June 2, 2008: Address to AIPAC
McCain to Israel:
We Are The Most Natural Of Allies


On June 2nd, John McCain addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee about the state of American-Israeli relations, past present and future. One of the most interesting things that came out of it was what didn't happen: unlike Barack Obama, John McCain did not have to clarify or amend anything he said to assuage the angered voices of "the Arab street", as Obama did with regard to Jerusalem. That alone offers a clue into what kind of leadership we can expect from a McCain Administration when the next Middle East Crisis comes along – as it surely will.

When President Truman recognized the new State of Israel sixty years ago, he acted on the highest ideals and best instincts of our country. He was a man with courage and a sense of history, and he surely knew what great challenges the Jewish state would face in its early years. To his lasting credit, he resolved that the people of Israel would not face them alone, because they would always have a friend and ally in the United States of America.

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Many charges and accusations have been made about the supposedly disproportionate influence of "The Jewish Lobby" over American foreign policy. But there's nothing shadowy or secret about the truth. The U.S. and Israel are bound to each other by deeply shared political and cultural beliefs.

The threats to Israel's security are large and growing, and America's commitment must grow as well. I strongly support the increase in military aid to Israel, scheduled to begin in October. I am committed to making certain Israel maintains its qualitative military edge...

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Foremost in all our minds is the threat posed by the regime in Tehran. The Iranian president has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" and suggested that Israel's Jewish population should return to Europe. He calls Israel a "stinking corpse" that is "on its way to annihilation."

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Barack Obama also professes support for Israel, but he is tainted by the growing anti-Semitism in the far left wing of his party, of which he is a member. With his habit of tailoring his rhetoric to his audience, and his need to move to the political center for the general election, there is every reason to doubt the sincerity of his words. There are no such doubts when it comes to Senator McCain.

The Iranians have spent years working toward a nuclear program. And the idea that they now seek nuclear weapons because we refuse to engage in presidential-level talks is a serious misreading of history.

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We hear talk of a meeting with the Iranian leadership offered up as if it were some sudden inspiration, a bold new idea that somehow nobody has ever thought of before. Yet it's hard to see what such a summit with President Ahmadinejad would actually gain, except an earful of anti-Semitic rants, and a worldwide audience for a man who denies one Holocaust and talks before frenzied crowds about starting another.

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"Talk to us or we'll build nuclear weapons and destroy Israel!" Is this really what Obama thinks is going on? This is not how decent and civilized people talk or think. And if they aren't decent or civilized, they are not worth talking to.

There comes a time when talking is not only useless, but counter-productive. We reached that point long ago with Iran. Note the complete lack of progress in the talks between the EU and Iran. What has it accomplished? All we've done is given Iran more time to enrich uranium.

We must apply the full force of law to prevent business dealings with Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps. I was pleased to join Senators Lieberman and Kyl in backing an amendment calling for the designation of the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization responsible for killing American troops in Iraq. Over three quarters of the Senate supported this obvious step, but not Senator Obama. He opposed this resolution because its support for countering Iranian influence in Iraq was, he said, a "wrong message not only to the world, but also to the region." But here, too, he is mistaken. Holding Iran's influence in check, and holding a terrorist organization accountable, sends exactly the right message -- to Iran, to the region and to the world.

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Obama may be able to prevaricate and clarify his way out of the foolish statement he made about meeting unconditionally with Ahmadinejad. But Obama can never undo the vote he cast in the Senate, effectively in defense of Iran's Republican Guard. The only saving grace is that so few of his Senate colleagues joined him.

My friends, as the people of Israel know better than most, the safety of free people can never be taken for granted. And in a world full of dangers, Israel and the United States must always stand together.

As Thomas Jefferson said, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." We in the United States have it easy. For Israel, eternal vigilance is the price of survival itself. John McCain shows every sign of clearly understanding this. Barack Obama just as clearly does not.

The State of Israel stands as a singular achievement in many ways, and not the least is its achievement as the great democracy of the Middle East. If there are ties between America and Israel that critics of our alliance have never understood, perhaps that is because they do not fully understand the love of liberty and the pursuit of justice. But they should know those ties cannot be broken. We were brought together by shared ideals and by shared adversity. We have been comrades in struggle, and trusted partners in the quest for peace. We are the most natural of allies. And, like Israel itself, that alliance is forever.

Thank you.

Link to full transcript

 

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