dealing with Iran that balances two important objectives.

First, we must counter the destabilizing behavior of Iran’s leaders.

But secondly we must also leave the door open to more diplomacy to encourage Iranian moderates and the segments of the Iranian people – especially the younger generations – who want a better relationship with the West. While only a small step in the right direction, I was heartened by the results of the recent parliamentary elections in which Iranian voters elected moderates in what was, in part, a referendum on the nuclear deal.

I know that some say there is just no dealing with Iran – in any way at all – for the foreseeable future. And that is the position of some. After all, Iran is in a competition with Saudi Arabia and its allies for influences over that region.

But a more balanced approach toward Iran that serves our national security interests should hardly be a radical idea. We have serious concerns about the nature of the Iranian government, but we have to honest enough, and sometimes we are not, to admit that Saudi Arabia – a repressive regime in its own right – is hardly an example of Jeffersonian democracy.

Balancing firmness with willingness to engage with diplomacy in dealing with Iran will not be easy. But it is the wisest course of action to help improve the long-term prospects of stability and peace in the Middle East – and to keep us safe.

Lastly, these are but some – not all – of the major issues where the interests of Israel intersect with those of the United States. I would address these issues and challenges as I would most issues and that is by having an honest discussion and by bringing people together.

The truth is there are good people on both sides who want peace, And the other truth is there despots and liars on both sides who benefit from continued antagonism.

I would conclude by saying there has a disturbing trend among some of the Republicans in this presidential election that take a very, very different approach. And their approach I think would be a disaster for this country. The Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, suggested limiting immigration according to religion and creating a national database based on religion – something unprecedented in our country’s history.

Now this would not only go against everything we stand for as a nation, but also – in terms of our relationship to the rest of the world – it would be a disaster.

Let me just conclude by saying this: the issues that I’ve discussed today are not going to be easily solved.

Everybody knows that. But I think the United States has the opportunity, as the the most powerful nation on earth, to play an extraordinary role in trying to bring to people together – to try to put together coalitions in the region to destroy ISIS.

And that is a responsibility that I, if elected president, would accept in a very, very serious way. We have seen too many wars, too much killing, too much suffering. And let us all together – people of good faith – do everything we can to finally, finally bring peace and stability to that region.

Thank you all very much.

=====================================================

Donald Trump 

I speak to you today as a lifelong supporter and true friend of Israel. (CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

I am a newcomer to politics, but not to backing the Jewish state.

(APPLAUSE)

In 2001, weeks after the attacks on New York City and on Washington and, frankly, the attacks on all of us, attacks that perpetrated and they were perpetrated by the Islamic fundamentalists, Mayor Rudy Giuliani visited Israel to show solidarity with terror victims.

I sent my plane because I backed the mission for Israel 100 percent.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

In spring of 2004 at the height of the violence in the Gaza Strip, I was the grand marshal of the 40th Salute to Israel Parade, the largest-single gathering in support of the Jewish state.

(APPLAUSE)

It was a very dangerous time for Israel and frankly for anyone supporting Israel. Many people turned down this honor. I did not. I took the risk and I’m glad I did.

(APPLAUSE)

But I didn’t come here tonight to pander to you about Israel. That’s what politicians do: all talk, no action. Believe me.

(APPLAUSE)

I came here to speak to you about where I stand on the future of American relations with our strategic ally, our unbreakable friendship and our cultural brother, the only democracy in the Middle East, the state of Israel.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

My number-one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

Thank you. Thank you.

I have been in business a long time. I know deal-making. And let me tell you, this deal is catastrophic for America, for Israel and for the whole of the Middle East.

(APPLAUSE) The problem here is fundamental. We’ve rewarded the world’s leading state sponsor of terror with $150 billion, and we received absolutely nothing in return.

(APPLAUSE)

I’ve studied this issue in great detail, I would say actually greater by far than anybody else.

(LAUGHTER)

Believe me. Oh, believe me. And it’s a bad deal.

The biggest concern with the deal is not necessarily that Iran is going to violate it because already, you know, as you know, it has, the bigger problem is that they can keep the terms and still get the bomb by simply running out the clock. And of course, they’ll keep the billions and billions of dollars that we so stupidly and foolishly gave them.

(APPLAUSE)

The deal doesn’t even require Iran to dismantle its military nuclear capability. Yes, it places limits on its military nuclear program for only a certain number of years, but when those restrictions expire, Iran will have an industrial-sized, military nuclear capability ready to go and with zero provision for delay, no matter how bad Iran’s behavior is. Terrible, terrible situation that we are all placed in and especially Israel.

