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tv   J Street National Conference  CSPAN  April 20, 2018 2:02am-4:57am EDT

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that's followed by speeches by los angeles mayor and california representative during a democratic fundraising event. former security adviser, susan rice and brian schatz and brian sanders talk about the israeli/palestinian conflict and policy. hosted by a nonprofit, jewish advocacy group and talked about the air strikes in syria and u.s. israel relations. it is my honor to introduce this afternoon's policymakers, middle east policy in the era of trump. the discussions we are about to hear could not be more urgent, none of you need a reminder that
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we are living through an extremely difficult and dangerous time. president trump not known for his thoughtfulness or caution in setting foreign policy has -- many of the relatively -- relative voices of reason in the white house and cabinet and now surrounded himself with individuals who trafficked an extreme and sometimes bigoted ideology and a track record of relying on military force to respond to complex international challenges. when it comes to iran, the president threatened to withdraw from a successful nuclear agreement that made the united states, israel and other allies safer. in doing so, they risk shattering american credibility, empowering iran, and pushing our
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nation toward war. with regard to israel and palestine, the president's refusal to commit to a two-state solution along with his provocative decision on the state of jerusalem -- all of this comes amidst the backdrop of humanitarian disorder and violence at the gaza border and growing involve in syria and on going confrontation between saudi arabia and iran. it is time of many complex challenges with few easy answers. to discuss these issues and to offer some insight, we will hear from one of our nation's leading former policymakers. we will hear from three united states senators who have a
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critical constitutional role to play in responding to and seeking to restrain the policy -- foreign policy absence of the trump administration. the three senators who will be with us, all jewish have, of course, multiple opinions. [ laughter ] >> many of us remember and appreciate the courageous speech of senator bernie sanders during his campaign. [ applause ] >> and senator ben cardin as the then, top democratic senator of the senate foreign relations committee, and lead the opposition david freeman as the ambassador to israel. [ applause ] >> and though senator cardin had
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deep reservations about the iran nuclear agreement he is one of our oh opponents abiding to our commitments to it. [ applause ] >> senator brian schatz of hawaii one of j streets effective supporters and allies and one of the youngest members of the senate and holds a safe democratic seat for a great many years to come. he will be leading the fight and vindicating the jewish values that bring us here today. and we will hear from a senior palestinian diplomat, a prominent member of israeli and leaders who continue to advocate for the two-state solution. we are deeply honored to be joined by such a distinguished group of speakers. without further adieu, let's
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welcome to the stage the participants in the first discussion. tamara cofman wittes, and our nation's former national security advicer am bbassador susan rice. [ applause ] >> thank you. >> hi, everybody. great to see you. >> it is great to be here at j street. i feel a lot of energy in the room today and -- yes. and i want to thank you ambassador rice susan for sitting down. >> thank you, tamara.
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>> we have known each other for 15 years and the first time we are on the stage together. thank you j street. we have to start by talking about syria and the strikes that the u.s., britain and france carried out on friday evening. president trump's statement put clear boundaries around that u.s. military response to bashar al-assad's use of chemical weapons. this is a challenge and dilemma you struggled with repeatedly in office and one thing i found striking listening to president trump friday is that he made clear that he wants to enforce the norm against the use of chemical weapons and he and britain and france are prepared to sustain effort to uphold that norm and at the same time over the weekend we heard he wants
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american troops out -- >> again. >> he is focused on fighting isis. doesn't want to use the american military presence as leverage over iran or the outcome of the civil war. now, i know you were up at hamilton college last week speaking with another dr. rice, who is another national former security adviser. >> we had a lively discussion. >> and you noted there that last year when president trump carried out strikes, he had leverage. >> we had the opportunity to employ leverage. which i can explain. >> okay. so here we are a year later. he's gone and carried out another round of strikes. do you think we have more or less leverage today than a year ago? >> less. let me explain why. let's start with the chemical weapons and then talk about syria and policy in general.
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after syria committed in 2013 to declare and eliminate its entire chemical weapon's stockpile and shipped out 1,300-metric tons, me and others in the international community thought we had eliminated the declared weapon stockpile. it was evident -- and when i talk about that, we are talking about nerve agents and the precursors, chlorine was not included in the 2013 stockpile. the problem with chlorine, when it is employed as a weapon of war t is in violation of the chemical weapons. it became evident that last year, either syria didn't destroy the entire stockpile or
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reconstituted it to some extent. i think president trump was correct to act last year. but he did so in a very limited way and he telegraphed immediately after the strike that he was one and done. this was going to be very short and limited. and i think that was a missed opportunity. because for all of our justified concern about president trump's temper meant and how he may respond in a crisis situation, he could have played those concerns to our advantage. he could have been -- had he wanted to be, unpredictable. and used -- and deliberately unpredictable and used that to try to rest a diplomatic opening with the russians. the russians and the world at that time didn't necessarily
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nowhere this was an initial salvo or one and done and had we left that ambiguous and tried to go immediately to leverage a diplomatic opening, we had an opportunity there. this time when the syrians use the chemicals again, i think we were right to act both in a more forceful way than we did last time but also importantly in a calibrated way because it is in the in our interest to see a wider conflict and we needed to send a message about the ne ses si of upholding the norm of the use of chem wall weapons. we clearly telegraphed and clearly twice demonstrated that we are not prepared to use regime-threatening force to deal with the chemical weapons challenge and i think our leverage is less than it might
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have been on chemical weapons before. the other thing we did which i think is going to prove an interesting challenge is to be deliberately ambiguous. you heard this from secretary mattis on friday night and others as to whether the red line is the use of chlorine gas which has happened many times over the course of the war in which case, we will be striking frequently if we keep our word. or is it still the use of nerve agent which is the red lineup until now and we don't have clarity on whether the attack that we were responding to in duma was chlorine or chlorine-plus. we left it to the russians and syrians to guess where that red line is and we may have put ourselves as a consequence in a bit of a difficult situation. >> because we have essentially said, that if this use continues
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we're going to do more and we haven't -- >> and it is not clear by this use. is it use of nerve agent or chlorine or both -- >> so you don't think this limited-use of force is going to have much impact on deterring -- >> i think it will have limited impact. i think it was the right thing to do and taking out in particular, the facility in damascus is significant because there was a place where the equipment and the precursors and the knowledge was resident. and in fact, the pentagon has been forth right enough to admit that this precludes their ability to act in the future. i think it is a set back, i think it is hopefully a deterrent. i don't think it is a necessarily, a permanent deterrent and leaves ambiguous
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question to respond to chlorine -- >> in syria enabling and maybe even encouraging use of not just carpet bombing but chemical weapons. you tango'd a lot with the russian ambassador? the early stages of the syrian civil war and we were not able to get the russians to play ball at that time with a real dip employeematic process to end the -- dip employeematic process to end the war. what do you think it will take? >> it was difficult in 2011, 2012 and 2013 to make the geneva process and you will hear reference to that from
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administration spokes people. the syrians never took it seriously and the opposition at the table was deeply divided and russia never saw pressure on assad to make geneva yield something. the formula out of geneva that there would be a national government replacing assad agreed by the opposition and the government. and assad never really accepted that and the russians never forced him to. now we are in a more difficult situation to the extent that the russians, iranians and hezbollah has gone all in in supporting assad. and the united states' has been not on regime change but on the effort to defeat isis inside of syria and of course in iraq. but that has made the dynamic at
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the negotiating table more difficult. through use of force, the syrian regime and the backers have largely suppressed what was a very divided and fraught opposition. >> and setting up their own diplomatic opposition -- >> there is no syrian opposition there. >> that's a joke. >> there are no airian states there. >> at some stage, there's going to be one of two scenarios. either assad will remain in power, the u.s. and our coalition partners along with the syrian democratic forces, the lead opposition elements that helped us take raka and others back from isis.
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we will control a substantial amount of territory in the east and north and including oil fields and assad, and russians and iranians will have a portion of the state. the majority portion under their control and no help whatsoever from the outside world to rebuild syria and enable the return of refugees. that's the scenario we're heading towards under the status quo because there is no negotiated outcome. the alternative and i think the united states has leverage, is that we say one, this portion of syria that is de facto under the control of our allyings aies an partners is going to remain separate and apart with the oil resources until there is a negotiated outcome that meets the needs as a whole.
