On Israel's 50th Birthday, Clinton Urges Continued Work Toward Peace
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, April 27) -- During a White House ceremony to mark the 50th birthday of the state of Israel, President Bill Clinton reaffirmed the United States' commitment and friendship to the young nation, while urging Israelis to continue on the path of peace with their Middle East neighbors.
"Today, we celebrate that extraordinary 50 years," Clinton said. "In 1948, Israel arose from the seeds of the diaspora and the ashes of the Holocaust. The children of Abraham and Sarah, survivors of 2000 years of exile and persecution, were home at last and free at last."
Clinton praised the basic tenents on which the Israeli state was founded by David Ben-Gurion and his allies. Among them was building a "lasting peace with its Arab neighbors" and the American president urged Israelis to not let the current chance at realizing that goal slip awy. (512K wav sound)
| Transcript Of President Clinton's Remarks Marking Israel's 50th Birthday|
"We cannot let the extremists prevail. Israel can fulfill its full promise by drawing on the courage and vision of its founders to achieve peace with security. Never has the opportunity been more real, and it must not be lost," said Clinton.
Over the next 50 years, Israel will continue to have a strong ally in the U.S., Clinton pledged. "Let us in the United States say that we will stand by Israel, always square for its security, always together in friendship. But we want this debate to continue until there is no difference between what might've been and what is," he said. (448K wav sound)
The president was presented with an honorary degree from Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Clinton said he accepted on behalf of his eight predecessors who were all "devoted to Israel's security and freedom, all committed to peace in the Middle East."
Clinton singled out the actions of former President Harry Truman who, against the advice of his aides, first recognized Israel as nation. "For him, supporting a Jewish homeland was a moral imperative rooted in his understanding of the sufferings and dreams of the Jews from Biblical times," Clinton said, adding that half a century later Truman looked "pretty smart." (480K wav sound)
Looking to the future, Clinton said, "It is my dream that on that 100th anniversary people from every country in the Middle East will gather in the Holy Land and all the land will be holy to all of them.
"If we all pray for the wisdom to do God's will, chances are we will find a way to close the gap in the next couple of years between what might be and what is. I think that is what we owe the founders of Israel -- to finish Ben-Gurion's dream," Clinton concluded.