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tech giants VISA and Dell. By 2018, While our world can seem adrift in tonightfor the sake of our children
in fact, Dell hopes to supply some turbulence at times, our children are and the future vitality of our society.
4,000 girls in underprivileged com- always, always our best hope for the And now Id like to introduce one
munities with laptops and tablets so future. That is why I believe all adults of our girls who proudly represents
they can participate. who see themselves as mentors and and embraces the theme for this eve-
By the way, if youre a fan of Girl role models for our children should ning, and would like to share with
Scout cookies and youre wondering try to embrace the ideals of the Girl you her experiences on incorporat-
about those sales, my favorite variety Scout Mission. ing civility into her daily life. She is a
remains Samoas. In fact, I would argue that by liv- Girl Scout Gold Award recipientthe
I have spoken at length about the ing out those values in their lives, highest honor awarded in our organi-
Girl Scout experience because I am adults can effectively demonstrate the zationand an accomplished ambas-
convinced that the fundamental prin- power of inclusivity to our children sador Girl Scout who attends the
ciples of what we do provide the best and change their lives for the better, Academy of Information Technology
antidote to the loss of civility and the forever. Investing in young girls is an and Engineering here in Stamford.
spread of intolerance in our society. investment in the future of the U.S. Ladies and Gentlemen, please help
The Girl Scout leadership experi- and its economy. After all, when all is me welcome Ms. Allison Tovar.
ence helps girls learn not to avoid said and done, our future as a global Thank you so much, Allison, for
things that are hard for themmak- community depends on each future sharing with us just how impor-
ing them better students and leaders. generation learning the lesson of tol- tant it is for you to put civility into
Early character-building experiences erance and the power of civility. action in your own life. What you
in childhood lay the foundation for Thank you for granting me this expressed regarding how Girl Scouts
later success. opportunity to speak on a subject has impacted your life perspective and
And I am convinced that it is our so close to my heart. Thank you for the manner in which you engage with
obligation as adults to instill within coming tonight and listening. It is my those around you was truly inspired
our children the right values of civil- hope that we can collectively put into and I believe we can all learn from
ity, empathy, honesty and courage. action what has been addressed here your insights. Thank you, again!


Even as the Holocaust is unique, a crime without parallel in history, the seeds of hate that gave rise to the Shoahthe
ignorance that conspires with arrogance, the indifference that betrays compassionthose seeds have always been with us.

Address by BARACK OBAMA, President, Delivered at Righteous Among Nations Award Ceremony,
United States of America Embassy of Israel, Washington, D.C., Jan. 27, 2016

G ood evening. Erev Tov.

The Talmud teaches that if
a person destroys one life, it is as if
To my dear friend, Steven Spiel-
berg, thanks for your moving and
generous words. You spoke of the
voice. It will endure for generations.
And so, on behalf of all of us, we are
theyve destroyed an entire world, and importance of finding your voice and To Ambassador and Mrs. Dermer,
if a person saves one life, it is as if using it for good, and I know that to Nina Totenberg, our friends
theyve saved an entire world. your workwhether a masterpiece from the Israeli Embassy and Yad
What an extraordinary honor to like Schindlers List or the stories that Vashemthank you so much for host-
be with you as we honor four Righ- you have so persistently preserved ing us today.
teous individuals whose courage is through the Shoah Foundationis Let me just add tonight that our
measured in the lives they savedone deeply personal. Steven once said that thoughts are also with former Israeli
child, one refugee, one comrade at a the story of the Shoah is the story that President Shimon Peres. I had the
timeand who, in so doing, helped he was born to tell, rooted in those opportunity to speak with Shimon
save our world. childhood memories that he just gave earlier this week. I thanked him for
I deliver a lot of speeches. Very you a taste ofthe relatives lost, the his friendship, which has always
rarely am I so humbled by the elo- stories you heard from your family. meant so much to me, personally.
quence that has preceded menot And, Steven, the whole world is grate- And I thanked him, once again, for
just in words, but in the acts that we ful that you found your voice, and for the shining example of his leadership.
commemorate today. the good that youve done with that With his extraordinary lifein the

