B’nai B’rith President Seth J. Riklin and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:
Appearing before a joint meeting of the United States Congress, Israeli President Isaac Herzog celebrated Israel’s “first” 75 years and reiterated the strong bond between the State of Israel and the United States. “When the United States is strong, Israel is stronger. And when Israel is strong the United States is more secure.”
Herzog’s well-received speech, interrupted by applause and standing ovations, was a testament to his exemplary leadership and diplomacy and highlighted his commitment to fostering cooperation between Israel and the United States and to peace in the Middle East.
We appreciate his pragmatic and forward-looking solutions to pressing issues, such as the threat posed by Iran to Israel, the Middle East and the world. He said that the greatest challenge Israel and the U.S. face together is the Iranian nuclear threat, and he went on to stress that Iran is not trying to gain nuclear power for peaceful purposes.
Herzog’s commitment to fostering peaceful dialogue and resolving conflicts through diplomacy was evident throughout his address. He stressed the importance of building bridges and advocating for dialogue and negotiation—all vital and powerful tools in resolving complex disputes. While at the same time, he emphasized Israel’s resolve in defending itself against terrorists. “Israel cannot and will not tolerate terror and we know that in this we are joined by the United States of America.”
Last month, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said in a statement, “Today, we continue to strengthen the unbreakable bond between our two democracies.” This position within Congress is vital to maintaining a strong bi-lateral relationship.
Herzog noted that he is not blind to criticism from friends, even within Congress. But he stressed, “Criticism of Israel must not cross the line into negation of the State of Israel’s right to exist.”
It is shameful that a few members of Congress refused to attend a session celebrating the strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
The last time an Israeli president spoke to a joint meeting of Congress was 35 years ago, when Chaim Herzog, the father of Isaac Herzog, had the honor.
At a meeting with President Joe Biden at the Oval Office a day earlier, Herzog noted, “Because there are some enemies of ours that sometimes mistake the fact that we may have some differences as impacting our unbreakable bond…I truly believe that if they would know how much our cooperation has grown in recent years and achieved new heights, they would not think that way.”
We commend Biden for his commitment to Israel, stressing at the Oval Office meeting: “My love for Israel is deep rooted and long-lasting…This is a friendship which I believe is simply unbreakable.”
Herzog noted toward the end of his address to Congress, “Israel and the U.S. inevitably will disagree on many matters, but we will always remain family…Our bond may be challenged at times, but it is absolutely unbreakable.”