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Eric Cantor: 'It Is Not About the '67 Lines'

11:13 AM, May 23, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Eric Cantor, in a speech delivered at AIPAC yesterday, said the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians "is not about the '67 lines." Instead, Cantor argued, "it is a culture infused with resentment and hatred. It is this culture that underlies the Palestinians' and the broader Arab world's refusal to accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. This is the root of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians."

Eric Cantor headshot

Here is the full text of Cantor's remarks, as prepared for delivery: 

It's great to be here. I'm really honored to be able to address you at the afternoon plenary of AIPAC's policy conference, the biggest ever.

As I look out, I see 10,000 people, young and old, who have come to Washington from around the country - not for personal enrichment or gain, not out of concern for your industries or businesses, but out of deep affection for a fellow democracy, Israel. We are all here because we know that America is at its best when it stands with allies that share our values.

Like many of you, I am the descendant of immigrants to America.

My grandparents came to this country nearly a century ago from Russia. They passed through New York harbor and the statue of liberty on the way to a better, freer life.

My grandmother was widowed at a young age. And she eventually made her home in a predominately African American section of Richmond, Virginia. She raised my father and my uncle in a tiny apartment above a grocery store that she owned.

Through hard work, perseverance and faith - the very values on which America is built - she lifted herself up into the middle class, and even sent her two children to college.

But never did she dare to dream that her grandson would someday be a Member of Congress, much less the Majority Leader of the U.S. House.

When I grew up, my parents were among the few Jews actively involved in local politics. From them, I learned the value of community involvement in shaping our future.

One of my most vivid memories as a child came on that fateful Yom Kippur Day in 1973. I was just 10 years old. I remember standing on the steps in front of the synagogue after services let out. I heard grown-ups around me talking about Israel being attacked on the holiest day of the calendar. I heard them recall what it was like to live as a Jew before Israel came into being. They feared that those days might return.

That experience was etched into my memory. It was only years later that I truly understood the critical role America can play in coming to the aid of a fellow democracy.

Visitors to our country often ask, “Why is it that America and Israel are so close?”

There are many answers to this question.

Yes, Israel is a critical pillar of U.S. national security.

Yes, Israel fights on the front line against radical Islam.

And yes, a strong Israel provides a more stable and hospitable Middle East for U.S. interests.

Our strategic ties to Israel are important. But there's something much deeper that binds our two nations. There's something that Americans identify with on a gut level - something I see every time Steny Hoyer and I take Members to Israel.

When Members of Congress stand on the shores of the Sea of Galilee; when we listen to the words of the Sermon on the Mount; and when we walk the Stations of the Cross, the names and places that people read about in their Sunday school studies come alive right before their eyes.

It is emotional. It is profound. And to our Christian brethren among us, we salute you and appreciate your solidarity and support.

Israel cherishes the values we do. Israel represents the triumph of the human spirit over impossible odds. Israel represents a fierce dedication to saving and improving life for all.

Israel's spirit lives through its people.

In 1942, a boy was slipped by his parents off a train bound for the gas chambers of Auschwitz. By a stroke of luck, a Catholic woman in a nearby Polish village took him in and hid him in her cupboard. After the war was finally over, that boy immigrated to Israel to begin a new life.

Today, his son, Dr. Ofer Merin, heads up the now-famous medical field hospital that travels the world in the wake of natural disasters.

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