(APPLAUSE)

When I’m president, I will adopt a strategy that focuses on three things when it comes to Iran. First, we will stand up to Iran’s aggressive push to destabilize and dominate the region.

(APPLAUSE)

Iran is a very big problem and will continue to be. But if I’m not elected president, I know how to deal with trouble. And believe me, that’s why I’m going to be elected president, folks.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

And we are leading in every poll. Remember that, please.

(CHEERS)

Iran is a problem in Iraq, a problem in Syria, a problem in Lebanon, a problem in Yemen and will be a very, very major problem for Saudi Arabia. Literally every day, Iran provides more and better weapons to support their puppet states. Hezbollah, Lebanon received — and I’ll tell you what, it has received sophisticated anti-ship weapons, anti-aircraft weapons and GPS systems and rockets like very few people anywhere in the world and certainly very few countries have. Now they’re in Syria trying to establish another front against Israel from the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.

In Gaza, Iran is supporting Hamas and Islamic jihad.

And in the West Bank, they’re openly offering Palestinians $7,000 per terror attack and $30,000 for every Palestinian terrorist’s home that’s been destroyed. A deplorable, deplorable situation.

(APPLAUSE)

Iran is financing military forces throughout the Middle East and it’s absolutely incredible that we handed them over $150 billion to do even more toward the many horrible acts of terror.

(APPLAUSE)

Secondly, we will totally dismantle Iran’s global terror network which is big and powerful, but not powerful like us.

(APPLAUSE)

Iran has seeded terror groups all over the world. During the last five years, Iran has perpetuated terror attacks in 25 different countries on five continents. They’ve got terror cells everywhere, including in the Western Hemisphere, very close to home.

Iran is the biggest sponsor of terrorism around the world. And we will work to dismantle that reach, believe me, believe me.

(APPLAUSE)

Third, at the very least, we must enforce the terms of the previous deal to hold Iran totally accountable. And we will enforce it like you’ve never seen a contract enforced before, folks, believe me.

(APPLAUSE)

Iran has already, since the deal is in place, test-fired ballistic missiles three times. Those ballistic missiles, with a range of 1,250 miles, were designed to intimidate not only Israel, which is only 600 miles away, but also intended to frighten Europe and someday maybe hit even the United States. And we’re not going to let that happen. We’re not letting it happen. And we’re not letting it happen to Israel, believe me.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

Thank you. Thank you.

Do you want to hear something really shocking? As many of the great people in this room know, painted on those missiles in both Hebrew and Farsi were the words “Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth.” You can forget that.

(APPLAUSE)

What kind of demented minds write that in Hebrew?

And here’s another. You talk about twisted. Here’s another twisted part. Testing these missiles does not even violate the horrible deal that we’ve made. The deal is silent on test missiles. But those tests do violate the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The problem is no one has done anything about it. We will, we will. I promise, we will.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

Which brings me to my next point, the utter weakness and incompetence of the United Nations.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

The United Nations is not a friend of democracy, it’s not a friend to freedom, it’s not a friend even to the United States of America where, as you know, it has its home. And it surely is not a friend to Israel.

(APPLAUSE)

With President Obama in his final year — yea!

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

(LAUGHTER)

He may be the worst thing to ever happen to Israel, believe me, believe me. And you know it and you know it better than anybody.

So with the president in his final year, discussions have been swirling about an attempt to bring a Security Council resolution on terms of an eventual agreement between Israel and Palestine.

Let me be clear: An agreement imposed by the United Nations would be a total and complete disaster.

(APPLAUSE)

The United States must oppose this resolution and use the power of our veto, which I will use as president 100 percent.

(APPLAUSE)

When people ask why, it’s because that’s not how you make a deal. Deals are made when parties come together, they come to a table and they negotiate. Each side must give up something. It’s values. I mean, we have to do something where there’s value in exchange for something that it requires. That’s what a deal is. A deal is really something that when we impose it on Israel and Palestine, we bring together a group of people that come up with something.

That’s not going to happen with the United Nations. It will only further, very importantly, it will only further delegitimize Israel. It will be a catastrophe and a disaster for Israel. It’s not going to happen, folks.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

And further, it would reward Palestinian terrorism because every day they’re stabbing Israelis and even Americans. Just last week, American Taylor Allen Force, a West Point grad, phenomenal young person who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was murdered in the street by a knife-wielding Palestinian. You don’t reward behavior like that. You cannot do it.

(APPLAUSE)

There’s only one way you treat that kind of behavior. You have to confront it.

