Remarks to Organizations of the Jewish Community
Prime Minister Rabin, ladies and gentlemen, I'm very pleased to have this chance to address all of you, gathered from some 70 communities across the United States.
It is with thanks for the remarkable year we have just lived and optimism for the New Year that I wish you peace, health, and happiness in the months ahead. Shana Tova!
What a year it's been. Twelve months ago tomorrow I was privileged to host Prime Minister Rabin and Chairman Arafat on the South Lawn of the White House. Many of you were there to witness their historic handshake, which marked the dawn of a new era in the Middle East, one of conciliation and hope. Their brave, historic act paved the way for others.
This summer, King Hussein of Jordan and Prime Minister Rabin at the White House came here to end the state of war between Israel and Jordan and to start down the road of warm friendship and cooperation. As Prime Minister Rabin stated then so eloquently, "A million eyes all over the world are watching us now with great relief and great joy. Yet another nightmare of war may be over. At the same time, millions of eyes in the Middle East are looking at us now with great hope, heartfelt hope, that our children and grandchildren will know no more war."
I applaud Israel's courage, and I salute the Arab leaders—including the King of Morocco, who last week began the process of establishing diplomatic relations with Israel—for standing up for the naysayers and embracing change. By working to secure a future of peace and prosperity, these far-sighted statesmen will fulfill their people's hopes and their yearnings for the quiet miracle of a normal life.
Already we see the fruits of their efforts. Palestinians and Israelis are learning every day how to live side by side in peace. Jordanian planes may now fly over Israel. Tourists visiting the Dead Sea can cross from Eilat to Aqaba. These are small steps, but they lay the foundation for much greater strides to come.
Now, the international community must do all it can to ensure that Arabs and Israelis realize the full benefits of peace. At the same time, we have a right to expect that the participants in the peace process live up to their commitments. And we also hope that all those in the region who have been urging us to continue to play an energetic role will do their part, too, in particular by taking steps now to dismantle the Arab boycott of Israel.
As we look to the year ahead, I hope and I believe that we'll see even greater progress toward a comprehensive peace in the region, a peace that joins Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, Syrians, and Lebanese so that all their children will come to know a better future. More than 100 of these children, participants in the 1994 Seeds for Peace program that have met at the White House this past Friday before returning to their homes, they just spent a month together in Maine, learning about one another, breaking down barriers, building ties.
These young men and women told me that in just a few short weeks, first names replaced ethnic and religious labels. Mistrust turned into curiosity. Fear gave way to friendship. These kinds of person-to-person relationships, multiplied thousands of times through business ventures, joint projects, trade, and regional cooperation, will help ensure that the olive branch of peace stretches its bough across the entire Middle East.
Nurturing peace is hard work. The dark forces of terror remain deeply entrenched, as horrible attacks against Jews in Argentina, Panama, and England recently demonstrated. But despite these terrible acts, it's essential that the American Jewish community continue its support for peace and the peace process.
As we move ahead, I urge you to keep the faith, because Israel, for the first time in its history, has the opportunity to achieve real peace. And I pledge to you that we will do our part to make sure that it is a lasting and secure peace.
I understand that in a few moments my friend Prime Minister Rabin will speak to you from Jerusalem. I want to reiterate to him my admiration for all he's done for his people and for the cause of peace.
Yitzhak, I wish you and your people a very Happy New Year. And remember, you've got an open invitation to visit the White House, because every time you come here we seem to move a step closer to lasting peace in the Middle East.
My fellow Americans, I hope that 12 months from now when we take stock of the year ahead, we'll have even more happy events to celebrate. Working together for peace, I believe we will.
NOTE: The address to the Council of Jewish Federations and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations was taped on September 10 at 10:45 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House and was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on September 12. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this address.
William J. Clinton, Remarks to Organizations of the Jewish Community Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/218648