(December 2, 2018 / Israel Hayom) U.S. Vice President Mike Pence called Israel America’s “most cherished ally” in an address to the annual conference of the Israeli American Council on Saturday.
Pence’s attendance at the conference, which kicked off Nov. 29 in South Florida, was a highlight for the organization, which now serves as a national framework for building an engaged and united Israel-American community that strengthens Israeli and Jewish identity, as well as the bond between Americans and the State of Israel.
“Today on behalf of [U.S.] President [Donald] Trump and our entire administration, it’s my great honor to say as a trumpet among the nations: If the world knows nothing else, let the world know this: America stands with Israel.”
Pence said the U.S. stands with Israel “because her cause is our cause, her values are our values and her fight is our fight. We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, good over evil, liberty over tyranny. We stand with Israel because support for the Jewish state is not a partisan issue, it is an American issue.”
Noting Trump’s firm stance on Iran, Pence said, “President Trump promised to stand with Israel against all those who seek to destroy her. … President Trump promised to take the fight on radical Islamic terrorists on our terms, on their soil. President Trump also promised to stand up to the leading state sponsor of terror. And he took decisive action and kept his word when President Donald Trump withdrew the United States of America from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal. And this month, we reimposed every last sanction that the previous administration had lifted.
Blasting anti-Israel bias at the United Nations, Pence said, “This president also promised to confront anti-Semitism on the world stage. And this summer, he directed our ambassador at the United Nations to withdraw the United States from the so-called ‘Human Rights Council’ at the United Nations. We will no longer allow the U.N. to be a forum for invective against Israel.”
Pence also expressed publicly for the first time the Trump administration’s opposition to the decision by home-rental company Airbnb to remove its listings in Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria.
“In the wake of Airbnb’s decision to ban listings of Jewish homes in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank, we’ve made it clear: The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is wrong and it has no place in the free enterprise of the United States of America.”
Pence also talked about Trump’s historic decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
“As we all know, while every president for the past two decades had promised to do so, this president did more than promise when one year ago next week, he delivered on that promise and in May of this year, the United States of America opened our embassy in Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel,” he said. “Our president made that decision I want to assure you, in the best interest of the United States, but he also made it clear that we believe that decision is in the best interest of peace. And peace can only be built on a foundation not of fiction but of fact, of recognizing what is negotiable and what is not.”
He also stressed the U.S.’s commitment to Israel’s security, noting, “while any peace will undoubtedly require compromise, you can be confident of this: The United States of America will never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish State of Israel.”
“As we continue to hope and work toward peace, we continue to stand without apology with Israel.”
He said, “The two great threats to a brighter future in the Middle East are radical Islamic terrorism and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Together with Israel, we’ve made great strides against the menace of terrorism. But as we’ve seen in recent weeks, the terrorist threat still festers at Israel’s borders.
“Hamas has sent a stream of rockets into Israel, including more than 450 rockets and mortars in a single 36-hour span earlier this month. These attacks against Israel must end and they must end now.”
Turning again to Iran, Pence said, “We recognize terrorists across the region, from Hamas to Hezbollah, are really, truth be told, nothing more than proxies of a vile regime. They are the pawns of Iran and its ayatollahs who devoted more than $16 billion to spreading violence, to sowing chaos and bloodshed across the Middle East and the wider world. … This administration has now reimposed all sanctions that were lifted on Iran in the last administration that disastrous nuclear deal. But we’ve also imposed strong, new sanctions as well and American sanctions on Iran have never been stronger. As we speak, our actions are already cutting off the regime’s ability to support its terrorist minions across the region on an increasing basis. And while Iran continues to pursue its evil aims, let me make a solemn promise to you, to Israel and to the world. The United States of America will never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.”
Pence also spoke about the deadly shooting attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, which he said “broke the heart not just of that community but of this nation. What happened that day was not just criminal. It was evil. The 11 members of the Jewish community who perished were victims of one of the oldest hatreds known in the human race. In the days that followed, President Trump and I made clear that this anti-Semitic attack was an assault not just on the Jewish community, it was an assault on all of us in America and we stand together. There is no place in America for anti-Semitism and violence. And we will confront and condemn it everywhere it rears its ugly head.”
Dr. Miriam Adelson, who introduced Pence on stage, called him “the best friend that Israel and the Jewish people could have because his friendship has been most evident when times have been tough. Decades before he became the No. 2 to President Trump, well before this terrific pro-Israel administration, Mike has been there for us. Standing for what is right often means standing alone and Mike has never been deterred from doing so for Israel’s sake even as so much of the world gangs up on the Jewish state. He has defended us faithfully on every front, against the Iran nuclear deal, against Palestinian terror funding, against anti-Semitism, against BDS and forever in favor of the U.S. recognizing Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel and moving the embassy, and inspired by his Christian faith, he has enriched the natural alliance between Israel and the United States through religious and commercial outreach.”
“Welcome, Mr. Vice President. Shalom, shalom, Mike,” she said. “Thank you so much for being a friend, an ally, a brother and special thanks also to your wife, Karen.”
Upon taking the stage, Pence said that “in our day and in our age, few know better how to encourage others to do what is right than the incomparable Miriam Adelson. Miriam has proven that in everything she’s done—as a scientist, a physician, a philanthropist and even now, Miriam Adelson leads by example every single day. … And in recognition of all that she’s done in philanthropy, and in medicine and her tireless work to support America’s most cherished ally, two weeks ago, President Donald Trump bestowed Miriam Adelson the highest civilian award in the United States of America, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Miriam, I offer you my and our congratulations.”
Nothing more than a dream
Florida governor-elect Ron DeSantis also took the stage, where he reiterated his threat to take action against Airbnb.
“If we’re not the most pro-Israel state in the country, we will be on Jan. 8 when I take office,” he said.
“I’ve already warned companies like Airbnb that if you single out Jews in Judea and Samaria for disfavored treatment, we are going to be reviewing our BDS statures, we’re going to be reviewing our relationship and we’re going to act.
We need to be fighting anti-Semitism on all fronts and BDS is nothing more than a cloak for anti-Semitism. … We have some of the strongest BDS legislation in the country. And that’s something that as more companies take actions like this, we need to add them to our list very quickly … and so people will know that if you want to do business … with the state of Florida, we welcome that, but if you’re going to join forces with BDS, that’s a red line for us. And you’re just going to forfeit being able to do business with the state of Florida.”
Also addressing the conference was Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, who said it was thanks to U.S. support for Israel that “the atmosphere in the region, including in Arab states, was changing.”
He said these countries understand that the alliance between the United States and Israel was stronger than ever, and that they have no other option but to cooperate with Israel.
The excitement was tenable among IAC members ahead of Pence’s scheduled appearance at the annual conference.
IAC CEO Shoham Nicolet recalled how, five years ago, the IAC had been nothing more than a dream.
“I was there when it was just a bunch of Israelis in a living room,” he told Israel Hayom. “And here, now the American vice president is here. Who would have believed it? It is difficult to comprehend that now the secret service has taken over my conference.”
He added, “It’s a dream, a crazy achievement for the community. Israeli-Americans have transformed from a group of invisible people to a group that hosts the vice president of the United States. It is a great honor and a big deal for all of us and the State of Israel.”
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