tv American Israel Public Affairs Cmte. AIPAC Conference CSPAN March 5, 2018 8:29am-10:12am EST
of concerns from people on capitol hill about that potential activity. do you share those concerns? >> guest: i will say that i have no updates as it relates to that. do i have concerns broadly about good policy, do i have concerns about media consolidations, am i concerned about us making sure that we have decisions that are based on a record that are objective, yes to all of those. but as it relates to that particular case, it probably will not surprise you that i have not been briefed, and so i will not comment further. >> host: brian fung is with "the washington post", and mignon clyburn is lead democratic commissioner on the federal communications commission, and she's been our guest on "the communicators." >> guest: thank you. >> we are live this morning for the annual conference of the american israel public affairs committee here in washington
d.c. minnesota democratic senator amy klobuchar and arkansas republican senator tom cotton expected to speak at the event this morning. live coverage here on c-span2. [inaudible conversations] ♪ ♪ >> please welcome from aipac's department of policy and government affairs, brad gordon, esther -- [inaudible] and marvin foyer. [applause] ♪ ♪ >> good morning. policy conference is all about learning, leading and lobbying. so on tuesday morning, thousands
of us will take action on capitol hill to stand united with israel. we will come together to urge members of congress to cosponsor legislation which will enhance the u.s./israel relationship and to insure that israel maintains its strength in the face of growing threats of war. >> aipac's lobbying agenda this year is focused on three core issues; providing israel with much-needed security assistance, opposing iran's regional aggression and nuclear ambitions and opposing boycotts of israel which also threaten u.s. companies. >> which brings us to our first message for congress: the united states must provide vital security assistance to israel. this is the foundation of our work together, the support
israel needs to defend itself by itself. annual security assistance is the most -- [inaudible] manifestation of american support for the jewish state. for decades america has understood that it's in our national interests that israel has the resources it needs to respond decisively. >> america depends on israel as the one stable democratic ally in the middle east. both countries share intelligence, technology and so much more. but instability grips the middle east, and israel faces growing security threats requiring her to invest more money in sophisticated and expensive weaponry. to the north israel faces hezbollah in lebanon with an
estimated 150,000 missiles and rockets capable of hitting every part of israel. and in syria, iran is cementing its military presence ever closer to israel's borders. to the south, hamas controls gaza where it is digging more and more tunnels into israel. and isis-affiliated terrorists roam the sinai peninsula. >> israel relies on our help to meet near-term threats like rockets from hezbollah and hamas as well as longer-term threats like a nuclear-armed iran. to help meet these threats, on tuesday we will ask lawmakers to fully fund $3.3 billion in
security assistance to israel, $500 million in cooperative missile defense funding and to
support the overall foreign aid bill. further, we will ask lawmakers to cosponsor the united states/israel security assistance authorization act of 2018, bipartisan legislation just introduced by representatives ileana ros-lehtinen and ted deutch and senators marco rubio and chris coons. [applause] yeah, they deserve a lot of credit. this bill supports agreed-upon funding level, and it dramatically strengthens u.s. cooperation with israel in many areas including enhancing and expanding israeli-based, american war reserve stockpiles which the u.s. can share with israel in an emergency. >> this brings us to our second message for congress. for over 25
years, aipac has been instrumental in bringing attention to the threat posed by
iran. we have worked with successive administrations and congresses to peacefully address the iranian nuclear threat. unfortunately, the 2015 nuclear deal with iran has not moderated iran's aggressive behavior. according to the state department, iran remains the leading state sponsor of terrorism. over the last year, it has established military bases throughout syria which threaten israel's northern border. >> iran's regional aggression directly challenges american interests and oural lies -- and our allies. as secretary of defense james mattis recently observed, everywhere we find trouble in the middle east, the same thing is behind it -- iran. just three weeks ago iran launched from syria a hostile,
unmanned aerial vehicle otherwise known as a uav or a drone. deep into israeli air space. this is a stunning provocation that highlights the -- [inaudible] that iran's presence in syria poses to israel's security. through diplomacy we must address this maligned behavior as well as shortcomings in the 2015 nuclear deal to insure that iran never acquires a nuclear weapon. [applause] >> when we go to the hill tomorrow, we will ask house members to cosponsor the iranian revolutionary guard corps economic exclusion act, bipartisan legislation that sanctions the irgc, introduced by representatives ed royce and
eliot engel. [applause] and in the senate, we will lobby in support of a bipartisan letter to secretary of state rex tillerson circulated by senators bob corker and robert menendez -- [applause] and it wasn't easy to get. [laughter] the letter urges stronger actions to counter iran's regional aggression and vigorous diplomatic engagement with our european allies to prevent iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon. [applause] >> now let's turn to our third message for congress, the need for america to fight economic boycotts against israel by united nations and other international governmental organizations. almost every day israel faces unfair criticism and attacks
that seek to stigmatize, delegitimize and isolate the jewish state. serious human rights crises grip our globe, yet israel is the only country the u.n. human rights council scrutinizes every time it meets. >> this issue became more pressing in 2016 when the council ordered the preparation of a database of companies conducting certain business beyond the 1949 armistice -- [inaudible] including east jerusalem and the jewish quarter of the old city. and in january 2018, the u.n. human rights commissioner, the u.n. high commissioner for human rights threatened 206 companies including 22 american companies. these threats directly support the objectives of the bds
movement and can set back the cause of peace. further, they could lead to international censure or worse for companies doing business with israel and could deter others from engaging in any trade or investment in the i jewish state. >> tomorrow we will ask both senators and representatives to cosponsor the israel anti-boycott act which prohibits u.s. companies from cooperating with international boycotts of israel. it is co-authored by senators portman and cardin -- [applause] it is co-authored by great friends of israel as well, portman and cardin, and by representatives process couple and vargas. >> now on tuesday you might get some pushback. you might hear the anti-boycott
act restricts free speech. but that is simply not true. nothing in this bill restricts constitutionally-protected free speech. the bill only regulates commercial conduct supporting international governmental boycotts that our government opposes. moreover, to reassure any who have expressed concern, the senate's bill sponsors are adding clarifying language to make it crystal clear that their bill protects the first amendment rights of all americans. [applause] >> so this is our -- [inaudible] provide ising israel with much-needed security assistance. >> opposing iran's nuclear aggression and ambition.
