Remarks at the Welcoming
Ceremony for President Chaim Herzog of Israel
November 10, 1987
Reagan. Mr. President, Mrs. Herzog, distinguished guests, shalom [hello]. I am
very pleased and honored to extend a warm welcome to you, Mr. President, and to
Mrs. Herzog on this historic occasion: the first state visit ever by a
President of the State of Israel to the White House. Your visit is also a
special event, because it takes place during the 40th anniversary year of the
independence of the State of Israel. Americans are proud, indeed, that on May
the United States was the first country
to extend diplomatic recognition to the State of Israel. Your visit emphasizes
the close and special relationship between our two countries.
President, modern Israel was born in the
aftermath of the tragedy of the holocaust and the calamity of the Second World
War. It was created to fulfill the longstanding dream of the Jewish people to
return to the home of their biblical origins. This dream came true because of
the courage and determination of the Jewish people, both those already resident
in Palestine and those who survived
the Nazi death camps in Europe. The hopes for freedom,
for independence, for an end to centuries of persecution were instilled in the
State of Israel.
Mr.President, Israel and the United States have been partners for
40 years. We are brought together by a shared commitment to democracy, to an
open society, to individual achievement and economic progress, and to dignity
and worth of each and every individual. And we stand together in the defense of
these values against those who would destroy them. Our strategic cooperation is
proof of that.
these values are reflected in the search for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. We share the
conviction that Israel can be secure and
realize its full promise and genius only when security and lasting peace are
achieved. The United States remains undeterred in
the quest for such a peace, a negotiated settlement of the Arab-Israeli
conflict that would assure the security and well-being of the people of Israel and its Arab neighbors.
That goal will be realized when people of good will from all sides find a way
to bridge a crevasse of hatred and distrust. The United States is ready, as ever, to
help build that bridge.
encouraged by the progress that has been made in this noble endeavor. It was 10
years ago this month that President Sadat visited Jerusalem. Peace between Israel and Egypt created a new reality,
proving that reconciliation between former enemies is possible. The past decade
has shown the benefits of this peace to the peoples of Egypt and Israel. We want to work with Israel and its other neighbors
to expand the horizon of peace and find a just solution for the Palestinian
people. We want to see an end to the scourge of international terrorism. We
want to see an end to the conflict in the Persian Gulf, and to the war between
Iran and Iraq.
President, we know that the people of Israel share these desires
with the people of the United States. Together we also share
a commitment to create better lives for all peoples of the world. Israel has provided leadership
in harnessing science and technology to human needs, as is reflected in the
great strides you've made in agriculture and industry.
united by a common commitment to the universality of human rights. This is why America has championed the
cause of Soviet Jews in their struggle for religious freedom and right, if they
wish, to emigrate. We have rejoiced with you in the
release of NatanScharanskiy,
Ida Nudel, Vladimir Slepak,
and others. Yet we know that many others, less well-known but equally entitled
to enjoy these basic liberties, remain behind, still constrained by the Soviet
system. I pledge to you that we will persevere in our efforts to persuade the Soviet Union to meet its
international obligations under the Helsinki accords not just to
Soviet Jews but to all the citizens of the Soviet Union.
President, we cannot meet on this day without noting the special significance
it has for the Jewish people. On November 10th, 1983, a half-century ago --
1938, I should say, a half century ago, the Nazis let loose a reign of terror
against the German Jewry that is remembered as the infamous ``crystal night.''
And on November 10th, 1975, the General Assembly
of the United Nations passed an obscene resolution equating Zionism and racism.
Both of these ugly actions share a common denominator: anti-Semitism; but there
is a major difference between them. In 1938 the State of Israel did not yet
exist. In 1975 a proud and resolute Israeli Ambassador rose up in the United
Nations to uphold the honor of Israel and the high principles
on which the United Nations is founded.
Ambassador, of course, was you, sir, and it will always be a source of pride
for all Americans that on that day our own Ambassador to the United Nations
stood squarely at your side. That's how it was, Mr. President, and that's how
it will be. For the people of Israel and America are historic partners
in the global quest for human dignity and freedom. We will always remain at
each other's side.
President, it is a special honor and privilege to welcome you to the White
Herzog. Mr. President, as I stand here on this momentous occasion, I can sense
the movement of the wings of history. I arrive here on the occasion of the 40th
anniversary year of our establishment as a free and independent state, an event
which righted an historic wrong to our people over the centuries.
