Full Text Political Transcripts May 23, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Speech at the Israel Museum

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at the Israel Museum

Source: WH, 5-23-17

Jerusalem

2:28 P.M. IDT

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.  It’s very nice.   And thank you to Prime Minister Netanyahu.  And I also want to thank Sara for hosting us last night in really a very unforgettable dinner.  We had a great time.  We talked about a lot of very, very important things.  And thank you to Ambassador David Friedman and Mrs. Friedman for joining us, along with a number of very good friends who have come from our country to yours, as we reaffirm the unshakable bond between the United States of America and Israel.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

I’d like to begin my remarks today by sending the thoughts and prayers of the entire American people to the victims of the terrorist attack in Manchester.  You know — you’ve all been watching.  You’ve seen just a horrible thing going on.  I want to send our condolences to the many families who lost their loved ones.  Horrific, horrific injuries.  Terrible.  Dozens of innocent people, beautiful young children savagely murdered in this heinous attack upon humanity.  I repeat again that we must drive out the terrorists and the extremists from our midst, obliterate this evil ideology, and protect and defend our citizens and people of the world.  (Applause.)

All civilized nations much be united in this effort.  This trip is focused on that goal:  bringing nations together around the goal of defeating the terrorism that threatens the world, and crushing the hateful ideology that drives it so hard and seems to be driving it so fast.

It is a privilege to stand here in this national museum, in the ancient city of Jerusalem, to address the Israeli people and all people in the Middle East who yearn for security, prosperity and peace.

Jerusalem is a sacred city.  Its beauty, splendor, and heritage are like no other place on Earth.  (Applause.)  What a heritage.  What a heritage.  The ties of the Jewish people to this Holy Land are ancient and eternal.  (Applause.)  They date back thousands of years, including the reign of King David whose star now flies proudly on Israel’s white and blue flag.

Yesterday, I visited the Western Wall, and marveled at the monument to God’s presence and man’s perseverance.  I was humbled to place my hand upon the wall and to pray in that holy space for wisdom from God.  I also visited and prayed at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a site revered by Christians throughout the world.  I laid a wreath at Yad Vashem, honoring, remembering, and mourning the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust.  I pledged right then and there what I pledge again today:  the words “never again.”  (Applause.)

Israel is a testament to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people.  From all parts of this great country, one message resounds, and that is the message of hope.  Down through the ages, the Jewish people have suffered persecution, oppression, and even those who have sought their destruction.  But, through it all, they have endured and, in fact, they have thrived.  I stand in awe of the accomplishments of the Jewish people, and I make this promise to you:  My administration will always stand with Israel.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.

Through your hardships, you have created one of the most abundant lands anywhere in the world — a land that is rich not only in history, culture, and opportunity, but especially in spirit.  This museum where we are gathered today tells the story of that spirit.  From the two Holy Temples, to the glorious heights of Masada, we see an incredible story of faith and perseverance.  That faith is what inspired Jews to believe in their destiny, to overcome their despair, and to build here — right here — a future that others dared not even to dream.

In Israel, not only are Jews free to till the soil, teach their children, and pray to God in the ancient land of their fathers — and they love this land, and they love God — but Muslims, Christians, and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience, and to follow their dreams, right here.

Today, gathered with friends, I call upon all people — Jews, Christians, Muslims, and every faith, every tribe, every creed — to draw inspiration from this ancient city, to set aside our sectarian differences, to overcome oppression and hatred, and to give all children the freedom and hope and dignity written into our souls.

Earlier this week, I spoke at a very historic summit in Saudi Arabia.  I was hosted by King Salman — a very wise man.  There, I urged our friends in the Muslim world to join us in creating stability, safety and security.  And I was deeply encouraged by the desire of many leaders to join us in cooperation toward these shared and vital goals.

Conflict cannot continue forever.  The only question is when nations will decide that they have had enough — enough bloodshed, enough killing.  That historic summit represents a new opportunity for people throughout the Middle East to overcome sectarian and religious divisions, to extinguish the fires of extremism, and to find common ground and shared responsibility in making the future of this region so much better than it is right now.

Change must come from within.   It can only come from within.  No mother or father wants their children to grow up in a world where terrorists roam free, schoolchildren are murdered, and their loved ones are taken.  No child is born with prejudice in their heart.  No one should teach young boys and girls to hate and to kill.  No civilized nation can tolerate the massacre of innocents with chemical weapons.

My message to that summit was the same message I have for you:  We must build a coalition of partners who share the aim of stamping out extremists and violence, and providing our children a peaceful and hopeful future.  But a hopeful future for children in the Middle East requires the world to fully recognize the vital role of the State of Israel.  (Applause.)  And, on behalf of the United States, we pledge to stand by you and defend our shared values so that together we can defeat terrorism and create safety for all of God’s children.  (Applause.)

Israelis have experienced firsthand the hatred and terror of radical violence.  Israelis are murdered by terrorists wielding knives and bombs.  Hamas and Hezbollah launch rockets into Israeli communities where schoolchildren have to be trained to hear the sirens and run to the bomb shelters — with fear, but with speed.  ISIS targets Jewish neighborhoods, synagogues, and storefronts.  And Iran’s leaders routinely call for Israel’s destruction.  Not with Donald J. Trump, believe me.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  I like you too.  (Laughter.)

Despite these challenges, Israel is thriving as a sovereign nation, and no international body should question the contributions Israel makes to the region and, indeed, the world.  Today, let us pray for that peace and for a more hopeful future across the Middle East.

There are those who present a false choice.  They say that we must choose between supporting Israel and supporting Arab and Muslim nations in the region.  That is completely wrong.  All decent people want to live in peace, and all humanity is threatened by the evils of terrorism.  Diverse nations can unite around the goal of protecting innocent life, upholding human dignity, and promoting peace and stability in the region.

My administration is committed to pursuing such a coalition, and we have already made substantial progress during this trip.  We know, for instance, that both Israelis and Palestinians seek lives of hope for their children.  And we know that peace is possible if we put aside the pain and disagreements of the past and commit together to finally resolving this crisis, which has dragged on for nearly half a century or more.

As I have repeatedly said, I am personally committed to helping Israelis and Palestinians achieve a peace agreement, and I had a meeting this morning with President Abbas and can tell you that the Palestinians are ready to reach for peace.  I know you’ve heard it before.  I am telling you — that’s what I do.  They are ready to reach for peace.

In my meeting with my very good friend, Benjamin, I can tell you also that he is reaching for peace.  He wants peace.  He loves people.  He especially loves the Israeli people.  Benjamin Netanyahu wants peace.

Making peace, however, will not be easy.  We all know that.  Both sides will face tough decisions.  But with determination, compromise, and the belief that peace is possible, Israelis and Palestinians can make a deal.

But even as we work toward peace, we will build strength to defend our nations.  The United States is firmly committed to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and halting their support of terrorists and militias.  (Applause.)  So we are telling you right now that Iran will not have nuclear weapons.  (Applause.)

America’s security partnership with Israel is stronger than ever.  Under my administration, you see the difference — big, big beautiful difference — (laughter and applause) — including the Iron Dome missile defense program, which has been keeping the Israeli people safe from short-range rockets launched by Hezbollah and Hamas, and David’s Sling, which guards against long range missiles.  It is my hope that someday, very soon, Israeli children will never need to rush towards shelters again as sirens ring out loud and clear.

Finally, the United States is proud that Israeli Air Force pilots are flying the incredible, new American F-35 planes.  (Applause.)  There is nothing in the world like them to defend their nation, and it was wonderful to see these mighty aircraft in the skies over Israel recently as you celebrated the 69th anniversary of Israel’s independence.

But even as we strengthen our partnership in practice, let us always remember our highest ideals.  Let us never forget that the bond between our two nations is woven together in the hearts of our people, and their love of freedom, hope, and dignity for every man and every woman.  Let us dream of a future where Jewish, Muslim, and Christian children can grow up together and live together in trust, harmony, tolerance, and respect.

The values that are practiced in Israel have inspired millions and millions of people all across the world.  The conviction of Theodor Herzl rings true today:  “Whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will rebound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind.”

As we stand in Jerusalem, we see pilgrims of all faiths coming to this land to walk on this hallowed ground.  Jews place the prayers from their hearts in the stone blocks of the beautiful Western Wall.  Christians pray in the pews of an ancient church.  Muslims answer the call to prayer at their holy sites.  This city, like no other place in the world, reveals the longing of human hearts to know and to worship God.

Jerusalem stands as a reminder that life can flourish against any odds.  When we look around this city — so beautiful — and we see people of all faiths engaged in reverent worship, and schoolchildren learning side-by-side, and men and women lifting up the needy and forgotten, we see that God’s promise of healing has brought goodness to so many lives.  We see that the people of this land had the courage to overcome the oppression and injustice of the past and to live in the freedom God intends for every person on this Earth.

Today, in Jerusalem, we pray and we hope that children around the world will be able to live without fear, to dream without limits, and to prosper without violence.  I ask this land of promise to join me to fight our common enemies, to pursue our shared values, and to protect the dignity of every child of God.

Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless the State of Israel.  And God bless the United States.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
2:48 P.M. IDT

Full Text Political Transcripts May 23, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Speech at Yad Vashem

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at Yad Vashem

Source: WH, 5-23-17

Jerusalem

1:27 P.M. IDT

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Sara Netanyahu, Chairman Avner Shalev, and Rabbi Israel Meir Lau for hosting us for this moving wreath-laying ceremony.

We are here at Yad Vashem to honor the memory of six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust.  Two-thirds of the Jews in Europe were sent to their deaths.  Words can never describe the bottomless depths of that evil, or the scope of the anguish and destruction.

It was history’s darkest hour.  Millions of innocent, wonderful and beautiful lives — men, women and children — were extinguished as part of a systematic attempt to eliminate the Jewish people.  It was the most savage crime against God and his children.  And it is our solemn duty to remember, to mourn, to grieve and to honor every single life that was so cruelly and viciously taken.

As Elie Wiesel said: “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”  These words should be carved into the conscience of humanity forever.  Only when we remember the families who were torn apart from everyone they loved, who suffered that terrible darkness and evil, who endured the unbearable horror of the Holocaust — only then can we prevent this agony from ever repeating.

This place, and this entire nation, are a testament to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people — and the hope that light can shine the path beyond the darkness.  Through persecution, oppression, death, and destruction, the Jewish people have persevered.  They have thrived.  They’ve become so successful in so many places.  And they have enlightened the world.  The State of Israel is a strong and soaring monument to the solemn pledge we repeat and affirm:  Never again.

From the depths of the suffering, the Jewish people have built a mighty nation — and the Star of David waves proudly above this cherished land.

As long as we refuse to be silent in the face of evil, as long as we refuse to dim the light of truth in the midst of darkness, as long as we refuse to become bystanders to barbarity, then we know that goodness, peace and justice will ultimately prevail.

With sadness for the lives and dreams that were stolen from this Earth, with determination to always keep the memories of the victims alive, and with resolve to confront evil wherever it threatens, we ask God to give us the strength, wisdom and courage to chart the righteous path.

Thank you.  God bless the memory of the perished.  God bless the survivors.  God bless the Jewish people.  And God bless the State of Israel.  Thank you for having me.  Thank you.

END
1:34 P.M. IDT

Full Text Political Transcripts May 22, 2017: President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Joint Statement Remarks

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu in Joint Statement

Source: WH, 5-22-17

President Trump meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu

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Prime Minister’s Residence
Jerusalem

8:17 P.M. SAST

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  President Trump, Donald, Sara and I are absolutely delighted to welcome you and Melania to the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people, the united capital of the Jewish state.

We’ve known each other for many years, and it’s always good to see you.  But it’s also wonderful to see the blossoming friendship between our two beautiful wives, Sara and Melania.  You’re so welcome here, and we’re so pleased to see you.  We’re honored to have you in our home.

