Celebrating 60 Years of American Support for Israel
The OU/IPA, through Nathan Diament, is privileged to be a member of President Bush’s honorary delegation on his visit to Israel. Here is a recap of the gala event held at Binyanei Ha’uma last night celebrating six decades of the US-Israel relationship.
Binyanei Ha’uma was decked out with stylish sofas like you might find at a hip new bar, and square appetizer plates that looked like they might have served sushi or other such stylish delicacies. Inside the two level nearly packed auditorium there was a gathering of what PM Olmert and Pres. Peres both described as business leaders, technological leaders, artists, authors, religious leaders, Nobel laureates, military leaders, residents of Sderot, teachers and students from the north, and other influentials. (Some listed below at end.)
President Bush entered shortly thereafter to roaring applause, a few whoops, and a standing ovation. Bush shook hands with a few people and took a seat in the front row beside his wife. Front row seating was billionaire American casino owner and event chairman Sheldon Adelson, Peres, Pres. & Mrs Bush, PM Olmert, Secy of State Condi Rice, and FM Tzippy Livni.
Michael Greenspan of Israel TV emceed the “Facing Tomorrow” conference, put together by Peres, and started it off tonight with a “reality check”, a reminder of the rocket attack on the mall in Ashkelon earlier today. “Despite that, perhaps because we’re used to it, we continue,” he said.
Then they showed the first part of a video tribute to the history of Israeli-US ties. This was the theme throughout the evening, thanking America for 60 years of unwavering support for Israel, a tribute, as the video’s narrator said, “to two nations whose founding fathers drew from the same wellspring of values.” There was old footage of Ben Gurion declaring independence, and raucous applause, old footage of Truman recognizing Israel as a new country (and more raucous applause — though not as loud as the applause for Ben Gurion). It recalled the Holocaust and how “America was shocked by the extent of Nazi atrocity and began to understand the need for a Jewish homeland.” Footage of the US representative to the UN voting affirmative for partition in November 1947 received more applause. Truman, the narrator said, began the legacy of US friendship to Israel, “and this friendship has only grown stronger over the last 60 years.” Footage of Bush speaking at an AIPAC conference ended the first part of the video.
Then there was a duet involving an Israeli youth choir and a Maryland boys choir participating by video link.
Pres. Peres was introduced to a standing ovation. Peres said he was here “to thank Bush from the bottom of our hearts for 60 yrs of profound and warm support of your country.”
Peres said: “Without the support of your people, without your support and that of the American presidents before you, attaining this goal (Israel today) would have been extremely difficult almost impossible.”
He again praised Truman for recognizing the state of Israel.
He said: “President Truman and you (Pres. Bush) come from the provinces where the wind of freedom blows. … You come from a tradition that has inspired religious faith and hope.”
Peres recited a list of support shown by US presidents:
Johnson for forging arms agreements with Israel, Ford continued the same policy of Johnson, Carter (briefly) achieved agreement between Sadat and Begin, Reagan helped us to open the gates of the Soviet Union enabling an influx of Jewish immigration to Israel, President Bush answered our request and sent American air force unprecedentedly to save Jews form the deserts of Sudan, President Clinton spearheaded peace between Jordan and Israel and presided over signing of Oslo, “and you Mr President moved us with your friendship, your resolve to stop terror in the whole region and offer a peace for all inhabitants.”
“You encouraged us when we were alone so we could establish a real democracy, a developed modern economy, and build an army that sought victory and a people that sought peace.”
He lauded Bush as: “a man never short of faith, a man never postponing a choice, a man always in th service of the great American values.”
“This is to say thank you for support … this is to say thank you and God bless you and God bless the United States of America.” — roaring applause and standing ovation.
Back to the video now with Kennedy through Nixon, and then a modern dance performance set to James Taylor’s “You’ve got a Friend.”
Next came PM Olmert’s speech, which continued in the same vein of effusive praise for the US and specifically for President Bush.
Re: rocket attack today: “What happened today is entirely intolerable and unacceptable. The gov’t of Israel is committed to stopping it and we will take the necessary steps so that this will stop.”
“We also commemorate 60 years of friendship between the United States and Israel,” said Olmert, calling Bush, “a great personal friend whose commitment to the State of Israel is immeasurable.”
“Let me put aside my speech to say something personal: you are an unusual person. You are an unusual leader, and you are an unusual friend of the people of Israel. I believe I know certain things which others don’t. I’m supposed to. It’s my duty to know. And I can tell all of you that President George Bush is a great leader, is a great friend, is a source of inspiration and we are very proud that we can celebrate the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel with you and your wife here in our capital Jerusalem.” (Roaring applause — standing ovation — whoops from the crowd).
“The US under your leadership represents the pinnacle of this friendship.”
More video – post Yom Kippur war … narrator hailed US involvement in Camp David peace accords … Desert Storm when President Bush I deployed Patriot Interceptors to Israel and “for the first time US and Israel embraced wartime coordination” … Madrid Conference… Oslo peace accords etc… Assassination of Rabin (“In Israel’s hour of grief, America was there extending warm embrace.”)
Another performance by two pianists and more video… Including 2003 space shuttle explosion when an Israeli astronaut died with his six American crew mates… “They explode and perish TOGETHER,” the narrator said emphasizing “together.”
Sheldon and Miriam Adelson then spoke briefly. Adelson called Bush, “The most supportive United states president in Israel’s 60 year existence.”
President Bush then spoke.
And received much applause throughout.