our friend noah. thank you for the warm reception -- [applause] winston and i -- [applause] look forward to meeting you. thank you. >> hello, everybody. i talk to only 200 people in the room finish. [laughter] and i assure winston that all these 18,000 people are -- [inaudible] so don't worry. [applause] i first came to america 30 years ago when i wanted to learn how to work with guide dogs. today we are proud to partner with schools in the united states and around the world. the friendship between america and israel isn't just a political one, it is based on the values that we both hold
dear, that people like salim, when given the right tools, can achieve anything. we look forward to continuing our partnership and thank all of you for the work you do. thank you so much. [applause] ♪ ♪ >> please welcome executive director of the nelson educational certain, rami hode. ♪ ♪ >> i am a progressive, and i am a zionist.
[applause] my grandmother came to israel in the 30s from poland. she came without money and property, but my mother received excellent public education. when she was sick, her health care was free. my grandmother worked as a preschoolteacher for 30 years. she received fair wages and social rights because she was a union member. [applause] in college i became involved in israel's labor community. the israel economy was booming, but inequality and poverty were on the rise. low wage workers were being left
behind. i joined a group who established a new labor union -- [inaudible] israel's largest union revives israel's labor movement union membership, which had been declined for decades, is now on the rise. [applause] 200,000 workers have organized in israel over the last decade. today i manage the nelson center named after the father of progressive zionism. we educate and train leaders, activists, organizers in universities, in the civil service and in different communities throughout the
country. the military academy we establish 60 meters from my office. next door is the bilingual hebrew-arab kindergarten where jewish and arab kids play together every day. [applause] these two institutions demonstrate the progressive zionist way. i deeply believe this is the right path for my country. [applause] in my work i meet progressive leaders from around the world. i am grateful that the majority of them support israel; however, some who call themselves progressives are openly hostile to israel.
they don't criticize israel's policy, they take a stand against its very existence as a jewish and democratic state. i know that many of you are familiar with the anti-israel boycotts diversement and sanction movement known as bds calling on countries and organizations to cut ties with israel. bds shrouds itself in social justice language, mistakenly creating a seemingly natural partnership with the progressive community. bds is based on hypocrisy. [applause] it is cloaked behind -- [inaudible] human rights, yet it completely ignores, rejects the importance of a jewish homeland.
[applause] if bds leaders cared for the -- [inaudible] they would support greater economic and social cooperation, not isolation. finish in truth, if bds leaders cared for peace, they would cooperate with us, progressive israelis who are fighting for peace. [applause] as a progressive working in israel's social justice and peace movements, as a zionist, i will always want to change israel for the better because i know that if out of the ashes we were able to create a jewish state, a language, a thriving
society, we can fix anything that needs to be fixed. [applause] we should do the exact opposite of what bds supporters advocate. they think that israel speaks one voice and all israelis are alike. we should provide the space for the multiplicity of voices -- [applause] they think that israel is not a real democracy. we know that the internal conflicts in the israeli society and the freedom to express even the strongest criticism are israel's greatest strengths. [applause]
i believe that israel is worth fighting to both protect and improve. wherever and however possible. at the core of the i jewish teaching -- of the i jewish teaching is the idea of the city on the hill, the belief that we must always be the light unto the nations. for me it means working towards a just and shared society. for all of you here, i ask that you continue to support israel. [applause] we must remember always the lessons of the past. if we believe in something, if it is change we seek, we must be
willing to act. thank you. [applause] ♪ ♪ >> israeli citizens live under constant threat. terrorist groups like hamas and hezbollah have tens of thousands of rockets and missiles aimed at the jewish state. in response, israel and america have partnered to create sophisticated defense systems, iron dome, david sling and arrow help protect israel by intercepting short, medium and long-range rockets and missiles right out of the sky. the cost of this defense is enormous. and israel looks to america for help. that's where aipac comes in. for decades aipac has played a central role in educating america's leaders about the threats facing israel, and thanks to the work of pro-israel activists across america, lawmakers have repeatedly passed
legislation to fund israel's vital missile defense programs. when israel faced a barrage of rockets from the gaza strip in 2014, you worked with aipac and your members of congress to provide $225 million in emergency funding for iron dome. and every year you work with a aa pack to help secure -- aipac to help secure hundreds of millions more for israel's missile defense. thank you for supporting aipac and insuring that israel can always rely on america to help keep israelis safe, both today and for years to come. ♪ ♪ [applause] ♪ ♪ >> please welcome best selling author and award-winning
journalist, claire are shipman. -- claire shipman. [applause] >> this week we will hear from congressional leaders and officials from both sides of the aisle on the hot button issues facing america in the middle east. our next guest is one such leader. an analysis by the macdill news service ranked her first among all 100 senators in sponsoring or cosponsoring bills that were enacted into law in the last congress. she's a champion of the u.s./israel alliance. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome from the great state of minnesota, senator amy klobuchar. [applause] ♪ ♪ >> thank you, senator. >> well, thank you. it's great to be here for this intimate discussion with you and thousands of our friends. >> exactly. so many of our friends.
you have been a consistent supporter of the u.s./israel relationship. talk about why that issue is so important to you. >> well, a lot of it, of course, has to do with home, and i know we have some great minnesota aipac people here, and we're excited about that. [applause] and it's also, has a lot to do with israel's position in the world. this is a democracy, a beacon of democracy in what is a really tough if not incomparably tough neighborhood. and when i talk to people at home, they see it in that way. if they're not jewish, they see the importance of that friendship. if they are jewish, they always remind me that we've had not one, not two, not three, but four jewish senators in the last few decades in minnesota -- [applause] and we have a really powerful community despite our very scandinavian reputation and the fact that four of the five
members of the gold medal-winning u.s. curling team were from our state. i would like to bring that up. [applause] >> that's important. >> and so this community in minnesota is what really got me so interested in this, bringing me to israel while i was running for the senate. i was the d.a. at the time, and i still remember going there and meeting a family whose house, the roof, a rocket shell had gone right through their home. their tower was doing homework -- their daughter was doing homework, and if it wasn't for the alert system, she would have been dead. and hearing their story actually reminded me of the work i did as prosecutor, and when we would be in these high-crime neighborhoods and how people would be terrified every single day of what was going to happen to them next. ..
