George W. Bush: A Friend

The leader of the free world steps down.

Larry Domnitch

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Throughout his presidency, George W. Bush has been a stalwart friend of the Jewish people. Bush’s support for Israel was rock solid, as was his opposition to anti-Semitism, which was on the rise globally during his administration.

As an opponent of anti-Semitism, Bush was vocal and vociferous. In May 31, 2003, the President visited
As an opponent of anti-Semitism, Bush was vocal and vociferous.
Auschwitz and made a statement that was also his policy: “This site is a sobering reminder that when we find anti-Semitism, whether it be in Europe or anywhere else, mankind must come together to fight such dark impulses.”

The President’s condemnation of anti-Semitism was consistent, reflecting a leader who possessed a clear moral compass. On September 6, 2001, the Bush administration instructed US diplomats to walk out of the Durban conference, which was actually an anti-Israel hate-fest organized by its adversaries. While other world leaders balked, the President acted and set an example.

The President also took the initiative. On June 19, 2003, with the President’s encouragement, the first Organization for Security and Cooperation conference against anti-Semitism took place in Vienna, which was one of the cradles on Nazism. The US delegation was lead by former New York City mayor, and former presidential candidate, Rudy Giuliani.

Perhaps the President’s most vociferous condemnation of anti-Semitism came before the Organization of the Islamic Conference on October 20, 2003, when he excoriated the anti-Semitic remarks made by the president of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, in his presence, calling them wrong and divisive. Just one month later, on November 19, 2003, at Whitehall Palace in London, the President spoke out against the state media’s anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement.

This past Chanukah, at a menorah lighting ceremony in the White House, the President stated, “The forces of intolerance may seek to suppress the menorah, but they can never extinguish its light.”

Not only was President Bush a steadfast opponent of anti-Semitism, he also befriended and cemented a strong relationship with the Jewish community. He frequently hosted Jewish leaders in the White House, as well as gatherings of Jewish groups. On several occasions he met with Holocaust survivors and former Soviet refuseniks. Once, while in St. Petersburg, Russia on May 27, 2002, he visited the famous Grand Choral Synagogue.

President Bush was also an unwavering friend of the State of Israel. On May 15, 2008, he delivered a passionate speech to the Knesset, which was celebrating Israel’s sixtieth anniversary, where he emphatically stated to a resounding applause that, “America is proud to be Israel’s closest ally and best friend in the world.”

Following 9/11, President Bush did announce his support for the "two-state solution", which he pursued, but he also held the Palestinians accountable. He would not support a terror entity on Israel’s borders that would imperil the Jewish State. President Bush demanded real change from the Palestinian Authority and he stated so repeatedly. The fact that Bush viewed PA leader Mahmoud Abbas as a man who might fit that bill is a point of difference with many Israel supporters, but does not detract from his support of Israel.

On March 14, 2002, President Bush issued an Executive Order adding the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of Fatah to the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. On June 24, 2002, as the second intifada waged on, he rejected the frequent media accusations against Israel and blamed the Palestinians for the months of violence that had taken place. Throughout his presidency, George Bush understood that Israel acted out of necessity.

When Yasser Arafat visited the White House, the President saw through the duplicitous PLO leader who posed as a moderate to the West, but encouraged terrorism, and never granted him a personal reception. However, President Bush frequently met in the White House with Israeli leaders. In May 2004 President Bush imposed sanctions on Syria for its support of terrorist organizations.

When the President led the coalition to topple Iraq, and its dictator Saddam Hussein fell, the 25,000 dollar gifts Hussein gave to the families of suicide bombers ended. That too represented a victory for the President. When Israel waged war against the perennial threat posed by Iran’s proxy, Hizbullah, after the kidnapping of Israeli
President Bush issued an Executive Order adding the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of Fatah to the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
soldiers and the firing of missiles upon Israel’s north, the President again gave his support, despite the barrage of criticism leveled at Israel by the media and many other foreign leaders.

In the most recent war fought by Israel against the forces of radical Islam, the President was unambiguous and true to form: “I understand Israel’s desire to protect itself.” He clearly placed the blame where it belonged: “The situation now taking place in Gaza was caused by Hamas.” He stayed with his doctrine on terrorism, and applied it to those who harbor terrorists and threaten America’s ally, Israel: an alliance of shared values and an ally in the essential war on terror.

George Bush did not merely follow the public opinion polls and the American public’s support for Israel, but he followed his own convictions. Nor was he swayed by those in the international community who supported the terrorists and their allies. To President Bush, Israel is a just cause; the Jewish State is on the front line in the global war on terror.

Eight years have passed, two terms have ended, and the leader of the free world returns to the private sector. But his friendship will be fondly remembered.