Washington, D.C. - Vice President Pence at Christians United for Israel Annual D.C. Summit:
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, hello, Christians United for Israel! (Applause.) Thank you for that warm welcome. Welcome back to our nation’s capital for this Washington summit. It is a great honor to be with you all and with, I know, millions around the country that are looking on.
To Pastor John Hagee, my thanks for your leadership and your ministry. It has made a difference for America and for Israel. (Applause.)
To my friend, Gary Bauer, who runs the Washington office for CUFI, to the thousands of pro-Israel Americans who are gathered here, and all those looking on, you know, since the founding of this nation — a founding that we just celebrated a few short days ago — the people of Israel have been at the very heart of the American people.
And all of you gathered here and the 6 million that you represent across this country continue this great tradition with Christians United for Israel, the largest pro-Israel grassroots organization in the world. (Applause.) Thank you for your stand. Thank you for continuing that great American tradition.
It’s great to be with so many friends of Israel from all across this nation. And speaking of friends of Israel, allow me to begin today by bringing greetings from a friend of mine — (applause) — and a man that history has already proven to be the greatest friend of the Jewish people and the state of Israel ever to sit in the Oval Office. I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
You know, as President Trump has said, this “administration will always stand in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters, and we will always stand strong for…the state of Israel.” (Applause.)
You know, I’ve gotten to know this President over the last three years that we’ve served together, since he asked me to join this team, and I have to tell you: He’s a man of action. (Laughter.) And he’s a man of his word. (Applause.) He says what he means and he means what he says. And from the very first day of this administration, President Donald Trump has been keeping the promises that he made to the American people at home and abroad. (Applause.) It’s true.
I mean, think about it. President Trump said we’d revive the American economy. And with the strong support of Republicans in Congress, we cut taxes, rolled back regulation, unleashed American energy. And since Election Day, businesses large and small have created more than 6 million new jobs, including more than a quarter of a million jobs in the last month alone. (Applause.) Wages are up. The stock market is soaring. And the unemployment rate across this country is a near 50-year low.
And this President said he would rebuild our military. And President Donald Trump has already signed the largest increase in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan. (Applause.)
We’ve made the strongest military in the history of the world stronger than ever before. Jobs are back. Confidence is back. In a word, America is back. And we’re just getting started. (Applause.)
And I’m proud to report, with that renewed American strength, the United States is once again embracing our role as leader of the free world. (Applause.) President Trump doesn’t apologize for America. He stands up for America every day on the world stage. (Applause.) And under this President’s leadership, we’re standing with our allies and we’re standing up to our enemies.
Our NATO allies are contributing more than ever before to our common defense — (applause) — and we’ve taken the fight to radical Islamic terrorists, on our terms, on their soil.
You know, five years ago, ISIS controlled nearly 35,000 square miles in Syria and Iraq, and nearly 5 million people lived under their brutal regime. And today, thanks to our armed forces, our partners in the region, and the leadership of this Commander-in-Chief, earlier this year the last inch of ground controlled by ISIS in Syria was captured. The ISIS caliphate is no more. (Applause.)
And finally, under President Donald Trump, if the world knows nothing else, the world knows this: America stands with Israel. (Applause.)
You know, thanks to President Trump’s leadership, our alliance has literally never been stronger. (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Welcome back to Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
You know, thanks to this President’s leadership, it’s true — our alliance with Israel has never been stronger. You know, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, for the sake of Zion, “I will not be silent,” it was written. And, my friends, this President, for the sake of Zion, has not been silent. (Applause.)
I mean, think about it. President Trump promised that Israel would have the resources and tools to defend itself, by itself. And under his leadership, American support for the security of the state of Israel has never been stronger, and the military of the state of Israel is stronger than ever before.
President Trump promised to shut down the PLO office in Washington if the Palestinian Authority refused to take steps to stop funding terrorists who murder innocent Israeli civilians with American tax dollars. And when the PLO refused, President Trump shut down their office. (Applause.) And thanks to so many of you, the Taylor Force Act is now the law of the land. (Applause.)
The President also promised to confront anti-Semitism on the world stage and see to it that America would no longer allow the United Nations to be a forum for invective against Israel. And, last summer, this President withdrew the United States from the so-called Human Rights Council at the U.N. And two months later, President Trump ended all U.S. contributions to UNRWA. (Applause.)
And, of course, last year, President Trump did what no American President before him had the courage to do when he moved the American embassy to Jerusalem — (applause) — the capital of the state of Israel.
You know, it’s amazing to think I was there when that decision was being made and being processed. And to say that everyone in the world opposed the President’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move our embassy there — to say that everyone in the world was against it would be an understatement. (Laughter.) But President Trump is a man of his word, and he kept his words to the American people — (applause) — when he recognized Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the state of Israel and moved our embassy there. (Applause.)
