Remarks at the Israeli American Council National Summit 2019 in Hollywood, Florida
The President. Well, thank you very much. And thank you to Miriam. Thank you. She's so cute, she said: "I didn't finish my speech. What should I do?" I said, "Go ahead and finish it. Don't worry about it." [Laughter] Don't let a little music get in your way. And it was a beautiful speech. That was a beautiful speech. Thank you, both. These are great people, and they love Israel.
And I have to say, on behalf of everyone here today, I want to thank Miriam and Sheldon for the extraordinary commitment they make to fostering an unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel. It's unbreakable. Unbreakable. Each of you in this room tonight is a national treasure. Just remember that too.
Before continuing, I also want to express our profound support to our entire Nation for the victims of the evil and barbaric attack at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida. Our hearts break for the families who lost their precious loved ones in this atrocity. Another atrocity. We send the urgent prayers of all Americans. During times of pain, Americans always stand together and never leave each other's side. We do best under pressure.
Today I'm here to talk about how peace-loving nations can work together to build a future of greater security, prosperity, and hope for our children and generations to come.
I'd like to begin by saying how truly thrilled I am to become the President of the United States and to address the fastest growing Jewish organization in the Nation: the Israeli American Council. Thank you. Great job. Great job. Fastest growing in the Nation. Wow, that's big stuff. [Laughter] But I know some of the people in this audience. Many of you I know, and I'm not surprised to hear that.
Thank you for the invitation to address you today, and congratulations to your outstanding chief executive officer, Shoham Nicolet—Shoham, thank you—as well as your entire leadership and all of those incredible people that work so hard: Naty Saidoff. Naty? Where are you, Naty? Thank you. Thank you very much. Great job. And Shawn Evenhaim. [Laughter] Thank you. I don't know if that was good, but not bad. [Laughter] We wanted to put a little extra spin on it. Thank you, Shawn. Great job.
We're also grateful to be joined by a group of incredible people that are with you all the way: a friend of mine, a man who's done a fantastic job for this country, Secretary Ben Carson. Ben? Where are you, Ben? Ben. Thank you, Ben. Incredible job.
And we have two warriors, and they are Congressmen, and they're fighting all the time and they're defending our country, defending your President against oppression. That's what it is. And our poll numbers keep going up. You'll explain that to me. But they are indeed warriors. Congressman Jim Jordan, Congressman Michael Waltz. Please, stand up.
And we have a lot of politicians here tonight, but I have to ask a man that happens to be a truly brilliant young man. I'm a little bit prejudiced when I say that. But he loves Israel, and he's fighting hard for Israel. And he wants to make peace with your neighbors. And a lot of people say that can't be done. A lot of people say it can't be done; it's the hardest of all deals.
I love deals, and I used to hear the toughest of all deals is peace with Israel and the Palestinians. They say that's the toughest of all deals. But if Jared Kushner can't do it, it can't be done. Thank you, Jared. Thank you, Jared. Incredible job he's doing. He wants to see that. And he loves Israel—that, I can tell you.
And we're delighted to have with us President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras and the First Lady of Honduras. And I have to tell you—thank you, sir—that President Hernandez is working with the United States very closely. You know what's going on on our southern border. And we're winning after years and years of losing. We're stopping drugs at a level that has never happened.
Unfortunately, the drugs become worse; they become bigger quantities. You have no idea what's happening. They're being smuggled in from all parts of the world. But we've never had anything like it. And we're building a wall. Now we're up to almost a hundred miles.
And we're getting a lot of support not only from Honduras, but from Guatemala, from El Salvador. We're getting tremendous support from Mexico. Mexico has got some difficult problems, as you know, but they are really helping us. And the President of Mexico has become a friend of mine, and he's working hard.
Right now we have 27,000 Mexican soldiers on our southern border telling people, "You can't come in." You know that, right? It's a good job they're doing. So thank you. And thank you, Mr. President, Madam. Thank you very much for coming.
Let me also extend my deep appreciation to Israel's Ambassador to the United States, a great gentleman and a friend of mine: Ron Dermer. Ron Dermer. Ron, thank you. Known you a long time, Ron, haven't I? Huh? Long before this.
Thanks as well to Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. Thank you, Jimmy. Thank you, Jimmy. Thank you. Great job. Florida—[applause]. Wow, got a good fan club. Florida Senate President Bill Galvano. Thank you, Bill. Majority Leader of the Florida House Dane Eagle. Thank you, Dane.