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and you know don't get the resources in the meantime and by the way, we are staying here which is an important piece of this working to not only help rebuild local governance and institutions in the area and to prevent the iranians to establish a land-bridge from taran to the mediterranean. so we have that leverage and the other leverage that we have potentially, is the promise with the european and gulf partners will not contribute a dime to the reconstruction of syria and unless and until there's a negotiated political dispensation that results in a government chosen by the syrian people. at the negotiating table we can play those two cards which then, you know, leaves us out with the
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russians in a stark choice. with no money or support. that doesn't include assad. >> and trump saying that helps to bring american troops home within six months or as soon as possible. is he pulling the rug out of that opportunity? >> yes. >> okay. >> we'll see if that happens. >> we'll see. >> as he says, we'll see. >> so with that, let's turn to an issue that has our partners and friends exercised and that's the challenge posed by iran. now, when the jcpoa, the nuclear deal signed by the u.s. and its partners and iranians when that came out, it was universal concern on the israeli side, now that the deal is in place it is fair to say there is a lot of
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debate inside of israel about the merits of keeping it versing walking away. and it looks like president trump is getting ready to walk away. we have a deadline in mid may for the newest sanctions relief and we are expecting him not to wave those sanctions and in essence, but the u.s. out of compliance with the deal. if president trump goes ahead and pulls the trigger here and pulls the united states out of the jcpoa, it doesn't mean the deal is collapsed necessarily. can you walk us through what you think the consequences would be for the united states for iran's nuclear program and for france in the region? >> let's begin with the facts. the fact is that the deal is working. all of iran's potential pathways to a nuclear weapon, whether
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what it is has been eliminated very fiebly so. not by the u.s. department and as you suggested the elements of the israeli military and security services are well aware that this deal is functioning as intended. we have gone in a swaeituation before the deal where iran didn't have verification. two or three months away from having the material to develop a nuclear weapon. to today, when all of the pathways have been verifyably cut off and iran committed inperpetuity not to develop one and many years going forward to verify what iran is up to. if we were to blow that up and i think a u.s. withdraw would in
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all likelihood if not immediately but eventually would blow the deal up. the sanctions lifted with respect to the nuclear program, it means we will be completely isolated from the european partners with whom we worked to get the deal and engaged in a flirtation over the last several months to try to modify or as he would say improve the deal. and that has not come to pass. we have not invested seriously in that and now we have at trump's side in mr. bolton and mr. pompeo extremely harsh critics of the deal who sworn to its destruction. so i believe that what's going to happen is we will in all likelihood reimpose sangs hence,
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violating obligations. and at odds with our closest allies. iran will be in a position to say that they upheld their obligations and the united states did not. therefore, they are not constrained by the commitments they made under the deal. they would leave them free if they chose to resume their nuclear program and to pursue it without constraint. we will have lost the very robust sanctions regime that we all worked very hard to put into place and it was global in its application. whatever the sanctions the u.s. may reimpose does not mean that the european partiers and iran partners will go along. and finally, we will so done this on the eve of the president's presumed discussion
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with kim jong-un where allegedly the objective is denuclearization of north korea which really does have already a lot of nuclear weapons. it sends a message that the united states is in constant and when we sign a deal and it is ratified by the united nations security council, we are prepared to walk away on a whim even when fully implemented. it is a disaster on every element and it strengthens the hard lines in iran who didn't like this in the first place. and other activities that iran is involved with, the meting in neighboring countries and are potentially to be augmented by a threat and a credible threat of an iran to return to nuclear
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weapons, research and production. >> i want to focus in on that point. you hear a lot of critics of the jcpoa saying the sanctions relief empowered iran until the sponsorship of terrorism and support for proxies. you're saying that the danger of the jcpoa blowing up is that iran would be able to continue the activities with the prospect of nuclear force behind them. >> quite simply, yes. and without the prospective of global sanctions provided. i don't want to take a lot of time on the history. i would dispute that the proposition that the problem with the deal is it didn't address the other aspects of iran's other problematic behaviors. it was not intended to and could it have done so to accomplish
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it. and at that time, israel stated primary interesting concern at the time was to deal with the nuclear weapon's threat. we accomplished that. it didn't mean it was said and done and we could walk away. we have to confront and push back on iran's very destabilizing behavior in oth realms, i would rather do that to one who didn't want nuclear weapons than one who did. >> you got things done with russians, including the jcpoa and the security council on libya. since then, we have seen russia go beyond some of the aggressive activities in ukraine and we have seen the intervention in syria and we have seen this effort to intervene in democratic politics here in the united states across europe and
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become a kind of, global leader, championing the politics and reassertion of atok ra si. >> good summary. >> it is a brutal picture. as national security adviser, your job was to look across all activities and figure out the priority. as you look at russian behavior today, what worries you the most and what should our top priority be? >> you have to deal with it on multiple dimensions. you know don't have the luxury to worry about syria and not ukraine and interference in the democratic process and not the provocative activity in nato air space. you have to deal with all of this simultaneously and that's what we endeavored to do in the obama administration.
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we dealt with the risk that russia might try to undermine the territorial integrity of our nato partners by establishing something called the european response -- a multi-billion dollar investment on the half of united states in conjunction with nato to put stocks on the front line in eastern europe to deter and prevent a russian aggression of the sort that we saw in the early stages in -- little green men. we stepped up our efforts with nato to deal with the russia cyber threat. we imposed substantial sanctions on russia with our european partners in response to russia's behavior and ukraine and and we
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worked hard to deal with them in the syrian context not only on the chemical weapons but trying to deconflict our efforts going against isis and revolve the diplomatic resolution. we have to do all of this simultaneously. now, the particular challenge is that we are a government and a leader of the west that is at best, speaking with mixed messages. and not leading with the consistency and robustness that our nato partners should expect. when you have a president who on the one hand as of the last few days tweets critical things about putin and on the other hand we learn today was upset at the scope of the sanctions he approved against russia for the poisoning of the former spy in
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britain. when you have president trump pick up the phone to congratulate vladimir putin on the bogus election victory and invite him to the oval office and fail to mention the poisoning in britain. we are not being consistent with our messages. and as a result, it -- somebody said apply and was quoted in the paper, we have three policies. we need one policy that is clear-eyed about the real threat that russia poses. we need to be consistent and coordinated with our allies in the applications of sanctions. i think if russia continues as it appears to be with the interference with democratic
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processes in europe and the united states, it is time for sanctions to go beyond targeted individuals. or targeted entities to broad-based sec torl sanctions that cover areas. >> there is more that we can do -- >> there is more. it increases the risk and cost. there is no question. there are reasons why at the end of the obama administration and trump administration those were not the sanctions of first resort. for good reasons. at a certain state, we have to raise the cost sufficiently on putin that it affects his behavior and we've had our intelligence chief testify thus far, they don't believe that's been the case. >> so we're meeting at a moment here in washington when hopes for diplomatic progress between the israeli government and the
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palestinian relationship seem really stymied and your administration took several bites at this apple and tried to move the ball forward and the obstacles seem to have to do with domestic politics for israelis and palestinians and these are issues that the united states has less leverage. you told me at one point earlier, that after the failure of the talks in 2014, the best that the united states could try to do at that moment was to kind of mitigate the damage of a breakdown and preserve possibility for the diplomacy and the two-state solution going forward. we had president trump trumping it at the beginning of the administration. >> how easy it will be to get middle east peace. >> we'll see.
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and saying there will be a new initiative coming. we isn't seen buyin from the region and we don't know what he has in mind. >> we don't have any idea. i don't think anyone else does either. >> he might not even know. we have seen him recognize some israel's capital and we will shortly see the u.s. embassy open in jerusalem and question whether the two-state solution is in fact, the goal. >> yeah. >> what is the impacts of these steps? where do you think the united states stands now in the role of mediator in this conflict? [ laughter ] >> we're going to end on an optimistic note, right? >> we're going to try. [ laughter ] >> well, i think like many
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administrations before it, the trump administration inherited an intractable problem that it seems increasingly far from potential resolution. the facts that are being create the on the ground make the viability of a two-state solution more and more remote. the politics as you said on both sides are hostile to the two-state solution particularly i think on the israelly side at this point and on the palestinian side, you have had repeatedly leadership that is unable to take yes for an answer. so it is a problematic set up and i think the trump administration made a bad
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situation even more complicated by promising any day now, a proposal that as far as i can tell hasn't been amply socialized with either side and certainly not the palestinian side but i gather both, actually. and it is highly unlikely to be the sort of balanced bridging proposal that can yield progress. i think the reaction to the jerusalem decision on the palestinian and the arab side only complicates our credibility as an honest broker particularly when president trump added that we have taken this issue off of the negotiating table. so i think we are -- we are -- >> with we still be the mediator in the current circumstance? >> i think it is very hard.
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you know, under normal circumstances, we should continue to try. and if i thought our ambassador and jared kushner and all of these middle east experts had -- [ laughter ] [ applause ] >> you know the where with all to craft and plan and bridge the gaps, i said we should still try. but i'm skeptical that that is likely to be the case. and in any event i think the u.s. alone is going to be compromised. and others from the region. >> so yes, i promised you we would end on an optimistic note. as i think back on the range of
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work you have done in a life of public service, you've dealt with a lot of intractable conflicts, devastating humanitarian crisis and wars and you worked at the u.n. when the permanent members were offer at logger heads, you worked through bashar al-assad turning guns on their own citizens and one of the things i have come away with from watching you and working alongside you is that you never give up. >> i try not to, yeah. >> and one of the kind of key essential qualities of effective diplomacy is persistence and creativity. so i'm curious what keeps you
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going in those tough situations where you are just knocking heads. what is it that gives you a reason to think there is a way through and you can find a door and walk through it? >> well, i'm essentially an optimist. and i think i couldn't do the work that i've done and not fundamentally believe that the course of human history is forward and that we're making progress. and i mean, there are all kinds of reasons for that. maybe it is my experience being born and raised as an african american women in 1964 and seeing through my parents who were raised and my dad in the heart of segregation able to rise to the highest levels to our government and seeing where we have come from 1964 to the president in this country. when you look at the progress made globally and reducing
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poverty and hunger and suffering and girl's education and the spread of democracy even though it is under threat today. the trajectory is positive. i was a student of history as an under-graduate and i think you have to have the long view. and i believe as often quoted dr. martin luther king stated, i believe over time we are perfecting our imperfect selves but mankind in general. >> it doesn't bend on its own, right? we have to pull it. >> we have to keep working. [ applause ] >> and that's why i think the good work you all are here to do to lend your voice to justice and peace and american
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leadership is vitally important. i think we all individually have roles to play with our voice, with our vote, with our resources to stand up firmly and together for what we believe in. and what gives me the greatest hope now beyond my own children and the folks of their generation who truly see the world in a different and i think better way than we do and certainly than our parents and grandparents did. look at the kids from parkland, florida and look what they have done. [ applause ] >> i was like many of you i suspect at the march for our lives here in washington, maybe you were here or maybe you were elsewhere. i was there with my 15-year-old
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daughter and my husband and friends. and the power and the vision and the determination that they have demonstrated and galvanized across the country their determination to not rest until our completely insane gun laws are revised and i think it is incredibly important and it gives us all a light to follow and a model for what consistent serious thoughtful collective action can begin to achieve. they're not done. we're not done supporting them. but they are the next generation and they are among the many reasons that i remain an optimist. i believe in the american people. [ applause ] >> well, folks.
