Author Archives: Cindi

State Of The Union: In The Box With Michelle Obama….

From The White House:

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White House Announces First Round of Guests in First Lady’s Box — State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON, DC – The following individuals will be seated in the box with the First Lady, Dr. Biden and Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, at the State of the Union Address. More guests will be announced in the lead-up to the President’s State of the Union Address Tuesday night. Information about these guests and news about the State of the Union is available at WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU.

Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman (Boston, MA)
Survivors of the Boston Marathon Bombing

Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman are forever linked due to the attacks on the 117th Boston Marathon. In what has become an iconic image from the day in April of 2013, Carlos – wearing his white Cowboy hat – was captured rushing a badly injured Jeff away from the bombing to safety, thereby becoming two of the faces of ‘Boston Strong.’ From his intensive care hospital bed, Jeff played a vital role in identifying the bombers. After losing both legs in the attack, he is battling back, describing himself as a quick healer and stronger now than he was before the attack. Jeff, 27, and Carlos, 53 and a Gold Star Father, have become close friends.

Gary Bird (Moore, OK)
Fire Chief

Fire Chief Gary Bird represents all of those who rallied together to help the community of Moore, Oklahoma – firefighters, police officers, teachers, neighbors – in its greatest time of need: The immediate aftermath of the EF5 tornado that hit Moore, killing 25 men, women and children and devastating a community of more than 1,000 homes and businesses. Bird and his search-and-rescue crews worked through the path of the storm to rescue survivors. “We will be through every damaged piece of property in this city at least three times before we’re done, and we hope to be done by dark tonight,” Bird said in a press conference the evening the tornado hit. Bird began his career in 1981 as a volunteer firefighter in Ninnekah, Oklahoma.  After four years as a volunteer, he was hired by the Moore Fire Department, working his way through the ranks. He was appointed Deputy Fire Chief in February 2003, a position he held until being named Fire Chief on June 30, 2012. Bird and his wife, Cindy, have been married for 34 years, and they have a son, two granddaughters, and a six-month-old grandson.

Jason Collins (Los Angeles, CA)
12-Year NBA Player

While at Stanford, Jason Collins was selected as an All American, named the NCAA’s “Big Man of the Year,” and earned an appearance in the Final Four. After graduating in 2001, Collins was drafted into the NBA and has since played for six teams including the Celtics, whose then coach Doc Rivers said of Collins: “He’s the best. He literally is one of the best guys I’ve ever had in the locker room, player or coach.” In his 12 years in the league, Collins’ teams earned 9 trips to the playoffs including 2 NBA Finals appearances. In April 2013, Collins became the first male player in major American team sports to come out openly as gay. The President expressed his gratitude to Collins for his courageous announcement through an article Collins penned himself. The President said he “couldn’t be prouder” of Collins, recognizing this as a point of progress for the LGBT community, and one more step in America’s goal to treat everyone fairly and with respect. Collins is 35 and lives in Los Angeles, California.

Joey Hudy (Anthem, AZ)
“Maker” and Intel Intern

Joey Hudy is a self-described “Maker,” part of a growing community of young people, adults, and entrepreneurs who are designing and building things on their own time. Joey first shot to fame in 2012 when, at 14-years-old, he attended the White House Science Fair where the President took a turn using the contraption he had made — the “extreme marshmallow cannon” – and launched a marshmallow across the East Room. Joey then handed the President a card with his credo: “Don’t be bored, make something.” Now 16, he has continued to live by his motto, appearing at Maker Faires all across the country. Joey, a proponent of STEM education, is determined to teach other kids about how they can make and do anything they want. Joey lives in Anthem, Arizona with his mom, dad, and older sister. Earlier this month, he started as Intel’s youngest intern, a position Intel CEO Brian Krzanich offered him on the spot at his Maker Faire exhibit.

Kathy Hollowell-Makle, (Washington, DC)
2013 DCPS Teacher of the Year

Kathy Hollowell-Makle was named 2013’s District of Columbia Public School’s Teacher of the Year after more than 15 years teaching in the District. Kathy began as a Teach for America corps member in the District in 1998 and currently teaches at Abram Simon Elementary in Southeast Washington, DC. By the school year’s end, more than 90 percent of her students demonstrate early literacy at proficient or advanced levels and last year, more than 80 percent of her students advanced two or more reading levels. Kathy contributed some of her experience and expertise to a roundtable with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan regarding early childhood education. Kathy emphasizes a positive attitude and focuses on fluency in reading, writing and counting, explaining: “The best part of teaching is having former students recognize me, and being able to see how wonderful they turned out to be.” Kathy lives in Washington, DC with her husband Stephen and two sons Amir and Ian. She is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana.

Syrian Propaganda Exposed, Angering Photographer

Have you seen this photograph of a young Syrian child sleeping between his parents graves? It is sad, no matter who the child is or what country he is from.

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But what if the photograph is not real?

As it turns out… it is nothing but Propaganda, staged to undoubtedly pull at your heartstrings! This photograph was taken just moments before the one posted above:

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Needless to say, the Saudi photographer who took the photographs is “ticked off” that his “artwork” has been exposed, claiming it’s just “not fair” and is being “taken out of context”!

The bottom line: You should be skeptical of much of the news coming out of Syria. Both Assad and the rebels have elaborate propaganda operations, though the state’s far outstrips the opposition operations. Both sides have a vested interest in tricking you into believing their version of events.

Read the complete story at PolicyMic

 

Image credit (all images): Abdul Aziz al-Otaibi via Imgur

 

Historic Islamic Meeting Marks New Push For Israeli/Palestinian Peace

God has made it VERY CLEAR with His Genesis 12:3 Foreign Policy:

“I will bless those who bless you,
and I will curse those who curse you.
I will use you to bless
all the people on earth.” Genesis 12:3

This is not going to bode well for ANY country who seeks to further divide God’s land!

Historic Meeting Comes Days after Secretary Kerry Visit with Israeli and Palestinian Leadership 

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ (MACP) — On Friday and Saturday, January 17-18, in Marrakesh,Morocco’s King Mohammed VI will chair the twentieth session of the al-Quds (Jerusalem) Committee of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)—the first time in more than ten years the committee has met—in an effort to contribute to the renewed negotiations and build on US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to revive the Middle East peace process.

Established in 1975 by the OIC and originally chaired by King Mohammed VI’s father, King Hassan II, the Committee seeks a political solution to the issue of Jerusalem’s status, in order to further the peace process to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This year, international, non-Islamic observers, including representatives from the Vatican, the European Union, United Nations Security Council member states, and President Obama’s special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference will join the 16 Islamic member nations.

“Morocco’s long history of leadership on this issue, its strong record of religious tolerance, and King Mohammed VI’sunwavering commitment to peace in the region positions it to make a meaningful contribution to the peace process Secretary Kerry has been working so diligently on,” said Edward M. Gabriel, former US Ambassador to Morocco.

Morocco has long shown an interest in Jerusalem and the well-being of its residents, funding up to 80% of the OIC’s philanthropic projects in the Holy City, including the building of schools and hospitals and the maintenance of holy sites. Moreover, the country has played an active role in advancing the Middle East peace process for decades. From 1994-1999, the late King Hassan II worked with Israel’s then-Foreign Minister David Levy (who is of Moroccan origin) to bring the parties together; and following the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords, King Hassan was publicly honored by Israeli Minister of Defense Yitzhak Rabin for Morocco’s efforts to further the negotiations. Since then, Morocco has served as an arbiter between the parties, regularly hosting both Palestinian and Israel officials.

Most recently, in a Joint Statement released following the meeting between King Mohammed VI and President Obama at the White House on November 22, “His Majesty commended the continuous commitment of the President and the efforts of the Secretary of State to advance Middle East peace.  The President acknowledged the contribution of His Majesty, Chairman of the Al Quds committee, to the efforts aiming to achieve a two state solution.”

Obama’s Religious Freedom Day 2014 Proclamation

From The White House:

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RELIGIOUS FREEDOM DAY, 2014

——-

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

In 1786, the Virginia General Assembly affirmed an ideal that has long been central to the American journey. The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, penned by Thomas Jefferson, declared religious liberty a natural right and any attempt to subvert it “a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either.” The Statute inspired religious liberty protections in the First Amendment, which has stood for almost two and a quarter centuries.

Today, America embraces people of all faiths and of no faith. We are Christians and Jews, Muslims and Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs, atheists and agnostics. Our religious diversity enriches our cultural fabric and reminds us that what binds us as one is not the tenets of our faiths, the colors of our skin, or the origins of our names. What makes us American is our adherence to shared ideals — freedom, equality, justice, and our right as a people to set our own course.

