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Bill Clinton Administration:
Speech at a Memorial Service at the Embassy of Israel

(March 5, 1996)


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Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. Rabbi Simon, Mr. Krauser, Cantor Tasat; to my fellow Americans and all the people of Israel: The American people join in this time of grieving and loss. We mourn Israel's loss—we mourn Israel's terrible loss, and we share your outrage. We stand with you in your determination to bring this terror to an end and to bring to justice those responsible for the senseless violence that has afflicted the land of Israel and taken the lives of innocent people.

In moments such as these our anguish challenges our spirit. Daughters and sons, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, friends murdered—murdered solely for the blood running through their veins, solely because of where they live, solely because they wish to live in peace and harmony.

Our faith may be shaken, but at times like this it is all the more important to persevere. These fanatical acts were not aimed simply at killing innocent people, they were clearly aimed at killing the promise of peace. Those responsible thrive on division and conflict. It is almost as if they cannot exist without someone to hate, someone to kill.

They know a new day has been dawning in the Middle East. They know the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians want a new day of peace. With every new step taken along the way, the harshest enemies of peace have grown more and more desperate. We must not allow them to prevail. The best way to defeat them is to first restore security and then bolster the peace they fear, that will take away their very reason for being.

We will counter the threat of terror with unshakable resolve. As I have pledged to Prime Minister Peres, the United States is working with Israel to stop the killing, to bring the criminals to justice, to step up the struggle for peace. But just as important as the strength of our policies is the strength we must carry in our hearts.

I remember the story of Daniel. Because his faith never wavered, even in the face of those who betrayed him and had him cast into the den of lions, God delivered Daniel. Have faith, and I believe God will deliver Israel from those powerful vipers who have the ability to turn young men into mad suicidal mass murderers. Those awful people who would slaughter young children to defeat those who only want those children to grow up in peace and who, on this very night, have succeeded in terrifying every young child in Israel, who goes to bed tonight worrying about whether he or she will be the next to have their life cut short.

One of Sunday's victims in Jerusalem was a Palestinian nurse. She reminds us that the people of Israel are not alone, not only beyond their borders but within the borders. She lived and worked and ultimately died among her Jewish friends. I was struck by the words I read that her oldest son spoke. He said, "I'm angry at every person who kills. I'm angry at people who make hate and destroy. All the people who were on that bus were peaceful. They were civilians. They only wanted to go to work. There's no difference between you and me because we're human beings. We have eyes and hearts and souls."

Around the world, the world we see today, I believe the fundamental differences are no longer between Jews and Arabs or Protestants and Catholics or Muslims and Serbs and Croats. We see all over the world what the real dividing line is—between those who embrace peace and those who would destroy it, those who look to a future of hope and those who are trapped in a past of hatred, those who open their arms and those who insist on clenching their fists.

Once again under terrible burdens, the people of Israel must choose the fight against terrorism, to restore their security, to stand for peace. Once again as ever, the United States stands with you, shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart.

"Ha-zak, ha-zak, vuh-neet ha-zake." May God bless the victims and cherish their souls. And may God bless Israel with the faith and courage of Daniel.


Sources: Public Papers of the President

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