tv Sen. Menendez CSPAN March 6, 2018 11:41am-12:00pm EST
that's from your community and from your state that actually has a stake not just in the future of this country and of the world but also in your community. and those relationships are critical. and they're really important. so i encourage you to do that, especially with new members who i think are going to be inclined to be supportive but may not be fully aware of all the things that are out there and that are said that are not accurate about the state of affairs in the region. they are about the differences between the different parties involved in the region. so it really is important. early on in a member's career to try to get in front of them and state it with facts, historical data that backs up a strong u.s.-israel alliance. claire: i hope you've all been taking notes. senator rubio, thank you so much for your time. let's give him another round of applause. busy man also. really appreciate you. senator rubio: thank you. thank you very much. ♪ >> good morning, aipac. and thank you for that warm welcome.
i'm honored to be here once again at the policy conference. [applause] senator menendez: let me say that sometimes god puts a goliath in your path to find the david within you. and i found that david within me. [applause] senator menendez: but we all know that even david had a slingshot and many of you here today were part of my slingshot so i am very grateful and thankful. [applause] senator menendez: it's no secret that i have taken a lot of heat over the years for standing up for what i believe in but when my children ask me if i knew what was going to happen would i have taken those same stands and my answer is a resolute yes, absolutely.
[applause] enator menendez: standing here inspired g here i'm by all of you, the thousands of aipac members who dedicate your time and energy to support america's ever-lasting bond with israel. and i'm proud to see that once again we have hundreds of aipac members here from the great state of new jersey. [applause] senator menendez: and that includes my dear friend and aipac's newest president dr. friedman. as i'm sure many of you know and if not you'll get to understand mort is a real mench. a stalwart advocate for israel and a tenacious leader who will continue to serve aipac well. mort, congratulations. as we -- [applause] senator menendez: celebrate his
success, i also want to take a moment to celebrate the life and legacy of a new jerseyian who's no longer with us. lonnie kaplan. he was a true friend, a champion for this community, and a fierce advocate for truth and justice. to all those here who feel his absence, may his memory, as they say, be a blessing. i see lonnie's legacy as i look out into the ocean of people gathered here today, people of all ages, all faiths and all political persuasions. your commitment to our common cause, your presence, your visits and your voices send a message across washington to jerusalem and throughout the world that the united states and israel share an alliance that is unbreakable and ironclad. [applause] senator menendez: and i especially -- i especially want
to recognize the 3,600 students who made their way to washington this year. [applause] senator menendez: it's mportant that you're here. in recent days we have been reminded of the power that rests in the hands of america's youth. when young people stand up and speak out for what they believe in, the world cannot help but listen. so to the thousands of students who came to our nation's capital to participate in our democracy, i salute you, i thank you and i ask everyone here to join me in applauding you for participating. [applause] men now, all of us come fully r clear-eyed and aware of the challenging times in which we live. we've seen anti-semitism, white
nationalism and other greeds of hatred on the rise from the streets of charlottesville to the capitals of europe. we have seen ever-increasing volatility in the middle east and a refugee crisis unseen since world war ii. and we have seen iranian aggression throughout the region propelling terrorist proxies ever closer to israel's borders. and we confront these challenges together, and as we do so, i continue to be guided by my belief that it is in the national interest and security of the united states to have a strong, unwavering alliance with the state of israel, the one true democracy. [applause] senator menendez: a steadfast ally of the united states and a nation of incredible innovation and economic swage and the country most likely to be voting with us in common cause and international forums. now, most of you know that i have resumed my role as the ranking member of the senate oreign relations committee and
-- [cheers and applause] senator menendez: i want to commend my friend, senator ben of in of maryland, a friend aipac, for his steadfast relationship and in my renewed capacity i will be a continuing champion for the values that we share. much like the bond between the united states and israel, i do not back away from my commitments. i do not waver in my beliefs. even when political winds change, even when it may be tough for others to stand up for israel, i will always stand up for three fundamental truths. one, the security of the united states is strong when our bond with israel is strong. two, the jewish people have a right to live in peace, security, and prosperity in the indisputable homeland of their
ancestors. [applause] senator menendez: and three, israel has a right to defend herself and the united states will always ensure she has the capabilities necessary to protect herself and her border. cheers and applause] senator menendez: we know -- we know israel has always been surrounded by enemies, but today the stakes are higher. the risks are greater. the threats are more deadly and increasingly existental. for years we have been talking about the threats iran poses to israel. we have heard the anti-israel vitriol echoing out of tehran. we have seen its proxies pushing closer and closer to israel's borders. and we know exactly why iran continues to expand into syria and invest so much in prolonging bash ar al-assad's
brutal dictatorship. iranian leaders transferring weapons to hezbollah seek to build a land bridge from tehran through baghdad and damascus to beirut. iran views the syrian battlefield as a laboratory for training iranian proxy forces devoted to a singular mission -- israel's destruction. and we know russia has helped enable iran's expansion in syria by prolonging assad's grip on power. hand in hand, criminal and terrorists, putin and assad have cleared a path for the iranian regime to expand its military footprint. make no mistake -- iran is building an advanced military presence in syria and we risk willfully disregarding this reality if we cling to a failed policy of negotiating with russia. that's precisely what we are doing if we continue to seek out agreements to de-escalate areas in syria. these agreements with russia are dangerous. they are in fact paving the way
for iran to stay in syria. that's why it's well past time for the president to recognize that in syria, here at home, or around the world, russia is not a partner for stability or peace at the end of the day. [applause] senator menendez: russia has made it clear that its alliances -- its made its alliances clear with a slaughter of civilians, dropping bombs on hospitals, on homes, on humanitarian aid convoys working to care for people under siege. and putin continues to exploit the migration crisis to sew discord throughout western europe and continue his campaign to undermine the post-world war ii international order. links between moscow and tehran and damascus are crystal clear. without american leadership, i fear there will be no international response to the russian-backed iranian entrenchment in syria. we saw it last month when iran sent a drone into israeli
