President Obama bestows US´ highest civilian honor on Israeli
counterpart; lauds Peres´ vision, legacy and efforts on behalf of
WASHINGTON – President Shimon Peres was awarded the Presidential
Medal of Freedom on Wednesday – the highest civilian award the United
States government can bestow upon an individual.
In a gala dinner held in Washington in Peres´ honor, US President
Barack Obama praised the Israeli president´s legacy and efforts on
behalf of peace.
"The United States is fortunate to have many allies and partners
around the world. Of course, one of our strongest allies, and one of
our closest friends, is the State of Israel.
"And no individual has done so much over so many years to build our
alliance and bring our two nations closer as the leader we honor
tonight – our friend, Shimon Peres."
"Shimon knows the necessity of strength. As Ben-Gurion said, ´an
Israel capable of defending herself – which cannot be destroyed – can
bring peace nearer.´ And so he´s worked with every American President
since John F. Kennedy. And it’s why I’ve worked with Prime Minister
Netanyahu to ensure that the security cooperation between the United
States and Israel is closer and stronger than it has ever been.
Because the security of the State of Israel is non-negotiable. And
the bonds between us are unbreakable.
"And yet, Shimon knows that a nation’s security depends, not just on
the strength of its arms, but upon the righteousness of its deeds –
its moral compass," the president continued.
"He knows, as Scripture teaches, that we must not only seek peace, we
must pursue it. And so it has been the cause of his life – peace,
security and dignity, for Israelis and Palestinians and all Israel’s
Arab neighbors," Obama said.
´Awards honors all Israelis´
Accepting the award, Peres said he was profoundly moved by the honor,
adding that it was "a testament to the historic friendship" between
Israel and the US.
"I receive this honor today on behalf of the People of Israel. They
are the true recipients of this honor. With this moving gesture, you
are paying tribute to generations upon generations of Jews who
dreamed of, and fought for, a State of their own.
"You are honoring the pioneers who built homes on barren mountains,
on shifting sands. Fighters who sacrificed their lives for their
country. On their behalf, I thank America for days of concern, for
sleepless nights, caring for our safety, for our future," Peres said.
"Mr. President, You have pledged a lasting friendship for Israel. You
stated that Israel’s security is ´sacrosanct. So you pledged. So you
acted. As a great leader, as a genuine friend.
"Israel admires the United States, for being a land of the free, a
home of the brave, a nation of generosity. A world without the United
States and her values would have been chaotic.
"My vision is an Israel living in full, genuine peace, joining with
all the people of the Middle East, former enemies and new friends
alike, with Jerusalem becoming the capital of peace," Peres continued.
"My vision is an Israel whose moral call is old as the Ten
Commandments tablets and whose imagination is as new as a digital
tablet. Together, our ancient and modern vision can help bring Tikkun