And beyond that, for 20 years after Israel’s rebirth, Syria — Syria held strategic ground known as the Golan Heights. With its massive artillery, it held Israel hostage. This crucial region changed hands only after Israel won a war that was forced upon her.
Ever since then, the Golan Heights have been critical to the strategic security of the State of Israel. But in one administration after another, America hesitated to recognize. But because of its importance, and because of our commitment to Israel, earlier this year, for the first time in 52 years, with Prime Minister Netanyahu at his side, I had the privilege to stand with President Trump as the United States of America formally recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. (Applause.)
Our President made all of these decisions, keeping his word to the American people. He made them in the best interest of our nation. But I want to assure all of you here that this President also believed they were in the best interest of peace, because a lasting peace can only be built on a foundation of truth. So, we “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” — (applause) — that those who love her will be secure. And even as we pray, we will work for peace.
President Trump is committed to finding a path that can lead to a true, just, and lasting peace for Israel, the Palestinians, and all peoples in the region. For peace to be lasting and to be real, it must be negotiated. But peace can only be negotiated with partners who are committed to peace.
Hamas is a terrorist organization that seeks the destruction of Israel. And the United States will never negotiate with terrorist Hamas. (Applause.)
But last week, in pursuit of peace, there was a historic conference in Bahrain. After more than two years of painstaking efforts, the President’s extraordinary Middle East peace team, led by Jared Kushner, unveiled a new vision of how the Palestinian people could be empowered to build a prosperous, vibrant, and peaceful society if they choose peace over war.
Now, I know the cynics out there say the President’s dreams for peace are too big, that his hopes are too high. But it was none other than David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, who said, and I quote, “Anyone who doesn’t believe in miracles around these parts isn’t a realist.” (Applause.) So we will keep dreaming and keep working for peace. (Applause.)
And let me assure you, while any peace will undoubtedly require compromise, you can be confident of this: The United States of America will never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish State of Israel. (Applause.)
In the wake of all those actions, finally the President also made one other promise. He promised to stand up to the world’s leading state sponsor of terror. And he did just that when he withdrew the United States of America from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal. (Applause.) There will be no more pallets of cash to the mullahs in Iran. (Applause.)
Now, Pastor Hagee mentioned that I served in the Congress of the United States. I was on the Foreign Affairs Committee. And back when I was in the Congress, there was actually a bipartisan group of members of Congress who brought together sanctions on Iran, years ago. And those sanctions were isolating a regime that was — and bringing tremendous pressure on it.
But, in 2015, we all remember, when the Iran nuclear deal was signed, all of that pressure went away.
The previous administration’s so-called deal didn’t prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. It simply delayed it for roughly a decade. In exchange, the deal gave away billions of dollars in cash and sanctions relief that Iran has used to fund more terrorist attacks on innocents across the region.
President Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, and we have re-imposed every last sanction that was lifted. (Applause.)
And under this President, we’ve implemented a maximum-pressure campaign to change Iran’s malign behavior and hold the regime accountable for its destructive actions. It’s remarkable to think that, as we speak, our actions are already having an effect. They’re cutting off the regime’s ability to support their terrorist minions across the Middle East.
The Iranian economy is reeling under unprecedented U.S. sanctions. And now — now Iran must choose between caring for its people and continuing to fund its proxies who spread violence and terrorism throughout the region and breathe out murderous hatred against Israel.
Over the last several months, despite promises and hopes to the contrary in 2015, Iran has been even increasing more of their malign activity and violence in the region. We’ve all witnessed it. Last month, Iran attacked tankers passing near the Strait of Hormuz, and they downed an unmanned American drone.
And last week, Iran exceeded the amount of low-enriched uranium it can have. Today — today, it actually proclaimed it was going to start enriching uranium beyond the levels permitted by the agreement.
So let me be clear: Iran should not confuse American restraint with a lack of American resolve. (Applause.) We hope for the best, but the United States of America and our military are prepared to protect our interests and protect our personnel and our citizens in the region.
We will continue to oppose Iran’s malign influence. We will continue to bring pressure on their economy. And under President Donald Trump, America will never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. (Applause.)
You know, history teaches that when authoritarian regimes breathe out vile, anti-Semitic hatred and threats of violence, that we should take them at their word.
Earlier this year, my wife Karen and I stood and prayed and grieved at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp in Poland. It was an indescribable experience to walk those immense grounds — killing on an industrial scale.
As we gazed down at the remains of the gas chambers, as we walked past the personal effects — the piles of little shoes that were gathered there — it merely reinforced our resolve that our answer to that unspeakable tragedy for this and every generation must be: Never again. Never again. Never again. (Applause.)
Israel was reborn of that resolve. And so we must, as Americans, maintain it. We can never allow the memory of those lost in the Holocaust to be forgotten by freedom-loving people around the world.