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[ applause ] >> thank you so much, susan. join me in thanking ambassador susan rice for taking the time. thank you. [ inaudible ] ladies and gentlemen, welcome the senior senator from maryland and the former ranking member of the committee, senator ben cardin. [ applause ]
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>> good afternoon. >> good afternoon. >> i believe we have some marylanders in the house? i want to first as i told susan rice as she was leaving, we miss her on capitol hill. [ applause ] >> but i think her comments about the strengths of the students that we saw here in washington and we've seen around the nation really gives us hope. because despite what the congress might think or the president might think, the power in this country are with the people. [ applause ] >> and our students will not be silenced and they want adults to act as adults. [ applause ] >> i want to thank j street and
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congratulate you on your 10th anniversary. [ applause ] >> 10 years, 70 years for israel when truman made that decision in 1948 against the advice of his own state department to recognize the state of israel. he did that because he understood the our two nations shared common values. and that special relationship has been strong ever since because of the fundamental principles of democracy embedded in our country and in israel. shared values recognizing that is the strength of america and the strength of israel. [ applause ] >> it has been mutually
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beneficial to both israel and the united states. we both benefit from that relationship clearly on the sharing of intelligence information. john f. kennedy said israel was not created to disappear. they will endure and flourish, the child of hope and the home of the brave. it cannot be broken by adversaries or demoralized by success. it car rries the shield of democracy and honors the sword of freedom. he was talking about the state of israel and the united states of america. that special bond between two democratic countries.
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that relationship -- that relationship goes beyond any individual leader or policy. the founding principles of j street 10 years ago support for the people and the state of israel respectful debate, a responsibility to speak out against the policies of israel or the united states that are not consistent with our jewish and democratic values. [ applause ] >> u.s. stayed true to that mission. when the prime minister of israel accepts an invitation to address the joint session of congress creating a partisan division in our own country, we speak out against that decision. [ applause ]
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>> when president trump reacts to the tragedy in charlottesville equating those that were there to preach hate, white sue premists and neonazis, we speak out. when the prime minister of israel takes steps to come promice refugees in risk of their own lives and crosses the line on how he handles protest in his own country. we speak out.
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and when president trump, immigration policies that tries to tell the world that we have certain religion that we don't want here in america, or people from certain countries because of their demographics that we don't want here in america. or that dreamers are not welcomes here in america, we speak out. [ applause ] >> the special bond between the united states and israel goes beyond any one individual. when the leader of israel or the united states does things that do not represent the founding principles of their country, we need to be prepared to continue to speak out.
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this is part of the responsibility of true allies. but we must be strategic in our actions. to maintain the broad understanding and support within our political system for the people in the state of israel. and we have been successful in doing that just take a look at recent action in congress. $3.1 billion in foreign military financing provided by the congress of the united states. $700 million in missile defense for david slang and other technologies. anti-tunnel technology that we share between the united states and israel because we both have problems on tunnels. and the support for israel within the international community. israel needs the united states
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to speak out when it is being discriminated against in the international forum. it was one of the great diplomats, statesmen of israel who observed that if the united nations general assembly had a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and israel flattened it, it would pass by a 164-13 with 26 abstentions. [ laughter ] >> with all of the challenges that israel is facing today, it is more important than ever that we work to strengthen. by anti-migrant sentiment is on the rise throughout the world. poland, hungary, turkey, nato allies, all now have within
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their government those who are espousing nationalist sentiments and anti-immigrant sentiments. we saw in poland, just recently, the passage of a law that tries to criminalize the ability to comment on what happened in poland during world war ii. i just want to emphasize there's a poll that came out yesterday, that the millenniums in the united states, two out of three don't know what auschwitz is about. we need to remember our history and we can't let those who want to reinvent what happened before get away with their lives. [ applause ]
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make no mistake about it in the democratic countries in europe, we're seeing the rise of attacks against their own democratic institutions from within. we have not seen that since before world war ii. we all need to be considered -- concerned about it. germany pretty strong dealing with its past the alternative party the extreme party now has seats in their parliament. and quite frankly, the international rise of nationalism has been given oxygen by the actions of president trump. his comments in charlottesville allow those who espouse hate allow them to think they have a friend. his anti-immigrant language see the comments we have seen in europe seems like it's
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legitimate by the world's greatest democratic power. as a result, we see the rise of antisemitism in the united states and around the world. i'm proud to be the special representative of the organization for security and cooperation in europe's parliamentary assembly. the ranking senate member of the helsinski commission. i have urged a concrete policy to fight antisemitism. it starts with leadership. it starts with world leaders speaking out against any form of hate. it also involves education, making sure our young people understand the best programs are those jurisdictions who have
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include strong education on tolerance and interfaith connections are critically important. particularly between the muslim and jewish communities. we need to underscore those relationships. [ applause ] . steven spielberg said as a jew, i'm aware of how important the existence of israel is for all survival for all of us. since i'm proud being a jew, i'm worried about the growing antisemitism and anti-xionism in the world. we need to pay attention. never again. we need to pay attention. the isolation of israel is real. throughout history, there have been governments and communities that always found a reason to be antisemitic, they want to deny the legitimacy of the sovereignty of the state of israel.
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questioning its legitimacy in a part of the world dominated by people of other religions. 40 years ago, the united states' congress recognized that threat as arab boycotts started to appear by other countries that tried to use their economic power to cripple israel's economic survival. and the united states' congress acted 40 years ago, so protecting israel's sovereignty with the strength of the u.s. economy. recognizing that we could use our economy to prevent israel from being isolated. efforts in the united nations to
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circumvent 40-year-old boycott law are now under way. protecting u.s. companies from being coerced to comply with a foreign country's decision to boycott u.s. allies. i authored legislation to try and correct that through actions being taken by international organizations primarily the united nations human rights council. i want to address what that legislation is aimed at doing. it's aimed at preventing the economic pressure on israel to affect its sovereignty by pressuring u.s. companies to do what they don't want to do. two points have come up during that debate.
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one, will we protect the freedom of speech and opinion? i can tell you, i have spent my entire political career defending the first amendment rights. i strongly believe that anyone who wants to criticize israel or wants to boycott israel, or wants to encourage others to boycott israel, i think you're wrong but you have your constitutional right to do that and we're going to make sure that that is protected. the other issue, which is equally impassioned for me is that i believe that we should not take sides, in fact we have taken sides against how settlements have been unhelpful for israel's long-term survival. i want to make sure that we don't do anything in this bill
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that would compromise the traditional view of this country in regards to israel's settlements. so, we have tried to modify the bill and we're still working with it. but, i tell you, it's becoming more and more timely. because american companies are receiving letters from the united nations human rights council questioning whether they are doing business in israel. for the purposes of advertising a boycott against those companies that do not respond. let us work together to figure out a way to protect the freedom of speech, protect the legitimate concerns of all parties but to protect american businesses from being bullied into boycotting israel. we can do this together. [ applause ] i believe -- i believe in our international organizations, i'm a strong supporter of the united
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nations, i think it's extremely important organization. i'm very concerned about president trump's policies of america first. because to me, it's america alone. and that's not what this country needs to do. so, let me give you one concrete example and that is the threat of iran. i listened to susan rice's presentation and i agree with almost everything she said. iran is very dangerous country. we know that. israel knows that. america knows that. and that's why we negotiated iran nuclear agreement. i agree with secretary rice, that was the deal with the nuclear aspects. now, in dealing with that, many of you are aware that it was a close call for me whether to support that agreement or not. it was. i came down on the side that it should have dealt stronger on a
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length of time. but once it was signed and put into effect, and with iran complying with that agreement, i think it would be so much against the united states national security interests if the president were to reimpose sanctions against iran and i will continue to do everything in my power to make sure that doesn't happen. [ applause ] this is a dangerous strategy that isolates the united states. you heard susan rice tell you all the reasons. let me add one more that is pretty current. general dunford our joint chief said unless there's material breech would have an impact on others to sign an agreement with americans.
