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entries tagged with: Shimon Peres

 

Kennedy seen as giant on domestic issues, Soviet Jewry

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) is being remembered in the Jewish community for his huge impact on domestic issues such as education and health care, but also as a giant in the Soviet Jewry movement.

Kennedy “was one of the earliest, strongest champions on behalf of Soviet Jewry,” said Mark Levin, executive director of NCSJ: Advocates on Behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States and Eurasia. “He was always proactive and didn’t wait for NCSJ and other organizations to come to him — he was always looking to see where he could make a difference.”

In his 2006 book, “The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror,” Natan Sharansky mentions Kennedy as the first Western politician to meet with refuseniks “in a midnight meeting that was kept secret from the KGB until the very last moment.”

And Levin noted that whenever Kennedy met with Soviet officials, in Washington or in the Soviet Union, he would bring lists of those he wanted to see released.

“He never forgot we were talking about individuals and families,” Levin said.

Kennedy also will be remembered as a strong champion of Israel. Jewish organizational officials noted that he was a stalwart supporter of foreign aid, opposed arms sales to Jordan and Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s, and was a strong backer of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He also publicly rebuked President George H.W. Bush when he linked settlements to U.S. loan guarantees for the emigration of Soviet Jews, and was a leading voice in speaking out against the Arab boycott of Israel.

Israeli officials rushed to praise Kennedy, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling the senator “an American patriot” and “a great friend of Israel,” according to media reports.

And Israeli President Shimon Peres said Kennedy’s death was “a very big loss to every sensitive and thinking person the world over.

“Kennedy was a clear friend of Israel the whole way, and in every place that he could help us he did help.”

The late senator drew praise from a broad range of Jewish organizations, including both the Orthodox Union and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. They noted that he had worked on a vast array of domestic issues over his 47 years on Capitol Hill, from religious liberty bills such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to his efforts on children’s health insurance.

In a statement, the president of the National Council of Jewish Women, Nancy Ratzan, said, “We were honored to work by his side on so many critical issues: Family and Medical Leave, the Lilly Ledbetter Act, the Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights, the Americans with Disability Act, hate crimes prevention, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, health care, the increase in the minimum wage, and numerous judicial nominations — to name a few.”

The National Jewish Democratic Council said in a statement that the “greatest tribute” to Kennedy would be for Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance reform.

“On the little stuff and the big stuff, he was always there for us,” said Nancy Kaufman, executive director of the Boston JCRC. “There wasn’t an issue he wasn’t on top of.”

 
 

Evolution of International Holocaust Day reflects changing times

ROME – On the same day next week, Israeli President Shimon Peres will address the German Parliament and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel will appear before a special session of the Italian Chamber of Deputies in Rome.

The timing is not coincidental.

The events are focal points of international Holocaust Memorial Day, an annual observance on the anniversary of the Soviet army’s Jan. 27, 1945, liberation of Auschwitz, which is marked by the United Nations and more than two dozen individual countries.

Each year, hundreds of events take place on or near that date. Britain, Italy, and Germany have particularly extensive programs.

“There is a great sensitivity to this theme on both the local and institutional levels,” said Alessandro Ruben, a Jewish Italian member of parliament in Italy, where Holocaust Memorial Day has been marked since 2001. “Every year there are more and more events connected with it, including many, many educational initiatives in schools.”

The nature of the commemorations is a reflection of the times, too.

While most Holocaust Memorial Day initiatives are linked directly to the memory and impact of the Nazi genocide against the Jews, there is increasing emphasis on what the experience of the Holocaust can teach in the face of other genocides and persecution, such as those in Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia, and Darfur. World War II-era persecution of Roma (Gypsies) and gays also is examined.

Rabbi Andrew Baker, the American Jewish Committee’s director of international Jewish affairs, said the shift in focus is to be expected.

“For Jews,” he said, the Holocaust “was a unique and unprecedented tragedy. But national and international commemoration events by their nature also stress the universal lessons that should be drawn from the event. As survivors and other eyewitnesses pass from our midst, those universal expressions naturally grow larger.”

At the same time, pro-Palestinian groups are trying to transform the international day of remembrance into an opportunity to criticize Israel.

Last year, for example, to protest Israel’s military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, a British Muslim organization boycotted events in Britain, and the local government in Barcelona canceled a public candlelighting as part of the Holocaust Day commemoration.

