Jerusalem, Israel. – For the first time in 25 years, a sitting Speaker of the House has addressed Israel’s Knesset. At the Knesset, Speaker Kevin McCarthy delivered the following remarks.
“If we remain united, then the forces of freedom and democracy will always prevail,” said Speaker McCarthy. “Together, we will build a world in which our children live with more peace, enjoy more robust economic ties, and are treated with the respect and fairness they deserve.”
Remarks as prepared, or you may watch online here.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu.
“Opposition Leader Lapid.
“Ministers of the Government.
“Members of the Knesset.
“My congressional colleagues.
“And beloved friends.
“It is an honor to join you in the city of Jerusalem – the eternal capital of Israel.
“This is my first foreign trip as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
“There is no place on this planet that I’d rather be than right here, right now.
“Today, I speak to you not only as an American congressional leader.
“I speak to you today as a lifelong supporter and true friend of Israel.
“I am no stranger to your beautiful land. Since coming to Congress in 2007, I have traveled to Israel year after year… with hundreds of my colleagues… from both sides of the aisle.
“And I chose to come here now – today – to celebrate the bond between our two countries and to reaffirm that bipartisan support for Israel in Congress is at the foundation for our truly special relationship.
“I begin with words that every person in this chamber will recognize.
‘The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people…’
“After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith… and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom.”
“Those inspiring words come from your Declaration of Independence.
“The prayers and hope it spoke of have become a reality.
“Today, we celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Israel. Over the past three quarters of a century, your nation has faced many external threats.
“But Israel survives and thrives because of its values, courage, resilience, and determination.
“But as your Declaration reminds us, 75 years is just a blip in the timeline of Israel. There is no other nation with your long and storied history.
“3,500 years ago, Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, through the wilderness, and back to the Promise Land.
“3,000 years ago, David reigned as King of Israel.
“And soon after, David’s son, King Solomon, consecrated the First Temple.
“That temple was destroyed, but its spirit of freedom and faith remains. We see that spirit in the state of Israel everyday.
“Israel is resilient.
“Israel is strong.
“Israel is innovative.
“Israel is blessed.
“As David wrote: ‘The Lord bless you from Zion, And may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Indeed, may you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel!’
“It was President John F. Kennedy who said it best: ‘Israel was not created in order to disappear. Israel will endure and flourish. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success.’
“Kennedy’s words echo throughout this chamber today.
“Ladies and Gentlemen: Israel’s rebirth is nothing less than a modern miracle.
“The source of that miracle is the people of Israel.
“In those dark days thousands of years ago when the Jewish people were scattered from Israel, the Prophet Isaiah predicted a brighter future to come.
“Inspired by God, he shared this command:
‘arise, shine, for thy light is come.’
“My friends, today, 75 years after declaring independence, Israel’s light shines brighter than ever.
“Despite the constant threat of terrorism, Israel remains the first and only democracy in the Middle East.
“Israel’s economy once relied on rationing for food and oil.
“Today, Israel is ranked as the 4th best performing economy among developed nations.
“Its market economy is dynamic, and its remarkable people are bursting with talent and new ideas. Its innovative high-tech sector has rightly earned Israel the nickname the ‘startup nation.’
“It was Theodore Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, who predicted, ‘give us a piece of land to hold on to, and the rest we will do ourselves.’
“Herzl was right.
“The story of Israel is a story of survival against the perils of war and terrorism.
“It’s a story of pioneers fulfilling a sacred promise, inspired by a commitment to freedom, family, and faith in God.
“It’s a story about making the deserts bloom and building a thriving, innovative economy.
“And it’s a story of hope that continues to inspire millions around the world, including me and my fellow Americans, regardless of political party.
“The United States cherishes our unbreakable bond with Israel.
“I’m proud that my country recognized your country only 11 minutes after it declared its independence, the first country to do so.
“But our special relationship is even closer, more personal, and more powerful than we might realize.
“This point was driven home to me by a thoughtful gift I received from Speaker Ohana.
“The gift is a picture of Israeli pilots training in the city of Bakersfield, California – my hometown.
“There’s a story behind that picture:
“More than 75 years ago – on the eve of Israel’s War of Independence – a female flight instructor and patriot named Elynor Rudnick organized a training program for Israeli fighter pilots at her airfield in Bakersfield.
“In all, 13 volunteers – including two women – took this grueling course, and only 3 finished.
“Technically, the program was illegal, because Israel did not exist yet as a modern state and America was neutral.
“So why did these pilots do it?
“What compelled them to risk their lives to help reestablish the state of Israel?
“As we look around this room, we know the answer: it was faith and it was freedom.
“Those values are worth fighting for, even dying for.
“And so, they took to the skies – not knowing what the future held, but knowing that God – and many Americans – were allies in their cause.
“Despite all odds, they won.
“And because they won, the state of Israel was reborn.
“75 years have passed since these heroes helped secure Israel’s independence. Most had only recently graduated from school. At the time, the joys and struggles of life were ahead of them.
“And now, while they rest in peace, their sacrifices and legacies live on – in a free and independent Israel and its special bond with the United States.
“You see, this picture tells a deeper story. If we remain united, then the forces of freedom and democracy will always prevail.
“This is the foundation of our special relationship: We are the only two countries in history that were conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that we are all equal.
