Full Text Israel Political Brief June 26, 2014: President Shimon Peres Addresses the United States Congress and Receives the Congressional Gold Medal

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

President Peres Addresses the United States Congress & Receives the Congressional Gold Medal

Source: MFA, 6-26-14

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​President Peres: “Terror knows no borders and obeys no rules.  Terrorists act globally and should be fought globally. We must fight not only the acts of terrorism but also the roots of terrorism.”
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President Shimon Peres addressing the US Congress

  President Shimon Peres addressing the US Congress

Copyright: GPO/Kobi Gideon

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(Communicated by the Office of the President)

Leaders and Members of Congress,

I am humbled to stand here today in this Rotunda, in this great Pantheon of Democracy, the Congress of the United States.

Here, you give expression to the unbreakable spirit of the American people. It was first expressed 237 years ago when your forefathers signed a document whose words will echo for all time. “Among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Those words resonate with as much meaning today, as they did when America’s first patriots wrote them. They have inspired generations of Americans to dream of a better America. And they have inspired peoples across the globe to dream for a better world.

Many people call me a dreamer. I suppose that’s why I have always felt at home here in America. America that was given the privilege to carry the dreams of humanity. My own first dream was to be a shepherd on a kibbutz. This dream came true. At dawn, I watched the sheep in order not to lose one. At night, I watched the stars in order not to miss one.

The dreams of a young shepherd were interrupted by David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s George Washington, who called me to serve the Jewish state at birth. I was 24 years old. yet Ben-Gurion entrusted me with heavy responsibilities. He made me Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Defense. He charged me with securing our young nation’s ability to defend itself. I worked hard. I had little time to study. I didn’t know a word of English.

After our War of Independence, Ben-Gurion suggested I go the United States to learn English. “Study the American dream.” He told me. So I did.

I learned that America is not a land for the idle. It is a home for the daring. The American dream is about hard work, pioneering spirit, can-do attitude. I learned that the two great bodies that sit under this iconic marble dome – the Senate and the House of Representatives – offered a tiny Israel, struggling for life, an unbelievable and unbreakable friendship.

You helped Israel out of its loneliness. You helped Israel overcome our small size in a tough neighborhood. You helped us maintain a resilient democracy, to become strong enough to take risks for peace. Whether through military assistance and security cooperation or through diplomatic and moral support, you sent us a clear message: That we are not alone.

On behalf of all the people of Israel, I want to thank my friend and Israel’s friend, President Barack Obama, for standing by our side with an unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.

I want to thank each and every one of you, the American Congress, for your unwavering, bipartisan and generous support. Thank you for helping us weather so many storms, And for giving us confidence to face the future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The challenges we face are considerable. Together, we must fight terrorism, advance peace, prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. Like President Obama, Israel hopes that the issue of Iran will be resolved peacefully. And like President Obama, we believe that Iran should be judged by actions not words.

The artificial structures in the Middle East built by the previous empires are falling apart. At the same time, the rules governing the world are being rewritten. Security and prosperity are no longer mainly national issues. National economies are dependent on the global economy. National security is increasingly dependent on fighting global terrorism. And national security is now increasingly dependent on fighting global terrorism.

Amidst all the chaoss in the Middle East, it is easy to sink into despair. But I have seen too much in my life to lose hope. I have seen Israel defy the odds, time and again. I have seen Israel defeat superior enemies on the battlefield and send soldiers to rescue hostages thousands of miles from home.

Israel has shown it can defend itself against those who sought our destruction. Israel did and will do, everything in our power to bring home our three kidnapped boys – Naftali, Gilad, and Eyal. I met with their parents. They asked me to speak here on their behalf. To make your voices heard all over the world to help bring our boys home. To sound a call across the world against terror. Let’s raise our voices together against terrorism.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have seen the genius of Israelis make our poor Middle Eastern land bloom and turn Israel into a global center of technology. I learned that hi-tech can quench the world’s thirst for water and heal the planet. We increased yields without increasing land. As the grandson of a Rabbi burnt alive with his community by the Nazis in a synagogue in Belarus in 1942 –  I know that even the darkest hour cannot prevent a new dawn from arriving.

My friends,

Today and together, we must tackle the two monumental challenges we face: Terrorism and poverty.

Terror knows no borders and obeys no rules. It kills hundreds of thousands, and turns millions into refugees. We see it in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Gaza and elsewhere. Terrorists act globally. Therefore, they should be fought globally. We must fight not only the acts of terrorism but the roots of terrorism. Not just by military means. But by drying up their financial resources. By sanctioning their suppliers of arms. By delegitimizing their actions. By weaving a modern regional net that can catch terrorists and protect the innocent populations.

Arabs are not Israel’s enemies. The terrorists are the enemies of both of us. Terrorists spread danger over the entire region. The region must come together to stop them. The time is ripe to do so.

