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The Inaugural Address

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRBsJNdK1t0

Remarks of President Donald J.  Trump – As Prepared for Delivery Inaugural Address Friday, January 20, 2017

As Prepared for Delivery –

Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans, and people of the world: thank you.

We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and to restore its promise for all of our people.

Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for years to come.

We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done.

Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent.

Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one Administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.

For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.

Washington flourished – but the people did not share in its wealth.

Politicians prospered – but the jobs left, and the factories closed.

The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.

Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation’s Capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

That all changes – starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you.

It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. 

This is your day. This is your celebration.

And this, the United States of America, is your country.

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.

January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. 

The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

Everyone is listening to you now.

You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before.

At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction: that a nation exists to serve its citizens.

Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves.

These are the just and reasonable demands of a righteous public.

But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

We are one nation – and their pain is our pain.  Their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success.  We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.

The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.

For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry;

Subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military;

We've defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own;

And spent trillions of dollars overseas while America's infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.

We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions upon millions of American workers left behind.

The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.

But that is the past. And now we are looking only to the future.

We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power.

From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.

From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs.  Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.

I will fight for you with every breath in my body – and I will never, ever let you down.

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders.  We will bring back our wealth.  And we will bring back our dreams.

We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.

We will get our people off of welfare and back to work – rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.

We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and Hire American.

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.

We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.

We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones – and unite the civilized world against Radical Islamic Terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.

At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.

When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.

The Bible tells us, “how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”

We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity.

When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.

There should be no fear – we are protected, and we will always be protected.

We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we are protected by God.

Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger.

In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving.

We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action – constantly complaining but never doing anything about it.

The time for empty talk is over.

Now arrives the hour of action.

Do not let anyone tell you it cannot be done.  No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America.

We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.

We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.

A new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights, and heal our divisions.

It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag.

And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.

So to all Americans, in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, and from ocean to ocean, hear these words:

You will never be ignored again.

Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams, will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.

Together, We Will Make America Strong Again.

We Will Make America Wealthy Again.

We Will Make America Proud Again.

We Will Make America Safe Again.

And, Yes, Together, We Will Make America Great Again. Thank you, God Bless You, And God Bless America.

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Madonna's Fiery Speech At The Women's March On Washington

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKhVp--feJk

 

Scarlett Johansson's Speech At The Women's March On Washington (Full | HD)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6ofCjjUz-Q

 

Ashley Judd's EPIC "Nasty Woman" Speech At The Women's March On Washington

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Michael Moore Women's March on Washington Speech Anti Donald Trump Protest Ashley Judd

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Tamika Mallory speech at the Women's March On Washington

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Linda Sarsour's powerful speech at the Women's March On Washington

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TEDxWomen -- Jane Fonda

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaiCqsGgd0Q

 

Trump's Inauguration: This Is Really Happening

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExD2VB5w21I

 

Season Premiere: January 20, 2017 | Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmIS1y0cUv0

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXPNnGRz5dU

 

Before why I explain why this speech was so disappointing to millions of Israelis, I want to say that Israel is deeply grateful to the United States of America, to successive American administrations, to the American Congress, to the American people. We’re grateful for the support Israel has received over many, many decades. Our alliance is based on shared values, shared interests, a sense of shared destiny and a partnership that has endured differences of opinions between our two governments over the best way to advance peace and stability in the Middle East. I have no doubt that our alliance will endure the profound disagreement we have had with the Obama Administration and will become even stronger in the future.

But now I must express my deep disappointment with the speech today of John Kerry – a speech that was almost as unbalanced as the anti-Israel resolution passed at the UN last week. In a speech ostensibly about peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Secretary Kerry paid lip service to the unremitting campaign of terrorism that has been waged by the Palestinians against the Jewish state for nearly a century.

What he did was to spend most of his speech blaming Israel for the lack of peace by passionately condemning a policy of enabling Jews to live in their historic homeland and in their eternal capital, Jerusalem.