America proudly stands with people of every nation who seek to think, believe, and practice their faiths as they choose. In the years to come, my Administration will remain committed to promoting religious freedom, both at home and across the globe. We urge every country to recognize religious freedom as both a universal right and a key to a stable, prosperous, and peaceful future.

As we observe this day, let us celebrate America’s legacy of religious liberty, embrace diversity in our own communities, and resolve once more to advance religious freedom in our time.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 16, 2014, as Religious Freedom Day. I call on all Americans to commemorate this day with events and activities that teach us about this critical foundation of our Nation’s liberty, and show us how we can protect it for future generations at home and around the world.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.

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BARACK OBAMA

Is Walmart Now Selling Marijuana?

walmart_marijuanaCOLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Jan. 16, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — One would think that Walmart is now selling Marijuana as “Always Low Prices” the multimillion dollar household slogan is now being used for an online marijuana store. Sam Walton’s slogan (rest his soul) might turn over in his grave if he knew what his prized slogan is being used for. Always Low Prices to this day is plastered all over the country side from semi trucks to buildings. One can easily get confused if they google “Always Low Prices” because there’s over half a million documents floating on the internet related to Walmart. But soon “Always Low Prices” will be known as the place to buy marijuana. Many will be confused when they see “Always Low Prices” because they will think it’s Walmart’s famous brand but instead they will see a medical marijuana store instead.

In 1995, Brad Morehouse purchased AlwaysLowPrices.com and Walmart trade marked the slogan Always Low Prices in 2003. According to law, Walmart has no jurisdiction over the .com but Walmart tried to sue Brad Morehouse in 2004 threatening Mr. Morehouse with certified letters and phone calls. Mr. Morehouse called out Walmart on their deception and bully tactics to the point where Walmart dropped the case. Rumor has it that Walmart changed their slogan to “Save money. Live better” due to the lack of control of the internet .com version AlwaysLowPrices.com. It seems that AlwaysLowPrices.com is very connected to Walmart’s image or Walmart would not have given Mr. Morehouse a Cease and desist letter.

What this means is AlwaysLowPrices.com (marijuana website) can legally promote their website in any form they see fit and Walmart can also use the slogan as they see fit. This is a very strange legal conflict due to the fact that the .com was purchased prior to Walmart’s trademark and yet both parties can use Always Low Prices. Any domain names such as .net .org etc. purchased after 2003 other than the .com are protected under Walmart’s copyright. So anyone who uses the domains other than the .com will be forced to abandon the name immediately or be subject to a lawsuit.

In 2010, Brad Morehouse contacted Walmart to offer them the domain name for a price but ironically the attorneys again threaten Mr. Morehouse as the attorney obviously was clueless on the prior 2004 dispute. The attorney then insulted Mr. Morehouse with an offer of $500.00 for the name.

Walmart’s stance on Marijuana is quite confusing as Walmart had Fired Cancer Patient Joseph Casias with Prescription for Medical Marijuana yet on January 2nd 2014 Mr. Morehouse hand delivered a notice to Walmart warning Walmart of the future January 17th press release “Is Walmart now selling Marijuana?” In the notice it offers to discuss the press release before it’s sent out but Walmart didn’t bother to respond.

Moms Group Demanding Stricter Gun Laws Bribe Legislators With Cookies

cookiesThey say the way to any man’s heart is through his belly!

Sounds a bit like bribery, wouldn’t you say?!

Mothers Calling on Legislators to Support Initiative 594: Gun Background Checks

OLYMPIA, Wash., Jan. 15, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Washington State members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America will convene at the Capitol on Friday, Jan. 17, to urge legislators to support background checks for private and online gun sales and gun shows.

The day will kick-off with a rally and press event at 9:30am on the North Capitol Steps in Olympia. Speakers will include Kate Beck, Washington State chapter leader of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and Zoe Moore, who lost her daughter to gun violence, Rep. Tara Senn (D-41), and Chair of House Judiciary Committee Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-27).

After the rally, volunteers will visit legislators to deliver bell-shaped cookies calling for “No More Silence.”

“We cannot stay silent. Our members will share their stories with over 50 legislators today,” said Kate Beck, Washington Statechapter leader of Moms Demand Action. “We are asking them to make it harder for criminals, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill to purchase guns by requiring background checks for private and online sales, and at gun shows.”