We must teach our children and our children’s children the truth of what happened. We must preserve the memory of those lost for future generations. And, in that same spirit, we must never allow the memory of those lost in the Holocaust to be cheapened as a cliché to advance some left-wing political narrative. (Applause.)
But sadly — sadly, in recent weeks, that’s exactly what some Democrats have done in the national debate. Last month, a leading Democrat in Congress actually compared our U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facilities to concentration camps. Her allies in Congress, the Left, and in the media, shamefully came to her defense.
As recently as yesterday morning, one of her allies in Congress was asked if they agreed with comparing the noble and compassionate work done by U.S. Customs and Border personnel at detention facilities to the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. And she answered, “Absolutely.”
AUDIENCE: Oooh —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: To compare the humane work of the dedicated men and women of Customs and Border Protection with the horrors of the Holocaust is an outrage. (Applause.)
The Nazis took lives. American law enforcement save lives every day. (Applause.)
And make no mistake about it: This slander of law enforcement was an insult to the 6 million killed in the Holocaust. And it should be condemned by every American of every political party everywhere. (Applause.)
I promise you: President Donald Trump and I will always honor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, and we will always honor the service of the brave men and women of law enforcement all across this country. (Applause.)
The truth is, as I stand before you today, we have a crisis at our southern border. We’re actually on track, this year, for — to see merely — nearly a million people to come across our southern border to take advantage of well-advertised loopholes in America’s asylum laws.
And for the first time in history — I’ve seen it firsthand — the majority of those coming across our southern border are families with vulnerable children who are being enticed by human traffickers and drug cartels to pay cash to make the long and dangerous journey north.
And it’s a dangerous journey, fraught often with unspeakable violence and abuse. Seventy percent of illegal immigrants, once they present at the border, report being victims of violence along the way. According to Doctors Without Borders, nearly one-third of young women traveling to our southern border from Central America are sexually assaulted on the journey.
Our Customs and Border Protection and Health and Human Services personnel do compassionate work to care for those who have made the dangerous journey and suffered for it. And they provide that compassionate support every day.
Unaccompanied children who cross our border are provided with food, education, healthcare, and transportation to their destination city, all at taxpayer expense. Health and Human Services works to place these children with family members in the United States or alternative arrangements like foster care. Family units who are kept in ICE custody are sent to family residential centers, where they can receive shelter and care.
But make no mistake about it: The facilities on our border are overcrowded because they’re overwhelmed.
For the last six months, Democrats denied there was even a crisis at our border. They called it a “manufactured crisis.” Remember that? In so doing, they denied additional funding to care for the vulnerable families flowing across out southern border. And as I stand here today, they continue to refuse to close the loopholes used by human traffickers to exploit those vulnerable families.
But in the face of this Democrat obstruction in Congress, President Trump has stood strong. He demanded that Mexico step up, and now Mexico is doing more than ever before to secure their southern border and ours. (Applause.)
And just last week, President Trump signed into law a bipartisan measure providing $4.6 billion in humanitarian aid to support the work of HHS and Customs and Border Protection. (Applause.)
But you all deserve to know the same members of Congress who had the gall to compare our detention facilities to concentration camps voted against providing additional humanitarian aid to the same facilities they denounced.
In the face of that type of Democrat obstruction, I’ll make you a promise: Under this President’s leadership, we will secure our border. (Applause.) We will provide compassionate relief to vulnerable families swept up in the crisis. And we will fix this broken immigration system once and for all. (Applause.)
So, men and women of Christians United for Israel, we’ve reached a decisive moment in history. And support for Israel and the Jewish people, I believe, is more important than ever before. All over the world, anti-Semitism is on the rise. You see it on college campuses, in the marketplace, and sadly, even in the halls of Congress.
You know, there was a time that support for Israel was not a partisan issue here in Washington. I’ll never forget the day in 2007, that I — a conservative, Christian Republican — was asked to co-found the Congressional Anti-Semitism Task Force with the only Holocaust survivor ever to serve in Congress: the late and great Congressman Tom Lantos. (Applause.)
We formed that task force because of the broad consensus that existed in the Congress: a support for Israel, support for the Jewish people. But how things have changed. It’s astonishing to think that the party of Harry Truman, which did so much to help create the State of Israel, has been co-opted by people who promote rank, anti-Semitic rhetoric, and work to undermine the broad American consensus of support for Israel.
Recently, a freshman Democrat in Congress trafficked and repeated anti-Semitic tropes. We all remember them. She alleged the Congressional support for Israel reflected in allegiance to a foreign country. She said that Israel had, and I quote, “hypnotized the world.”
Well, let me say this from the heart: Anti-Semitism has no place in the Congress of the United States of America or anywhere in this nation. (Applause.) And anyone who slanders the historic alliance between the United States and Israel should not be sitting on the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives. (Applause.)
