‘It is 60 years of our independence in the wake of 2,000 years of exile of the Jewish people. Without the support of your people, without your support and that of American presidents before you, attaining these goals would have been extremely difficult, almost impossible.’
Listen to President Shimon Peres addressing the Presidents Conference
‘President Truman was the first to recognize the state of Israel. You, Mr. President, enhanced our relations to deep friendship, moving friendship, and defined the original frame ground by your proposal of two states for the two people.
President Truman and you come from the provinces where the wind of freedom blows, from the districts in which people voice their opinion and stand by their principles, as you do. You come from a tradition that has inspired religious faith and hope, and you carry a calendar with the future at its head. Thank you.
President Eisenhower accompanied Ben-Gurion on his visit to the concentration camps in Europe immediately after the war. Ben-Gurion was moved by Eisenhower, and he said, “Find me a leader who represents” — that is his expression — “the dignity of power. I shall not forget it.”
President Kennedy asked Ben-Gurion, “What can I do as the president for the Jewish people?” And Ben-Gurion replied, “Be a great president of the United States of America.”
President Johnson fought against the closure imposed on Israel by Egypt. President Nixon provided Israel with security assistance in a very generous way. President Ford continued the same policy.
President Carter acted to achieve an agreement between Sadat and Begin, the first peace agreement between Israel and an Arab country, the largest Arab country.
President Reagan helped us to open the gates of former Soviet Union, enabling an influx of Jewish immigration to come from there to their homeland.
President Bush Sr., I think a person that you should know, answered our request and sent American Air Force unprecedentedly, to save Jews from the desert of Sudan. It became an exodus on the wing — on the wings of the American Air Force. The code was Operation Moses.
President Clinton spearheaded peace between Jordan and Israel and presided over the signature of the Oslo agreement.
And you, Mr. President, moved us with your friendship, with your resolve to stop terror in the whole region and offer peace for all inhabitants for their future.
Over the years, the position of the great two parties of the Congress toward Israel was that of resolute friendship. Voluntary organizations in the United States, religious leaders, the free media, and millions of American citizens stood behind a state that had not yet had a chance to be born, behind the people that had not been gathered, behind an army that had not been created.
You encouraged us when we were alone so we could establish a real democracy, a developed, modern economy. We built an army that sought victory and a people that sought peace. Thank you.
We never asked American soldiers to fight in our state. You provided us the necessary help to overcome with our own voice the most dangerous situation. Again, thank you.
You never disappointed us. I hope we didn’t disappoint you. We proved that our democracy, even outnumbered and outgunned, had human qualities to endow it with unexpected achievements.
We were attacked seven times. Seven times, we were victorious. Democracy was not interrupted was even at wartime. In victory, we never lost our preference for peace. Yet yesterday and today, as well, you, the United States, has told the world that it is possible to be powerful without being power hungry. And though American territory was not attacked directly you help other nations to regain freedom and bring peace to their own homes.
In victory, you didn’t conquer. You returned all the assets, all the land to their owners. You saved the losers from becoming lost. You created a commitment in the words of Lincoln that became a home to a new nation that was born in freedom and whose mission lay in the conviction that all humans were equal.
Mr. President, there is a straight line that connects the vision of our prophets and the destiny of the great President Lincoln. It is the same line, the same conviction, the same values.
We pioneered in fighting deserts like you, we are fighting terror and violence like you. We believe, like you, that all humans are born equal and the nation must not lift up swords against other nations.
Mr. President, again, thank you. Thanks to your family. Thanks to your people. Your record is no longer chronicles, but chapters in history. As a leader of the free world, you didn’t seek applause. It will be held in history your courage and decisiveness by addressing global and national, highly complicated and highly dangerous challenges.
For us, this is a thanksgiving party to the tremendous nation and to the leadership of President George Walker Bush, a man never short of faith, a man never postponing a choice, a man always in the service of the great American values. Thank you and god bless you, and god bless the United States of America.’