Israel's Friends Speak Out:

A Night to Honor Israel

Tom DeLay (R-Tx), House Majority Leader

Cornerstone Church, San Antonio, Texas

November 24, 2002

Thank you for that kind introduction, John. And thank you for your continued leadership in rallying support for Israel.

I'm proud to join all of you tonight as our gathering offers the world a powerful demonstration of the deep reservoir of support that exists among the American people for the men and women of Israel.

Through their courage, their determination, and their refusal to surrender the precious freedom of their daily lives, the people of Israel offer the free world a stirring example of a society that refuses to retreat before evil aggression.

In the face of calculated brutality and horrific attacks, they've bravely soldiered on. And like the besieged Londoners that defied Hitler's bombs, their courage lights a beacon to free people resisting terrorism and aggression in countries around the world.

As recent events have shown us, we discover our true friends during moments of crisis. And we can all take pride in noting that, for many years, the State of Israel has had few more stalwart and dependable allies than American Christians.

The history of this event – now in its second decade – testifies to the steadfast and long-standing support Christians have offered to the Jewish state. And our support for Israel has never been more vital than it is today.

Our very survival demands that we address the threats facing free societies with boldness and moral clarity.

Fortunately, America is rallying freedom-loving people to confront terrorist groups and the terror states that stoke their wicked aspirations.

The bedrock of American leadership was the noble decision to describe the struggle against terror accurately and completely. President Bush rejected the voices urging him to temporize, to deny the threat, and to submerge the truth beneath diplomatic niceties.

President Bush rejected that counsel. In a single moment, President Bush's moral clarity swept aside years of paralyzing confusion.

Unfortunately, far too many countries stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the truth. Too many observers are still mired in the stagnant intellectual swamp of moral equivalence.

This school of thought is so bankrupt of meaning that it places a democratically-elected government practicing self-defense on the same moral plain as terrorists targeting innocents.

For that reason, all of us must speak out strongly in support of the policy to confront rogue regimes and pursue terrorist organizations wherever they hide and plot.

The essence of leadership is the strength to defend your core convictions in the face of opposition. It's not always pleasant.

It may require that you initially stand apart. But, if you're standing firm on a matter of sound, fundamental principle, in the fullness of time others will rally to stand with you.

As a Christian, I'm acutely aware of the need to defend Israel from those who seek her destruction.

As an American, I'm committed to nourishing the growth of democratic principles and the recognition of our universal, God-given rights.

And as someone with the deepest respect for Israel's commitment to freedom, I'm determined to support free societies that are targeted by terrorist groups and tyrannical regimes.

American Christians can point with pride to our recognition and support for the people of Israel. Compare it to the muddled moral relativism that supports a campaign on American campuses to force colleges and universities to divest companies that do business in Israel.

This attempt to defeat Israel through economic boycott draws strength from the shameful thinking that equates murder and self-defense. But the imperative to stand with Israel extends far beyond Jews and Christians.

To understand why the survival of Israel deeply engages America's interests, we need simply to recognize that the attacks in Israel are directed against freedom itself.

Tyrants and terrorists utterly reject the idea that people should determine their own destinies. And if their aggression were permitted to destroy Israel, terrorists and tyrannical regimes would be emboldened to target other free countries.

Both America and Israel are founded on a deeply optimistic assumption.

We believe that life within a free, open, pluralistic society liberates men and women to lead lives of meaning and accomplishment. It's the essence of liberal, democratic capitalism and it has raised more people to success and fulfillment than any other secular idea.

The aggression directed against Israel is an attack on freedom everywhere.

The case for standing with Israel is clear, compelling, and overpowering.

The citizens of free nations share a special bond that flows from a common set of enduring principles.

For this reason, the American people have always identified with the righteous struggle of the people of Israel. Americans and Israelis are allies in the historic battle between liberty and tyranny.

Israel and the United States differ greatly in size, population, and natural resources. But in the things that truly matter, our countries are strikingly similar.

The fundamental measures of our spirit, ideals, and aspirations show that Israel and America are kindred nations.

Our Founders were profoundly influenced by faith. Both countries practice religious tolerance. Both countries are filled with immigrants summoned by dreams. For people fleeing the storms of persecution, both countries have been safe harbors.

We respect freedom and honor the rights of the individual. We tolerate a vigorous public debate through unfettered speech and a free press. We welcome the conflict of contested elections.

We live under the rule of law. We support free markets and will trade with any responsible partner. We seek peace and good relations with any country that also seeks the same goals. And the United States and Israel respect human rights.

Since 1970, Israel changed its elected leader ten times. But regime changes within Israel's neighbors are an accident of fate.

We need to ask ourselves: Do we want the Middle East to look more like Israel or do we want Israel to look more like the rest of the Middle East?

In a land largely barren of freedom, we must preserve the lone fountain of liberty.

And this is a critical hour in the friendship between America and Israel.

Fortunately, several factors are strengthening our relationship.

There is strong support for Israel in the Congress. And, because of the clear doctrine laid down by President George W. Bush, the people of Israel have an understanding and steadfast ally in the war against terrorism.

I commend the President for framing the current conflict not as a matter of accommodating conflicting interests, but as a moral struggle that must be won and won decisively.

Through the Bush Doctrine, the President has asserted principled and determined leadership, and he has made it clear that we stand squarely with Israel.

President Bush led boldly when he declared war against the forces of international terrorism.

