You are here
Darkness Is Descending on Our Region
Good morning, AIPAC!
It’s always good to be here, but as I told President Trump yesterday, it’s especially great to be in America’s capital now that he has recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Thank you, President Trump, for that historic decision. Thank you for announcing another decision: to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem this independence day.
And the first ambassador to have the honor of working from that embassy in Jerusalem is a great American ambassador, David Friedman.
Steven, we never forget our friends and you were a tremendous friend and still are. And finally, I want to thank the four thousand students who are here with us today, four thousand! Thank you for cutting class to be here. If any of you need a note, you can see me later – there’s a line forming outside.
Now, what I can see is this – it’s dark but I can see something – I can see that the audience in this hall each year is getting bigger and bigger and bigger! Eighteen thousand strong! I want to see all of you and I can’t! I don’t want to stand behind this podium. Is it okay? What the heck, I’m the prime minister! Yeah great! Good to see you! Thank you! I’ll get there too, don’t worry!
So today, I want to ask you- you remember that great Clint Eastwood movie “The Good the Bad and the Ugly”? Well, I want to talk about the good the bad and the beautiful! The good, and all the good things that we are doing in Israel that are helping make the world a better place.
The bad are all the bad things that malevolent forces are trying to do to Israel and the world, and specifically, I’m talking about Iran. The official – that I’ll leave to the last.
First, the good news- Israel has never had a stronger military – tremendously strong. That’s an F-35 fighter plane, the most advanced in the world. That’s an Iron Dome interceptor and many other systems that we developed with the help of America. Thank you America!
Thank you successive American presidents! Thank you congress, Republicans and Democrats alike! Thank you AIPAC, for helping bring this about! You’re terrific! And this incredible military is buttressed by superb intelligence, unmatched in the world. Can you see me? I can hardly see you. I need to get closer. Now I see you. Superb intelligence.
You know, in the last few years Israel’s incredible intelligence services have foiled dozens, dozens of major terrorist attacks across the world in dozens of countries.
That plane could have been blown out of the sky if it weren’t for Israeli intelligence. You’re boarding planes when you leave this place. You are safer because of Israeli intelligence. It not only protects Israeli lives, it protects innocent lives around the world. And we’re able to do all this because of the extraordinary soldiers of the IDF – men and women, black and white, religious and secular, gay and straight, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, Circassians – they come from different backgrounds but they’re united with a common missions: To protect the State of Israel.
They keep us safe, they make us proud. Thank you.
Now, I know there are quite a few veterans of the Israeli army here, so I want you to stand up, I want you to be recognized, stand up, stand up. But the good news doesn’t stop merely with Israel’s strong military. It continues with Israel’s strong economy. It’s a tremendously strong economy. I’ll tell you, we made it stronger by moving Israel to free market principles, which unleashed the spark of genius in our people.
Entrepreneurship – there’s a revolution taking place, this couldn’t happen at a better time. Look at the top countries in 2006 – five energy, one IT. A mere 10 years later, 2016, a blink of an eye in historical terms, it’s completely reversed. Five IT companies, one energy company left. The true wealth is in innovation.
You know, these companies – Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook – guess what? They all have research centers in Israel! Major research centers. And they’re not alone, there are hundreds more and there’s a reason: something is going on. It’s a great change. It’s want to hear jargon? This is a terrible sentence, but it’s the confluence of big data, connectivity, and artificial intelligence. You get that? You know what they do? It revolutionizes old industries and creates entirely new industries!
Here’s an old industry we were always great at, agriculture. Now we have precision agriculture! See that drone in the sky? Connected to a big database there are sensors in the field, in the field drip irrigation, fertilization, and now we can target with this tech the water we give, the fertilizer we give, down to the individual plant that needs it. That’s precision agriculture, that’s Israeli!
You know, we were always good at water; I want you to see how good we are. We recycle almost 90 percent of our waste water. The next country, with less than 20 percent, is Spain.
Take these two things – agriculture, water – and the other tech we apply in both, we can change the world. We are, we are!
