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Jerusalem – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks at a working lunch with Members of the Congressional delegation and Members of the Knesset, hosted by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, to celebrate and strengthen the enduring bonds between America and Israel. The lunch was part of a bipartisan Congressional delegation visit marking 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for the beautiful hospitality you and Irina have extended to our distinguished delegation and the opportunity to be with Members of all parties ¬– maybe not all – but many parties in the Knesset.
We are thrilled to be standing here in front of Chagall Hall, in front of this masterpiece about Jewish history – ancient history as well. And a joy to be with so many friends including our distinguished Ambassador, and may I also acknowledge my colleagues who are here…. We bring the great wishes of all of our Members of both sides of the aisle and actually on both sides of the Capitol. The Senate is a little bit busy right now or else we would have had some of them in our delegation, as well.
Yes, we were standing outside of that Soviet consulate chanting away for you. And to be here with you, as Speaker to Speaker, is just an unimaginable thrill to me. I asked the Speaker earlier, ‘How is it?’ After all you have been through to now be in – to just be in Israel, but to be in Israel as the Speaker, share some thoughts with us. Perhaps you will – with all of us in a final comment.
But, it is – it is something that is a joy to all of us: our love of Israel. And no matter what our party – or wherever we are within our party – the fact that we have the shared values with Israel and that is one reason for our joy in the creation of Israel as a historical miracle, the greatest political accomplishment of the [20th] century.
But also, for us in practical matters, it is in our national security interest to be supportive of Israel. So Israel is – we are in this together as a collaboration. We’re not doing you a favor; we are doing each other a collaboration.
I always talk about President Kennedy. My kids say, ‘Mom, it makes you sound really old.’
Well, I don’t know if that’s the only reason, but when I was in school, I went to President Kennedy’s inauguration. Paul was there too, but we didn’t know each other then. And his speech – everybody in the world knows what he said. ‘Citizens of American should ask not what American can do for you, but what you can do for your county.’ Everybody knows that. The very next sentence in the speech is what struck me. And some of you who are diplomats, as well, I’m sure, as you learn about in history; if you weren’t born yet. He says the very next sentence, he says, ‘Citizens of the world, ask not what America can do for you, but what we can do working together for the freedom of mankind.’
And that’s what this is about. Not any condescension or different status, one country to the next, but what we do working together for the freedom of mankind.
So what — Israel is making its fights, it’s not just about Israel – I said this to [Member of the Knesset Avigdor Lieberman] – it’s not just about Israel having the fight with Iran, that’s a fight for the whole world, that the whole world has with the danger Iran poses.
So, anyway, whether it’s political, whether it’s economic, whether it’s security-wise, whether it’s friendships and the rest, there are very – it’s hard to even imagine two countries that have stronger ties together. For us to be here at this time, where you just had the invitation of Israeli government to come for the remembrance, well – we went to Auschwitz on the way here, so we could show up fully, fully immersed in the depth of the seriousness of the occasion – for some of our colleagues, they had been to Auschwitz before.
So, thank you for bringing us together with other Members. Before we came here, we had a letter from the distinguished Speaker calling upon us to act in a more intra-parliamentary way between Members of the Knesset and the Members of Congress. We all welcome that opportunity to welcome you back, as we have done before, to the Capitol and to come here for any excuse at any time, that would be an honor, so thank you.
And again, this place, this room, the occasion, as you mentioned, in 2007 with Dalia [Itzik], in 2008, we were here for the 60th anniversary, the 60th anniversary – my, how time goes by – the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel right here in this hall.
Let me just say this one thing, because Irina was telling me about her work with the diaspora and the rest, and expressions of art are such a unifying thing, whether it’s an idea, the way someone expresses their emotion, their experience of the diaspora, it’s a unifying thing and I do think, the one thing that gives me hope and promise is that anything that we can do that puts aside our difference, and that make sus laugh together, cry together, be inspired together, is unifying, and that’s what we should look to, our unifiers.
I wear this pin, it says – on it, it says – the flag, it’s the American flag – on it, it says, ‘one country, one destiny.’ Well, I think that about our two countries too. Two countries, one destiny of peace, cooperation and respect for each other.
So, thank you, again, Mr. Speaker for the opportunity to share this.
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