Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of Welcome to Prime Minister Golda Meir of Israel at the White House

September 25, 1969

Madam Prime Minister and our guests here at the White House today:

It is a very great privilege for me, speaking in behalf of the American people, to welcome you, Madam Prime Minister, in a very personal sense, because you were raised in this country. You have been to this country many times, but we are particularly proud that for the first time we welcome you as the Prime Minister of Israel.

Speaking to you in that capacity, as the head of government of a very courageous people, a people who are determined to maintain their independence, who also are determined to achieve a lasting peace in the area in which they live, I look forward to the talks we shall have individually, and also with other members of your party.

It would be less than candid for me not to say that the problems of the Mideast are terribly complex and not susceptible to solution in one meeting, or two or three, or even more, at the level at which we will be talking.

But it is also proper to say that the Mideast and peace in the Mideast is of interest not only to your nation and your neighbors but to the whole world, because of what could happen in the event that war were to break out there, the repercussions that that could have all over the world.

We know that you and your people want peace. We know that your neighbors want peace. Certainly the majority of the people in the whole area want peace. The question is how to achieve it. On this we shall have discussions that I hope will be helpful; the real peace, the peace that is not simply one of words but one in which both parties will have a vested interest in maintaining.

I would say finally, Madam Prime Minister, that a very famous British Prime Minister once said: "One should always talk as much as possible to women, because this is the best school."

I can assure you that I recognize the tremendous complexity of the problem we will be discussing. I recognize that it is necessary to get the very best answers that we can to find a solution to these problems, and I realize that in talking to you, not just because you are Prime Minister but because you are one of the outstanding women in political leadership in the world, that in talking to you, I will be truly going to the best school today and tomorrow.

Note: The President spoke at 10:37 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House where Prime Minister Golda Meir was given a formal welcome with full military honors. See also Items 373 and 376.

The Prime Minister responded as follows:

Mr. President, needless to say, I am deeply moved by the reception and by the words that you have spoken. Every official guest from abroad to the White House must surely sense the significance of the occasion. May I say this is particularly so for a representative of a people small in numbers and in resources.

May I say that in receiving me here in friendship and equality you are affirming that the attitude of the United States to other peoples is not determined by physical factors.

The history of Israel, reborn in the years preceding statehood and the more than two decades since its achievement, cannot be told without reference to the unwavering support and friendship shown by successive American governments and by the American people.

Within hours after the proclamation of our statehood, the United States Government recognized Israel, and Jewish remnants from the Nazi death camps, who had been largely liberated by American forces in Europe, came to our shores.

Mr. President, the ties between our two countries are rooted in the Biblical heritage and in the common dedication to human dignity, freedom, and to democracy.

We have done everything in our power to translate these ideals into the fabric of our national life. It is this sense of affinity that has encouraged us to ask for America's understanding and support in difficult times.

The story of modern Israel is essentially the story of the return to the ancestral homeland of exiles from persecution, insecurity, and fear in quest of freedom, human dignity, independence, and peace.

Today, no Jew need remain homeless because of oppression and insecurity. I am gratified to be able to say this here in this great land which has been a haven for the oppressed, including many of my own people.

I shall be able to tell you, Mr. President, of Israel's progress in many fields. Tragically, peace is still denied us. But that same faith that sustained us down the ages instills within us the confidence that the hour of peace will come.

I look forward to the day when an Israeli Prime Minister will be able to come here bearing to the President and the people of the United States the tidings that the Middle East has entered a new epoch of amity and regional cooperation.

Mr. President, the prayers and hopes of my people are with you in the heavy responsibility you carry, not only for your great country but for the freedom-loving mankind at large. We follow with deep sympathy your efforts for regional and world peace, the phenomenal scientific advance of America under your leadership, the results of which are open to all nations, and your interest in economic and social advancement for all peoples.

I am privileged, Mr. President, to convey to you the best wishes from the President, the Government, and the people of Israel, together with their deep appreciation for your invitation to me and for your interest in our welfare and progress.

From Jerusalem, the city of prophecy and universal inspiration, I bring you the traditional Hebrew greeting: Shalom.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of Welcome to Prime Minister Golda Meir of Israel at the White House Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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