Remarks by the Vice President to the AIPAC Policy Conference | The White House

Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C. 10:35 A.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Mr. President.  (Applause.)  It’s great to be here.  It’s great to be here.  (Applause.)  Hey, Debbie.

Ladies and gentlemen, oh, what a difference 40 years makes.  (Laughter.)  I look out there and see an old friend, Annette Lantos.  Annette, how are you?  Her husband, Tom Lantos, a survivor, was my assistant, was my foreign policy advisor for years.  And Tom used to say all the time, Joe — he talked with that Hungarian accent — he’d say, Joe, we must do another fundraiser for AIPAC.  (Laughter.)  I did more fundraisers for AIPAC in the ‘70s and early ‘80s than — just about as many as anybody.  Thank God you weren’t putting on shows like this, we would have never made it.  (Laughter.)  We would have never made it.

My Lord, it’s so great to be with you all and great to see — Mr. President, thank you so much for that kind introduction.  And President-elect Bob Cohen, the entire AIPAC Board of Directors, I’m delighted to be with you today.  But I’m particularly delighted to be with an old friend — and he is an old friend; we use that phrase lightly in Washington, but it’s real, and I think he’d even tell you — Ehud Barak, it’s great to be with you, Mr. Minister.  Great to be with you.  (Applause.)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor at the AIPAC Policy Conference

AS DELIVERED

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you all very, very much. It is a real honor to be here at AIPAC’s Policy Conference. It’s a particular honor to be here with my good friend and one of Congress’s strongest pro-Israel allies that you will hear from in just a minute, Steny Hoyer.

Tonight we celebrate a friendship between two countries, simple in concept but mighty in force. This friendship is centered on commitment to community and dedication to faith. It values education, human progress, and the guarantee of opportunity for all. With this friendship the world is a better place.

The alliance between the United States and Israel is often tested but never shaken. We’ve helped protect each other. We’ve helped protect our friends, and we’ve helped protect humanity. If there is a tsunami, our military and aid ships are the first to set sail. If disease is ravaging a nation, whereas is the case of AIDS in Africa, an entire continent, we send help, and we save lives. Israel shares our moral compass. When massive earthquakes struck Haiti and Turkey, Israel was among the first to offer assistance, and hundreds of Israeli rescue workers responded. They responded to the deadly terrorist attacks in East Africa, saving the lives of Africans injured in the attacks on our America’s embassies.

For those of us who visited Israel, you know what a special place it is. You’ve walked down the Tayelet in Tel Aviv on Thursday afternoon, and you’ve seen the people leisurely lingering in cafes as the waves of the Mediterranean crash in the background. But for many Americans the only images of Israel that they see are blown out clubs and cafes, missiles firing, death, and tragedy. That in itself is a tragedy. These news stories often miss the beauty and the human element of why our nations care so much for one another. But these stories do serve as a constant reminder of the threat Israel faces and why Israel needs our friendship and needs it now.

Senator Robert Menendez at the AIPAC Policy Conference

AS DELIVERED

Good morning. Thank you, Lonnie, for your gracious introduction and above all your support and friendship over many years. And thank you to AIPAC for the warm welcome you have always given me at every event that I have attended. I appreciate your advocacy.

And let me also recognize in the Jersey delegation there are some 500 of you here today. Many of you are here and I know friends like Steve Klinghoffer, Mike Levin and others are leading the way. So again, let’s hear it for New Jersey. Thank you for your engagement.

And let me just say to all of you at AIPAC, all who are committed to the strongest possible relationship between the United States and Israel, as I have been throughout my public service career, that I look forward to working with you in my new role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It is one of the Senate’s it is one of the Senate’s original 10 standing committees and it has helped shape American foreign policy through the complex geopolitics of an ever-changing world.