‘We Stand Together’
Apr 1, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 28 • By BARACK OBAMA
Today, the sons of Abraham and the daughters of Sarah are fulfilling the dream of the ages—to be ‘masters of their own fate’ in ‘their own sovereign state.’ . . .
“Why does the United States stand so strongly, so firmly with the State of Israel? The answer is simple. We stand together because we share a common story—patriots determined ‘to be a free people in our land,’ pioneers who forged a nation, heroes who sacrificed to preserve our freedom, and immigrants from every corner of the world who renew constantly our diverse societies.
“We stand together because we are democracies. . . . [And] the United States of America stands with the State of Israel because it is in our fundamental national security interest to stand with Israel. . . .
“For the Jewish people, the journey to the promise of the State of Israel wound through countless generations. It involved centuries of suffering and exile, prejudice and pogroms, and even genocide. Through it all, the Jewish people sustained their unique identity and traditions, as well as a longing to return home. And while Jews achieved extraordinary success in many parts of the world, the dream of true freedom finally found its full expression in the Zionist idea—to be a free people in your homeland. That’s why I believe that Israel is rooted not just in history and tradition, but also in a simple and profound idea—the idea that people deserve to be free in a land of their own. . . .
“And Israel has achieved all this even as it’s overcome relentless threats to its security—through the courage of the Israel Defense Forces, and the citizenry that is so resilient in the face of terror. . . .
“When I think about Israel’s security, I think about five Israelis who boarded a bus in Bulgaria, who were blown up because of where they came from, robbed of the ability to live, and love, and raise families. That’s why every country that values justice should call Hezbollah what it truly is—a terrorist organization. Because the world cannot tolerate an organization that murders innocent civilians, stockpiles rockets to shoot at cities, and supports the massacre of men and women and children in Syria right now. . . .
“The Syrian people have the right to be freed from the grip of a dictator who would rather kill his own people than relinquish power. Assad must go so that Syria’s future can begin. Because true stability in Syria depends upon establishing a government that is responsible to its people—one that protects all communities within its borders, while making peace with countries beyond them. . . .
“When I consider Israel’s security, I also think about a people who have a living memory of the Holocaust, faced with the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iranian government that has called for Israel’s destruction. It’s no wonder Israelis view this as an existential threat. But this is not simply a challenge for Israel—it is a danger for the entire world, including the United States. A nuclear-armed Iran would raise the risk of nuclear terrorism. It would undermine the nonproliferation regime. It would spark an arms race in a volatile region. And it would embolden a government that has shown no respect for the rights of its own people or the responsibilities of nations. . . .
“Iran must know this time is not unlimited. . . . Iran must not get a nuclear weapon. This is not a danger that can be contained. . . . America will do what we must to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. . . .
“Here, in this small strip of land that has been the center of so much of the world’s history, so much triumph and so much tragedy, Israelis have built something that few could have imagined 65 years ago. . . .
“After slavery and decades in the wilderness and with Moses gone, the future of the Israelites was in doubt. But with Joshua as their guide, they pushed on to victory. After the First Temple was destroyed, it seemed Jerusalem was lost. But with courage and resolve, the Second Temple -reestablished the Jewish presence. After centuries of persecution and pogroms, the Shoah aimed to eliminate the entire Jewish people. But the gates of the camps flew open, and there emerged the ultimate rebuke to hate and to ignorance—survivors would live and love again.
“When the moment of Israel’s independence was met by aggression on all sides, it was unclear whether this nation would survive. But with heroism and sacrifice, the State of Israel not only endured, but thrived. And during six days in June and Yom Kippur one October, it seemed as though all you had built might be lost. But when the guns fell silent it was clear—‘the nation of Israel lives.’ . . .
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