The President gave the world a clear choice: "You are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

America responded to his clear, direct, and forceful leadership. And we need to continue assessing threats with that same moral clarity.

All free men and women must rally to the defense of Israel. We must denounce the vile culture of death that menaces our ally. We need to remind the world, at every opportunity, that these regimes are not morally equivalent and America sides with liberty.

Terrorist snipers and homicide bombings violate every principle America upholds. Yet, some still question Israel's right to self-defense. They criticize the steps taken by a democratically elected government to block Arafat's evil campaign of death against Israeli civilians.

Arafat¹s Palestinian Authority has never attempted to improve life for the Palestinian people. It does almost nothing to raise living standards and foster opportunity for people living under its control.

During the Oslo peace accords, the Palestinian leadership signed a commitment to non-violence. Arafat agreed to resolve outstanding issues through negotiation.

He committed Palestinians to a peaceful resolution. He renounced the use of terrorism. And he promised to assume responsibility over all the elements of the PLO. He agreed to crack down on terrorism.

But since Oslo, Arafat¹s PA has been nothing more than a holding company for terrorist subsidiaries. Should we be surprised?

If a man¹s life work has been spent fomenting, orchestrating, and directing the slaughter of innocent people that man is a terrorist. And democracies must not negotiate with terrorists.

We know who is committing the murders. Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction are at war with Israel.

Israel can't be afraid to make its case by detailing Arafat's forty-year reign of terror. America and the world must be acquainted with the full record of his destruction of innocent life.

Arafat is using Palestinians as pawns, and people who truly seek peace deserve a leader who shares that goal. His life has been a case study in calculated violence.

What must happen? First, Arab states must finally accept Israel's fundamental right to exist. They must stop supporting the terrorism against Israel.

Let me make something clear to those who urge the United States to "pressure" Israel. America doesn¹t run out on her friends.

We must not let our foreign policy be crippled by the false fear that speaking explicitly about our commitment to freedom and democratic ideals will complicate rather than clarify the conflict.

All free men and women must defend Israel by denouncing the vile culture of death that menaces them. Homicide bombers aren't acts of individual rage. They are weapons dispatched by large terrorist networks.

Homicide bombers and the people who recruit, train, and arm them are engaged in the practice of evil. And this message needs to be repeated by every government that values membership in the community of civilized nations.

Unfortunately, many free countries have either forgotten or abdicated their responsibility to defend freedom.

Twice over the past sixty years, the people of Europe rejected attempts at totalitarian conquest. They succeeded because democracies rallied to roll back the aggression directed against Europe.

The indifference of the European powers to the plight of Israel is shameful. The states of Europe appear to believe that they can placate internal dissent by turning against the Jewish state. But all free countries must understand that Israel's fight is their fight.

This policy of abandoning Israel to evade a confrontation with evil ignores the most profound lessons of Europe's history.

Even after the terror of September 11 many people continue insisting that clear distinctions cannot be drawn. They maintain we must accept that differences in perspective can dictate different truths to different observers.

My friends, these critics of Israel are just plain wrong.

Israel must be allowed to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure that is commanding and controlling homicide attacks against Israel.

Only after Arafat¹s dictatorship gives way to a new generation of moderate Palestinian leaders, can we expect to see a peace that advances the true interests of the Palestinian people and ensures the survival of Israel.

But, in the search for a resolution, we can't permit the process to become the objective. The process has brought Arafat into Israel and allowed a terrorist organization to be built in Israel.

We can't suggest that polite diplomacy for its own sake should be bought with the blood of innocents.

We should reject the idea that the United States should serve in the Middle East as a disinterested negotiator charged with mediating between two good-natured nations earnestly striving for peace.

We cannot act as a mere broker. Israel is resisting a campaign of  death.

America must stick to our policy of unending hostility to terrorism. We must continue confronting terrorists wherever they are found in the world.

We can¹t ask Israel to do less than we now do ourselves.

We need to see Palestinian leaders working to end terrorism. We need to see them focused upon elevating living standards and building a modern society within Judea-Samaria.

They need to create economic opportunity for their people, not mobilize an entire society to destroy a country. When this progress is made, and the terrorists are gone, then Israel can negotiate with a true partner for peace.

We must be absolutely clear: terrorism will never be tolerated by the United States. Any state or movement connected with terrorism cannot be considered legitimate, regardless of the underlying cause or grievance.

We can¹t support terms that undercut Israel¹s ability to defend herself.

The security challenge that confronts Israel is enormous. I¹ve seen it for myself.

I¹ve been to Massadah. I¹ve toured Judea-Samaria. I¹ve walked the streets of Jerusalem. And I¹ve stood on the Golan Heights. The Jewish state is a tiny country.

The people of Israel can't be expected to make territorial concessions that render their State inherently indefensible.

So, let me conclude my remarks with the following pledge: Since Republicans became the majority party in the House of Representatives, our leaders have consistently supported Israel as a just and democratic nation.

Let me assure all of you tonight, as long I'm Majority Leader, I'll use every tool at my disposal to ensure that the Republican Conference, and the House of Representatives, continues to preserve and strengthen America's alliance with the State of Israel.

America has a clear duty to stand beside a democratic ally that is besieged by terrorists. I believe that most Americans feel the pull of kinship with the men and women of Israel.

United, we won't allow the flame of democracy to be extinguished by a wave of aggression. The terrorists attempting to destroy the State of Israel should know that America will never, never allow that to happen.

Thank you and God bless both Israel and America.