Hundreds of suicide bombings, thousand, tens of thousands of rockets, millions of Israelis in bomb shelters are not throwaway lines in a speech; they’re the realities that the people of Israel had to endure because of mistaken policies, policies that at the time won the thunderous applause of the world. I don’t seek applause; I seek the security, and peace, and prosperity and the future of the Jewish state.

The Jewish people have sought their place under the sun for 3,000 years, and we’re not about to be swayed by mistaken policies that have caused great, great damage. Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders. Israel’s hand has been extended in peace to its neighbors from day one, from its very first day. We’ve prayed for peace, we’ve worked for it every day since then. And thousands of Israeli families have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our country and advance peace. My family has been one of them; there are many, many others. No one wants peace more than the people of Israel. Israel remains committed to resolving the outstanding differences between us and the Palestinians through direct negotiations. This is how we made peace with Egypt; this is how we made peace with Jordan; it’s the only way we’ll make peace with the Palestinians. That has always been Israel’s policy; that has always been America’s policy. Here’s what President Obama himself said at the UN in 2011. He said: ‘Peace is hard work. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations. If it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.’ That’s what President Obama said, and he was right. And until last week this was repeated over and over again as American policy. Secretary Kerry said that the United States cannot vote against its own policy. But that’s exactly what it did at the UN, and that’s why Israel opposed last week’s Security Council resolution, because it effectively calls the Western Wall ‘occupied Palestinian Territory,’ because it encourages boycotts and sanctions against Israel – that’s what it effectively does, and because it reflects a radical shift in US policy towards the Palestinians on final status issues – those issues that we always agreed, the US and Israel, have to be negotiated directly, face to face without preconditions. That shift happened despite the Palestinians walking away from peace and from peace offers time and time again, despite their refusal to even negotiate peace for the past eight years, and despite the Palestinian Authority inculcating a culture of hatred towards Israel in an entire generation of young Palestinians. Israel looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and with the American Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, to mitigate the damage that this resolution has done and ultimately, to repeal it. Israel hopes that the outgoing Obama Administration will prevent any more damage being done to Israel at the UN in its waning days. I wish I could be comforted by the promise that the US says we will not bring any more resolutions to the UN. That’s what they said about the previous resolution. We have it on absolutely incontestable evidence that the United States organized, advanced and brought this resolution to the United Nations Security Council. We’ll share that information with the incoming administration. Some of it is sensitive, it’s all true. You saw some of it in the protocol released in an Egyptian paper. There’s plenty more; it’s the tip of the iceberg. So they say, ‘but we didn’t bring it.’ And they could take John Kerry’s speech with the six points. It could be raised in the French international conference a few days from now and then brought to the UN. So France will bring it, or Sweden – not a noted friend of Israel – could bring it. And the United States could say, well, we can’t vote against our own policy, we’ve just enunciated it. I think the United States, if it’s true to its word, or at least if it’s now true to its word, should now come out and say we will not allow any resolutions, any more resolutions in the Security Council on Israel. Period. Not we will bring or not bring – we will not allow any (further resolutions), and stop this game, the charades. I think that the decisions that are vital to Israel’s interests and the future of its children, they won’t be made through speeches in Washington or votes in the United Nations or conferences in Paris. They’ll be made by the Government of Israel around the negotiating table, making them on behalf of the one and only Jewish state – a sovereign nation that is the master of its own fate. And one final thought – I personally know the pain, the loss and the suffering of war. That’s why I’m so committed to peace. Because for anyone who’s experienced it, as I have, war and terror are horrible. I want young Palestinian children to be educated like our children, for peace. But they’re not educated for peace. The Palestinian Authority educates them to lionize terrorists and to murder Israelis. My vision is that Israelis and Palestinians both have a future of mutual recognition, of dignity, mutual respect, co-existence. But the Palestinian Authority tells them that they will never accept, should never accept the existence of a Jewish state. So, I ask you, how can you make peace with someone who rejects your very existence? See, this conflict is not about houses, or communities in the West Bank, Judea and Samaria, the Gaza district or anywhere else. This conflict is and has always been about Israel’s very right to exist. That’s why my hundreds of calls to sit with President Abbas for peace talks have gone unanswered. That’s why my invitation to him to come to the Knesset was never answered. That’s why the Palestinian government continues to pay anyone who murders Israelis a monthly salary. The persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize a Jewish state remains the core of the conflict and its removal is the key to peace. Palestinian rejection of Israel and support for terror are what the nations of the world should focus on if they truly want to advance peace, and I can only express my regret and say that it’s a shame that Secretary Kerry does not see this simple truth. Thank you.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30zsPq6Z6gQ

So let me stress here again: None of the steps that I just talked about would negatively impact Israel’s security.

