JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—US President Barack Obama sent his congratulations on Tuesday to his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres on the occasion of Israel’s 64th Independence Day. Obama stressed that the United States is “steadfast in its commitment to Israel’s security.”
Obama extended the “warmest regards and congratulations on behalf of the American people” and noted that, “Based on shared values and interests, the bonds between our two countries are deep and strong.”
“In a time of momentous change, the United States remains steadfast in its commitment to Israel’s security and a comprehensive peace in the region,” Obama said. “As we work together to pursue common goals and meet shared challenges, I wish the State of Israel continued prosperity and a peaceful future.”
Obama’s letter to Peres was his second message to Israel this week. On Monday, the president spoke at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. He declared that the legacy of the Holocaust challenges the US to do everything it can to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb.
“‘Never again’ is a challenge to defend the fundamental right of free people and free nations to exist in peace and security—and that includes the State of Israel,” said Obama, speaking at the annual commemoration of the Shoah. “I will always be there for Israel.”
He continued, “When faced with a regime that threatens global security and denies the Holocaust and threatens to destroy Israel, the United States will do everything in our power to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”
Obama stressed that, “‘Never again’ is a challenge to reject hatred in all of its forms—including anti-Semitism, which has no place in a civilized world.”
The president also took the opportunity of the occasion to announce new sanctions on those helping Syria and Iran acquire technology that lets them target dissidents through their cellphone and Internet use.
The executive order freezes US assets linked to people found to have aided satellite, computer, and phone network monitoring in Syria, where more than 9,000 civilians have been killed over the past year by government forces, as well as Iran, where authorities are clamping down on opposition groups.
“These technologies should be in place to empower citizens, not to repress them,” he said. “And it’s one more step that we can take toward the day that we know will come—the end of the Assad regime that has brutalized the Syrian people—and allow the Syrian people to chart their own destiny.”
Before his speech, Obama toured the museum with Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, who noted the grim link between Iran’s president, Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and his threat “to wipe Israel off the map.”
“How is it that the No. 1 Holocaust denier Ahmadinejad is still the president? He who threatens to use nuclear weapons—to use nuclear weapons—to destroy the Jewish state,” Wiesel asked the audience.
“Have we not learned? We must, must know that when evil has power, it is almost too late,” he warned. Wiesel stressed the importance of “preventative measures,” saying, “We must use those measures to prevent another catastrophe.”