Maybe most astonishing of all, as we talk about how times have changed, and — the party that has been home to so many American Jews for so long recently couldn’t even muster the votes to unequivocally condemn anti-Semitism in a resolution.
I mean, that’s why the work of Christians United for Israel is more important than ever before. Unfortunately, CUFI is also bigger and more effective than ever before. (Applause.)
You know, I remember when Christians United for Israel was a group of a few hundred Bible-believing Christians. Last time I spoke to you, this organization had grown to more than 3 million believers. And on my way over, I was just told, Christians United for Israel now has more than 6 million members all across America. (Applause.)
You know, Karen and I have —
AUDIENCE MEMEBR: (Inaudible.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: She said 7 million. (Applause.)
(Inaudible.) It’s a movement that spans this nation, and it’s a movement for such a time as this. (Applause.)
You know, Karen and I have always treasured our relationship with Christians United for Israel. In fact, we worked hand-in-hand with this organization back when I was governor of the state of Indiana. And with your strong support, I was proud to sign the toughest anti-BDS legislation of any state in America. And I thank you for your support.
But you deserve to know: Remarkably, today, all but one Democrat running for President voted against the Combating BDS Act in the United States Senate.
So let me make this one more point: Anyone who aspires to the highest office in the land should not be afraid to stand with Israel. (Applause.)
Ladies and gentlemen, Israel and the United States will always stand together because America and Israel are more than friends. We’re more than allies. The United States and Israel are family — (applause) — descended from a common tradition of faith. We’re a family that upholds common values, and together, we share a common destiny.
You know, at the President’s State of the Union speech this year, that bond came into high relief in the faces of two extraordinary men that the President introduced to the nation.
One was a Jewish American hero, Sergeant Herman Zeitchik, a veteran of D-Day in the Battle of the Bulge — a truly great American of the Greatest Generation.
You know, last month, we marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and we will never fail to honor the heroism of those who served in the Greatest Generation.(Applause.)
But, if you remember, sitting beside Sergeant Zeitchik was Joshua Kaufman, a survivor of Dachau — a real concentration camp that Sergeant Zeitchik helped liberate nearly a year after D-Day. These two men, more than seven decades later, were reunited that night — united not just in their stories, but in our history, and in our cause for freedom and justice.
Seventy-five years later, without a dry eye in the house, they stood together in the Congress of the United States. And in that relationship — a soldier and a survivor — was a poignant reminder of the unbreakable bond between America and Israel — a bond that brings you all here today. But it was ultimately a bond of faith.
I’m told, before they left the Capitol, that the Zeitchik family and the Kaufman family met for the first time. And Herman had his Bible with him — a Bible that he had when he was in service in the Army. They opened it together, and they sang praise to a faithful God and renewed the ties that bind our great people. (Applause.) That bond endured the horrors of war, it’s endured through the decades, and it always will.
So, why Israel? We stand with Israel today for the same reason that Americans have always stood with Israel. We stand with Israel because her cause is our cause, her values are our values, and her fight is our fight. We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, in liberty over tyranny.
And we stand with Israel because we cherish that ancient promise that Americans have always cherished throughout our history: that those who bless her will be blessed. (Applause.)
Today and every day, the Jewish State of Israel and all the Jewish people bear witness to God’s faithfulness, as well as their own.
The American people have always marveled. Through nearly 1,900 years of exile — the longest exile of any people in history — the Jewish people drew strength from the promises of God. Through pogroms, persecutions, and expulsions, in the ghettos, and, finally, even in death camps, the Jewish people clung to God’s eternal promise.
And they remembered that “even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens,” from there He would gather them and bring them back to the land which their fathers possessed. And so He did. (Applause.)
And America was there. America was standing with the people of Israel every step of the way.
It’s amazing to think, even in those darkest of times, He heard from heaven — His holy dwelling place — and they had faith.
So it’s on that basis that I close today. And I know you’ve got a full program ahead of you, and you’ll be hearing from other friends of Israel throughout this administration and throughout the country.
And let me just say, before I close, on behalf of my wife Karen and our little family: Thank you for the honor of serving as your Vice President. It is the greatest honor of my life. (Applause.)
It’s deeply humbling to be with you today. And I leave here greatly encouraged. I can’t wait to get to lunch to tell him that I saw you all. (Laughter.)
And I want to close with faith. Faith in the good people of Israel and America and in the immutable bonds of friendship that bind us today and always will. Faith in the ideals and the principles that both America and Israel hold dear: commitment to liberty and freedom, and the notion that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights.
And finally, faith that has ever bound the people of this country together from our nation’s founding, people of every background and religious belief, and faith that binds the people Israel together — that He who watches over us will never leave us, nor forsake us. He will guide us and he will surely bless us.
God bless you all. May God bless Israel. (Applause.) And may God continue to bless the United States of America.