>> and we were meeting with the prime minister and he was noting to me that he has a lot of relatives in minnesota and he has been there and he said when i got back to our state, i could tell them that i had met with the israeli prime minister of minnesota. that was kind of amusing, but what was most amusing was he was saying at that to me as i was sitting next to the senator from new york. >> you probably know as well as as anybody these days, given the current hyper partisan environment, issues on which democrats ab republicans can work together. is it possible that this issue can remain a bipartisan issue and especially in congress? >> i think it can and a lot depends on the jewish community
in america because i believe that you can find common grounds while still standing your ground and that has been really a hallmark of how i've worked in congress and we've seen this in congress working with israel, whether it's iron dome, the iran sanctions and the 98-2 vote out of the united states senate or whether it's the memorandum of understanding, the 38 billion dollars, largest amount ever put into israel security. at the same time, as you know, things have come very polarized and so the way i would suggest and your leaders know this, and you know this better than anyone, to try to do everything, and stop people from injecting partisanship into this israeli-american relationship and push back, you're a republican reach out to suspects. if you're a democrat, reach out to republicans. getting youth involved and
seizing on some of those issues that israel and that this community has long stood up for, whether it is taking on climate change, whether it is immigration reform, whether it is standing up for refugees. these are issues that the jewish community has been uniquely active on and i think that those are issues that are appealing to young people, and ways of talking about and teaching people what happened with the holocaust and what the jewish community has experienced because so many of them don't really know that history. and so, that's why i appreciate how aipac has reached out in that way and the last thing for me, just as you do, findings friends where maybe you didn't know there were friends before. i have spent a lot of time travelling the world with john mccain who i talked to this weekend, he said to say hello, by the way. [applause] >> with senator mccain and senator graham and we've spent actually not this last new
year's eve, but the one before that, we were in the baltics, something you've covered, and ukraine, and john mccain has always stood up for me when we're meeting with male leaders around the world. en he says that senator klobuchar is the lead democrat and she will go firstment there we were with poroshenko in a blizzard and he was going to show the strong american might of russia and first went to mccain and gave him a machine gun, true story, he then went to lindsey graham and gave him a pistol. all the cameras are on, we have thousands of people and i thought what am i going to get and he gave me two daggers, that's a true story. exactly, nothing at all, but it just reminded me, again, john mccain has been through everything in his life, but he still sees the importance of not just going with party, but
reaching out and thinking of country. and i think that's what we have to think about when we talk about this relationship. [applaus [applaus [applause]. >> thank you, i imagine him to be a great travelling buddy. >> he's a lot of fun. >> and full funding to israel and the budget request, it continues to look for big cuts in international affairs, spending, foreign aid. how do you think that congress will deal with both the request for security assistance to israel, but overall foreign aid and how do you talk about the issue of maintaining spending on foreign affairs to your constituents at home? >> well, this is a really timely question because we have a budget right before us coming up. and i thoroughly believe that congress is going to stand up, put that money in the budget, that was promised, as a memorandum of understanding, to fully fund our commitment to aid to israel, so that's the
first part. the second thing is the foreign aid in general and i have so appreciated the jewish community standing up for foreign aid at some of the bleakest time, for foreign aid outside of israel and i think part of that no one better than the jewish community can make the case for refugees since israel was a haven for refugees from the beginning. [applause] >> secondly, we look at how, when we have many people that would like to cut off nearly all of foreign aid, how we make that argument. first is national security. i think it was secretary mattis recently said, the more you cut the state department shts the more ammunition i have to buy. there's a clear relationship between a strong military and strong diplomacy and strong foreign aid. our congressman in minnesota, a conservative republican, he and i decided to make the event at
home, refugee committee keeping foreign aid strong. those arguments done on a bipartisan basis, important. the last is economics. george bush got this in africa, all the work he did to reduce aids. bill clinton got this and i think it's very important you make those two arguments, security and long-term economics. [applause] >> very, interesting, good to hear about the joint events at home. we have just about a minute left, but on the issue of security, as you know, last month, iranian forces in syria sent a drone into israel and led to a series of actions that led to a downing of the f-16 and the syrian air defense system and i think that incursion highlighted the real and growing threat that israel faces on its northern border. how can the u.s. and israel work together to confront that iranian threat in syria and ensure that israel gets the support it needs to deal with the threats? >> i think this was a real wakeup call for washington and
that is that we must stand tall and we must be firm on this, that iran has been building up their military presence in syria and in lebanon. we're talking right on israel's northern border. and the first is what i've been talking about, the importance of aid, and keeping our aid strong for israel. i'd say the second is being very firm on these sanctions against iran and enforcing them to a t and enforcing the agreement. and to the secondary sanctions about making sure that we go after companies that are doing business through hezbollah and other terrorist groups, and making this a major priority in our foreign policy or it's just going to get worse and worse. and the last thing i would say is just the importance of taking on anti-semitism across the world because we're going
to have trouble getting allies against iran, if we just let that fester and that means that the senators join together to push back at the u.n., for the anti-semitism that we have seen there. [applause] >> and it also means securing ourselves internationally, but at home. our community centers in minnesota that were targeted. what we've seen in even swastikas on homes in the last year in my state. so, that means security money, but it also means a culture of reaching out to people and making sure that people stand tall for israel. and i'd end with one story to remind you of this importance of reaching out in today's kind of crazy political culture. and that is the ads that most went viral in our twin cities during the super bowl. it was not a vikings ad because sadly they didn't make it to the super bowl, but it was an ad, a video of an interfaith
event where one of our most popular rabbis threw a football to an imam and he caught it and ran in for a touchdown and i think the message to the young people in our state was that kind of reaching out in a good way, reaching out, but at the same time standing our ground for israel and finding common ground where we can. so that's what i thank aipac for doing and thank you for having me. >> host: amy klobuchar. thank you for your time this morning. ♪ . [applause] >> politics in america is contentious. in fact, by some measures, democrats and republicans are more divided today than at any other time in the last two
decades. but america's support for israel transcends partisan politics so when it comes to strengthening america's support for support must come from both sides of the aisle. that's where aipac comes in. for decades aipac has work to strengthen, protect and promote the u.s.-israel alliance by urging bipartisan support in congress. bipartisanship is more than just a nice idea it's the most effective way to build lasting concensus with israel. there are two reasons why. first, a partisan approach will ultimately fail when the opposing party ultimate am i comes into power. bipartisanship is the only way to effect policies that keep israel safe no matter which party is in control. second, consider the math. while most bills require a simple majority to pass, in the senate, each senator has the right to filibuster or block a bill's consideration.
to overcome that opposition, the bill needs support of three-fifths of the senate which one party rarely holds. therefore, as the year goes by a consistently pro-israel approach has a bipartisan aso much. thank you for working with aipac to ensure that america continues to stand with israel through bipartisan support through congress. >> please welcome former governor of massachusetts deval patrick. ♪ >> good morning. good morning, everybody. back in october of 2014, not long after the first of two really successful trade missions to israel, i was asked to speak at a cjp event in boston as the featured speaker,
i might add, and my happy assignment was to report on the exceptional economic and cultural results of our works to strengthen ties with israel and the region. at the podium, just before me, a young israeli man spoke about his experience serving in the idf as a soldier and how he had come to realize the primary importance of building relationships of trust and understanding between israelis and palestinians, to create in a phrase, i will never forget, an infrastructure of hope. now, that young man was supposed to be the warm-up act for me, but he stole the show and my heart. he captured my attention and my admiration and when my turn came i put my notes aside and told the audience i want to bet on whatever this young man is
trying to do. and so i have. [applause] >> in the years since, i've supported and worked with him on a remarkable initiative, really the foundations of that infrastructure of hope. and i'm not the only one impressed by what he has accomplished. late last year, force magazine named him one of their top 30 social entrepreneurs under 30 and i think you will be impressed today as well. ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to introduce the founder and executive director of our generation speaks. [applaus [applause] >> thank you, governor patrick. from the very beginning, thank you, governor. and thank you, aipac. i'm pleased to be here today to address aipac an organization that has accomplished much in
support of america, israel, and the jewish people. i'm the founder and ceo of our generation speaks, a program which began in 2015 and is dedicated through the proposition that israel and palestinians can work together to create a more peaceful and prosperous futu prospero prospero prosperous future. [applause] >> now, how did this happen? my military service introduced me firsthand to the complexities of our region. i wasn't altogether certain what to do about it until i came to boston, until i came to brandeis. [applause] >> brandeis. it was there that i came to believe that all things were possible. i was comforted by the warm embrace of the politically diverse jewish community that
worked tirelessly to build bridges of understanding between frequently hostile communities. i studied at brandeis with students from every social, economic, ethnic and religious background and i saw that they shared many of the same dreams, and i saw how the extraordinary creativity of the entrepreneurs in boston's university and business communities prompted to assure the economic reality, that promised security in uncertain times. i believe the overwhelming majority of humanity shared the same inspirations, to live in peace and security in a place where their children can aspire to a better future. it's from politics, we all want peace and security. we all need peace and security. so, i resolved to do something about it. i realized that i had very
little knowledge of palestinians and no opportunities to interact with them unless on active duty. i understood that nothing would change unless we created authentic opportunities to interact with each other. i wanted to create an infrastructure of hope on both sides because i knew that only then could we build trust and finally cooperation. with the support of brandeis and the kraft family we created a program that brings israelis and entrepreneurs to boston for three months each summer. [applaus [applause] >> they live together and learn about each other's lives, and they study entrepreneurship. they form teams and they create businesses. since its inception, we've
launched certain startups and graduated 46 alumni all dedicated to working together to change the dynamic in the region. [applause] >> one venture provides highly trained palestinian software engineers to israeli high-tech companies, scrambling for such help. and another does genetic education and testing of israeli bedowins to reduce the incidents of genetic diseases. a third venture brings solar technology to areas in the region that have limited electric power, also in gaza. [applause] >> to date, our companies have raised more than $1 million and we've received the 2017 new england innovation award. [applause] >> now, beyond financial success, our generation speaks
believes. i believe when people have common goals, when they rely upon each other to feed their families, when they're actual partners, when they work together every single day, they can't help, but know each other. and through another person, hope it replace hate. [applaus [applause] >> now, this is not the cure-all, but it's a great place to start. as the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. the second best time is today. ladies and gentlemen, it's time to start planting trees. [applaus [applause] >> i do not know how to resolve the seemingly unbridgeable conflict between our peoples.