“Marking the Jewish Holocaust while a Palestinian Holocaust is taking place is not right,” said a statement by an official, described as a representative of Barcelona City Hall, quoted in the La Vanguardia newspaper.

The move drew an outraged response from Britain’s Board of Deputies, the body that represents British Jews.

“The conflict between Israel and Hamas should have absolutely no bearing on a day which represents the global fight against hatred,” board spokesman Mark Frazer said.

“Apart from the obvious flawed logic in making the decision, this is an affront to all Holocaust survivors and to the memory of the millions of victims. This move should draw criticism in the strongest terms from all parts of the Spanish government.”

Though Germany has marked a Holocaust memorial day on Jan. 27 since 1996, the impetus for the observance in most countries came from a landmark Holocaust education forum that took place in Stockholm in 2000, a decade after the fall of communism enabled an uncensored exploration of history. In most communist states, Jewish issues had been suppressed and study or commemoration of the Shoah had been limited.

At the Stockholm Forum, leaders from 46 countries pledged to promote education and research about the Holocaust, and to “encourage appropriate forms of Holocaust remembrance, including an annual Day of Holocaust Remembrance.”

Most participating countries chose Jan. 27, given the importance of Auschwitz as a symbol of the Holocaust, and the U.N. General Assembly in 2005 designated the date as an International Day of Commemoration to honor the victims of the Holocaust.

But a number of countries chose dates that reflected Holocaust events on their own territory.

In Poland, for example, it is April 19, the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Romania chose Oct. 9, the date when deportations of Jews by the Nazi-allied Romanian government began in 1941.

The institution of Holocaust Memorial Day has not been without its critics. Some have voiced concern that institutionalizing Holocaust memory as an official date in a calendar risked turning commemoration into a cliché.

By and large, however, this does not seem to be the case.

“Consider how other historical events are remembered,” said Baker, who is also the representative for combating anti-Semitism of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. “Veterans Day in the United States seems primarily marked by department store sales, for example. In contrast, the Holocaust is recalled seriously and soberly.”

He added, “While I do not want to sound overly sanguine, I don’t think we should fear that the memory of the Holocaust will disappear or that Holocaust deniers will find new adherents.

“These last 20 years have witnessed a steady increase in educational and commemorative activities. And Holocaust denial is primarily a cudgel wielded by anti-Semites and haters of Israel, not something that is genuinely debated in any legitimate forum.”

Deborah Lipstadt, an Emory University historian who has written widely about the phenomenon of Holocaust denial, said she was “gratified as a historian that there is this attention to this event that is now in the past, especially as the survivor generation is passing.”

But, she said, “One hopes that there is attention in a deeper way: to examine how this emerged and happened, while the world stood silently by.”

JTA

 
 

A nuclear power plant in Israel would be disastrous

 

Do indirect peace talks have a shot?

JERUSALEM – Although Israeli and Palestinian leaders are pessimistic about the chances of a breakthrough in the U.S.-mediated proximity talks that begin this week, the Americans hope the process itself will generate a new peacemaking dynamic.

Whether or not the parties make headway, Israeli analysts anticipate a major U.S. peace push this fall.

Over the past few months, U.S. officials have made it clear that the Obama administration sees Israeli-Palestinian peace as a major U.S. interest. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made the point in a Washington speech last month. Not only does the lack of peace threaten Israel’s future and hold back the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people, it “destabilizes the region and beyond,” she said.

That position has translated into tough messages to both sides from the Obama administration’s special envoy for Middle East peace, George Mitchell, who got the two sides to agree to launch the indirect talks and is now set to mediate between them.

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Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak talks with the Obama administration’s special Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, at Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv before their April 25 flight to New York. Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry

Mitchell has made clear that he has no intention of merely shuttling between Jerusalem and Ramallah carrying messages, but that he intends to put forward American bridging proposals wherever they might be helpful. He also has indicated to both sides that if the talks falter, the Obama administration will not be slow to blame the party it holds responsible. Indeed, Palestinian officials say Mitchell told them that the United States would take significant diplomatic steps against any side it believed was holding back progress.

The Americans see the proximity talks as a four-month preparatory corridor leading to direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The strategy seems to be to get the process moving quickly and with as much intensity as possible until next September, when the Israeli moratorium on building in west bank settlements is due to expire.