“Our values are your values.
“Our heritage is your heritage.
“Our dreams are your dreams.
“America is grateful for our friendship with Israel. We are a better nation because of it. And we must never shy away from defending it.
“We’ve come so far in 75 years. But the promise of the years ahead is just as compelling.
“I believe the best days for Israel – and our unbreakable bond – are ahead of us.
“My greatest hope is that our special relationship can serve as the foundation for greater peace across the Middle East.
“The progress towards peace in the past few years has been remarkable.
“Thanks to the Abraham Accords, coexistence and cooperation are beginning to replace conflict and intolerance.
“As a result, a future where your children can enjoy a just and lasting peace is not only foreseeable, it is attainable.
“Congress has supported the dramatic breakthroughs of the Abraham Accords.
“Last week, we passed a bipartisan resolution celebrating your 75th Anniversary and commending the Abraham Accords.
“I have that resolution here with me.
“It states in absolute terms that the US stands with Israel, supports the Abraham Accords, and upholds that Israel has every right to defend itself.
“My friends – Congress stands ready to work with Israel to broaden and deepen those Accords – working for a sustainable peace with all of Israel’s neighbors.
“But as we welcome peace, we can’t ignore the threats to peace in the region.
“Those threats have one primary cause: the rogue Iranian regime.
“Most of the region’s turmoil, violence, and instability can be traced back to that source – which continues to fund terrorism, arm its proxy militias, and pursue nuclear weapons.
“Iran seeks to destabilize Iraq.
“It wants to entrench its missiles in Syria.
“It empowers the terrorist organization Hezbollah in Lebanon.
“And it is fueling a brutal civil war in Yemen.
“And amid all of this aggression, it seeks to encircle Israel with hostile forces.
“We cannot allow the Iranian regime’s evil campaign to succeed.
“To deter Iran’s dangerous behavior, our nations must continue to stand united.
“We in the United States integrated Israel into our Central Command and are continuing to carry out military exercises together.
“As long as I am Speaker, America will continue to support full funding for security assistance in Israel.
“Together, we will defeat Iran’s precision-guided missiles, drones, terror tunnels, and cyberattacks.
“And as we stand shoulder to shoulder against Iran’s regional aggression, we must also remain resolute in our commitment that Iran will never acquire nuclear weapons.
“As we pursue peace in this region, we must also expand the economic cooperation between our two countries.
“In our systems, innovation and creativity are our greatest allies, our greatest sources of strength, our greatest fuel for prosperity.
“For decades, our nations have worked together on agricultural research, clean energy, new technologies, cyber defense, and so much more.
“To strengthen our command of next generation technology, Congress established a working group for bilateral military research and development in 2021.
“This will allow us to benefit from each other’s innovation, especially in military technology.
“We’ve seen the success of technological cooperation in so many areas.
“Today, however, our innovation is at risk from a new threat: the Chinese Communist Party.
“While the CCP may disguise itself as promoters of innovation, in truth, they act like thieves. We must not allow them to steal our technology.
“In the United States, we are working to protect innovation and the prosperity it brings with renewed focus. We have a review process called the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS.
“I am glad that Israel has also put into place a process to review foreign investment.
“I strongly encourage Israel to further strengthen its oversight of foreign investment – particularly Chinese investment – building on the steps it first took in 2019.
“If we cooperate, then I am confident we meet the challenge and ensure a brighter future for both our nations.
“The final priority for the future I want to discuss is ending efforts to delegitimize and discriminate against Israel.
“Whether it’s the toxic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement or the constant attacks on Israel at the United Nations, prejudice against Israel on the world stage is damaging and destructive.
“There is no clearer example than the U.N Human Rights Council – which has passed over 90 anti-Israel resolutions since 2006, yet has turned a blind eye to true human rights violations by Iran, North Korea, and China.
“My colleagues and I in Congress will continue to stand with Israel. ”
“And we will increase pressure on the United Nations to end these outrageous attacks.
“As we take the next steps in enhancing and bolstering our ongoing diplomatic and security dialogues, I want Congress and the Knesset to work together as closely as possible.
“As Speaker, I will continue to push for a formal Inter-parliamentary Group between the United States and Israel.
“But I will not wait to start more collaboration between the House of Representatives and the Knesset.
“Therefore, I will establish a House-Knesset Parliamentary Friendship Group – so we can continue to strengthen our bonds, build mutual understanding as elected representatives, and work better together – democracy to democracy.
“We will engage more directly with the Knesset, travel to Israel, strengthen existing relationships and forge new ones.
“Similarly, we will host Knesset members who wish to travel to the United States and do the same.
“This will be part of the next chapter of US-Israel relations, and I look forward to working closer with Speaker Ohana in this endeavor.
“Let me close with this.
“The rebirth of Israel is truly a miracle. Peace, liberty, and prosperity are the foundations of your nation’s success.
“They are also the cornerstone of our special relationship.
“Our special relationship stands for freedom.
“It stands for safety.
“It stands for hope.
“Together, let us work to move forward towards a brighter future.
“Together, we will build a world in which our children live with more peace, enjoy more robust economic ties, and are treated with the respect and fairness they deserve.
“This is our shared mission.
“I look forward to working with you as we strengthen this unique and indispensable bond.
“God bless you. God bless Israel. And God bless our special relationship.”