Initiative 594 would extend the criminal and public safety background checks currently used by licensed firearms dealers to all firearm sales and transfers, including gun show and online sales, with specific exceptions. If the legislature does not act on the initiative, it will appear on the November 2014 ballot to be decided upon by the people of Washington.

“Our children’s safety is top of mind,” said member and volunteer of Moms Demand Action, Jocelyn Wood. “Common sense gun legislation is a big part of keeping our children and our communities safe.”

In states that require a background check for private handgun sales, 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners, and there are 17 percent fewer firearm aggravated assaults.

“We hope that the legislature will act in the best interest of Washington’s public health, but if not, we know there is widespread support across Washington for background checks and our moms will be there every step of the way,” said Beck.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America-Washington State Chapter is a member of the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility.

About Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America

Much like Mothers Against Drunk Driving was created to change laws regarding drunk driving, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was created to build support for common-sense gun reforms. The nonpartisan grassroots movement of American mothers is demanding new and stronger solutions to lax gun laws and loopholes that jeopardize the safety of our children and families. In just one year, the organization has more than 130,000 members with a chapter in every state in the country. The group recently announced it is joining forces with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country.

 www.momsdemandaction.org
www.facebook.com/MomsDemandAction
Twitter @MomsDemand

Obama’s Promise Zones

This is the “Fact Sheet” put out by the White House on Obama’s new “initiative”.

Some are calling this initiative “creepy“. Another slip along the Hitler-like slide.

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For decades before the economic crisis, local communities were transformed as jobs were sent overseas and middle class Americans worked harder and harder but found it more difficult to get ahead.  Announced in last year’s State of the Union Address, the Promise Zone Initiative is part of the President’s plan to create a better bargain for the middle-class by partnering with local communities and businesses to create jobs, increase economic security, expand educational opportunities, increase access to quality, affordable housing and improve public safety.  Today, the President announced the next step in those efforts by naming the first five “Promise Zones”.

The first five Zones, located in San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, have each put forward a plan on how they will partner with local business and community leaders to make investments that reward hard work and expand opportunity.  In exchange, these designees will receive the resources and flexibility they need to achieve their goals.

Each of these designees knows and has demonstrated that it takes a collaborative effort – between private business and federal, state, tribal and local officials; faith-based and non-profit organizations; children and parents – to ensure that hard work leads to a decent living for every American, in every community.

THE FIRST 5 PROMISE ZONES AND THEIR PLANS:

San Antonio, TX (Eastside Neighborhood)

The City of San Antonio’s key strategies include:

  • Focusing on job creation and training, including through a partnership with St. Philip’s College, in key growth areas including energy, health care, business support, aerospace/advanced manufacturing, and construction.
  • Empowering every child with the skills they need by increasing enrollment in high quality pre-K programs; installing a STEM focus in the local school district; expanding enrollment in Early College Programs; and improving adult education opportunities.
  • Expanding public safety activities to facilitate neighborhood revitalization; improved street lighting and demolishing abandoned buildings; and integrated public safety activities with social resources.

Los Angeles, CA (Neighborhoods of Pico Union, Westlake, Koreatown, Hollywood, and East Hollywood)

The City of Los Angeles’s key strategies include:

  • Increasing housing affordability by preserving existing affordable housing and partnering with housing developers to increase the supply of affordable new housing to prevent displacement.
  • Ensuring all youth have access to a high-quality education, and are prepared for college and careers through its Promise Neighborhoods initiative, by partnering with the Youth Policy Institute and L.A. Unified School District to expand its Full Service Community Schools model from 7 schools to all 45 Promise Zone schools by 2019.
  • Ensuring youth and adult residents have access to high-quality career and technical training opportunities that prepare them for careers in high-growth industries through partnerships with career and technical training schools and the Los Angeles Community College District.
  • Investing in transit infrastructure including bus rapid transit lines and bike lanes, and promoting transit-oriented development (TOD) that attracts new businesses and creates jobs.
  • Charging its Promise Zone Director and Advisory Board with eliminating wasteful and duplicative government programs.

