National Building Museum
7:30 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you. Good evening, everyone. Good evening. Good evening. Thank you. Please have a seat. Good evening. Good evening.
And thank you, Montana, and for using your platform in such an important way.
Ambassador Herzog and Mrs. Herzog, it is so good to be with you again. And I thank you always for the extraordinary leadership that you provide and the friendship that is very heartfelt. And, of course, I send best to your brother, who I have spent time with as well.
It is wonderful to be with everyone tonight. To the members of Congress who are here; the leaders from our administration, including Small Business Administrator Isabel Guzman; to the distinguished guests from Israel and throughout the United States; and, of course, with us tonight is my husband, the first Second Gentleman of the United States — (applause) — and the first Jewish spouse of a President or a Vice President in the history. (Applause.)
And he’s been such an incredible leader in so many ways. And this, of course — this fact, this historical fact, has led to a lot of other firsts, including the first mezuzah on the front door of the Vice President’s Residence. (Applause.) The first menorah lit in the residence. (Applause.) And the first Passover Seder hosted at the residence. (Applause.) All of which are a great source of pride for Doug and me and our entire family, as I know it is for many who have celebrated with us over the years.
So, moving forward, I will say that I want to thank everyone who is here and to recognize that tonight we gather to, of course, celebrate the 75th anniversary of the State of Israel. Truly a remarkable milestone.
For millennia, a homeland for the Jewish people was just a dream. A dream that lived in the hearts of generations of Jews. A dream that was sustained through displacement and discrimination, through struggle and sacrifice, and through one of the most horrific atrocities in the history of the world.
Yet, as a famous quote from Theodor Herzl reminds us, “If you will it, it is no dream.” (Applause.) And the story of Israel over the past 75 years has proven this time and time again.
I remember as a young girl growing up in the Bay Area in California, collecting donations on behalf of the Jewish National Fund. And for those of you who — I will date myself — who are old enough, you will remember those little blue boxes, which we would walk around asking people to please donate so we could plant trees in Israel. (Applause.)
And yet, that act of us as children and young people was about so much more. It was about our sense of connection to the importance of building the State of Israel, helping the Jewish people thrive, dreaming together and willing the dream into reality.
Years later, as an adult when I visited Israel for the first time, I saw the incredible results of these efforts, these collective efforts: an extraordinary country built, as the ambassador has mentioned, on ingenuity, creativity, and determination.
As Israel developed over the decades, the United States has been a proud and steadfast partner. As has been noted, from President Harry Truman’s recognition of the State of Israel 11 minutes after Ben-Gurion declared independence, through Republican and Democratic administrations, and through today under the leadership of President Joe Biden: The United States has an unbreakable bond with the State of Israel. (Applause.)
A bond that I have been so very proud to work to strengthen throughout my career in public service, whether it be as District Attorney of San Francisco, Attorney General of California, a United States senator, and now as Vice President of the United States.
At the core of the U.S.-Israel relationship is America’s ironclad commitment to the security of Israel. This commitment — (applause) — this commitment endures not only because it is in America’s strategic interest, but because it is the right thing to do. (Applause.)
And this is why I was proud to vote for unprecedented security assistance to Israel, almost $4 billion per year, every year that I served in the United States Senate. And this is why our administration continues to provide this assistance and added another $1 billion in the wake of the 2021 conflict with Hamas.
And know this: Whether replenishing Iron Dome, working together to develop a new laser defense system, or countering Iran and its proxies, the commitment of the United States and its commitment to Israel’s security will remain unwavering. (Applause.)
Our administration believes that in order to promote the security of Israel, the region, and the United States, we must continue to create a more integrated and interconnected Middle East. That is why we will continue to build on Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, and on Israel’s historic agreements with the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco. Also, understanding this — (applause) — all is to support Israel’s normalization with countries in the region and beyond.
As we do that, the Biden-Harris administration will continue to work toward a world where Israelis and Palestinians can live safely and securely and enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and democracy. And we believe that the best way to achieve this goal is through two states. (Applause.)
We also believe that for Israel to be secure and for the Jewish people everywhere to be safe, we must stand up and fight back against antisemitism wherever and whenever we see it. (Applause.)
As I frequently have said and as our national strategy on antisemitism makes clear, when Jews are targeted because of their beliefs or identity, and when Israel is singled out because of anti-Jewish hatred, that is antisemitism, and that is unacceptable. (Applause.)
And under President Joe Biden and our administration, America will continue to stand for the values that have been the bedrock of the U.S.-Israel relationship, which includes continuing to strengthen our democracies, which, as the ambassador has said, are both built on strong institutions, checks and balances, and, I’ll add, an independent judiciary. (Applause.)
And I believe no discussion of the U.S.-Israel partnership would be complete without highlighting the collaboration between our nations in science, technology, and medicine.
The ingenuity and creativity that made Israel strong has allowed Israel to be known as the “start-up nation.” And as Israeli innovation has spread around the world, it has benefited all of humanity.
As a daughter of California, with a lifelong passion for water policy, I have long admired Israel for its innovation in agriculture, water management, and clean energy.
The founders of Israel — (applause) — the founders of Israel pioneered irrigation techniques that brought water to desert farms. Israel pioneered desalination technology, which I saw firsthand at the Sorek desalination plant. And now, Israeli start-ups are using AI and cutting-edge technology to pioneer solutions to address food insecurity around the world.
Israel is a nation full of innovators, entrepreneurs, and visionaries, whether on autonomous vehicles, cybersecurity, or fintech. It is clear Israel helps point the world toward the future. (Applause.)
So I will conclude by looking toward the future and quoting one of my favorite lines from the Talmud, a line that inspired an extended discussion during our first Seder at the Vice President’s residence.
It’s says, and I’ll quote, “It is not your duty to finish the work, but neither are you at liberty to neglect it.”
I’m going to repeat: “It is not your duty to finish the work, but neither are [we] at liberty to neglect it.”
While Israel and the United States have achieved so much together, there is still so much more work to do.
Previous generations willed the dream of Israel into reality and established enduring bonds between our nations and our people.
And now, for our generation, we have the baton in the long relay race of history, and it is then up to us to strengthen these bonds even further.
President Biden and I look forward to the next 75 years of progress and partnership. And so, congratulations on this momentous anniversary. And let us celebrate all that our nations have achieved together and all that is yet to come.
Thank you all. (Applause.)
END 7:44 P.M. EDT