So we took out of the airbase just north of Eilat and I got to see with my own eyes how narrow the borders of Israel are, and just how vulnerable Israel’s security is. There’s simply no margin for error, and I understood that. And in a matter of minutes, as I flew that jet, at one point my pilot in the back seat turned – he radioed to me and he says, “Senator, you are about to go over Egypt. Turn.” (Laughter.) So I fly over very quickly. I came close that day to violating the airspaces of both Egypt and Jordan. (Laughter.)
And as I flew over the Negev, I turned the plane upside down to do a little aerobatics, and I saw the sky below me – above me and the Earth below, and it was really weird. And I thought to myself, wow, finally I am seeing the Middle East clearly, upside down. (Laughter.)
These days, folks, our American Air Force pilots do not let me take the controls of the aircraft, much to the relief of the passengers. (Laughter.) But I want to share with you that when we touch down in Tel Aviv and I walk down the steps of that blue-and-white plane that says “United States of America” on the side, I carry with me the commitment of President Obama, whose Administration, I am proud to say, has done more than any before to ensure that Israel’s future is strong and prosperous. Never has our security agreement been as great. (Applause.)
Make no mistake: The President of the United States and I share your unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security. And every time we land at Ben Gurion, I think of the words of one of the most prominent successors of Ben Gurion, and that’s Golda Meir. She said, “We only want that which is given naturally to all peoples of the world: to be masters of our own fate, not of others’.”
Central to Israel’s founding is the belief that this State and the Jewish people must be able to control their own destiny. And that is why and how Israel has built this thriving democracy. It is why Israel made the desert bloom and built a modern economy. It’s why Israel has built one of the strongest militaries on the planet, and why it has always shown such a strength in the face of terrorism and existential threats.
And as we look ahead, I believe – and I think you will agree, I believe you will agree – that the best way to truly ensure Israel’s security today and for future generations is by ending once and for all the conflict with the Palestinians, by summoning the courage to achieve peace, and by reaching a negotiated resolution that results in two states for two peoples, each able to fulfill their legitimate national aspirations in a homeland of their own. We are all committed to that. (Applause.)
So I come here today to affirm to all of you that we are deeply committed to Israel’s security. And I understand what it means when Prime Minister Netanyahu looks me in the eye and says, “I have to guarantee the security of my country.” I understand that, and he does, and he will. But what does that security look like? Certainly it’s more than simply the absence of war. For Israel, a nation with history and challenges unlike any other, it means secure – and being secure in its future as a Jewish state, but also a democratic state, also an economically thriving state. Security for Israel means freedom from pernicious attacks on its legitimacy from its neighbors or on the world stage. Security for Israel grows with the empowerment of moderates in the West Bank and Gaza and throughout the region so that extremists are isolated rather than promoted and empowered. And lasting security for Israel requires regional stability and open markets that will let Israelis concentrate on building up their businesses and not just their defenses.
You and I both know that the place where all of this happens best is in a strong, secure Israel that lives peacefully alongside a viable Palestinian state. I will tell you here today, examine every possibility, all of the parameters of this conflict, this frozen conflict, and I will tell you a realistic one-state solution simply does not exist for either side. (Applause.)
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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