Pelosi Remarks at AIPAC 2019 Policy Conference
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you. Good morning, everyone.
Good morning, everyone. On behalf of the U.S. House of Representatives, it is a privilege for me to join so many friends to celebrate the unbreakable and unshakeable bonds between the United States and Israel.
Thank you Mort Fridman and Howard Kohr for your leadership of AIPAC and your lifelong commitment to a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
We are joined this week by leaders from both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Capitol because support for Israel in America is bipartisan and bicameral – relentlessly bipartisan.
We are all here ‘connected for good’ – united in our shared mission to advance peace, prosperity and progress in the Middle East, in America and around the world.
I understand there are so many young – new people here for the first time. Let us recognize the future leaders of our nation and of the U.S.-Israel relationship: the many students and young people who are here today.
I met some earlier from California. I want to especially acknowledge the delegation from my home state of California, right here –
[Cheers from California delegation]
Let me also acknowledge the delegation from Maryland – being from Maryland.
[Cheers from Maryland delegation]
Personally, I take great pride in the special place that Israel has always has in my family’s heart. I am from Baltimore, Maryland. Some of you may –
Okay, that’s good. Some of you have heard me tell the story of my father, Congressman – when he was Congressman – Thomas D’Alesandro from Baltimore. And he was just a dedicated New Dealer, but he broke with President Roosevelt on two scores.
First, he didn’t think the administration was doing enough, or anything really, to help the Jewish people being persecuted in Europe.
And, secondly, he wanted us to make a big fight early for the cause of a Jewish and democratic state in Palestine.
You’ve heard me talk about him speaking Yiddish and going to rallies and parades and the rest and espousing all of this as an Italian-American who spoke Yiddish because he had been a shabbas goy.
And, on June 22nd a few years later, 1942, he rose on the Floor of the House to say, ‘Mr. Speaker, as a Member of the Committee for a Jewish Army, I speak to you on behalf of 200,000 fighting men who, by divine destiny or accident of birth, happen to be Jewish.’
He would speak on the Floor to urge strong support for a free and democratic Jewish state, calling on Congress to ‘pointedly and frankly tell Great Britain that we expect the nation to keep its solemn pledged word,’ regarding the Balfour Declaration.
In the late 1940s, my family’s dear friends Simon and Irene Sobeloff – Simon Sobeloff, any Marylanders known the Sobeloff family?
He was a Solicitor General for my father when my father was Mayor – he became Mayor later – but, he was also the Solicitor General of the United States of America.
So, when they traveled, they were one of the first people we knew who went to Israel – this new beautiful state. When they returned, they regaled us magnificent tales – now, I was a little girl – of this glorious country and brought me back a ring, which helped to – I can just always remember Mrs. Sobeloff giving me that ring – an everlasting bond for me with Israel.
So, when I became Speaker – when I went to Israel for the first time as Speaker some years ago – the newspapers there said I came by my love of Israel naturally.
My father took great pride in the fact, as Mayor, and then my brother Thomas D’Alesandro III as Mayor kept that bond. They have like groves and playing fields, or something, named for them in Israel, which our family takes great pride in.
Now, always, just to, just to – take pride.
Later when I moved to San Francisco, I would learn so much more about Israel and U.S. relationship from my dear friend Naomi Lauter, whom I had the privilege of honoring last year after we lost Naomi. Her son Sameleh – as I call him – but Sammy is here with his son Jacob.
Naomi was a pillar of the pro-Israel community in America. Her passing was a great loss for advocates, and of course, for me personally.
She taught me so many things, including about a wonderful group. She had me have events at my house for something called Givat Haviva. It was wonderful to see that they are one of the peace-building organizations in this conference, which are working toward a future in which Jews and Arabs can live together with respect, equality and peace.
And wasn’t the Genesis presentation so beautiful we just heard?
I talked about Naomi’s grandchildren. My husband always says, ‘I wonder how long it takes for you to be in a speech before you start talking about your own grandchildren.’ And I do just want to acknowledge that last week my granddaughter Bella Kaufman observed Purim. And she – it was cute for me because you know this March – March is the month of the woman.
Little did Queen Esther know way back when that she would be an icon in March, the month of the woman. Queen Esther.
For me and my family and my friends, Israel is a special place. For America, it is a friend, a partner in democracy and an ally in the fight for peace and security in the region.
As I have often said, the founding of the State of Israel was one of the greatest political achievements of the 20th Century.
From Israel’s founding to the present day, our pledge remains the same: Israel and America are connected, now and forever. We will never allow anyone to make Israel a wedge issue.
That pledge is proudly honored in this Congress, where support for Israel remains ironclad and bipartisan.