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if we walk away from this agreement, beside giving iran the ability to go back to its nuclear programs, the isolation of america from our european allies, all that, why does the president think we could enter into dip lo masy with north korea? who would trust america's agreements moving forward? particularly when it's been embodied in the security council resolution. it's counterproductive to u.s. national security. and now, when the national security team has replaced general mcmaster with john bolton, and is in the process of getting director pompeo as secretary of state, there won't be any backup in the national security team for america to
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join the international community in dealing with major diplomatic challenges. we have to speak out. [ applause ] the theme of your conference is a voice for today, a vision for tomorrow. the greatest challenge is peace between the israelis and the. palestinians. i understand susan rice's analysis, we all understand that. but, there's only one course for peace in israel. only one option. two states. a jewish state of israel. a palestinian state, living side by side. in peace. that's the only option. [ applause ]
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the united states is beyond any one person. the united states must be a facilitator of those talks, were the only country that has the capacity to bring this about. one of the great opportunities that i have had in life be with shimon peres on several occasions. and listen to his vision for israel and her neighbors. he understand the aspirations of the palestinians and israelis. he recognized by having peace and opening up the middle east to prosperity that it would be a lasting peace. because what people want is an economic future for their children and grandchildren. and opening up peace between the israelis and the palestinians would lead to that.
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shimon peres said israel welcomes the wind of change. and sees a window of opportunity, democratic and science-based economics by a nation desires peace. israel does not want to be an island of affluence in an ocean of poverty. improvements in our neighbors' lives means improvement in our neighborhoods in which we live. shimon peres understood that israel's future is linked to the palestinians living in peace and prosperity. we can make that happen. we must -- we must make that happen. [ applause ] so, that vision for tomorrow includes the u.s./israel special relationship remaining one of our best important friendships
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in the world, anchored by shared values, common goals and appreciation for history and learning from history towards a brighter future. i thank j street and i thank each one of you for devoting your energies to accomplishing that cause. thank you. [ applause ] thank you. ♪ ladies and gentlemen, please welcome j street chicago student, ricky baker keusch. hello, everyone.
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my name is rikki baker keusch. fifth year at the university of chicago. i'm completing a masters in middle east studies. i'm involved with j street u since my second year of college. last year, i served as vice president for the midwest to the j street student board and this year i'm an organizing fellow. i wanted to share a little bit about why i'm involved with all of you. in 1995, there was a giant peace demonstration planned in tel aviv in support of the oslo accords. my parents brought me, their 6-month-old infant to the rally. they believed it would be a
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momentous occasion for the history books. a major milestone in the peace process. the two-state solution was right around the corner. characteristically my dad didn't want to stay for the song at the end of the rally. but also characterisically my mom really wanted to, so they negotiated and we left as the song began. as we walked to meet my grandparents at a cafe close by, shots rang out. like many young israelis, palestinians, and pro-peace americans, i grew up in the echo of those shots that killed the prime minister. my generation doesn't remember successful peace processes. we have seen too many wars and bouts of violence. we agonize over the current
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situation in gaza and more often than not, a two-state solution seems impossibly far away. so, my family left israel in the fall of 2000 and immediately i was thrust into american politics in kindergarten. my parents would bring us to the election booth each election day. we would be told which levers to pull, which boxes to fill. my parents would describe the candidates and their parties. politics don't seem as bleak when you have a firm belief in the democratic process. [ applause ] in 2015, i attended the j street conference. as a young, progressive israeli american college student, j street was my clear choice for a
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better future. i was most looking forward to hearing from israeli, palestinian and u.s. politicians. spending time on the hill and meeting with politicians who in my mind had to power to change everything. that tuesday, one of my meebts was with senator dick durbin. i was blown away. not only a 1,000 college students and over 3,000 total attendees at the conference, but there were true political leaders aligned with j street's mission. j street is the place where the two chapters of my political
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upbringing came together. in addition to reflecting my values j street has allowed me to grow as a political person. through my work with j street u and the build peace campaign, i have gained concrete skills and sharpened my political thinking. this fall, j street u participated in advocating for a senate letter, led by senators dianne feinstein and bernie sanders. the letter spoke out against demolitions, echoing our stop demolitions, build peace campaign. illinois schools were ready. j street leaders from northwestern, u of chicago, and depaul sent letters to our senators. upon learning that senator dick
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durbin signed the letter we rallied to thank him. in a midst of a pretty hectic finals week. this action engaged our college democrats even more deeply in support of our work. after months of progressive coalition building on campuses across the country, the college democrats of illinois began the first state chapter to publicly endorse our stop demolitions, build peace campaign. [ applause ] they were soon folt load by state chapters of california, washington, and we expect many more to come. [ applause ] tomorrow, students will join other j street activists in advocating for a letter,
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spearheaded by representatives that calls on prime minister netanyahu to halt the demolitions of villages in area. representatives is yet another illinois political leader with a fierce dedication to progressive politics and the two-state solution. [ applause ] j street u students in illinois and throughout the country have been lucky enough to engage with representative on our work. through j street and j street u, students have met with president barack obama. we lobbied our members of congress. many of us have interned on the
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hill. i once personally fist bump keith ellison. [ applause ] as students, we know that we have much to offer current representatives and candidates. and we remain committed to the work of supporting our american political leaders, who put diplomacy first, who fight against islamophobia and all forms of bigotry and fight for the viability of a two-state solution. [ applause ] through j street and its empowering political work, i have been able to come out of the shadows of those three bullets on november 4th, 1995. i have found a political home that allows me to participate in
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the politics i admire in order to realize a world i want. thank you. [ applause ] ♪ ♪ ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the senior senator from maryland. ladies and gentlemen, for a special video address, please welcome -- ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the chief representative of the palestinian delegation to the united states. [ applause ] thank you very much.
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hello, everybody. good afternoon. that was the voice of god just before -- [ laughter ] i mean. the leadership of the members of j street, thank you for giving me this opportunity. to be with you at such an inspiring conference. to be among the thousands of brave women and men, of all ages and i see many young faces around. every year to defend your values
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and principals to give a voice for the main stream jewish american community. i was one of the first palestinian officials to speak at j street in its early stage of establishment. [ applause ] it feels like yesterday. then, i said that nothing -- nothing is more missing than a motivated organization that gives a voice and a call of action to the silent majority of the american jewish community, to the many who believe in peace and who keep the hope for a better tomorrow. [ applause ]
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i am inspired to see your conference today. to follow the evolution of your organization. becoming the main stream american jewish organization, defending peace, to witness your growth. [ applause ] your growth, both in numbers and impact. your voice has become loud and clear and your contribution to the u.s. political landscape is widely recognized. my friends, you're never outnumbered. that's why i say this. you're never outnumbered. all those who believe in a different tomorrow, believe in the goodness of humankind are always never outnumbered.
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but you're out organized and today, and today, as i said then many years ago, you give us hope and confidence about the future. [ applause ] because the future is not shaped by those who merely witness it. the future is shaped by those who author it. and i see many of you here who have taken a decision not to only witness the future but to author the future for all of us. thank you very much. [ applause ] and it is an opportunity to commend you, commend j street, to commend the relentless work,
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your dedication, your investment, all that came your way, it's an occasion to commend you and i repeat what i said many years ago. you have partners in us the people of palestine and the leadership of palestine. [ applause ] so my friends, we palestinians remain steadfast in our vision of peace and self-determination. [ applause ] two states, in 1967 borders, a state of palestine with east jerusalem as its capital. [ applause ] a city for all the three faiths.
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[ applause ] and a solution to the issue of refugees and a state of israel. yes, refugees deserve an applause, they have rights, they have rights, they dreams, they are not a burden, they're a human being, they deserve your applaud. refugees deserve your applause. for years they have been -- palestinian refugees including myself have been a force of good everywhere they go. look at them in the gulf states, look at them wherever they're go, their rights can be respected. but here, i'd also say that vision would also include a state of israel. with secured, internationally
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recognized borders and neighborly relations. with us and the region. [ applause ] my friends, we still firmly believe that this is the best way forward. [ applause ] and let me say this, the two-state solution was never a palestinian demand. it was never about absolute justice. it was the solution was a palestinian concession, painful but essential for investing in the cause of peace. [ applause ] investing in the cause of peace is not by words, but by deeds
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and we have done our share. we have recognized -- we have done our share and we'll continue doing our share. peace is too precious, to long waited for, we have done our dues and we'll continue doing our dues. number one, we have recognized the state of israel. on historic palestine. that recognition gave from the legitimately from the israeli people. voting in the most national democratic way for peace and for recognizing the state of israel. and we take no shame in recognizing the two-state solution. we take no shame in recognizing our neighbors. we may take a bit of shame on
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not achieving the endgame. but investing peace something that we always and will always do. we signed the oslo accords in 1993 because we have to engage in the process. that we see the end of israel occupation, that we see the end of the oppression of palestine. we engaged in building the state bottom up from the ground, building our institutions that the international community have said that already it's a deliver of sovereignty. we're so proud of our institutions, of our policemen, of our ability to provide for our people in the fields of health, education, despite the most adverse circumstances and we worked during the years with the arab world.