Religions can play a meaningful role in restoring tolerance and hope. Religion can never permit terrorists to hijack faith and perpetrate violence in the name of heaven. We need more voices like Pope Francis. We need rabbis, priests and imams to preach respect for God in heaven and life on earth.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is our duty to offer the young generation a vision more compelling more promising for the future.  The population of the Middle East grew 5 times over in the last 50 years. Its economy did not.
Poverty soared. An era of science replaced the era of land. We experience it daily. Israel has little land, even less water and no oil. But we became a start-up nation through hi-tech and hard work. I learned that the turmoil of today can provide a new hope for tomorrow. And my dream today is that the Middle East will become a start-up region. To make that happen, leaders in the region must do their share to open their societies.

Because without free thinking there is no new thinking. And without openness there are no discoveries. Global companies should play a role helping the region become up to date and prepare for tomorrow. Two thirds of the Middle East population is under 25. For some, that is a cause for concern. For me, it’s a source of hope. For business, it’s a great opportunity for investment both economically and socially. Global companies are aware that young people want a different future.

They want free expression and self-expression. They want equal rights, including the equal right to be different.

Our two countries – Israel and America – also have a unique contribution to offer. We’re not the same size but we share the same values and the same dreams. Our dreams keep us young. Our values keep us true.

What Israel already learned from experience, we want to share with our neighbors. In my decades of having the privilege of serving Israel. I saw her become a thriving democracy. A diverse society. A leading defense force. And a cutting edge scientific community.

Together we can help put the region on a more promising course. Through initiatives in health, education, agriculture, water, and science. I hope to dedicate myself to this work in the years ahead.

As for America, it remains indispensable. America is the greatest power in the world today. And the only great power in history that never tried to become an Empire. You became great not by taking but by giving. America is a force for good. A force for progress. A force for peace. The world is fortunate that America continues to lead it. 60 years ago, America looked to the moon to discover a distant land. Today, the United States is leading a major scientific effort to reveal the secrets of the mind. We are partners in this effort. May I say that in my judgment, there may be more to discover in the brain than on the moon.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

America and Israel should continue to work together to advance peace. Wars can be waged alone. Peace calls for a collective effort. Israel went through 7 wars and attained 2 peace agreements. With Egypt – the largest Arab country. And Jordan – our longest shared border. I hope that we will be able to renew peace talks with the Palestinians soon. Israel does not intend to rule over other people. It stands against our values and heritage. Israel is committed to Tikkun Olam, bettering the world, and making peace with its neighbors.

President Abbas is clearly a partner for peace. He spoke bravely in Saudi Arabia, in Arabic, against the kidnappings, against terror, and for peace. But you cannot put fire and water in the same glass. Hamas is clearly not a partner for peace. Hamas fires rockets at our civilians. They oppose peace and support terror. Finding a way forward is hard. But we must not lose hope. There is no better solution than two states for two peoples. A Jewish state – Israel. And an Arab state – Palestine.

Peace between Israel and Palestine can forge a broader regional peace. A bridge should be built to enable an Israeli peace initiative to meet the Arab peace initiative. I have lived long enough to see the impossible become possible. To skeptics, I can say: Believe me. Peace is the most possible impossibility.

In one month, I will end my term as Israel’s ninth President. But I will never give up on the struggle to achieve peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I leave you today with one piece of advice. It is the advice of a boy who dreamed on a kibbutz who never imagined where his blessed life would take him. When Theodore Herzl said: “If you will it, it is no dream.” He was right. Looking back on the life of Israel, our dreams proved – not to be too big – but too small.

Because Israel achieved much more than I could have ever imagined. So I ask only one thing of you, the United States of America, this mighty nation of dreamers. Don’t dream small. You are great. Dream big.  And work to will those dreams into a new reality. For you and all humanity. God bless you all. And God bless the United States of America.

Full Text Israel Political Brief June 25, 2014: National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice’s Remarks at a Dinner Honoring Israeli President Shimon Peres

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Remarks by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice at a Dinner Honoring Israeli President Shimon Peres

Source: WH, 6-25-14 

Washington, DC
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
As Delivered 

Good evening everyone—erev tov.  And, thank you so much, Ron, Rhoda, for this lovely evening.  It’s a true honor, Ron, to be asked to celebrate one of Israel’s greatest sons and a walking global treasure, my friend President Shimon Peres.

Over the years, Mr. President, you have been many things—a dreamer, a state-builder, a founding father, a prime minister, a peacemaker.  Your life has been the life of the state of Israel. You all sometimes hear him called an “elder statesman,” but I know every one of us in this room would kill to have the energy that you have (Laughter),  You’ve won the world’s admiration and most of its medals, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and, tomorrow, the Congressional Gold Medal—together, America’s highest civilian honors.  And you didn’t just win the Nobel Peace Prize, you earned it, and you earn it every single day.  So thank you, Mr. President, for your tireless efforts to make this world a better place—for your tireless commitment to the state of Israel and tikkun olam.