And chairman of the Florida Republican Party Joe Gruters. Thank you, Joe. Great job. How we doing, Joe? I think we're doing pretty well, Joe. Right? Tells me we're leading in every poll. We're doing better than we did on election night. But you know what? We'll take election night. It was just fine. Somebody said we're way ahead. And I said: "Let's just win by one vote. That's okay too." [Laughter] No, we're way ahead. We're doing good. We're all doing good together.
I also want to recognize the Israeli Shalva Band for their amazing performance tonight. You're going to hear them again in a couple of minutes. I want to thank you very much. That was a great performance. Millions of people watched their terrific appearance at Eurovision earlier this year. They were incredible, and they are an inspiration to the entire world. And thank you very much. They're going to be back. They're going to be back.
This is truly an extraordinary time for America. Our economy is booming like never before, and our people are thriving. You saw what happened yesterday. It was announced that 266,000 jobs were added in November. And that shattered all expectations. They were thinking about 70,000. They were thinking about 90,000—which isn't so bad. Two hundred and sixty-six thousand. Plus, they corrected previous months, and you could add that to it.
Plus, we created 50,000 manufacturing jobs. Remember the previous administration? "You'd need a magic wand." Well, we're doing great with manufacturing. We're bringing manufacturing back. If you don't have manufacturing, what do you have? Not a lot of good things. But we're bringing manufacturing back.
We've created 7 million new jobs since the election. And if I would have said that before, or if I would have said that during the campaign, the fake news media would have gone crazy. They would have said that's not possible. Audience members. Boo!
The President. Nearly 160 million Americans are now working. That's the highest ever recorded in the history of our country. We've never had so many people working. Unemployment has reached the lowest level in half a century. America is winning again; America is respected again. America is winning and respected, frankly, like never before. It's happened.
Now, it's truly my honor to be here this evening to celebrate our progress to deepen the incredible partnership between the United States and Israel. And it suffered very gravely in the last administration. I don't know if you know that. So many of you voted for people in the last administration. Someday you'll have to explain that to me, because I don't think they liked Israel too much. I'm sorry. [Laughter] I don't think they liked Israel too much.
After 8 long years in which our alliance was undermined and neglected, I am happy to report that the United States-Israeli relationship is stronger now than ever before. America and Israel are woven together by history, heritage, and the hearts of our people. We share a love of freedom, democracy, religious liberty, the rule of law, and national sovereignty. And we share that.
The story of Israel is a tale of triumph in the face of centuries of oppression and persecution. The Jewish people endured, persevered, and flourished beyond measure, building a thriving, proud, beautiful, and mighty nation in the Holy Land.
The friendship between our countries is essential to achieving a more safe, just, and peaceful world. That is why every single day since I took the Oath of Office, I have stood firmly, strongly, and proudly with the people of Israel. You know that. The Jewish state has never had a better friend in the White House than your President, Donald J. Trump. That, I can tell you.
For over 20 years, every previous President promised to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. And they never acted; they never did it. They never had any intention of doing it, in my opinion. But unlike other politicians, I kept my promises. Two years ago this week, I officially recognized Israel's true and eternal capital, and we opened the American Embassy in Jerusalem, finally.
And you know, that's an interesting story because David Friedman—do you know David Friedman, our great Ambassador?
Audience members. Yes!
The President. Well, David was one of the most successful lawyers in New York, maybe the most successful lawyer in New York. But he loves Israel. He loves this country, but he loves Israel. And I said—called him. I know how much he feels about, you know, the heart. He'd go there all the time. I'd say: "David, would you like to be the Ambassador to Israel? You're giving up a lot. You're giving up one of the great practices in New York City. Would you like it?" It took him about 2 seconds to say, "Yes, that's what I want to do." And he gave up his law practice. He gave up a lot of great clients. He became the Ambassador.
And a lot of conflict was taking place. A lot of bad feelings, a lot of bad will. We have to get the people of our country, of this country, to love Israel more. I have to tell you that. We have to do it. We have to get them to love Israel more. Because you have people that are Jewish people, that are great people—they don't love Israel enough. You know that. You know that.
But David Friedman is not one of them. And he went to Israel and immediately made an impact. And then, I said: "You know, I want to do what no President has done. Many, many Presidents said they were going to move the Embassy to Jerusalem. And they never did it." And I understand why they never did it. They never did it, because when they thought I was going to do it, and when they heard that I was going to make an announcement in 2 weeks, I started getting calls from everyone. I got calls from Presidents. I got calls from Prime Ministers. I got calls from Kings and Queens. I got calls from everyone. [Laughter] "Don't do it. Don't do it, please." Don't do it. It will be terrible if you do it. It will be horrible if you do it."