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to offer israel the arab peace initiative. 22 arab countries. 22 arab countries. and with them the rest of the islamic world, 57 countries. to offer israel normalization as an outcome of peace. [ applause ] we worked with our brothers in the arab world and sisters, because we want to provide an incentive for peace. but we will not allow this to be a substitute for peace, normalization is an outcome of peace, not a substitute for peace. [ applause ] and my friends, we have no time to mince our words. it has become bluntly clear that israel's prime minister benjamin netanyahu is only interested in a win all/lose all formula. [ applause ] and despite all this for all
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these years we did not let go of our vision, of our commitment, of our investments for peace. our response during all these difficult years was to face up to the challenges by adopting nonviolence. including, popular peaceful struggle on the ground and reverting to internationalism, internationalism, the international law, the international system, the united nations, since 1988, when that declaration of declaring an independent state of palestine, and israel, since then we have been unwaivering. rock solid in our commitments. we didn't change our bets. we don't allow difficult times to change our commitments, our
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vision, our destination. no, we defend it. we defied it. we protected it. this is an occasion in front of you, my friends, to re-affirm our yeses. [ applause ] the first yes to a digniied and just peace. the second yes, yes to a two-state solution on the 1967 borders. [ applause ] yes to internationalism and to international resolutions. [ applause ] yes to nonviolence. yes to nonviolence.
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[ applause ] we will not allow -- we will not allow the blood to stand between us. no matter what our political differences is, no matter the oppression is, we shall believe in power of the people the masses, the power of the nonviolence. [ applause ] number five, yes to a two democratic states. it's not just any two states we're after, these two sovereign
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states must give their citizens full, equal rights. [ applause ] no other consideration. no other consideration. but the rule of law. not the creed, not the color, not the religion, not how tall or how short, not the language you speak or the god you pray for, but the fact that you're a citizen of that state. yes to that, yes to that. no to racism, no to discrimination. [ applause ] and finally, yes to a meaningful, genuine, credible peace process. [ applause ]
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but friends, hear me out here. and it's important that i say on behalf of the people and leadership of palestine what i'm about to say now. the leadership that has been struggling for over a half a century, bringing their people and bringing the international community to the consensus that peace can never prevail without justice. we may have issues back home, my friends, and i take note of any voice here, we may have issues but don't waste our time or lose sight of the fact that palestinians can only themselves bring about the representation. don't meddle and don't intervene. [ applause ] and i'll go on this.
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because it's an important subject. nothing we pride ourselves more in palestine than our democratic process. it has been interrupted for ten years. painfully so. it has interrupted because no one wants to convene elections without these elections being national. we won't convene elections without jerusalem and without gaza. only convene elections when elections are national and we're working towards that to be national. now, i want to say -- [ applause ] and i ask the people of palestine, they will never, ever accept any leader or leadership if they are not elected, even when they're elected there's a
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lot of opposition. so, leave us alone. our domestic situation is not easy. but i tell you, we cherish our ability to renew our democratic process. now, about how much our yeses are unwavering solid like a rock has always survived the test of time, moments of despair just like this one, but so are our nos. here's the first no, here's the first no. no to redefining what the two-state solution means. no to that. no to that. big, fat no. no state minors. no interim arrangements. [ applause ] no lasting process, we've done that. we want lasting peace. no state with provisional borders.
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[ applause ] no state without east jerusalem, its capital. and no state at the expense of two-thirds of the palestinian people. no state without resolving the issue of refugees. [ applause ] and no state without gaza and no state in gaza. and let me say the last no in this area, no state -- no state with one israeli soldier on its soil. not one. [ applause ]
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the second big no we have, is no to the u.s. administration decision on jerusalem. no to that. no to that. no. big no. we rejected that announcement and decision then and we reject it now. because that decision does not help the cause of peace, because jerusalem is the key to peace. [ applause ] and because jerusalem is the very heart of what you and us believe in, the two-state solution, without jerusalem there can never be a two-state solution.
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that decision was not only counterproductive to peace, but it did not do justice. to the identity, to the history, to the reality of jerusalem. jerusalem has been inclusive, inclusive, open, tolerant, diverse, people of all faith, jews and muslims live together, coexisted. [ applause ] the keys of the church, of the holy, is home for the family and muslim families in the old days, with the jewish candle for the jewish neighbors throughout the history of that city, but today is an anomaly, jerusalem will always reject claims of
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exclusivity. no one can have exclusive claims of jerusalem and no one should. [ applause ] we -- we promise you, we vow in front of you that once peace prevails, once the state of palestine is established, once that state has east jerusalem as its capital, that city will not only recognize jerusalem we'll celebrate the jewish connection to jerusalem. [ applause ] the unilateral decisions by the israeli prime minister and the u.s. administration, but particularly by the administration, doesn't change the status of jerusalem, i assure you and the refugees
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after cutting aid. or change the status of the historic and legitimate rights of the palestinian people. it doesn't. the only status that changed since the announcement in jerusalem, the only status that changed is the status of the u.s. as a mediator. [ applause ] since 1988, we kept our promises, our commitments and our relentless investments and efforts to achieve the two-state solution. we stayed the course.
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we stayed on the negotiating table for 26 years nonstop. those who say we walk away from negotiation, come on, we have been over negotiating if you want the truth. and during these 26 years, my friends, america could not bring itself to the level of an honest, neutral mediator. but we kept on. we kept on. [ applause ] you know why we kept on for 26 years? because the u.s. during all that time did not change its promises. did not change its policies. it remain commitment to the two-state solution on the 1967 borders. unfortunately no more. by the 6th of december 2017 the u.s. has reneged on its own promises. has reneged on its long-held u.s. policy and has violated international law. but let us set the record clear here, very clear, there will be no deal -- there will be no
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deal, no agreement, short of full filling the international resolutions that we have long accepted, no deal that fulfill that feels the legitimate historic rights of people. what happened was not taking jerusalem off the table, my friends, but removing the table all together. removing the table all together. since the start of the peace process in 1991, we have never and will never negotiate the principles, please hear me out here. not once from the madrid, oslo, the road map, have accepted the principles. they would be listed on page one of all of these agreements. we were there for 26 years to find ways with our israeli neighbors and with the international community, led by the u.s., to implement these principles. no one -- no one has the right to undo these principles. but, however, yet we will not
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succumb. we'll work with you. and with the million of peace-loving people worldwide to protect our vision, to maintain our commitments and keep working towards a two-state solution. our alternative is multilateralism. multilateralism. we are calling for the ending of the exclusion of the international community. our president mahmoud abbas presented in february the
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palestinian peace plan, ppp, i hope you'll revisit that plan, it's crucial. in this plan he called for the convening of an international peace conference, that international conference by the international community should provide a way forward for the two-state solution. should provide a mechanism for implementing international resolutions. my friends, it's not only the absence of a state of palestine that's keeping the grave injustices, it's not just the absence of the state that's keeping the injustices. but it's the presence of israel's military occupation that sustains and deepens the morally.
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for those who believe in a two-state solution, the goal must be one, ending the military occupation. ending the military occupation. ending the military occupation. [ applause ] >> for peace can no longer afford ambiguity. justice can no longer be left to spin doctors and self-centered politicians. and we have many of them these days. peace is too noble, too precious, long waited for. and the one thing that will make it nearer is the clarity of the undivided values and principles and the clarity of our joint purpose and action. what will produce peace, my friends, is us, all of us, standing united to rid the israels, the palestinians, the region and the rest of the world of the plague named military
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occupation. our people -- and i must go faster -- i'm about to finish. [ laughter ] >> but our people are being humiliated, incarcerated, terrorized and killed every day. we cannot afford processing the peace process another hundred years, as maybe the israeli government wants to. we want it now. it's urgent, very urgent. and we see that it's not all about the despair surrounding all of us, but it's also about the hope. i'll give you a few examples of the hope. the first is that we see the
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responsibility toward many israelis. the palestinian people in many places, in jerusalem in july, in gaza the last two weeks adopting mass nonviolent means, coming up with creative ways. we see that power coming out when people are using prayer mattresses to declare their rights and to defend their rights as happened in jerusalem. we take absolute note and we are heartwarming of palestinians -- and by the way, road accidents happen regularly in the west bank. it does warm our hearts when palestinian ordinary citizens rush to save the lives of israelis who are involved in these traffic accidents. it's our humanity that comes first before anything else. [ applause ] >> hope is the young american jews like the brave souls in if
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not now, if not now. hope is the israeli human rights group. hope is israeli peace activists that immediately went to gaza last week, looked the israeli soldiers face to face to hold them accountable for their lethal actions and targeted killing of palestinian civilians. that is hope for us. [ applause ] >> hope is tamar. is she here? [ applause ] >> calling on her government to investigate fully what happened
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in gaza. hope is rabbi eric asherman, who stood up to extremists beating him before continuing the job of beating the palestinian farmers. hope is the many, many israeli activists who stand shoulder to shoulder with us as we struggle to end the occupation. it warms my heart to know we have allies like you and like them back there. allies with such courage and conviction to stand up for what is right. you are not dreamers, but realists.
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you are not dreamers, but realists. you understand too well that the best future is a future that shines just as bright for palestinians as it does for israelis. [ applause ] >> that's what i see in this room, the hope for all sides to live together. we also take hope from american leaders, principled leaders, representatives. and i'm humbled that the man who will take this stage after me is senator bernie sanders. [ cheers and applause ] >> we noted his courageous, brave defense not of palestinians, but of the american values he represents. we noted his defense, senator sanders, of the rights of people
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in gaza and all over to protect their right for peaceful protest. it is their right to protest peacefully. [ applause ] >> and we take hope from the many, many, many american youth all over who are doing one thing. they are no longer considering the american values to be undivided, the values of freedom, of justice, of liberty, of potential and prosperity. we see them everywhere. they are growing. the public opinions are showing that the american public, particularly youth, give us hope. i'd like to end here by saying this. you in this room give us and
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give the cause of peace real, real hope. the hope that keeps us going despite all the above. that hope will get us through these difficult times, we promise you. and towards a better future. remember, my friends, the road is long and tiring. it is. it is us, however, that are winning. it is us that are winning because we are on the right side of history. [ applause ] >> we stay strong together and uphold our shared values for equality, human rights and justice across all divides. do not let the current circumstances discourage you. you know better than anybody else that the best antidote to discouragement is action. through action, we create the future that we want, my friends.
