Bush at the Knesset: Another Historic, Unheralded Speech
Last week President George W. Bush gave an outstanding speech to the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. It stands out among the top five or so best speeches of Bush's two terms, and probably one of the top two speeches dealing with his long-term vision for the Middle East and the world-the other being his November 2003 speech before the National Endowment for Democracy. Any political science professor who teaches the Bush presidency and ignores this speech is derelict in duty.
The occasion for the speech was the 60th anniversary of the founding of the nation of Israel, which, said Bush, in one of many eloquent passages, "was more than the establishment of a new country. It was the redemption of an ancient promise given to Abraham, Moses, and David." The president recalled how 11 minutes after that moment, America, on the order of President Harry Truman, was the first nation to recognize Israel's independence.
What Bush didn't say was that not only was America alone then, but so was its president-who recognized Israel in defiance of his staff, from Secretary of State George Marshall to Secretary of Defense James Forrestal -and that America did not support a desperate Israel in the immediate Arab invasion that followed. On May 15, 1948, Joe Stalin's Soviet Union did more for Israel than the United States. Only decades later could an American president rightly say, as Bush did last week, that "America is proud to be Israel's closest ally and best friend in the world."