The full transcript of a speech given by US Vice President Mike Pence at the annual gathering of the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC in Washington, March 26, 2017, provided by AIPAC.
President Lilian Pinkus, Ambassador Ron Dermer, members of Congress, Israeli ministers, members of the Knesset, distinguished guests, friends, and fellow Americans, it is great to be back to AIPAC, the largest and most influential gathering of the friends of Israel and the United States. And it is my great privilege to speak before you tonight on behalf of a true friend of Israel, a courageous defender of freedom, the 45th president of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.
Thanks to the support of so many in this room, President Trump won a historic victory and I’m here to pay a debt of gratitude to all of you who helped elect a president who I know will make America great again.
You know, it’s a particular honor for me to be here with you tonight. My relationship with AIPAC spans more than a quarter of a century. It began with a mentoring role of Indiana’s Hart Hasten in my life back in 1988 as a first-time candidate for Congress. After I arrived in Washington, D.C. in 2001, it continued through my friendship with Marshall Cooper and others in this great organization. During my tenure as a Congressman, as governor of Indiana, members of AIPAC were there with friendship and support and prayers.
And let me just say it’s actually very hard for me to express before those friends of so many years the profound humility and gratitude I feel to stand before you tonight as the 48th vice president of the United States of America. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. And it’s the greatest honor of my life to serve as vice president to President Donald Trump. I’m proud to call him my friend.
I’m proud to call him my president, but honestly, I was never more proud than when, at the outset of his very first joint address to congress, President Trump paused to condemn threats and acts of vandalism against Jewish communities across America. He reminded us boldly that, “While we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning and evil in all its very ugly forms.” And President Donald Trump is a man of his word.
And he’s a man of action. For the first time in a long time America has a president who will stand with our allies and stand up to our enemies. And under President Donald Trump, if the world knows nothing else, the world will know this, America stands with Israel. President Trump and I stand with Israel for the same reason every freedom loving American stands with Israel, because her cause is our cause. Her values are our values. And her fight is our fight. And President Trump is a lifelong friend of Israel. I’ve seen it firsthand, the president’s deep affection for Israel and all who cherish her.
It was the morning after the election I was in the room when Prime Minister Netanyahu called to congratulate the president on that great victory. I heard President Trump express his unwavering support for Israel and the Jewish people, support he would reiterate last month when he welcomed the prime minister to the White House to reaffirm the enduring bond between our nations and our people. As President Trump said then, America’s alliance with Israel is, “Remarkably strong.” But in his usual style, he said he is confident that it will be even stronger and reach even greater heights.
For my part, my Christian upbringing compels me to cherish Israel. The songs of the land and the people of Israel were the anthems of my youth. My wife and I had the privilege of visiting Israel in 2004 and again in 2008, and we fulfilled a lifelong dream to bring all three of our children to the Holy Land in December of 2014. Let me say from my heart, as for me and my house, we pray for the peace of Jerusalem and all who call her home.
And I say with confidence to all gathered here, President Trump and I stand without apology for Israel and we always will. I mean, just look at the actions President Trump has taken since he took office, like when he named Governor Nikki Haley to be America’s ambassador for the United Nations.
As you’ll hear tomorrow night, Ambassador Haley is already fighting tirelessly to end the one-sided actions of the U.N. that unfairly target Israel. And under President Trump, the United States will no longer allow the United Nations to be used as a forum for invective against Israel or the West. Or how about when President Trump named David Friedman to represent the United States of America in Israel?
David is an unabashed advocate for a stronger Israel-America relationship and our friendship will be stronger after he gets sworn in as ambassador. And I got to tell you, I just can’t wait. This week, it will be my high honor to administer the Oath of Office to Ambassador David Friedman.
And know this, after decades of simply talking about it, the president of the United States is giving serious consideration to moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
But let me be clear, President Trump is also invested in finding an equitable and just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Just a few weeks ago, the president dispatched Jason Greenblatt, his special representative for international negotiations to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories and to bring a message that President Trump is committed to forging a last peace in the Middle East. Just last week Jason hosted a senior Israeli delegation led by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s chief of staff to continue these discussions.