Let me also emphasize this is not about offering limited economic measures that perpetuate the status quo. We’re talking about significant steps that would signal real progress towards creating two states.

That’s the bottom line: If we’re serious about the two-state solution, it’s time to start implementing it now. Advancing the process of separation now, in a serious way, could make a significant difference in saving the two-state solution and in building confidence in the citizens of both sides that peace is, indeed, possible. And much progress can be made in advance of negotiations that can lay the foundation for negotiations, as contemplated by the Oslo process. In fact, these steps will help create the conditions for successful talks.

Now, in the end, we all understand that a final status agreement can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties. We’ve said that again and again. We cannot impose the peace.

There are other countries in the UN who believe it is our job to dictate the terms of a solution in the Security Council. Others want us to simply recognize a Palestinian state, absent an agreement. But I want to make clear today, these are not the choices that we will make.

We choose instead to draw on the experiences of the last eight years, to provide a way forward when the parties are ready for serious negotiations. In a place where the narratives from the past powerfully inform and mold the present, it’s important to understand the history. We mark this year and next a series of milestones that I believe both illustrate the two sides of the conflict and form the basis for its resolution. It’s worth touching on them briefly.

A hundred and twenty years ago, the First Zionist Congress was convened in Basel by a group of Jewish visionaries, who decided that the only effective response to the waves of anti-Semitic horrors sweeping across Europe was to create a state in the historic home of the Jewish people, where their ties to the land went back centuries – a state that could defend its borders, protect its people, and live in peace with its neighbors. That was the vision. That was the modern beginning, and it remains the dream of Israel today.

Nearly 70 years ago, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 finally paved the way to making the State of Israel a reality. The concept was simple: to create two states for two peoples – one Jewish, one Arab – to realize the national aspirations of both Jews and Palestinians. And both Israel and the PLO referenced Resolution 181 in their respective declarations of independence.

The United States recognized Israel seven minutes after its creation. But the Palestinians and the Arab world did not, and from its birth, Israel had to fight for its life. Palestinians also suffered terribly in the 1948 war, including many who had lived for generations in a land that had long been their home too. And when Israel celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2018, the Palestinians will mark a very different anniversary: 70 years since what they call the Nakba, or catastrophe.

Next year will also mark 50 years since the end of the Six-Day War, when Israel again fought for its survival. And Palestinians will again mark just the opposite: 50 years of military occupation. Both sides have accepted UN Security Council Resolution 242, which called for the withdrawal of Israel from territory that it occupied in 1967 in return for peace and secure borders, as the basis for ending the conflict.

It has been more than 20 years since Israel and the PLO signed their first agreement – the Oslo Accords – and the PLO formally recognized Israel. Both sides committed to a plan to transition much of the West Bank and Gaza to Palestinian control during permanent status negotiations that would put an end to their conflict. Unfortunately, neither the transition nor the final agreement came about, and both sides bear responsibility for that.

Finally, some 15 years ago, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia came out with the historic Arab Peace Initiative, which offered fully normalized relations with Israel when it made peace – an enormous opportunity then and now, which has never been fully been embraced.

That history was critical to our approach to trying to find a way to resolve the conflict. And based on my experience with both sides over the last four years, including the nine months of formal negotiations, the core issues can be resolved if there is leadership on both sides committed to finding a solution.

In the end, I believe the negotiations did not fail because the gaps were too wide, but because the level of trust was too low. Both sides were concerned that any concessions would not be reciprocated and would come at too great a political cost. And the deep public skepticism only made it more difficult for them to be able to take risks.

