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Weizmann Institute of Science Remarks on Receiving an Honorary Degree From the Institute.

April 11, 1980

LORD SIEFF. Mr. President, it's my privilege on behalf of all of us here, on behalf of the members of the Weizmann Institute, to take part, together with my colleagues and Professor Sola, in conferring on you an honorary doctorate from the Weizmann Institute of Science. We salute you as the architect of the Camp David agreements, a major and vital step in the long and difficult road to peace in the strife-ridden Middle East.

It was my privilege to work for over 25 years with Chaim Weizmann, scientist and statesman, first President of Israel. He was the creator and the founder of the Institute. He believed that the Institute was one of the bridges over which peace would pass to the benefit of Israel and her neighbors. Without the support of the people of this great country, the Institute would not have flourished as it has, nor made the contribution it has to the benefit of Israel and mankind.

I know I speak for us all when I say thank you for what you are doing and wish you success in your untiring and continuing efforts to achieve a secure and lasting peace for Israel and her neighbors. There are huge problems still to be overcome, but who,. 3 years ago, would have thought we would have come so far? That we have come so far is in no small measure, Mr. President, due to you, and we all owe you our thanks and appreciation. Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you, Lord Sieff.

LORD SIEFF. It's my pleasure to now introduce Professor Sela.

PROFESSOR SELA. Mr. President, it is a rare privilege and, of course, a profound personal pleasure for me to represent the scientific staff of the Weizmann Institute on this moving and significant occasion, the conferring by the Weizmann Institute of Science of a Ph.D. honoris causa upon the President of the United States, Mr. Jimmy Carter. It is in their name that before presenting you with this degree, Mr. President, I should like to say a few words regarding the role that science can and should play in the establishment of what an earlier United States President, Thomas Jefferson, described some 150 years ago, as the possibility of "peace, commerce and honest friendship between nations long at war."

In the course of the current complex, often painful, and most wearing negotiations to transform the dream of peace between Egypt and Israel into a lasting reality, some of the components essential to that peace seem to have been lost sight of, both in Israel and Egypt, and elsewhere. One of these is the contribution to be made on behalf of the burgeoning peace by the scientific and educational institutions of the nations that are party to it.

Mr. President, today, as you honor us by accepting the highest distinction that this Institute can bestow, let me reaffirm that the Weizmann Institute will do its best to serve the cause of peace, so scientific exchange of genuine and concrete benefit to the State of Israel, to Egypt, and to those of the Arab states that may one day join us both—not exchange for its own sake, not exchange to score points, not exchange in which one nation opts for the role of benefactor while the other is cast as beneficiary, not exchange in a spirit of philanthropy, nor for purpose of propaganda, but exchange resulting from a serious and a realistic evaluation as to where and how and when collaborative scientific and educational projects can and should be launched.

Among the 400-odd basic and applied research projects now underway at the Weizmann Institute, there are many that may add substantially both to the caliber and to the scope of the new relationship for which you, yourself, have labored so hard and for so long. This includes Weizmann Institute research into solar energy and into the possible use of plants and photosynthetic bacteria for the production of fuel; Weizmann Institute research into water resources, into water management and distribution, and into the soundest, most cost-effective uses of desalination; Weizmann Institute research into the physiological basis of fertility regulation, so vital in the development of safe and effective methods of population control; Weizmann Institute research into wheat evolution, genetics, and breeding, in order that bigger, better, and more nutritious grains can be developed; Weizmann Institute research into the parasitic diseases that cripple and kill millions throughout the world.

Because scientists everywhere share a commitment to the search for truth, because scientists everywhere hold in common a deep belief in the workings of the unencumbered human imagination, and because science is perhaps the only truly international pursuit, we at the Weizmann Institute .are confident that together with our colleagues in the Middle East and in the Western World, we can help mold that better future of which you once spoke so eloquently and fervently in Jerusalem and upon which, since then, so much has been staked.

With your permission, I shall now read the citation accompanying the award to you of a Weizmann Institute honorary degree:

"On this, the 30th anniversary year of the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Executive Council, at the instance of the Scientific Council, hereby confers on Jimmy Carter, President of the United States of America, the degree of Doctor of Philosophy honoris causa, in recognition of his unparalleled role in the historic negotiations that have led to the making of peace between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the State of Israel, and, in which, with consummate skill, limitless patience, and a profound grasp of the complexity of the Middle Eastern conflict, he paved the way to a new era of amity and development between these two countries; of his unfaltering commitment to the cause of democracy and the preservation of civil rights throughout the world; and of his deep and abiding appreciation of the importance of science and scientific research in the advancement of human welfare everywhere. Michael Sela, President, Rehovot, Israel, October 24, 1979."

May I please give you this scroll?

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much. First of all, let me express my deep appreciation for the honor that has been bestowed upon me, and also the honor of having all of you come here to the White House to participate in this ceremony. As a President, I am deeply impressed with what the Weizmann Institute has done and what its founder, the first President of Israel, has contributed not only to your great nation but also to the entire world. It's not a coincidence that not only your first President but two of your Presidents have been scientists. And I think it's not a coincidence either, that because of the tremendous contribution of his own scientific knowledge and experience to the cause of peace during the Second World War, your first President, Weizmann, earned the gratitude of the British and others and led directly or indirectly to the foundation of your great country.

On the edge of a desert is the Weizmann Institute, devoted not only to scientific pursuits but also to the enhancement of peace and to the preservation of basic moral principles. Scientific achievement without morality can be extremely dangerous. The Holocaust resulted from such a juxtaposition, with the Nazis having superb scientific capabilities but not having the moral foundation to guide their achievements in a proper fashion.

I hope and I pray that we can be successful in having a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. This week, President Sadat has been here to add his contribution to the progress that's already been made; next week, Prime Minister Begin will be here to join with me to continue that progress. The issues at stake are indeed momentous, not only for the preservation of Israel and its security but also because of the hope that we have that, in the future, Israel can live at peace and in a spirit of harmony and brotherhood with all her neighbors.

This has been, as you say, a difficult and a frustrating process. No one would deny those two facts. But I think the immense courage and the sensitivity to one another—and the deep desire of the people of Israel and Egypt—has permitted Prime Minister Begin and President Sadat to make the progress they have made. I'm very pleased to bask in their glory and to derive some benefit from the accomplishments which they have made.

Again, let me say that I am deeply honored to be associated with such a fine institution of education and research. And as progress is made in your country in agriculture, in health, in energy, in the basic research and development of all scientific endeavors, we are closely related to you. There will be a tremendous mutual investment and benefit from science and also, we can enhance the status of human beings as we devote our attention to human rights, to basic morality, and to peace.

Thank you again. You've honored me; I'm deeply grateful.

Note: The presentation ceremony began at 1:30 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. The Rt. Hon. Lord Sieff of Brimpton, O.B.E., is chairman of the international board of governors of the Institute, and Professor Michael Sela is president of the Institute.

Jimmy Carter, Weizmann Institute of Science Remarks on Receiving an Honorary Degree From the Institute. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/250608

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