Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Toasts of the President and Prime Minister Eshkol at a Dinner at the LBJ Ranch

January 07, 1968

Mr. Prime Minister, Mrs. Eshkol: Welcome to our family table.

We are honored and happy to have you here in our home.

Here, we ask only that you enjoy the warm ties of friendship and partnership that mean so much to each of us, and both our peoples.

Our peoples, Mr. Prime Minister, share many qualities of mind and heart.

We both rise to challenge. We both admire the courage and the resourcefulness of the citizen-soldier. We each draw strength and purpose for today from our heroes of yesterday. We both know the thrill of bringing life from a hard but a rewarding land.

But all Americans--and all Israelis--also know that prosperity is not enough--that none of our restless generation can ever live by bread alone.

For we are equally nations in search of a dream. We share a vision and purpose far brighter than our abilities to make deserts bloom.

We have been born and raised to seek and find peace. In that common spirit of our hopes, I respect our hope that a just and lasting peace will prevail between Israel and her neighbors.

This past year has been a busy one for America's peacemakers--in the Middle East, in Cyprus, in Vietnam. Wherever conscience and faith have carried them, they have found a stubborn truth confirmed. Making peace is punishing work. It demands enormous courage, flexibility, and imagination. It is ill served by hasty slogans or half-solutions. I know you understand this, sir, better than most men. One of your ancestors said it for all men almost 2,000 years ago:

"Other precepts are performed when the occasion arises . . . but for peace it is written, 'pursue it.'"

That is our intention in the Middle East and throughout our world. To pursue peace. To find peace. To keep peace forever among men. If we are wise, if we are fortunate, if we work together--perhaps our Nation and all nations may know the joys of that promise God once made about the children of Israel: "I will make a covenant of peace with them . . . it shall be an everlasting covenant."

Let that be our toast to each other--our Governments and our peoples--as this new year begins. Its days are brighter, Mr. Prime Minister, because you lighten them with your presence here and the spirit you will leave behind.

To our friends, Prime Minister and Mrs. Eshkol, and to the people of Israel--Shalom.

Note: The President spoke at a private dinner in the dining room at the LBJ Ranch. As printed this item follows the text released by the White House Press Office.

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol responded as follows:

Mr. President, Mrs. Johnson:

For Mrs. Eshkol and myself this has been a wonderful experience to be here as your guests at your home in Texas. On our way here today we saw again the vastness and variety of America. But from the moment we met you we were made to feel once more the warmth of your friendship and the depth of your own view that in terms of rights and duties all peoples are equal: that they have equal right to be themselves and to be left in peace. I remember our first meeting in 1964. I have carried the memory of that with me. In the days of peril I thought often of your friendship.

This great land of Texas reminds me very much of parts of my own country though there is, of course, no comparison in size. I can see here the results of pioneering and dedication, the beauty men can create when they are free. The broadness of this place is matched by the breadth of your understanding and the depth of your friendship and the determination of America, which you symbolize, to buttress peace, to block its disruption by aggression, and to enlarge the horizons of man's opportunity.

On a personal note, Mr. President, in the nearly 4 years which have passed since I last had the pleasure of meeting you, threefold congratulations have been in order. Twice you have played the role of father of the bride, and now Mrs. Johnson and yourself have the joy of your first grandson.

In drinking to your health I wish for Mrs. Johnson and yourself all personal joy in the years ahead and for your country the realization of your dream of peace and human dignity.

Ladies and gentlemen: the President of the United States.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Toasts of the President and Prime Minister Eshkol at a Dinner at the LBJ Ranch Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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