With the following words, America’s 40th president, Ronald W. Reagan—still in the first year of his presidency—greeted Menachem Begin, the sixth prime minister of the modern state of Israel:
We’re proud to stand beside you this morning, joining a tradition of hospitality for Israel observed by our Presidents for more than three decades. Your visit is testimony to the warm friendships, mutual respect, and shared values that bind our people … .
I welcome this chance to further strengthen the unbreakable ties between the United States and Israel and to assure you of our commitment to Israel’s security and well-being.
Israel and America may be thousands of miles apart, but we are philosophical neighbors sharing a strong commitment to democracy and the rule of law. What we hold in common are the bonds of trust and friendship, qualities that in our eyes make Israel a great nation. No people have fought longer, struggled harder, or sacrificed more than yours in order to survive, to grow, and to live in freedom … .
Shalom, shalom: to him that is far off and to him that is near. And again, Mr. Prime Minister, welcome to America.1