We would be remiss today if we did not at least pause and reflect what a difference a couple of years can make. What a difference Ambassador Nikki Haley makes. What a difference Ambassador David Friedman makes. It was just November and December of 2016, the end of the previous administration, when we saw the United Nations passing Resolution 2334 condemning – with the voice of the international community – condemning Israel as illegal occupiers. Declaring the Jewish quarter of Israel illegally occupied. Declaring the Western Wall illegally occupied. Done with the acquiescence and energetic support of the Obama administration.
It was only a year and a half ago, we had the secretary of state, John Kerry, describing Israel as an apartheid state. It was only a couple of years ago that we had members of Congress boycotting Prime Minister Netanyahu as he addressed a joint session of Congress. But oh, how the world has changed.
This has been a year of celebration. Just a few months ago, I was so incredibly privileged and humbled to be in Jerusalem for the opening of the United States Embassy. Many of you were there on the 70th anniversary of the creation of the modern State of Israel. As we stood there dedicating that embassy, fulfilling a promise that we had seen presidents from both parties make. We’d seen Republicans make that promise, we’d seen Democrats make that promise, and yet, when it came time for action, neither one followed through. But this year, America did follow through.
The joy of being in Jerusalem visiting with Israelis, visiting with Americans, particularly those of the generation that went through the Holocaust. The survivors that were still there that you would visit had tears in their eyes, as they would look at you and say, “I never ever thought this day would come.”
THE DECISION to move the embassy was a perilous debate. Within the Trump administration, it caused division. Within the administration you had certain voices at State, at Defense, that argued, “If we move the embassy, it will be provocative. If we move the embassy, the enemies of Israel will be unhappy.” As compared to their usual state of happiness. For a year and a half, a great battle waged within the administration as I and many other voices made the case to the president that this is the right thing to do. In every other nation on Earth, our embassy is not in some other city, it is not in some other place, it is in the capital. And in Israel, the capital is the one and undivided and eternal city of Jerusalem.
The argument on the other side was, “Well, this may make it harder to achieve peace.” Now listen, every one of us longs to see peace in the Middle East. But what the men and women here gathered understand, is that the obstacle to peace is not the people of Israel. Nobody wants peace more than the men and women of Israel because it is their babies who are being murdered as a result of the war.
I do not believe we will have peace so long as the Palestinian leadership number one, refuses to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State. And number two continues to embrace terrorism as a public policy to be advanced. With those preconditions in place, peace I believe is impossible until those are changed.
I’ll tell you the case that I made to the president and to the administration, is that I said whatever the chances of peace are, in the near term in my view, moving the embassy increases the chance of peace. Why is that? Because it will be seen by our friends and our enemies alike as saying that America stands with Israel. Period. The end.
When I encouraged the president, I said, “You know, when we move the embassy, we can expect our allies to disagree. We can expect them to disagree loudly, we can expect that they will believe, for domestic political reasons, that they have to do so. But at the same time,” I argued, “I believe quietly, they will be deeply relieved.” Because what I believe the Egyptians, and the Saudis, and the Jordanians will say when we move the embassy, is, “You know, a president and an administration with enough backbone to move the embassy may well also have enough backbone to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.”
I’ve joked: retroactively, Barack Obama may well have deserved the Nobel Peace Prize, because he managed to do something that nobody had been able to do for millennia that unifies the Arabs and the Israelis. All he had to do is talk about giving the Iranians nuclear weapons and suddenly, everyone else said, “Are you out of your mind?”
So that day of celebration, when we opened the embassy, was a new page in history. I do not believe it was coincidental that the very same week we opened the embassy, is the very same week that the United States finally withdrew from the disastrous Obama Iranian nuclear deal.
That, too, was a major battle within the administration. Indeed, the battle lines were much the same. State and Defense, the same forces that were saying not to move the embassy, were the forces saying we had to keep the deal. And the same forces on the other side were making the case directly to the president that this deal is a disaster, that there is no greater threat to the safety and security of the United States of America, and there is no greater threat to the safety and security of Israel than the Ayatollah Khomeini with nuclear weapons.
I’m reminded of a political cartoon I saw some years ago, that had a picture of the Ayatollah saying, “Death to America” and it had John Kerry responding, saying, “Can I meet you halfway?”
The reason for the threat is simple. When a religious zealot and extremist, when the Ayatollah stands and leads the mobs in chanting, “Death to America” and “Death to Israel,” I believe him. I don’t think those are simply empty rhetoric. I don’t think he’s simply looking for something else to put on the next bumper sticker.
THE SO-CALLED “Father of the Iranian nuclear program,” a nuclear scientist, who has since gone to meet his maker, some say with an expedited trip provided by the Mossad, had written into his last will and testament the following. He said when he died that he wished to be written on his tombstone, “Here lies a man who sought the annihilation of Israel.”
I want you to think for a second about the deep, bilious hatred, the loathing, the rage, that your entire life, everything you’ve done on this planet, you wish to be summed up, you want to be remembered for eternity for one thing: hatred of the Jews. When the Ayatollah chants “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” When he describes Israel as the “Little Satan” and America as the “Great Satan.” If history teaches us anything, it is that when somebody tells you they want to kill you, believe them.
The shift we’ve seen in the Middle East when the Obama Iran deal was signed, $150 billion flowing into the Ayatollah and the Mullahs, because what bad could happen? With Ayatollahs with billions of dollars, you’ll recall $150 billion flown in the dead of night on pallets of unmarked cash.
By the way, there’s a legal term for that, that’s called “indicia” of wrongdoing. Let me give you another example. Let’s suppose you were selling your house and I came to buy your house. We went to the closing and I said, “You know what, I don’t have a mortgage company. I don’t even have a cashier’s check to buy your house. I’ve got in the trunk two duffle bags of rolled up twenty-dollar bills with rubber bands around them.” Now, would that maybe raise some red flags on your part? Who exactly is this guy and why are we meeting again at two in the morning behind the Circle K?
That’s essentially what the Obama Iran deal was: we’ll meet you behind the Circle K with $1.7 billion in unmarked cash. And what happens when you give terrorists billions of dollars? Here’s a crazy concept: they use those billions of dollars to kill people.
We’ve seen in the last couple of years Iran getting more and more aggressive. We’ve seen Iran moving Iranian soldiers into Syria. We’ve seen Iran sending drones into Israel. We’ve seen Iran funding radical Islamic terrorists in Yemen. Throughout Africa, throughout the Middle East, even throughout Latin America. But what a difference cutting off the cash makes.
I, for one, am thankful that we have a president and an administration that understand a simple and powerful truth: that Israel is our friend and that the Ayatollah Khomeini should never ever be allowed to have nuclear weapons. That they will stop, or we will stop them. There are battles that will continue. There are battles against BDS. There are battles against human shields, including the legislation I’m introducing this week to go against human shields.
These battles will continue for some time, but I want this morning for us just to take a moment and pause and reflect and say thank you, God. Thank you for the tremendous improvement we have seen, and thank you for the faithfulness of the brothers and sisters gathered here who pray for Israel, who pray for America, and who lift us up. God Bless you.
At Passover every year we say, “Next year in Jerusalem.” Well, I am so happy to be able to say, “This year in Jerusalem.” God bless you.
The speech above was delivered by US Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas at the 13th annual Christians United for Israel Summit.
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