May 30, 2012 2 Comments
By Jennifer Packer, Political Analyst
Washington, May 30 — President Obama paid tribute Wednesday to the accomplishments of American Jews and reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to Israel.
“We have to stand alongside our friends who share our commitment to freedom and democracy and universal rights. And that includes, of course, our unwavering commitment to the state of Israel and its security and the pursuit of a just and lasting peace,” Obama said during a White House reception commemorating Jewish American Heritage Month. “It’s no secret that we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Obama also told a story of early anti-Semitism in the United States under General Ulysses Grant who issued an order that would have expelled Jews “as a class” from his war zone, the military department of Tennessee, in December 1862.
“It was wrong,” he said. “Even if it was 1862, even if official acts of anti-Semitism were all too common around the world, it was wrong and indicative of an ugly strain of thought.”
Jewish Americans lobbied President Lincoln to oppose Grant’s “General Order.” Lincoln revoked the order and Grant later, as president, apologized.
“Like so many groups, Jews have had to fight for their piece of the American dream. But this country holds a special promise: that if we stand up for the traditions we believe in and in the values we share, then our wrongs can be made right; our union can be made more perfect and our world can be repaired,” Obama said.