there isn't a simple solution or magic trick. i and many like me know the status quo isn't working nor sustainable. resulting conflicts demands engagement. we need to find opportunities for both sides to speak, to speak about anything, to speak about everything, to hear each other, to solve the conflict between us, calls for our honesty and engagement and it calls for realization that a situation is not working for either side. [applaus [applause] >> a solution calls for new thinking based on the ancient jewish values of compassion and empathy. we need to plant the new tree, grounded in hope, and based on these principles. our generation, my generation,
must step forward and begin the long road to share trust. [applaus [applause] >> after all, in 20 years, it's going to be my generation that is tasked with both the burden and the opportunity to lead. we must create the foundation now so my generation can advance, sustain, and protect a lasting peace. [applaus [applause] >> it begins with interruption, and then comes trust. trust leads to civic and economic engagement and this is how we move the needle. thank you all very much. [applause]. ♪ >> please welcome from united hebrew congregation in st. louis, missouri rabbi brigita
rosenburg. ♪ >> good morning. at aipac we learn that relationships fuel just about everything and we know from experience that the personal connections we make with our country's leaders can have an impact on their decisions and the way they view the world. some friendships become more famous than others, but every single discussion, each interaction, has the potential to change the conversation and sometimes even the course of history. in the 1940's rabbi sam thurmon led the congregation where i
now serve as senior rabbi. rabbi thurmon was active in the community and in world affairs. like many missouri men of his time, he was a member of a fraternal organization dedicated to the betterment of his beloved state. one of rabbi thurmon's close friends moved away from missouri and in 1945 became the 33rd president of the united states, harry s truman. [applause] >> the two men wrote to one another often during years that saw unspeakable tragedy in europe, unimaginable changes here in the united states, and ultimately, unbelievable triumph for the jewish people. throughout it all, the rabbi
remained a sounding board, an advisor, a constant voice, a close friend. this is the story about the importance of relationships. this is the story of sam and harry. harry. >> we interrupt this program to bring you a special bulletin from cbs news. a press association announces that president roosevelt is dead. >> vice-president larh harry tr will be president truman will be in the white house. >> dear mr. president, you know fell well how long i've trusted in your faithfulness-- devotedly, rabbi thurmon. >> my thanks for your generous
words of approval and the kindness which your letter conveys. your prayers are indeed a source of strength in these days of new tests. very sincerely yours, harry. >> the general union respect and friendship felt within these letters between the president and the rabbi also extended to personal visits. rabbi thurman repeatedly traveled to our nation's capital throughout truman's presidency and most especially in the turbulent months leading up to the establishment of the jewish state. >> dear mr. president, ma i may i express my personal gratitude for your questions. i have a firm conviction that you will do what in your power lies to accomplish a just and humane decision with reference to the settling of jews,
especially those who are now homeless and stateless. >> your very kind letter is indeed appreciated. it was fine of you to write me as you did. >> dear mr. president, thank you again for so generously taking the time in your very busy calendar to see me and to talk with me as only true friends can. >> i certainly appreciated your good letter and i am very happy that you enjoyed your visit here. i told you exactly how i felt with regard to the world situation and all its ramifications. sincerely yours, harry. >> in november of 1947, within days of rabbi thurman's white house visit, the united nations general assembly passed the now famous resolution calling for palestine to be partitioned between arabs and jews. the arab world immediately rejected the partition plan,
fighting broke out and continued through the many months ahead. in may of 1948, rabbi thurman traveled again to the white house and just 24 hours before bengorian was declared a state, the rabbi always wanted to speak up, sent another letter to the white house. >> my visit with you last week is now a most cherished memory. it's a deep faith which your words inspired in me that the courageous sons and daughters of israel will have your support in the partition plan in palestine. >> dear rabbi thurman, i enjoyed the visit with you very much and appreciated most highly your letter. it looks as if the palestine situation is very dark this morning. although we recognize the jewish free state, as soon as they organized the government and ask for recognition.
>> dear mr. president, my heart is full of thanksgiving for the courageous and noble action which you took by your immediate recognition of israel. may god bless you and the nation which is blessed by your high and dauntless leadership. >> in the years that followed, the two men remained close h rabbi thurman gave the benediction at president truman's second inauguration in the winter of 1949, marking the first time that a rabbi offered prayers at such a gathering. each gentleman was on hand to mark the achievements of the other until on a cold winter's day in 1963, former president harry s truman served as an
honorary pallbearer at the funeral service for his dear friend, a man who understood the historic times he lived in, a man who understood the power of relationships, a man who always chose to lead. thank you. [applause] ♪ >> i'm chairman of the board of combined arms in houston, texas. i work for texas tech university in the military veterans department. >> i'm an air force worked in desert storm. >> and we focused on helping
out veterans integrate back to the work force. >> see if we can help them get jobs, get off the streets for homelessness, access to health care. >> so we're very excited to learn more about the jewish people, the israeli state. >> look at what successful here and see if we can't influence some of that in our community, helpi helping. >> one of the things i was surprised at is the diversity of the israelis, they're diverse in all different places. >> people from all over the world, different backgrounds. >> they're united in one cause, the presidenter evaluation of israel, the jewish state. >> they're now in a war zone. the thing that most surprised me coming to israel is the proximity of the neighborhoods as close as they are together with people that literally want to wipe you off the face of the earth. >> and the size of new jersey,
and that's something-- when you go and see all of these amazing historical religious sites next to each other, and generally across the border. >> and these are a mighty, hearty people. they have to touch their children to run when you hear the siren and that mothers should have to make a decision about which child they grab. there's something very heartbreaking about that. >> that's something that people in the united states have no concept of. they just don't. something that veterans can connect with, you know, because a lot of us do have experience with that kind of thing, but not with our families and not next to our home where we live. . >> learning about the idea and the israeli forces has been eye opening for me. we've toured a facility where they have been injured, serving their country, and the things
they're doing i find-- i find it simply amazing. >> look at how they incorporate the entire family into the healing process. >> something that stood out to me that i can take back home, i heard from some phenomenal israeli women in combat units and i'd like to take that back to a women's veterans conference. we have a lot of similarities and nice to hear a different perspective. >> it makes me optimistic that there are great paths that we can follow and model and replicate that israel is using here. >> it's very important that these trips are happening because we need a better understanding back home. we need a better understanding from our military community, we need a better understanding from our political community. we need a better understanding from our civilian community of how important israel is to the united states in this region and how important it is for us to support israel and try to
make sure that this is a peaceful solution here. >> amazing that we have an ally in israel, standing for our shared cultural values and beliefs. our democracies, our values are very similar and i think that one thing that we are all in agreement is ver-- service. as we bring veterans here, that serves as a bridge that goes a long way because we have the shared experiences. [applaus [applause] >> please welcome army veteran and air force veteran leann wheeler. [applaus [applause] >> thank you.
