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Lyndon B. Johnson: Remarks in New York City at the Dinner of the Weizmann Institute of Science.
Lyndon B. Johnson
175 - Remarks in New York City at the Dinner of the Weizmann Institute of Science.
February 6, 1964
Public Papers of the Presidents
Lyndon B. Johnson<br>1963-64: Book I
Lyndon B. Johnson
1963-64: Book I

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Mr. Stone, Mr. Feinberg, ladies and gentlemen:

I welcome this opportunity tonight to join in paying tribute to a great son of the Jewish people, and to one of the most exciting creations of the Republic of Israel--the Weizmann Institute of Science.

The great name of Weizmann does not belong to the Jewish people alone. It has enriched the moral treasury of our age.

While I am proud to be here, and while you have been most hospitable, none of us can conceal our grief that President Kennedy is not here tonight in person to deliver this address. This was the kind of occasion he most enjoyed--an opportunity to help the advancement of science, a chance to be here with men of ideas. His spirit remains with us tonight. Your sorrow is eloquently expressed in the ways you have chosen to honor his memory.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy believed in a partnership between science and public policy--and no man in this century has better symbolized that partnership than Dr. Weizmann. A great chemist, he was also a great statesman. His selection as the first President of Israel reinforced the unbroken moral tradition that linked him to the great prophets of an unforgotten past.

Few nations have had a scientist as head of state. But all nations have begun to recognize their dependence on scientific progress. It means the realization of a higher standard of living for people. It means the development and the conservation of resources. It means the military strength to preserve freedom. It means the knowledge to conquer space. If anything is certain about national and international affairs, it is that science will play an ever more central role in the years ahead of us.

The Weizmann Institute is a source of pride to every single friend of Israel. It is an international scientific institution in every sense of the word. To its buildings come students from all over the globe. It has helped to make Israel one of the foremost scientific resources of the world.

Israel knows well the importance of science. At its birth in 1948, this tiny little nation faced monumental problems of economic survival. Only a fifth of its meager territory was fit for cultivation. Yet it was called upon to sustain a population that more than doubled in 10 years.

One of its earliest and one of its most important scientific problems was the same problem that has troubled so many nations of the globe, and troubled so many parts of the world. This problem is water--water for irrigation, water for consumption, water for industry, water for recreation, water for all its other uses.

Our own water problems in this country are not yet solved. We, like Israel, need to find cheap ways of converting salt water to fresh water.

So let us work together. This Nation has begun discussions with the representatives of Israel on cooperative research in using nuclear energy to turn salt water into fresh water. This project poses a challenge to our scientific and technical skills. I promise no early and easy results, particularly since Jerry Wiesner has left us and gone back to the classroom. But the opportunities are so vast and the stakes are so high that it is worth all of our efforts and worth all of our energy, for water means life, and water means opportunity, and water means prosperity for those who never knew the meaning of those words. Water can banish hunger and can reclaim the desert and change the course of history.

We are equally ready to cooperate with other countries anxious to cure water shortages.

At 12 o'clock noon today the Cuban Government shut off water to the Guantanamo Naval Base. The excuse they gave was the arrest by the United States Government of 35 Cuban fishermen. These fishermen were clearly inside U.S. territorial waters.

The United States has long assumed that the Cuban Government would cut off the water to Guantanamo and has put into force already contingency plans. There is enough water there tonight to last for 12 days, in addition to which water can be brought in and will be brought in indefinitely by ship from Port Everglades, Fla.

The State Department, in the last few minutes, has just concluded a 2-hour meeting on this subject with the Secretary of Defense and with my assistant, Mr. Bundy, who will brief me on my return to the Capital tonight.

The State Department issued a statement a few moments ago which clearly establishes that Cuban fishing vessels intercepted by our Coast Guard were clearly inside our territorial waters.1 The captains of these boats reported this fact by radio to Havana just before the arrest came.

1 For full text see Department of State Bulletin, volume 50, page 276.

The United States has known since Mr. Castro took over and allied himself with a foreign power that he would some day cut off the water to our Guantanamo base. We have made such plans for such an eventuality. Our troops in Cuba and their families will have the water they need.

In our cooperative water program that I was talking about between Israel and the United States, the International Atomic Energy Agency will play a very vital part. In this way we will demonstrate the constructive meaning of man's mastery of the atom. We will pool the intellectual resources of Israel and America, and all mankind, for the benefit of all the world. We will better pursue our common quest for water, for water should never divide men; it should unite them.

Water should never be a cause of war; it should always be a force for peace. And peace is first on our agenda. It is not there only because it is right and decent to seek peace. The larger reason is there is no rational alternative to peace.

We face a choice which only two other Presidents of the United States have confronted--whether our civilization, as we know it, will survive. Nuclear war is no longer a mere theoretical possibility. No other Presidents in our history have had this responsibility.

We are built to withstand an attack--and to strike back. There is no question that we have the capacity to destroy any enemy, anywhere. But we court no territories. We covet to dominate no people. We seek no satellites. But we do intend to preserve and protect the peace, and our capacity to do this, I assure you, will not diminish. Victory is no longer a truth. It is only a word to describe whoever is left alive in the ruins.

If we put high emphasis on each step toward peace, no matter how feeble the gait or how short the stride, it is because I think we understand the nature of this new and changed world, a world where in only a matter of moments we could destroy 100 million people in the Soviet Union, and they could destroy 100 million people in Europe, and they could destroy 100 million people here in the United States.

So that is why even the seemingly small disputes between small countries--or the invisible hand behind a visible threat to democracy in other lands--that is why the eruption of trouble somewhere in the world, or anywhere in the world, is always so important to us.

Tonight there are a dozen explosive incidents in the world. Tomorrow there may be more. But we must treat these disturbances not as isolated threats to be responded to only at that moment, but in the perspective of the history we hope will be.

We envy no neighbor. We covet no territory. We are looking for no satellites. We believe the most plausible solution to war is simply for each nation to leave its neighbors in peace. This would then free us all to attack those ancient enemies of all mankind who for centuries have warred on man and his hope--poverty and ignorance, misery and disease. If we will just join together to destroy them, we will destroy the roots of war.

Science, and the Weizmanns all over the globe, are in the front line of this army that is fighting man's ageless foes.

So tonight as I speak to you with affection and share with you pride in Israel's achievements, I speak the warm sentiments uttered by every American President since Harry S. Truman. In the desires and hopes of these Presidents, I say to you and I say to the world that I would not underestimate the complexity of all the age-old Middle East rivalries and hostilities.

But the basic hope of the United States for this area is not so complex and not so different from that of all mankind. I think it is inscribed in the ancient writ of the prophets and on the modern building of the United Nations.

It is very simply a desire for the day when "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation... nor shall they learn war any more." That is my prayer. That is my prophecy.

Note: The 18th annual dinner of the Weizmann Institute of Science was held in the Grand Ballroom at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The President's opening words referred to Dewey Stone and Abraham Feinberg, members of the board of the Institute. Later he referred to Dr. Jerome B. Wiesner, who had recently resigned as Special Assistant to the President for Science and Technology to become Dean of Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Citation: Lyndon B. Johnson: "Remarks in New York City at the Dinner of the Weizmann Institute of Science.," February 6, 1964. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=26060.
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