You’ve been today, Mr. President, to the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites of Judaism.  You have been to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of the holiest sites of Christianity.  We protect the Christian sites as no one else does anywhere in this region.  We protect Christian sites, Muslim sites, obviously Jewish sites.  We’re committed to the freedom of all faiths and to the rights of all.

Mr. President, I appreciate the fact that you went to the Western Wall and you’re the first acting President who’s done that.  The people of Israel applaud you for it.  (Applause.)

We had a terrific discussion today.  And when I say terrific, it encompasses everything.  We can talk about deregulation, we can talk about economics.  I think we quote each other.  We understand each other and so much of the things that we wish to accomplish for both our countries.

But I want to thank you especially today for your deep commitment to Israel’s security, its wellbeing, and its future.  I have no doubt that, as we work together, you and I, the alliance between our countries will grow ever stronger.  I want you to know how much we appreciate the change in American policy on Iran, which you enunciated so clearly just an hour ago.

I want you to know how much we appreciate your bold decision to act against the use of chemical weapons in Syria.  And I want to tell you also how much we appreciate the reassertion of American leadership in the Middle East.

I look forward to working closely with you to confront the dangers we face together in this violent and volatile Middle East.  I believe that together we can roll back Iran’s march of aggression and terror in this region, and we can thwart Iran’s unbridled ambition to become a nuclear weapon state.

I also look forward to working closely with you to advance peace in our region, because you have noted so succinctly that common dangers are turning former enemies into partners.  And that’s where we see something new and potentially something very promising.  It won’t be simple.  But for the first time in many years — and, Mr. President, for the first time in my lifetime — I see a real hope for change.

The Arab leaders who you met yesterday could help change the atmosphere, and they could help create the conditions for a realistic peace.  These are all great signs on your historic visit.  It’s a visit that I think has echoed down the ages, because the great Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said that there was no city on Earth he so much desired to see as Jerusalem.

Well, Mr. President, Donald, there’s no city on Earth where you are more welcome than right here with us in Jerusalem.  Welcome to Jerusalem.  Welcome to Israel.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.  And it’s a great honor to be with my good friend, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and, of course, Sara.  Thank you.  And also thank you for that beautiful tour.  Melania is still talking about it.  Thank you very much.

You honored me and Melania by being one of the first world leaders to visit the White House, as you know.  And we had a very good and sound discussion.  And now you honor us again by welcoming us to your home on my first trip abroad as the President of the United States.

This is a land filled with beauty, wonder, and the spirit of God.  I’ve been amazed by the glorious and beautiful monuments and holy sites, and the generosity of your incredible people.  Because it’s all about the people.  I was deeply moved by my visit today to the Western Wall.  Words fail to capture the experience.  It will leave an impression on me forever.

Today, we reaffirmed the unbreakable bond of friendship between Israel and the United States — a friendship built on our shared love of freedom, our shared belief in human dignity, and our shared hope for an Israel at lasting peace.  We want Israel to have peace.

But we are more than friends.  We are great allies.  We have so many opportunities in front of us.  But we must seize them together.  We must take advantage of the situation, and there are many, many things that can happen now that would never have been able to happen before.  And we understand that very well.  That includes advancing prosperity, defeating the evils of terrorism, and facing the threat of an Iranian regime that is threatening the region and causing so much violence and suffering.

During my travels, I have seen many hopeful signs that lead me to believe that we can truly achieve a more peaceful future for this region and for people of all faiths and all beliefs and, frankly, all over the world.

In my visit to Saudi Arabia, I met with many leaders of the Arab and Muslim world, including King Salman, who treated us so beautifully and really wants to see great things happen for the world.  He really does.  I got to know him well, and he really does.

These leaders voiced concerns we all share — about ISIS, about Iran’s rising ambitions and rolling back its gains, and about the menace of extremism that has spread through too many parts of the Muslim world.  I’m encouraged that they pledge cooperation to confront terrorism and the hateful ideology that drives it so hard.  America welcomes the action and support of any nation willing to do the hard but vital work in eradicating the violent ideologies that have caused so much needless bloodshed and killing here and all over the world.

We are willing to work together.  I believe that a new level of partnership is possible and will happen — one that will bring greater safety to this region, greater security to the United States, and greater prosperity to the world.  This includes a renewed effort at peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and I thank the Prime Minister for his commitment to pursuing the peace process.  He’s working very hard at it.  It’s not easy.  I’ve heard it’s one of the toughest deals of all, but I have a feeling that we’re going to get there eventually, I hope.

I’m certain we will have very productive discussions.  And we’re going to have very productive discussions, in my opinion, with the leaders of other nations also.  And I feel strongly about that, because there’s a lot of love out there.  And people from all nations, even nations that you would be surprised to hear, they want to stop the killing.  They’ve had enough.

America stands ready to assist in every way we can.  Our deep and lasting friendship will only grow deeper and stronger as we work together in the days ahead.  I thank you again for hosting us in this beautiful and ancient land.  Truly, it’s a land of wonders.  And it’s my honor to be here with you.

Sara, thank you.  Bibi, thank you.  I appreciate it very much.  Great honor.  Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
8:28 P.M. SAST

Readout of Meeting Between President Donald J. Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Source: WH, 5-22-17

Yesterday, President Donald J. Trump met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on President Trump’s first official visit to Israel as President.  The two leaders reaffirmed the special bond between the United States and Israel.  President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed their joint plan to further improve relations by focusing on increased cooperation across a range of issues, including regional and cyber security, trade, technology, innovation, and research.  President Trump underscored the United States’ ironclad commitment to Israel’s security, including to the maintenance of Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge.  The two leaders also agreed on the need to counter Iran and its proxies, including by building strong military capabilities to protect Israel and the region from Iranian aggression.  The two leaders commended the Riyadh summit’s condemnation of terrorism and extremism and pledged to work together to defeat terrorist organizations.   President Trump observed that common interests between Israel and Arab states have made new partnerships possible.  Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed his desire for better relations with Arab states.  The two leaders agreed on the need to end the violence in Syria and move toward a political solution that will allow the Syrian people to return to secure environments and rebuild their lives.

President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed how to move forward with Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.  President Trump reaffirmed his belief that peace is possible, not only between Israelis and Palestinians, but throughout large parts of the Middle East.  President Trump welcomed the steps that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s security cabinet have taken to improve the Palestinian economy, noting that greater economic opportunity for Palestinians would enhance the prospects for peace.

Full Text Political Transcripts May 22, 2017: President Donald Trump and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s Joint Remarks

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Meeting Between President Donald J. Trump and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin

Source: WH, 5-22-17

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President Donald J. Trump was warmly welcomed by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin yesterday at the Presidential Residence in Jerusalem. The two Presidents spoke about the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel, and they committed to strengthening that bond. President Trump also reaffirmed the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security. The two Presidents discussed the opportunities and challenges facing the region, and President Trump shared conclusions from the extremely successful Arab Islamic American Summit held in Riyadh yesterday. At the conclusion of their meeting, President Rivlin took President Trump to view the tree that had been planted in the garden of the Presidential Residence in honor of President Trump’s historic visit.

President Trump Participates in a Bilateral Meeting with President Reuven Rivlin of Israel

Full Text Political Transcripts May 21, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Speech to the Arab Islamic American Summit Riyadh Saudia Arabia on Terrorism

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Trump’s Speech to the Arab Islamic American Summit

Source: WH, 5-21-17

Remarks as prepared for delivery

Thank You.

I want to thank King Salman for his extraordinary words, and the magnificent Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for hosting today’s summit. I am honored to be received by such gracious hosts. I have always heard about the splendor of your country and the kindness of your citizens, but words do not do justice to the grandeur of this remarkable place and the incredible hospitality you have shown us from the moment we arrived.

You also hosted me in the treasured home of King Abdulaziz, the founder of the Kingdom who united your great people. Working alongside another beloved leader – American President Franklin Roosevelt – King Abdulaziz began the enduring partnership between our two countries. King Salman: your father would be so proud to see that you are continuing his legacy – and just as he opened the first chapter in our partnership, today we begin a new chapter that will bring lasting benefits to our citizens.

Let me now also extend my deep and heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of the distinguished heads of state who made this journey here today. You greatly honor us with your presence, and I send the warmest regards from my country to yours. I know that our time together will bring many blessings to both your people and mine.

I stand before you as a representative of the American People, to deliver a message of friendship and hope. That is why I chose to make my first foreign visit a trip to the heart of the Muslim world, to the nation that serves as custodian of the two holiest sites in the Islamic Faith.

In my inaugural address to the American People, I pledged to strengthen America’s oldest friendships, and to build new partnerships in pursuit of peace. I also promised that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others, but to outstretch our hands in the spirit of cooperation and trust.

Our vision is one of peace, security, and prosperity—in this region, and in the world.

Our goal is a coalition of nations who share the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a hopeful future that does honor to God.

And so this historic and unprecedented gathering of leaders—unique in the history of nations—is a symbol to the world of our shared resolve and our mutual respect. To the leaders and citizens of every country assembled here today, I want you to know that the United States is eager to form closer bonds of friendship, security, culture and commerce.

For Americans, this is an exciting time. A new spirit of optimism is sweeping our country: in just a few months, we have created almost a million new jobs, added over 3 trillion dollars of new value, lifted the burdens on American industry, and made record investments in our military that will protect the safety of our people and enhance the security of our wonderful friends and allies – many of whom are here today.

Now, there is even more blessed news I am pleased to share with you. My meetings with King Salman, the Crown Prince, and the Deputy Crown Prince, have been filled with great warmth, good will, and tremendous cooperation.

Yesterday, we signed historic agreements with the Kingdom that will invest almost $400 billion in our two countries and create many thousands of jobs in America and Saudi Arabia.

This landmark agreement includes the announcement of a $110 billion Saudi-funded defense purchase – and we will be sure to help our Saudi friends to get a good deal from our great American defense companies. This agreement will help the Saudi military to take a greater role in security operations.

We have also started discussions with many of the countries present today on strengthening partnerships, and forming new ones, to advance security and stability across the Middle East and beyond.

Later today, we will make history again with the opening of a new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology – located right here, in this central part of the Islamic World. This groundbreaking new center represents a clear declaration that Muslim-majority countries must take the lead in combatting radicalization, and I want to express our gratitude to King Salman for this strong demonstration of leadership.

I have had the pleasure of welcoming several of the leaders present today to the White House, and I look forward to working with all of you.

America is a sovereign nation and our first priority is always the safety and security of our citizens. We are not here to lecture—we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership – based on shared interests and values – to pursue a better future for us all.

Here at this summit we will discuss many interests we share together. But above all we must be united in pursuing the one goal that transcends every other consideration. That goal is to meet history’s great test—to conquer extremism and vanquish the forces of terrorism.

Young Muslim boys and girls should be able to grow up free from fear, safe from violence, and innocent of hatred.

And young Muslim men and women should have the chance to build a new era of prosperity for themselves and their peoples.

God’s help, this summit will mark the beginning of the end for those who practice terror and spread its vile creed. At the same time, we pray this special gathering may someday be remembered as the beginning of peace in the Middle East – and maybe, even all over the world.

But this future can only be achieved through defeating terrorism and the ideology that drives it.

Few nations have been spared its violent reach.

America has suffered repeated barbaric attacks – from the atrocities of September 11th to the devastation of the Boston Bombing, to the horrible killings in San Bernardino and Orlando.

The nations of Europe have also endured unspeakable horror. So too have the nations of Africa and even South America. India, Russia, China and Australia have been victims.

But, in sheer numbers, the deadliest toll has been exacted on the innocent people of Arab, Muslim and Middle Eastern nations. They have borne the brunt of the killings and the worst of the destruction in this wave of fanatical violence.

Some estimates hold that more than 95 percent of the victims of terrorism are themselves Muslim.

We now face a humanitarian and security disaster in this region that is spreading across the planet. It is a tragedy of epic proportions. No description of the suffering and depravity can begin to capture its full measure.

