Imagine a world without hate. The ADL produced a powerful 80 second video that you should watch and share, as well as a list of actions we can all take to fight bigotry.
— by Steve Sheffey
President Obama’s trip to Israel left no doubt about his strong support for Israel. He emphasized America’s unshakeable alliance with Israel. He told the world that Israel does not exist because of the Holocaust, but because of Israel, such a Holocaust will never happen again. He reiterated that the only path to Palestinian independence is through direct talks with Israel.
President Obama reaffirmed America’s commitment to Israel’s security and to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He reiterated that America stands with Israel because of shared values and because it is in our fundamental national security interest to stand with Israel.
More after the jump.
President Obama fulfilled two campaign promises last week: His own promise to visit Israel in his second term, and Mitt Romney’s promise that if elected, his first trip overseas would be to Israel. Please read the full text of President Obama’s Jerusalem speech on Thursday if you haven’t yet read it.
President Obama said little in Israel that he has not, in one form or another, said before. But by saying it in Israel, many Israelis are now seeing the president that we have known for the past four years, and by saying it in Israel, even some of President Obama’s critics in America are finally taking notice and seeing why the vast majority of American Jews voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012.
As important as that speech was, there was much more to this trip, and it was not the only speech he made in Israel.
President Obama received Israel’s Medal of Honor. No other American has received this honor. He visited the Shrine of the Book (Dead Sea Scrolls). He laid wreaths on the graves of Theodor Herzl and Yitzhak Rabin. He also placed a pebble on the grave of Rabin that President Obama brought from the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington.
At Yad Vashem, President Obama said “Here, on your ancient land, let it be said for all the world to hear: The State of Israel does not exist because of the Holocaust. But with the survival of a strong Jewish State of Israel, such a Holocaust will never happen again.”
President Obama told the Palestinians that a settlement freeze by Israel should not be a precondition for negotiations and that the only way for the Palestinians to achieve an independent state is through direct talks with Israel.
This trip to Israel marked the tenth time that President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have met as President and Prime Minister. At their joint press conference, President Obama said that
We’ve spent more time together, working together, than I have with any leader. And this speaks to the closeness of our two nations, the interests and the values that we share, and the depth and breadth of the ties between our two peoples…
As President, I’ve, therefore, made it clear America’s commitment to the security of the State of Israel is a solemn obligation, and the security of Israel is non-negotiable.
Today, our military and intelligence personnel cooperate more closely than ever before. We conduct more joint exercises and training than ever before. We’re providing more security assistance and advanced technology to Israel than ever before. And that includes more support for the missile defenses like Iron Dome, which I saw today and which has saved so many Israeli lives.
In short – and I don’t think this is just my opinion, I think, Bibi, you would share this – America’s support for Israel’s security is unprecedented, and the alliance between our nations has never been stronger…
And finally, we continued our close consultation on Iran. We agree that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to the region, a threat to the world, and potentially an existential threat to Israel. And we agree on our goal. We do not have a policy of containment when it comes to a nuclear Iran. Our policy is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
President Obama explained why the United States stands so strongly with Israel. Right off the bat, upon landing in Israel, President Obama made the case for a strong US-Israel relationship:
I want to begin right now, by answering a question that is sometimes asked about our relationship – why? Why does the United States stand so strongly, so firmly with the State of Israel? And the answer is simple. We stand together because we share a common story – patriots determined “to be a free people in our land,” pioneers who forged a nation, heroes who sacrificed to preserve our freedom, and immigrants from every corner of the world who renew constantly our diverse societies.
We stand together because we are democracies. For as noisy and messy as it may be, we know that democracy is the greatest form of government ever devised by man.
We stand together because it makes us more prosperous. Our trade and investment create jobs for both our peoples. Our partnerships in science and medicine and health bring us closer to new cures, harness new energy and have helped transform us into high-tech hubs of our global economy.
We stand together because we share a commitment to helping our fellow human beings around the world. When the earth shakes and the floods come, our doctors and rescuers reach out to help. When people are suffering, from Africa to Asia, we partner to fight disease and overcome hunger.
And we stand together because peace must come to the Holy Land. For even as we are clear-eyed about the difficulty, we will never lose sight of the vision of an Israel at peace with its neighbors.
So as I begin this visit, let me say as clearly as I can – the United States of America stands with the State of Israel because it is in our fundamental national security interest to stand with Israel. It makes us both stronger. It makes us both more prosperous. And it makes the world a better place.
That’s why the United States was the very first nation to recognize the State of Israel 65 years ago. That’s why the Star of David and the Stars and Stripes fly together today. And that is why I’m confident in declaring that our alliance is eternal, it is forever – lanetzach.
NJDC Executive Director Aaron Keyak, who traveled with President Obama in Israel, wrote in the Jerusalem Post that President Obama understands that “A strong Jewish State of Israel ensures that that our people have a safe haven and will be protected from those who seek to murder us on a daily basis. Israel provides power and meaning to the words ‘never again’.” Said Keyak:
When I stand in Jerusalem and see President Obama reaffirming his commitment to Israel, I will remember the miracles that freed our ancestors thousands of years ago, that have sustained us, supported us, and brought us to this day. I will remember and be thankful that we now have a strong Jewish state and an unbreakable US-Israel relationship, and that our survival will never again rely on miracles alone.