[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book I)]
[May 4, 1995]
[Pages 640-641]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]



Remarks to the American Jewish Committee
May 4, 1995

    Thank you very much, Mr. Rifkind. Justice Ginsburg--this was one of 
my better moves, don't you think? [Laughter] Another one of my better 
moves, Secretary and Mrs. Riley and distinguished members of the 
diplomatic corps and my fellow Americans.
    I can't speak long because I don't want to have a controversy with 
Senator Dole. I would never take his time knowingly. [Laughter] I sort 
of hate to do this to the American Jewish Committee, taking Alan Moses 
away. I can't think of any better person to serve as our Ambassador to 
Romania, but I hate to do it for you, and I really hate to do it for me. 
At least you've got a good successor, but I do not want to establish the 
principle in this town that 4 years is enough for anyone to serve as 
President. [Laughter] Alan, I thank you for your willingness to serve, 
and I am delighted to see you're here with your wife and also with your 
mother. It's wonderful to see her. Welcome, and thank you.
    Let me briefly say in response to the introduction that I have 
worked hard, as all of you know, on a two-track policy in the Middle 
East. First, to try to make peace, not to impose peace but to try to 
help the parties in the Middle East to make peace. In my first meeting 
with Prime Minister Rabin, whom I look forward to seeing again in the 
next several days, I said, ``If you are prepared to take risks for 
peace, it is the obligation of the United States to minimize those 
risks.'' That is what we have tried to do. We have worked together. We 
have worked with the parties in the Middle East who are interested in 
peace. We are working even as we speak to make further progress.
    Second thing we have sought to do is to contain those who would 
upset the balance of forces for peace in the Middle East. We have taken 
strong stands against Iraq, we have demanded that Libya give up the 
people that are accused of downing Pan Am 103, and we have taken strong 
stands against Iran. For 2 years I hoped against hope that Iran would be 
persuaded to stop trying to develop weapons of mass destruction and 
supporting terrorist groups. It became clear to me that that would not 
happen, and therefore I have imposed the embargo which was announced 
last Sunday, which I thank you for your support on. I hope that we will 
be able to persuade others that terrorism and the proliferation of 
weapons of mass destruction have no place in the modern world.
    Let me close by asking you to think of this: The 21st century should 
and I believe will be the most exciting time in all of human history, 
the time that is most full of human potential. It can be a very great 
time for America if we face our problems at home first and if we make 
sure that all of our people can compete, which means more than anything 
else we must solve the education deficit in the United States and create 
a system of lifetime learning that all people can access.
    But I believe that the great threats to security in the 21st century 
will be very different from those of the 20th century. The history of 
this century is littered with the blood of millions

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and millions and millions of people who were killed either because two 
different countries were fighting with each other over land or an 
oppressive government was prepared to kill millions of its citizens to 
maintain its power. The realities of the global economy, the explosion 
of the information age make those things less likely to occur. We'll 
always have to fight abuse of power at home and abroad, wherever it 
occurs, but that is less likely to mark the 21st century.
    In the 21st century, which will be characterized, as we already 
know, by lightning flashes of exchange of information and money and 
technology and great mobility of people, all of the forces that are 
bringing us to a more integrated world and making people see that it 
makes sense to stop killing each other and to make peace, whether it be 
in the Middle East or Northern Ireland or any other place in the world, 
all those forces of integration have a dark underside of disintegration 
and make us very, very vulnerable, the more open we are, to the forces 
of organized evil.
    That is what we lived through in Oklahoma City. That is what we 
endured at the World Trade Center. That is what the Japanese people 
suffered in the subway when a religious fanatic could walk in with a 
little vial of sarin gas and break it open and kill 60 people. And make 
no mistake about it, that is why innocent Israelis are still being 
killed by car bombs in the Middle East. Why? Because the only way peace 
in the Middle East can work is if the Palestinians and the Israelis stay 
integrated. And if the Israeli people can be rendered insecure so that 
the Israeli Government has to raise the border again, so that the 
Palestinians can't come to Israel and their incomes drop, then they 
won't believe in the peace anymore, and the enemies of peace will win.
    So all through the next decades you and I will be involved in a 
constant struggle, with our friends from the diplomatic corps--and there 
are countries that are here present--to try to get the benefits of all 
these forces that are bringing us together without being undermined by 
the forces of disintegration that move into open societies and open 
interchanges between countries and choke the life out of hope.
    That is the challenge of the 21st century. That is why I've asked 
the Congress to pass this antiterrorism legislation. And before he gets 
here, I thank Senator Dole for committing to pass that bill and put it 
on my desk by the end of the month. It was a good and noble thing and a 
great gesture. I thank him for that.
    These are the things we often work together on. There is no room for 
partisanship here. Nor should there be differences of religion or 
culture or nationality across international borders. All of us that want 
ordered societies where human potential can be expressed and peace can 
be achieved must stand against the forces of organized evil that cross 
national borders and kill without a second thought, whether they are 
paranoid forces rising up from within or people flying in from without. 
That is our challenge.
    So now the challenge in the Middle East is the challenge at home. 
Let us keep working for peace, and let us determine to defend ourselves 
against those that would undermine the glorious potential of the century 
upon which we are about to enter.
    Thank you, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 7:30 p.m. at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. In his 
remarks, he referred to Robert S. Rifkind, president, American Jewish 
Committee.