Then, Israeli analysts say, President Obama will reconsider his options: If the talks are progressing well, Washington will try to persuade the Israelis to extend the building freeze and the Palestinians to agree to direct negotiations. But if the talks are foundering, Obama may consider putting an American peace plan on the table and calling an international peace conference to pressure the parties to move forward, according to a recent report by David Ignatius in the Washington Post, which quoted senior administration officials.

Israeli media also have reported that Obama told several key European leaders that if the talks stall, he will convene an international peace conference in the fall.

The Israeli aim is first and foremost not to lose the blame game.

The Netanyahu administration in Jerusalem sees in the proximity talks as a means of managing the conflict and keeping the international community at bay as long as it is seen to be giving peacemaking a chance. Israeli officials have little faith in the Palestinians’ negotiating intentions and suspect them of planning to use the talks to generate further U.S. pressure on Israel.

Thus, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has gone out of his way to convince the Americans of his good faith. Contrary to his previous position — that core issues like borders, Jerusalem, refugees, security and water could be discussed only in direct talks —Netanyahu has agreed to have everything on the table in the proximity phase.

More important, he pressed for a vote in his Likud Party last week deferring internal party elections for two years, defeating inveterate party hawks, and giving himself new wiggle room to maneuver in the peacemaking arena.

In the proximity talks, Netanyahu wants to discuss security and water issues first. He has ordered his staff to work on an eight-point brief on security prepared by the previous Israeli government under Ehud Olmert. Before Israel makes any commitments on permanent borders, Netanyahu wants to clarify the precise details of Palestinian demilitarization, Israeli rights in Palestinian air space, the functioning of border crossing points, and the deployment of Israeli forces along the Palestinians’ eastern border with Jordan to prevent arms smuggling.

At one point Netanyahu considered offering the Palestinians an interim mini-state with temporary borders, according to Israeli media, who reported that President Shimon Peres and Defense Minster Ehud Barak, both apparently with Netanayu’s approval, tried to persuade Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to accept an interim state on about 60 percent of the west bank.

This would have removed any lingering doubts about Israel’s commitment to the two-state solution without entailing a major Israeli withdrawal from the west bank.

But Abbas, fearful that the temporary measure could become permanent, quickly shot down the idea. A spokesman for Netanyahu told JTA that the interim plan “was out there” and that Abbas had rejected it.

Instead, Netanyahu may be ready to hand over more west bank land to Palestinian political and security control in a goodwill gesture designed to show Israel’s ultimate readiness to roll back its occupation of the west bank.

Like Israel, the Palestinians’ primary goal is not to lose the blame game.

Abbas is convinced that a deal with Netanyahu’s hawkish government is not possible. Leading Palestinians for months have been saying that talks with the Netanyahu government would be futile.

In a speech to his Fatah Party in late April, Abbas called on Obama to “impose” a solution that would lead to an independent Palestinian state.

“Mr. President,” he said, “since you believe in this, it is your duty to take steps toward a solution and to impose a solution.”

Israeli intelligence has been warning that Abbas’ aim is to get the international community, led by the United States, to impose a settlement on Israel. The Palestinian leader also wants Washington in his corner should he decide to go to the United Nations for a binding resolution recognizing a Palestinian state and delineating its borders.

Given the current lack of trust between Israel and the Palestinians, American thinking along similar lines is starting to take shape.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former U.S. national security adviser, is proposing that Obama put a new set of peace parameters on the table and urge the parties to negotiate a final peace deal within the U.S.-initiated framework. Should either side refuse, Brzezinski says the United States should get U.N. endorsement of the plan, putting unbearable international pressure on the recalcitrant party.

Brzezinski reportedly outlined this position to Obama in a meeting of former national security advisers convened in late March by Gen. James Jones, the current incumbent.

This is precisely the type of scenario Israeli analysts are predicting for September, especially if the proximity talks fail to make progress: binding American peace parameters serving as new terms of reference for an international peace conference and subsequent Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.

According to senior Israeli officials, the conference would be held under the auspices of the international Quartet — the grouping of the United States, European Union, United Nations, and Russia — with the aim of forging a wide international consensus for the creation of a Palestinian state.

JTA

 
 

Ill-advised settlement freeze weakened Israel strategically

 

Israeli Consul Gil Lainer makes his country’s case at JCRC meeting

Optimism, underlined by caution, was the message Monday night as Gil Lainer, consul for public diplomacy at the Israeli Consulate in New York, spoke of the prospects for peace in the Mideast and the challenges facing the Israelis and Palestinians in the quest for an accord.