And while there will undoubtedly have to be compromises, I can assure you all President Trump will never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish State of Israel. Now, since its founding, the Israeli people have awed the world with their strength of will and their strength of character and at all times in war and in peace, the Jewish people have held their heads high.
It’s because of their valor and their vitality that Israel thrives, a beacon of freedom and prosperity for all the world to see. Every day in every week, the Jewish people’s dignity rebukes all who would condemn them, not for what they do wrong, but for what they do right and President Trump has made it clear America stands alongside Israel as friends and as allies and together we will confront those enemies who threaten our people and all that we hold dear.
I’m proud to day today America’s support for Israel’s security is at a record level and President Trump has made it absolutely clear our commitment to Israel’s defense is non-negotiable, not now, not ever. In fact, my fellow Americans, we have a president who is already busy rebuilding our military, restoring the arsenal of democracy and we will, once again, provide our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and coast guard with the resources and training they need to accomplish their mission, protect our families and defend our allies.
And under President Trump, America has a leader who will call our enemies by their name. Just last week in London in the shadow of Parliament, radical Islamic terrorism reared its ugly head claiming the lives of innocent civilians, including an American. At this very moment, our administration is crafting plans to defeat radical Islamic terrorism so it can no longer bring violence to our allies or inspire violence here at home.
And let me be clear. President Trump is working with our military and the American people can know this, we will hunt down and destroy ISIS at its source so it can no longer threaten our people, our allies or our most cherished ally, Israel. And finally, under President Donald Trump, America will stand strong in the face of the leading state sponsor of terrorism. This administration has put Iran on notice.
America will no longer tolerate Iran’s efforts to destabilize the region and jeopardize Israel’s security. The Ayatollahs in Tehran openly admit their desire to wipe Israel off the map and drive its people into the sea. For decades, Iran has funneled weapons and cash to terrorists in Lebanon, Syria and the Gaza Strip. They’ve gone to great lengths to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and due to the disastrous end of nuclear-related sanctions under the Iran deal, they now have additional resources to devote to sewing chaos and imperiling Israel.
So let me be clear. Under President Donald Trump, the United States of America will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. This is our solemn promise to you, to Israel and to the world. History attests that enmity toward the Jewish people often turns from evil thought to evil action. My family and I pause to reflect on this truth of history just over a month ago while I was representing the United States in Munich, Germany.
After attending the security conference, my family and I traveled to the first Nazi Concentration Camp in Dachau. I’d been there as a young man, but Karen and I wanted our daughter to see it too. We arrived at the camp in an early morning fog and we were accompanied on our tour by Abdi Noor, a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor who had been imprisoned in Dachau as a 17-year-old boy. As we walked through the camp, Abdi described to me the hellish life he endured toiling away as a slave.
All those around him were taken away one-by-one never to return and then he stopped, looked up at me with tears in his eyes and said words I’ll never forget. He said, then the Americans came. I was so proud. Those words underscored the imperative of American strength and they powerfully remind us of the immutable bond between our people and the people of Israel. Under President Trump’s leadership, America will be strong, stronger than ever before.
And as the president said not long ago, our nation’s friendship with Israel will grow even stronger. Together we will reach even greater heights to the benefit of our two peoples and the world. We stand with Israel today and every day, because our bond was knit millennia ago in the finery of faith. Over the mantle of our home, since the year I was first elected to Congress are framed words that have long-inspired our little family.
We had them in our home in a small town in Indiana, we had them in the governor’s residence and now they’re displayed over the mantle in the home of the vice president of the United States. They come from the book of Jeremiah and they read, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” These words are as true today as they were in millennia past and they should give us – all of us – renewed hope that even in these troubled times of widening challenges and unknowable threats, that our bond is unbreakable and our future is bright.
And I know with all of my heart, that with your help, with God’s help and with the strong leadership of President Donald Trump, our nations and our peoples will remain forever friends and we will go forth together to meet the glorious future that awaits.
Thank you. God bless you, God bless Israel and God bless the United States of America.