Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday evening addressed the opening session of the 46th Annual Leadership Mission of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, held at the Inbal hotel in Jerusalem.
The Prime Minister thanked the Jewish community leaders for their consistent and uncompromising support for the State of Israel — support that he noted “was both in heart and soul”.
"I've been developing contacts with the Arab countries and Muslim countries, and I can tell you there's scarcely one, two, three Muslim or Arab countries around the world that we don't have deepened ties with. Sometimes it comes out in the open. A year ago, Sara and I were on a very moving visit, an open visit to Oman, and two weeks ago, we had a very moving visit with the president of Sudan. That's an Arab, or rather a Muslim country, speaking Arabic, that hosted the Khartoum Conference. And in Khartoum they have all the noes against Israel. Remember the noes? No recognition, no Israel basically. And now, we're discussing rapid normalization,” said Netanyahu.
“The first Israeli airplane passed yesterday over the skies of Sudan. This is quite a change. The Israeli mochileros, the backpackers, fly to South America and start hiking. We just got down about three hours of their flight time. They don't have to go to Spain and then around Africa. They can now fly directly over Sudan right to Brazil, Argentina, and they can stop on the way in another country, Chad, which also resumed relations with us recently,” he continued.
“I'm just telling you what is above the surface. How much is above the surface in an iceberg? It's about 10%. What you're seeing is about 10%. Vast changes are coming because Israel is now a power to contend with, and because collaboration with Israel helps you prepare, secure the future of your people and ensure a better future for your people. Securing the future, the safety of their people is obviously something on everyone's mind, and the greatest threat to the security of the countries of the Middle East and countries in the world, is the attempt by Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons.”
Netanyahu stressed, “Israel will never let Iran acquire nuclear weapons. Second, we do not let Iran entrench itself militarily right in our backyard, in Syria. We resist that mightily. We take every action that is necessary to prevent that. And I believe we're succeeding. We have taken up arms against a foe that openly calls for Israel's liquidation. Obviously, we're not going to wait."
The Prime Minister was welcomed by the leaders of the 50 plus organizations represented by the Conference of Presidents, led by Chairman Arthur Stark, together with Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein, and CEO William Daroff.
Despite the ongoing political instability in Israel, and the wide range of opinions and views represented at the Conference of Presidents, the organization stands out as the main forum uniting all streams and world views of Jewish organizations in support of Israel, despite a range of opinions.
Earlier on Sunday, speaking at a press conference Chairman Arthur Stark, together with Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein, and CEO William Daroff spoke about the importance of their delegation to Saudi Arabia, and of the organization’s ongoing work to ensure the security and representation of the Jewish community in the United States on a range of important issues.
While the details of the meetings remained a matter of closed discussion, on the issue of their historic visit to Saudi Arabia last week, Conference of Presidents Chairman, Arthur Stark, noted that the group had held an “Open dialogue with high level officials” and added that, “We hope and believe this is a step in a long and productive relationship.”
Stark noted that the concerns of both parties were raised, and that the group had been well received.
He added that the visit came on the back the group’s meetings with the Prime Ministers of Israel, Greece, and Cyprus where they discussed the importance of the strengthening regional cooperation.
The leaders went on to stress the importance of maintaining the continued bipartisan support for Israel in the United States. They noted that despite media reports and the focus on outspoken individuals in Congress, support for Israel remained relatively high in Washington and among American voters. They pointed to the success of several bipartisan legislative initiatives on matters concerning military aid to Israel and on the issue of combatting Antisemitism.
Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein stressed in particular the importance of global fight against the rising trend of anti-Semitism.
He noted, “The issue we are dealing with globally is anti-Semitism, which has always been there of course – it ebbs and flows in how overt it is, but it’s become a wave that has risen up.”
He added, “It is not just one type of anti-Semitism, it shows itself in many different ways.” Hoenlein noted that the Conference of Presidents has been proactively addressing the challenge through several initiatives, and pointed to the creation of a hotline for Jewish students to help them report, and offer support following, anti-Semitic incidents.
CEO William Daroff, on his first Leadership Mission since taking up the position, concluded by giving an overview of the upcoming conference which included briefings from Israel’s President Rivlin, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Speaker of the Knesset Edelstien, Defense Minister Bennett, Jewish Agency Chairman Herzog, and a number of other senior military, security, and policy officials.
Following the press conference, the group conducted a visit to the Mobileye factory in Jerusalem. There the delegates representing more than 50 Jewish organizations from across the United States met with CEO Amnon Shashua, who told them about the award winning technology and how it helped save lives of pedestrians and drivers.