After an interview with US President Barack Obama was published in the Atlantic Thursday evening in which the leader candidly expressed, “how deeply I care about Israel and the Jewish people,” he spoke Friday at a synagogue – a rare platform for a US president while still in office.
The President gave examples of “the power of hope,” and spoke of shared “Christian-Judeo values” that bind the US and Israel together. He said that, “Everybody has rights, everybody is a child of God.”
Obama donned a kippah and touted the “unbreakable” friendship between the US and Israel and stated that he was working hard to “block every single path” that Iran might take to get a nuclear weapon
Regarding Iran, Obama echoed his statements in yesterday’s Atlantic interview, saying that he has a personal stake in making sure that a nuclear agreement with Iran delivers on its promise.
He said he will not accept a bad deal. He adds: “This deal will have my name on it.”
Obama said that he “forcefully” objects to suggestions that policy differences between his administration and the Israeli government signal his lack of support for the longtime US ally.
He continued to say that the US and Israel should not be expected to paper over differences on Israel’s settlement building or the frozen peace process with the Palestinians.
“That’s not a true measure of friendship,” Obama said during remarks to a crowd of about 1,200 gathered at Congregation Adas Israel, the same synagogue where Ulysses Grant became the first president to visit a Jewish place of prayer in 1876. Obama had previously visited the synagogue both before and during his campaign for the White House.
Obama also address the rising tide of anti-Semitism saying that it could not be ignored. “We’ve seen a deeply disturbing rise in anti-Semitism. This is not some passing fad. When we allow anti-Semitism to take root, our souls our destroyed and it will spread.”
The speech was also full of Obama’s usual, soft-toned humor, and Friday he quipped that he understood Israel’s difficulties in negotiating peace with the Palestinians saying that they are “not easy partners.”
The event was part of a world-wide intiative in which world leaders spoke out in some form or another against anti-Semitism.