Davie, FL - Congresswoman Elise Stefanik was honored with the “Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Defender of Israel Award” at the Zionist Organization of America’s “Heroes of Israel” gala where she also delivered remarks. Dr. Miriam Adelson presented Congresswoman Stefanik with the award.


Excerpts of Dr. Miriam Adelson's remarks:

"Luckily for us all, his [Sheldon] spirit lives on in the real American leaders of today. Several have graced us with their participation this evening, and it is my special pleasure that I bestow upon one of them, Representative Elise Stefanik, the ZOA Award.

The ZOA award which carries my name and that of my beloved late husband Sheldon. There are many occasions on which I wish Sheldon was standing beside me — this is one of them. Another was a few months back when I watched with delight as Representative Stefanik exposed the hypocrisy of the presidents of allegedly elite universities who had allowed antisemitism on their campuses.

She followed up by demanding transparency over the degree to which even a regime has been buying influence over American colleges and although some so-called “Middle East experts” are advising U.S. decision makers, she wants American tax dollars to fund American needs and interests and not the enemies of peace like Iran or UNRWA.

Along with millions of others, I recognized immediately that this is a young woman, very young, with the mettle of generations past, the vision to spot injustice, and the courage to call it out, the ability to rise to the moral challenges of a fast changing world. 

To Sheldon, Representative Stefanik would have been a perfect example of his favorite axiom, “Stand up for what you believe in, even if you stand up alone.”

But Congresswoman Elise, you will never stand alone. I thank you. The ZOA thanks you. The Jewish people thank you. America thanks you. Mazel Tov — and may you know much success."

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik's remarks as prepared below:

“Good Evening!

Thank you, Dr. Miriam Adelson for that kind introduction.

You are an incredible, steadfast supporter of the Jewish state of Israel, the ZOA, the Jewish people, and critically important global medical research.

As a dedicated and committed physician, philanthropist, humanitarian, and businesswoman, Dr. Adelson, you are a titan both here in the United States and in Israel.

We grow stronger from your strength and we watch in awe as you open up your heart through your work across our communities.

It is truly a tremendous honor to be with you today and it is incredibly humbling to accept the Defender of Israel Award from Dr. Adelson.

Thank you to ZOA - Your tireless efforts have such a positive impact here at home, in Israel, and around the world.

Tonight’s gala comes at an incredibly challenging moment in time.

From the October 7th terrorist attacks against Israel, to the ongoing war against Hamas, to the appalling rise of antisemitism here in the United States and around the world, to Joe Biden’s and Chuck Schumer’s unconscionable actions and words that undermine the Israeli war effort...

Our most precious ally Israel and the Jewish people are in need of crucial support from the grassroots level all the way up to the highest levels of government.

Your voices at ZOA are powerful and a vital part of the conversation and your work has a lasting impact.

The attacks on October 7th truly shocked the conscience of the world, marking the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust.

As the atrocities and barbaric images came to light and were shared in the days and weeks after, my heart broke as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and proud American.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, I believed it was important for fellow Members of Congress to understand the depths of depravity and brutality perpetrated by Hamas, and I encouraged the Speaker of the House to show Members of Congress the video provided by the Israeli Embassy documenting this barbarism.

I joined many of my colleagues to watch the 40-minute video footage of the unfathomable brutality committed by the hands of Hamas terrorists against Israelis.

As a mother, wife, sister, and daughter, I - like many in the audience - sobbed. It shocked my soul.

These horrific images of atrocities are etched into my memory forever.

We mourn together for the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and children including babies who were tortured, raped, killed, kidnapped, and over 100 hostages including women, children, and Americans - who are still being held in Gaza by these evil terrorists.

This gut wrenching footage of PURE EVIL is a stark reminder that Israel is currently fighting not only for its right to exist but for the rights of Jewish people everywhere.

That is why I am committed today and will always be committed to supporting Israel’s right to defend itself from all acts of violence and I will continue to stand with Israel to ensure they have the resources it needs in this darkest hour.

Earlier this month, I met with Mia Schem and her mother and brother.

Mia was taken hostage on October 7th and her best friend was murdered.

Mia was held hostage by herself for fifty-four days where she was subjected to unspeakable horror.

By the grace of God, Mia was released.

Her bravery in the face of unspeakable terror, her belief in herself, and her unyielding determination and will to live reminds us all that we must do everything we can to free the remaining hostages so they can return to their families after five excruciating months.

We are committed to ensuring Israel must have the resources they need to complete this imperative military mission.

Additionally, this past week, I hosted Ambassador Herzog at the Annual House Republican Retreat in West Virginia to give an update on the war effort to destroy Hamas, highlight the hostages who are still being held in Gaza, and make the case for much needed military aid currently being held up by Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden.

Minutes before the Ambassador’s address, we heard Chuck Schumer’s disgraceful attacks that undermined Israel and were a boon to the Iranian regime.

House Republicans strongly condemned Schumer's unacceptable statement.

Unfortunately, Joe Biden praised Schumer’s speech, rather than condemned it.

Instead of meddling in Israel’s sovereign elections, Chuck Schumer should follow House Republicans’ lead in supporting our most precious ally in her darkest hour.

