Thank you very much. Dear friends, as the president of the state of Israel, first and foremost, I say on behalf of my people, toda raba. Thank you.
Thank you, President Obama, for being such a good friend. Thank you, AIPAC, for your dedication and excellence. There's no organization like yours.
Friends, it's great to be here, to be together; strong, united. I see old friends and new ones, and I see many young faces; young boys and girls. The future belongs to you. Israel loves you. I'm moved by your generous tribute.
I stand here before you as a hopeful man, proud to be Jewish, proud to be Israeli, proud to be here and present at the birth of Israel, proud to serve my country for 65 years, proud for our alliance with the United States of America. Israel, like America, was conceived as an idea borne in defiance of history, creating a new world by drawing the values of the past and the innovations of the future.
Friends, the restoration of a Jewish statehood after 2,000 years in exile is a historic miracle. We started as a doubt and we wound up as a certainty. It's a long way from being a doubt and becoming certain. We had to fight six wars in six decades. We did not lose one. We never will. We cannot afford it. We had to defend ourselves. Self-defense is our right and obligation.
With little land, water, or resources, Israel grew 10-fold in population and 50-folds in GDP. Israel high-tech and innovation contributed to the world in its agriculture; it made the desert green. Israel built villages, new cities, new universities, new theaters. Our children are speaking the language of our prophets. Hebrew literature is flourishing. From a dispersed people, we became a united democracy. No day of war ever interrupted a day of democracy. Never.
Dear friends, permit me a personal note. Fate placed me in the eye of the storm. I was 11 years old when my beloved grandfather, Rabbi Zvi Meltzer, came with me to the train on my way to Israel. He hugged me and whispered in my ear only three words: Shimon, stay Jewish. Those words, those were his last words to me. I never saw him again.
In 1942, when the Nazis arrived at his village, they forced my grandfather together with the remaining Jews into the wooden synagogue and set it on fire. No one survived. No one. What remained was my grandfather legacy, his last words to me -- stay Jewish.
Dear friends, I was privileged to walk with the father of our nation, my mentor, the unforgettable David Ben-Gurion. For me, Ben Gurion's great leadership with my Grandfather's legacy became my compass. That compass is comprised of four core values: our moral code, our pursuit of peace and security, our quest for knowledge, and our alliance with the United States of America.
The moral code, the return to the Book and its values, enabled the Jewish people to survive for 4,000 years; not because of our quantity but because of our quality. Not because we have had thousands of guns but we have had 10 commandments; they guided us. We are guided by the call of our prophets. I'll tell you what it means to me to be just, to do justice, to never deny justice to others. Dear friends, the pursuit of peace for us is not a passing opportunity. It is a moral imperative. It is the tenet of our nation's security. To make peace, Israel must be strong. Let me assure you, Israel is strong.
The Middle East is undergoing its greatest storm in history. With horrible bloodshed in Syria, where a tyrant is killing his people, killing his children. I admire the courage of the Syrian people and I wish them peace and freedom from the depths of all of our hearts.
In spite of the storm, we have to reach out to the young generation in the Arab world, to those who strive for freedom, democracy, and peace. Dear friends, the Palestinians are our neighbors for life. Peace can and must be achieved with them. A peace based on a two-state solution; a Jewish state, Israel, an Arab state, Palestine. It was accepted by past and present Israeli prime ministers and American presidents, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, all of them.
The principle of the two-state solution is a paramount Israeli interest. We want to preserve an Israel that is Jewish, democratic, and attractive at the same time. I meet from time to time with President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad. They need and they want peace. I believe that peace is possible with them. They are our partners for peace, not Hamas. They are the only partner.
A peace that is a dream for both of us is a nightmare for the Ayatollahs in Iran. They're afraid we shall make peace. Iran is an evil, cruel, morally corrupt regime. It is based on destruction. It is an affront to human dignity. Iran is the center, the sponsor, the financier of world terror. Iran is a danger to the entire world. It threatens Berlin as well as Madrid, Delhi as well as Bangkok; not just Israel. Iran's ambition is to control the Middle East so it can control a major part of the world economy. It must be stopped and it will be stopped.
Israel experienced the horrors of war. It does not seek it. Peace is always our first option. But if we are forced to fight, trust me, we shall prevail. President Obama is leading and implementing an internationally complex and decisive policy, imposing economic and political sanctions against Iran.
President Obama made it clear that the United States of America will never permit Iran to become nuclear. He made it clear that containment is not a viable policy and, as the president stated, all options are on the table. Dear friends, the United States and Israel share the same goal to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. There is no space between us. Our message is clear: Iran will not develop nuclear weapons.
Ladies and gentlemen, the quest for knowledge defines Jewish history. Judaism is in constant debate. It's about asking the right questions. It is about being a liberal and a pluralistic society. I believe Jews are never satisfied because they are always seeking new answers for a better world, a better tomorrow, or what we call tikkun olam.
I believe the next decade will be the most scientific, the most dramatic chapter, in human history. It will expose possibilities that today sound like science fiction. Its center will be brain research. The more we shall know about ourselves, the more we shall be able to control ourselves. Because in a global world, without a global government, self-control is really vital.
Friends, in a world of science and knowledge, the Jewish people and Israel have an exciting role to play, much to contribute, and so we shall do.
Friends, members of Congress, may I say, America is and will remain the indispensable leader of the free world, the indispensable friend of our people. Today, more than ever, the world needs America. I have had the privilege to meet all American presidents in the last 50 years, Democrats and Republicans. I was always impressed by their deep commitment, their real care for Israel. Their commitment was and is bipartisan.
Mr. President, members of the administration, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, we are forever grateful to you for your unwavering support, your unbreakable alliance between the United States and Israel. Thank you from the depths of my heart.
I first met President Barack Obama, our great friend, when he was a senator from Illinois. I saw before me a born leader. His care and devotion to Israel's security was already then evident to me. Mr. President, I know your commitment to Israel is deep and profound. Under your leadership, security cooperation between the U.S.A. and Israel has reached its highest level. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a friend in the White House. That's my view. He reflects the values that made America great and make Israel secure. Thank you, President Obama, on behalf of my people.
Soon I will return home. Great challenges and opportunities await us. I know it. Thank you for your love and commitment and America's great friendship. Ladies and gentlemen, I return home much more hopeful, much more encouraged.
Thank you, really, all of you from the depths of the heart of my people. God bless America. God bless Israel. Shalom to you. Thank you very much.