In the countless hours that we spent working on a detailed framework, we worked through numerous formulations and developed specific bridging proposals, and we came away with a clear understanding of the fundamental needs of both sides. In the past two and a half years, I have tested ideas with regional and international stakeholders, including our Quartet partners. And I believe what has emerged from all of that is a broad consensus on balanced principles that would satisfy the core needs of both sides.

President Clinton deserves great credit for laying out extensive parameters designed to bridge gaps in advanced final status negotiations 16 years ago. Today, with mistrust too high to even start talks, we’re at the opposite end of the spectrum. Neither side is willing to even risk acknowledging the other’s bottom line, and more negotiations that do not produce progress will only reinforce the worst fears.

Now, everyone understands that negotiations would be complex and difficult, and nobody can be expected to agree on the final result in advance. But if the parties could at least demonstrate that they understand the other side’s most basic needs – and are potentially willing to meet them if theirs are also met at the end of comprehensive negotiations – perhaps then enough trust could be established to enable a meaningful process to begin.

It is in that spirit that we offer the following principles – not to prejudge or impose an outcome, but to provide a possible basis for serious negotiations when the parties are ready. Now, individual countries may have more detailed policies on these issues – as we do, by the way – but I believe there is a broad consensus that a final status agreement that could meet the needs of both sides would do the following.

Principle number one: Provide for secure and recognized international borders between Israel and a viable and contiguous Palestine, negotiated based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed equivalent swaps.

Resolution 242, which has been enshrined in international law for 50 years, provides for the withdrawal of Israel from territory it occupied in 1967 in return for peace with its neighbors and secure and recognized borders. It has long been accepted by both sides, and it remains the basis for an agreement today.

As Secretary, one of the first issues that I worked out with the Arab League was their agreement that the reference in the Arab Peace Initiative to the 1967 lines would from now on include the concept of land swaps, which the Palestinians have acknowledged. And this is necessary to reflect practical realities on the ground, and mutually agreed equivalent swaps that will ensure that the agreement is fair to both sides.

There is also broad recognition of Israel’s need to ensure that the borders are secure and defensible, and that the territory of Palestine is viable and contiguous. Virtually everyone that I have spoken to has been clear on this principle as well: No changes by Israel to the 1967 lines will be recognized by the international community unless agreed to by both sides.

Principle two: Fulfill the vision of the UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of two states for two peoples, one Jewish and one Arab, with mutual recognition and full equal rights for all their respective citizens.

This has been the fundamental – the foundational principle of the two-state solution from the beginning: creating a state for the Jewish people and a state for the Palestinian people, where each can achieve their national aspirations. And Resolution 181 is incorporated into the foundational documents of both the Israelis and Palestinians. Recognition of Israel as a Jewish state has been the U.S. position for years, and based on my conversations in these last months, I am absolutely convinced that many others are now prepared to accept it as well – provided the need for a Palestinian state is also addressed.

We also know that there are some 1.7 million Arab citizens who call Israel their home and must now and always be able to live as equal citizens, which makes this a difficult issue for Palestinians and others in the Arab world. That’s why it is so important that in recognizing each other’s homeland – Israel for the Jewish people and Palestine for the Palestinian people – both sides reaffirm their commitment to upholding full equal rights for all of their respective citizens.

Principle number three: Provide for a just, agreed, fair, and realistic solution to the Palestinian refugee issue, with international assistance, that includes compensation, options and assistance in finding permanent homes, acknowledgment of suffering, and other measures necessary for a comprehensive resolution consistent with two states for two peoples.

The plight of many Palestinian refugees is heartbreaking, and all agree that their needs have to be addressed. As part of a comprehensive resolution, they must be provided with compensation, their suffering must be acknowledged, and there will be a need to have options and assistance in finding permanent homes. The international community can provide significant support and assistance. I know we are prepared to do that, including in raising money to help ensure the compensation and other needs of the refugees are met, and many have expressed a willingness to contribute to that effort, particularly if it brings peace. But there is a general recognition that the solution must be consistent with two states for two peoples, and cannot affect the fundamental character of Israel.