The true toll of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and so many others, must be counted not only in the number of dead. It must also be counted in generations of vanished dreams.

The Middle East is rich with natural beauty, vibrant cultures, and massive amounts of historic treasures. It should increasingly become one of the great global centers of commerce and opportunity.

This region should not be a place from which refugees flee, but to which newcomers flock.

Saudi Arabia is home to the holiest sites in one of the world’s great faiths. Each year millions of Muslims come from around the world to Saudi Arabia to take part in the Hajj. In addition to ancient wonders, this country is also home to modern ones—including soaring achievements in architecture.

Egypt was a thriving center of learning and achievement thousands of years before other parts of the world. The wonders of Giza, Luxor and Alexandria are proud monuments to that ancient heritage.

All over the world, people dream of walking through the ruins of Petra in Jordan. Iraq was the cradle of civilization and is a land of natural beauty. And the United Arab Emirates has reached incredible heights with glass and steel, and turned earth and water into spectacular works of art.

The entire region is at the center of the key shipping lanes of the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, and the Straits of Hormuz.

The potential of this region has never been greater. 65 percent of its population is under the age of 30. Like all young men and women, they seek great futures to build, great national projects to join, and a place for their families to call home.

But this untapped potential, this tremendous cause for optimism, is held at bay by bloodshed and terror. There can be no coexistence with this violence.

There can be no tolerating it, no accepting it, no excusing it, and no ignoring it.

Every time a terrorist murders an innocent person, and falsely invokes the name of God, it should be an insult to every person of faith.

Terrorists do not worship God, they worship death.

If we do not act against this organized terror, then we know what will happen. Terrorism’s devastation of life will continue to spread. Peaceful societies will become engulfed by violence. And the futures of many generations will be sadly squandered.

If we do not stand in uniform condemnation of this killing—then not only will we be judged by our people, not only will we be judged by history, but we will be judged by God.

This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations.

This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it.

This is a battle between Good and Evil.

When we see the scenes of destruction in the wake of terror, we see no signs that those murdered were Jewish or Christian, Shia or Sunni. When we look upon the streams of innocent blood soaked into the ancient ground, we cannot see the faith or sect or tribe of the victims – we see only that they were Children of God whose deaths are an insult to all that is holy.

But we can only overcome this evil if the forces of good are united and strong – and if everyone in this room does their fair share and fulfills their part of the burden.

Terrorism has spread across the world. But the path to peace begins right here, on this ancient soil, in this sacred land.

America is prepared to stand with you – in pursuit of shared interests and common security.

But the nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them. The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries, and for their children.

It is a choice between two futures – and it is a choice America CANNOT make for you.

A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out. DRIVE THEM OUT of your places of worship. DRIVE THEM OUT of your communities. DRIVE THEM OUT of your holy land, and DRIVE THEM OUT OF THIS EARTH.

For our part, America is committed to adjusting our strategies to meet evolving threats and new facts. We will discard those strategies that have not worked—and will apply new approaches informed by experience and judgment. We are adopting a Principled Realism, rooted in common values and shared interests.

Our friends will never question our support, and our enemies will never doubt our determination. Our partnerships will advance security through stability, not through radical disruption. We will make decisions based on real-world outcomes – not inflexible ideology. We will be guided by the lessons of experience, not the confines of rigid thinking. And, wherever possible, we will seek gradual reforms – not sudden intervention.

We must seek partners, not perfection—and to make allies of all who share our goals.

Above all, America seeks peace – not war.

Muslim nations must be willing to take on the burden, if we are going to defeat terrorism and send its wicked ideology into oblivion.

The first task in this joint effort is for your nations to deny all territory to the foot soldiers of evil. Every country in the region has an absolute duty to ensure that terrorists find no sanctuary on their soil.

Many are already making significant contributions to regional security: Jordanian pilots are crucial partners against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Saudi Arabia and a regional coalition have taken strong action against Houthi militants in Yemen. The Lebanese Army is hunting ISIS operatives who try to infiltrate their territory. Emirati troops are supporting our Afghan partners. In Mosul, American troops are supporting Kurds, Sunnis and Shias fighting together for their homeland. Qatar, which hosts the U.S. Central Command, is a crucial strategic partner. Our longstanding partnership with Kuwait and Bahrain continue to enhance security in the region. And courageous Afghan soldiers are making tremendous sacrifices in the fight against the Taliban, and others, in the fight for their country.

As we deny terrorist organizations control of territory and populations, we must also strip them of their access to funds. We must cut off the financial channels that let ISIS sell oil, let extremists pay their fighters, and help terrorists smuggle their reinforcements.

I am proud to announce that the nations here today will be signing an agreement to prevent the financing of terrorism, called the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center – co-chaired by the United States and Saudi Arabia, and joined by every member of the Gulf Cooperation Council. It is another historic step in a day that will be long remembered.

I also applaud the Gulf Cooperation Council for blocking funders from using their countries as a financial base for terror, and designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization last year. Saudi Arabia also joined us this week in placing sanctions on one of the most senior leaders of Hezbollah.

Of course, there is still much work to do.

That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires. And it means standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians.

Religious leaders must make this absolutely clear: Barbarism will deliver you no glory – piety to evil will bring you no dignity. If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief, and YOUR SOUL WILL BE CONDEMNED.

And political leaders must speak out to affirm the same idea: heroes don’t kill innocents; they save them. Many nations here today have taken important steps to raise up that message. Saudi Arabia’s Vision for 2030 is an important and encouraging statement of tolerance, respect, empowering women, and economic development.

The United Arab Emirates has also engaged in the battle for hearts and souls—and with the U.S., launched a center to counter the online spread of hate. Bahrain too is working to undermine recruitment and radicalism.

I also applaud Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon for their role in hosting refugees. The surge of migrants and refugees leaving the Middle East depletes the human capital needed to build stable societies and economies. Instead of depriving this region of so much human potential, Middle Eastern countries can give young people hope for a brighter future in their home nations and regions.

That means promoting the aspirations and dreams of all citizens who seek a better life – including women, children, and followers of all faiths. Numerous Arab and Islamic scholars have eloquently argued that protecting equality strengthens Arab and Muslim communities.

For many centuries the Middle East has been home to Christians, Muslims and Jews living side-by-side. We must practice tolerance and respect for each other once again—and make this region a place where every man and woman, no matter their faith or ethnicity, can enjoy a life of dignity and hope.

In that spirit, after concluding my visit in Riyadh, I will travel to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and then to the Vatican – visiting many of the holiest places in the three Abrahamic Faiths. If these three faiths can join together in cooperation, then peace in this world is possible – including peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I will be meeting with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Starving terrorists of their territory, their funding, and the false allure of their craven ideology, will be the basis for defeating them.

But no discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists all three—safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region. I am speaking of course of Iran.

From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.

It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.

Among Iran’s most tragic and destabilizing interventions have been in Syria. Bolstered by Iran, Assad has committed unspeakable crimes, and the United States has taken firm action in response to the use of banned chemical weapons by the Assad Regime – launching 59 tomahawk missiles at the Syrian air base from where that murderous attack originated.

Responsible nations must work together to end the humanitarian crisis in Syria, eradicate ISIS, and restore stability to the region.

The Iranian regime’s longest-suffering victims are its own people. Iran has a rich history and culture, but the people of Iran have endured hardship and despair under their leaders’ reckless pursuit of conflict and terror.

Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.

The decisions we make will affect countless lives.

King Salman, I thank you for the creation of this great moment in history, and for your massive investment in America, its industry and its jobs. I also thank you for investing in the future of this part of the world.

This fertile region has all the ingredients for extraordinary success – a rich history and culture, a young and vibrant people, a thriving spirit of enterprise. But you can only unlock this future if the citizens of the Middle East are freed from extremism, terror and violence.

We in this room are the leaders of our peoples. They look to us for answers, and for action. And when we look back at their faces, behind every pair of eyes is a soul that yearns for justice.

Today, billions of faces are now looking at us, waiting for us to act on the great question of our time.

Will we be indifferent in the presence of evil? Will we protect our citizens from its violent ideology? Will we let its venom spread through our societies? Will we let it destroy the most holy sites on earth?

If we do not confront this deadly terror, we know what the future will bring—more suffering and despair.

But if we act—if we leave this magnificent room unified and determined to do what it takes to destroy the terror that threatens the world—then there is no limit to the great future our citizens will have.

The birthplace of civilization is waiting to begin a new renaissance. Just imagine what tomorrow could bring.

Glorious wonders of science, art, medicine and commerce to inspire humankind. Great cities built on the ruins of shattered towns. New jobs and industries that will lift up millions of people. Parents who no longer worry for their children, families who no longer mourn for their loved ones, and the faithful who finally worship without fear.

These are the blessings of prosperity and peace. These are the desires that burn with a righteous flame in every human heart. And these are the just demands of our beloved peoples.

I ask you to join me, to join together, to work together, and to FIGHT together— BECAUSE UNITED, WE WILL NOT FAIL.

Thank you. God Bless You. God Bless Your Countries. And God Bless the United States of America.

Full Text Obama Presidency August 31-September 3, 2015: President Barack Obama’s trip to Alaska recap speeches transcripts

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Full Text Obama Presidency June 5, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the 25th Anniversary of Freedom Day — Warsaw, Poland

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama at the 25th Anniversary of Freedom Day

Source: WH, 6-4-14 

Castle Square

Warsaw, Poland

12:10 P.M. CET

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Hello, Warsaw!  (Applause.)  Witaj, Polsko!  (Applause.)

Mr. President; Mr. Prime Minister; Madam Mayor; heads of state and government, past and present — including the man who jumped that shipyard wall to lead a strike that became a movement, the prisoner turned president who transformed this nation — thank you, Lech Walesa, for your outstanding leadership.  (Applause.)

Distinguished guests, people of Poland, thank you for your extraordinary welcome and for the privilege of joining you here today.  I bring with me the greetings and friendship of the American people — and of my hometown of Chicago, home to so many proud Polish Americans.  (Applause.)  In Chicago, we think of ourselves as a little piece of Poland.  In some neighborhoods, you only hear Polish.  The faithful come together at churches like Saint Stanislaus Kostka.  We have a parade for Polish Constitution Day.  And every summer, we celebrate the Taste of Polonia, with our kielbasa and pierogies, and we’re all a little bit Polish for that day.  (Applause.)  So being here with you, it feels like home.  (Applause.)

Twenty-five years ago today, we witnessed a scene that had once seemed impossible — an election where, for the first time, the people of this nation had a choice.  The Communist regime thought an election would validate their rule or weaken the opposition.  Instead, Poles turned out in the millions.  And when the votes were counted, it was a landslide victory for freedom.  One woman who voted that day said, “There is a sense that something is beginning to happen in Poland.  We feel the taste of Poland again.”  She was right.  It was the beginning of the end of Communism — not just in this country, but across Europe.

The images of that year are seared in our memory.  Citizens filling the streets of Budapest and Bucharest.  Hungarians and Austrians cutting the barbed wire border.  Protestors joining hands across the Baltics.  Czechs and Slovaks in their Velvet Revolution.  East Berliners climbing atop that wall.  And we have seen the extraordinary progress since that time.  A united Germany.  Nations in Central and Eastern Europe standing tall as proud democracies.  A Europe that is more integrated, more prosperous and more secure.  We must never forget that the spark for so much of this revolutionary change, this blossoming of hope, was lit by you, the people of Poland.  (Applause.)

History was made here.  The victory of 1989 was not inevitable.  It was the culmination of centuries of Polish struggle, at times in this very square.  The generations of Poles who rose up and finally won independence.  The soldiers who resisted invasion, from the east and the west.  The Righteous Among the Nations — among them Jan Karski — who risked all to save the innocent from the Holocaust.  The heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto who refused to go without a fight.  The Free Poles at Normandy and the Poles of the Home Army who — even as this city was reduced to rubble — waged a heroic uprising.

