Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the third contender for the Republican nomination for President of the United States spoke at the policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Council on Monday, March. 21. Kasich spoke after Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, so his transcript and video were not available when the AIPAC edition was published on Monday.
Here is Kasich’s entire speech:
Well, I’m delighted to be back at AIPAC, an organization I’ve known and worked with since the early 1980s.
You know, back then your audience numbered in the hundreds. A testament to AIPAC is that those crowds are now in the thousands, as we can see today.
FIRST VISIT TO ISRAEL IN 1983
You know, I first visited Israel in 1983 with my late dear friend Gordon Zacks. As you all know, Gordon was a founding member of AIPAC, and it was on that trip that I actually visited Bethlehem and I called my mother on Christmas night from Jerusalem. As you can imagine, it was a very, very special moment. And Gordon always reminded me of it.
Gordon helped me as much as anyone has over the years to know and to appreciate the importance of our relationship with Israel and Israel’s unique security challenges. And I can’t think of a better guy who could have taken me to Israel.
AVITAL AND NATAN SHARANSKY
It was on my trip in 1983 that Gordon introduced me to Avital Sharansky, when her husband Natan was still in a Soviet prison. She told me her husband’s story over lunch at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem and said she was going to Washington to plead for his release. I asked her, would you mind if I organized a rally in support of your husband on the steps of the Capitol. And so we came together in a bipartisan way to call for Natan Sharansky’s release.
You know, Gordy had taken Sharansky into the Oval Office to meet with the President Reagan. And when the meeting ended, Mrs. Sharansky was told by the president I will not rest until your husband is free. Sharansky’s story has always inspired me from the day that Gordy first introduced me to Avital. But I don’t know how many of you here have ever read his book, “Fear No Evil.”
Natan wrote in that book, as I related to him, and he said, I’m glad that you saw it, that when they went to him in the prison, they wanted him to confess something. And they said to Natan, well, you understand that Galileo even confessed. And think about Sharansky sitting in that prison in that solitary confinement. And he thought to himself and told them you’re using Galileo against me? No one will ever use me any against any other prisoner of conscience. For that he deserves to always be remembered.
I had a phone conversation with Natan for years, but I never had the chance to meet him. And ironically, I met him at the cemetery when we laid Gordy Zacks to rest, where Natan gave a eulogy on behalf of our great friend. Look, I want it to be clear to all of you that I remain unwavering in my support for the Jewish state and the unique partnership between the United States and Israel.
AMERICAN SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL
When I was first introduced to Israel and some of its leaders, of course the core of our partnership with Israel was already very well- defined. And we give thanks to Harry Truman for the courageous steps he took when Israel was first established.Lori Lowenthal Marcus