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Press Office

For Immediate Release                April 30, 1998


Laromme Hotel, Jerusalem
April 30, 1998

UJA NATIONAL CHAIRMAN: "Hag Sameach, everyone". With our special guests we're here to celebrate not just American Jewry's intimate connection and relationship with Israel and with the people of Israel, but the American people's intimate connection as well. In a few moments, we will introduce our guests -- our special guests - - but I would like to take a moment to introduce our audience to you, if I may, this evening, because they are very special as well. First, we have an unusual opportunity this evening, we have here a great leader of the United Jewish Appeal, and the United States Ambassador to Norway, David Hermillion. (Applause). I've always wanted to be able to say that. (Laughter). We have also with us the leadership of so many wonderful American Jewish groups, and of our federated system, who joined us here for this celebration of "Yom Ha'atzmaout" (Independence Day). I'm going to try to name all of them, I'm sure I will leave out some, you'll forgive me, but we have the leadership of Amit of Israel Bonds, of the Wiesenthal Institute, of Hadassah, of the United Jewish Appeal which I'm proud to chair, of the Jewish Federation of Chicago in which I'm proud to participate, of the Stamford Jewish Federation, and our Mayor, Mayor Malloy (applause). American Jews applauding for themselves! (Laughter). Of the UJA Federation of New York, and of the United Jewish Appeal's 50th Anniversary National Mission, and our Prime Minister's Mission participants, the leadership of the American jewish Community, and friends, we also have with us today, the Righteous Diplomats Mission to Israel -- the surviving spouses and descendants of those Righteous Gentiles who saved hundred of thousands of Jews, and who are part of our "mishpachah" (family) as well, and we welcome them, as well. (Applause).

Vice President Gore, Mrs. Gore, these men and women, are those who evidence Jewish values in all that they do, in their commitment to family, to community, to Israel, to the Jewish people, to doing God's work on this earth, at this time. For us, for all of the men and women in this room "Kol Israel Arevim ze le ze" --each Jew is responsible for every other--, is not an empty phrase, it's a working moral imperative, and we evidence in all that we do, caring as a community preoccupation, the dreams that our parents and our grandparents dreamt for our people, we have dared to help make true. And we celebrate this 50th Anniversary as partners in building a nation that we love, and that we embrace, and with which we are engaged in an eternal partnership.

I now have the pleasure of introducing one of UJA's great leaders, a man who exemplifies not only in his work in his community in Cincinnati, but in his work within our American political system, all of the good that we contribute to Jewish life and to life in America, a preeminent trial lawyer, Stan Chesley of Cincinnati. (Applause).

STAN CHESLEY: Thank you Richard. Mr. Vice President, Mrs. Gore. I have the most rare and distinctive of honors tonight. I have the privilege of standing in the Jewish homeland, Jerusalem, and introducing you to Mrs. Tipper Gore. All of us, representatives of all of the major American Jewish organizations that are gathered today, and all the people of Israel, welcome you, Mrs. Gore -- Tipper. (Applause). As an American Jew, it is difficult for me to express exactly what I'm feeling. That the Vice President of the United States of America, and Mrs. Tipper Gore would fly six thousand miles to celebrate 50 years of independence of the State of Israel, is an unprecedented act of friendship. (Applause). Tipper has been a strong friend to the Jewish people, and to the United Jewish Appeal, and so many other Jewish organizations. She has spoken before the UJA National Women's campaign, she has worked with JNF, and she is familiar with the programs that we fund. She witnessed the Joint Distribution Committee in action during one of the most terrible of times. During the height of the Rwanda crisis, Mrs. Gore visited a literal battle field of the dead and dying. She was accompanied in this heart-wrenching journey by members of the Joint Distribution Committee. She has been in so many Jewish communities addressing so many various friends of ours. Mrs. Gore has a long career of seeing empty eyes, and feeling the hunger of the body and soul. She is the voice of the pained and the silent. Tipper is a relentless advocate for the homeless, and for children, and as Mental Health Policy Advisor to President Clinton, she is working hands-on in this tremendous and important commitment. She works for better mental health services, while energetically whittling away at the stigma attached still today, to mental illness. She is the mother of four phenomenal children, she is one of the really great wives of Vice Presidents that we've ever had in the United States. And it is such a great pleasure -- and a personal pleasure of mine-- to welcome them here, and to say thank you Mrs. Tipper Gore, our friend, and my friend. (Applause)