We remember how, when an Iron Curtain descended, you never accepted your fate.  When a son of Poland ascended to the Chair of Saint Peter, he returned home, and here, in Warsaw, he inspired a nation with his words — “there can be no just Europe without the independence of Poland.”  (Applause.)  And today we give thanks for the courage of the Catholic Church and the fearless spirit of Saint John Paul II.  (Applause.)

We also recall how you prevailed 25 years ago.  In the face of beatings and bullets, you never wavered from the moral force of nonviolence.  Through the darkness of martial law, Poles lit candles in their windows.  When the regime finally agreed to talk, you embraced dialogue.  When they held those elections — even though not fully free — you participated.  As one Solidarity leader said at the time, “We decided to accept what was possible.”  Poland reminds us that sometimes the smallest steps, however imperfect, can ultimately tear down walls, can ultimately transform the world.  (Applause.)

But of course, your victory that June day was only the beginning.  For democracy is more than just elections.  True democracy, real prosperity, lasting security — these are neither simply given, nor imposed from the outside.  They must be earned and built from within.  And in that age-old contest of ideas — between freedom and authoritarianism, between liberty and oppression, between solidarity and intolerance — Poland’s progress shows the enduring strength of the ideals that we cherish as a free people.

Here we see the strength of democracy:  Citizens raising their voices, free from fear.  Here we see political parties competing in open and honest elections.  Here we see an independent judiciary working to uphold the rule of law.  Here in Poland we see a vibrant press and a growing civil society that holds leaders accountable — because governments exist to lift up their people, not to hold them down.  (Applause.)

Here we see the strength of free markets and the results of hard reforms — gleaming skyscrapers soaring above the city, and superhighways across this country, high-tech hubs and living standards that previous generations of Poles could only imagine. This is the new Poland you have built — an economic “Miracle on the Vistula” — Cud nad Wisłą.  (Applause.)

Here we see the strength of free nations that stand united. Across those centuries of struggle, Poland’s fate too often was dictated by others.  This land was invaded and conquered, carved up and occupied.  But those days are over.  Poland understands as few other nations do that every nation must be free to chart its own course, to forge its own partnerships, to choose its own allies.  (Applause.)

This year marks the 15th anniversary of Poland’s membership in NATO.  We honor Polish service in the Balkans, in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And as Americans, we are proud to call Poland one of our strongest and closest allies.  (Applause.)

This is the Poland we celebrate today.  The free and democratic Poland that your forebears and some who are here today dreamed of and fought for and, in some cases, died for.  The growing and secure Poland that you — particularly the young people who are here today — have enjoyed for your entire lives.

It’s a wonderful story, but the story of this nation reminds us that freedom is not guaranteed.  And history cautions us to never take progress for granted.  On the same day 25 years ago that Poles were voting here, tanks were crushing peaceful democracy protests in Tiananmen Square on the other side of the world.  The blessings of liberty must be earned and renewed by every generation — including our own.  This is the work to which we rededicate ourselves today.  (Applause.)

Our democracies must be defined not by what or who we’re against, but by a politics of inclusion and tolerance that welcomes all our citizens.  Our economies must deliver a broader prosperity that creates more opportunity — across Europe and across the world — especially for young people.  Leaders must uphold the public trust and stand against corruption, not steal from the pockets of their own people.  Our societies must embrace a greater justice that recognizes the inherent dignity of every human being.  And as we’ve been reminded by Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, our free nations cannot be complacent in pursuit of the vision we share — a Europe that is whole and free and at peace.  We have to work for that.  We have to stand with those who seek freedom.  (Applause.)

I know that throughout history, the Polish people were abandoned by friends when you needed them most.  So I’ve come to Warsaw today — on behalf of the United States, on behalf of the NATO Alliance — to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to Poland’s security.  Article 5 is clear — an attack on one is an attack on all.  And as allies, we have a solemn duty — a binding treaty obligation — to defend your territorial integrity.  And we will.  We stand together — now and forever — for your freedom is ours. (Applause.)  Poland will never stand alone.  (Applause.)  But not just Poland — Estonia will never stand alone.  Latvia will never stand alone.  Lithuania will never stand alone.  Romania will never stand alone.  (Applause.)

These are not just words.  They’re unbreakable commitments backed by the strongest alliance in the world and the armed forces of the United States of America — the most powerful military in history.  (Applause.)  You see our commitment today. In NATO aircraft in the skies of the Baltics.  In allied ships patrolling the Black Sea.  In the stepped-up exercises where our forces train together.  And in our increased and enduring American presence here on Polish soil.  We do these things not to threaten any nation, but to defend the security and territory of ourselves and our friends.

Yesterday, I announced a new initiative to bolster the security of our NATO allies and increase America’s military presence in Europe.  With the support of Congress, this will mean more pre-positioned equipment to respond quickly in a crisis, and exercises and training to keep our forces ready; additional U.S. forces — in the air, and sea, and on land, including here in Poland.  And it will mean increased support to help friends like Ukraine, and Moldova and Georgia provide for their own defense.  (Applause.)

Just as the United States is increasing our commitment, so must others.  Every NATO member is protected by our alliance, and every NATO member must carry its share in our alliance.  This is the responsibility we have to each other.

Finally, as free peoples, we join together, not simply to safeguard our own security but to advance the freedom of others. Today we affirm the principles for which we stand.

We stand together because we believe that people and nations have the right to determine their own destiny.  And that includes the people of Ukraine.  Robbed by a corrupt regime, Ukrainians demanded a government that served them.  Beaten and bloodied, they refused to yield.  Threatened and harassed, they lined up to vote; they elected a new President in a free election — because a leader’s legitimacy can only come from the consent of the people.

Ukrainians have now embarked on the hard road of reform.  I met with President-elect Poroshenko this morning, and I told him that, just as free nations offered support and assistance to Poland in your transition to democracy, we stand with Ukrainians now.  (Applause.)  Ukraine must be free to choose its own future for itself and by itself.  (Applause.)  We reject the zero-sum thinking of the past — a free and independent Ukraine needs strong ties and growing trade with Europe and Russia and the United States and the rest of the world.  Because the people of Ukraine are reaching out for the same freedom and opportunities and progress that we celebrate here today — and they deserve them, too.

We stand together because we believe that upholding peace and security is the responsibility of every nation.  The days of empire and spheres of influence are over.  Bigger nations must not be allowed to bully the small, or impose their will at the barrel of a gun or with masked men taking over buildings.  And the stroke of a pen can never legitimize the theft of a neighbor’s land.  So we will not accept Russia’s occupation of Crimea or its violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty.  (Applause.)   Our free nations will stand united so that further Russian provocations will only mean more isolation and costs for Russia. (Applause.)  Because after investing so much blood and treasure to bring Europe together, how can we allow the dark tactics of the 20th century to define this new century?

We stand together because we know that the spirit of Warsaw and Budapest and Prague and Berlin stretches to wherever the longing for freedom stirs in human hearts, whether in Minsk or Caracas, or Damascus or Pyongyang.  Wherever people are willing to do the hard work of building democracy — from Tbilisi to Tunis, from Rangoon to Freetown — they will have a partner in our nations.  For in the struggles of these citizens we recall our own struggles.  In their faces we see our own.  And few see this more clearly than the people of Poland.

The Ukrainians of today are the heirs of Solidarity — men and women like you who dared to challenge a bankrupt regime.  When your peaceful protests were met with an iron fist, Poles placed flowers in the shipyard gate.

Today, Ukrainians honor their fallen with flowers in Independence Square.  We remember the Polish voter who rejoiced to “feel the taste of Poland again.”  Her voice echoes in the young protestor in the Maidan who savored what she called “a taste of real freedom.”  “I love my country,” she said, and we are standing up for “justice and freedom.”  And with gratitude for the strong support of the Polish people, she spoke for many Ukrainians when she said, “Thank you, Poland.  We hear you and we love you.”  (Applause.)

Today we can say the same.  Thank you, Poland — thank you for your courage.  Thank you for reminding the world that no matter how brutal the crackdown, no matter how long the night, the yearning for liberty and dignity does not fade away.  It will never go away.  Thank you, Poland, for your iron will and for showing that, yes, ordinary citizens can grab the reins of history, and that freedom will prevail — because, in the end, tanks and troops are no match for the force of our ideals.

Thank you, Poland — for your triumph — not of arms, but of the human spirit, the truth that carries us forward. There is no change without risk, and no progress without sacrifice, and no freedom without solidarity.  (Applause.)

Dziękuję, Polsko!  God bless Poland.  (Applause.)  God bless America.  God bless our unbreakable alliance.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END             12:28 P.M. CET

Full Text Obama Presidency June 3-6, 2014: President Barack Obama’s 2014 Trip to Europe Schedule

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

The President’s 2014 Trip to Europe

Source: White House

Poland, Belgium, and France

June 3 to June 6

As part of the United States’ ongoing consultations with our allies, President Obama is traveling to Poland, Belgium, and France, June 3-6, 2014. While in Warsaw, the President will hold bilateral meetings and join other world leaders in commemorating the Polish Freedom Day, marking the 25th anniversary of Poland’s emergence from Communism. From Poland, the President will travel to Brussels for the G-7 Leaders’ Summit, and will then continue on to France to participate in commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day.


Trip Schedule

Tuesday, June 3

  • President Obama participates in an arrival ceremony at Warsaw Chopin Airport with President Komorowski, after which they meet American and Polish airmen.
  • President Obama and President Komorowski hold a bilateral meeting at Belweder Palace, followed by a press conference.
  • Afterward, President Obama and Prime Minister Tusk have a bilateral meeting at the Polish Chancellery, followed by remarks to the press.
  • In the afternoon, President Obama and President Komorowski co-host a meeting of Central and European Leaders at the Presidential Palace.
  • That evening, President Obama attends an official dinner at the Royal Castle to honor Poland’s Solidarity movement.
    View a wrap-up of the day’s activities

Wednesday, June 4

  • President Obama meets with President-elect Poroshenko of Ukraine.
  • In Brussels, President Obama meets with King Philippe and Prime Minister Di Rupo of Belgium at the Royal Palace.
  • That evening, President Obama attends the G-7 Summit, which begins with a leaders working dinner on foreign policy issues.
    View a wrap-up of the day’s activities

Thursday, June 5

  • President Obama participates in G-7 meetings on economics and energy and climate.
  • President Obama then attends the G-7 leaders working lunch on development.
  • Following the G-7, President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom hold a bilateral meeting.
  • President Obama then departs for Paris.
  • In Paris, President Obama and President Hollande of France have a private dinner.
    View a wrap-up of the day’s activities

Friday, June 6

  • President Obama departs Paris for Normandy, France.
  • President Obama and President Hollande participate in a ceremony at the American cemetery close to Omaha Beach, the site of the American landing in Normandy.
  • President Obama then attends a lunch with leaders, hosted by France.
  • Later that afternoon, President Obama attends the official international 70th D-Day commemoration ceremony at Sword Beach, Normandy, and then departs for the USA.
    View a wrap-up of the day’s activities

Full Text Obama Presidency April 25, 2014: President Obama and Republic of Korea President Park’s Remarks before Bilateral Meeting

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama and President Park of the Republic of Korea before Bilateral Meeting

Source: WH, 4-25-14 

Blue House
Seoul, Republic of Korea

4:21 P.M. KST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I would like to thank President Park for welcoming me here today.  I’m so grateful for the opportunity to come back to the Republic of Korea.  But I am very mindful that my visit comes at a time of deep mourning for the people of this nation and I know that President Park and the South Korean government are focused on responding to the tragedy of the ferry Sewol.

In our press conference later, President Park and I will have the opportunity to address a range of issues that we’ll be discussing here today.  But for now, I just wanted to express on behalf of the American people our deepest sympathies for the incredible and tragic loss that’s taken place.  As allies but also as friends, we join you in mourning the lost and the missing, and especially so many young people, students who represented the vitality and the future of this nation.