And I heard this from many people. And then, the time came closer and closer, and I did something that was smart, because I learned then and there—for that 2-week period, I was inundated—I learned why other Presidents, in all fairness to them, why they made the campaign promise, but why they never got it off: Because they were besieged by foreign leaders. The top, the biggest people in the world called them. You wouldn't believe how many; some countries you never even heard of were calling. [Laughter] I said, "What's that country all about?" [Laughter]
And about a week and a half out, I said: "Listen, tell these people I'm going to call them back. I'm so busy." [Laughter] True. I said: "Tell them I'm going to call them back. I'll get to them as soon as I can." And 1 week went by, and then 3 days went by, and then I made the announcement at the White House that we're moving the Embassy to Jerusalem and that Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel. Finally, somebody said it. Right?
And it was a big deal, and it was great. And a day went by, and a second day went by, and there was no violence. I heard there was going to be massive violence. They showed violence—because about 20 people were violent in the front row, but there was nobody behind them. So CNN had the cameras very low, pointing to the sky. It's true. [Laughter] It's true.
They said: "Massive crowds have gathered. Massive crowds." And I looked, I said, "That's a strange angle. I've never seen that angle." [Laughter] It was like—you had a cameraman sitting on the floor pointing up. But every once in a while, you'd say: "There's nobody behind the people in the front row. What's going on?" [Laughter] And it was a con. It was fake news as usual.
So these days went by, and then I made the phone calls. And I'd call up the Kings and I'd call up the Queens, and I'd call up everybody—the Presidents, the Prime Ministers. I'd say, "Hi, I'm sorry, I couldn't get back to you quickly"—[laughter]—"but what's up?" [Laughter] "What's up?" And they said—[laughter].
Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
The President. Thank you. Well, I learned all these tricks from Sheldon. So you know. [Laughter]
So I call: "Hi, King. What's up? What's happening?" [Laughter] He said, "I wanted to tell you I didn't like you doing that with Israel." "Oh, man! I wish I called you back a little sooner. I'm sorry." [Laughter] Call a President: "What's up, President?" "I wanted to tell you not to do that, sir. But you've done it." What can I—"Yes, I wish—hey, you know, I wish I could have gotten you sooner, but I'm so busy." [Laughter] I took about 40 of those calls. Right? Everyone was the same: "I wanted to tell you"—I said, "But you know, in the meantime, it opened, and it was, you know, really pretty amazing." It was done. We did the deal.
Then, we had a problem: We had to build it. And I'm a builder. I'm really a good builder. I really probably do that the best. [Laughter] Some people said, "Are you a better builder or a better politician?" And I thought I was going to say "builder," because I really was good, you know? I built good. And then, I said to myself: "Well, let's see: I was a good builder. I was very successful. I did a great job. Know how to build." But then, I got into politics. And I only ran once, and I became President, so I guess I'm a better politician. I don't know. Maybe I'm a better politician. [Applause] I don't know, maybe I'm a better politician. I don't know. But I'm a good builder.
So we now have the designation. And one of the generals—good general—came in front of me: "Sir, would you please sign this order?" And you know, in the United States, plenty of money. This is the most beautiful orders you've ever seen. You know, I'm used to signing just like a piece of paper. But now you have these gorgeous books that are solid leather, and everything is leather, leather, leather.
[At this point, the President held up a binder taken from the podium.]
Beautiful. Everything is beautiful. These are like notes that don't even mean anything to me. I don't use them. [Laughter] Like, look at that. Isn't that beautiful?
I'm used to getting a piece of paper. But this is the way they do. So they bring in this gorgeous folder, twice the size of that. I said, "What is this?" "Sir, this is for the Embassy in Israel." I said, "Well, we just announced it, so what is it for?" "We're looking for land, but this is a commitment to spend $2 billion." I said, "Two billion?" It's, like, a one-storey building, right? [Laughter]
"Sir, we're looking for land, and we have some locations that we think are very good, but it's very expensive in Jerusalem, sir. But we have the right to go up to $2 billion, sir." And I had the first name; I had "Donald" signed. Then, I heard it was $2 billion for the Embassy, and I stopped signing it. [Laughter]
And I called David Friedman. I said: "David, I need some help. I just approved an Embassy; they want to spend $2 billion to build the Embassy. And I know what that means: You're never going to get it built. It'll take years and years." I said: "You know what's going on here? They're looking at terrible locations." There are no good locations. You know why? Because we had the best already. We were there first, right? We were there early, with you. He said: "You know, but could you give me 2 days, sir? I'd like to take a look and see." So he calls me back 2 days later.
