Important Day

Newspaper: Jewish Herald
posted on:
6 In sept 1977
Democracy , Security - Fundamentals of Israeli Security. Jewish Heritage - Holocaust, Linguistics. Foreign Policy - Israel-U.S. Relationship. Individuals - Jimmy Carter. Peace , Human Rights - Vietnamese refugees
In his opening remarks at a White House ceremony, Begin focuses on democracy, future for peace, and the strong relationship between the U.S. and Israel. Begin mentions the successful liberation of Zion, as well as the gruesome Holocaust. Because of Jewish history, Begin says that he badly wants peace because "peace is inseparable from national security." He continues to say that national security directly relates to the life every person in Israel. Begin shifts to talk about the shrinking of democracy in the world and that it is crucial for free people to unite. He appreciates Jimmy Carter's kind words about him and the Israeli Government, specifically referencing to Vietnamese refugees. Begin immediately compares the Vietnamese refugees to Jews who were unsuccessful in seeking refuge during the Holocaust. Lastly, in addition to inviting Carter to Jerusalem, he says that the U.S. and Israel " shall never disagree; we may only agree to differ."
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"Important Day"



THE FOLLOWING is the exchange of remarks between President Carter and Prime Minister Begin at the White House ceremony on Mr. Begin's arrival in Washington recently for his State visit:

(President Carter's opening remarks omitted)


(The Prime Minister first spoke in Hebrew.  The translation is as follows: "Mr. President, I have come from the land of Zion and Jerusalem as the spokesman for an ancient people and a young nation.  God's blessing on America, then hope of the human race.  Peace to your great nation." He then continued in English).

Mr. President, I have come to you as the spokesman for the ancient people and a young nation.  In our own time these people were strewn into the abyss.  It had to extricate itself from the depths of the pits with the last vestige of its strength through an unequalled fight for national self-liberation of the few against many, of the weak against the strong, of right against might.

This is, Mr. President, the reason why we yearn for peace, pray for peace and shall do everything humanly possible and make all the possible endeavours to bring about real peace between us and our neighbours.  Peace is inseparable from national security.

May I assure you, Mr. President, that to us that concept is no excuse for anything; neither is it a cloak of anything.  To us, with the experience of physical annihilation and spiritual redemption, national security may mean the lives of every man, woman and child in Israel.  The lives can be, under certain circumstance, directly threatened and put in jeopardy.

Mr. President, we in Israel see in you not only the fair citizen of your great, mighty country, but also the leader and the defender of the free world.

However, the free world has shrunk, indeed has been shrinking.  It can likened in our time to an island battered by bitter winds, by stormy seas, by high waves.  Therefore, all free women and men should stand together to persevere in the struggle for human rights, to preserve human liberty, to make sure that government of the people, by the people, for he people shall not perish from the earth. 

Mr. President, I am deeply grateful for the heartwarming words you said to me an about me today, which I do not deserve.  But your appreciation is very dear to my wife and myself.  We thank you.

You mentioned the decision by the Cabinet and myself in Israel to give refuge and haven to the Vietnamese refugees saved by an Israeli boat from the depths of the Pacific Ocean, threatened with drowning and exposure.

    It was a natural act to us, Mr. President.  We remembered, we have never forgotten that boat with 900 Jews, having left Germany in the last weeks before the Second World War for Cuba.  When they reached the Cuban shores, their visas were declared non-valid and then they were nine months at sea travelling from harbor to harbor, from country to country, crying out for refuge.  They were refused.

Eventually they went back to Europe.  Some of them saved their lives.  The majority of them went to the gas chambers.  We have never forgotten the lot of our people, persecuted, humiliated, ultimately physically destroyed.  Therefore, it was natural that my first act as Prime Minister was to give those people a haven in Israel…

I share your view that we stand together for human liberty and dignity.  And we may have differences of opinion, but we shall never disagree; we may only agree to differ.

Mr. President, my wife and I are deeply grateful to you and Mrs. Carter for the gracious hospitality you have bestowed upon us.  We do hope that not in too distant a future we may reciprocate in Jerusalem.  The People of Israel will receive you with an open and warm heart and with the traditional hospitality all of us inherited from Old Abraham.