Annette Lantos' statement for The Christians United for Israel Summit in Washington, DC

"I am deeply grateful to be here, and honored to accept this award on Tom’s behalf.

My husband Tom and I first met when I was six. And we spent the next 70 years as sweethearts.

His love affair with Israel was almost as long. And like ours, it was an epic romance.

As a survivor of the Holocaust, Tom’s first visit to Israel touched him in ways that are almost impossible to describe. Against the backdrop of the unconscionable devastation of European Jewry, he saw Jewish families working to build a future amid the rocks and sand. And he saw a people committed to making the dessert bloom, and fulfilling the promise of the Holy Land.

Tom also realized that Israel’s future was uncertain. He had seen enough of the world and enough of war to know that the line between Israel’s survival and Israel’s destruction was paper thin. So he made it part of his life’s mission to stand for Israel – to work for a world in which its people would live without the fear of another Holocaust.

Tom also recognized that people of good will from all faiths would have to join in this cause. During the Second World War, his life had been saved through the intervention of a Swedish Lutheran named Raoul Wallenberg. And he knew that in the fight to secure Israel’s future, Christians would have to show that same commitment a million times over.

Tonight, we can look out on this room and see the awakening in the hearts of thousands of Christians who have accepted that call. Like my husband, you have made a commitment to stand with Israel.

It fills me with emotion – and hope – to know that so many Christians are coming together to support the aspiration of a secure and lasting homeland for the Jewish people. It is a phenomenon that can only be explained though God’s divine intervention.

Pastor and Mrs. Hagee, you have been the pioneers in working to turn this extraordinary moment into a movement. And I thank you for your work to cultivate this great awakening. If Tom were here, he would be as honored as I am to accept this Defender of Israel Award.

Before he died, Tom asked me, our daughters, and our 17 grandchildren to work to carry on his legacy. And with help from thousands of supporters, we have created the Lantos Foundation to continue his work. The Foundation raises its voice when others are silent. It calls the world to remember the evils of the past so they are not visited upon the future. And it seeks to create a world in which all people – and especially the people of Israel – will be able to live their lives free from fear.

As I receive this award with humility and gratitude, I ask you to join us in this work. Israel has made great progress since Tom’s first visit. But the task of defending Israel is never finished. It has been a constant – from the time of the prophets down through the present day. And we must continue that legacy of courage and commitment. It is our responsibility and our sacred inheritance.

On behalf of my husband and the Lantos Foundation, I look forward to continuing with you in this great cause. And may God grant us the peace of Jerusalem."