Toasts at the State
Dinner For President Chaim Herzog
November 10, 1987
Reagan. Well, what a pleasure it is for Nancy and me and all our distinguished
guests to have the President of Israel and his lovely wife with us at this
festive dinner. It's a special occasion for us to have you with us, Mr.
President, because of your personal distinction and because you represent Israel, one of our closest
friends and partners.
Mr. President, your visit has special significance for yet another reason: It's
a great day for the Irish! [Laughter] I can't help but note that Ireland is so successful at
producing national leaders and that an Irish brogue carries as much influence
in Jerusalem as it does here.
you were born in Ireland and that my ancestors
came from there may seem accidental, but it speaks to the history of both Israel and the United States. Ours are nations of
immigrants and nations of opportunity. Israel was established with an
open door to the Jewish people from around the globe. The epic drama of the
ingathering of those who came to Israel to find freedom, escape
persecution, and rebuild their lives has captured the imagination of all
Americans. We, too, come from distant shores, and in different circumstances
struggled for our own freedom.
Israel has never lost sight of
its destiny to be a nation of free people living by the principles of
democracy. Israel's vibrant democracy
offers the best and strongest rejoinder to those who denigrate its achievements
or who try to equate Zionism with racism, as the U.N. General Assembly did in
1975. In that connection, I welcome recent action by the Congress calling for
the overturning of the U.N. General Assembly's misguided and reprehensible
the last four decades, Israel has grown and prospered.
Your farmers and pioneers have made the land green. Your universities and
research institutes have created miracles of technology and science that have
added to human welfare. And your people have set the world an example in
courage and fortitude.
these 40 years, we Americans have been proud of our friendship and partnership
with Israel. Few nations enjoy
richer or stronger ties. Support for Israel is not limited to one
group or region; it is felt and expressed throughout the United States. It reflects genuine
affection, admiration, and mutual respect.
Harry Truman extended diplomatic recognition to Israel, every American
President has cared deeply about Israel's security and its
quest for peace. I carry on that tradition, and I renew tonight the pledge I've
made before: The United States will always ensure Israel's security and work
with her in partnership for peace.
President, Nancy and I extend our best wishes to you and Mrs. Herzog and the
people of Israel, for health and prosperity
and for the continued close friendship between our two great countries and
peoples: L'Chaim! [To life.]
Herzog. Mr. President, Mrs. Reagan, I rise to thank Mrs. Reagan and yourself
for the kind hospitality extended by you to Aura and myself on this historic
occasion, the first state visit of the President of Israel to the United States
is very difficult, well nigh impossible, to give
adequate expression to what one feels on such a moving occasion. Not even
something you and I have in common can help to overcome this difficulty. I'm
referring, of course, to the fact that somewhere in our personalities we have a
common advantage over many others: that of the gift acquired from the Blarney
the enormous differences between our two countries, as we celebrate our 40th
anniversary, one cannot but remark on many similarities. When the director of
our railroads first visited the United States, he was asked by his
hosts how many miles of railroad we had. Too embarrassed to tell the truth, he
replied that he could not recall the distance, but he knew that we had the same
width as in the United States. [Laughter]
common foundations which both our countries have based on the teachings of the
Hebrew Bible have been used to build a superstructure of relationships which is
really quite special. I do not know whether history has another example of a
great, free democracy extending so broad a hand of friendship to a young,
although also very old, state so far from its borders and so different from it
in size of population and area. Indeed, our partnership led to the fact that in
this building was signed the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. It was a truly unique
occasion in the history of peace. It signified the first great achievement of
the peace process, which we and, I believe, the vast majority of the peoples in
the adjacent Arab States pray will lead to a lasting peace to the Middle East.
America's support for Israel, a free, open,
democratic society in which the dignity of man is enshrined as a supreme value,
has been a pillar of American policy, a commitment of all American Presidents,
a consensus uniting the American political spectrum, and a reflection of the
will of the American people. You, Mr. President, have brought our relationship
to unprecedented heights, to a closeness that is symbolized by this evening.
Mark Twain once said: ``Always do right. This will gratify some people, and
astonish the rest.'' [Laughter] Indeed, the main thing is to continue to do
what we believe to be right, as you, Mr. President, are doing with your resolve
and leadership in the Middle East and in the Persian Gulf.
is always important to remember what it is that we represent: two peoples with
a rich heritage and a message that the destiny of mankind is freedom, that the
greatness of a nation is determined by its commitment to freedom, and that
peace and international cooperation are the only parts to a secure future.
President, on behalf of the people of Israel, I thank you for your
friendship and unfailing support. Your name is inscribed indelibly in our
history as a dear and close friend who appreciates the importance for the free
world of a strong and stable Israel, as an outpost
committed to the defense of democracy in a region swept by the winds of
fanaticism and fundamentalistic bigotry.
ask you, Mr. President, to give us, the people of Israel, the opportunity to
express to yourself and to Mrs. Reagan, who has a special place in the hearts
of our people, our profoundest feelings for you both by coming to Israel and meeting a grateful
nation and by seeing for yourselves the realization of an ancient peoples'
dream. I would ask your excellencies, ladies and
gentlemen, please rise so that I may drink to the health of the President of
the United States and Mrs. Reagan.
Note: The President
spoke at in the State Dining Room at the White House.