Lainer, a career diplomat who has held postings in Africa and the United States, addressed a rapt meeting of the Jewish Community Relations Council of UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey at the federation’s Paramus headquarters.

Going beyond headlines and sound bites, Lainer told of behind-the-scenes work done by Israelis to help developing countries. He cited the rapid response of medical teams to the recent earthquake devastation in Haiti, where Israel established a field hospital even before U.S. aid arrived.

He noted that Israel sent a 747 loaded with supplies even before it was known that the plane could land in Haiti.

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Gil Lainer, Israel’s consul for public diplomacy in New York, sees signs of hope on Mideast peace. Charles Zusman

Lainer quoted from Monday’s speech by Israeli President Shimon Peres at the U.N. Millenium Development Goals Summit, where Peres noted the progress Israel has made in development, particularly in food production.

Five decades ago an Israeli farmer produced food for 15 people, but today produces enough for 120, Peres said. Peres’s message was that education and diligence lead to growth and peace, and this can work for countries around the world.

“We have so much to offer the world in so many areas,” Lainer said. Israel has been helping those in developing countries, notably Africa, for more than 50 years, he noted. Its experts have been training others, both as visitors to Israel and in their own countries, in fields such as medicine, education, agriculture, and fishery.

“We have been dealing with tikkun olam as a country for decades,” he said. But, he said, while not out to score points, Israel does not get the credit for its good works.

“We don’t ask anything in return,” he said. “We do what we do because it’s our role to give to the world, as Jews, as Israelis.”

Turning to the Palestinian issue, he cited statistics showing 9 percent GDP growth for the first half of 2010 in the west bank, where trade is blossoming and infrastructure projects are steaming ahead. While budget problems remain in the west bank, the Arab countries have not done their fair share to help out, he said.

The “numbers are amazing,” Lainer said, noting the statistics come from international, not Israeli, sources. He said they show increasing trade with Israel for the last four years, growth in tourism, and less unemployment.

“On the ground you can see the improvement, but we don’t get the international recognition I think we should get for that,” he said.

While Gaza is more problematic, being under the control of Hamas, the region still has had a 16 percent GDP growth for the period.

Concerning Gaza, he said the policy remains one of containment, but there is a much freer flow of goods into the area than before. While in the past there was a list of only what could go through, now the much shorter list just says what can’t, notably weapons.

Even cars are now legally imported, where before they were smuggled in, he said. This is hurting Hamas, which used to profit from the illegal trade, Lainer said.

On the peace talks, “there are serious people on both sides,” but serious compromises must be made. “The process has started again, and that’s a good thing,” he said.

He pointed to reports that the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, had dined at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu’s house. “When you read more about what they ate than what they talked about, that’s a good sign,” he said.

He acknowledged that easing travel has brought more terror attacks, but also said that the security barrier is working and better training and enforcement by Palestinian police are having their effect.

Key, he said, is the realization by the Palestinians that peace is the only viable way forward. Palestinian Authority President Abbas is a hard-liner, but he is making a genuine effort toward peace, Lainer said.

On the negative side, the fate of Gilad Shalit, the Israel soldier captured by Hamas in 2006, is still unknown, and rocket attacks from Gaza have not stopped. “I haven’t seen any international condemnation of this,” he said.

Iran remains a threat, not only to Israel, but to the region and the world, he said. “We should not take our eyes off the ball,” he said. “A nuclear Iran is a threat to everyone.”

Israel would like to see stronger sanctions against Iran and condemnation from the world community, he said. Iran is keeping the pressure on Israel through its proxies in Syria and Lebanon, he said. “It’s a challenge to break that link,” he said.

In response to a question, Lainer critcized Russia’s decision to sell cruise missiles to Syria, particularly since Russia has been playing a role in the Mideast peace process. “This is a serious development we’re very unhappy about,” he said.

Concerning Shalit, Lainer said his fate remains a painful issue for Israel. He hoped further negotiations and progress on peace in general would lead to a resolution.

Asked about the U.S. sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, Lainer said Arab fears in the Mideast were focused on Iran, not Israel.

Lainer concluded his talk, which stretched for more than an hour, with a plea for help on the public relations front.

“We rely on you to get the word out” on the positive role Israel plays in the world, he said.