Mr. President, at moments such as these, words are inadequate in which to
express the sense of gratitude which the citizens of Israel feel towards this great
country for its ongoing support in our struggle.
the United States, our small country,
too, acquired its independence in bloody battle and gained its strength by
providing a haven for the poor, the downtrodden, and the homeless. Despite the
enormous differences in size and population, we are bound together in a
partnership of such profound significance, a partnership which transcends the
normal friendship existing between friendly nations. For ours is an alliance
born of an identity of purpose and the principles of democracy, which are the
cornerstones of our two societies.
stand here and see the work of the hand of providence. For this year, as you
have mentioned, sir, marks the anniversary -- 49 years ago -- of the Nazi
onslaught on the Jewish people in Germany in ``kristallnacht,'' the ``night of the crystals,'' in which
synagogues throughout Germany were put to fire. The
Holy Bible and the scrolls of our Holy Torah, recording the five books of
Moses, bearing the message of civilization and humanity, were burned in
bonfires, ignited by barbarians outside the burning synagogues. The streets of Germany were covered in a film
of crystals, created by the broken glass of Jewish synagogues, schools, homes,
and stores, marking the headlong rush of Europe toward the abyss which
led to the darkest years of the eclipse of civilization. In those nightmare
years, one third of the Jewish people were destroyed in the most terrifying
holocaust ever seen in the history of mankind.
stood moments ago and received the honors accorded me as the head of the State
of Israel and thought of the day of infamy at the United Nations 12 years ago
today. I had the privilege then, as you mentioned, sir, of defending my people
against the scurrilous and despicable attack on Zionism, which was mounted by a
contemptible coalition of totalitarian states not only against our small country
but against all that the Jewish people and their traditions stand for in human
dignity and experience.
one recalls these events which occurred on this very day, on this solemn and
moving occasion marking the first State visit from an Israeli head of state to
the United States of America, with all that it
implies, the significance of the reemergence of Israel must surely be in the
forefront of our consciousness.
President, at this moment, as I stand here as the President of a country born
of the prayers of a nation over the centuries and a 2,000-year-old struggle
against adversity, and view this event in its true perspective against the
background of our long history, I cannot but give expression to the age-old
Jewish prayer: ``Thanks to the Almighty for having kept us alive and maintained
us to reach this time.''
Mr.President, Israel has been devoted to the
cause of peace since we held out our hand to our Arab neighbors in our
declaration of independence, and has over the years exerted every effort to
achieve it. Under your inspired leadership and with the active support of your
administration, we continue these efforts to achieve the peace for which we,
and I believe all the peoples in the Middle East, yearn.
years ago next week, we crossed a major watershed with the historic arrival of
President Sadat in Jerusalem and the enthusiastic and
warm welcome accorded him by the then Government of Israel, by the Knesset, and
by the people of Israel. That visit led, thanks to the active involvement in
subsequent negotiations of the President and the administration of the United States, to the first peace
treaty signed by Israel with an ArabState -- indeed, a leading
State in the Arab world. That treaty, which concluded the first phase of the peace-making
process in the Middle East, was signed here on this very site. Israel is prepared, as you are
well aware, Mr. President, to move forward with your involvement to a further
phase of this process.
thank you, Mr. President, for your invitation and your welcome. I come to you
representing a friend and an ally. Our two peoples are committed to the same
principles and values which our Bible gave to the world. We acknowledge and
appreciate the generous support of the American people extended to us in the
mutual interest of our two countries to ensure the advancement of the cause of
peace and stability in our area and, indeed, the peace of the world.
aid maintains the strength of a close ally which is committed to the defense of
the cause of freedom and democracy in an area in which the longest war in this
century is taking place, a brutal, bloody war fired by the fanatic extremism of
religious fundamentalism which threatens the stability of so many countries in
our area. A glance at the map of our area and a realization of the implications
of the waves of fanaticism which are sweeping across it must surely give added
emphasis to the significance of your alliance with Israel, with all that it
President, on behalf of the people of Israel, I salute you, the leader of the
free world, and Mrs. Reagan, and I extend to the people of the United States of
America our prayers and profound wishes for the welfare of this great people
and this unique country.
you, Mr. President.
Note: President Reagan
spoke at in the East Room at the
White House, where President Herzog was accorded a formal welcome. Following
the ceremony, the two Presidents met in the Oval Office.