VIDEO: Curbelo Addresses AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington
Curbelo: "Today, we celebrate a nation that — even as it faces down the threat of war and terrorism every day – produces amazing people, who run toward disaster. They offer up everything to help. They stay, long after the storm to rebuild. That’s more than an alliance, that is friendship.”
Today, Representatives Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) and John Culberson (TX-7) addressed The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.
Curbelo and Culberson highlighted the alliance and true friendship between the United States and Israel, including some examples of Israeli emergency personnel who assisted with disaster recovery on the ground in states like Florida and Texas after Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, California after the wildfires, and U.S. territory Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
A full transcript of Curbelo’s and Culberson’s remarks at AIPAC is available below. A video of the full exchange is available here.
Curbelo Addresses AIPAC Policy Conference
Representative Carlos Curbelo: “An alliance is a partnership between two nations who share strategic interests and goals. For seventy years, America and Israel have been steadfast allies. Our governments, our militaries, our economies, our people rely on this cooperation.”
Representative John Culberson: “But today, we are here to celebrate something much more important than just the U.S. – Israel Alliance.
“Today, we celebrate friendship. A friend offers more than partnership and cooperation, and shares more than interests and values.
“In fact, there’s a special bond of friendship and love between Texas and Israel I believe. We’re two nations, founded by people who share he same God, the same core principles, in an area surrounded by enemies who wanted to drive us into the sea, but we were too ferocious and well-armed for them to do that. Israel has her own Alamo and Texas has her own Masada. How can you not love Israel as a Texan?
“And you know, a friend has your back – sacrifices and struggles with you, gives you comfort and strength, offers a hand, and picks you up.”
Curbelo: “After Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc across the state of Florida, Lilly and her family from Black Creek outside Jacksonville were devastated to find the entire first floor of their home flooded. With no insurance and unable to afford repairs, they were forced to live in a friend’s trailer as they watched their house crumble, black mold spreading from room to room, day-by-day, before their eyes.
“When all hope seemed lost, there was a knock at the door. Michal, Elin and Asaf showed up with a team of volunteers who flew halfway around the world and spent two whole days helping Lilly and her family clean out the house.
“These volunteers were all over my state, from Key West to Jacksonville, but they weren’t just in Florida.
“When Northern California faced the worst wildfires in a century, Rabbi Stephanie of Congregation Shomrei Torah in Santa Rosa opened her synagogue’s doors to serve as a refuge from the fire.
“The synagogue was quickly overwhelmed with people seeking shelter and supplies. There wasn’t enough staff or resources to tackle everything that needed to be done, but a group of friends stepped in and said, ‘Leave it to us.’
“Israeli volunteers like Adi and Ruth helped organize a day-camp for area-children whose schools were closed for weeks after the fires. Other volunteers helped hand out supplies and provide trauma counseling.”
Culberson: “And when Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, the storm left only devastation in its wake. Mike, a father of five from Houston, whose wife had passed away just a month before the storm, lost everything to Harvey — not just the house he had built with his own hands 40 years before, but also, his only source of income, his landscaping equipment.
“And on his 68th birthday, Mike found himself alone, his home flooded, his livelihood destroyed. But Mike found that friends that day from Israel had come all the way to Texas, like Ilan and Meital, who helped clear out the wreckage and repair the equipment that was so essential to his landscaping business. And, at the end of the day, Mike’s new friends had brought him a gift basket, sang happy birthday to him, and lifted up his spirits and his hope.
“We are so grateful for the help—and not just in Texas. Words cannot describe the scale of the damage and suffering Hurricane Maria has caused in Puerto Rico. For weeks after the storm, Barrio Real in Patillas had no power, and little access to clean water. Porfirio, a retired policeman who managed the town’s water infrastructure, was overwhelmed when a power outage disabled the town’s water filtration system. With no source of clean water, families turned to drinking straight from nearby streams.
“Porfirio and his family were lucky to find Mori, an Israeli water engineer who was volunteering with the relief efforts in Puerto Rico. And together, a team of Isreali volunteers set up home water filters around the town, and are now building a new filtration system for the people that will serve the community even when power is lost.
“You know, Israeli relief workers were some of the first to arrive on the island. And today, almost six months after the worst natural disaster in Puerto Rico’s history, our hearts overflow with gratitude for the Israeli volunteers still there, helping rebuild the island’s critical infrastructure.”
Curbelo: “Stories like these remind us of the powerful bond between our two nations, a bond that transcends any policy or politician.
“Today, we celebrate a nation that — even as it faces down the threat of war and terrorism every day – produces amazing people, who run toward disaster. They offer up everything to help. They stay, long after the storm to rebuild. That’s more than an alliance, that is friendship.”
Culberson: “To our friends in Israel, to our friends in the Israeli government who donated a million dollars to help rebuild Houston, to all the Israeli organizations that sent volunteers to our shores, to people like Michal, Elin, Asaf, Adi, Ruth, Ilan, Meital, and Mori, and all the amazing volunteers at N.G.O.’s like IsraAid we say thank you from the bottom of our hearts and God bless you.”