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Toasts of the President and President Zalman Shazar of Israel

August 02, 1966

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen:

In the traditional Hebrew greeting we welcome our esteemed guest: Boruch ha-ba ... blessed is he who comes to our shores as the leader of a people for whom we hold the greatest admiration.

Mr. President, as a renowned scholar and educator, and as a pioneer in the new Israel, you are deeply versed in the teachings of the Bible.

And you know that our Republic, like yours, was nurtured by the philosophy of the ancient Hebrew teachers who taught mankind the principles of morality, of social. justice, and of universal peace.

This is our heritage, and it is yours.

The message inscribed on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is the clarion call of Leviticus:

"Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the Inhabitants thereof."

It is a message not only for America, or for Israel, but for the whole world.

We cannot .proclaim tonight that all men have liberty, that all men are moral, that all men are just. We do not have universal peace.

But those of good will continue their work to liberate the human spirit from the degradation of poverty and pestilence, of hunger and oppression. As spiritual heirs of the Biblical tradition we recognize that no society anywhere can be more secure unless it is also just.

Israel today carries forward its pursuit of spiritual values. It is sharing those values and those experiences with other countries in the world.

We in America, as we meet here with all of our blessings tonight, are keenly aware that God has showered our land with abundance. The sharing of our blessings with others is a value we hold in common with Israel.

Above all, Mr. President, we share in common the vision of peace you call shalom.

The prophet Micah described it in this way: that every man sit under his vine and fig tree and "none shall make him afraid."

As our beloved, great, late President, John F. Kennedy, said on May 8, 1963, as a declaration of the leader of this country and as spokesman for this land: "We support the security of both Israel and her neighbors ....

We strongly oppose the use of force or the threat of force in the Near East .... "

We subscribe to that policy.

This I say in friendship for all the peoples of that region. We extend to all the hand of friendship, and offer to help all in meeting the challenges of fear and pestilence and poverty.

We look toward the happy and peaceful pursuits that can bring tranquillity and the blessings of knowledge and understanding to all peoples, without fear of war.

We welcome you tonight, Mr. President, in friendship and in deep respect for you and the people of your country.

I should like to ask all gathered here to join me in the traditional Hebrew toast in honor of our distinguished guest--to life, to peace, to blessing for all mankind.

Note: The President spoke at 10:29 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House. President Shazar responded as follows:

Dear Mr. President and Mrs. Johnson.

Before I respond to your gracious toast of friendship, Mr. President, may I, on behalf of Mrs. Shazar and myself, express to you and to Mrs. Johnson our heartfelt congratulations on the occasion of the marriage of your daughter 4 days from now.

May she and her husband enjoy a long life of happiness. Let me tell her the same words in an old Jewish expression as we used to say "Mazel tov." It means good luck.

I would like to give voice tonight to the deep appreciation which I feel and which I believe is shared by men and women in many lands for your leadership in the effort to achieve a world in which every nation would be left alone to lead its life in accordance with its own free choice in which its independence and integrity are respected.

Your name, Mr. President, will always be associated with the concept that the only real enemies of men are ignorance, poverty, disease, racial discrimination, and the degradation of man by his fellow man. They are the enemies of mankind.

Under your leadership, the American people have been foremost not only in projecting this vision, but in helping to realize it--many of the countries which have reason to be grateful to the United States for the help they have received in tackling these enemies in maintaining their freedom.

Mr. President, I bring you a cordial message of greeting from our Prime Minister, Levi Eshkol, and from all the people of my country in Israel. On behalf of the Government and people of my country, I wish to record our appreciation of the understanding which has marked your approach to our problems and the satisfaction in the continued growth of the friendship between our two countries.

It is a great honor for me to ask this distinguished gathering to join me in wishing you a long life and considerable success in moving mankind toward the goals of peace and greatness. With the greeting of "L'chayim tovim u-shalom," to life, to good life, and to peace, I toast the President of the United States and Mrs. Johnson.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Toasts of the President and President Zalman Shazar of Israel Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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