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May 22, 2011 12:44 pm

Obama Addresses AIPAC Gathering (PHOTOS)

avatar by Maxine Dovere

Obama on the big screen at opening session of the AIPAC policy conference 2011. Photo: Ruvi Leider.

Greeting an audience of over 10,000 “united in common purpose… to do “sacred” work on behalf of Israel,  AIPAC President Lee Rosenberg, said “We are here because we care.” “When there are public differences, the enemies of Israel and the United States seek to exploit them.  Standing together, both are safer and strong.”

Preceding the President’s remarks, Minority Leader, Steny Hoyer, a long term friend of Israel reminded that “great journeys never come with certainty. Israel has prevailed, survived, and thrived, and must continue to do so.”He continued, affirming “the Israel American friendship, enduring through 12 presidencies and more than 60 years.  The people of Israel have “deep reverence for the land and an extraordinary willingness to serve it.”

Changing the status quo, he continued, can lead to better outcomes or to one that is worse.  Hoyer appeared to pave the way for the morning’s keynote address by President Obama, saying “there is only one just and secure outcome for Israel and the Palestinians, a future of two states for two people, leaving in peace and security… peace cannot be imposed it must be negotiated.”

The arrival of President Obama to the podium was heralded by his “old friend” AIPAC President Lee Rosenberg.  The President, recognizing the national and international dignitaries gathered to support the Israel American relationship, was especially generous in acknowledging Dan Shapiro, the newly appointed American Ambassador to Israel.

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Speaking directly to the more than 1500 high school and college leaders, the President said “no one has a greater stake in the future than you, the future generation.” Turning to the crux of his discussion, the President spoke of the “historic changing sweeping the Middle East,” calling it a “moment of great challenge and a moment of great opportunity.” Commenting on his Friday meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the President said “we reaffirmed that fundamental truth that even while we may at times disagree, the bond between the United States and Israel are unbreakable and the commitment of the United States to the security of Israel is ironclad.”

The audience’s approval was obvious: its standing ovation was loud.  The President assured that “America’s commitment to Israel’s security flows from the values we share.  Both people who struggled to secure our freedom.  As our forefathers and foremother fought for it, liberty and freedom must be constantly nurtured.”

The President reminisced about his experience at the Western Wall, placing a prayer in the wall. Clearly stating that the United States has made Israel’s security a priority and continued its steadfast opposition to any attempt to de legitimizes Israel.  The state of Israel’s existence is not a subject of debate. Any efforts will be met by unshakable opposition of the United States…. We will maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge”, said the Obama. “Make no mistake.”

The President reviewed ongoing American positions including condemnation of Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, withdrawal from Durban, stand against Goldstone and the ongoing Palestinian efforts to circumvent negotiation.  “In both words and deed, we have been unwavering in our support of Israel’s security.”As the United States will work to advance peace, the President stated unequivocally that “core issues can only be negotiated in direct talks between the partners.”

In lockstep with Israel, the American President said “no country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction.” “Failure to try is not an option… the status quo is unsustainable.”

President Obama adresses AIPAC gathering. Photo: Ruvi Leider.

President Obama greets crowds at AIPAC. Photo: Ruvi Leider.

Crowds in attendance as President Obama addresses opening plenary session at AIPAC. Photo: Ruvi Leider.

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