Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, spoke on Tuesday night at the Hanukkah party held at the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

In his remarks, Dermer thanked the US administration for its support for Israel during the past year.

“These two central themes of Hanukkah – celebrating sovereignty and standing up for our identity – are particularly fitting for us to celebrate as 2019 comes to a close - because this past year has given us much to be grateful for concerning both,” he said.

“​In March, the Trump administration recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a place vital for Israel’s security, where Judah Maccabee rushed to defend his fellow Jews over two millennia ago,” continued Dermer.

“​And last month, the Trump administration dared to speak the truth about the Jewish people’s sovereign claims in Judea and Samaria.”

“As most of you know, Jews are called Jews because we are the people of Judea. Yet we are routinely and absurdly cast as colonialist settlers in the very places where our patriarchs prayed, our prophets preached and our kings ruled,” continued Dermer.

“I will never forget that sick spectacle three years ago this month when UN Ambassadors broke out in spontaneous applause as the Security Council declared the heart of our ancestral homeland, including the Western Wall, occupied Palestinian territory.”

“On this Hanukkah, I want to especially thank Secretary Mike Pompeo, for boldly rejecting this lie, and for making clear that the United States does not regard Jews settling our homeland as a violation of international law,” said Dermer.

He also pointed out that “2019 was also a banner year that saw the American government confront anti-Semitism.”

“In July, a massive bipartisan majority in the House rejected the anti-Semitic BDS movement, which seeks to single out the Jewish state and cast it as a pariah among the nations.”

“​And last week, President Trump used his executive authority to confront Jew-hatred on college campuses, which have become Ground Zero in the shameful attempt to defame and demonize the Jewish state, and where many Jews feel unsafe to express their identity,” said Dermer.

“​I found it interesting that when President Trump made that decision, a debate broke out on social media about whether the Jews are a people or merely a faith,” he continued.

“​For over a century, anti-Zionists – both Jewish and non-Jewish – have sought to deny that the Jews are a people,” the Ambassador pointed out. “Anti-Zionist Jews have denied that the Jews were a people out of a genuine fear that non-Jews would persecute them for being part of a separate nation.”

“Anti-Zionist non-Jews have denied that the Jews are a people in order to deny the Jewish people the right of self-determination that all peoples enjoy.”

“Either way, regardless of what one’s motives are and what nonsense floats in the Twitter-sphere, the fact is that Jews are both a people and a faith,” stated Dermer.

“And for those who are still not convinced, remember that Jews don’t say Dat Yisrael Chai – the faith of Israel lives – but rather Am Yisrael Chai – the people of Israel live. And celebrating our sovereignty and identity in the Embassy of a sovereign Israel, this Hanukkah, we can proudly declare Am Yisrael Chai. Chag Sameach.”