Israeli Ambassador Sallai Meridor highlighted the distinct values of Israel and the rest of the Middle East in his speech at the Jack Morton Auditorium Tuesday night.
Co-sponsored by GW Hillel, the Jewish Student Association and Chabad GW, students gathered to hear the man who has represented Israel in Washington since 2006.
In his speech, Meridor repeatedly praised the United States as an ally of Israel. Meridor said that Israel and the United States have a strong relationship because the two nations share similar values.
“You can go back to what President Washington said about his care and support of the Jewish people or to what President Lincoln said in support of the notion of restoring the Jewish people into their homeland decades before Theodore Herzl got to the Jewish people with the notion of a Jewish homeland,” he explained.
Meridor urged the international community to help keep Iran, which he called the “largest exporter of terror in the world,” from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Meridor compared the values of the United States and Israel, but contrasted them with Iran’s values. While the United States broadcasted “Voice of America” to promote hope for freedom, Iran had a television show named “The World Without America” that showed clips from September 11 in the background, he said.
Meridor said Iran’s hatred for the United States is unwarranted.
“How many more diseases, how much more poverty, how much less freedom would have been in our world without America?” he asked.
In the 20th century alone, the United States saved the world twice in World War I and World War II, he said.
Now, he said, the United States is leading the world against “extreme fanatic Islamic terrorism,” and he is proud that Israel is a close ally.
“I am proud to say God bless America,” he said, to loud applause from the audience.
The current situation in Gaza is an example of the clashing values between Israel and the terrorist organizations in the Middle East, he explained.
“We are trying to spread hope. They are insisting on spreading hatred,” he said, adding, “Take the time to go into their textbooks and see what they teach their children. See how dangerous it is for all of our children in the future.”
Meridor said the Middle Eastern terrorist organizations unfairly target civilians in their attacks.
“The difference is that we are carefully using our weapons in order to protect our children and they are using their children in order to protect the weapon,” he said.
But Meridor also asked for sympathy from critics of Israel’s actions during the Gaza conflict.
“I ask everybody to put himself in this position of a country being attacked, towns and villages, day after day, night after night, week after week, by rockets,” he said. “What would America do had this happened on your borders? For how much time would you be able to take it without taking the necessary actions to protect your civilians?”
Meridor assured the audience that they could remain hopeful for peace in the Middle East.
“Times are tough,” he said. “The days are not easy. One can easily become pessimistic. But if you ask me, one should not.”
-Husna Kazmir contributed to this report.