travelling to israel with aipac education foundation was a life-changing experience. no one understands more than the women who serve in the armed forces that the middle east is a very dangerous place. to visit the borders israel defends, to see where those battles took place, and to hear from the israelis themselves, both civilian and military, helped us to truly appreciate why the u.s.-israeli allies is so important. >> military service taught me we all need a battle buddy and someone who watches, and it's a rare thing to find a battle buddy who shares our values. when we do, it's a force multiplier. the american-israeli relationship is just that, a force multiplier. [applaus [applause] >> joining us in the audience today are fellow veterans who
care deeply about politics. [applause] >> . [applause] >> i also know that we have many of our brothers from the idf here as well. [applaus [applause] >> so, those fellow veterans, we care deeply about politics, national security and ensuring the success and continued cooperation between the united states and israel. each of us made the journey to israel with the aief and each of us have made a personal and
deep connection to the issue. >> to all the people who make trips like this possible, your steadfast effort to educate and inform us about israel is a force multiplier as well. we sincerely thank you for this opportunity. [applaus [applause]. ♪ >> it's an up feeling knowing that you owe your existence to, well, hundreds of thousands, millions of people around the globe. but i really do. 30 years ago, my father, he walked a prisoner of the gulag and he walked off the bridge as a free man in a free world.
the truth is my parents said that's not the moment that my father became free. the moment my father became free was the moment that he decided to speak his own mind and fight for his rights, both for his rights to immigrate. >> and a group of activists in the soviet union, at the time, there were millions, millions of jews living behind the iron curtain. as the years went on, they became more and more targeted to the point where when jewish activists were advocating to immigrate from the soviet union, they were ostracized and many of them lost their jobs or were arrested.
it became symbols, not just for the soviet moment, but for the human rights movement. >> when my father was arrested for the next ten years, my mother flew from place to place and went from community to community, from world leader to world leader and everywhere, just everywhere, marched with her. and millions of people fought, didn't fight for me. they didn't even fight for my father or mother, they fought for us, for our people. it was really a time when every single organization across the spectrum, right, left, middle, didn't matter what their politics was, every single jewish organization really came together in order to fight for soviet jews. >> it was announced in 1987 mickhail gorbachev was going to make a visit to washington d.c.
we wanted to provide the welcoming that he and his colleagues in the soviet government would never forget. the march on washington took place sunday, december 6th, 1986. now, by that time a number of long-term prisoners were releas released. and this was a seminal event for our community, for our country. by the end of the day, there were more than 250,000 americans, jews and non-jews who gathered on the mall to speak in one voice, to send a very simple message to mickhail gorbachev and his government and that message was let my people go. >> as a result to do what you
are doing today, to stand up, to speak out and to make your voic voices-- >> it took at least another year, year and a half before we started seeing a significant increase in the numbers and when it did happen, it was like opening the flood gates. >> members of congress put together a program almost $10 billion in loan guarantees to israel to help with this absorption. israel has repaid every single one of those loan guarantees and you've had a million of the most educated, successful, committed people coming to israel and contributing a enormous amount to israeli society. >> people imagine that a hero is this strong, always right, always focused, always determined kind of person. the problem is, if that's our
image of heroism, we'll never live up to it, we're bound to fail. the truth is, everyone did something heroic. the people who we know traveled in the cold to be arrested next to the embassy. they did something heroic. the kids who wrote letters in their free time instead of playing games did something heroic. what was so powerful about the struggle was the way the jewish people really came together as a nation, as a unified nation. once that's the image of what kind of people achieve change in the world, i think it's easier to believe that we can do it, too. please welcome natan and his daughter rachel. [applaus
[applause]. ♪ >> wow. >> . >> guest: thank you. thank you very much. it's an honor to be here today. it's an honor to share a stage with my father. it's an honor that my mother is sitting here. [applaus [applause] >> and it's an honor to be mere minutes walk away from where 30 years ago 250,000 people came together to speak up. [applaus [applaus [applause] >> and while i wasn't there and since i wasn't born, i didn't share the struggle, i did hear a lot about it. when i was eight years old and we met a new neighbor for the first time and i remember she
looked at you and she sighed and said, life was so good when you were in prison. [laughter] >> she said, you know, we came together, and we stood hand in hand and we marched in all of these rallies, we had a cause. those were the good days. now, as i became an adult and i became involved in, you know, public conversations and i saw firsthand the vitriol and the anger that many issued raised amongst us, i started feeling some of that wistfulness that i heard in my neighbor's voice, yeah, life was good when you were in prison, but at the same time, i started resenting the comparison between your generation and mine. i thought that it was unfair to hold us to the standard of your unity. i mean, yes, you united, but you had a very clear enemy to unite against, the soviet
union, and you had a very clear cause to unite around, getting the jews out of there. whereas for us, we have many enemies and many causes and our causes sometimes clash. how can we be expected to be united like you. so, you know, i want to put this questions question to you. in what way is that a model for my generation today. >> well, i'm sorry to disappoint you, my daughter, but i don't think that our struggle was that type of unity that our neighbor, you, people are dreaming about. of course, it was one with victory and the responsibility was a victory for the jews and
in new york and moscow. day-to-day from inside, it was competition of different jewish organizations or student's struggle and union of council and many other organizations who suspected one another, who didn't trust one another. who accused one another in betraying. so, it was very, very jewish type of unity. [laughter] >> and i give you one example. we had to send-- travel very important documents, let's say one hundred sent a letter of support. we want the organization to have the document. so we put it through tourists who take risk for smuggling the documents twice. in order to deliver them, to
