U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman addresses the AIPAC policy conference in Washington, DC, U.S., March 6, 2018..
(photo credit: BRIAN SNYDER / REUTERS)
That American assistance to Israel is vital and is not going anywhere was the main message of the final plenary session at the 2019 AIPAC Policy Conference.
The final session at the world’s largest gathering of America's pro-Israel community, was highlighted by remarks from US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“We will do what needs to be done to protect Israel, the United States and the entire world from the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism,” Friedman charged in reference to Iran, noting that the country has “doubled down on terrorist activity in Iraq and Lebanon, increased its stock of missiles, amped up death to America and death to Israel.
“We now know Iran lied to everyone,” he said. "We will need to do what needs to be done, and we will not do it for the Benjamins but rather for the Davids - from King David to David Ben-Gurion.”
Friedman’s mention of “the Benjamins” was a subtle reference to the antisemitic statement made last month by Rep. Ilhan Omar that American politicians are only pro-Israel because organizations such as AIPAC pay them to be so.
Pelosi likewise alluded to the Omar controversy - in her speech referencing a later comment by Omar that Jewish Americans have dual loyalty to the US and Israel. Pelosi told the packed plenary - there were around 18,000 delegates at the three-day AIPAC conference - that “debates must take place without questioning a person's loyalty or patriotism.”
"In our democratic society, we should welcome legitimate debate on how to best honor our values and advance our priorities – without questioning loyalty or patriotism,” she said. “To be antisemitic is to be anti-American."
Pelosi noted that Israel and America have been connected since the Jewish State’s founding 70 years ago, and that since 1948 until the present day “We will never allow anyone to make Israel a wedge issue… Assistance to Israel is vital, and is not going anywhere."
Mitchell McConnell Jr., an American politician serving as Kentucky’s senior United States Senator and as Senate Majority Leader also spoke at the final plenary. He called on Democrats in the House of Representatives to vote in favor of two bills that Senate Republicans are set to introduce that oppose antisemitism.
“Talk is cheap,” said McConnell. “Give a vote in the House.”
Likewise, New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez spoke, telling the audience that he stands with Israel and defending Israel’s right to retaliate against Hamas after it fired a rocket that demolished a home in central Israel.
“To those who consider differently, what would you do if rockets rained down on US territory,” he said. “Israel has right to defend itself and the US will ensure it has the necessary capability to protect its people and borders.”
Herb Keinon and Omri Nahmias from Washington and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.
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