Welcome to Jerusalem, the undivided, eternal capital of the Jewish state and the Jewish people.
Your presence here today represents a profound transformation in the relationship between Christians and Jews. This transformation has its roots in the 19th century when the early Christian Zionists came to the Land Israel and when they began exploring the land of the Bible, when they began to yearn for the Jewish restoration in this land, the restoration of our numbers, the restoration of our sovereignty.
In fact, Christian Zionism preceded modern Jewish Zionism, and I think enabled it. But it received a tremendous impetus several decades ago when leading American clergymen began to say to their congregations and to anyone who listened, it’s time to take a stand with Israel. It was time to take a stand with the sole democracy in the Middle East. It was time to take a stand against the lies and the slander and the vilifications. It was time to defend the Jewish state’s right to defend itself.
Today, Christians by the thousands, by the tens of thousands, by the hundreds of thousands, by the millions, by the tens of millions – today they have heard this call, and they stand with Israel. I salute you, the people of Israel salute you, the Jewish people salute you.
Time after time, through thick and thin, you have stood shoulder to shoulder with our state, and I have come here tonight to thank you for your unwavering friendship. And today that friendship is more important than ever because Israel faces unprecedented challenges to its security and its legitimacy.
No security challenge is more important to our common future than preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. I have said before and I’ll say again, that the greatest threat facing mankind is the specter of a militant Islamic regime acquiring nuclear weapons, or the specter of nuclear weapons acquiring a militant Islamic regime. The first is dangerously close to happening in Iran, and the second may or may not happen in Pakistan. I believe that with the right policies both can be averted.
If Iran develops atomic weapons, the world would never be the same. We would witness a cascade of terrorism across the globe as terrorists would operate under an Iranian nuclear umbrella. Look at how much havoc, how much terror they sow now, when there is no such umbrella, and understand what can happen if Iran, their patron, sponsor, supplier and supporter, if that Iran had nuclear weapons. Equally, the region’s vital oil supplies could be severely threatened and efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East would collapse as one regime after another would rush to acquire nuclear weapons of their own. Worst of all, if nuclear weapons would be given to terrorists, or to terrorist states, a 65 year-old era of nuclear peace would be endangered for the first time.
Remember that for the tyrants in Tehran, Israel is only the little Satan. In their eyes, America is the Great Satan. America is their ultimate target. Yet for Israel, the threat from Iran could not be clearer. Iran’s leaders openly call for Israel’s destruction. They brazenly deny the Holocaust and they hope, and they say so just about every other day, they hope to wipe Israel off the map of the Middle East.
We must not allow such a regime to threaten the peace of the world, the peace and security of all humanity. All responsible members of the international community must do everything in their power to stop Iran from developing atomic weapons.
As we speak the United States is leading an international effort to impose sanctions on Iran. We believe those sanctions must have teeth. And to have teeth, they must bite deep into Iran’s energy sector. Simply put, they should prevent Iran from importing gasoline and from exporting oil. I believe that such measures might convince the regime to choose between continuing the weapons program and between assuring the regime’s future. But there must be tough, biting sanctions.
I said that we face great challenges to our security, but we also face unprecedented challenges to our legitimacy. Now this assault on our legitimacy comes in many forms – it comes from the so-called human rights bodies in the UN which would deny Israel its legitimate right of self-defense, it comes by falsely charging Israel’s political and military leaders with imaginary war crimes, and it comes by the outrageous waging campaigns to boycott, divest and sanction Israel. You are all familiar with that.
But I think that there is an even greater assault on our legitimacy. I think it is the attempt to perpetrate one of the greatest lies of history — to deny the connection between the people of Israel and the land of Israel; to cast the Jewish people as foreigners in the land of our forefathers. Make no mistake about it. The attempt to deny our history in this land is an attempt to deny our future in this land. That is why to defend our past is to defend our future.
I ask you all to join us in this battle to defend the truth. Remind them of Abraham and Isaac, remind them of Joshua and Samuel, remind them of David and Solomon. Remind the world that the land of the Bible is not in the heavens but right here on earth. And that the people of the Bible, are on the land of the Bible.
Let me tell you how I remind foreign officials of this connection of the Jewish people to our history and to this land. You see, they visit my office. And I say, Would you come and look at this little signet ring that I was given on loan from the Department of Antiquities? It was found next to the Wall of the Second Temple, but it dates back to the First Temple. It goes back some 2800 years ago, to the period of the Kings. It is a signet seal of a Jewish official, and it has a name written in ancient Hebrew, which I can read. The name is: Netanyahu. Netanyahu Ben-Yoash. I say, that’s my last name. My first name, Benjamin, dates back 1000 years earlier, to Benjamin the son of Jacob, who also walked these hills. That is our connection. And nobody can deny the connection of the Jewish people to the Jewish land.
Israel faces great challenges. We must prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. We must repel the assault on our legitimacy. We must find a way to achieve peace with our neighbors. We must all pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
After centuries in exile, I have come here to assure you, the people of Israel have come home and no force on earth will ever make us leave our home again.