two different soviet organizations who are on the same street in new york in manhattan because they will never share information, or imagine, the jewish activists in moscow was divided between this big debate whether they're fighting for human rights or only for jewish education, and then some very important news from american embassy. in two weeks, there comes senators and they want before they meet for the first time to come and meet us, and then take our documents to radio. so it will be such an upgrade of our status and that kept organizers making sure that kgb will not know until the last moment and the last moment, everything is ready and the senator-- and they're waiting and some
refused and say-- they wanted separate meetings. thank god the senator had a sense of humor and he says, you know, we don't have time for two meetings, but i have two rooms in my suite in hotel, everyone can go through. so, then it was one meeting and theirs was one struggle, but our unity was not different from your disunity. [applaus [applause] >> you know, it's funny, what you're saying does strike a chord for me, because even no i can't experience the struggle as i said, i did experience something almost as intense. shubot meals at our table where we disagreed about everything. who created whom. did god create man or did man create god. we disagreed about politics and in the background, my beloved--
your mother had the energy and fire which stood up to the soviet authorities for years and years and stand up to you. why are you sending the girls to religious schools, why are they wearing terribly long skirts, they'll never meet husbands this way. and i remember that that amazing thing, looking back as an adult was not that we loved each other, that goes without saying, was that we never tried to harmonize by removing topics from the table. we argued as we loved and we loved as we argued and the same conversations even though we were never united within agreement within it. i think that's what you're saying, you're united in one conversation? >> no, i think i'm saying something bigger than this. [laughter] >> it's not enough to have one conversation. but you look in retrospect on all of these organizations who are competing, and all of this
jewish activists who have very strong opinions, each of them had its place and each of them played a very important role. in fact, without the students, the activists, establishment will just silent, but without establishment mobilizing this huge financial and political support, will not be effective. so, of course, those dissidents on the soviet union who believed that our struggle has to be connect today human rights, we are broadening. those who insisted that our time was about-- made sure that those will be israel. and those struggling for jewish innovation, they are responsible for the unique netwo network-- so everybody had a place, everybody had their role and
i'm sure if in 50 years from now, we look on today's debate, we'll find out that many of our disagreement have sense, it's good, but you know, i'm talking all the time about what, from my own point of view, our struggle for you. you tell what it means for you, for your generation. how all this struggles help you to take part. >> i think the time i really felt that they do was three years ago when my son was five and t and-- i was scared, scared to take him to kindergarten, scared to walk to the park and i knew i had to prepare him so i sat him down and i said, look, we live in israel, and there are people who don't want us here. they hate us, they want to scare us away by hurting us and our country will protect us, our army will protect us, but
it's something might still happen and we need to be prepared. so, here is your job. my job will be try and stop the person trying to hurt you. your job will be to run away. grab your is -- sister and yell and run away and we practiced. they took a teddy bear that was the terrorist and i fought it and my son ran away. i have no idea what the neighbors thought was going on and i thought, oh, my god, are you crazy? why are you telling terrible things to this little kid, but i also knew that i had to because the realities of jewish life will hit him eventually. he needs to be prepared and that made me think about you and the morning when you woke me up and you said a terrible thing happened, a jew killed the prime minister. at the gravity in your voice and in your face stayed with me and shaped me all these years and i thought of a very different morning when your father woke you up and said a wonderful thing happened, and
he closed the shutters and lowered the voice and said stalin died, and stalin want today kill us all. so, as a jew you must know that and rejoice, but when you go to kindergarten, don't let anyone see it and i thought of all of these generations of jewish parents preparing their kids for reality of life at a very young age and passing on our values, our heritage, to the next generation. and even though i lived in israel and in prosperity and freedom, the fear of all of these struggles gives me strength to continue doing the same. >> rachel with -- [applaus [applause] >> rachel, we are something very important. what you just now said, look, three, four generations of our family lived through most exciting times of our country, tragedy of holocaust, and the
creation of the state of israel, and then into exile and then defense of jewish life and then left and right against those who want to demonize us. and then in these, three generations of family and-- there's evil, you have to know to recognize it, and you have to resist it. maybe that is the thread that connects all generations. [applause] >> maybe. i'm interested to see what my kids, what your kids, tell theirs. we'll find out. thank you. >> thank you. ♪ . [applause]
♪ >> please welcome back to the stage, claire shipman. thank you. earlier we heard from senator closu closure klobuchar and now we'll hear from another. distinguished in the u.s. army, since garnered a reputation in the senate as an active voice on foreign policy issues. and is an outspoken critic of iran's aggression through the middle east. and he joins us, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome arkansas senator tom cotton. [applaus
[applause] >> thank you very much for that very warm welcome. thanks for the kind int introducti introduction. i feel like i should have an oscar to present. >> just a few people here. as a member of congress, you've been a vocal and consistent supporter of the u.s.-israel relationship and i want to ask you what i asked senator clo klobuch klobuchar. where does this come from? >> personally where it comes from for me, everything i know about the modern nation of israel and its connection to the united states, it goes back so deeply in our history. you know, the pilgrims called america a new zion, and america's always been welcoming and open to the jewish people in a way that you could come to america and be fully american and also fully jewish, which isn't always the case in
nations around the world and also my personal travels to israel i've noted on several occasions since elected know the congress. more deeply though, where it comes, not just from me, but for the united states as a whole, is from our people. you know, administrations, presidents, secretaries of state, come and go. some are more supportive of that alliance than others. but congress is the source, in washington, of the continued bedrock relationship between the united states and israel. [applause] >> but don't clap too much for congress. but the reason for that is because the people who send us here are the true foundation of that relationship. it's the relationship between the american people and the israeli people that make it a unique relationship with any nation that we have in the world. and that's -- [applause] >> that's why you continue to see overwhelming majorities of both the house and the senate
