Zionist Organization of America Superstar Gala
New York City, November 4, 2018
Ambassador Richard Grenell
Thank you Suzanne. Your friendship and support mean the world to me.
I have to begin by thanking Mort Klein for his friendship, encouragement, support . . . and daily emails. Without Mort my inbox would be so much easier to manage
But seriously, Mort…your leadership is unmatched and your passion is inspiring. Thank you for all you do.
In my role as US Ambassador to Germany, I’ve had a ringside seat to the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe and the world.
On July 20 of this year, not long after I arrived, a young German-Palestinian man spotted a professor walking through a park in Bonn. The professor was wearing a yarmulke.
The young man assaulted him, shouted, “No Jews in Germany!” and repeatedly threw his yarmulke to the ground.
When the police arrived on site, the professor from Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Melamed, was beaten again.
On August 27, a gang of neo-Nazis attacked a kosher restaurant in Chemnitz. They threw stones and bottles at the restaurant, shattered a window, and shouted, “Get out of Germany you Jewish pig.”
The restaurant’s owner, a German-Jewish citizen, was injured in the attack.
As we saw last week in Pittsburgh, the resurgence of anti-Semitism is not confined to its historical roots in Europe and the Middle East. It hit us right here in America.
As President Trump said, “The attack was an assault on all of us. It was an assault on humanity. It will require all of us working together to extract the hateful poison of anti-Semitism from the world.”
As President Trump knows, anti-Semitism is not just a form of bigotry or prejudice. Anti-Semitism is a mental disease.
People whose worldview is warped by hatred of Jews have lost their grip on reality. Behind every misfortune in their own lives, anti-Semites see a Jewish plot, and so they lose the ability to be logical, to seek progress, to make positive change.
That is why every society which has followed the path of anti-Semitism has ended in war, poverty, and ruin.
President Trump understands this. He knows that because the mullahs in Iran are infected with anti-Semitism, they cannot be treated as rational, or trusted with anything.
It’s why he withdrew the United States from the JCPOA, and re-imposed harsh sanctions on the Iranian regime, sanctions which will be strengthened again at midnight tonight.
During my time in Germany, I’ve helped to implement these sanctions from the front lines, working to ensure that German firms do not enrich themselves on the same Iran which threatens Israel and Europe with ballistic missiles and terrorism.
With compliance from our allies, the administration’s sanctions will ensure that the mullahs fail.
The ZOA has been a stalwart voice in helping President Trump shape his administration’s hardline policy toward Iran. But your support hasn’t stopped there.
You strongly supported Senator John Kyl’s Jerusalem Embassy Act, which allowed the United States to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
With support from organizations like the ZOA, the Trump administration has been the most pro-Israel administration in American history.
There have been other gains. After the German defeat in World War II, a former Nazi prison guard named Jakiw Palij lied about his identity and made his way from Europe to right down the street—in Queens, New York.
For seven decades, Palij thought he had gotten away with murder. But in 2004, when a federal judge issued a deportation order, brave public servants brought the fight to Palij’s front yard.
When I arrived in Berlin in May of this year, I was shocked to see that Palij still lived in New York, 14 years after he’d been ordered out of the United States.
President Trump gave me the word: He wanted Jakiw Palij deported back to Germany.
I began my work in Berlin by asking every government official I met about Palij, and the moral obligation they had to receive him from the United States.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of the US Embassy and the strong backing of President Trump, we convinced the German government to take Palij back.
And thanks to support from organizations like the ZOA, the last known Nazi collaborator living in America is gone.
This is not political theater or symbolism.
In the Nazi era, ordinary Germans were imprisoned and killed for fighting anti-Semitism. In America, we are free to fight it, but too many pretend it isn’t there.
Palij and Pittsburgh are reminders that anti-Semitism survives among us today.
I’ll close my remarks tonight with a story about a friend of mine, who I met here in New York. His name is Jack Terry.
Jack grew up in eastern Poland, one of four children from a merchant family. When he was nine years old, he and his family were sent to the camps during the Nazi occupation.
Some of the worst atrocities of the war were committed right in front of his eyes.
Recently, I walked the grounds of Flossenbürg, where Jack was sent in 1944.
In the spring of 1945, with the Americans closing in, the Nazis started evacuating Flossenbürg, leaving Jack hiding in an underground ventilation tunnel until the camp was liberated.
He was the youngest survivor of Flossenbürg, and the only survivor in his family.
At 15 years old, he was alone in the world. “I just wanted to be wanted,” he told me a few months ago.
Jack is with us here tonight.
He has spent his adult life as a psychoanalyst here in New York. He has treated countless patients, including fellow survivors.
After visiting Flossenbürg again in 1995, Jack decided to start an educational program, working with students, journalists, and future leaders to ensure the world never forgets what happened there.
Jack, we can all say to you tonight: You are not only wanted. You are needed. And your vision should be realized.
Later this week, I will return to Berlin for the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass.
With incidents of anti-Semitism on the rise in Germany, Europe, and even in America, we must be vigilant in combatting anti-Semitism in all its forms.
Protecting religious freedom is one of the Trump Administration’s primary objectives, and I promise to continue to play my part in advancing that objective, at home and abroad.
When I was a young boy – and still to this day – my mom hung a sign above the kitchen sink that says “Pray for the peace of Israel.” And that is what we need to do.
Thank you once again to the ZOA Honors Committee for this award.
Your encouragement gives the President and our team more resolve to keep fighting for the values we share.