TIPPER GORE: Thank you. Well, it is very nice to be introduced by an old friend, as I am sure many of you know the feeling, and he was very, very generous, far too generous but I really appreciate his words. And, Stan, I want to thank you so much for all the good works you do in your community in the United States, all around the world for so many great causes but, especially, you have served so well since 1992 as the National Vice Chairman of the United Jewish Appeal and I want to especially thank you for your work in that regard. I also want to acknowledge and thank Richard Wexler for his work, and together they are a tremendous team. The leadership they provided is absolutely phenomenal and we are proud to acknowledge it, support it and honor it. Thank you both.

First of all, it is an honor for me to be here on this very special occasion. We are delighted to be here because we are representing the United States of America during this very special time, on this very special night, this very special day and we are so pleased to be able to be in a position to do it because we already had in our hearts a love for Israel, a realization that the dream has come true for so many people and the celebration of fifty years is something we both can feel since we are both-- he has already turned fifty and I will do it in a few months. So, for all those reasons we are happy to be here. We know that fifty years seems like a very short span of time but, at the same time, when you think of the history of this great nation, these great peoples, and the peoples that continue to emigrate to Israel, we know that it is a very short period of time in which to build a compassionate nation that is one that stands as a beacon of hope in this particular area of the world, in the whole world, no matter what area, it is a wonderful, wonderful beacon of hope and democracy and one whose peace and security we will always stand by and we always treasure and we feel very deeply in our hearts, in our souls and to our very roots as individuals, as a couple, as a member of a family and as Americans. As people who have friends who have told us the stories of their families and their histories, we know how rich that history can be.

So I want to say that it's very moving for us to be here and the first time that I was able to come with my husband, whom I am about to introduce to you, was back in 1988 when we brought our own children and my mother and about two hundred Tennesseeans so that they could see how wonderful Israel was and then, of course, they already had the dream but they fell in love with the land, just as we did, just as our children did and just as all of us honor today the fact that as Golda Meir said, "this dream must come, but the peace must come also to our children and our grandchildren. We have fought the good fight and the struggles continue and now we must continue to work hard for peace for our children and our grandchildren here and all around the world." We stand with you in that dream.

So, I want to introduce to you this evening the man who accompanied me to Israel in 1988. Our Vice President, my Vice President, a friend to Israel, your Vice President, Al Gore.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you, Tipper. Thank you, Richard and Roberta. Thank you, Stan. What a room this is. What a gathering this is. What an occasion, what a wonderful celebration. Tipper has said in beautiful words what we feel being here on this occasion. I want to thank all of you for this fantastic opportunity to share in the celebration of the Jubilee Year Anniversary of Israel's birth and, I listened as you mentioned the groups represented here, Richard, I know that it is an amazing array of individuals who are quite devoted to the relationship between Israel and the United States. Allow me to just briefly mention Joel Tauber of the Prime Minister's mission; Dan Malloy of Stamford; and Noy Idear from New York; and Carl McCall, the comptroller of the State of New York; Evelyn Blackhorn, National President of AMIT; Rabbi Marvin Hier, Director of the Wiesenthal Center; Marlene Post, President of Hadassah; Shoshana Cardin, incoming President of the UJA and President of the United Israel Appeal; David Hermillion was mentioned but Doreen and Marcy weren't and Irwin Hotberg of Israel Bonds; Malcolm Honlein of the Conference of Presidents. I am awfully glad Malcolm is here. And many, many others. Forgive me for not mentioning every single person but it truly is a fantastic privilege to be able to join you on this magnificent occasion in this holy land to rejoice with fellow Americans in the miracle that is Israel and to use this opportunity to proclaim with you during a moment of deep importance for all humanity our eternal commitment to Israel's security, prosperity and freedom.