supporting the u.s.-israel relationship. >> thank you. you served our country in the u.s. army for nearly five years on active duty, including two combat tours. so we want to thank you for that. thank you for your service. [applaus [applause] >> how has that experience helped shape your view of america's role in the world and how did that experience give you some sense of understanding about what israel might be facing in terms of that threat to its borders? >> you know, some people ask me if, well, did your time in the army shape your role for you? it's close, but kind of exact opposite. i joined the army in large part because of my role. and it was reinforced in a couple of different ways. a generjegeneral level about ams role in the world and what we face and the specific nature of the threat that the u.s. and israel face. first at a general level. we live in a dangerous chaotic
world. it always has been that, it always will be that. it's great to have strong diplomacy, to have international accords, to have treaty allies, but at bottom, foreign policy, geopoliticals starts at the end of an m-4 rifle, unfortunately, it has to end there sometimes. no matter what you have, if you don't have a military capable of defending your people and protecting its interests and allies around the world then you're not prepared to cope with that world. [applause] >> one day-- one day the lion may lay down with the lamb, but until that day i'd rather be the lion than the lamb. but the second more specific point, is the nature of the threats we face. when i was in baghdad in 2006 we patrolled a couple of different neighborhoods. one was almost exclusively shiite, the other one was
mixed, so it had more ethnic violence, but we faced threats from both sides in those two neighborhoods that really reflect the continued threats in the middle east that you're not safe in today. and one hand predominantly shiite neighborhoods you had shiite militia and the revolution guard force and they would supply a deadly roadside bomb, explosive formed projection tile. and they could penetrate armor, including an abrams tank. and you had fighters, al qaeda and iraq, and more islamic state, supported by sunni extremist groups going back to their roots in the brotherhood from the very beginning. and those two threats are still there today. you still have the threat of sunni extremism in the form of al qaeda or the islamic state. you still have radical shiite action that is led by, mostly
is controlled by iran. those threats exist to israel today and us as well and that's why it's so important that we have our partnership not only with our two nations, but similarly situated nations in the middle east that also face those two threats. >> well, and speaking of iran, you were vehemently opposed to the nuclear deal with iran. >> you could say that. [laughter] >> . [applause] . continue to be outspoken on your views on that topic. president trump lays out what he sees is the flaws in the deal and how it should be fixed. do you think the deal can be fixed and what do you think the u.s. position is? >> i don't think that we can sit down with ayatollah and have a new deal. ...
so on and so forth. that doesn't require us to go back to iran to negotiate a deal. it just as if iran takes these actions which they are allowed to do under the nuclear deal we will take these severe punitive actions. >> and make that public. >> we can pass legislation to congress that would reflect that. we would want the european partners to make that same commitment as well, make it a multilateral agreement. >> beyond the nuclear question iran's regional aggression as you know has continued to expand. expand. we see it in syria and yemen and iraq. do you think the u.s. as the synergy to counter iran in the region? is it an effective strategy and one that would stop iran from cementing deposition in syria on israel's border? >> more so than we did 18 months ago. we are moving in the right
direction in terms of the sanctions actions the administration has taken against specified iranian persons and organizations. [applause] against the personnel that we now have present in syria, , soe of the diplomatic relationships we built not just within israel but with like-minded nations in the gcc like united arab emirates. we still have work to do the most fundamental point that this administration sees iran for what it is, and aggressive theocratic regime that is exporting violence and instability among the region. not a partner, not someone we can turn the neighborhood of width and hope there's a balance between iran and its allies, saudi arabia and its allies. there's more practical steps to take but we've come a long wait in the last 18 months. >> finally, to step back for a minute you also said -- sit on the senate intelligence committee. i note the use intelligence committee recently presented
their annual worldwide threat assessment to the committee. what do you see you can talk about with us as the greatest security threats facing the united states today? >> terrorism remains a a serios threat at all times. to our nation come to israel, to european nations. terrorists typically need the support of a nationstate in one way or another to bring to bear their true destruction. i would tend to look at nationstate threats we face. there are two great powers to the nuclear capabilities have the capability to destroy our way of life, russia and china. russia is a declining power. it's the economy is smaller than italy's, smaller than the five scandinavian nordic countries but as a leader who is very aggressive, willing to take risks as he saw in our elections in 2016, we saw in his speech last week boasting about new kinds of nuclear weapons. we've seen in ukraine, crimea and actions to about europe. china on the other on the othea rising power, its economy is
still growing at a very rapid clip. it is plowing billions and billions of dollars every year into research, artificial intelligence and machine learning and quantum computing, the kind of breakthroughs not just an industry but on the battlefield that could allow them to have huge leap ahead in terms of military technology. but besides those two great powers we have other machines, iran and north korea. some people may say north korea is a small problem in east asia and for south korea and japan and the united states, that's not the case. last week it was publicly disclosed they exported a lot of chemical related technology to syria which obviously creates a real problem for israel and the middle east. then there is iran. as serious a problem as north korea tested it with nuclear weapons iran is a a greater problem for the united states and israel and our allies. why? look at the geopolitical circumstances. north korea is a very small isolated poor country that is on
the edge of the world, surrounded by poor nations that are vastly more powerful than it. it doesn't have an aggressive ideology that it tries to export. iran by contrast is a very large nation. it's surrounded by ten-20. connectors, the crossroads of civilization. it has a very aggressive ideology that it tries to export. that makes the possibility of nuclear iran sometime in the future vastly more dangerous than the reality we face now with north korea. >> we will have to end on that sober note, but i thank you very much, senator cotton. let's give him a round of applause for his time today and come to speak to us. senator, thank you. [applause] ♪ ♪
[applause] >> singer and composer naomi wrote a song in may of 1967 that spoke of the jewish peoples ancient longing for jerusalem. just weeks later when israeli forces reunited the city, she composed of final stanza written in triumph in celebration. this morning i share her song and tribute to the capital city of the state of israel, jerusalem. [applause] ♪ ♪