Former U.S. President George W. Bush told guests at a Jewish gathering Tuesday night that he believes it is unlikely that Iran’s hostile intentions towards Israel have changed, despite a recent charm offensive initiated by the Islamic Republic’s new president Hassan Rouhani.
“The United States’ foreign policy must be clear eyed; and understand that until the form of government changes in Iran, it is unlikely that their intentions toward Israel will change,” he said.
Addressing the current ongoing negotiations between Iran and Western powers, the former President said that he does “not believe in Iran’s peaceful intentions until they can irrevocably prove that it’s true.”
Bush delighted guests at the gala event at New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel when he was revealed to be the evening’s surprise guest speaker, attendees told The Algemeiner. Photography and recording during Bush’s speech was prohibited, and he reiterated his longstanding policy not to comment on public policy matters out of respect for the sitting president.
The crowd of 1200 who gathered in support of The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Fund rose to its feet and applauded enthusiastically as Bush ascended the podium. He offered praise for former Senator Joseph Lieberman, who was in attendance, and welcomed newly appointed Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer. He also congratulated COP leader Malcolm Hoenlein and past leaders of the organization who were honored at the event.
The former president also noted a current U.S. foreign policy lean towards isolationism and expressed confidence in the work of the COP to help ensure that the U.S. would remain active globally.
He also read the following excerpt from a speech he delivered in 2008 in front of Israel’s Knesset, and stressed that he holds it to be relevant today and for at least the next decade:
“As we go forward, our alliance will be guided by clear principles & shared convictions rooted in moral clarity and unswayed by popularity polls or the shifting opinion of international elites.
We believe in the matchless value of every man, woman, and child. So we insist that the people of Israel have the right to a decent, normal, and peaceful life, just like the citizens of every other nation.
We believe that democracy is the only way to ensure human rights. So we consider it a source of shame that the United Nations routinely passes more human rights resolutions against the freest democracy in the Middle East than any other nation in the world.
We believe that religious liberty is fundamental to civilized society. So we condemn anti-Semitism in all forms & whether by those who openly question Israel’s right to exist, or by others who quietly excuse them.
We believe that free people should strive and sacrifice for peace. So we applaud the courageous choices Israel’s leaders have made. We also believe that nations have a right to defend themselves and that no nation should ever be forced to negotiate with killers pledged to its destruction.
We believe that targeting innocent lives to achieve political objectives is always and everywhere wrong. So we stand together against terror and extremism, and we will never let down our guard or lose our resolve.
The fight against terror and extremism is the defining challenge of our time. It is more than a clash of arms. It is a clash of visions, a great ideological struggle. On one side are those who defend the ideals of justice and dignity with the power of reason and truth. On the other side are those who pursue a narrow vision of cruelty and control by committing murder, inciting fear, and spreading lies.
This struggle is waged with the technology of the 21st century, but at its core it is the ancient battle between good and evil. The killers claim the mantle of Islam, but they are not religious men. No one who prays to the God of Abraham could strap a suicide vest to an innocent child, or blow up guiltless guests at a Passover Seder, or fly planes into office buildings filled with unsuspecting workers. In truth, the men who carry out these savage acts serve no higher goal than their own desire for power. They accept no God before themselves. And they reserve a special hatred for the most ardent defenders of liberty, including Americans and Israelis.
The Conference of Presidents is a non-profit umbrella organization that represents 51 national Jewish organizations.
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