Defense Minister Benny Gantz addressed the common interests shared by Israel and the US when it comes to the Iran issue during his speech at the Israeli American Council on Friday. He thanked everyone at the IAC for their investment in deepening US-Israel ties.
"Iran is first and foremost the biggest threat to global and regional peace and stability, and only then is it a threat to Israel," he said.
"Israel is the only country in the world that has a country, Iran, seeking its destruction and building the means to do it. As Israel’s Defense Minister, I will never let it happen," he said.
"This is why the international community, with US leadership, must stand together and act forcefully against Iran’s hegemonic aspirations and nuclear program and restore stability for the sake of global peace."
He also addressed the long-time support of the US for Israel, and specifically the bipartisan nature of it, stressing that "support for Israel can no longer be taken for granted."
Another challenge Gantz mentioned is "antisemitism presented as anti-Zionism. The absurd part is its promotion in the name of progress and liberalism. The oldest form of hatred has been given a makeover and it’s now being fueled with the help of social media and the spread of misinformation.
"The State of Israel has an obligation to take action – we work in cooperation with our international partners in responding to hate crimes against Jews."
He continued by saying that he met with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, saying that "both leaders reaffirmed the strong defense relations, cooperation and information sharing between our countries."
He concluded his speech by stressing the need for increased normalization between Israel and its neighboring countries, such as the normalization brought about between Israel and the Gulf states and Morocco by the Abraham Accords.
"Considering all these challenges and more, Israel has a moral, strategic and operational obligation to maintain its military superiority – both in its operational capabilities and in its moral compass. Our operational and moral strength is not only for our defense," he said.
"Only a strong, secure and moral Israel can extend its hand in peace. Only strong, secure and moral Israel can expand normalization with new partners and deepen relations with existing partners – from Jordan and Egypt, to Morocco, the UAE, Bahrain and even our Palestinian neighbors."
The IAC Conference is the first Jewish American organization event to be held since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is expected to be attended by some 2,800 people.
Besides Gantz, other high-profile Israeli political figures will attend the conference, including Diaspora Minister Nachman Shai, Likud's Nir Barkat, Immigration and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata (Blue & White) and Israel's Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan.
In addition to politicians, a variety of figures from across Israel's arts and sports scene are also expected to speak. Olympic medalist Linoy Ashram will be joined by musician Idan Raichel and comedian Eyal Kitzis, as well as many others.