So, President Park, I thought that it would be appropriate and fitting for us to begin today by honoring the lost and the missing.  And our delegation, out of respect, would appreciate the opportunity to join together in a moment of silence.

(Moment of silence.)

PRESIDENT PARK:  (As interpreted.)  Mr. President, thank you so much for making this proposal to hold a moment of silence for the victims of the ferry Sewol.  Right after the tragic accident, you personally expressed your condolences and your sympathies, and you were unsparing in providing active U.S. assistance, including the dispatch of salvage vessels.  The Korean people draw great strength and courage from your kindness.

Just as the American people were able to rally together in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks and were able to prevail over difficult times, so, too, I am sure that Korean people will, in fact, pull through this moment of crisis and be able to achieve the renewal of the Republic of Korea.

Mr. President, my sincere welcome to you once again on your visit to Korea, and may our summit meeting today kick off the next 60 years and produce very meaningful results that allow us to do so.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, thank you, President Park.  The Republic of Korea is one of our strongest allies in the world.  I’m looking forward to our discussion and to reaffirming America’s unshakeable commitment to South Korea and its security.

One last point I wanted to make — I have with me this American flag that I believe our protocol people have.  In the United States, we have a tradition — after the loss of our servicemembers and veterans, we present a flag in their honor to their loved ones.  This flag was flown over the White House the same day as the sinking of the Sewol.  And in that spirit, I’m presenting this American flag to you and the people of the Republic of Korea on behalf of the American people.  It reflects our deep condolences, but also our solidarity with you during this difficult time, and our great pride in calling you an ally and a friend.

PRESIDENT PARK:  (As interpreted.)  Mr. President, thank you so much again for sharing in our sorrow, the sorrow of the Korean people as well as the bereaved families, and for your gracious gesture.

END
4:30 P.M. KST

Full Text Obama Presidency April 25, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Naturalization Ceremony for Servicemembers

Remarks by President Obama at Naturalization Ceremony for Servicemembers

Source: WH, 4-25-14

The War Memorial of Korea
Seoul, Republic of Korea

1:28 P.M. KST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, good afternoon.  Annyeonghaseyo.  It is an honor to be here at the War Memorial of Korea.  In a few moments, I’ll lay a wreath to pay tribute to our servicemembers who’ve given their lives in defense of our freedom.  And tomorrow, I’ll address our troops and civilians at Yongsan Garrison.

I have said before, I have no higher honor than serving as your Commander-in-Chief.  And today, I can think of no higher privilege than being here with all of you and your families for this special moment — becoming the newest citizens of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy.

I know that each of you have traveled your own path to this moment.  You come from 14 different countries.  Some of you have called Seoul home.  But a day came when each one of you did something extraordinary:  Thirteen of you made the profound decision to put on the uniform of a country that was not yet fully your own.  Seven of you married an American soldier -– and as a military spouse, that means you’ve been serving our country, too.

If there’s anything that this should teach us, it’s that America is strengthened by our immigrants.  I had a chance to talk to our Ambassador and our Commander here, and I said to them that there’s no greater strength, no greater essence of America than the fact that we attract people from all around the world who want to be part of our democracy.  We are a nation of immigrants — people from every corner, every walk of life, who picked up tools to help build our country, who started up businesses to advance our country, who took up arms to defend our country.

What makes us Americans is something more than just the circumstances of birth, what we look like, what God we worship, but rather it is a joyful spirit of citizenship.  Citizenship demands participation and responsibility, and service to our country and to one another.  And few embody that more than our men and women in uniform.

If we want to keep attracting the best and the brightest, the smartest and the most selfless the world has to offer, then we have to keep this in mind:  the value of our immigrants to our way of life.  It is central to who we are; it’s in our DNA.  It’s part of our creed.  And that means moving forward we’ve got to fix our broken immigration system and pass common-sense immigration reform.

This is a huge advantage to us — the talent that we attract.  We don’t want to make it harder; we want to make it more sensible, more efficient.  That’s why I’m going to keep on pushing to get this done this year, so that others like the young men and women here have the opportunity to join our American family and serve our great nation.

Today, I’m thrilled that, in a few moments, I’ll get to call each of you my fellow Americans.  I am so proud to be sharing this stage with you today.  Congratulations.  But I don’t want to talk too long because I’m not the main event.  Thank you very much for your service.  (Applause.)

END
1:32 P.M. KST

Full Text Obama Presidency April 24, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech to Miraikan Science and Youth Expo in Japan

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama to Miraikan Science and Youth Expo

Watch the Video

President Obama Speaks at the Miraikan Science Expo

President Obama Speaks at the Miraikan Science Expo

Source: WH,  4-24-14

Miraikan Museum Tokyo, Japan

3:27 P.M. JST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Konnichiwa.  Please sit down.  Thank you so much.  Well, I want to thank Dr. Mohri and everyone at The Miraikan for welcoming me here today.  And it is wonderful to see all of these outstanding students.  Dr. Mohri is a veteran of two space shuttle missions, embodies the spirit that brings us here together —- the incredible cooperation in science and technology between Japan and the United States.

I want to thank all the students that I had a chance to meet with as we went around the various exhibits.  We heard a message from the international space station.  We saw some truly amazing robots — although I have to say the robots were a little scary. They were too lifelike.  They were amazing.  And these students showed me some of their experiments, including some soccer-playing robots that we just saw.  And all of the exhibits I think showed the incredible breakthroughs in technology and science that are happening every single day.

And historically, Japan and the United States have been at the cutting-edge of innovation.  From some of the first modern calculators decades ago to the devices that we hold in our hands today — the smartphones that I’m sure every young person here uses — Japan and the United States have often led the way in the innovations that change our lives and improve our lives.

And that’s why I’m so pleased that the United States and Japan are renewing the 10-year agreement that makes so much of our science and technology cooperation possible.  Both of our societies celebrate innovation, celebrate science, celebrate technology.  We’re close partners in the industries of tomorrow. And it reminds us why it’s so important for us to continue to invest in science, technology, math, engineering.  These are the schools — these are the skills that students like all of you are going to need for the global economy, and that includes our talented young women.

Historically, sometimes young women have been less represented in the sciences, and one of the things that I’ve really been pushing for is to make sure that young women, just like young men, are getting trained in these fields, because we need all the talent and brainpower to solve some of the challenges that we’re going to face in the future.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Abe and I announced a new initiative to increase student exchanges, including bringing more Japanese students to the United States.  So I hope you’ll come.  Welcome.  And it’s part of our effort to double students exchanges in the coming years.  As we saw today, young people like you have at your fingertips more technology and more power than even the greatest innovators in previous generations. So there’s no limit to what you can achieve, and the United States of America wants to be your partner.

So I’m very proud to have been here today.  I was so excited by what I saw.  The young people here were incredibly impressive.  And as one of our outstanding astronauts described, as we just are a few days after Earth Day, it’s important when we look at this globe and we think about how technology has allowed us to understand the planet that we share, and to understand not only the great possibilities but also the challenges and dangers from things like climate change — that your generation is going to help us to find answers to some of the questions that we have to answer.  Whether it’s:  How do we feed more people in an environment in which it’s getting warmer? How do we make sure that we’re coming up with new energy sources that are less polluting and can save our environment?  How do we find new medicines that can cure diseases that take so many lives around the globe?  To the robots that we saw that can save people’s lives after a disaster because they can go into places like Fukushima that it may be very dangerous for live human beings to enter into.  These are all applications, but it starts with the imaginations and the vision of young people like you.

So I’m very proud of all of you and glad to see that you’re doing such great work.  You have counterparts in the United States who share your excitement about technology and science.  I hope you get a chance to meet them.  I hope you get a chance to visit the United States.  As far as I know, we don’t have one of those cool globes, but we have some other pretty neat things in the United States as well.  And I hope we can share those with you if and when you come.

Thank you very much.  And I just want you to know in closing that I really believe that each of you can make a difference.  Gambatte kudasai.  You can do this thing if you apply yourselves.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END 3:33 P.M. JST

Full Text Obama Presidency April 24, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Toast at the State Dinner Held in his Honor at Japan’s Imperial Palace

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Toast Remarks by President Obama at State Dinner

Source: WH, 4-24-14 

Imperial Palace
Tokyo, Japan

7:48 P.M. JST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good evening.  Konbanwa.  Your Majesties, I thank you for the extraordinary welcome that you have given to me and my delegation today, and I thank you for your gracious hospitality tonight.

Prime Minister Abe and Mrs. Abe, distinguished guests and friends:  It has been nearly 50 years since my mother first brought me to Japan, but I have never forgotten the kindness that the Japanese people showed me as a six-year-old boy far away from home.  I remain grateful for the welcome that Your Majesties gave me when I returned here as President, on the 20th anniversary of your ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

And I am deeply honored to be with you as a Guest of State tonight — which is a reflection of the great friendship between our two peoples.

It’s also very humbling.  I stand here as the 44th President of the United States. Your Majesty is the 125th Emperor of Japan. And your family has embodied the spirit of the Japanese people across more than two millennia.  And we feel that spirit here tonight — in His Majesty’s commitment to achieving peace and the resilience of the Japanese people, who despite difficult decades, despite the tragedies of three years ago, continue to inspire the world with your strength and discipline and dignity — your hinkaku.

And I saw that spirit today.  In the glory of the Meiji Shrine, I experienced the beauty of a religious ceremony rooted in Japan’s ancient past.  In my work with Prime Minister Abe, we have strengthened our alliance for today — an alliance that will never be broken.  And in the eager students that I met, and the remarkable technologies that I saw, I glimpsed the future our nations can forge together.

Through all of this, although we are separated by vast oceans, our peoples come together every day in every realm.  We create and build together, sparking new innovations for a changing world.  We study and research together, unlocking new discoveries to cure disease and save lives.  We go to the far corners of the Earth together — to keep the peace and feed the hungry.  And we go to space together to understand the mysteries of the universe.  We stand together in moments of joy — as when Japanese baseball players help propel America’s teams to victory. And we stand together in moments of difficulty and pain, as we did three years ago.

Your Majesty, we will never forget how, in those trying days, you spoke from this palace directly to the people of this nation. And I would like to conclude by recalling the spirit of your message then, because it also remains our wish tonight, for the friendship and alliance between our two peoples.

May we never give up hope.  May we always take care of each other.  And may we continue to live strong for tomorrow.

END
7:53 P.M. JST

Full Text Obama Presidency April 23, 2014: President Obama and Japan Prime Minister Abe’s Remarks Before Bilateral Meeting

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Abe of Japan Before Bilateral Meeting

Source: WH, 4-23-14 

Akasaka Palace
Tokyo, Japan

10:33 A.M. JST

PRIME MINISTER ABE:  (As interpreted.)  On behalf of the government and the people of Japan, I would like to sincerely welcome President Obama as our state guest.

At the outset, I would like to once again express my heartfelt gratitude for the assistance from the United States in the aftermath of the great East Japan earthquake.  More than 20,000 servicemembers of the U.S. forces participated in Operation Tomodachi.  And as a matter of fact, Japanese people were greatly encouraged and helped by the assistance extended from the government and the people of the United States.  And I am truly grateful for that.

Japan has been walking on the path of peace based on its peaceful orientation in a consistent manner for the past 70 years after the Second World War.  Japan and the United States share fundamental values such as freedom, democracy and fundamental human rights, and also we share strategic interests.  And the alliance between these two nations is indispensable and irreplaceable as the foundation for a peaceful and prosperous Asia Pacific region.

Your visit to Asia this time is a testament to the U.S. revised policy which attaches importance to this region.  This greatly contributes to regional peace and prosperity, and Japan strongly supports and also certainly welcomes this.

My administration intends to contribute to regional peace and prosperity more practically than ever, in line with the policy of what I call practical contribution to peace based on the principle on international cooperation.  And together with the United States, Japan would like to realize our leading role of the alliance in ensuring a peaceful and prosperous Asia Pacific.

