President Obama spoke at the Holocaust Memorial this morning. He was accompanied by Elie Wiesel (the White House pool report follows my excerpt of his speech), and he tipped his cap to Michael Oren, Israeli ambassador.
To the members of Congress, members of the diplomatic corps, including Ambassador Michael Oren of Israel, we are glad to be with you...
"Never again" is a challenge to defend the fundamental right of free people and free nations to exist in peace and security -- and that includes the State of Israel. And on my visit to the old Warsaw Ghetto, a woman looked me in the eye, and she wanted to make sure America stood with Israel. She said, "It’s the only Jewish state we have." And I made her a promise in that solemn place. I said I will always be there for Israel.
So when efforts are made to equate Zionism to racism, we reject them. When international fora single out Israel with unfair resolutions, we vote against them. When attempts are made to delegitimize the state of Israel, we oppose them. When faced with a regime that threatens global security and denies the Holocaust and threatens to destroy Israel, the United States will do everything in our power to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
Pool report from Olivier Knox of Yahoo news on this morning's event:
At 9:42, the President walked slowly and wordlessly into the Hall of Remembrance, a somber look on his face and Elie Wiesel keeping pace on his right side. The two men, both in dark suits, walked up to the dais holding the eternal flame, and paused there in a moment of silent reflection.
As they came to the steps that take visitors from the main part of the room to the black panels and candles..., the president gently rested his hand on Wiesel's back as though to invite him to lead. Under the carved named of Dachau, the President and Wiesel each lit a little stick in one of the candles there and took their little flames to candles under Buchenwald. They put out their sticks in very small (an eighth of a cup's worth, perhaps) piles of sand designed for that purpose.
The two men walked slowly towards the exit, leaving the room at 9:45. President Obama placed his hand on Wiesel's shoulder after they were out of the Hall and exchanged a few words in audible to your pooled.
The President is speaking. Remarks were open press -- but in case you did not make the trip, both Wiesel and POTUS got standing ovations from the packed auditorium here.