Remarks to Supporters of
Israel at a White House Briefing on United States Foreign Policy
March 15, 1988
was thinking on the way over here what a great idea this event is and wondering
why we don't get together more often. You know, it kind of reminds me of the fella who asked his friend what the problem really was:
ignorance or apathy. And the friend responded, ``I don't know, and I don't
I doubt there's a person in this room who can be accused of suffering from
either of those defects. Each one of you is alive to the issues of the day.
Each one of you has made your family proud and your country grateful for the
active role that you've taken in community and world events and especially for
your loyalty to the United States and Israel and to the wonderful
work of the United Jewish Appeal. I believe you also know where I stand. As I
look back on these last 7 years, I remember many emotional, many poignant
moments, but few, believe me, will ever match those times I have spent with
you, especially on those occasions when we commemorated the victims of the
Holocaust and pledged to each other and the world: Never again.
of us in this room are as one on this point: We know what Israel is. We know what Israel means. And as I will
tell the Prime Minister tomorrow, when it comes to Israel, the United States is not a bargainer or a
broker: The United States is a friend and an ally. And that's why one of the
things I'm proudest of is the steps we've been able to take during this
administration to build a stronger foundation of enduring friendship and
cooperation. For example, strategic cooperation -- something other
administrations shied away from -- is now a commitment our two governments have
made to each other. It responds to our mutual needs and is a reminder to all
that no wedge will be driven between the United States and Israel.
commitment to close relations and to Israel's security has been reflected in
our foreign aid levels, our commercial cooperation of research and defense, and
the vital and historic free trade agreement that we have signed. Our commitment
to Israel's security is also
reflected in our latest peace initiative. Making progress toward peace in the Middle East not only serves mutual
interests, it is urgent. It's in America's and Israel's interest to develop a
credible basis on which to make progress, one that promises to overcome
stalemate and make genuine reconciliation possible. That's why I'm delighted
that Prime Minister Shamir is here.
let me underscore one point that I hope needs no underscoring: Our policy has
as its basis -- and this is a first principle in any negotiation -- the
assuring of Israel's freedom and security.
We will not leave Israel to stand alone, nor
will we acquiesce in any effort to gang up on Israel. Peace will not be
imposed by us or by anyone else. It will and must come from the genuine
give-and-take of negotiations. That's what we're working to set in motion now.
while our work on behalf of Israel is a vital part of why
we're there today, I would be remiss if I didn't speak to you about other
efforts to make U.S. foreign policy
consistent and strong. Only a few years ago, some Americans were beginning to
question what we stood for in the world. Our nation has now regained its
confidence and sense of purpose. We've returned to proclaiming enthusiastically
the democratic ideals that inspired our Founding Fathers and the Founding
Fathers of Israel. And I think this vigorous foreign policy is good, of course,
for Israel because the United States is thought of today as
a strong nation and a reliable ally. This has helped move the process of peace
forward throughout the world, and it has enhanced the security with all our
friends and allies.
what I hope you've noticed during the past few years is that we have moved American
foreign policy away from the notion that mere containment is enough, that we
have willingly and openly proclaimed to the world that our goal is not just
peace but freedom as well, that we seek not separate spheres of influence or a
simple balance of power or a deadening stalemate with totalitarianism, that we
seek instead a day when every person in every land will share fully in the
blessings of freedom. And that's the core of our foreign policy: protecting the
security of the United States while advancing the
cause of world freedom and democratic rights. It's in this context that I think
you can understand why we've moved forward boldly on a broad range of foreign
policy issues like SDI, the Persian Gulf, and aid to those fighting against
last subject is particularly appropriate. I want to take a moment of your time
to talk about it, and I hope you'll give some thought to this after we part
today. You know, so frequently, I have found that the measure of any regime or
government can be taken by its official attitude toward anti-Semitism.
as most of you know, few regimes today so blatantly
sanction and practice official anti-Semitism as the Sandinista Communists in Nicaragua. The Jewish community
has been forced out almost entirely. Managua's one synagogue has
been defaced and firebombed. And Nicaragua has officially aligned itself with Mu'ammarQadhafi of Libya and of
course the PLO, an organization that has again revealed its true colors,
opposing our efforts of peace and trumpeting its responsibility for a sickening
terrorist attack on a bus carrying Israeli men, women, and children. It's no
accident that Sandinista leaders were trained in the seventies by the PLO, and
the PLO has established a presence in Nicaragua. So, too, one of the
hijackers some years ago of an El Al airliner was a Sandinista. He died in the
attempt and is now a national hero. They have named a geothermal plant after
him. And of course, the Sandinistas have led the way in sponsoring recent anti-Israel
resolutions in the U.N.
I think it's time that some in Congress who want to turn away from the reality
of leftwing anti-Semitism face the facts about the anti-Semitism of the
Sandinistas as well as their ties to the PLO and other terrorist groups. It is
the Nicaraguan freedom fighters who are resisting this kind of moral
corruption. It is the freedom fighters who are
fighting for the political, civil, and human rights of Jews and Christians in Nicaragua. It is the freedom
fighters who must be sustained and supported in this struggle.
know, I just don't understand the inability of some people to realize what the
Sandinistas are all about. Only the other day we saw newspaper accounts of the
Castro connection in international drug dealing. So, too, the evidence has been
compelling for a long time that the Sandinistas have been involved in such drug
trafficking. In one of my TV addresses on the subject of contra aid, I showed a
picture of a drug smuggler's aircraft landing in Nicaragua at a military airfield
and being met by Nicaraguan officials and soldiers. And the Commission on
Organized Crime, chaired by Judge Irving Kaufman, concluded that top-level
members of the Sandinista leadership were involved in the international drug
trade. Well, anyway, the point that I'm making here is that all of us have a
stake in what happens in Nicaragua as we do in the fate of
know, many people early on said that we could not save El Salvador, and our aid package
passed by only a few votes. And now democracy is prospering in El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. Nicaragua is the odd man out and
a menace to the cause of regional democracy. But the struggle in Nicaragua goes on, and with
Congress' help, we'll see to it that democracy wins there too.
I hope you can see how these issues are interrelated and how our foreign policy
is not just strong for the sake of being strong, that we seek to do more than
just project national pride and firmness. Our real motivation, our root
motivation is the cause of human freedom, and this has no small bearing on the
mutual concerns that bring us here today.
all of you know, I expect to be in Moscow one of these days for a
summit meeting with Mr. Gorbachev. As it was at the Washington summit and the summits
before that, the issue of Soviet Jewry will, I assure you, be high on our
agenda. The General Secretary knows of my profound concern on this point and of
your concern as well. And I'll be making this very plain again in Moscow.
let me conclude then by thanking you for all you've done on behalf of the
issues of Soviet Jewry and Israel's security. The safety
and security of the United States and the safety and security of Israel are all
part of a larger cause, the cause of human rights for every man, woman, and
child on this Earth. And today, as we meet here, let's rededicate ourselves to
that cause. Thank you very much.
Note: The President
spoke at in Room 450 of the OldExecutiveOfficeBuilding to members of the Prime Ministers Council, major
contributors to the United Jewish Appeal.