Today, at this meeting, I look forward to having exchanges with you on how the alliance should look like in the future, based on the cooperation we have had so far.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, let me begin by thanking you, Mr. Prime Minister, and your delegation, as well as the Japanese people for the incredibly gracious hospitality that you’ve provided us so far during this visit.

As you indicated, the U.S.-Japan alliance is the foundation for not only our security in the Asia Pacific region but also for the region as a whole.  And we have continued to strengthen it. We are looking at a whole range of issues that are challenging at this time, including the threats posed by North Korea and the nuclearization that’s been taking place in that country.  But because of the strong cooperation between our countries I am confident that we will continue to make progress in the future.

Of course, the bonds between our countries are not restricted to a military alliance.  We represent two of the three largest economies in the world, and we have the opportunity by working together to help shape an open and innovative and dynamic economy throughout the Asia Pacific region.

Our shared democratic values means that we have to work together in multilateral settings to deal with regional hotspots around the globe but also to try to make sure that we are creating a strong set of rules that govern the international order.  And the strong people-to-people bonds that we have and the educational and scientific and cultural exchanges that we have means that our friendship and alliance I’m confident will continue for generations to come.

So I look forward to very productive meetings today.  And I want to once again thank you for your hospitality.  As you said, my visit here I think once again represents my deep belief that a strong U.S.-Japan relationship is not only good for our countries but good for the world.

END
10:44 A.M. JST

Obama Presidency April 22-29, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Asia Trip Spring 2014 Schedule

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Asia Trip Spring 2014

The President’s Trip to Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines

April 22 to April 29

President Obama’s fifth trip to Asia during his time in office will underscore a continued focus on the Asia-Pacific region and commitment to his vision of rebalancing to the world’s largest emerging region. The President’s visit to Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines will focus on our major priorities in the region: modernizing our alliances; supporting democratic development; advancing the Trans-Pacific Partnership and commercial ties; investing in regional institutions; and deepening cultural and people-to-people ties.

April 24, 2014

On Board with President Obama in Japan

In Tokyo, the President was received at the Imperial Palace by the Emperor and Empress of Japan, held a press conference with Prime Minister Abe, visited students and robots at Miraikan Science and Youth Expo, and saw Meiji shrine.

April 21, 2014

Previewing the President’s Trip to Asia, Spring 2014

Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes previews the President’s trip to Japan, Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines during.


President Obama’s April 2014 Asia Trip Schedule

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

  • In the morning, President Obama departs for Tokyo, Japan

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

  • In the afternoon, President Obama arrives in Tokyo, Japan
  • Later, the President joins Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan for a private dinner

Thursday, April 24, 2014

  • In the morning, President Obama meets with Emperor Akihito of Japan at the Imperial Palace
  • The President meets with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan at Akasaka Palace
  • In the afternoon, the President participates in a joint press conference with Prime Minister Abe
  • Later, President Obama delivers remarks at a youth and science event with students at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation
  • The President visits Meiji Shrine
  • President Obama attends the Japan State Dinner and delivers remarks

Friday, April 25, 2014

  • In the morning, President Obama greets members of the U.S. Embassy in Japan
  • Later that morning, the President bids farewell to the Emperor Akihito of Japan
  • In the afternoon, President Obama travels to Seoul, Republic of Korea
  • The President visits the National War Memorial and participates in a wreath-laying ceremony
  • Later, the President visits Gyengbok Palace
  • President Obama meets with President Park at the Blue House

Saturday, April 26, 2014

  • In the morning, President Obama participates in a roundtable meeting with business leaders to discuss trade policy
  • Later, the President participates in a Combined Forces Command Briefing at Yongsan Garrison and delivers remarks
  • In the afternoon, the President travels to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • President Obama participates in an arrival ceremony in Parliament Square
  • Later that evening, the President attends a State Dinner and delivers remarks at Istana Negara

Sunday, April 27, 2014

  • In the morning, President Obama greets members of the U.S. Embassy in Malaysia
  • Later, the President visits the National Mosque of Malaysia
  • President Obama meets with Prime Minister Najib Razak at Perdana Putra
  • In the afternoon, President Obama attends a working lunch with Prime Minister Najib Razak
  • The President delivers remarks at the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Center
  • Later, the President participates in the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Town Hall at the University of Malaysia

Monday, April 28, 2014

  • The President travels to Manila, Philippines, and participates in an arrival ceremony at Malacanang Palace
  • Later that afternoon, President Obama meets with President Benigno S. Aquino III of the Philippines
  • President Obama participates in a joint press conference with President Aquino
  • The President greets members of the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines
  • Later that evening, the President attends a State Dinner with President Aquino at Malacanang Palace

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

  • In the morning, President Obama delivers remarks at Fort Bonafacio
  • Later that morning, the President participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Manila American Cemetery
  • The President travels back to Washington, D.C.

Political Musings July 8, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Africa trip in the shadow of Nelson Mandela and George W. Bush legacies

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama’s Africa trip in the shadow of Mandela and Bush legacies (Photos)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

On July 2, United States President Barack Obama ended an important overseas trip to Africa. On the last day of his trip, Obama attended a ceremony with his predecessor former President George W. Bush in Tanzania….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency June 27-July 2, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speeches and Remarks During his Africa Trip to Senegal, South Africa & Tanzania

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama’s Speeches and Remarks During their Africa Trip to Senegal, South Africa & Tanzania

Political Headlines July 2, 2013: Michelle Obama & Laura Bush at George W. Bush Institute’s First Annual African First Ladies Summit

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Michelle Obama, Laura Bush Bemoan Focus on Their Looks

Source: WH, 7-2-13

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Tuesday to highlight the role of African first ladies, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama sat down together to dish on their husbands and share the frustrations of constant public scrutiny, telling ABC News’ Cokie Roberts that there’s no preparation for the complications of life in the White House.

Michelle Obama said first ladies have “probably the best jobs in the world” because their husbands, “who have to react and respond to crisis on a minute-by-minute basis … come into office with a wonderful, profound agenda, and then they’re faced with the reality. On the other hand, we [first ladies] get to work on what we’re passionate about.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines July 1, 2013: President Barack Obama & Former President George W. Bush to Meet in Tanzania

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama and Bush to Meet in Tanzania

Source: ABC News Radio, 7-1-13

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Two U.S. presidents will make a joint public appearance in Africa on Tuesday.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says former President George W. Bush will join President Obama at a wreath-laying ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to honor the victims of the 1998 bombing.  The event will be at 10 a.m. local time, 3 a.m. ET….READ MORE

Political Headlines June 30, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech at University of Cape Town Urges African Youth to Live Up to Mandela’s Legacy

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Urges African Youth to Live Up to Mandela’s Legacy

Source: ABC News Radio, 7-1-13

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama on Sunday urged South Africa’s youth to continue the fight for equality and opportunity, as he challenged them to live up to the legacy of ailing civil rights icon Nelson Mandela.

“Nelson Mandela showed us that one man’s courage can move the world. And he calls on us to make choices that reflect not our fears, but our hopes — in our own lives, and in the lives of our communities and our countries,” the president told a crowd of more than 1,000 people at the University of Cape Town….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency June 30, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech at University of Cape Town Urges African Youth to Live Up to Mandela’s Legacy

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama at the University of Cape Town

Source: WH, 6-30-13

Cape Town, South Africa

6:14 P.M. SAST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you!  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Please, please, everybody have a seat.  Hello Cape Town!

AUDIENCE:  Hello!

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thobela.  Molweni.  Sanibona.  Dumelang.  Ndaa.  Reperile.

AUDIENCE:  Reperile!

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  See, I’ve been practicing.  How-zit?  (Applause.)  Did I leave anybody out?  All right, well, I didn’t want to leave anybody out here.

I want to thank Vice Chancellor Max Price, who’s here, as well as Archbishop Njongonkulu.  It’s wonderful to have them in attendance.

I am so happy to be here today.  It is wonderful to see all of these outstanding young people.  I just had the honor of going to Robben Island with Michelle and our two daughters this afternoon.  And this was my second time; I had the chance to visit back in 2006.  But there was something different about bringing my children.  And Malia is now 15, Sasha is 12 — and seeing them stand within the walls that once surrounded Nelson Mandela, I knew this was an experience that they would never forget.  I knew that they now appreciated a little bit more the sacrifices that Madiba and others had made for freedom.

But what I also know is that because they’ve had a chance to visit South Africa for a second time now, they also understand that Mandela’s spirit could never be imprisoned — for his legacy is here for all to see.  It’s in this auditorium:  young people, black, white, Indian, everything in between — (laughter) — living and learning together in a South Africa that is free and at peace.

Now, obviously, today Madiba’s health weighs heavily on our hearts.  And like billions all over the world, I — and the American people — have drawn strength from the example of this extraordinary leader, and the nation that he changed.  Nelson Mandela showed us that one man’s courage can move the world.  And he calls on us to make choices that reflects not our fears, but our hopes — in our own lives, and in the lives of our communities and our countries.  And that’s what I want to speak to all of you about today.

Some of you may be aware of this, but I actually took my first step into political life because of South Africa.  (Applause.)  This is true.  I was the same age as some of you — 19 years old, my whole life ahead of me.  I was going to school on a campus in California — not quite as pretty as this one — (laughter) — but similar.  And I must confess I was not always focused on my studies.  (Laughter.)  There were a lot of distractions.  (Laughter.)  And I enjoyed those distractions.

And as the son of an African father and a white American mother, the diversity of America was in my blood, but I had never cared much for politics.  I didn’t think it mattered to me.  I didn’t think I could make a difference.  And like many young people, I thought that cynicism — a certain ironic detachment — was a sign of wisdom and sophistication.

But then I learned what was happening here in South Africa.  And two young men, ANC representatives, came to our college and spoke, and I spent time hearing their stories.  And I learned about the courage of those who waged the Defiance Campaign, and the brutality leveled against innocent men, women and children from Sharpeville to Soweto.  And I studied the leadership of Luthuli, and the words of Biko, and the example of Madiba, and I knew that while brave people were imprisoned just off these shores on Robben Island, my own government in the United States was not standing on their side.  That’s why I got involved in what was known as the divestment movement in the United States.

It was the first time I ever attached myself to a cause.  It was the first time also that I ever gave a speech.  It was only two minutes long — (laughter) — and I was really just a warm-up act at a rally that we were holding demanding that our college divest from Apartheid South Africa.  So I got up on stage, I started making my speech, and then, as a bit of political theater, some people came out with glasses that looked like security officers and they dragged me off the stage.  (Laughter.)  Fortunately, there are no records of this speech.  (Laughter.)  But I remember struggling to express the anger and the passion that I was feeling, and to echo in some small way the moral clarity of freedom fighters an ocean away.

And I’ll be honest with you, when I was done, I did not think I’d made any difference — I was even a little embarrassed.  And I thought to myself — what’s a bunch of university kids doing in California that is somehow going to make a difference?  It felt too distant from what people were going through in places like Soweto.  But looking back, as I look at that 19-year old young man, I’m more forgiving of the fact that the speech might not have been that great, because I knew — I know now that something inside me was stirring at that time, something important.  And that was the belief that I could be part of something bigger than myself; that my own salvation was bound up with those of others.

That’s what Bobby Kennedy expressed, far better than I ever could, when he spoke here at the University of Cape Town in 1966.  He said, “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Now, the world was very different on that June day in 1966 when Bobby Kennedy spoke those words.  Mandela faced many more years as a prisoner.  Apartheid was entrenched in this land.  In the United States, the victories of the Civil Rights Movement were still uncertain.  In fact, on the very day that Kennedy spoke here, the American civil rights leader, James Meredith, was shot in Mississippi, where he was marching to inspire blacks to register to vote.

Those were difficult, troubled, trying times.  The idea of hope might have seemed misplaced.  It would have seemed inconceivable to people at that time — that less than 50 years later, an African American President might address an integrated audience, at South Africa’s oldest university, and that this same university would have conferred an honorary degree to a President, Nelson Mandela.  (Applause.)  It would have seemed impossible.