airspace and the assad regime turned its russian-provided air defense system on an israeli fighter jet. of course israel responded with necessary and appropriate force in defending herself and her red lines and we applaud the bravery and precision conduct of the israeli defense forces. we must be -- [applause] senator menendez: we must be unequivocal in our support for our allies. we must assert our global leadership driven by our principles, our values, and security, and we could not see this leadership -- cede this leadership to our adversaries. indeed, president putin is happy to keep the administration wringing its hands while iran moves in next door to israel. my friends, this situation is untenable, and it's absolutely unacceptable. as iran grows its footprint in syria and battles hardened fighters return to lebanon, we
hezbollah lebanon continues to produce advanced weapons it plans to direct at israel. in the face of this growing threat, it's no wonder why there's increasing talk in israel of a next war. this is not a war that israel wants, but she may nonetheless be forced to fight it. if that day should come, the world should understand this -- there is absolutely no moral equivalency between israel, a peace-loving, vibrant democracy, innovative economy with so much to offer the world, and hezbollah -- a terrorist organization that spews hate, trains mart ars, holds the lebanese state hostage and receives support and direction from the iranian regime. there is moral elive lent. [applause] -- equivalent. we know israel would prefer to keep the sword of freedom sheave but if she is forced to
take on this fight we know where the united states will stand. we will stand on the side of our one true democratic ally in the middle east -- the state of israel. [applause] senator menendez: these growing threats demands that we do everything we can now to push back against iran's continued aggression. i have spent the better part of my more than 2 1/2 decades in congress working to support strategic, diplomatic, multilateral efforts to confront iran. that's why last year i worked with a bipartisan group of my colleagues to author and pass the countering america's adversary through sanctions sa., also known as ca at a time when bipartisan is the norm in washington, democrats and republicans in the senate voted by a margin of 98-2 to give the administration more tools to sanction iran for its nefarious behaviors.
a strong bipartisan vote. i know our success in large part is because of the aipac members in this room. yet, despite the bipartisan clairian call for action by congress, the administration has yet to fully use the tools we provided. nor have they developed and implemented a comprehensive strategy as called for in the law for confronting iranian aggression. so i hope together we can send a loud, clear, unified message to the white house -- impose the sanctions. use the tools congress gave you, and do it without delay. [applause] senator menendez: now, speaking of iran and sanctions, let's turn to the nuclear accord. everyone here knows where i stood on the iran nuclear agreement. [applause]
-- i menendez: i had d serious -- cheers and applause] senator menendez: i had serious doubts about gifting the regime with sanctions relief in exchange for short-term limits on its nuclear program. those concerns are ever more true to me today than it was then. for now iran is complying with the limited terms of the deal, but no one should be surprised if the jcpoa suddenly did not transform iran into a responsible member of the international community. the recent protests in iran have reminded us this regime continues to put funding for terrorist proxies ahead of the well-being of its own people.
that's why i believe at this moment it is essential that the united states immediately develop a comprehensive coherent strategy to address iran's destabilizing behavior, including its nonnuclear, asymmetrical activities. while simultaneously working to address our long-term concerns about its nuclear program. if used correctly, this administration has potentially created leverage to address the concerns we all share about iran. but i fear the lack of a comprehensive coherent strategy ultimately leaves the united states with less leverage to work productively with our allies. we spent decades pursuing tough diplomacy and sanctions to bring our international partners together to address iran's threats, and we must continue engaging the international community in a meaningful conversation about iran's long-term nuclear capacity in the years ahead after many jcpoa limitations
expire. and in congress we must push the administration to pursue effective diplomacy to hold iran accountable each time it violates u.n. scuent resolutions and -- security resolutions or tests another missile or delivers weapons into hewitty fighters. that's why i'm leading a letter to secretary tillerson in support of these diplomatic efforts. the united states has leverage right now and i want the amferings to use it. iran must understand that the united states and our partners will not tolerate a nuclear armed iran, not now, not ever. [applause] we haven't forgotten iran's nuclear history. the regime has lied about its nuclear ambitions before. that's why we must remain vigilant. we must be prepared and we must make our expectations abundantly clear. now, i know many of you share my concerns about what comes after the jcpoa.
our european partners and the other parties to the deal have said they agreed there needs to be a successor agreement. and i welcome the administration initiating these talks in a diplomatic track. this challenge reminds us fighting for israel starts long before the battlefield. it means fighting in the halls of the united nations and in the capitals of europe and sometimes within one's own party to do what is right if we want to hold iran accountable each time it violates u.n. security resolutions like testing missiles or delivering weapons to hezbollah. we need a fully funded, skilled, and experienced diplomatic corps to get the job done. that's why i reject the administration's efforts to recklessly slash funding for the state department and the u.s. agency for international development. how else can we expect to combat bias, one-sided and hateful acts of the united
nations that not only unfairly target israel but seek to delegitimize the jewish people to their ancestral homeland? it's disgraceful to see organizations and missions of the united nations fail to take actions on war crimes in syria and the gross human rights violations of the iranian regime or the venezuelan regime or the cuban regime but always find time to condemn and target and isolate israel. of course these insid with us efforts to isolate israel from the global community extend far beyond the united nations. now, i dream of the day when we will not have to fight these fights. i pray for the day when we will not have to fight sanction policies by governments and businesses or at the united nations or here at home on college campuses. >> the aipac conference, including this morning's remarks by israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu to the conference will air later on the c-span networks.
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