So we're going to spend 2 billion, and one of them was going to buy a lousy location. A lot of you are in the real estate business, because I know you very well. You're brutal killers. [Laughter] Not nice people at all. But you have to vote for me; you have no choice. You're not going to vote for Pocahontas, I can tell you that. [Laughter] You're not going to vote for the wealth tax. "Yes, let's take a hundred percent of your wealth away." No, no. Even if you don't like me; some of you don't. Some of you I don't like at all, actually. [Laughter] And you're going to be my biggest supporters, because you'll be out of business in about 15 minutes, if they get in. So I don't have to spend a lot of time on that.
But David calls me back, and he goes, "Sir"—he always used to call me "Donald." Now he can't help but call me "President." I said, "David, call me 'Donald.'" "Yes, yes, Mr. President. I can't do it, sir." That's respect for the office, right? Maybe it's respect for me. But I've known him a long time.
He goes, "Mr. President, I don't feel"—I have many friends like that. Richard LeFrak. Steve Roth. Steve Wynn. He calls "Mr. President." He always called me "Donald." And they always returned my call immediately upon the call being made. They used to take a day, a half a day. [Laughter] Now I call back: "Give me Steve Wynn, please." "He's on the phone." [Laughter] They're great people.
But David calls: "Mr. President, I have good news." "What's the good news? Tell me. I need some good news. I've got people trying to impeach me." [Laughter] Don't forget, this has been going on for 3 years. This is before—I think maybe before I started coming down on the escalator with that beautiful First Lady. Is she an incredible First Lady?
Think of it: I'm coming down the escalator, and people behind my back are trying to do a subversion of government. Think of that. That's what it's about. And we have—by the way, before—Jim Jordan, please stand up. Michael Waltz, please stand up. Congressmen. Michael. Jim. Warriors. I don't know if you have any other warriors in here, Congressmen, but they are warriors. Support them. [Applause] Support them. Support them. So the Ambassador calls up—Ambassador Friedman—goes, "Sir, I have good news." "What?" [Laughter] By this time, you know, it's 2 days, so I'm thinking I'm on to the next subject. Deal makers know what I'm talking. I'm like already on to the next. "What?" He said: "You know, you asked me to check on the Embassy in Jerusalem. Well, we already own a site that's much better than any site that's ever going to be bought. It's bigger, better, has better views. It's the best site in Jerusalem. And we can have setbacks, everything else." He said: "I have more good news, sir. There's already a building on it." [Laughter] "And we can take that building and renovate it." I said: "No kidding. That sounds good to me."
I love renovation. Because if you're smart, renovation costs you much less. If you're stupid, it costs you much more. [Laughter] You ever hear these guys? "Oh, it's more expensive to renovate a building." How do you figure that? You have a frame? You have the walls on the exterior built? I mean, how does it cost you more? If you're stupid, it costs you more. [Laughter]
But David is smart. So he calls me. So they were going to do $2 billion, right? So David calls: "We have the biggest site, the best site. It's already there. It's a building. It's mostly not occupied. And, sir, we could redo it, I think, for $200,000."
And it's the first time in my life I've ever said this: I said: "David, that's too cheap. It doesn't even sound good. You've got to go more." Usually, I'm trying to cut price. But for 200,000, I said: "What the hell kind of a—David, make it like 500,000. We'll do it for half a million." [Laughter]
And then I have a friend, Ron Baron—nice guy. You know Ron Baron? He's a wealthy guy. He's in a beautiful building, and his office has a wall, opposite the elevators, going into his 40th storey, 50th storey of this office building. Very successful guy. He's got Jerusalem stone. Did anybody ever hear—Jerusalem stone? And he drives me crazy. Every time I go to his office, he says, "Look at the Jerusalem stone." He's been saying it.
I said, "Ron, you've told me that 10 times." But I've heard "Jerusalem stone" for 10, 15 years, right? "Look at it, Donald." I'm getting off the elevator. I said, "Ron, I've seen a lot of stone." "But this is Jerusalem." It comes from Jerusalem.
So I say to David: "David, let me ask you a question. Jerusalem stone. Let's do the whole damn building in Jerusalem stone." Huh? You've got so much Jerusalem stone. I said, "Is it available, David" He said, "We have so much we don't know what the hell to do with it." [Laughter] So he has a wall opposite the elevators—rich guy. And I've got a whole damn building made out of Jerusalem stone. [Laughter] True.
So the end of the story is this: I say, "David, let's go." He calls me up in 3 months. He said, "Sir, the building is just about done." I said: "Good. How much?" "Less than $500,000. It's all Jerusalem stone. We have an opening."
