...It is a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. Our two nations are separated by more than 5,000 miles. But for an American abroad, you can’t get much closer to the ideals and convictions of my own country than you do in Israel. We’re part of the great fellowship of democracies. We speak the same language of freedom and justice, and the right of every person to live in peace. We serve the same cause and provoke the same hatreds in the same enemies of civilization.
In those shared values, one of the strongest voices is that of your prime minister, my friend Benjamin Netanyahu. I met with him earlier this morning and I look forward to my family joining his this evening as they observe the close of this fast day of Tisha B'Av.
It’s remarkable to consider how much adversity, over so great a span of time, is recalled by just one day on the calendar. This is a day of remembrance and mourning, but like other such occasions, it also calls forth clarity and resolve.
...It was Menachem Begin who said this about the Ninth of the month of Av: “We remember that day,” he said, “and now have the responsibility to make sure that never again will our independence be destroyed and never again will the Jew become homeless or defenseless.” "This," Prime Minister Begin added, “is the crux of the problems facing us in the future.”
So it is today, as Israel faces enemies who deny past crimes against the Jewish people and seek to commit new ones.
When Iran’s leaders deny the Holocaust or speak of wiping this nation off the map, only the naïve – or worse – will dismiss it as an excess of rhetoric. Make no mistake: the ayatollahs in Tehran are testing our moral defenses. They want to know who will object, and who will look the other way.
My message to the people of Israel and the leaders of Iran is one and the same: I will not look away; and neither will my country. As Prime Minister Begin put it, in vivid and haunting words, “if an enemy of [the Jewish] people says he seeks to destroy us, believe him.”
...It would be foolish not to take Iran’s leaders at their word. They are, after all, the product of a radical theocracy.
We have a solemn duty and a moral imperative to deny Iran’s leaders the means to follow through on their malevolent intentions.
We should stand with all who would join our effort to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran – and that includes Iranian dissidents. Do not erase from your memory the scenes from three years ago, when that regime brought death to its own people as they rose up. The threat we face does not come from the Iranian people, but from the regime that oppresses them.
Five years ago, at the Herzliya Conference, I stated my view that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons capability presents an intolerable threat to Israel, to America, and to the world.
That threat has only become worse... today, the regime in Iran is five years closer to developing nuclear weapons capability. Preventing that outcome must be our highest national security priority.
I want to pause on this last point. It is sometimes said that those who are the most committed to stopping the Iranian regime from securing nuclear weapons are reckless and provocative and inviting war.
The opposite is true. We are the true peacemakers. History teaches with force and clarity that when the world’s most despotic regimes secure the world’s most destructive weapons, peace often gives way to oppression, to violence, or to devastating war.
We must not delude ourselves into thinking that containment is an option. We must lead the effort to prevent Iran from building and possessing nuclear weapons capability. We should employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course, and it is our fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so. In the final analysis, of course, no option should be excluded. We recognize Israel's right to defend itself, and that it is right for America to stand with you.
These are some of the principles I first outlined five years ago. What was timely then has become urgent today.
Let me turn from Iran to other nations in the Middle East, where we have seen rising tumult and chaos. To the north, Syria is on the brink of a civil war. The dictator in Damascus, no friend to Israel and no friend to America, slaughters his own people as he desperately clings to power.
Your other neighbor to the north, Lebanon, is under the growing and dangerous influence of Hezbollah.
After a year of upheaval and unrest, Egypt now has an Islamist President... [and as] you know only too well, since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, thousands of rockets have rained on Israeli homes and cities. I have walked on the streets of Sderot, and honor the resolve of its people. And now, new attacks have been launched from the Sinai Peninsula.
With Hezbollah rockets aimed at Israel from the north, and Hamas rockets aimed from the south, with much of the Middle East in tumult, and with Iran bent on nuclear arms, America's vocal and demonstrated commitment to the defense of Israel is even more critical. Whenever the security of Israel is most in doubt, America's commitment to Israel must be most secure.
...Israel and America are in many respects reflections of one another... We both believe in democracy, in the right of every people to select their leaders and choose their nation's course.
We both believe in the rule of law, knowing that in its absence, willful men may incline to oppress the weak.
We both believe that our rights are universal, granted not by government but by our Creator.
We both believe in free enterprise, because it is the only economic system that has lifted people from poverty, created a large and enduring middle class, and inaugurated incomparable achievements and human flourishing.
...You have embraced economic liberty. You export technology, not tyranny or terrorism. And today, your innovators and entrepreneurs have made the desert bloom and have made for a better world...
...I believe that those who oppose these fundamental rights are on the wrong side of history. But history's march can be ponderous and painfully slow. We have a duty to speed and shape history by being unapologetic ambassadors for the values we share.
...I believe that the enduring alliance between the State of Israel and the United States of America is more than a strategic alliance: it is a force for good in the world. America's support of Israel should make every American proud. We should not allow the inevitable complexities of modern geopolitics to obscure fundamental touchstones. No country or organization or individual should ever doubt this basic truth: A free and strong America will always stand with a free and strong Israel.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Highlights: Romney's Speech in Jerusalem
These are highlights of remarks delivered earlier today by Mitt Romney at Jerusalem Foundation in Jerusalem, Israel.