Tipper and I have come here today to this place of hope and history to salute Israel for its truly remarkable accomplishments against all odds. But I also want to salute all of you here today for your love of Israel and for all of the gifts of soul and spirit that you have made to the well being of her people. You have rescued and resettled immigrants. You have built a bridge between the diaspora and the Jewish homeland. You have helped nurture democracy, diversity and tolerance here in this land. You have planted forests. You have proven in word and in deed that the bonds between the United States and Israel are unbreakable. All human beings who love justice throughout this world knew there had to be a State of Israel. There had to be a place of safety and of refuge and of special biblical relevance for a people who had given the world so much, a people who had been decimated and tortured by vicious, unrelenting, murderous cycles of oppression and intolerance. For those who survived the holocaust in Europe, there was an Israel. For those seeking shelter and safe haven from the persistent evil of anti-semitism, there was an Israel. For those yearning for return from Ethiopia and Yemen and Syria and Iraq, there was and is an Israel. For the Jews who had to flee from the oppression of what was then the brutalizing Soviet power and for the thousands of Jews who could best fulfill life's meaning deep in their Jewish souls there has been an Israel. When Jewish national sovereignty was destroyed by the might of the Roman Empire two thousand years ago only prophetic vision would have agreed with the insight of Jeremiah who foresaw "bushavu banim ligvulam"-- your children shall return to their ancient home.

We were running a little late because we were with President Weizman and Mrs. Weizman, and Prime Minister and Mrs. Netanyahu and President Weizman has a beautiful painting of the view out his window in Caesarea with the Roman aqueduct and he told us privately that he often gazes out at that aqueduct and thinks to himself, "isn't it interesting what there is of Rome and what there is of Israel today." I believe the phrase was what there is of the Roman Empire.

From this land, this amazing people has twice been exiled and now twice returned. The ingathering of millions overwhelms the mind. The Jewish people return to the land they love and all the fruitful fields, the green carpets of agriculture, the gleaming steel and chrome and dynamism of high technology and science and productivity, the wealth of art and culture and learning that spring from this soil declare that the land has loved them back. I speak as one who has visited here extensively and who has known the joy of bringing my whole family to visit with me. I speak as one who rejoices to express my deep personal thrill to be part of the reflections of this beautiful moment and attainment and I know that I bring with me the caring and admiration and unflagging support of the people, of the government, of the President of the United States of America.

What a dark cloud of destruction and terror loomed over the fledgling nation when it was first proclaimed fifty years ago, on erev shabbat, the eve of the sabbath and the eve of war. This was, in a sense, the third springtime of nations. Political zionism emerged in the work of Moses Hess during the first of these seasons one hundred and fifty years ago. In the second such season, the Balfour Declaration for which both President Woodrow Wilson and Justice Louis Brandeis were, so to speak, ghostwriters, recognized the future Jewish national home in Palestine and the League approved the mandate specifically to prepare for it. In the wake of World War II many countries gained their independence, Israel among them. Each of these transformations was touched by the dramatic and the romantic. The end of colonial rule could not have been otherwise. The birth of Israel or more properly its rebirth had and still has a resonance that is absolutely unique in history. This was the experience of a people, long dispersed, finally returning home. A people whom many had already consigned to a long ago past with an empty future. A people whom many, ironically including Jews, denied even bore the character of a real nation. Still, there were many people who believed that this nation, this hope would be fragile and short-lived, that the human resolve of the people of the Jewish nation would be crushed and that the new state and her people would be overwhelmed and cast into the sea.

I speak of the honor of the American people when I declare my deep pride that the United States of America was the very first nation to recognize the Jewish state. And I speak with honor of the fact that for fifty years the United States of America has stood shoulder to shoulder with Israel in moments of triumph and tragedy. We know the terrible price this nation has paid for its independence. Ben Gurion foresaw the pain that was to come when he spoke of his dreams ninety years ago, he quickly added that the blows of reality had still to sober our exalted spirits. These blows came quickly and severely. With precious little help from any source, with the sacrifice of her sons and daughters, old and young, with eight thousand killed in battle after battle in the War of Independence, Israel and the Israeli people still persevered. In all the wars since that time the price of eighteen thousand Jewish war dead is a wellspring of sadness and strength. Though Israel's people have been few, they have always been brave. I recall the words of our Abraham Lincoln who stood at the memorial consecration of the blood soaked plains of Gettysburg where thousands died and sought to heal the wounds of our people and the scarring of our hallowed ground from the horrors of war, "this holy, beautiful place and most of this sacred country is a hallowed ground for freedom and independence and, there is hardly a family that has not been bereaved." For, indeed, two score and ten years ago Israel's fathers and mothers established and defended a new nation on earth to heal the wounds of Jewish history and to establish a new government also of, by and for the people that will not perish from the earth. How fortunate that some of those founders are still living to witness this Jubilee.