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and i believe that we are much nearer to the future we want than those who are pulling us away from the future we want. we are striving for a just peace and our striving for just peace starts with ending occupation together, my friends. let's keep the march. thank you very much. [ cheers and applause ] ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the senior senator from hawaii and the democratic chief
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deputy whip, senator brian schotz. >> good afternoon. i am not bernie sanders. [ laughter ] >> i want to thank jeremy and the j street board of directors and all the volunteers for inviting me to this incredible gathering. i want to thank all of you for advocating for democracy and for diplomacy, especially in these trying times. i'm here today because i'm a progressive. i'm here today because i'm a jew. and i'm here today because i believe in israel. and i believe that the united
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states must continue to safeguard israel's right to exist and its right to flourish. as a nation, we should protect israel from daily threats and make sure that the israeli military is the strongest in the region so that our allies never face a fair fight. i also believe that the best answer to any challenge to israel's long-term security is two states, one for the israelis and one for the palestinians. and i'm here especially because i worry that people are starting to abandon this idea. leaders here in washington and in israel have started to play coy about their support for the two-state solution, even redefining it. increasingly they have taken action that erodes the path forward, but there is only one path to a lasting peace. there is only one path that maintains israel's status as
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both a democracy and a nation state of the jewish people. and that path is two states. that's why this conference is so important and that's why j street is so important. you are one of the clearest voices calling for the two-state solution at a time when israel's supporters stand between a rock and a hard place. on the one side, you have the most right wing government in israel's history. on the other, you have a growing number of people in the united states who confuse disagreement with disloyalty. [ applause ] >> 55 years ago, dr. martin luther king, jr. was sitting in a prison, reading the newspaper hen he came across an open
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letter from a group of clergymen. the letter was to him. it criticized dr. king for coming to birmingham to protest. and so he wrote them back. he said, i'm here because injustice is here. and he went onto compare himself to the jewish prophets who left their villages to travel far and wide to tell people, this is what the lord says. like them, dr. king felt compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond his hometown. dr. king finished that letter from the birmingham jail 55 years ago today. and his words are just as important now as they were in 1963. they remind us not to stay home and stay silent when we see injustice.
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they also tell us the american instinct will always be to confront injustice. there were lots of reasons for him to simply stay out of it, to leave it to the british or the united nations. but he could not stand to see jews languish in the concentration camps. he knew that the only way forward was for the united states to support the creation of the state of israel. but today u.s. support for israel is in danger and the threat comes from two places. first, it comes from anti-semitism here in the united states which has become a flood tide. in one year anti-semitic incidents have increased by nearly 60%. frankly, it's coming from all sides. philip spencer, an emeritus professor, has documents how the nazis were able to build a movement based on anti-semitism. it's because the political parties never pushed back, not the social democrats or the communists in germany and not the resistance across the
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continent. we've got to remember this, because the obscene call of anti-semitism must be condemned every time it is heard. [ applause ] >> and it's easy for us to look at another country or another political party and say, enough, do better. it is a tougher conversation when the problem is in our own tent. but we know that we cannot look the other way when people who would otherwise be our progressive allies speak out of ignorance or fear or convenience and they cross a moral line. we have to engage, but we have to show people where the moral lines are. which brings me to the second point, which is the smothering of dialogue here in the united states.
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the parameters around our debate have gotten dangerously out of control. it's to the point where if you're not willing to see the united states pick any fight on behalf of the israeli government, then you're not a friend of israel. we should not be afraid of debates and disagreements. these are the marks of democracy and the essence of what it means to be jewish. growing up in honolulu, my dad argued about israel with the head of my religious school, who argued with my rabbi, who argued with me. when i traveled to israel with the national federation of temple youth, i argued with my friends about israel. and while you're here this week, i expect that you will argue amongst yourselves.
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it's what we do. we are not a monolith on these issues. that's the antithesis of our tradition as americans and as jews. instead of fearing debate, we should fear belligerence and blind devotion. [ applause ] >> a rabbi has talked about the beauty and ethical understanding that jewish homelessness has given us throughout history. that remains true today. we can still bring great clarity to the jewish moral vision. and it's in the jewish interest for others in israel and around the world to be able to listen to different perspectives. here's my view. we should not go back on a two-state solution. we should not move the u.s. embassy to jerusalem and accept as a condition of -- except as a
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condition of a peace process. we should not pull out of the iran deal, which is the only thing keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of our enemy. and we should take in as many refugees from syria as we are capable of taking in. [ cheers and applause ] >> and if you don't agree with every single one of my views on israel or american foreign policy that's okay. we can carve out some space in the american political sphere for a difference of opinion. but at the moment that space is far too small and far too private. if you look at my positions and
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put them in the '80s or '90s, they would be mainstream. if you compare my views on israel to the views of the american public, right now i'd probably be right in the middle. but in congress, i am on the left edge. that cannot hold. in 2016, less than half of jewish americans felt that the israeli government was sincere in its pursuit of peace. and younger jews in the united states are even more doubtful. they are likely to say that the united states gives too much support for israel. and we know that israel faces the danger of anti-semitism and the danger of foreign and domestic threats. but it also faces a more foundational danger if american political support for israel is undermined, if we don't allow robust debate f we don't allow people to feel comfortable to support the existence of israel while questioning its government, the relationship itself will fray. so i'm committed to making the democratic party a big tent, pro-israel party where there's room for everyone from bernie sanders to me to chuck schumer. and i am committed to growing
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the number of progressives who care about israel. but we do have a lot of work to do. as dr. king wrote, human progress does not roll in on wheels of inevitability. progress will only come if we do the hard work and we do it ourselves. we are in a moment when the work is daunting. at times it feels like a worst case scenario. but if there's one thing i have learned from the past 15 months it is this, the voices of the american people make a difference. they can keep our country on track. and as long as you continue to raise your voices, we will make progress together. thank you for all you do. [ applause ]
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>> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our panel, daniel levy . >> hello, j street. >> you would think that they'd been sitting here a while according to the response. >> yeah. [ laughter ] >> so i know you like short
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plenaries here. we've been told to talk about setting the table for peace. but i would be amiss if i didn't first just say how great it feels to be here on the tenth anniversary of j street. [ applause ] >> marav has been with us many times. for me, looking back when we were still thinking what the name would be, drafting the first papers with jeremy, the first pitches -- and j street has grown from strength to strength and a decade of amazing leadership by jeremy benamy. if you'd have told me ten years ago this is where we'd be, i don't think i'd have imagined it could have been this much of an achievement. if you'd have told me ten years ago some other things, that might have also have given me a reason to pause to consider what the future holds. if you'd have told me the cast of characters in the israeli
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government would look as it does, that the narrative would so often be one that is offensive and racist, if you had told me that the leader of the new israel fund would be held for questioning for her political views and affiliations, or that another jewish group jvp would be banned from entering israel. i also couldn't have imagined an
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american president who calls him former fbi director a slime ball. or that the priestly duties would include paying hush money to porn actors. [ laughter ] >> but in setting the table for this conversation, you know, what worries me and where i think the challenge lies is it's gotten worse, but the pendulum hasn't swung back nearly enough. what i really wouldn't have imagined is that there had been insufficient pushback and blowback and counterreaction across many fronts. of course inside israel -- mirav
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is here. she can speak for herself. i wish we had more miravs and i wish we had a more effective opposition, if i may say, including the leader of your own party. but you don't have to respond to that. >> i will. >> good. on the palestinian side, i heard a lot, but i'm not seeing a lot. [ applause ]
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>> what i heard, one of the things i heard that was fascinating is that i heard listed all the villages in area c where there's non-violent resistance. i heard about gaza and jerusalem. that's all the areas where you don't have the palestinian authority and the palestinian security forces. that's a real challenge. on the regional side, we've seen a collective shrug and an attempt to do normalization without the palestinians or even against the palestinians. the international community has, again, shown its robust fecklessness. and in america, it's perhaps the source of hope and also, of course, greater frustration, because you see an administration so aligned with the most egregious policies of the current israeli government. but you also see what j street has achieved. i was moved by what we heard
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from ricky of j street u and the end of demolitions campaign. i was a little older than six months at that rally. the emergence of a group like, if not now -- [ applause ] >> so let me just share with you mirav to get us going the three things that have been on my mind in terms of what one might do in this current situation, because i do not believe that right now in this precarious moment is the time for grand initiatives, actually. i don't think there's a silver bullet. i do not want to do the injustice to the english language of coining the phrase trump peace plan. i have no expectations from this administration. where that lead me to focus is three things.