No, but think of this. Think of this, right? So we're going to spend $2 billion. It wouldn't be built, Sheldon, for 10 years, 15—don't forget: At some point, whether it's 5 years from now, 9 years from now, 13 years from now—I'm doing this to drive the media crazy. Because a lot of them say, "You know he's not leaving, don't you?" One of these characters—these people are so stupid. One of them said—one of them said: "You know he's going to win, don't you? And you know, at the end of his second term, you know he's not leaving. He's not leaving. You know that." And I thought he's a comedian. I thought he was kidding. He's for real. So now we have to start thinking about that, because it's not a bad idea.
No, but these people are going crazy when we say—when they all scream, "4 more years, 4 more years," I always say, "Make it 12 years, and you'll drive them crazy." Twelve more years. But if I don't get the build——
Audience members. Twelve more years! The President. [Laughter] But if I don't get the building built, it's never going to get built, because you're going to have some guy like Obama or Crooked Hillary.
Audience members. Boo!
The President. By the way, could you imagine Crooked Hillary Clinton telling—I'm telling you a story of what happened, right? We were going to spend billions to build this Embassy, and we built it for less than 500,000 bucks in a better location that we already own. We were there a long time ago, had it a long time. Could you imagine her saying, "Let's see if we can build it for $493,000 instead of $2 billion"?
Okay, number one, it would have never been designated; it wouldn't have happened. So she wouldn't have to worry about building it, because it would have never happened. But I am honored to say that we went there, we cut the ribbon. The building is totally gorgeous. Maybe someday you'll build a new one. I wouldn't advise it. I'd say fix it up and do a job. But you've got a beautiful Embassy. It's in Jerusalem, and you have something that you've always wanted. It was a great, great day.
And to support Israel's security, I've also recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. And that was another thing that was going to take—every President said that also, not with the same aptitude and not with the same strength of what they were saying about Jerusalem and the capital, but they were all talking about Golan Heights. It's been worked on for exactly 52 years. People would have summits over the Golan Heights. They'd fly in, they'd stay for 2 days, they'd negotiate—leaders of countries—for 52 years they'd do this. They'd have summits every 2, 3 years, talk about the Golan Heights.
I said to David, "David, tell me about the Golan Heights in 30 seconds or less." He said: "It's high. It's important. It's sovereign, it's security." [Laughter] And I said, "What do you think, David?" He said, "I think you could do it. I can't believe you're even asking me this question. Where did you come up with this idea?" "I said I've been hearing about it for years." Fifty-two years, and I get "bing"—and we did it. It was done. It was done.
And as Israel has endured the new wave of rocket attacks in recent weeks, my administration has made clear that America supports Israel's absolute right to self-defense. We've also called for the release of Israeli hostages and the return of the remains of Israeli soldiers captured by Hamas terrorists in Gaza.
And this evening, as you probably heard, we're honored to be joined by Rachelle Fraenkel and Bat-Galim Shaer, two mothers of Israeli boys who were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists in 2014. Rachelle and Bat-Galim have responded to that terrible evil with courage and inspiration. They've established an award to recognize leaders who advance unity among Israelis of all backgrounds and religions, striving to build a more secure and hopeful future for us all.
So, Rachelle and Bat-Galim, we cannot fathom your grief, but we will honor the sacred memory of your sons forever. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you.
To combat these wicked extremist organizations, I signed legislation to withhold U.S. taxpayer dollars from the Palestinian Authority until they stop rewarding terrorists with blood money.
Another thing that no other administration would do—I would say to them—I went back and spoke to negotiators, because for years and years, they've been trying to make this deal. I said, "Did you ever hold back the money?" They said: "No, why? We didn't think it was right to do." I said, "I do." [Laughter] "I do." So we don't pay anything anymore. And we look forward to the day when we can help out. But right now if they're going to say bad things about us, if they're going to do evil acts, we're not paying it. And that's the way it is. That's the way it is. It's a lot of money. Almost $600 million a year. So we withhold it. And hopefully, we'll work a deal, and everybody will be happy.
But I don't know how the hell you negotiate a deal when you're paying them money. How did that happen, Sheldon? [Laughter] Who was negotiating that deal, Sheldon? It wasn't you, I can tell you. [Laughter] That was one of my first things. I said: "How do you do that? You have this deal, you're paying hundreds of millions of dollars, and they're saying bad things." No, that's not the way. They're not the only country I've done that to. We've done that to numerous countries.
Across the Middle East, my administration has made historic progress to crush the depraved and sinister forces of radical Islamic terrorism. When I took office 3 years ago, ISIS controlled more than 20,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria. That's the equivalent of the State of Ohio, in size. Today, the ISIS caliphate has been 100 percent obliterated. One hundred percent.
