| ||Majority Leader, Tom DeLay's keynote speech at a Christian rally
| ||Washington, DC -
| ||I especially want to thank my good friend Congressman Tom Lantos for being here, and for standing like a rock on behalf of Israel all these years.
As we meet tonight, something extraordinary is happening on the other side of the world. Hundreds of thousands of trained and dedicated volunteers – an army of virtue – are liberating a nation. Mile by mile, a blood-thirsty dictator's grip on a noble people slips. Town by town, Iraqi families realize what the smiling men in camouflage uniforms have won for them. And day by day, children awaken, for the first morning of their lives, to God's freedom. This is the meaning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Greater love hath no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends. Yet today in Iraq, liberating armies are risking their own lives in a land – and for a people – they have never before met. Decades-long Iraqi pleas for freedom and justice will soon be answered.
But, my friends, theirs is not the only voice that cries out in the desert. For as we meet tonight, in that same part of the world, violent men plot the deaths of school children. These men view innocent human life as a means to an end and murder as a propaganda technique. These men act outside the boundaries of humanity, let alone the tenets of their faith. And these men support a career-terrorist too long tolerated by the civilized world.
Tonight our thoughts are with the people Israel, and it is on their behalf, the courageous who live every day in the crosshairs of such men, that I accept this award and proudly count myself a “Friend of Israel.” After Operation Iraqi Freedom is won – and it will be – international attention, necessarily focused on the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime, will disperse. There will be the rebuilding of Iraq and its welcome return to the community of nations. There will be a simmering crisis in North Korea. There will be strained relationships with old friends to address and a blossoming alliance with the surging powers of New Europe to solidify. And there will be, as we well know, Calls on Israel to set aside decades of experience and once again trust the words and papers of a terrorist entity bent on her destruction.
Voices will call on the United States to serve as an “honest broker” in negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government. They will call on Israel to “take risks for peace.” As a friend of Israel, and a lover of liberty for all God's children, we must reject any suggestion that its government negotiate from weakness, stand on an even moral footing with suicide bombers, or trust the promises of terrorists.
The United States stands for justice, and that means we stand for Israel. Our qualms are not with the Palestinian people, but their self-appointed leaders. Yassir Arafat and his thugs do not serve the interests of the Palestinian people. They are exploiters: in business today, as always, only for themselves. They perpetuate violence and misery in a country that has known too much of both.
Negotiating with these men – “who sharpen their tongues like swords” is folly, and any agreement arrived at through such empty negotiations would amount to a covenant with death, as generations of Israelis have witnessed. Yassir Arafat and his cronies are enemies of peace, and a threat to the community of civilized nations. The Palestinian people, used as pawns by Arafat's regime, do not desire this existence. More and more of them are coming to realize the barriers to this new life are not in Ariel Sharon's cabinet, but Yassir Arafat's compound. Palestinians, and the Arab world at large, tragically, have only their corrupt leaders to blame for their economic deprivation: not Americans, and not Israelis.
In Iraq today, we are making a stand against oppressive terror. It is not the first time, and it won't be the last. The United States and its allies will no longer live in fear of terrorist networks of global reach, nor of their state sponsors. That is why we are at war tonight in Iraq. We are disarming a dangerous regime because it threatens the security of the world. The President has directed his advisors to craft a plan to do it with a speed and precision never before witnessed in the history of war. The plan is working. The military is advancing. And the under-informed talking heads of the media elite are dead wrong. The President is a man of faith and a man of confidence, but it must frustrate him to hear the incessant carping of Blow-Dried Napoleons, hunkered-down in their air-conditioned studios night after night on the 24-hour news networks. Peter Arnett thinks a war plan that advanced hundreds of miles in less than a week is a failure. Geraldo Rivera drew a map in th! e sand of American positions for our enemies to see. Thankfully, President Bush has also drawn in the sand: a line beyond which the civilized world will not accept the behavior of evil men. We will free ourselves from terrorist threats, and free those who live under terrorist regimes.
Americans have defended our freedom for more than 200 years. Israelis have done the same for more than 50. We are opposed by many of the same enemies, who use many of the same tactics. Israel’s fight is our fight: against terror, and for humanity.
The United States, therefore, cannot serve as a disinterested broker between an ally and its terrorist enemy. There is no moral equivalence between an aggressor and a man who defends himself against aggression, just as there is no moral equivalence between terrorists and the Israeli government sworn to stop them, despite the absurd assertions of the State Department’s newly released Human Rights Report. This Report is designed to document the human rights conditions in countries around the globe; however, it compares the human rights record of a free, tolerant, and pluralistic nation with that of a terrorist network. There is no comparison, and to assert one is ridiculous. Israel is governed by democratically-elected representatives; the Palestinian Authority is governed by a gang of murderers.
Experience and common sense lead to one conclusion about America's proper role in the Middle East: we are absolutely right to stand with Israel, and our opponents are absolutely wrong.
The moral ambiguities of our diplomatic elites notwithstanding, Israel is not the problem; Israel is the solution!
The House of Representatives said as much – shouted, in fact, by a margin of 352 to 21 – by passing the resolution Congressman Lantos and I sponsored last year. The resolution affirmed America's solidarity with Israel, supported Israel's right to self-defense, urged all Arab states to denounce all forms of terrorism, and encouraged the alleviation of the needs of the Palestinian people. Any viable plan for peace must require the Palestinian Authority do the same and to permanently sever ties with those who do not. President Bush has laid out a bold vision to this extent. He has made it clear Israel must have a right to defend herself and that the Palestinian Authority must stop its acts of terror once and for all. Certain parties to the peace process, more interested in appeasing aggression than combating terrorism, have forfeited their right to leadership on this issue.
The United States is the world's defender of freedom, and Israel is one of our greatest allies. We won't allow anyone to reward terrorists and terrorist acts, least of all nations and organizations who appeased Saddam Hussein and who continue to appease Yassir Arafat. This struggle is one of good versus evil; nations and organizations who fail to distinguish between the two disqualify themselves from input on this matter.
The President understands Israel must not be asked to negotiate with the men terrorizing its innocent civilians even as we speak. The Palestinian Authority and their state sponsors must end the violence. This must be an act of principle, not just a gesture of good will. The Palestinian Authority's words have no meaning; their actions do. The violence must stop, period. When it does, and not before, the Palestinian people will have a viable opportunity for peace. Thankfully, President Bush understands that no peace process worthy of its name can be obscured by appeasers or moral relativists. He understands that “process", for its own sake, is not the goal; the security of our ally is. And no Quartet of Appeasement will obscure that fact.
Though tested by generations of fire, the people of Israel do not exhibit malice or seek revenge. Much like everyday Palestinians, they want peace and the security to live their lives, free from want and free from fear. They are not fools and should not be expected to bargain with murderers. But when a new generation of Palestinian leaders rises, with a real and lasting peace as their goal – and, more importantly, the authority and will to deliver it – a comprehensive solution may finally be attainable. Israel should not be expected to offer substantive concessions, while the Palestinian leaders offer only empty promises. Israel should have the freedom to defend its national security and to negotiate at a time and on terms set by its democratic government, not those imposed by anyone else.
To be a friend of Israel demands no less than supporting her through these difficult days, as well as the better ones we all know await her people in the future. Despite decades of terror in the holy cradle of faith, we must hope, as did a 15-year old girl hiding in Amsterdam, writing in her diary, less than a month before she was taken to Auschwitz: “I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more. Through God's Grace, the friendship of the United States and Israel will endure to see the dreams of that girl fill the whole world with light and truth forever.