The people of the United States have deeply appreciated and treasured the shared sense of democracy and sacrifice that has molded this remarkable and brave young nation. The affinities between our people are many and deep. One of those affinities, surely, is the beautiful similarity in our conception of the examined life. Our shared belief in the centrality of knowledge to human progress and human meaning. Indeed, my first stop today was at the Weizmann Institute of Science. It was a great marvel to behold the love of old learning, nourish the love of new learning and the Jewish state takes its place among the nations as a leader in science and technology and productivity and progress.

Another affinity is our shared commitment to freedom. Some people thought that the miracle of Israel has been that it grew tomatoes in the desert. I believe that the miracle of Israel that is that her people grew democracy in the desert. But, whenever it exists, democracy is almost always a miracle, or at least a near miracle and it is that in the United States, too. It is only in strong countries that democracy flourishes and democracy flourishes best when and where it is challenged.

In the United States we base our tradition of civil peace on an old adage E Pluribus Unum-- Out of the Many, One. This adage, its Latin notwithstanding, nicely describes also Israel's own accomplishment in creating a society of sameness in difference of unity in diversity, of tolerance and truth. The United States and Israel are almost unique in this diversity and Israel has created such a society in a state of siege when the pursuit of democracy was attended by the pursuit of security. Now, and because of Israel's sacrifice and strength, the siege is ending and the glories of Israeli society and Israeli culture are even plainer to the admiring eye and the people of the United States are proud of the Israeli people for the miracle of this democracy, for its survival and revival. We are proud of our strategic relationship with Israel and deeply honor the heroism that has contributed to her existence. This unique alliance is born not only from a common commitment to democratic values but our gratitude that in this troubled region we have and will continue to have such a courageous and steadfast ally. It is precisely because of that pride, and the genuine love that we bear that we have dedicated ourselves to keep alive, open and vital the avenues of peace, so that war and death will give way to peace, to security, and to prosperity for all in this entire region.

In a region which has experienced war and terrorism, and in a country which has had to struggle so desperately for its very existence, it may be appropriate to cite a quote about war, as a lesson for making peace. The great Medieval Jewish philosopher and poet, Solomon Ibn Gabriel, speaking of battles said: "I went to the rear to preserve my life, but I found that I could not preserve my life unless I went forward". Today, in the peace process, we are faced with the same need to move forward if we are to preserve the important gains we have made. Never has the opportunity for achieving peace been more real. It must not be lost. Though Israelis should be proud of the progress that has been made on the road to peace with security, they should not be satisfied, our journey is not yet over. Yes, there are peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, agreements with Palestinians that can lead to permanent status negotiations. Israeli contacts and relations with an unprecedented number of states including Arab countries. The secondary and tertiary Arab boycotts are a vestige of the past. But this is not yet enough. Israelis want and deserve more security. They want a safer regional neighborhood. They want peace, not just a peace process. They want a better life for their children. And so do we. And that is why we have pressed the Palestinians for one hundred percent efforts against terror and violence, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. (Applause). That must be the standard, the only standard. I'm pleased to note that for the last month, Yasser Arafat has been confronting Hamas terrorists, in the way that we have long urged. The "Sidra", the prayer book that is the treasure house of Jewish worship, wisely states, "dark and twisting, is the road to peace. Happy the generation whose light will guide them to that end."

May the true liberty that comes from the security of peace, be the light that guides us from this moment of celebration, to all eternity. May we on this day of celebration, and in the months ahead, reclaim the highest hope of Ben Gurion, the hope not yet realized: the dream of peace with security in this land between Arab and Jew.

May God bless Israel, and may God bless you, the dear friends of Israel, and may God bless the United States of America. Thank you.

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