Remarks by President Biden upon receiving the Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor

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President’s Residence Garden
Jerusalem, Israel

6:08 p.m. IDT

PRESIDENT BIDEN: President Herzog, it is wonderful to be with you again and an honor to be out in this garden with so many familiar faces.

You know, if anyone should understand my tendency to get excited, it should be you. With a – with a grandfather who thought Sinn Féin was Ireland’s future, you should understand. (Laugh.)

They all think I’m joking; I’m not.

PRESIDENT HERZOG: A great day for the Irish. (Laugh.)

PRESIDENT BIDEN: I’ve known many of you for a long time. And you all know that my love for Israel runs deep. I was brought up, as we say and you say, by a righteous Christian – my father.

And I’ve had the honor – it’s hard to say those words – for over 50 years – it can’t be that long – but for over 50 years in the federal government to help build the relationship. 50 years ago we never had this audience. We wouldn’t have that audience out here. We have represented so many people representing so many different nations and faiths. And it’s important.

But you know, to see Israel thrive, to see the wildest dreams of Israel’s founding fathers and mothers grow into a reality that Israel’s children enjoy today is almost miraculous to me. You are always – there is one – we use a hymn in the Catholic Church based on one of the Psalms. And it says, “May He lift you up on eagle’s wings and carry you on the breath of dawn. Until we meet again, may God hold you in His hands.”

Well, every time I’ve come these years, thank God, God seems to be holding us in the palm of his hand because we’re getting stronger, not weaker. And to me it’s quite wondrous.

The Torah tells a story of the Prophet describing the ancient Israelis – Israels – Israelis as the people who “dwell alone” – in the portion of the Torah that will be read in services in the United States this week.

You know, I know, President Herzog, that your uncle also wrote a book by that title.

PRESIDENT DUCHY: Mm-hmm.

PRESIDENT BIDEN: But when I look at these proud, strong Israelis in the audience, at the nation that bloomed the desert and built the Iron Dome, I see people who are becoming more secure, more integrated, more confident and more – have greater connections with theirs Neighbors; a nation that has made peace before and can do it again; and a nation that will never live alone. ‘Cause as long as we’re the United States, you’ll never be alone. (Applause.)

And as you know, there is still so much to do. For this reason, America’s commitment to Israel’s security remains steadfast. Now and in the future, that commitment is not about me or any other American President. It springs from the deep connection and enduring connection between our peoples. And it is our responsibility as leaders to nurture that bond and ensure it grows stronger, deeper and broader as we meet the challenges ahead – and they will continue to be profound and changing.

And as a leader, I have no hesitation in saying that being known as a Friend of Israel and receiving this award today is one of the greatest honors of my career. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. (Applause.) Indeed –

And thank you, Mr President. Knowing that, as I said, you and I have a connection to Ireland, I hope you will forgive me for quoting an Irish poet, Seamus Heaney, at the end. And he wrote — in The Cure at Troy, he said, “History says hope not on this side of the grave. But then, once in a lifetime, the longed-for tide of justice rises, and hope and history rhyme.”

I truly believe we’re in one of those moments where, if we’re lucky and work hard, we can make hope and history rhyme.

Israel and the United States are both places built on hope, courage and determination. And I believe that together we can always stay true to our founding values ​​and help make hope and history rhyme again. But this time – this time in one of the most dysfunctional regions of the world in the past, where you will be fully integrated again and one of the leaders.

So, Mr. President, it’s an amazing honor. And as some of you heard me say, if my mom were here, she would say, “Joey, shut up and let the man do his job.” (Laughter.)

So thank you thank you thank you (Applause.)

PRESIDENT HERZOG: Thank you, Mr. President. So Mr President –

MODERATOR: (Speaks Hebrew.)

The President of the State of Israel, Isaac Herzog, will present the Presidential Medal of Honor to the President of the United States, Joe Biden.

PRESIDENT HERZOG: So, Honorable President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., in recognition of the strong support you have consistently shown for Israel and the depth of friendship our nations share, I wish to present you with the highest honor that is bestowed by an Israeli President, the Presidential Medal of Honor. This tradition was introduced by the late President and her good friend Shimon Peres.

The attached certificate reads, and I begin with a Bible quote: (Speaks Hebrew.) “With Him are wisdom and strength. He has advice and understanding.”

The Presidential Medal of Honor is hereby presented to the Honorable President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. of the United States of America for his true friendship with the State of Israel, the people of Israel, and the Jewish people; his uncompromising, decades-long commitment to Israel’s security; his contributions to deepening, strengthening and strengthening the strong and unshakable alliance between Israel and the United States of America; and his fight against anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred around the world.”

(The Medal of Honor is presented.) (Applause.)

PRESIDENT BIDEN: What a great honor. Thanks alot.

PRESIDENT HERZOG: A pleasure.

PRESIDENT BIDEN: Thank you.

6:14 p.m. IDT

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