Presenting a contrast to his Cairo speech four years ago—during which he said that Israel was born from the Holocaust—U.S. President Barack Obama in Israel on Wednesday emphasized the historic link of the Jewish people to the Holy Land.
Obama in Israel opened his third visit there, but his first as president, by stressing the “rebirth” of Israel as the historic Jewish homeland.
“We stand together because peace must come to the Holy Land,” Obama said on the tarmac of Ben-Gurion International Airport, Israel Hayom reported.
“I know that in stepping foot on this land, I walk with you on the historic homeland of the Jewish people,” he said.
Obama said, “More than 3,000 years ago, the Jewish people lived here, tended the land here, prayed to God here. And after centuries of exile and persecution, unparalleled in the history of man, the founding of the Jewish state of Israel, was a rebirth, a redemption, unlike any in history. Today, the sons of Abraham and the daughters of Sarah are fulfilling the dream of the ages: to be masters of their own fate in their own sovereign state. Just as we have for these past 65 years, the United States is proud to stand with you as your strongest ally and your greatest friend.”
The U.S. “stands with Israel because it is in our fundamental security interest,” Obama said, citing that as the reason why America “was the very first nation” to recognize Israel 65 years ago.
Naftali Bennett, Israel’s new economy and trade minister, said Obama’s speech was “important because it recognizes the deep historical connection between the people of Israel and the land of Israel.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the occasion of Obama in Israel a “historic moment.”
“I come here today with a simple message. Thank you,” Netanyahu told Obama, adding, “The people of Israel are honored to have you visit.”
Netanyahu said he hoped that Obama in Israel would “get to see a different side of this tiny land.”
“I look forward to working with you over the next four years,” said Netanyahu, whose relationship with Obama has reportedly been tense at times due to disagreements over issues such as the setting of a “red line” for the Iranian nuclear threat and Israeli construction beyond the 1967 Green Line.