Visit of AIPAC (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee) to Germany
Berlin, June 12, 2018
Ambassador Richard Grenell
Thank you Phil de Toledo, Howard Kohr, Lillian Pinkus, and Richard Fishman. It is a privilege to welcome members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to Berlin. Father Desbois, it is a pleasure to meet you.
I would like to take just a moment to reflect on today’s historic summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. We have been watching these meetings unfold with great hope, a feeling which I’m sure is shared by all of you in this room. And I’m pleased to say that today, thanks to U.S. leadership and diplomacy, we have made real progress in the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula, and of the world.
The alliance between America and Israel has never been stronger.
Seventy years ago the United States became the first nation to recognize the State of Israel. Ever since, Jerusalem has been the seat of the modern Israeli government, including the parliament, the Supreme Court, the President, and the Prime Minister.
The bipartisan 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act urging the move of the Embassy to Jerusalem was reaffirmed by the U.S. Senate unanimously in 2017. When President Trump fulfilled the long-standing U.S. policy that our Embassy would be moved to Jerusalem, he was recognizing the reality of Israel, and keeping his promise.
Taking this long-overdue step of moving our Embassy is not a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace deal. Rather, it is a necessary condition for it. Old challenges demand new approaches, and new ideas with new courage.
The United States is fully committed to achieving a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and I know President Trump is personally focused on it.
We are also focused on the mounting menace posed by Iran. It has been laid bare for all to see. The Iranian drone that breached Israel’s borders in February was a brazen act of aggression. And as we all know, the regime in Iran continues to develop advanced ballistic missiles that can threaten Israeli soil and the lives of all her citizens. Last year alone, Iran spent more than $4 billion to achieve its ends. And at this very hour, it aids and abets terrorist groups that sit on Israel’s doorstep.
President Trump withdrew from the JCPOA, more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, because its fatal flaws put the world at risk. Now we are pursuing the President’s Iran strategy by working with allies to counter the regime’s destabilizing activities in the region, block the financing of terror, and address Iran’s proliferation of weapons systems that threaten peace and stability. And we know that these concerns are broadly shared by our European friends.
Here in Germany, I have asked the German government to support our efforts to stop an airline called Mahan Air from utilizing German airspace and airports. We know that Mahan Air has been used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a mode of transport for weapons, resources, and fighters, so we’re asking our allies to help us put a stop to it.
The recently released International Religious Freedom Report highlights another growing concern we are working on: anti-Semitism. Political leaders in Germany and other countries have reiterated their commitments to combating anti-Semitism and we are committed to working with them to address these issues immediately. We must work together to fight for the universal human right of religious freedom.
Chancellor Merkel has often said that Germany has a “special responsibility for the right of the state of Israel to exist.”
For 70 years, Israel has overcome every challenge it has faced. The miracle of Israel is an inspiration to the world. Jewish communities are defined not by their fears of the past, but by their hopes for the future.
In my short time here, I have already seen evidence of this in the many monuments, museums and reminders of this special responsibility throughout Berlin. I have heard stories of brave Germans like Otto Weidt, who employed and protected blind and deaf members of the Jewish community when others had turned away.
But I know that more needs to be done, particularly in education. As a new friend of mine so aptly stated this week “anti-Semitism is not a Jewish problem – it’s a human problem.”
Thank you for your hospitality tonight. I am grateful to AIPAC and my many friends here tonight for your commitment to deepening the U.S.-Israel friendship.