WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) will accept an award this evening on behalf of the U.S. Congress from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, recognizing Congress’ efforts to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Some awards mark a job well done. This one marks a responsibility that endures: our responsibility to an ally and a friend, a partner for peace and a fellow democracy, the State of Israel; our responsibility to stand by Israel and the Jewish people in a world where friends so often seem outnumbered by threats.
“A world where—even in Mumbai, India—Jews are still targeted for murder simply because they are Jews.
“A world in which Iran still continues its deadly pursuit of nuclear weapons. A new report from the International Atomic Energy Agency tells us that Iran now has 1,400 pounds of low-enriched uranium—a 50% increase in their stockpile over the past three months. The report also tells us that Iran is operating nearly 5,000 centrifuges—a five-fold increase from last year.
“So I accept this award on behalf of Congress, with a full understanding of the difficult months ahead of us, and the vital work that must be done. As always, you should rest assured that Israel remains a bipartisan priority of the United States Congress.
“Though I can only touch on a few, I believe that the new Administration will have several essential tasks to improve U.S. national security, increase Israel’s security, and stabilize the Middle East.
“First, we must develop a new, robust strategy, using ALL tools at our disposal, to stop Iran from attaining nuclear weapons. As President-elect Obama has said: ‘The danger from Iran is grave, it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat.’
“Second, we must redouble our efforts to support the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Though we will have a clearer picture after the Israeli elections on February 10th, I believe that the Obama Administration has a real opportunity to focus on the Peace Process from the very start. I hope and trust that this will happen.
“Third, we must strengthen the international alliances we need to disrupt and defeat terrorist networks.
“Those are just some of our goals. As we prepare for a new year, a new Administration, and a new Congress, we know that the achievement of all of those goals is uncertain, but we must dedicate ourselves to this effort. We may falter—but we must never forget.
“I still remember heartbreaking words on the wall of Yad Vashem, written by a victim of the camps: ‘All of us dying here amidst the icy, arctic indifference of the nations, forgotten by the world and life.’
“Let us live and work so that those words are never, ever spoken of us. Let us ensure, instead, that the friendship between America and Israel grows and prospers, year by year.
“I look forward to our continued work together, and I accept this award on behalf of a grateful Congress that remains determined to do all we can to ensure Israel’s continued security, stability, and success.”