Philadelphia, PA (West Philadelphia)

The City of Philadelphia’s key strategies include:

  • Putting people back to work through skills training and adult education; classes on small business development to support entrepreneurs; loans and technical assistance for small resident-owned businesses; and the development of a supermarket providing both jobs and access to healthy food.
  • Improving high-quality education to prepare children for careers, in partnership with Drexel University and the William Penn Foundation, through increasing data-driven instruction that informs teacher professional development; developing school cultures that are conducive to teaching and learning; mentoring middle and high school youth with focus on college access and readiness; and increasing parent engagement.
  • Preventing and reducing crime in order to attract new residents and long-term investments, through strategies such as focused deterrence, hot spots policing, and foot patrol.

Southeastern Kentucky (Kentucky Highlands)

In Southeastern Kentucky, the Kentucky Highland’s Investment Corps’ key strategies include:

  • Implementing a sustainable economic effort across eight counties in the Kentucky Highlands region, focused on diversifying Southeastern Kentucky’s economy to make it more resilient.
  • Creating jobs and growing small businesses by leveraging $1.3 million of private sector funds in a revolving loan fund targeted within the Promise Zone.
  • Creating leadership and entrepreneur training for youth and industry-specific re-training opportunities for local skilled workforce, through the University of Kentucky Economic Development Initiative, the East Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, and the Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation.
  • In order to ensure all youth have access to a high-quality education Berea College will run evidence-based college and career readiness programs for high school students in the Zone, while Eastern Kentucky University will expand technical education programs.

Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma’s key strategies include:

  • Improving skills for tomorrow’s jobs, through workforce training for skilled trades and professionals and more rigorous summer and after-school programs.
  • Leveraging its role as the largest employer in southeastern Oklahoma to create a strong base for economic revitalization by working with partners, like Oklahoma State University, Eastern Oklahoma State College, and the Kiamichi Technology Center to improve workforce training for skilled trades and professionals, with a focus on providing nationally-recognized STEM certifications.
  • Investing in infrastructure that lays the foundation for economic growth, including water and sewer infrastructure; these infrastructure challenges have been identified as impediments to investment in an area with otherwise strong growth potential.
  • Improving educational outcomes by working across 85 school districts throughout the region to share data for continuous improvement, and bolster early literacy and parent support programs.
  • Pursuing economic diversification by utilizing natural, historic, and cultural resources to support growth, including evaluation of market capacity for local farmers’ markets, as well as implementation of technology-enhanced “traditional” farming and ranching, and large-scale greenhouses and specialized training in business plan development, marketing, and financing to support the development of women-owned businesses in the Promise Zone.

THE PROMISE ZONES INITIATIVE

The five Promise Zones announced today are part of the 20 that will be announced over the next three years. These unique partnerships support local goals and strategies with:

  • Accountability for Clear Goals: Each Promise Zone has identified clear outcomes they will pursue to revitalize their community, with a focus on creating jobs, increasing economic activity, improving educational opportunities, increasingaccess to quality, affordable housing and reducing violent crime.  All Promise Zones will continuously track those outcomes, and have committed to sharing data across their community partners (private-sector, non-profits, federal, state, and local agencies, etc.)  so that each partner can work towards improvement and accountability.  The Administration will work with the Promise Zones and third party experts to track progress and evaluate results.
  • Intensive Federal Partnership: Modeled after the Administration’s successful Strong Cities Strong Communities and Strike Force for Rural Growth and Opportunity initiatives, which have created unique partnerships between local stakeholders and the federal government, these first five Promise Zones will benefit from intensive federal support at the local level to help them implement their economic and community development goals.
  • Help Accessing Resources: Where necessary to achieve their goals, Promise Zones will get priority and be able to access federal investments that further the goals of job creation, additional private investment, increased economic activity, improved educational opportunity, and reduction in violent crime.
  • National Service:  Each Promise Zone will be provided five full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members to support their strategic plan.  These VISTAs will recruit and manage volunteers, and strengthen the capacity of Promise Zones to expand economic opportunity.
  • Investing in What Works: In order to be designated as a Promise Zone, these five communities have already demonstrated that they are pursuing strategies that have data proving their effectiveness. This same data will also help direct future federal investments to these Zones.

Cutting Taxes for Businesses: Finally, President Obama has proposed, and called on Congress to act, to cut taxes on hiring and investment in areas designated as Promise Zones – based upon the proven model of Empowerment Zones tax credits – to attract businesses and create jobs.