We’re proud to have so many champions of Israel serving as leaders and Committee Chairs. Among them – some who will be honored by you here today – Nita Lowey on Appropriations.
Jerry Nadler on Judiciary.
Adam Schiff on Intelligence.
Eliot Engel on Foreign Affairs.
Ted Deutch on Ethics and the Chair of the Subcommittee on the Middle East.
And John Yarmuth on the ever-important Budget Committee, and more.
These leaders deeply understand the importance of the bonds between America and Israel and they are working tirelessly to make those bonds even stronger.
The U.S.-Israel relationship is special and strong because it is rooted in our shared values and our shared interests, including our interest in stability and in enduring peace in the region and in the world.
Assistance to Israel is vital and it’s not going anywhere – because if you care about American security, you must care about Israel’s security.
Last week, Chairman Ted Deutch introduced a new, strengthened version of the bill codifying the Obama-era Memorandum of Understanding, which includes $3.8 billion a year over ten years and enhances our cooperation on cyber, energy, international development and more.
As Speaker of the House, I assure you that this bill will come to the Floor and it will pass overwhelmingly as we send it to the United States Senate.
Your voices will be vital in ensuring this legislation passes the Senate this year. I know that’s part of the mobilization and the advocacy that you are here to do.
It is imperative that Israel maintain its qualitative military edge and America must ensure that it always does.
[Yesterday], once again, we witnessed a rocket attack perpetrated by Hamas – a sobering reminder of the security challenges from Gaza that Israel faces with each day. We pray for the swift recovery for the children and family members injured in the attack.
Also, America must also work with Israel to bring stability to the northern border because terrorist groups such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda and other affiliates continue to keep pockets of Syria in their stranglehold, Iran and Russia cynically scheme to secure a permanent presence in Syria, and Hezbollah works to set up terrorist networks on the border between Israel and Syria while training increasingly precise longer-range rockets and missiles that could strike anywhere in Israel.
The United States will continue to champion a policy that reaffirms Israel’s right to self-defense.
In our democratic societies, we should welcome legitimate debate on how to best honor our values and to advance our priorities, without questioning loyalty or patriotism.
This month, the full House came together to condemn the anti-Semitic myth of dual loyalty and all forms of bigotry with a resolution that, ‘rejects the perpetuation of anti-Semitic stereotypes in the United States and around the world, including the pernicious myth of dual loyalty and foreign allegiance, especially in the context of support for the United States-Israel alliance.’
I simply declare: to be anti-Semitic is to be anti-American. It has no place in our country.
I have, on occasion, been able to appoint Members to Congressional Delegations to travel to conferences. A few of us, 50 of us actually, were at the Munich Security Conference. Some of us went on to the NATO Parliamentary meeting.
But when I appoint people to these parliamentary, interparliamentary groups, of course I respect their own enthusiasms that they bring to it. But one instruction – [they] don’t need the instruction – but one priority I always emphasize, is that they impress upon the parliamentarians from the other countries in the world, our commitment to end anti-Semitism wherever it exists.
We brought that message to the EU. We bring it to NATO. We bring it to all of our international conferences because it’s important for people to hear.
We see signs of it in other countries. We see signs of it in our own country. We must be absolutely clear that it is a priority. It is a priority if we are really to be true to our values.
We must also be vigilant against bigoted or dangerous ideologies masquerading as policy, and that includes BDS.
Last week we introduced the Schneider, that would be Brad Schneider of Illinois, and Nadler, that would be Jerry Nadler of New York, the Schneider-Nadler Resolution in that House that explicitly opposed the BDS Movement, warning that – did you know this – it does not recognize, and many of its supporters do not know or explicitly deny, it ‘does not recognize the right of Jewish people to national self determination.’
The resolution goes on to recognize the BDS movement ‘does not favor a two-state solution’ and ‘undermines the possibility for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.’
I join my colleagues in reaffirming the House’s strong support for a solution consisting of two states: a ‘democratic Jewish State of Israel, and a viable, democratic Palestinian state – living side-by-side in peace, security and mutual recognition.’
A two-state solution, though, is not a solution without guaranteed security for Israel. Security, security, security.
As you know, the anthem of Israel is ‘Hatikvah’: the hope. Let us all find hope in our past – remembering the hard-won success of the Israel-Egypt Peace Accord four decades ago today.
Let us find hope in our progress – remembering the miraculous technological gifts that Israel gives to the world.
And let us find hope in our people – remember the commitment and passion we all share for a better world for our children.
Thank you all for what you do. Thank you AIPAC. I’m here to pay my respects. Thank you for honor of joining you this morning. Thank you for your leadership.
May God bless Israel. May God bless the United States of America.
Thank you all and good luck in your deliberations. Thank you so much.