That’s the power that comes from acting on our ideals.  That’s what Mandela understood.  But it wasn’t just the giants of history who brought about this change.  Think of the many millions of acts of conscience that were part of that effort.  Think about how many voices were raised against injustice over the years — in this country, in the United States, around the world.  Think of how many times ordinary people pushed against those walls of oppression and resistance, and the violence and the indignities that they suffered; the quiet courage that they sustained.  Think of how many ripples of hope it took to build a wave that would eventually come crashing down like a mighty stream.

So Mandela’s life, like Kennedy’s life, like Gandhi’s life, like the life of all those who fought to bring about a new South Africa or a more just America — they stand as a challenge to me.  But more importantly, they stand as a challenge to your generation, because they tell you that your voice matters — your ideals, your willingness to act on those ideals, your choices can make a difference.  And if there’s any country in the world that shows the power of human beings to affect change, this is the one.  You’ve shown us how a prisoner can become a President.  You’ve shown us how bitter adversaries can reconcile.  You’ve confronted crimes of hatred and intolerance with truth and love, and you wrote into your constitution the human rights that sustain freedom.

And those are only the most publicized aspects of South Africa’s transformation, because alongside South Africa’s political struggle, other battles have been waged as well to improve the lives of those who for far too long have been denied economic opportunity and social justice.

During my last journey here in 2006, what impressed me so much was the good works of people on the ground teaching children, caring for the sick, bringing jobs to those in need.  In Khayelitsha Township — I’m still working on some of these — (laughter) — I met women who were living with HIV.  And this is at a time back in 2006, where there were still some challenges in terms of the policies around HIV and AIDS here in South Africa.  But they were on the ground, struggling to keep their families together — helping each other, working on behalf of each other.  In Soweto, I met people who were striving to carry forward the legacy of Hector Pieterson.  At the Rosa Parks Library in Pretoria, I was struck by the energy of students who — they wanted to capture this moment of promise for South Africa.

And this is a moment of great promise.  South Africa is one of the world’s economic centers.  Obviously, you can see it here in Cape Town.  In the country that saw the first human heart transplant, new breakthroughs are being made in the treatment of HIV/AIDS.  I was just talking to your Vice Chancellor.  People come to this University from over 100 countries to study and teach.  In America, we see the reach of your culture from “Freshly Ground” concerts to the — (applause) — we’ve got the Nando’s just a couple of blocks from the White House.  (Laughter and applause.)  And thanks to the first World Cup ever held on this continent, the world now knows the sound of the vuvuzela.  (Applause.)  I’m not sure that’s like the greatest gift that South Africa ever gave.  (Laughter.)

But progress has also rippled across the African continent.  From Senegal to Cote D’Ivoire to Malawi, democracy has weathered strong challenges.

Many of the fastest-growing economies in the world are here in Africa, where there is an historic shift taking place from poverty to a growing, nascent middle class.  Fewer people are dying of preventable disease.  More people have access to health care.  More farmers are getting their products to market at fair prices.  From micro-finance projects in Kampala, to stock traders in Lagos, to cell phone entrepreneurs in Nairobi, there is an energy here that can’t be denied — Africa rising.

We know this progress, though, rests on a fragile foundation.  We know that progress is uneven.  Across Africa, the same institutions that should be the backbone of democracy can all too often be infected with the rot of corruption.  The same technology that enables record profits sometimes means widening a canyon of inequality.  The same interconnection that binds our fates makes all of Africa vulnerable to the undertow of conflict.

So there is no question that Africa is on the move, but it’s not moving fast enough for the child still languishing in poverty in forgotten townships.  It’s not moving fast enough for the protester who is beaten in Harare, or the woman who is raped in Eastern Congo.  We’ve got more work to do, because these Africans must not be left behind.

And that’s where you come in –- the young people of Africa.  Just like previous generations, you’ve got choices to make.  You get to decide where the future lies.  Think about it — over 60 percent of Africans are under 35 years old.  So demographics means young people are going to be determining the fate of this continent and this country.  You’ve got time and numbers on your side, and you’ll be making decisions long after politicians like me have left the scene.

And I can promise you this:  The world will be watching what decisions you make.  The world will be watching what you do.  Because one of the wonderful things that’s happening is, where people used to only see suffering and conflict in Africa, suddenly, now they’re seeing opportunity for resources, for investment, for partnership, for influence.  Governments and businesses from around the world are sizing up the continent, and they’re making decisions themselves about where to invest their own time and their own energy.  And as I said yesterday at a town hall meeting up in Johannesburg, that’s a good thing.  We want all countries — China, India, Brazil, Turkey, Europe, America — we want everybody paying attention to what’s going on here, because it speaks to your progress.

And I’ve traveled to Africa on this trip because my bet is on the young people who are the heartbeat of Africa’s story.  I’m betting on all of you.  As President of the United States, I believe that my own nation will benefit enormously if you reach your full potential.

If prosperity is broadly shared here in Africa, that middle class will be an enormous market for our goods.  If strong democracies take root, that will enable our people and businesses to draw closer to yours.  If peace prevails over war, we will all be more secure.  And if the dignity of the individual is upheld across Africa, then I believe Americans will be more free as well, because I believe that none of us are fully free when others in the human family remain shackled by poverty or disease or oppression.

Now, America has been involved in Africa for decades.  But we are moving beyond the simple provision of assistance, foreign aid, to a new model of partnership between America and Africa -– a partnership of equals that focuses on your capacity to solve problems, and your capacity to grow.  Our efforts focus on three areas that shape our lives:  opportunity, democracy, and peace.

So first off, we want a partnership that empowers Africans to access greater opportunity in their own lives, in their communities, and for their countries.

As the largest economy on the continent, South Africa is part of a trend that extends from south to north, east to west — more and more African economies are poised to take off.  And increased trade and investment from the United States has the potential to accelerate these trends –- creating new jobs and opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic.

So I’m calling for America to up our game when it comes to Africa.  We’re bringing together business leaders from America and Africa to deepen our engagement.  We’re going to launch new trade missions, and promote investment from companies back home.  We’ll launch an effort in Addis to renew the African Growth and Opportunity Act to break down barriers to trade, and tomorrow I’ll discuss a new Trade Africa initiative to expand our ties across the continent, because we want to unleash the power of entrepreneurship and markets to create opportunity here i Africa.

It was interesting — yesterday at the town hall meeting I had with a number of young people, the first three questions had to do with trade, because there was a recognition — these young people said, I want to start a — I want to start something.  I want to build something, and then I want to sell something.  Now, to succeed, these efforts have to connect to something bigger.

And for America, this isn’t just about numbers on a balance sheet or the resources that can be taken out of the ground.  We believe that societies and economies only advance as far as individuals are free to carry them forward.  And just as freedom cannot exist when people are imprisoned for their political views, true opportunity cannot exist when people are imprisoned by sickness, or hunger, or darkness.

And so, the question we’ve been asking ourselves is what will it take to empower individual Africans?

For one thing, we believe that countries have to have the power to feed themselves, so instead of shipping food to Africa, we’re now helping millions of small farmers in Africa make use of new technologies and farm more land.  And through a new alliance of governments and the private sector, we’re investing billions of dollars in agriculture that grows more crops, brings more food to market, give farmers better prices and helps lift 50 million people out of poverty in a decade.  An end to famine, a thriving African agricultural industry –- that’s what opportunity looks like.  That’s what we want to build with you.

We believe that countries have to have the power to prevent illness and care for the sick.  And our efforts to combat malaria and tropical illness can lead to an achievable goal:  ending child and maternal deaths from preventable disease.  Already, our commitment to fight HIV/AIDS has saved millions, and allows us to imagine what was once unthinkable:  an AIDS-free generation.  And while America will continue to provide billions of dollars in support, we can’t make progress without African partners.  So I’m proud that by the end of my presidency, South Africa has determined it will be the first African country to fully manage its HIV care and treatment program.  (Applause.)  That’s an enormous achievement.  Healthy mothers and healthy children; strong public health systems — that’s what opportunity looks like.

And we believe that nations must have the power to connect their people to the promise of the 21st century.  Access to electricity is fundamental to opportunity in this age.  It’s the light that children study by; the energy that allows an idea to be transformed into a real business.  It’s the lifeline for families to meet their most basic needs.  And it’s the connection that’s needed to plug Africa into the grid of the global economy.  You’ve got to have power.  And yet two-thirds of the population in sub-Saharan Africa lacks access to power — and the percentage is much higher for those who don’t live in cities.

So today, I am proud to announce a new initiative.  We’ve been dealing with agriculture, we’ve been dealing with health.  Now we’re going to talk about power — Power Africa — a new initiative that will double access to power in sub-Saharan Africa.  Double it.  (Applause.)  We’re going to start by investing $7 billion in U.S. government resources.  We’re going to partner with the private sector, who themselves have committed more than $9 billion in investment.  And in partnership with African nations, we’re going to develop new sources of energy.  We’ll reach more households not just in cities, but in villages and on farms.  We’ll expand access for those who live currently off the power grid.  And we’ll support clean energy to protect our planet and combat climate change.  (Applause.)  So, a light where currently there is darkness; the energy needed to lift people out of poverty — that’s what opportunity looks like.

So this is America’s vision:  a partnership with Africa that unleashes growth, and the potential of every citizen, not just a few at the very top.  And this is achievable.  There’s nothing that I’ve outlined that cannot happen.  But history tells us that true progress is only possible where governments exist to serve their people, and not the other way around.  (Applause.)

If anyone wants to see the difference between freedom and tyranny, let them come here, to South Africa.  Here, citizens braved bullets and beatings to claim that most basic right:  the ability to be free, to determine your own fate, in your own land.  And Madiba’s example extended far beyond that victory.  Now, I mentioned yesterday at the town hall — like America’s first President, George Washington, he understood that democracy can only endure when it’s bigger than just one person.  So his willingness to leave power was as profound as his ability to claim power.  (Applause.)

The good news is that this example is getting attention across the continent.  We see it in free and fair elections from Ghana to Zambia.  We hear it in the voices of civil society.  I was in Senegal and met with some civil society groups, including a group called Y’en Marre, which meant “fed up” — (laughter) — that helped to defend the will of the people after elections in Senegal.  We recognize it in places like Tanzania, where text messages connect citizens to their representatives.  And we strengthen it when organizations stand up for democratic principles, like ECOWAS did in Cote d’Ivoire.

But this work is not complete — we all know that.  Not in those countries where leaders enrich themselves with impunity; not in communities where you can’t start a business, or go to school, or get a house without paying a bribe to somebody.  These things have to change.  And they have to chance not just because such corruption is immoral, but it’s also a matter of self-interest and economics.  Governments that respect the rights of their citizens and abide by the rule of law do better, grow faster, draw more investment than those who don’t.  That’s just a fact.  (Applause.)

Just look at your neighbor, Zimbabwe, where the promise of liberation gave way to the corruption of power and then the collapse of the economy.  Now, after the leaders of this region — led by South Africa — brokered an end to what has been a long-running crisis, Zimbabweans have a new constitution, the economy is beginning to recover.  So there is an opportunity to move forward — but only if there is an election that is free, and fair, and peaceful, so that Zimbabweans can determine their future without fear of intimidation and retribution.  And after elections, there must be respect for the universal rights upon which democracy depends.  (Applause.)

These are things that America stands for — not perfectly — but that’s what we stand for, and that’s what my administration stands for.  We don’t tell people who their leaders should be, but we do stand up with those who support the principles that lead to a better life.  And that’s why we’re interested in investing not in strongmen, but in strong institutions:  independent judiciaries that can enforce the rule of law — (applause); honest police forces that can protect the peoples’ interests instead of their own; an open government that can bring transparency and accountability.  And, yes, that’s why we stand up for civil society — for journalists and NGOs, and community organizers and activists — who give people a voice.  And that’s why we support societies that empower women — because no country will reach its potential unless it draws on the talents of our wives and our mothers, and our sisters and our daughters.  (Applause.)