That message was seconded by Rabbi Neal Borovitz, JCRC chairman. “Our job is to get the message out,” he said. “Fighting for the hearts and minds of the public is our responsibility.”

 
 

Ethnic identification, good and bad

 

American Jews plan relief efforts in wake of Israeli blaze

Netanyahu, Peres honor foreign rescue workers

JERUSALEM – Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu honored foreign rescue and fire fighting delegations that assisted in putting out the Carmel Forest fire.

During a ceremony Tuesday at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, the Israeli leaders presented certificates of appreciation and awards to the heads of each foreign rescue delegation for their efforts and assistance in extinguishing the fire.

Some 300 members of the delegations participated in the event, including firefighters, pilots, emergency response experts and ambassadors from 10 countries. The delegations represented Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Britain, United States, Russia, Jordan, Turkey, and the Palestinian Authority, according to the president’s office.

“Thank you for your mission which is neither diplomatic nor foreign relations but rather expresses the highest form of human responsibility,” Peres told the participants.

“In helping us douse the flames, you have warmed the hearts of the entire nation and you have shown us that we are not alone,” Netanyahu said. “You have shown us that around the world there are people of good will that will help us in our hour of need. I believe that this rapid international response can be a model for future cooperation in our region. I thank each and every one of you for your courage, your dedication and your friendship. The people of Israel, an ancient people with a long memory, will never forget what you have done for us.”

Christos Oikonomou, head of the 70-member Greek rescue delegation, spoke on behalf of all of the foreign teams, saying in part, “On behalf of those who contributed in the fighting of the fires in the Mount Carmel region of the last few days, I wish to express our deepest sorrow and profound sympathy to the relatives of the victims. At the same time I wish to express our deep satisfaction and pride for being able to assist our Israeli colleagues in their tremendous struggle to control the fire. Real friends speak with their deeds. We are your friends and that’s what we tried to do.”

JTA Wire Service

 
 

Peres urges Obama to stay with peace process

_JStandardWorld
Published: 08 April 2011

WASHINGTON – It is critical for the United States to remain committed to the peace process, Israeli President Shimon Peres told President Obama.

“I told him we would not want the Middle East peace process to continue without the United States,” Peres told reporters after his lunchtime meeting with Obama.

A Peres aide later told reporters that this was the “critical message” Peres came to Washington to convey to the White House, suggesting that there is an impression in the Israeli government that the Obama administration is washing its hands of the peace process.

Peres said he was particularly concerned that Europeans would come up with a peace plan without first consulting Israel.

The Israeli leader said he shared with Obama “ideas” for restarting direct peace talks with the Palestinians, and that both leaders agreed that a formula must be found for sustainable talks that do not implode after a gala opening, as they did last September.

The Palestinians walked out of the talks after three weeks because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government refused to extend a partial settlement freeze beyond 10 months.

Peres and Obama in their remarks after their meeting — 45 minutes one on one and then lunch with their senior advisers — both said that the democracy movement now sweeping the Arab world presented the Israelis and the Palestinians with an opportunity to be seized.

“We must bring an end to the conflict that serves the interests of our enemies,” Peres said.

Obama in his remarks said that “with the winds of change blowing through the Arab world, it is more important than ever to create a peaceful solution between the Palestinians and the Israelis.”

Peres also said he appealed to Obama “president to president” to release Jonathan Pollard, who was sentenced to life in 1987 for spying for Israel, on humanitarian grounds. Pollard is said to be ill.

Obama thanked Peres for the information but did not otherwise comment. Peres’ open appeal comes after a formal request by Netanyahu in December.

On Monday, Peres told Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that Israel was ready to do what it could to facilitate transition among its neighbors to democracy.

“We see this occasion as an occasion ... to cooperate in every possible way to enable this change to take the course into the 21st century for all the Middle East people and escape their poverty and problems and wants,” Peres told Clinton before their meeting.

Clinton told Peres that it was an honor to host him in Washington and that “President Obama is very much looking forward to seeing you and discussing the issues that you have raised and your perspectives and the way forward, which will hopefully realize the better outcomes that we all wish for.

“Our task together is to deepen and broaden our friendship, our relationship, our partnership to look for ways that we can work toward the kind of future that you have always believed in and that you have held out as a promise for the children of Israel and the children of all the countries of the Middle East,” Clinton said.

JTA Wire Service

 
 

Iran in their own words

Peres: U.S., Israel share same goal

_JStandardCover Story
Published: 09 March 2012
(tags): aipac, shimon peres

The following is an edited version of the speech delivered on Sunday by Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, to this week’s 2012 AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.