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number one, hold the line, hold the line on 67, on international law, on opposing what's going on with jerusalem. hold the line also of the logical sequence of the arab peace initiative. the future of israel will be determined by how israel interacts with the palestinians, those under direct occupation in the west bank, indirect occupation in gaza, in the twilight zone of east jerusalem. those were second class citizens in the israel and the palestinian diaspora. whether there are meetings, official, unofficial, between israelis and gulf officials. that's not going to determine our future. so number one, how do we hold the line. number two, for me this is so much about the incentive and disincentive structure. and this is difficult, i know. it's difficult for an israeli patriot and for yourself. how do you change the cost benefit calculation?
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it's great to have incentives for peace, but what are the disincentives for continuing with the status quo. how do we create accountability? and i wonder how one and when one more effectively revisits the question of sanctioning and whether we should make common cause with some of the most regressive elements in the community and beyond. we may disagree with fellow progressives on an end game or some may. but surely we have more in common and surely the instrumentalizing of anti-semitism and the misdefining of anti-semitism is undermining the struggle against anti-semitism. israel should not be held to a lower standard, and israel should not be used as the vehicle for launching attacks on civil rights and freedom of
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speech. i disagree with something i heard earlier. i think there should be a u.n. database on companies involved in the settlements and it should be published and it's the right thing to do. [ applause ] >> gaza can't a mini state. i think there are much common ground inside the israeli security establishment that things they are doing the wrong thing there and maybe even some possibility for movement within the development. those are the three initial
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thoughts i wanted to share with you. >> emphasis initial. >> and perhaps final as well. mirav, i don't know how you see the way out of the impasse that we're clearly in. >> okay. well, daniel, who became ten years older during this time the -- [ laughter ] >> no, not now. not now. i mean since the first j street convention. seriously that's what i meant.
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he doesn't remember that he's responsible to bringing me to the first j street convention and long before i was in politics or at least in formal politics. i had the privilege of being in washington in the first j street convention and to remember if you think that you are excited and energized about what's happening now, you have no idea those of you who weren't here ten years ago, because you were far too young to be allowed to go out of the house alone. and this energy that was then and is here now is part of the ability of this camp that believes in peace and believes in the two-state solution as a way for peace, sustainable real peace and as a way for israel to be sustainable and secure and
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the homeland of the jewish people. mind you, all of the jewish people without distinctions. [ applause ] >> in these ten years we, all of us, are now in a much more -- unfortunately, in a much more i would say defensive almost corner. a lot has become much more difficult. the situation in many angles has become much more dire, and it has become more difficult for us to fight for what we believe in.
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so when i said i will comment on your saying about the opposition in israel, i do want to make you think about democrats in america in the last year. think and keep in mind that the opposition in israel has been living under this kind of regime for 25 years already. ever since the incitement against the accord that was supposed to bring the two-state solution with peace to israel and palestine. the people who did not want this to happen are still working to make sure that this doesn't happen.
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and unfortunately, ever since then, most of the time they've been in power. now, the opposition in israel, which consists of the zionist union and the movement of labor as chair right now and other partners have not strayed from its way of working towards two states and peace and democracy and israel as the jewish democratic home of the jewish people. not strayed. [ applause ] >> i want to assure you that, because i know how trendy it is to speak about how the opposition is not good enough, not loud enough, not successful enough.
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well, sometimes we ourselves, yes, we wish that we had been able to throw away the government that we think is doing israel wrong. but no opposition in the world ever managed to throw down a government. it's always the government that brings down itself. and i have news for you. this government will bring itself down as well. [ applause ] >> now, keeping the line which you referred to, daniel, is not as easy as well on either frontier. because we have a government that works actively and formally. they're not hiding it as they used to in the past. they're working towards annexation.
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they're working towards killing the mere option of a two-state solution. we are fighting that as best we can. we are voting against whatever legislation proposal that they're bringing. we are filibustering every initiative that they bring. we are shouting as loud as we possibly can, but we are facing the same incitement and delegitimatization. this is the same dynamic. these are the same forces and they are even more self-confident today. and we have to fight it even stronger than we had to in the
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past. your partnership is super important for us to be able to do this. so thank you. [ applause ] >> i've been listening to you. i'm here for two days. i had the pleasure of speaking on some sessions and listening to you. i mean, i listened to the speakers, but i listened to you. and i heard you applauding so strong and so enthusiastically when people talk about the victims or the people that you consider to be the victims. but i didn't -- it hurt me, actually, to hear you not applauding when the last speaker said that he believes in the state of israel and its right to exist and its right to security and the importance of it. [ applause ] >> it's easy to get confused. i'm saying this because this is
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something that we have to deal with constantly. but i think it was -- it's always attributed to him, your british author, who said patriotism means to support your country at any time and your government only when it deserves it. but don't mix between the two. [ applause ] >> i said in my inaugural speech israel is in a strong and secure place maybe more than ever before. i strongly believe from this
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place israel must take initiative to find a solution for the conflict with the palestinians specifically and with the arab world and certainly there is a big part of the arab world that wants it today more than ever, and find a solution and work towards the possible peace. [ applause ] >> we should do that in partnership with our current enemies, but we should not relieve them from their
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responsibility to doing everything they can on their part to contribute to an effort of peace. [ applause ] >> so i'll conclude for now by saying that sometimes i feel we are in the midst of a tragedy. israelis and palestinians are too often like a [ bleep ] up marriage. there is so much potential there. we just need good counselling. [ laughter ] [ cheers and applause ] >> unfortunately, there isn't one right now around, but i'm sure and certain and i know that there will be. and one last thing. this session is called setting the table for -- what was it? >> peace, i believe, yes. >> you know, when i was in
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eighth grade, they split the classroom in school and the boys were sent to study electronics, whereas the girls were sent to study household management. no, don't boo. don't boo. for civilizations it has been girls and women who have specialized in setting tables. [ laughter ] >> so this is one other thing that will contribute a lot to not only setting the table for peace but also getting one, when we have more women in the process. [ cheers and applause ] >> all i can follow that with is to promise you that when mirav and myself normally sit down for a conversation, it does not consist of two ten-minute
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speeches at each other and then we leave and part ways. unfortunately, that's today's conversation. i invite you to come to a cafe in tel-aviv to witness the other kind of conversation we have. i'll say one short thing in response to what you said. [ laughter ] >> i do want to say this, because mirav made an important point about imagine what you're going through now, carrying on for 15 years. my comment on that is, do not let the abnormal become normal. [ applause ]
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>> and one of the things that i think happened in israel is that we didn't know how to pull back the conversation and people kept thinking, okay, we'll just move a little more here, a little more here. and you never know when to stop. and that is a mistake, i believe, politically, strategically that we have to pull ourselves back from. so ends the conversation between daniel and mirav. [ applause ] ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the senator from vermont, senator bernie sanders. [ cheers and applause ]
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>> thank you. thank you! thank you. i think we're in friendly territory. thank you very much. and let me -- [ cheers and applause ] >> and let me provide greetings to all of you from around the united states, from europe and especially those who have come from israel and palestinian.
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welcome. [ applause ] >> and it is an honor to be with you today. i also want to give a special greeting to many of the students who -- [ cheers and applause ] >> and as i travel around the country, i have to say that when we talk about the future of the united states, i am very confident given the young people that i have seen, their energy and their idealism is going too make this country become what it must become. thank you, young people. [ cheers and applause ] >> i want to thank j street for inviting me to address your conference today and for the courage that you have shown in tackling some enormously contentious issues. now more than ever we need organizations like j street, who
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are prepared to break with failed policies of the past which have led us into a world of increased militarism, hatred and never-ending wars. too often our foreign policy debate here in washington is dominated by those whose answer is to drop more bombs as we saw in syria a few days ago rather than engage in the hard work of diplomacy and negotiation. [ applause ] >> and i want you to think about this. but after 17 years of war in
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afghanistan, after 15 years of war in iraq, after years of growing hostility and armed conflict between israel and the palestinians, after growing tensions between sunni and shia forces throughout the entire region, after the expenditure of trillions of dollars and mass i have loss of life and displacement, it is clear that we a new direction in attempting to bring peace, stability and justice to the middle east. [ cheers and applause ] >> and i applaud j street for the important role that they are playing in that process. my friends, the issues that we are dealing with are enormously
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complicated. nobody i know has any simple or magical answers to them and real solutions will require a great deal of hard work. but what i do know is that the united states of america, our great country, should lead the world with a foreign policy which emphasizes the need to bring nations together, which focuses on diplomacy and international cooperation rather than a foreign policy that is committed to the use of military force. and let me also say this. as someone who believes absolutely and unequivocally in israel's right to exist and to exist in peace and security, as someone who as a young man lived
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in israel for a number of months and is very proud of his jewish heritage, as someone who is deeply concerned about the global rise of anti-semitism and all forms of racism, we must say loudly and clearly that to oppose the reactionary policies of prime minister netanyahu does not make us anti-israel. [ cheers and applause ] >> i would like to stress today that one of the places where a new turn toward diplomacy and
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cooperation is desperately needed is gaza. after being blockaded for over a decade, the situation in gaza is now a humanitarian disaster. a u.n. report predicted that if current trends continued, gaza would become unlivable. a follow-up report last year said that day might have already come. according to the israeli human rights group, quote, the coastal aquifer, which gaza relies on as its primary saltwater source, has been polluted by overpumping and waste water contamination.