Principle four: Provide an agreed resolution for Jerusalem as the internationally recognized capital of the two states, and protect and assure freedom of access to the holy sites consistent with the established status quo.

Now, Jerusalem is the most sensitive issue for both sides, and the solution will have to meet the needs not only of the parties, but of all three monotheistic faiths. That is why the holy sites that are sacred to billions of people around the world must be protected and remain accessible and the established status quo maintained. Most acknowledge that Jerusalem should not be divided again like it was in 1967, and we believe that. At the same time, there is broad recognition that there will be no peace agreement without reconciling the basic aspirations of both sides to have capitals there.

Principle five: Satisfy Israel’s security needs and bring a full end, ultimately, to the occupation, while ensuring that Israel can defend itself effectively and that Palestine can provide security for its people in a sovereign and non-militarized state.

Security is the fundamental issue for Israel together with a couple of others I’ve mentioned, but security is critical. Everyone understands that no Israeli Government can ever accept an agreement that does not satisfy its security needs or that risk creating an enduring security threat like Gaza transferred to the West Bank. And Israel must be able to defend itself effectively, including against terrorism and other regional threats. In fact, there is a real willingness by Egypt, Jordan, and others to work together with Israel on meeting key security challenges. And I believe that those collective efforts, including close coordination on border security, intelligence-sharing, joint cooperations – joint operation, can all play a critical role in securing the peace.

At the same time, fully ending the occupation is the fundamental issue for the Palestinians. They need to know that the military occupation itself will really end after an agreed transitional process. They need to know they can live in freedom and dignity in a sovereign state while providing security for their population even without a military of their own. This is widely accepted as well. And it is important to understand there are many different ways without occupation for Israel and Palestine and Jordan and Egypt and the United States and others to cooperate in providing that security.

Now, balancing those requirements was among the most important challenges that we faced in the negotiations, but it was one where the United States has the ability to provide the most assistance. And that is why a team that was led by General John Allen, who is here, for whom I am very grateful for his many hours of effort, along with – he is one of our foremost military minds, and dozens of experts from the Department of Defense and other agencies, all of them engaged extensively with the Israeli Defense Force on trying to find solutions that could help Israel address its legitimate security needs.

They developed innovative approaches to creating unprecedented, multi-layered border security; enhancing Palestinian capacity; enabling Israel to retain the ability to address threats by itself even when the occupation had ended. General Allen and his team were not suggesting one particular outcome or one particular timeline, nor were they suggesting that technology alone would resolve these problems. They were simply working on ways to support whatever the negotiators agreed to. And they did some very impressive work that gives me total confidence that Israel’s security requirements can be met.

Principle six: End the conflict and all outstanding claims, enabling normalized relations and enhanced regional security for all as envisaged by the Arab Peace Initiative. It is essential for both sides that the final status agreement resolves all the outstanding issues and finally brings closure to this conflict, so that everyone can move ahead to a new era of peaceful coexistence and cooperation. For Israel, this must also bring broader peace with all of its Arab neighbors. That is the fundamental promise of the Arab Peace Initiative, which key Arab leaders have affirmed in these most recent days.

The Arab Peace Initiative also envisions enhanced security for all of the region. It envisages Israel being a partner in those efforts when peace is made. This is the area where Israel and the Arab world are looking at perhaps the greatest moment of potential transformation in the Middle East since Israel’s creation in 1948. The Arab world faces its own set of security challenges. With Israeli-Palestinian peace, Israel, the United States, Jordan, Egypt – together with the GCC countries – would be ready and willing to define a new security partnership for the region that would be absolutely groundbreaking.

So ladies and gentlemen, that’s why it is vital that we all work to keep open the possibility of peace, that we not lose hope in the two-state solution, no matter how difficult it may seem – because there really is no viable alternative.