And just a few weeks ago, U.S. special forces—incredible soldiers—brought the world's number-one most wanted terrorist to justice. The monstrous animal known as al-Baghdadi, the founder and leader of ISIS, is dead.
Audience members. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
The President. Never again will this savage killer hurt another man, woman, or child. You saw the men in the orange jumpsuits with somebody behind them—a savage with a knife—and they chopped off the head. That was al-Baghdadi. That was al-Baghdadi's people. And a lot of people died that way, and they died a lot of other ways too. And he died a rough way.
And these soldiers, 68 of them, they jumped off those helicopters. And I watched it. It was incredible. I literally was able to watch it, because of what we can do technologically. I watched it, and it was an incredible sight. They jumped off long before those helicopters were anywhere near to the ground. Michael would understand that very much, because he was a great soldier. But they jumped off those helicopters, and they charged that house, and the enemy didn't have any idea what the hell hit him. It was incredible, actually, to see. Incredible.
Our message to the bloodthirsty terrorist is clear: You don't stand a chance against the awesome power of the United States military. I have rebuilt the United States military. When I took it over, it was depleted. It was old. We had fighter jets that were 50 years old. It was old, it was tired. Now we have spent $2½ trillion on rebuilding our military. And we have a military that's the most advanced, the most powerful, by far, of any in the world—$2½ trillion. We rebuilt our military.
My administration is also confronting the world's number-one state of terror. You know who that is: your state sponsor of terror, the brutal dictatorship in Iran. And I said to Sheldon—I said to Sheldon: "What do you think was bigger? Israel and—if you look, what was the bigger thing, Israel and the Embassy going in, and it became Jerusalem, the capital of Israel? Or the Golan Heights?" He said, "Neither." I said, "What do you mean 'neither,' Sheldon?" He said, "The biggest thing you did for Israel was breaking up and terminating the horrible, one-sided, catastrophic deal that was made by President Obama." [Applause] Right?
I said: "I never thought of it that way, Sheldon, but I agree with you. If you want to know the truth, I agree with you." We paid $150 billion to Iran; 1.8 billion in cash. We got nothing. But that's a different country today. That doesn't mean they're going to come out and hit. And they might, and they might not. But they have riots all over their country. They don't have money. We put sanctions on them; the strongest sanctions ever imposed on a country. And let's see what happens. Their GDP went down 25 percent this year. Twenty-five. Nobody has ever even heard of that. So we'll see. And you know what? We can never give them a nuclear weapon. We can never do that. We can never do that. But maybe we'll be able to make a deal.
The regime funds violence and chaos and mayhem throughout the region, but the greatest victims are its own people. In recent weeks, we've seen the Iranian people rising up to reclaim the noble destiny of their nation. In response, the dictatorship has killed hundreds and hundreds and probably thousands of those people. Probably thousands. You know they turned off the internet. There's no internet. There's no form of communication. I believe thousands of people have been killed. Thousands and thousands of people have been arrested. America will always stand with the Iranian people in their righteous struggle for freedom.
The Iranian regime routinely traffics in the most toxic and heinous anti-Semitism. You know that better than anybody. Last year, the country's Supreme Leader, as they call him, said Israel is a malignant cancerous tumor that has to be removed and eradicated from the face of the Earth.
Audience members. Boo!
The President. We must never allow a regime that chants "Death to America" or "Death to Israel" to obtain a nuclear weapon. That's all we can say. And it's for this reason that I withdrew the United States from that disastrous Iran nuclear deal and implemented those sanctions, which are so biting and so tough.
We're also working to free hostages unjustly detained around the world, including in Iran. This morning, you probably read and probably saw, I announced that Xiyue Wang, an American citizen and Princeton University grad student imprisoned in Iran for 3 years during the Obama administration, taken during the Obama administration—was not a spy, by the way—is coming home.
Throughout history, anti-Semitism has produced untold pain, suffering evil, and destruction. We must not ignore the vile poison or those who spread its venomous creed. My administration is committed to aggressively challenging and confronting anti-Semitic bigotry in every resource and using every single weapon at our disposal.
Roughly 80 times, this past decade, the United Nations Human Rights Council has denounced Israel while ignoring many of the worst human rights abusers anywhere in the world. To call out this egregious hypocrisy, I withdrew the United States from the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Recently, the European Union Court of Justice has also tried to discriminate against products made in Israeli settlements, advancing the agenda of anti-Israeli boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, or commonly known as BDS.
