Reception for Begin (Vol. 44, Issue 12)
With pompous glory and bubbling fanfare the order of the day, Prime Minister and Mrs. Menachem Begin of Israel were welcomed by President and Mrs. Carter to the White House for a May 1st reception. This gala event in the Rose Garden was the first in a week-long list of political image-making appearances by Premier Begin. The reception was sponsored by the Synagogue Council of America, with 900 rabbis from across the American Jewish community in attendance.
Carter Pledges Support
In their brief remarks to the 1,200 guests, both President Carter and Prime Minister Begin reiterated the special American-Israeli relationship and alliance. Mr. Carter pointedly remarked that “for 30 years we have stood at the side of the proud and independent nation of Israel. I can say without reservation as the President of the United States of America that we will continue to do so not just for another 30 years, but forever.”
Mr. Carter then went on to stress anti-Jewish persecution by noting that “Jews often suffer religious discrimination, inquisitions, pogroms, and death.”
Noting that there was no formal monument in this country to the victims of the Nazis, Mr. Carter announced that a commission would be appointed to report to him in six months on a suitable memorial “to insure that we in the United States never forget.”
Mr. Begin seemed visibly moved by Mr. Carter’s references to American support for Israel and to the tragedy of the Jewish people.
“May I humbly tell you,” Mr. Begin said, “that today we heard from the President of the United States one of the greatest moral statements ever.”
Concluding his remarks, Mr. Begin asserted that “for freedom, for justice, for human progress, and for human dignity, let there be everlasting friendship between the great United States of America and the renewed State of Israel.”
At the conclusion of the leaders’ remarks, the President and the Prime Minister chatted with a number of guests, including this reporter. In our brief discussion, I sent best wishes from all members of the YU community and expressed the hope that the day of peace would soon come to all parties in the Middle East without endangering the security of Israel. The leaders replied that the youth in America and Israel must play a significant role in any future peace and should continue to work hard to reach that ultimate goal. I assured them that I would relay the message to the entire YU family and expressed the hope that they would soon come to visit our campus.