I just heard about an African woman in Africa, who has to walk 8 hours to give water to her children. Four hours one way, four hours back. A young Israeli brought to the country a company that improves osmosis, they made one from thin air – they bring water to Africa, to millions of people in Africa, Israeli technology! I was just recently in India, that’s my friend, Modi! Great friend. I’m showing him cherry tomatoes, this is Israeli technology and what I heard there was fantastic. Farmers came from the region, there’s a farm there and a place where Israel gives tech know-how to Indian farmers, 65 percent of India’s coop is farmers. One after the other gets up and says: "Because of Israeli tech, I’ve increased crop yields and income three, four, five times." Israel is changing the world in India, Asia, Africa, Latin America, everywhere!
These are the old industries. Now there are new industries, Israel is literally driving the world. I’m talking about anonymous vehicles! Israel is world leader in autonomous vehicles, 500 tech companies that sprang up instantaneously, one of them just sold to intel for a paltry sum of 15 billion dollar. Here are the keys to our 30 worldwide autonomous vehicles – you run it. Israel technology is driving the world.
One last industry – many more, one you’re all familiar with. You have bank accounts? You should. Ok. You don’t want anyone hacking into them, or into your cars, or into the planes. You need cyber security, everybody needs cyber. Israel has become a world leader in cyber security. Look how much they invest in hundreds of Israeli startup companies. Here’s another fact: Israel’s population is how much? Who knows? Class?
Eight million, closer to nine, between eight and nine million. What percentage is that of the world population? Oh come on, it’s one tenth of one percent! What percentage do we get of the world global investment in cyber security? We’re one tenth of one percent and we get a whopping 20 percent of global private investment in cyber. We’re punching two hundred times above our weight. Not two times, not 10, but 200 times above our weight. That’s one heck of a punch. Very strong.
Now here’s how the dots connect. Because we have this tremendous capacity for security and intelligence, this tremendous civilian technology for making the lives of people richer, safer, more productive, many countries are coming to Israel because they want to share with us these benefits. And that creates the third great change, which is a flourishing of Israel’s diplomatic relations around the world.
When I joined the Foreign Service, 105 years ago, as the DFM to this city, number two in our embassy, I think we had about 80 or 90 countries with diplomatic relations. Not there is 160 and very few countries left – by the way, what are we doing with Greenland? Go to Greenland? They must have some satellite needs or something we can do there.
We’re coloring the world blue. I’ve been to Africa 3 times in 18 months I’ve been to South America, Latin America— in the 70 years in the history of America of PM never went south of Texas? I love Texas but yeah, I do. We went to Argentina, we went to Columbia, to Mexico, and they said come back, we want more. That is changing. All these countries are coming to us, India, China Mongolia, Kazakhstan, all of it. Azerbaijan, Muslim countries. [For the] First time I visited Australia, tremendous, far away though. We’re coloring the world blue.
Remember when people talked about Israel’s isolation? Pretty soon the countries that don't have relations with us they’re going to be isolated.
There are those who talk about boycotting Israel, we’ll boycott them!
So the good news is very good, and it’s getting better. The bad news, and that’s the bad news, is the bad things are getting worse and they're very bad. When I talk about that, we have to deal with this challenge and I’m thinking specifically what do we do about Iran. The force behind so much of what is bad is this radical tyranny in Tehran. If I have a message for you today, it’s a very simple one. We must stop Iran. We will stop Iran.
When I last spoke here, I warned— tried to warn—the world about a nuclear deal that was a threat to the survival of Israel. The security of the region, the peace of the world. I warned that Iran’s regime had repeatedly lied to the international community, that it could not be trusted. I warned that the deal gives Iran a clear path towards developing a nuclear arsenal in little more than a decade. I warned that by removing Iran's sanctions Iran's regime would not become more moderate and peaceful but more extreme and belligerent, much more dangerous. Ladies and gentleman, that’s exactly what is happening. Here is what Iran is doing today: can you enlarge that (referring to screen)? No? Can you see that? Yeah ok.
Well. Darkness is descending on our region. Iran is building an aggressive empire, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen, more to come. Now Iran is seeking to build permanent military bases in Syria, seeking to create a land bridge from Tartus, the Mediterranean, and in addition to moving its arming its air force, its navy, to Syria, to be able to attack Israel from a closer hand. It's also seeking to develop, to build, precision guided missile factories in Syria, Lebanon, against Israel, I will not let happen. We will not let that happen. We must stop Iran, we will stop Iran.
