George W. Bush photo

Remarks on Lighting the Hanukkah Menorah and an Exchange With Reporters

December 10, 2001

The President. Tonight, for the first time in American history, a Hanukkah menorah will be lit at the White House Residence. It's a symbol that this house may be a temporary home for Laura and me, but it's the people's house, and it belongs to people of all faiths.

The magnificent menorah before us was crafted over a century ago in the city of Lvov, which was an important center of Jewish life and culture. The Jews of Lvov fell victim to the horror of the Nazi Holocaust, but their great menorah survived. And as God promised Abraham, the people of Israel still live.

This has been a year of much sadness in the United States and for our friends in Israel. America and Israel have been through much together; this year we have grieved together. But as we watch the lighting of this second candle of Hanukkah, we're reminded of the ancient story of Israel's courage and of the power of faith to make the darkness bright. We can see the heroic spirit of the Maccabees lives on in Israel today, and we trust that a better day is coming, when this festival of freedom will be celebrated in a world free from terror.

Laura and I wish all the people of Jewish faith in America and Israel and around the world many joyous Hanukkahs in the years ahead.

And all right, now we call on young Talia to help us light the candles. Thank you so much for being here.

[At this point, 8-year-old Talia Lefkowitz, daughter of Office of Management and Budget General Counsel Jay P. Lefkowitz, lit the menorah and sang a Hebrew prayer. The President and First Lady Laura Bush then presented gifts to the children in attendance.]

The President. It's great to see everybody. Thanks for coming to the White House.

Videotape of Usama bin Laden

Q. Sir, on this occasion of peace and celebration, can you tell us how you were struck by this bin Laden videotape?

The President. It just reminded me of what a murderer he is and how right and just our cause is.

I couldn't imagine somebody like Usama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah or the joy of Christmas or celebrating peace and hope. This man wants to destroy any semblance of civilization for his own power and his own good. He's so evil that he's willing to send young men to commit suicide while he hides in caves.

And while we celebrate peace and lightness, I fully understand in order to make sure peace and lightness exist in the future, we must bring him to justice. And we will.

But for those who see this tape, they'll realize that not only is he guilty of incredible murder, he has no conscience and no soul, that he represents the worst of civilization.

NOTE: The President spoke at 5 p.m. in the Bookseller's Area at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Usama bin Laden, leader of the Al Qaida terrorist organization. The Office of the Press Secretary also released a Spanish language transcript of these remarks.

George W. Bush, Remarks on Lighting the Hanukkah Menorah and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives