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  • The President: Thank you.

  • (applause)

  • Shalom.

  • (cheers and applause)

  • Thank you so much.

  • Thank you very much.

  • Thank you.

  • Everybody, please have a seat.

  • Thank you. Thank you.

  • Thank you so much.

  • Well, it is a great honor to be with you here in Jerusalem,

  • and I'm so grateful for the welcome that I've received

  • from the people of Israel.

  • Thank you.

  • (applause)

  • I bring with me the support of the American people --

  • (applause)

  • -- and the friendship that binds us together.

  • (applause)

  • Over the last two days, I've reaffirmed the bonds between our

  • countries with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres.

  • I've borne witness to the ancient history of

  • the Jewish people at the Shrine of the Book,

  • and I've seen Israel's shining future in your scientists and

  • your entrepreneurs.

  • This is a nation of museums and patents,

  • timeless holy sites and ground-breaking innovation.

  • Only in Israel could you see the Dead Sea Scrolls and the

  • place where the technology on board the Mars Rover originated

  • at the same time.

  • (applause)

  • But what I've most looked forward to is the ability to

  • speak directly to you, the Israeli people -- especially

  • so many young people who are here today --

  • (applause)

  • -- to talk about the history that brought us here today,

  • and the future that you will make in the years to come.

  • Now, I know that in Israel's vibrant democracy,

  • every word, every gesture is carefully scrutinized.

  • (laughter)

  • But I want to clear something up just so you know -- any drama

  • between me and my friend, Bibi, over the years was just a plot

  • to create material for Eretz Nehederet.

  • (applause)

  • That's the only thing that was going on.

  • (applause)

  • We just wanted to make sure the writers had good material.

  • (laughter)

  • I also know that I come to Israel on the eve of

  • a sacred holiday -- the celebration of Passover.

  • And that is where I would like to begin today.

  • Just a few days from now, Jews here in Israel and around the

  • world will sit with family and friends at the Seder table,

  • and celebrate with songs, wine and symbolic foods.

  • After enjoying Seders with family and friends in Chicago

  • and on the campaign trail, I'm proud that I've now brought this

  • tradition into the White House.

  • (applause)

  • I did so because I wanted my daughters to experience the

  • Haggadah, and the story at the center of Passover that makes

  • this time of year so powerful.

  • It's a story of centuries of slavery,

  • and years of wandering in the desert;

  • a story of perseverance amidst persecution,

  • and faith in God and the Torah.

  • It's a story about finding freedom in your own land.

  • And for the Jewish people, this story is central to

  • who you've become.

  • But it's also a story that holds within it the universal

  • human experience, with all of its suffering,

  • but also all of its salvation.

  • It's a part of the three great religions -- Judaism,

  • Christianity, and Islam -- that trace their origins to Abraham,

  • and see Jerusalem as sacred.

  • And it's a story that's inspired communities across the globe,

  • including me and my fellow Americans.

  • In the United States -- a nation made up of people who crossed

  • oceans to start anew -- we're naturally drawn to the idea of

  • finding freedom in our land.

  • To African Americans, the story of the Exodus was perhaps the

  • central story, the most powerful image about emerging from the

  • grip of bondage to reach for liberty and human dignity --

  • a tale that was carried from slavery through the Civil Rights

  • Movement into today.

  • For generations, this promise helped people weather poverty

  • and persecution, while holding on to the hope that a better day

  • was on the horizon.

  • For me, personally, growing up in far-flung parts of the world

  • and without firm roots, the story spoke to a yearning within

  • every human being for a home.

  • (applause)

  • Of course, even as we draw strength from the story of God's

  • will and His gift of freedom expressed on Passover,

  • we also know that here on Earth we must bear

  • our responsibilities in an imperfect world.

  • That means accepting our measure of sacrifice and struggle,

  • just like previous generations.

  • It means us working through generation after generation on

  • behalf of that ideal of freedom.

  • As Dr. Martin Luther King said on the day before he was killed,

  • "I may not get there with you.

  • But I want you to know that we, as a people,

  • will get to the promised land."

  • (applause)

  • So just as Joshua carried on after Moses,

  • the work goes on for all of you, the Joshua Generation,

  • for justice and dignity; for opportunity and freedom.

  • For the Jewish people, the journey to the promise of the

  • State of Israel wound through countless generations.

  • It involved centuries of suffering and exile,

  • prejudice and pogroms and even genocide.

  • Through it all, the Jewish people sustained their unique

  • identity and traditions, as well as a longing to return home.

  • And while Jews achieved extraordinary success in many

  • parts of the world, the dream of true freedom finally found its

  • full expression in the Zionist idea -- to be a free people in

  • your homeland.

  • That's why I believe that Israel is rooted not just in history

  • and tradition, but also in a simple and profound idea -- the

  • idea that people deserve to be free in a land of their own.

  • (applause)

  • Over the last 65 years, when Israel has been at its best,

  • Israelis have demonstrated that responsibility does not end when

  • you reach the promised land, it only begins.

  • And so Israel has been a refuge for the diaspora -- welcoming

  • Jews from Europe, from the former Soviet Union,

  • from Ethiopia, from North Africa.

  • (applause)

  • Israel has built a prosperous nation -- through kibbutzeem

  • that made the desert bloom, business that broadened the

  • middle class, innovators who reached new frontiers,

  • from the smallest microchip to the orbits of space.

  • Israel has established a thriving democracy,

  • with a spirited civil society and proud political parties,

  • and a tireless free press, and a lively public debate --

  • "lively" may even be an understatement.

  • (applause)

  • And Israel has achieved all this even as it's overcome relentless

  • threats to its security -- through the courage of the

  • Israel Defense Forces, and the citizenry that is so resilient

  • in the face of terror.

  • This is the story of Israel.

  • This is the work that has brought the dreams of so many

  • generations to life.

  • And every step of the way, Israel has built unbreakable

  • bonds of friendship with my country,

  • the United States of America.

  • (applause)

  • Those ties began only 11 minutes after Israeli independence,

  • when the United States was the first nation to recognize the

  • State of Israel.

  • (applause)

  • As President Truman said in explaining his decision to

  • recognize Israel, he said, "I believe it has a glorious

  • future before it not just as another sovereign nation,

  • but as an embodiment of the great ideals

  • of our civilization."

  • And since then, we've built a friendship that advances

  • our shared interests.

  • Together, we share a commitment to security for our citizens and

  • the stability of the Middle East and North Africa.

  • Together, we share a focus on advancing economic growth around

  • the globe, and strengthening the middle class within our

  • own countries.

  • Together, we share a stake in the success of democracy.

  • But the source of our friendship extends beyond mere interests,

  • just as it has transcended political parties and

  • individual leaders.

  • America is a nation of immigrants.

  • America is strengthened by diversity.

  • America is enriched by faith.

  • We are governed not simply by men and women, but by laws.

  • We're fueled by entrepreneurship and innovation,

  • and we are defined by a democratic discourse that allows

  • each generation to reimagine and renew our union once more.

  • So in Israel, we see values that we share,

  • even as we recognize what makes us different.

  • That is an essential part of our bond.

  • Now, I stand here today mindful that for both our nations,

  • these are some complicated times.

  • We have difficult issues to work through within our own

  • countries, and we face dangers and upheaval around the world.

  • And when I look at young people within the United States,

  • I think about the choices that they must make in their lives

  • to define who we'll be as a nation in this 21st century,

  • particularly as we emerge from two wars and the worst recession

  • since the Great Depression.

  • But part of the reason I like talking to young people is

  • because no matter how great the challenges are, their idealism,

  • their energy, their ambition always gives me hope.

  • (applause)

  • And I see the same spirit in the young people here today.

  • (applause)

  • I believe that you will shape our future.

  • And given the ties between our countries,

  • I believe your future is bound to ours.

  • Audience Member: (indiscernible)

  • Audience: (booing)

  • President Obama: No, no --

  • Audience Member: (indiscernible)

  • -- this is part of the lively debate that we talked about.

  • (applause)

  • This is good.

  • (applause)

  • You know, I have to say we actually arranged for that,

  • because it made me feel at home.

  • (laughter)

  • I wouldn't feel comfortable if I didn't have at least

  • one heckler.

  • (laughter)

  • I'd like to focus on how we -- and when I say "we,"

  • in particular young people -- can work together to make

  • progress in three areas that will define our times --

  • security, peace and prosperity.

  • (applause)

  • Let me begin with security.

  • I'm proud that the security relationship between the

  • United States and Israel has never been stronger.

  • Never.

  • (applause)

  • More exercises between our militaries;

  • more exchanges among our political and military and

  • intelligence officials than ever before;

  • the largest program to date to help you retain your qualitative

  • military edge.

  • These are the facts.

  • These aren't my opinions, these are facts.

  • But, to me, this is not simply measured on a balance sheet.

  • I know that here, in Israel, security is something personal.

  • Here's what I think about when I consider these issues.

  • When I consider Israel's security,

  • I think about children like Osher Twito,

  • who I met in Sderot --

  • (applause)

  • -- children the same age as my own daughters who went to bed at

  • night fearful that a rocket would land in their bedroom

  • simply because of who they are and where they live.

  • (applause)

  • That reality is why we've invested in the Iron Dome system

  • to save countless lives -- because those children deserve

  • to sleep better at night.

  • (applause)

  • That's why we've made it clear, time and again,

  • that Israel cannot accept rocket attacks from Gaza,

  • and we have stood up for Israel's right to defend itself.

  • (applause)

  • And that's why Israel has a right to expect Hamas to

  • renounce violence and recognize Israel's right to exist.

  • (applause)

  • When I think about Israel's security,

  • I think about five Israelis who boarded a bus in Bulgaria,

  • who were blown up because of where they came from;

  • robbed of the ability to live, and love, and raise families.

  • That's why every country that values justice should call

  • Hizbollah what it truly is -- a terrorist organization.

  • (applause)