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as a result, 96% of the water pumped from the aquifer and supplied for domestic use in gaza is unsafe to drink, end of quote. according to oxfam, this water pollution is among the factors causing a dramatic increase in kidney problems among gaza's residents. according to the world bank, nearly 80% of gaza's residents receive some form of humanitarian aid. unemployment is over 40%. among the young people, it is even higher, nearly 60%. and let me repeat that. youth unemployment in gaza today is nearly 60%. it is hard for me to imagine how peace and stability will come to an area where so many young people have given up hope for a
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decent future. this is an issue we must address. [ cheers and applause ] >> earlier this year, israeli security officials warned that the humanitarian crisis in gaza increases the chance of incidents at the border fence turning deadly. israeli security officials also believe conditions in gaza could worsen to the point of a total collapse of order in that territory, leading to all-out confrontation between and among
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various factions in gaza and with israel. that is what happens when people are desperate and have no options. there is much blame to go around for the horrific conditions in gaza. hamas, due to its ongoing repression, corruption and insistence on pursuing a violent struggle against israel, bears significant responsibility for the deteriorating situation. [ applause ] >> israel is to blame as well. [ applause ] >> while israel withdrew its forces from within gaza in 2005, its continuing control of gaza's air, sea and northern, southern and eastern borders and its restrictions on the freedom of movement of people and legitimate goods and equipment
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in and out of gaza have made the humanitarian crisis there even worse. egypt and the palestinian authority have also contributed to this problem, as has the united states. [ applause ] >> now, as all of us know, over the past weeks there have been a series of large demonstrations by the palestinian people in gaza. tens of thousands of people have demonstrated near the fence dividing gaza from israel to protest against the blockade, against the occupation and for the right to return to their
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former homes inside israel. israeli forces were commanded to respond by opening fire on the crowd with a combination of live ammunition and rubber coated bullets. over the past several weeks, over 30 palestinians have been killed, including a journalist who was clearly identified and well over a thousand demonstrators have been injured. though the overwhelming majority of these protesters were nonviolent, we know that some of them were not. and when israeli soldiers are in danger, we can all agree that they have a right to defend themselves. [ applause ] >> but i don't think that any objective person can disagree that israel has massively overreacted to these demonstrations. [ applause ] >> as a "new york times" editorial put it last week, and
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i quote, the right of palestinians to demonstrate peacefully should not be controversial. journalists have a right to work and people have a right to demonstrate peacefully. [ cheers and applause ] >> and to assume -- and this is the "new york times" -- and to assume that responsible authorities will ensure that they can do so without being shot, end of quote. i support the statement last week from several of my colleagues in the house of representatives calling on palestinians to protest peacefully and on israel to fully comply with international law and exercise the utmost restraint in their use of deadly force. [ applause ] >> i understand that the netanyahu government is trying
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to make this all about hamas in order to delegitimize the occupation. the hamas presence among a crowd of tens of thousands does not justify the level of violence we saw. frankly, it is amazing to me that anyone would find that point of view controversial. [ applause ] >> i have condemned hamas's use of terrorist violence and will continue to do so. but that violence cannot excuse shooting of unarmed protesters. and it cannot excuse trapping almost 2 million people inside of gaza. [ cheers and applause ] >> in my view, the united states must play a more aggressive and
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even-handed role in ending the gaza blockade and helping palestinians and israelis build a future that works for all. and if the white house is unable to do that, congress must take the lead. [ applause ] >> let me make a point now that is much too rarely made, because what we're talking about is something that is extremely complicated and the blame goes all over this world. but what we should also be focusing on is that while we rightfully criticize the netanyahu government for its obstructionism and for its unwillingness to seriously negotiate with palestinians, we
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must also demand that the incredibly wealthy regional states and kingdoms in the area play a new and much more positive role in helping to region. . [ applause ] >> as i understand it, the crown prince recently purchased a $500 million yacht because he thought it looked nice.
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well, i'm sure that it did look nice and i am sure that the $300 million mansion that he owns, the wealthiest, most expensive mansion in the world, that also looks nice, but what i say to the crown prince and the other multibillionaire leaders in the region, stop just talking about the poverty and misery in gaza, do something about it. now, i read the other day that saudi king pledged $50 million to unra, the un agency that works with palestinian refugees, and $50 million is not a small
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sum of money, but let us know forget that that is 10% of what the crown prince paid for his yacht. the problem of gaza clearly is only one part of the broader conflict between israel and the palestinians, and here i am very concerned about the policy of the trump administration regarding the two-state
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solution. i know that this week my friends in israel will observe your memorial day, the remembrance of those who have fallen in defense of the state of israel, and we honor those who have fallen. my friends, i believe that the best way to honor the memories
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of those who have died in defense of our countries is to strive for a future of peace. when i look at the middle east, i see our ally israel making enormous technological advances with the capacity to serve as an engine of innovation and prosperity for the entire region. that is what the future must be. yet, they are unable to achieve this today because of the unresolved conflict with the palestinians. and i see a palestinian people crushed underneath a military occupation now in its 50th year, creating a daily reality of pain, humiliation, and resentment. ending that occupation and enabling the palestinians to have independence and self-determination in a sovereign, economically viable state of their own, is in the interest of the united states, israel, the palestinians and the entire region. unfortunately, prime minister netanyahu and his allies seem to be preparing for a very different future, a future in which israel controls the entire territory between the
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mediterranean and the jordan river in perpetuity and the palestinians are, at best, provided limited autonomy within a disconnected series of cantons. the settlements continue to grow, slowly diminishing the chances for any peaceful resolution, but building more settlements will not bring peace. demolishing palestinians' homes and villages will not bring peace. last year, as some of you may know, i wrote a letter to prime minister netanyahu, along -- along with nine of my senate colleagues protesting the deeply inhumane policy of demolishing palestinian villages.
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and i want to take this opportunity to thank j street for your support on this issue. frankly, i wish donald trump was as committed as you are to the cause of peace and stability in the middle east. but to say the least, that does not appear to be the case, and that is an understatement. even though he claims to want to make the ultimate deal, that deal is now further away than it has ever been and trust in the
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united states as an honest and evenhanded broker is almost nonexistent and one of the main reasons for that is president trump's extremely unwise decision to recognize jerusalem as the capital of israel. everybody knew that at some point the united states was going to make this recognition, but the idea was that we would do it at the end of a process in a way that recognized the importance of jerusalem to all people, to jews,s to christians, muslims and the palestinian people. instead, by recognizing only its importance to israel, president trump has severely undermined the peace process. friends, let me also say that i
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am very concerned that the trump administration still has not stated its support for the two-state solution as a goal. because if we do not have a two-state solution, what will we have? the palestinians and the occupied territories ought to be denied self-determination in a state of their own, will they receive full citizenship and equal rights in a single state. these are serious questions with significant implications for the united states, broader regional partnerships and goals, for our interests and our values. we should not ever downplay the political challenges of reaching a solution. they are very, very difficult,
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but if we have faith in the future, if we are prepared to work hard, if we are prepared to go to the negotiating table, they are doable. we can accomplish that goal. the truth is that the parameters of the solution are well known, they are based in international law, they are based in multiple united nations security council resolutions and they are supported by an overwhelming international consensus. two states, negotiated, based on the 1967 lines with jerusalem as the capital of both states. my friends, before i end, i would like to take a moment to touch upon some new and emerging challenges our societies are now facing.
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not just in israel or the united states, but all over the world. as i think we are all aware, the last several years have seen very troubling political developments and that is the rise of intolerant, authoritarian, political movements and governments, which are attacking the very foundations of democratic rule. these movements have drawn strength from the fact that at a time of increased globalization,
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children. and in the midst of all of that we have leaders like president trump and many others who are willing to exploit these frustrations for their own political and economic ends. instead of bringing us together to resolve these difficult global crisises, these demagogues attempt to try and divide us up by the color of our skin, by the country we came from, by our gender or religion, or our sexual orientation. and i say to president trump and
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to other leaders around the world who are using that political strategy, in this country we have struggled for too many years against all forms of discrimination, against african-americans, against jews, against latinos, against italians, against irish, against the gay community. we have struggled too long and come too far. we are not going back to bigotry and discrimination. [ applause ] as history as reminded us time and time again, the antidote to
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division, hatred and resentment is to bring people together around a shared vision of equality and prosperity, of creating governments that work for all people, not just the few. so brothers and sisters, we have an enormous amount of work in front of us in so many areas. and no area for in planet is more important in terms of trying to create peaceful resolutions than is the cauldron of the middle east. so i want to thank j-street and all of you for having the courage to get involved in this issue. while we look around us with deep concern, i am absolutely
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convinced that the future will belong to those of us who believe in peace and in justice, not those who believe in bigotry and hatred. thank you all very much. [ applause ] >> announcer: former first lady barbara bush died earlier this week at the age of 92. this saturday the funeral service for the former first lady will be held at st. martins episcopal church in houston. you can watch this live at 12:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. >> announcer: c-span's washington journal life every day with news and policy issues that impact you.
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coming up friday morning, reason magazine reporter c.j.seri melon discusses marijuana. and today the cannabis policy here in washington. author christopher coin will be with us to talk about his book, the domestic fate of u.s.milita. be sure to watch the washington journal live at 7 eastern friday morning. join the discussion. >> announcer: next on c-span3 hear author and economics professor gary wolfram talk about capitalism and you believes it has benefitted those living in poverty. his remarks are an hour and 15 minutes. [ applause ] >> well thank you all for coming. there is two things that i wanted to bring up before i really get started. one is if you get on youtube and you do

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