Thank you. Good morning. It is so exciting to be here at AIPAC yesterday hearing from President Obama and President Peres, and today, having the opportunity to hear from Senator Joe Lieberman and AIPAC's executive director, Howard Kohr. Thank you for those powerful words.
Those of you who are my age or older, if you have an awareness of me, might remember I began my career in fashion back in the last century as a model. Today I serve as a designer, CEO, a mother, a wife, a Christian, and a very proud pro-Israel American. It is humbling to stand before you. And since I've arrived, many of you very kindly have asked me why are you here. I'm here to speak loudly to you and to the world with a personal testimony that Israel is not only a Jewish value; it is a cherished American value.
Christian faith brought our family to Israel. Our journey there awakened us as well as friends and loved ones who joined us to the reality that only Israel in the Middle East is truly protecting the values of freedom, of democracy, and of individual liberty that we in America hold so dear. And that is why I know, as do all of you, that if Israel is not safe, no one in this great country of ours is safe. And that is why it is so important for me and for all of us to speak in support of Israel against the vicious attacks that are hurled at this great nation in weapons and in words.
I want you, our friends in Israel, and Israel's detractors to know that from Washington, D.C. to Mobile, Alabama, from my church in California to churches in Juneau, Alaska that Americans value Israel.
I've had the great privilege of visiting Israel always knowing that I'll return. I've met with people of every age and socioeconomic level. I've met with the youth of the nation; young men and women serving in the Israel defense forces who one day are strolling the sandy beaches of Tel Aviv and the next, targeted by terrorists who seek nothing less than the eradication of their nation and their lives. I've met with mothers who are in wheelchairs, families who have lost children; people whose bodies are permanently disabled by the ravages of terror.
I've stood beside doctors and caregivers in hospitals in Israel who give healing to the wounds of terror and unbelievably these same doctors and caregivers give care and healing to the very people who attack them. From Hurricane Katrina to the devastating earthquake in Haiti, from the deadly tsunami in Japan to catastrophes across our globe, consistently Israel is among the first responders.
Despite this unwavering humanity, Israel exhibits each and every day, there are still those around the world who are unrelenting in their war of words against the Jewish state. And personally, this is something I find extremely disturbing. How often have we heard, "Why can't Israel just give back the land? Why can't Israel stop the fighting?" Israel seeks no battles. Israel wishes to live in peace. Israel is one-sixth of 1 percent of the entire Middle East. Israel is surrounded by oil rich neighbors who could invest more in their people, their development, their humanity instead of devoting resources to the slaughter of innocent lives.
America, indeed the world, owes an unbelievable -- in fact, an unpayable debt to Israel. We must honor these courageous people who are yearning for peace, who offer us protection and inspiration. And that is why I so deeply believe that there is no place on earth -- please let me repeat -- no place on earth like Israel.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote that peace for Israel means security. And I'm going to read what he wrote because I do not want to distort one of his words.
Dr. King wrote that, "The United States must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist. In Israel," he said, "I see one of the great outposts of democracy in the world and a marvelous example of what can be done. How desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy."
Dr. King's vision for Israel and America is something that we cannot take for granted. It is a vision that needs to live within each of us; the values of freedom, equality, and justice.
My Christian faith opened my eyes to the importance of Israel. You don't need to share my faith to know that Israel's values cut across everything political and state line. They are values cherished by people of faith; respected by every race, ethnicity, and gender; embraced by people with a true understanding of humanity. These are American values.
And friends, I don't stand with Israel out of any minor sense of celebrity, as an entrepreneur, a designer, or even only because of my Christian faith. I stand with Israel as an American who sees in Israel what I see in our own country: a great people with a strong commitment to the values of freedom, the goal of equality, and an unrelenting pursuit of justice.
Israel and America have a shared vision. It is such an honor to be here with all of you today at the AIPAC Policy Conference -- the critical and heroic work being done by AIPAC and by all of you. And it is amazing to look out and to see Democrats, Republicans, Christians and Jews, people of every race and background coming together and to know that at AIPAC, we all have a home. And as incredible as that is, it's not enough. We need more people making a difference. I believe it is the responsibility of every American to stand up, speak out, and do all that we can to make sure that the United States always stands with the State of Israel.
And please know, standing with Israel in no way implies any anti-Arab sentiment. The throne of God is made up of every tongue, tribe, and nation. Scripture teaches us through the unconditional forever Abrahamic covenant that through you, Israel, all the families of the earth will be blessed.
It is my personal promise to stand with Israel for the rest of my life. I ask you to please join me in that stand and to please make a promise of your own to the people of Israel.
Thank you. God bless America. God bless Israel.