(APPLAUSE)

So it’s not up to the United Nations to really go with a solution. It’s really the parties that must negotiate a resolution themselves. They have no choice. They have to do it themselves or it will never hold up anyway. The United States can be useful as a facilitator of negotiations, but no one should be telling Israel that it must be and really that it must abide by some agreement made by others thousands of miles away that don’t even really know what’s happening to Israel, to anything in the area. It’s so preposterous, we’re not going to let that happen.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

When I’m president, believe me, I will veto any attempt by the U.N. to impose its will on the Jewish state. It will be vetoed 100 percent.

(APPLAUSE)

You see, I know about deal-making. That’s what I do. I wrote “The Art of the Deal.”

(LAUGHTER)

One of the best-selling, all-time — and I mean, seriously, I’m saying one of because I’ll be criticized when I say “the” so I’m going to be very diplomatic — one of…

(LAUGHTER)

I’ll be criticized. I think it is number one, but why take a chance? (LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

One of the all-time best-selling books about deals and deal- making. To make a great deal, you need two willing participants. We know Israel is willing to deal. Israel has been trying.

(APPLAUSE)

That’s right. Israel has been trying to sit down at the negotiating table without preconditions for years. You had Camp David in 2000 where Prime Minister Barak made an incredible offer, maybe even too generous; Arafat rejected it.

In 2008, Prime Minister Olmert made an equally generous offer. The Palestinian Authority rejected it also.

Then John Kerry tried to come up with a framework and Abbas didn’t even respond, not even to the secretary of state of the United States of America. They didn’t even respond.

When I become president, the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on day one.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

And when I say something, I mean it, I mean it.

I will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu immediately. I have known him for many years and we’ll be able to work closely together to help bring stability and peace to Israel and to the entire region.

Meanwhile, every single day you have rampant incitement and children being taught to hate Israel and to hate the Jews. It has to stop.

(APPLAUSE)

When you live in a society where the firefighters are the heroes, little kids want to be firefighters. When you live in a society where athletes and movie stars are the heroes, little kids want to be athletes and movie stars.

In Palestinian society, the heroes are those who murder Jews. We can’t let this continue. We can’t let this happen any longer.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

You cannot achieve peace if terrorists are treated as martyrs. Glorifying terrorists is a tremendous barrier to peace. It is a horrible, horrible way to think. It’s a barrier that can’t be broken. That will end and it’ll end soon, believe me.

(APPLAUSE)

In Palestinian textbooks and mosques, you’ve got a culture of hatred that has been fomenting there for years. And if we want to achieve peace, they’ve got to go out and they’ve got to start this educational process. They have to end education of hatred. They have to end it and now.

(APPLAUSE)

There is no moral equivalency. Israel does not name public squares after terrorists. Israel does not pay its children to stab random Palestinians.

You see, what President Obama gets wrong about deal-making is that he constantly applies pressure to our friends and rewards our enemies.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

And you see that happening all the time, that pattern practiced by the president and his administration, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is a total disaster, by the way.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

She and President Obama have treated Israel very, very badly.

(APPLAUSE)

But it’s repeated itself over and over again and has done nothing (to) embolden those who hate America. We saw that with releasing the $150 billion to Iran in the hope that they would magically join the world community. It didn’t happen.

(APPLAUSE)

President Obama thinks that applying pressure to Israel will force the issue. But it’s precisely the opposite that happens. Already half of the population of Palestine has been taken over by the Palestinian ISIS and Hamas, and the other half refuses to confront the first half, so it’s a very difficult situation that’s never going to get solved unless you have great leadership right here in the United States.

We’ll get it solved. One way or the other, we will get it solved.

(APPLAUSE)

But when the United States stands with Israel, the chances of peace really rise and rises exponentially. That’s what will happen when Donald Trump is president of the United States.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE) We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

And we will send a clear signal that there is no daylight between America and our most reliable ally, the state of Israel.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

The Palestinians must come to the table knowing that the bond between the United States and Israel is absolutely, totally unbreakable.

(APPLAUSE)

They must come to the table willing and able to stop the terror being committed on a daily basis against Israel. They must do that.

And they must come to the table willing to accept that Israel is a Jewish state and it will forever exist as a Jewish state.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

I love the people in this room. I love Israel. I love Israel. I’ve been with Israel so long in terms of I’ve received some of my greatest honors from Israel, my father before me, incredible. My daughter, Ivanka, is about to have a beautiful Jewish baby.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

In fact, it could be happening right now, which would be very nice as far as I’m concerned.

(LAUGHTER)

So I want to thank you very much. This has been a truly great honor. Thank you, everybody. Thank you.

Thank you very much.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)

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.


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