President Barack Obama donned a yarmulke, a traditional Jewish head covering, and spoke at Congregation Adas Israel, a synagogue in Washington, D.C. today, where he called himself an “honorary member of the tribe.”
Obama was celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month and marking “Solidarity Sabbath,” a new campaign against anti-Semitism, but he focused on the United States' sometimes fraught relationship with Israel.
“No administration has done more to ensure that Israel can protect itself,” Obama said to an approving crowd.
“My commitment to Israel’s security is and always will be unshakable,” he added. “It would be a moral failing on the part of the U.S. government and the American people, it would be a moral failing on my part, if we did not stand up firmly, steadfastly not just on behalf of Israel’s right to exist, but its right to thrive and prosper.”
Obama also raised the issue of Iran. The United States, alongside several other countries, is seeking a deal that would reduce the amount of uranium Iran can enrich.
“Iran must not, under any circumstances, be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon,” he said. “I will not accept a bad deal… This deal will have my name on it, so nobody has a bigger personal stake in making sure it delivers on its promise.”
The president also promoted the shared values of Jews and Christians, and warned about the rise of anti-Semitism. He concluded: “Jewish American life is a testimony to the capacity to make our values live. But it requires courage. It requires strength. It requires that we speak the truth not just when it’s easy, but when it’s hard.”
Photo Credit: Pete Souza/Wikimedia Commons