PRESIDENT HERZOG: Welcome, Mr. Secretary. You’re a great, great friend, personally and to our nation. I want to express our deep gratitude to President Biden for his immense friendship and moral clarity, for the United States Congress on all – from all sides of the aisle, and the American nation for being with us.
And your visit here is another proof and testimony to how close you are and how you care for us in our time of need, in one of the darkest hours we’ve endured since the establishment of the State of Israel.
I know you personally and I know that your stepfather, Sam Pisar, was a Holocaust survivor, originally from Bialystok, and wrote a book which impacted my life tremendously. I know that the whole vision of Jews being carried away, all the young babies, carried to hell is something that is mind-boggling and speaks to the most deep emotions that any person has, and definitely you.
But one thing is clear. Because of that day – it’s the highest number of Jews ever killed since the Holocaust – I think we must be clear that this is not only unacceptable, which the president said, but the sense of security and defense that the people of Israel deserve is something which is of highest priority so that these pictures will never occur.
So we thank you deeply for your friendship and your visit. And I’m hopeful that it will also add another brick in our fight for security for all our people, so that they one day we can project the vision of peace after overcoming, prevailing, and winning.
One last comment is that I would like to congratulate the incoming Israeli government, emergency government. I heard your comment. We welcome it. I think it’s a very important step. It’s a moral call of duty for our nation, and I thank you for that.
And I’ll say a few words in Hebrew for that. (In Hebrew.)
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you, Mr. President.
MODERATOR: Closer to the mikes, please.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: We’ve had the opportunity to speak a couple of times since one of the darkest days in the recent history of humanity, Saturday. And I’m here quite simply with one message, and that is: The United States stands with Israel today, tomorrow, every day.
I think it’s almost impossible for any of us to comprehend on a human level with what Israel has experienced at the hands of Hamas these last few days. But we are determined to be with you as you defend your people and defend the values that join us together.
What we’ve seen, I think, will be very hard to erase from our minds and certainly our hearts. But I sense a fierce determination in Israel to prevail, and prevail Israel will, and the United States is here as your partner to help ensure that you do.
There really are two paths before countries in this region and in many ways countries in this world. But here in the Middle East, there is the path of integration, cooperation, normalization, and equal measures of justice, opportunity, dignity for all peoples, including the Palestinians. Or there’s the path that Hamas has shown to the world these last few days: terror, destruction, malice, a path that leads to nowhere for anyone except to the darkest places in our souls.
So the choice is clear. We’re together, and we will walk down that righteous path together. That’s what all of our people would want us to do. Thank you.
PRESIDENT HERZOG: Thank you. Thank you, very much.