Biden Speaks At Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s Funeral

From The White House:

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The Knesset, Jerusalem

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  When a close-knit country like Israel, a country that has been tested as much as Israel, loses a man like Prime Minister Sharon, it doesn’t just feel like the loss of a leader, it feels like a death in the family.  And many of my fellow Americans, some of whom are here, feel that same sense of loss.

I say to Prime Minister Sharon’s beloved and devoted sons, Omri and Gilad, and the entire family, particularly the sons who spent so much time caring for their father in the last few years, it’s a great honor you’ve afforded me on behalf of my country to bring the sympathies of the President of the United States and the American people on this occasion.

To you, to Prime Minister Netanyahu and the government of Israel, to President Peres, and to the grieving men and women of the nation of Israel, but most particularly to his beloved IDF, his fellow warriors, I fear an attempt to capture him and what he stood for is beyond my capabilities. I knew him for over 30 years.  He was not only a powerful man, he was a powerfully built man.  And as a young senator, when you first met him you could not help but understand, as they say in the military, this man had a command presence.  He filled the room.

The first time I was invited to his office, he said to me — and I remember thinking, is he serious? — he said, Senator, you are mostly welcome.  I didn’t know if it was a matter of something being lost in translation or whether he was pulling my leg, as we say in the States, until I spent a few moments with him and realized how incredible his hospitality was.  But when the topic of Israel’s security arose, which it always, always, always did in my many meetings over the years with him, you immediately understood how he acquired, as the speakers referenced, the nickname “Bulldozer.”  He was indomitable.

Like all historic leaders, Prime Minister Sharon was a complex man about whom, as you’ve already heard from his colleagues, who engendered strong opinions from everyone.  But like all historic leaders, all real leaders, he had a North Star that guided him — a North Star from which he never, in my observation, never deviated.  His North Star was the survival of the State of Israel and the Jewish people, wherever they resided.

In talking about his spiritual attachment to the land of Israel back in an interview in the late ‘90s, he said, and I quote, “Before and above all else, I am a Jew.  My thinking is dominated by the Jews’ future in 30 years, in 300 years, in a thousand years.  That’s what preoccupies and interests me first and foremost.”  And because he possessed such incredible physical courage — and I would add political courage — he never, never, never deviated from that preoccupation and interest, as he referred to it.  It was his life’s work that even someone on the shores hundreds of — thousands of miles from here could see, could smell, could taste, could feel, and when you were in his presence there was never, never any doubt about it.

The physical courage he had to lead men straight into enemy lines and deep behind them.  I remember, as a young senator, that iconic picture of him with that bandage around his head, standing there after a decisive victory, which seemed to symbolize, as Bibi — as the Prime Minister said, an Israel that had reclaimed its roots of standing up and fighting, needing no help, standing on its own.  The political courage it took, whether you agreed with him or not, when he told 10,000 Israelis to leave their homes in Gaza in order, from his perspective, to strengthen Israel.  I can’t think of much more controversial; as a student of the Jewish state, I can’t think of a much more difficult and controversial decision that’s been made.  But he believed it and he did it.

The security of his people was always Arik’s unwavering mission, an unbreakable commitment to the future of Jews, whether 30 years or 300 years from now.  We have an expression in the States:  never in doubt.  Arik was never uncertain from my observation.  I don’t know him nearly as well as the Israeli people and his colleagues, but he seemed never in doubt.  But there were times when he acted, and those actions earned him controversy and even condemnation.  And in certain instances, American leaders — American Presidents — had profound differences with him, and they were never shy about stating them nor was he ever shy about stating his position.  As I said, from my observation he was a complex man, but to understand him better I think it’s important history will judge he also lived in complex times, in a very complex neighborhood.

Since he passed away, in the days ahead, there will be much written about the Prime Minister.  And it’s right for the Israeli people to reflect on all aspects of his life — the triumphs as well as the mistakes, taking full measure of the man, the arc of his life.  For I would argue the arc of his life traced the journey of the State of Israel.

And through it all, the United States whether we agreed or disagreed with a specific policy has been unflagging in its commitment to the State of Israel.  We have never stepped away.  We have never diminished our support.  We have never failed to make Israel’s case around the world.  We have never failed to defend Israel’s legitimacy.

And no one in any corner of this world has any doubt about where America stands with regard to Israeli security, the independent State of Israel that is the ultimate refuge for Jews wherever they are in the world.  And that will never change.

As President Obama said when he was here in Jerusalem last year, and I quote, “Those who adhere to the ideology of rejecting Israel’s right to exist, they might as well reject the earth beneath them and the sky above because Israel is not going anywhere.  So long as there is a United States of America, you are not alone.”

For his part, Arik Sharon greatly valued that close friendship between the United States and Israel, and particularly during his years as prime minister, he worked hard to deepen our relationship.

I find it fascinating, maybe it’s I’m getting older — I find it fascinating how some look at Israel today and say its success was inevitable.  Why didn’t everyone understand this was just inevitable?  But at the outset it was anything but inevitable.  It was the opposite of inevitable.  Israel’s very survival was against all odds.  But thankfully Israel was blessed with a founding generation that understood exactly what it took to overcome those odds.  So many of that generation, because of the people of the United States, I have the great honor of personally meeting and getting to know.  I did not know David Ben Gurion, but I knew all but one — every Prime Minister since that time.

President Peres, you and Prime Minister Sharon are part of one of the most remarkable founding generations in the history not of this nation, but of any nation.  Historians will look back and say, but for — but for — the rare and unique men and women at that moment, but for that it’s hard to see how we’d be standing here on this day — leaders like David Ben Gurion, Golda Meir, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin, the list goes on, and you, Mr. President, you all had one thing in common from an outside observer’s perspective, despite your political differences, it was that you knew in your bones, as one Israeli Prime Minister told me over 35 years ago when I was opining of the difficulty Israel faced surrounded by hostile neighbors at the time, looked at me and said, Senator, don’t worry.  We Jews have a secret weapon in our struggle in the region.  We have nowhere else to go.

That realization, it seems to me, is what energized your entire generation of leadership.  I believe that’s one of the reasons by Arik Sharon and so many others fought so hard their whole lives.

Prime Minister Sharon was not only loved by the Jewish people, he not only loved them — the Jewish people — but he loved the land of Israel.  Not just the idea of it, but the actual land itself.  Born on a farm, about to be buried on a farm, a ranch, I remember one of the meetings I had with him.  It was a somewhat heated, and he had his maps.  And he spread them out in his office again.  And I somewhat irreverently said, Mr. Prime Minister — I said, do you want me to do it, or are you going to do it?  Because I had heard his presentation many times.  And in the midst of it, he looked at me, and he said, let me tell you about the new calf that I just got on my ranch.  And he started talking about a calf.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Book of Genesis says, “Arise and walk the length and breadth of the land.”  Arik Sharon did just that.  He tilled it as a farmer.  He fought for it as a soldier.  He knew every hilltop and valley — every inch of the land.  As I said, he loved his maps.  He used to come to the meetings with maps of the land rolled up under each arm.  They were always maps.

I’m reminded — my mother’s blessed memory, I’m reminded of — if you’ll forgive me — an Irish poet, an Irish writer.  I’m sure Prime Minister Blair will forgive me.  That Irish writer was James Joyce.  And he said, “When I die, Dublin will be written on my heart.”  I am absolutely sure the land of Israel, the Negev is etched in Arik Sharon’s soul as it was written on Joyce’s heart.

And the defining attributes of this great man’s character — passion for the Jewish people, physical and political courage, and love of this land — they have all played out on the canvas of the State of Israel’s historic trajectory.

Arik Sharon’s journey and the journey of the State of Israel are inseparable.  They are woven together, in war, in politics, in diplomacy.

Toward the end of his life, he said, I’ve been everywhere.  I’ve met kings, queens, presidents.  “I’ve been around the world. I have one thing that I would like to do:  to try to reach peace.”

We’ll never know what the ultimate arc of Arik Sharon’s life would have been had he been physically able to pursue his stated goal.  That will be for historians to speculate and debate.  But we do know this:  As prime minister, he surprised many.  I’ve been told that, in reflecting on the difference between how he viewed things as a general and as prime minister, he would paraphrase an Israeli song lyric that said, things you see from here, look different from over there.  What would have — what would they have looked like had he lived in good health and led those eight years?

He left us too soon, but the work of trying to reach peace continues.  And to quote Shakespeare:  He was a man, take him all in all, we shall not look upon his like again.

May the bond between Israel and the United States never, ever be broken.

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