News / Middle East

Obama Awards Peres Medal of Freedom

U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Israeli President Shimon Peres in the East Room of the White House in Washington, June 13, 2012.
U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Israeli President Shimon Peres in the East Room of the White House in Washington, June 13, 2012.
The White House - It was the latest of many visits Shimon Peres has made to the White House over the decades, but a highly symbolic one for a veteran Israeli leader whose career spans seven decades and whose views about the Middle East have been respected by U.S. presidents.

Peres served twice as prime minister of Israel.  In 1994, he shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Yitzhak Rabin, and then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for Middle East peace efforts.

Peres was unable to come to the White House a few weeks ago to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which President Obama also awarded to 12 others.  

Peres got the award for his devotion to peace and his support for the U.S. - Israel alliance.  President Obama praised him as an "indomitable spirit" who spent his life working for peace and to strengthen the U.S. - Israel security relationship.

"Shimon knows the necessity of strength.  As Ben-Gurion said, “an Israel capable of defending herself-which cannot be destroyed-can bring peace nearer,” said Obama. "And so he’s worked with every American President since John F. Kennedy.  And it’s why I’ve worked with Prime Minister Netanyahu to ensure that the security cooperation between the United States and Israel is closer and stronger than it has ever been.  Because the security of the State of Israel is non-negotiable.  And the bonds between us are unbreakable."

Obama described Peres as someone who knows that peace must not only be sought but pursued.  Peres, he said, made the pursuit of peace, security and dignity for Israelis, Palestinians, and Israel's Arab neighbors a cause of his life.

"Shimon to all of our friends here tonight, and to our fellow citizens across America and Israel, may we never lose sight of our destination.  Shalom, and may we always be as young as our dreams.   L'chaim," toasted President Obama.

President Peres called peace between Israel and Palestinians "more urgent than ever before" warning that delay could worsen its chances.  He said "extremists are using the Israel-Palestinian conflict to "cover their true ambitions."

Peres said Iran has become a threat because of a leadership he said "aims to rule the Middle East" by spreading terror and trying to build a nuclear bomb.

"We have a solemn responsibility to our own people, to our friends throughout the world, to posterity, that the Iranian threat must be stopped and it cannot be delayed," he said. "Mr. President, you worked so hard to build a world coalition to meet this immediate threat. You started rightly with economic sanctions, you made it clear rightly again that all options are on the table.  Clearly we support you."

On the Arab Spring, Peres praised a young Arab generation that he said has "opened its eyes to stand up against oppression, poverty and corruption to seek freedom."

There was no official readout from the White House on Oval Office talks President Peres and President Obama had hours earlier.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz said Iran, Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and Mideast developments were discussed.  

Haaretz also reported that President Peres asked President Obama to grant clemency to Jonathan Pollard, who was convicted of spying for Israel in 1986.  Pollard has served 27 years of a 30 year sentence.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters earlier that there had been no change in the U.S. position on Pollard.

Among those attending the East Room ceremony:  Former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Also, Dalia Rabin, daughter of Yitzhak Rabin who was assassinated in 1995 by a Jewish extremist who opposed the Oslo Accords.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Michael from: USA
June 15, 2012 9:13 AM
God bless VOA. It is terrible to say in regard to the upcoming Iran nuclear meeting, but nuclear science does not square with the Koran.
The Israeli's are aware of this conflict between science (linear) and the religious Koran (a Divine download)

by: Jack from: NC
June 14, 2012 3:55 PM
Wow, I don't hate Obama, even voted for him, but damn, this reeks of election year BS... Think Romney is going to attack you on Foreign Policy...just leak that you kill hundreds of terrorists and personally order every killing and give the Israeli President the highest award you can possibly give...

by: Being fair from: America
June 14, 2012 1:36 PM
Yitzhak Rabin should be awarded as well, through his family. He did a tremendous work.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs