Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks of Welcome at the White House to Prime Minister Eshkol of Israel

June 01, 1964

Mr. Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen:

I am very happy, Mr. Prime Minister, to welcome you to our country. Your predecessors have visited my country informally several times in the past, but this is the first official visit by a Prime Minister of Israel. We are pleased that you have come. My countrymen greatly admire the progress made by your people. You have met and mastered monumental problems of economic survival. You have shown all the world how to use science and technology to improve man's life on the planet.

Today, Israel is a vital, prosperous land, a symbol of the courage and the strength of her people. The United States is proud to have assisted in this high enterprise. We are prepared to continue our contributions to technical advancement in Israel, particularly in the field of desalinization of water. We are aware, Mr. Prime Minister, of the problems of political adjustment that Israel faces with her neighbors. We know that you want to live in peace with those neighbors, and we believe it is not only possible but imperative that those .problems be peacefully resolved, bringing justice to all as well as security for all.

We welcome this opportunity to exchange views with you on matters of mutual interest. We share many common objectives, Mr. Prime Minister, chief of which is the building of a better world, a world in which every nation can develop its resources and develop them in freedom and in peace. I am confident this visit will result in increased understanding between us and a strengthening of our already cordial relations.

Mr. Prime Minister, it gives me great pleasure to say shalom.

Note: The President spoke shortly before noon on the South Lawn at the White House where Prime Minister Levi Eshkol was given a formal welcome with full military honors. Prime Minister Eshkol responded as follows:

Mr. President and Mrs. Johnson:

Mrs. Eshkol and I are deeply grateful for your kind invitation and warm welcome. It is a privilege to meet the statesman on whom destiny has laid so vast and historic a responsibility.

In the short time since you, Mr. President, assumed your exalted office, your deep dedication to peace, to freedom, and to the welfare of ordinary people have aroused hope and confidence throughout the world.

The prophet Malachi, almost 3,000 years ago, delivered this eternal message, and I will cite it in Hebrew:

"Halo av echad lekulanu,
Halo el echad bareinu"
"Have we not all one father
Hath not one God created us"

In face of the danger to human survival in our time, this lasting truth, and with it the sense of common destiny, is cutting across the barriers of hostility and ideology which divide nations.

From Jerusalem, city of immortal prophecy and peace, I bear with me the best wishes of the people of Israel to you, Mr. President, the first citizen of this great country. You fulfill the injunction of our sages, to love peace and pursue peace.

Mr. President, from this great center of government here in Washington, symbol and repository of democracy, there has constantly gone forth a message of encouragement to nations in their struggle for liberty and the affirmation of human values. The aid and sympathy tendered to us by successive United States Governments, and by the people of the United States, are engraved for all time on the tablets of our renewed nationhood.

Through you, Mr. President, I wish to convey from the people of Israel to the people of the United States a heartfelt message of good will and of best wishes for their happiness and welfare.

Mr. President, this moment will always remain with me. For me, it is symbolic of the providential change which has taken place in the fortunes of my people, of the transition within so short a time from the tragedy which only two decades ago engulfed one-third of my people, to the new epoch of independence and construction which commenced with the rise of Israel.

Only lasting faith in the fulfillment of prophecy enabled us to survive tribulation down the ages. In our time, it has been given to us to reaffirm in independence the ancient unbroken link between the people of Israel and the land of Israel. It is our belief that just as the prophecy of the restoration of Zion is being fulfilled, so, too, will the prophecy of universal peace be vindicated.

Mr. President, I thank you from the heart for your friendship, which is a source of the deepest encouragement to my people as it faces the future with faith and hope.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks of Welcome at the White House to Prime Minister Eshkol of Israel Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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