Over the last few months, House Republicans have passed bipartisan resolutions in support of Israel, called out antisemitism in the halls of Congress, and brought transparency to the antisemitic propaganda pushed on American students and paid for by our foreign adversaries.

We have passed an Israel aid package, without any conditions, now sitting with the Senate, and we’ve successfully passed bills like the DETERRENT Act to ensure our foreign enemies cannot rot the minds of American students.

We must prioritize the vital funding Israel needs now, especially as it remains entrenched in a war with Hamas and facing rising threats from Hezbollah and Iran.

House Republicans will use every tool we have to deliver critical aid to Israel.

The October 7th atrocities also exposed a rise in antisemitism in our nation and across the world.

From radical antisemitic student groups at Harvard blaming Israel for the October 7th attacks to pro-Hamas perpetrators trapping Jewish students in a library at Cooper Union in New York, it is clear that vile antisemitism has spread across our country - specifically our universities.

In the famous words of Holocaust Survivor and Jewish Advocate Simon Wiesenthal, who dedicated his life to ensuring the horrors of the Holocaust are not forgotten, he said, “For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing.”

For me, the choice is clear. I refuse to do nothing.

Israel and the Jewish people hold a very special place in my heart. 

I grew up in Upstate NY and attended an all girls day school right next door to a synagogue. I had many very close Jewish friends as a child, as I do today.

From growing up attending bat and bar mitzvahs to joining families at their homes for Shabbat dinner to attending Shabbat dinner at Harvard Hillel, to celebrating brises for friends' sons, to signing the ketubah at a friend's wedding, my love and respect for the Jewish people is lifelong and deep.

I have been to Israel many times - even before I was a Member of Congress. My first trip to Israel was as an undergraduate when I was selected as a fellow for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies for two weeks of national security studies.

And I have been many times since - returning as a Member of Congress most recently in May of last year to help lead an Intelligence Committee delegation with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Each of these visits to Israel underscores to me the fundamental facts:

Israel is a miracle.

Israel is foundational to the United States and the American Dream.

In Congress, I serve as a senior Member on the House Intelligence and Armed Services Committees where I work each year to secure policies that further develop our special relationship and alliance including securing hundreds of millions of dollars for the Iron Dome, anti-tunneling technology, counter-UAS systems, and further development of emerging technology.

In addition, I am also a senior member of the Education and Workforce Committee.

When we heard from Jewish students, faculty members, and staff about antisemitic attacks taking place on their campuses, I encouraged Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx to host a hearing to hold colleges and universities accountable for their failure to protect the Jewish community.

I know you all saw that hearing — but the world saw that hearing.

And I want to take you into that moment. That question that was just played here, that was the last question of the hearing. The most junior member on the committee yielded me her remaining three minutes. And I had asked questions earlier in the hearing going back and forth with the president of Harvard, now former President Claudine Gay, and I had struggled to get a direct answer.

So in preparing the final question, which was not pre-written — I wrote it down with a pencil right before and thought to myself, “how can I ask this in a straightforward, moral way to force them to answer correctly?”

And that question was — “Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate your university’s code of conduct?”

And one after the other, after the other answered “It depends on the context.” Let me tell you — it does NOT depend on the context.

Those morally bankrupt statements–and I’ve been in a lot of committee hearings over the years, a lot of high profile committee hearings over the years–I’ve never witnessed the moral depravity of witnesses like I did in that hearing. In one week, there were over one billion views worldwide. It is not well into the multiple billions. And there is a reason that it is now the most viewed testimony in the history of the United States Congress. 

And that is because it exposed the moral rot at the highest levels of these so-called elite universities. And as I said after the resignations: two down, so many to go.

That hearing set off an earthquake.

We have put colleges and universities on notice and we are continuing our investigation to ensure every Jewish and Israeli student, faculty member, and staff member is protected on campus.

The problem was never just about three university presidents or even these three universities. It is a vile pervasive rot in American higher education.

Their disgraceful attempt to contextualize genocide of Jews is a symptom of decades of moral decay, intellectual laziness, and dangerous radical groupthink at so called “elite” institutions across society.

Replacing the wallpaper is not enough when there is a deep rot within the walls.

The Education and the Workforce Committee has dedicated investigators and resources to deliver transparency and accountability.

We’re looking at foreign donations to universities, the failure to protect Jewish students, the federal accreditation system, the assault on viewpoint diversity and free speech, the antisemitism inherent in woke DEI, the erosion in academic integrity, and the extent to which taxpayers have been forced to bankroll the political indoctrination of young Americans at these institutions.

Importantly, the committee has taken the unprecedented step of subpoenaing Harvard, the first university to be subpoenaed by the committee in history and in a few short weeks we will have the leadership of Columbia University brought before us for our next oversight hearing.

I will continue to help lead this fight to combat the scourge of antisemitism across this country.

Anyone that does not stand with our ally Israel, stands for their genocide.

Any campus leader that refuses to protect Jewish students, stands with the pro-Hamas criminals who harass and assault them.

Any voice that openly defends the massacre of innocents has chosen the side of terrorism.

And they will be held accountable.

The world must know the United States stands with Israel today, tomorrow, and forever.

Thank you and God Bless you, God Bless Israel, and God Bless the United States of America.”