MARCH 2016

Haganah, and as a founding father And then taking my own daughters to betrays compassionthose seeds have
of the State of Israel, a statesman visit the Holocaust Museumbecause always been with us. They have found
who has never given up on peace, our children must know this chapter root across cultures, and across faiths,
an embodiment of the great alliance of our history, and that we must never and across generations. The Ambassa-
between our two nationsShimon repeat it. dor mentioned the story of Cain and
inspires us all. And this evening we The four lives we honor tonight Abel. Its deep within us. Too often,
speak for all of usIsraelis, Ameri- make a claim on our conscience, as especially in times of change, espe-
cans, people around the world well as our moral imagination. We cially in times of anxiety and uncer-
in wishing him a full and speedy hear their stories, and we are forced tainty, we are too willing to give into
recovery. to ask ourselves, under the same cir- a base desire to find someone else
I also want to just note the pres- cumstances, how would we act? How someone differentto blame for our
ence of two of our outstanding sena- would we answer Gods question, struggles.
tors from the great state of Tennessee. where are you? Would we show the Here, tonight, we must confront
I know that its rare where you have love of Walery and Maryla Zbijewski? the reality that around the world,
such a extraordinary native of the There, in Warsaw, they could have anti-Semitism is on the rise. We can-
state being honored in this way, but been shot for opening their home to not deny it. When we see some Jews
I think its also worth noting that this a five-year-old girl. Yet they cared leaving major European citieswhere
represents the bipartisan and stead- for her like one of their own, gave their families have lived for genera-
fast support of members of Congress her safety and shelter and moments tionsbecause they no longer feel
for the security and prosperity of the of warmth, of family and musica safe; when Jewish centers are targeted
state of Israel. And they act on that shield from the madness outside until from Mumbai to Overland Park,
every single day. her mother could return. Kansas; when swastikas appear on
To the survivors, families of the Would we have the extraordinary college campuseswhen we see all
Righteous and those they saved, to all compassion of Lois Gunden? She that and more, we must not be silent.
the distinguished guests: We gather wrote that she simply hoped to add An attack on any faith is an attack
to honor the newest of the Righteous just another ray of love to the lives of on all of our faiths. It is an attack on
Among the Nations and make real the these youngsters who had already that Golden Rule at the heart of so
call to never forget, not just on this endured so much. And by housing many faithsthat we ought to do
day of remembrance, but for all days and feeding as many Jewish children unto others as we would have done to
and for all time. as she could, her ray of love always us. For Americans, in particular, we
And at moments like this, as I lis- shone through, and still burns within should understand that its an attack
tened to the extraordinary stories of the families of those she saved. on our diversity, on the very idea
the four that we honor, memories Would we have the courage of that people of different backgrounds
come rushing back of the times that Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds? I can live together and thrive together.
Ive encountered the history and the know your dad said he was just doing Which is whyyour father was
horror of the Shoahgrowing up, his job, but he went above and beyond rightwe are all Jews. Because anti-
hearing the stories of my great uncle the call of duty, and so did all those Semitism is a distillation, an expres-
who helped liberate Ohrdruf, part of who joined in that line. Faced with a sion of an evil that runs through so
Buchenwald, and who returned home choice of giving up his fellow soldiers much of human history, and if we do
so shaken by the suffering that he had or saving his own life, Roddie looked not answer that, we do not answer
seen that my grandmother would tell evil in the eye and dared a Nazi to any other form of evil. When any Jew
me he did not speak to anyone for shoot. His moral compass never anywhere is targeted just for being
six months, just went up in his attic, wavered. He was true to his faith, and Jewish, we all have to respond as Rod-
couldnt fully absorb the horror that he saved some 200 Jewish Ameri- die Edmonds didWe are all Jews.
he had witnessed. can soldiers as a consequence. Its We know that well never be able
Then having the opportunity to go an instructive lesson, by the way, for to wipe out hatred from every single
to Buchenwald myself with my dear those of us Christians. I cannot imag- mind. We wont entirely erase the
friend, Elie Wiesel, and seeing the ine a greater expression of Christian- scourge of anti-Semitism. But like the
ovens, the Little Camp where he was ity than to say, I, too, am a Jew. Righteous, we must do everything we
held as a boy. Standing with survivors And I ask these questions because, can. All of us have a responsibility.
in the Old Warsaw Ghetto. And then even as the Holocaust is unique, a Certainly government has a
the extraordinary honor of walking crime without parallel in history, the responsibility. As President, Ive made
through Yad Vashem with Rabbi Lau seeds of hate that gave rise to the sure that the United States is lead-
and seeing the faces and hearing the Shoahthe ignorance that conspires ing the global fight against anti-
voices of the lost, of blessed memory. with arrogance, the indifference that Semitism. And its why, with Israel