Audience members. Boo!
The President. You know all about it. You know all about it, right?
My administration has now corrected a longstanding injustice by officially declaring that international law does not prohibit civilian settlements in the West Bank.
And as President, I want to be very clear: My administration vigorously condemns the BDS campaign against Israel. But sadly, BDS has also made disturbing headway on American college campuses. You know that, don't you?
Here with us today is Adela Cojab, a recent graduate of New York University, who courageously stood for Israel in the face of hostility and bigotry. Incredible hostility and incredible bigotry. Adela, would you please come up and quickly, or not quickly—any way you want—share your story. Please come up. Thank you. Maccabee Task Force Northeast Coordinator Adela Cojab Moadeb. Thank you. My name is Adela Cojab. And 6 months ago, I took legal action against NYU only 2 weeks before graduation.
My university failed to protect its Jewish community from ongoing harassment, from attacks on social media, to resolutions on student government, to boycotts, flag burnings, and physical assault. The physical assaults ended in two arrests, and the university didn't stand idly. Instead, they gave an anti-Israel hate group the President's Service Award, the highest honor you can receive as a group on campus.
Audience members. Boo!
Ms. Cojab Moadeb. I was notified my case was accepted by the Department of Education, and an investigation has been launched against NYU for failure to protect this community.
To all of the students in the audience today, don't be afraid to stand up, because you deserve better. And as an immigrant myself from Mexico City, I am extremely thankful to live in a country where the Office of Civil Rights takes the concerns of Jewish students seriously.
Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you all for supporting the work that we do on campus.
The President. Thank you, Adela. Thank you very much, Adela.
Shockingly, a number of far-left Members of Congress have also recently joined the international effort to bully, attack, and denigrate Israel. And it's incredible what's been happening with your Congress. Ten years ago, it was unthinkable. Six years ago, it was pretty unthinkable. And now to see what's going on and to watch Nancy Pelosi and these people be pushed around is unbelievable.
Audience members. Boo!
The President. Earlier this year, a number of prominent Democrat lawmakers sponsored legislation to support the BDS movement. You know that, right? Outrageously, the resolution compared boycotting Israel to boycotting Nazi Germany, a grave insult to the memory of the 6 million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. You remember that, don't you, where this was just put before Congress.
This is different. This is different than what it was. This couldn't have happened 10 years ago; couldn't have happened. Twenty years ago, it would have been impossible. Ten years ago, it would have been impossible. You've got to be very careful. Make no mistake: Radical lawmakers who support the BDS movement are advancing anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda. And Americans will not stand for it. We're not going to stand for it.
We've also seen far-left Members of Congress proliferate dangerous anti-Semitic rhetoric. You've seen it. It's rhetorically and morally unacceptable. One lawmaker even wrote that Israel has hypnotized the world and said, "Support for Israel is all about the Benjamins." You heard that.
Audience members. Boo!
The President. And I'll be honest: That's one of the nicer statements. Far worse. She said far worse than that, and so did others in Congress.
My administration strongly opposes this despicable rhetoric. And as long as you're—and I am standing before you, as long as I'm your President, it makes no difference. It's not happening. Okay? It stops at my desk. I said in my State of the Union Address last year, "With one voice, we must confront this hatred anywhere and everywhere that it occurs."
We're grateful to be joined tonight by our new Special Envoy To Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, Elan Carr. Elan, please come up and say a few words. Elan, please. Thank you. U.S. Special Envoy To Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Elan S. Carr. Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you for making the fight against anti-Semitism—what you always call the "vile poison of anti-Semitism," that's exactly what it is—thank you for making this fight a top priority for our country.
My friends, these past few weeks point to the breadth of the work that we're doing. I recently returned from Germany, where I met with leading law enforcement and justice officials from seven separate German states to coordinate our efforts to prosecute and punish anti-Semitic hate crimes. In that same trip, I was in London, and I addressed an audience in the British Parliament about rising anti-Semitism in that country.
And then, in Paris, we worked together with parliamentarians to advance a bill to adopt the formal International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti- Semitism. And I want to thank the French National Assembly for passing that by a two-thirds margin.
And during those same weeks, I was on interagency phone calls and conferences with Washington to address the appalling anti-Semitism rising on college campuses, as we just heard, across America and across the world.
These are only the most recent examples of the multi-front battle we're waging. At the President's direction, we are simultaneously confronting far-right ethnic supremacy, radical-left Israel hatred, and militant Islam. And with the Trump administration's continued leadership, I'm hopeful that we will roll back this rise in anti-Semitism, both here at home and abroad.