I stand here, before you, a hopeful man — poud to be Jewish, proud to be Israeli, proud to be there at the birth of Israel, proud to have served it for 65 years, proud of our alliance with the United States. Israel, like America, was conceived as an idea; born in defiance of history; creating a new world by drawing on the values of the past and the innovations of the future….

Fate placed me in the eye of the storm. I was 11 years old when my beloved grandfather, Rabbi Tzvi Melzer, accompanied me to the train station on my way to Israel. He hugged me and whispered in my ear only three words, “Shimon…stay Jewish.” Those were his last words to me. I never saw him again.

image

In 1942, when the Nazis arrived to his village, they forced my grandfather, together with the remaining Jews, into the wooden synagogue and set it on fire. No one survived. Not one. What remained was my grandfather’s legacy, his last words to me: “Stay Jewish.”

…I was privileged to work with the father of our nation, my mentor, David Ben-Gurion. For me, Ben Gurion’s great leadership [coupled] with my grandfather’s legacy became my compass. That compass is comprised of four core values: our moral code; our pursuit of peace and security; our quest for knowledge; our alliance with America.

The moral code — the return to the Book and its values — enabled the Jewish people to survive for 4,000 years. Not because of quantity, [but] because of quality; not due to thousands of guns, but due to Ten Commandments. We are guided by the call of our prophets. To me, it means to be just, to do justice, to never deny justice to others….

The pursuit of peace, for us, is not a passing opportunity; it is a moral imperative. It is the tenet of our national security. To make peace, Israel must be strong. Let me assure you, Israel is strong….

The Middle East is undergoing its greatest storm, with horrible bloodshed in Syria, where a tyrant is killing his people, killing children. I admire the courage of the Syrian people. We wish them peace and freedom. In spite of the storm, we have to reach out to the young generation in the Arab world, to those who strive for freedom, democracy, and peace. The Palestinians are our neighbors for life. Peace can and must be achieved, a peace based on a Two-State Solution: A Jewish state, Israel, [and] an Arab state, Palestine.

It was accepted by past and present Israeli prime ministers and American presidents — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. The principle of the Two-State solution is a paramount Israeli interest.

We want to preserve an Israel that is Jewish, democratic, and attractive. I meet from time to time with [Palestinian Authority] President [Mahmoud] Abbas and Prime Minister [Salam] Fayyad. They need and want peace. I believe that peace is possible. They are our partners for peace. Not Hamas.

A peace that is a dream for both of us is a nightmare for the ayatollahs in Iran. Iran is an evil, cruel, morally corrupt regime. It is based on destruction, and is an affront to human dignity. Iran is the center, the sponsor, the financer of world terror. Iran is a danger to the entire world. It threatens Berlin, as well as Madrid; Delhi, as well as Bangkok….Iran’s ambition is to control the Middle East, so it can control a major part of the world’s economy.

It must be stopped. And it will be stopped.

Israel experienced the horrors of war. It does not seek it. Peace is always our first option. But, if we are forced to fight, trust me, we shall prevail.

President Obama is leading and implementing an international complex and decisive policy, imposing economic and political sanctions against Iran. President Obama made it clear that the United States will not permit Iran to become nuclear; that containment is not a sustainable policy; [that] all options are on the table.

The United States and Israel share the same goal — to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. There is no space between us. Our message is clear: Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon….

America was, is, and will remain the indispensable leader of the free world. The indispensable friend of our people. Today more than ever, the world needs America.

I have had the privilege to meet all American presidents in the last 50 years, Democrats and Republicans. I was strongly impressed by their deep commitment, their care for Israel. That commitment was — and is — bipartisan….

I first met President Barack Obama, our great friend, when he was a senator from Illinois. I saw before me a born leader. His care and devotion to Israel’s security were evident.

Mr. President, I know your commitment to Israel is deep and profound. Under your leadership, security cooperation between the United States and Israel has reached its highest level.

…[W]e have a friend in the White House. [President Obama] reflects the values that make America great and make Israel secure. Thank you, President Obama, on behalf of my people.

Soon, I will return home. Great challenges and promising opportunities await us. Thanks to your love and commitment and America’s great friendship, I return home much more hopeful, much more encouraged. Thank you very much.

God bless America. God bless Israel.

 
 
 
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