and countries around the world, we community has a responsibility. Just Christian or Jew, whether it is Hindu
organized the first United Nations as all religions speak out against those or Muslim, or a nonbeliever; whether
General Assembly meeting on anti- who try to twist their faith to jus- that minority is native born or immi-
Semitism. Its why weve urged other tify terrorism and violence, just as all grant; whether theyre Israeli or
nations to dedicate a special envoy to faiths need to speak out when inter- Palestinian.
this threat, as we have. pretations of their religion veer in It means taking a stand against
Its why, when a statue of an anti- an ugly direction, so, too, must they bigotry in all its forms, and rejecting
Semitic leader from World War II speak out against those who use their our darkest impulses and guarding
was planned in Hungary, we led the faith to justify bias against Jews, or against tribalism as the only value in
charge to convince their government people of any faith. our communities and in our politics.
to reverse course. This was not a side We know that there were Mus- It means heeding the lesson repeated
note to our relations with Hungary, limsfrom Albanians to Arabs so often in the Torah: To welcome the
this was central to maintaining a good who protected Jews from Nazis. In stranger, for we were once strangers,
relationship with the United States, Morocco, leaders from Muslim- too. Thats how we never forgetnot
and we let them know. majority countries around the world simply by keeping the lessons of the
Its why, when voices around the just held a summit on protecting Shoah in our memories, but by living
world veer from criticism of a particu- religious minorities, including Jews them in our actions. As the book of
lar Israeli policy to an unjust denial and Christians. His Holiness Pope Deuteronomy teaches us, Tzedek,
of Israels right to exist, when Israel Francis has spoken forcefully against Tzedek tirdof Justice, Justice you
faces terrorism, we stand up forcefully anti-Semitism, saying, Every human shall pursue.
and proudly in defense of our ally, being, as a creature of God, is our I want to close with what Im told
in defense of our friend, in defense brother, regardless of his origins or is a Jewish legend. Its said that within
of the Jewish State of Israel. Ameri- religious beliefs. These are the voices every generation there are 36 virtuous
cas commitment to Israels security we must heed. And anyone who individualsindividuals so honorable,
remains, now and forever, unshake- claims to be a religious leader must so filled with compassion, that their
able. And Ive said this beforeit project that vision, that truth. good works sustain the very existence
would be a fundamental moral failing And finally, all of us have a respon- of the world. They are called Lamed
if America broke that bond. sibility to speak out, and to teach Vovniks, and without them, society
All nations that prize diversity and whats right to our children, and to crumbles, according to the legend.
tolerance and pluralism must speak examine our own hearts. Thats the We dont know who they are. Theyre
out whenever and wherever Jews and lesson of the Righteous we honor entirely indistinguishable, ordinary
other religious minorities are attacked. todaythe lesson of the Holocaust peoplelike Walery and Maryla and
In recent years, weve seen leaders in itself: Where are you? Who are you? Lois and Roddie. You wouldnt neces-
France, Germany, and Great Britain Thats the question that the Holo- sarily recognize them in a crowd. But
stand strongly against anti-Semitism. caust poses to us. We have to consider I believe that their generationthe
In Israel, President Rivlin has spoken even in moments of peril, even when generation of Schindler and Wal-
eloquently about the need for toler- we might fear for our own lives, the lenberg and Karskidemanded a
ance and acceptance among all Israe- fact that none of us are powerless. We lot more than 36. It called for more
lisJewish and Arab. always have a choice. And today, for than 26,000 Righteous Among the
Meanwhile, governments have an most of us, standing up against intol- Nations. It called for the millions of
obligation to care for the survivors erance doesnt require the same risks heroes who did not go quietly and
of the Shoahbecause no one who that those we honor today took. It who stood up and fought back.
endured that horror should have to doesnt require imprisonment or that And may we all strive to live up to
scrape by in their golden years. So, we face down the barrel of a gun. It their noble example, to be the Lamed
with our White House initiative, were does require us to speak out. It does Vovniks of our generation, to do
working to improve care for Holo- require us to stand firm. We know that our part to sustain each other and to
caust survivors in need here in the evil can flourish if we stand idly by. embrace the humanity that we share,
United States. And with the compen- And so were called to live in a way and in so doing, save our world. May
sation fund we helped create, claims that shows that weve actually learned the memory of the lost be a bless-
are finally being paid that even more from our past. And that means reject- ing. And as nations and individuals,
Jews deported from France during the ing indifference. It means cultivating may we always strive be among the
Holocaust, including survivors here in a habit of empathy, and recogniz- Righteous.
America, can benefit from. ing ourselves in one another; to make God bless you. God bless the
But the task before us does not fall common cause with the outsider, the United States of America. And God
on government alone. Every faith minority, whether that minority is bless the State of Israel.

MARCH 2016
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