Just to editorialize here for a second, because my father’s home country of Kenya — like much of Africa — you see women doing work and not getting respect.  I tell you, you can measure how well a country does by how it treats its women.  (Applause.)  And all across this continent, and all around the world, we’ve got more work to do on that front.  We’ve got some sisters saying, “Amen.”  (Laughter and applause.)

Now, I know that there are some in Africa who hear me say these things — who see America’s support for these values — and say that’s intrusive.  Why are you meddling?  I know there are those who argue that ideas like democracy and transparency are somehow Western exports.  I disagree.  Those in power who make those arguments are usually trying to distract people from their own abuses.  (Applause.)  Sometimes, they are the same people who behind closed doors are willing to sell out their own country’s resource to foreign interests, just so long as they get a cut.  I’m just telling the truth.  (Laughter and applause.)

Now ultimately, I believe that Africans should make up their own minds about what serves African interests.  We trust your judgment, the judgment of ordinary people.  We believe that when you control your destiny, if you’ve got a handle on your governments, then governments will promote freedom and opportunity, because that will serve you.  And it shouldn’t just be America that stands up for democracy — it should be Africans as well.  So here in South Africa, your democratic story has inspired the world.  And through the power of your example, and through your position in organizations like SADC and the African Union, you can be a voice for the human progress that you’ve written into your own Constitution.  You shouldn’t assume that that’s unique to South Africa.  People have aspirations like that everywhere.

And this brings me to the final area where our partnership can empower people — the pursuit and protection of peace in Africa.  So long as parts of Africa continue to be ravaged by war and mayhem, opportunity and democracy cannot take root.  Across the continent, there are places where too often fear prevails.  From Mali to Mogadishu, senseless terrorism all too often perverts the meaning of Islam — one of the world’s great religions — and takes the lives of countless innocent Africans.  From Congo to Sudan, conflicts fester — robbing men, women and children of the lives that they deserve.  In too many countries, the actions of thugs and warlords and drug cartels and human traffickers hold back the promise of Africa, enslaving others for their own purposes.

America cannot put a stop to these tragedies alone, and you don’t expect us to.  That’s a job for Africans.  But we can help, and we will help.  I know there’s a lot of talk of America’s military presence in Africa.  But if you look at what we’re actually doing, time and again, we’re putting muscle behind African efforts.  That’s what we’re doing in the Sahel, where the nations of West Africa have stepped forward to keep the peace as Mali now begins to rebuild.  That’s what we’re doing in Central Africa, where a coalition of countries is closing the space where the Lord’s Resistance Army can operate.  That’s what we’re doing in Somalia, where an African Union force, AMISOM, is helping a new government to stand on its own two feet.

These efforts have to lead to lasting peace, not just words on a paper or promises that fade away.  Peace between and within Sudan and South Sudan, so that these governments get on with the work of investing in their deeply impoverished peoples.  Peace in the Congo with nations keeping their commitments, so rights are at last claimed by the people of this war-torn country, and women and children no longer live in fear.  (Applause.)  Peace in Mali, where people will make their voices heard in new elections this summer.  In each of these cases, Africa must lead and America will help.  And America will make no apology for supporting African efforts to end conflict and stand up for human dignity.  (Applause.)

And this year marks the 50th anniversary of the OAU, now the African Union — an occasion that is more historic, because the AU is taking on these challenges.  And I want America to take our engagement not just on security issues, but on environmental issues — and economic issues and social issues, education issues — I want to take that engagement to a whole new level.  So I’m proud to announce that next year, I’m going to invite heads of state from across sub-Saharan Africa to a summit in the United States to help launch a new chapter in U.S.-African relations.  (Applause.)  And as I mentioned yesterday, I’m also going to hold a summit with the next class of our Young African Leaders Initiative, because we want to engage leaders and tomorrow’s leaders in figuring out how we can best work together.  (Applause.)

So let me close by saying this.  Governments matter.  Political leadership matters.  And I do hope that some of you here today decide to follow the path of public service.  It can sometimes be thankless, but I believe it can also be a noble life.  But we also have to recognize that the choices we make are not limited to the policies and programs of government.  Peace and prosperity in Africa, and around the world, also depends on the attitudes of people.

Too often, the source of tragedy, the source of conflict involves the choices ordinary people make that divide us from one another — black from white, Christian from Muslim, tribe from tribe.  Africa contains a multitude of identities, but the nations and people of Africa will not fulfill their promise so long as some use these identities to justify subjugation –- an excuse to steal or kill or disenfranchise others.

And ultimately, that’s the most important lesson that the world learned right here in South Africa.  Mandela once wrote, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion.  People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”  (Applause.)

I believe that to be true.  I believe that’s always been true — from the dawn of the first man to the youth today, and all that came in between here in Africa — kingdoms come and gone; the crucible of slavery and the emergence from colonialism; senseless war, but also iconic movements for social justice; squandered wealth, but also soaring promise.

Madiba’s words give us a compass in a sea of change, firm ground amidst swirling currents.  We always have the opportunity to choose our better history.  We can always understand that most important decision — the decision we make when we find our common humanity in one another.  That’s always available to us, that choice.

And I’ve seen that spirit in the welcoming smiles of children on Gorée Island, and the children of Mombasa on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast.  That spirit exists in the mother in the Sahel who wants a life of dignity for her daughters; and in the South African student who braves danger and distance just to get to school.  It can be heard in the songs that rise from villages and city streets, and it can be heard in the confident voices of young people like you.

It is that spirit, that innate longing for justice and equality, for freedom and solidarity — that’s the spirit that can light the way forward.  It’s in you.  And as you guide Africa down that long and difficult road, I want you to know that you will always find the extended hand of a friend in the United States of America.  (Applause.)

Thank you very much.  God bless you.  (Applause.)

END                7:02 P.M. SAST

Obama Presidency March 26, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Middle East Trip to Israel & Jordan Photo Gallery

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Photo Gallery: President Obama’s Middle East Trip

Source: WH, 3-26-13

In the first foreign trip of his second term, President Obama embarked on a four-day visit to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.

The White House Photo Office was with the President throughout his travels, and they’ve put together a collection of images from the Middle East trip, which include the President meeting with officials including Prime Minister Netanyahu in Israel, a dance performance in Ramallah, the West Bank and breathtaking shots from Petra, a World Heritage Site in Jordan. Check out the gallery below and visit our Middle East trip page for more information, including video.

The President Pauses For National Anthem
President Obama pauses during the official arrival ceremony in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President Waves To The Audience
President Obama waves at the Jerusalem Convention Center in Jerusalem. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President Visits The Hall Of Remembrance

President Obama pauses during his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

The President Tours The Church Of The Nativity

President Obama tours the crypt containing the birthplace of Jesus. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Political Headlines March 22, 2013: President Barack Obama Ends Israel Trip with Nods to Christianity, Judaism

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Ends Israel Trip with Nods to Christianity, Judaism

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-22-13

Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Concluding his three-day trip to Israel, President Obama got an unplanned look at the political realities plaguing the peace process during a visit to Bethlehem Friday afternoon.

The president was supposed to fly by helicopter to Bethlehem but a windstorm forced him to travel by motorcade instead.  The change in plans was cheered by Palestinians because the president drove past the large concrete wall erected by the Israelis, giving Obama a direct look at the hostilities facing the region on a daily basis….READ MORE

Political Headlines March 22, 2013: President Barack Obama Tours Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Israel

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Tours Holocaust Memorial in Israel

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-22-13

Pool photo/Peter Maer/CBS News

On his third day in the Middle East, President Obama toured Vad Yashem, Israel’s memorial for Jews killed in the Holocaust during World War II.

“You could come here a thousand times and each time our hearts would break for here we see the depravity to which man could sink,” Obama said on Friday….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency March 22, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the Hall of Children, Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem Transcript

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at the Hall of Children, Yad Vashem

Source: WH, 3-22-13 

Yad Vashem
Jerusalem

10:22 A.M. IST

THE PRESIDENT:  “Unto them I will give my house and within my walls a memorial and a name…an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.”

President Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Chairman Shalev, Rabbi Lau — thank you for sharing this house, this memorial, with me today.  And thank you to the people of Israel for preserving the names of the millions taken from us, of blessed memory — names that shall never be forgotten.

This is my second visit to this living memorial.  Since then, I’ve walked among the barbed wire and guard towers of Buchenwald.  Rabbi Lau told me of his time there, and we reminisced about our good friend, Elie Wiesel, and the memories that he shared with me.  I have stood in the old Warsaw ghetto, with survivors who would not go quietly.  But nothing equals the wrenching power of this sacred place, where the totality of the Shoah is told.  We could come here a thousand times, and each time our hearts would break.

For here we see the depravity to which man can sink; the barbarism that unfolds when we begin to see our fellow human beings as somehow less than us, less worthy of dignity and of life.  We see how evil can, for a moment in time, triumph when good people do nothing, and how silence abetted a crime unique in human history.

Here we see their faces and we hear their voices.  We look upon the objects of their lives — the art that they created, the prayer books that they carried.  We see that even as they had hate etched into their arms, they were not numbers.  They were men and women and children — so many children — sent to their deaths because of who they were, how they prayed, or who they loved.

And yet, here, alongside man’s capacity for evil, we also are reminded of man’s capacity for good — the rescuers, the Righteous Among the Nations who refused to be bystanders.  And in their noble acts of courage, we see how this place, this accounting of horror, is, in the end, a source of hope.

For here we learn that we are never powerless.  In our lives we always have choices.  To succumb to our worst instincts or to summon the better angels of our nature.  To be indifferent to suffering to wherever it may be, whoever it may be visited upon, or to display the empathy that is at the core of our humanity.  We have the choice to acquiesce to evil or make real our solemn vow — “never again.”  We have the choice to ignore what happens to others, or to act on behalf of others and to continually examine in ourselves whatever dark places there may be that might lead to such actions or inactions.  This is our obligation — not simply to bear witness, but to act.

For us, in our time, this means confronting bigotry and hatred in all of its forms, racism, especially anti-Semitism.  None of that has a place in the civilized world — not in the classrooms of children; not in the corridors of power.  And let us never forget the link between the two.  For our sons and daughters are not born to hate, they are taught to hate.  So let us fill their young hearts with the same understanding and compassion that we hope others have for them.

Here we hope.  Because after you walk through these halls, after you pass through the darkness, there is light — a glorious view of the Jerusalem Forest, with the sun shining over the historic homeland of the Jewish people; a fulfillment of the prophecy: “you shall live again…upon your own soil.”  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.

Here we pray that we all can be better; that we can all grow, like the sapling near the Children’s Memorial — a sapling from a chestnut tree that Anne Frank could see from her window.  The last time she described it in her diary, she wrote: “Our chestnut tree is in full bloom.  It’s covered with leaves and is even more beautiful than last year.”  That’s a reminder of who we can be.  But we have to work for it.  We have to work for it here in Israel.  We have to work for it in America.  We have to work for it around the world — to tend the light and the brightness as opposed to our worst instincts.

So may God bless the memory of the millions.  May their souls be bound up in the bond of eternal life.  And may each spring bring a full bloom even more beautiful than the last.

END
10:29 A.M. IST

Political Headlines March 21, 2013: President Barack Obama Stands Firm on Mideast Two-State Solution in Israel Speech

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Stands Firm on Mideast Two-State Solution

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-21-13

Yin Dongxun-Pool/Getty Images

Speaking before a young Israeli audience in Jerusalem, President Obama Thursday delivered an impassioned plea for Israelis and Palestinians to reach a peaceful two-state solution while he affirmed the “unbreakable bonds of friendship” between the United States and Israel.

“The only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine,” President Obama said at the Jerusalem Convention Center. “Peace is necessary, but peace is also just.”…READ MORE

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