Last week we read in the book of Esther about an earlier Persian attempt to exterminate our people. They failed then, they'll fail now. We will never let Iran develop nuclear weapons. Not now, not in 10 years, not ever.
President Trump has made it clear that his admin will not accept Iran's aggression in the region. He has made clear that he too will never accept a nuclear armed Iran. That is the right policy; I salute president Trump on this! And the president has also made it clear that if the fatal flaws of the nuclear deal are not fixed he will walk away from the deal and restore sanctions. Israel will be right there by American sides and, let me tell you, so will other countries in the region. As we counter Iran's aggression. We shall always remember the brave people of Iran. Their suffering, their hopes, their courage, women are jailed for removing their hijabs, students are tortured, tortured and shot for advocating freedom. We stand with those in Iran who stand for freedom.
Now, I believe that a day will come when this horrible tyranny will disappear, will perish from the earth and at that point the historic friendship between people of Israel and people of Persia will be reestablished. Today we have [biblical villain] Haman, tomorrow we’ll have [king] Cyrus! And friendship! And Greece! My friends, as we work together to confront the bad, there is also potential to advance the good that paradoxically comes from the bad. Because most of the states in our region knows, they know very well, that Israel is not their enemy, but their indispensable ally in confronting our common challenges and seizing our common opportunities. This is true for Egypt and Jordan, Israel's longtime peace partners, but also true of many other Arab countries in the Middle East. Israel is committed to achieving peace with all our neighbors, including Palestinians.
President Trump has made it clear that he is committed to peace; I’ve made it clear that I am, we appreciate the effort of Trump's superb team, Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, David Freidman, thank you all for your hard work for peace. But to get peace, President Abbas has to embrace peace and stop supporting terror. Raise your hands high if you agree with me that President Abbas should stop paying terrorists to murder Jews. You know how much he pays? He pays about 350 million a year to terrorists and their families. Each year. That’s about a little less than 10% of the total Palestinian budget. That's an incredible number, he pays Hakim Awad, the terrorist who murdered this beautiful family of Ehud and Ruth Fogel and their three children and a 3-month-old baby girl, he pays Hakim Awad this murderer. Over the lifetime of this killer he will be receiving 2 million dollars. I have a message for president Abbas. Stop paying terrorists!
Because what message does this send to Palestinian children? It says murder Jews and get rich!
And I believe President Abbas should find better use for this money. To build roads, schools hospitals, factories. Build life, don’t pay death. Invest in life, invest in peace. Israel hopes that the passage of the Taylor Force Act will make clear to Abbas that America has 0 tolerances for terror.
Ladies and gentleman, I have spoken about the good and the bad. There’s plenty of both, but I want to end with a few words about the beautiful.
I'm talking about the beautiful alliance between Israel and the United States of America. I'm talking about the beautiful alliance that has brought all of you to Washington, that you work day in and day out to make stronger, better. What is this beautiful alliance made of? Made of our shared values. That’s the wellspring of the great alliance, of the great alliance between our two countries. All you need to do is leave this room, this hall, you walk around a few blocks from here and you see these majestic monuments, you can learn from them all about our common values.
They come from a certain book a great book, a good book, called the bible. It said that all of us are created in the image of god, and it’s inspired Jefferson to write the declaration of independence, that all men are created equal, all women too by the way. And that book inspired Abraham Lincoln in the darkest days in Americas civil war. He found inspiration in the words of our greatest king, King David, when he said the wounds of divided America would heal and judgments of the lord are true and righteous.
Just as the stirring words of prophet Amos inspired Martin Luther King Junior when he stood before Lincoln memorial and promised to carry on the struggle until justice runs down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream. These values are an inseparable part of America’s story, of Israel's story.
Today, together, we are writing a new chapter in our common story — a story of freedom, of justice, peace, of hope, and it’s because we’re inspired by the same idea. Because we’re animated by the same values, that American and Israel have forged an eternal bond that can never, ever be broken.
Thank you AIPAC. God bless Israel, God bless America, and god bless the Israel America alliance. Thank you, thank you all.