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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

US Urges Taliban to Stay With Afghan Peace Talks

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll 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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs