Washington, DC, May 3, 2004 … U.S. Senator John Kerry reaffirmed his commitment to Israel's safety and security Monday, assuring the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) that he would remain a staunch supporter of the Jewish State if he is elected president.
In his first major address to an American Jewish audience since becoming the presumptive Democratic nominee for President, Sen. Kerry reminisced about how he traveled to Israel earlier in his Senate career on a mission sponsored by ADL. He said he was a stalwart supporter of Israel then, and has remained one ever since.
"I want you to know that as President, it will be my promise to the people of Israel that I will never force Israel to make concessions that will force Israel to compromise its security," Sen. Kerry told a gathering of more than 500 leaders at the ADL's National Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.
"We will also never negotiate in the Middle East without a credible partner, and it is my commitment to work to help that partner evolve."
Sen. Kerry commended ADL for leading the fight against anti-Semitism and bigotry all over the world, citing its work at the recent Conference on anti-Semitism in Berlin sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
On the subject of fighting anti-Semitism and bigotry, he said: "While there is progress, we know there is also great peril. We know that fear can still infect the places where tolerance lives. And, too often, we have seen the light of hope overcome by the shadow of hate."
Sen. Kerry said the ultimate expression of bigotry and hatred in the world is terrorism, and he noted that terrorism is a part of daily life in Israel. Sen. Kerry reiterated his strong commitment to the safety and security of Israel, and he pledged that as President, he will work to destroy terrorism wherever it threatens humanity.
"We face a fundamental struggle of values: democracy against terror, diversity against tyranny," Sen. Kerry said. "Let's be clear: the War on Terror is not a clash of civilizations. It is a clash of civilization against fanaticism – of the progress of humanity against the primitive fears of the few."
Sen. Kerry was among a number of high-profile leaders and administration officials scheduled to address the two-day ADL conference. Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Advisor, was scheduled to address the gathering of ADL leaders on Tuesday.
On Monday in a session dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ADL leaders heard from Daniel Ayalon, the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., William J. Burns, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and David Makovsky, a Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
In a session on European anti-Semitism, ADL leaders heard from Senator Marcello Pera, President of the Italian Senate, and U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) who discussed his participation as a member of the U.S. delegation to the recent OSCE Conference on anti-Semitism in Berlin.
ADL's meeting also included sessions on Israel's Disengagement Plan, the Fallout from Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ," and the prospects for democracy in the Arab world.