NEW YORK, May 22, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC praised President Obama for his commitment to the Jewish people and to Israel, a devotion that he stated repeatedly is based on deeply held and historically based shared values. Speaking this morning at Congregation Adas Israel in Washington, D.C., the President touched on several critical issues, including anti-Semitism, Iran's nuclear program, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"Our shared values compel me, all of us, to speak out against the scourge of anti-Semitism wherever it exists," said Obama. "Anti-Semitism is, and always will be, a threat to broader human values to which we all must aspire. And when we allow anti-Semitism to take root, then our souls are destroyed, and it will spread."
AJC Executive Director David Harris praised Obama's strong repudiation of anti-Semitism. Earlier this month, AJC convened in Brussels a major international conference, "A Defining Moment for Europe," on rising anti-Semitism and presented a multi-pronged action plan to combat it. U.S. government officials were in attendance.
Regarding Iran's nuclear program, Harris urged the President to proceed cautiously as the U.S. and the other P5+1 countries aim to finalize an agreement with Iran by June 30.
Obama declared today that "Iran must not, under any circumstances, be allowed to get a nuclear weapon," promised that he "will not accept a bad deal" with Tehran, stated that he "cannot guarantee that a deal will be reached," reaffirmed "all options are and remain on the table," and welcomed, he said, debate on how to achieve the best deal.
"President Obama's pledges are welcome to all who are genuinely concerned about the dangers of Iran attaining nuclear weapons capability," said Harris. "Yet the statements and actions emanating from the Iranian leadership suggest that to attain the worthy goals the President laid out, the P5+1 powers must stand even more firm in the current talks, lest Iran's leaders conclude that our desire for a deal is greater than theirs."
Harris applauded the close military and intelligence cooperation with Israel that the President emphasized, as well as his description of U.S.-Israel ties as "unshakable."
"Shared values compel us to reaffirm that our enduring friendship with the people of Israel and our unbreakable bonds with the state of Israel – that those bonds, that friendship, cannot be broken," said Obama. "Our commitment to Israel's security – and my commitment to Israel's security – is and always will be unshakable."
Harris also expressed agreement with Obama's hopes for a negotiated two-state solution, tempered by the President's recognition that "we can't expect Israel to take existential risks with its security."
"We appreciate President Obama's understated observation that 'the Palestinians are not the easiest of partners,' and, at the same time, that 'Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people on their land'," said Harris. "But the way to achieve the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, is to discourage the Palestinians from acting unilaterally at international bodies and elsewhere, and to overcome their pattern of rebuffing each two-state deal they have been offered by Israeli leaders, starting with Ehud Barak, joined by President Bill Clinton, in 2000 and 2001."
SOURCE American Jewish Committee