President Peres and I became friends after we met in 2009 in New York, and he invited me to Israel later that year to speak at the incredible conference that he convenes.  And since then, I’ve been extremely privileged to meet with him many times and to benefit not only from his extraordinary wisdom but also from his unbelievable kindness.  On more than one occasion, when from very far away, he sensed that perhaps I was having a bit of a rough patch, he would call or write or find some other special way of letting me know that he was there, and that I was in his thoughts.  What a wonderful man.  Thank you.

Someone once asked Meir Dizengoff, the first mayor of Tel Aviv, how it is that you become mayor of a city in Israel—and he said, first, you build the city (Laughter).  So, if someone asks President Peres how he came to lead the state of Israel, well—first, you build the state of Israel.  And that is just what you have done, more than any other man alive.  And, that makes him a great gift to all of us—the last of Israel’s founding lions.

From the moment that President Truman made the United States the very first country to recognize the Jewish state, 11 minutes after Shimon’s great mentor David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s independence in Tel Aviv, the relationship between our two proud democracies has grown like a mighty oak.  As President Obama reaffirmed when he met with President Peres today, the United States’ commitment to the peace and security of Israel is unbreakable and unshakable.  Our peoples share a friendship that’s rooted in our common values:  liberty, democracy, human rights, and human dignity. You can see it in this room tonight, where we’ve all gathered—leaders and citizens from across America’s political spectrum, united in our love and support for Israel.  And so much of that, too, is because of the personal efforts—over a lifetime—of Shimon Peres.

Now, everyone here knows that he’s eminently quotable.  He’s the inventor of the “Peres-ism” (Laughter).   I’m sure all of you have your favorites. There’s the one that every campaign manager should know, and I quote, he actually said it today, “Polls are like perfume—nice to smell, dangerous to swallow” (Laughter). Especially apt in this room.  But the one that most stays with me is pretty simple.  He said, “There are no hopeless situations, only hopeless people.”

Shimon Peres is someone who believes that despair is a sin and service is a duty.  And, serve is what you have done your entire life—from your early days on the kibbutz, making the desert bloom, and throughout your decades of dedication to Israel.  That’s the spirit in which Shimon Peres has worked with every American president since John F. Kennedy.  That’s how he’s earned admirers the world over.  And that’s why he remains so committed to advancing the cause of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, including through his meeting with President Abbas and Pope Francis at the Vatican this month.

Mr. President, you set an example for us all.  And so, we too will stay true to the cause of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.  Because ultimately, the only path out of this tragic conflict is a secure, democratic, Jewish state living side-by-side in peace and security with a viable, independent Palestinian state (Applause).

Tonight as well, all of our hearts are hurting for the three Israeli students who were kidnapped in the West Bank, one of whom, as you all know, is also an American.  President Obama and all of us in the U.S. government are deeply concerned.  We have offered every assistance, and, as parents—in my case of a sixteen year old boy—we all feel this very personally.  So, we pray for their safe return and for the strength for their families through this agonizing vigil.  And, continued cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians is also critical—both to ensure that the search succeeds and to prevent the situation in the West Bank from further destabilizing.

One might argue that these are difficult days.  But there are no hopeless situations, only hopeless people—and President Peres reminds us never to count ourselves among them.  What counts is working to bend history in the direction of hope.

So, in the book that I know as Psalms, and that many of you know as Tehillim, Moses beseeches the Lord, quote, “establish thou the works of our hands upon us.”  Many of us were raised on that prayer, though some of you learned it in the original.  And I hear in it not only a cry to heaven, but a call to action here on earth.  That’s a call you have answered, Mr. President, every day of your life.  And, we are all inspired by the work to which you have put your able hands.  This room is full of people deeply moved by your service, your courage, and your determination to pursue progress, security, and peace.

So, tonight, we celebrate the next chapter in the life of Shimon Peres.  We join you in recommitting ourselves to the cause of peace.  And, together, we ask for that ancient blessing:  Establish thou the works of our hands, oh Lord.  On behalf of President Obama and all of your friends here in the United States, we wish you, like Moses, “Ad meyah v’essreem!”  May you live to 120! (Laughter) Thank you.

Israel Political Brief June 25, 2014: President Shimon Peres meets with President Barack Obama at the White House Oval Office

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

President Peres meets with President Obama

Source: MFA, 6-25-14

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“I thank you for your friendship to the State of Israel and the Jewish people – under your leadership our strategic relations have reached new heights.”
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President Peres meets with President Obama

  President Peres meets with President Obama

Copyright: GPO/Kobi Gideon

 

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