Thank you all for your partnership in this vital work. Thank you, Mr. President, for everything you are doing to fight anti-Semitism, to protect the Jewish people throughout the world, and to support the State of Israel. We are in your debt. Thank you so much.
Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
The President. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you, Elan.
From America's earliest days, Jewish citizens have made some of the greatest and most extraordinary contributions to American life and culture. Jewish Americans have fought, bled, and died at every major American war dating back to our struggle for independence.
On this very morning, 78 years ago, more than 2,000 Americans were killed in the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Three days after that attack, a Jewish American airman from Brooklyn, Master Sergeant Meyer Levin, was among the first Americans to bomb a Japanese warship. Sergeant Levin went on to fly in more than 60 harrowing missions in World War II. A great hero.
In 1943, he volunteered for another dangerous mission. On his way back, he and his crew were caught in a violent storm, and their plane began to stall. Sergeant Levin's final act was one of selfless sacrifice. He unfastened the life raft and gave it to his fellow airmen. As they jumped out of the crashing plane, he shouted: "I hope you make it. I hope you make it."
Three American airmen survived that day because of Sergeant Levin's extraordinary valor. One of those brave airmen was his friend, Jack Matisoff, also a Jewish American from Brooklyn. Jack went on to complete another 43 missions in World War Two. After the war, he came home, got married, and soon he had two sons. One of them is Alan Matisoff, a veteran of the Army Reserves, who spent 17 years as a police officer. Alan would not have been born without Sergeant Levin's bravery. And Alan joins us here tonight.
And, Alan, I will tell you, your presence this evening testifies to the love and the strength of a great American hero. And thank you very much for being here. Thank you very much. Thank you, Alan. In every generation, Jewish American patriots have strengthened, sustained, uplifted, and inspired our Nation. In a moment, the Shalva Band will conclude this event with a song that we know very well. Before they do, I want to tell the famous story behind it.
In 1918, a young Jewish American soldier stationed at Camp Upton, in New York, wrote a prayer in the form of a song. His name was Irving Berlin, maybe the greatest of them all. And he held that song close to his heart for more than 20 years. He did not release the song until 1938, as the world learned of Hitler's evil atrocities against the Jewish people.
On November 10 of that year, his song broadcast through the radio and into the homes all across the country. Millions and millions of people were inspired. It was the first time Americans heard Irving Berlin's timeless hymn, "God Bless America."
These words became the prayer of our Nation, the prayer that traveled to the islands of the Pacific, to the beaches of Normandy, and all the way to Nazi territory, where American soldiers open the gates of concentration camps and liberated Jewish survivors.
It's the prayer that Americans sang as we faced down communism and as we came together as one Nation after 9/11. It's the prayer that still unites us today and the hope that burns bright in our hearts, because we are proud American patriots. We love this magnificent Nation with every ounce of our strength, spirit, and soul.
So tonight, together, we ask that God bless our military. We ask that God bless our veterans. We ask that God bless our cherished ally, the State of Israel. And with our flag waving high, our people standing tall, and our faith forever strong, we say our prayer once more: God bless America, our home sweet home.
Audience members. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
The President. Now I'd like to ask the Shalva Band back to the stage for a very, very special performance. Thank you very much. Thank you, everybody.
NOTE: The President spoke at 8:45 p.m. at the Diplomat Beach Resort Hollywood, Curio Collection by Hilton. In his remarks, he referred to Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Miriam Adelson, who introduced the President, and her husband Sheldon G. Adelson, chairman and chief executive officer, Las Vegas Sands Corp.; Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters, and Ensign Joshua K. Watson, who were killed in the shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, FL, on December 7; Naty Saidoff and Shawn Evehaim, board members, Israeli American Council; White House Senior Adviser Jared C. Kushner; Ana Rosalinda Garcia, wife of President Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado of Honduras; President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico; Sen. Elizabeth A. Warren; Richard LeFrak, chairman and chief executive officer, LeFrak Organization; Steven Roth, chairman of the board and chief executive officer, Vornado Realty Trust; Stephen A. Wynn, chairman and chief executive officer, Wynn Resorts, Ltd.; Ronald S. Baron, founder and chief executive officer, Baron Capital; Bill Maher, host, HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher" program; 2016 Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton; Rachelle Sprecher Fraenkel and Bat-Galim Shaer, founders and educators, Sonshine Organization; Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hoseini-Khamenei of Iran; Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi; and Rep. Ilhan A. Omar. He also referred to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist organization. The transcript was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on December 8.
Donald J. Trump, Remarks at the Israeli American Council National Summit 2019 in Hollywood, Florida Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/335089