Now, we all know that a speech alone won’t produce peace. But based on over 30 years of experience and the lessons from the past 4 years, I have suggested, I believe, and President Obama has signed on to and believes in a path that the parties could take: realistic steps on the ground now, consistent with the parties’ own prior commitments, that will begin the process of separating into two states; a political horizon to work towards to create the conditions for a successful final status talk; and a basis for negotiations that the parties could accept to demonstrate that they are serious about making peace.

We can only encourage them to take this path; we cannot walk down it for them. But if they take these steps, peace would bring extraordinary benefits in enhancing the security and the stability and the prosperity of Israelis, Palestinians, all of the nations of the region. The Palestinian economy has amazing potential in the context of independence, with major private sector investment possibilities and a talented, hungry, eager-to-work young workforce. Israel’s economy could enjoy unprecedented growth as it becomes a regional economic powerhouse, taking advantage of the unparalleled culture of innovation and trading opportunities with new Arab partners. Meanwhile, security challenges could be addressed by an entirely new security arrangement, in which Israel cooperates openly with key Arab states. That is the future that everybody should be working for.

President Obama and I know that the incoming administration has signaled that they may take a different path, and even suggested breaking from the longstanding U.S. policies on settlements, Jerusalem, and the possibility of a two-state solution. That is for them to decide. That’s how we work. But we cannot – in good conscience – do nothing, and say nothing, when we see the hope of peace slipping away.

This is a time to stand up for what is right. We have long known what two states living side by side in peace and security looks like. We should not be afraid to say so.

Now, I really began to reflect on what we have learned – and the way ahead – when I recently joined President Obama in Jerusalem for the state funeral for Shimon Peres. Shimon was one of the founding fathers of Israel who became one of the world’s great elder statesmen – a beautiful man. I was proud to call him my friend, and I know that President Obama was as well.

And I remembered the first time that I saw Shimon in person – standing on the White House lawn for the signing the historic Oslo Accords. And I thought about the last time, at an intimate one-on-one Shabbat dinner just a few months before he died, when we toasted together to the future of Israel and to the peace that he still so passionately believed in for his people.

He summed it up simply and eloquently, as only Shimon could, quote, “The original mandate gave the Palestinians 48 percent, now it’s down to 22 percent. I think 78 percent is enough for us.”

As we laid Shimon to rest that day, many of us couldn’t help but wonder if peace between Israelis and Palestinians might also be buried along with one of its most eloquent champions. We cannot let that happen. There is simply too much at stake – for future generations of Israelis and Palestinians – to give in to pessimism, especially when peace is, in fact, still possible.

We must not lose hope in the possibility of peace. We must not give in to those who say what is now must always be, that there is no chance for a better future. It is up to Israelis and Palestinians to make the difficult choices for peace, but we can all help. And for the sake of future generations of Israelis and Palestinians, for all the people of the region, for the United States, for all those around the world who have prayed for and worked for peace for generations, let’s hope that we are all prepared – and particularly Israelis and Palestinians – to make those choices now.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30zsPq6Z6gQ

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very, very much. Thank you. (Coughs.) Excuse me. Thank you for your patience, all of you. For those of you who celebrated Christmas, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Happy Chanukah. And to everybody here, I know it’s the middle of a holiday week. I understand. (Laughter.) But I wish you all a very, very productive and Happy New Year.

Today, I want to share candid thoughts about an issue which for decades has animated the foreign policy dialogue here and around the world – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Throughout his Administration, President Obama has been deeply committed to Israel and its security, and that commitment has guided his pursuit of peace in the Middle East. This is an issue which, all of you know, I have worked on intensively during my time as Secretary of State for one simple reason: because the two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It is the only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace and security with its neighbors. It is the only way to ensure a future of freedom and dignity for the Palestinian people. And it is an important way of advancing United States interests in the region.

Now, I’d like to explain why that future is now in jeopardy, and provide some context for why we could not, in good conscience, stand in the way of a resolution at the United Nations that makes clear that both sides must act now to preserve the possibility of peace.

I’m also here to share my conviction that there is still a way forward if the responsible parties are willing to act. And I want to share practical suggestions for how to preserve and advance the prospects for the just and lasting peace that both sides deserve.

So it is vital that we have an honest, clear-eyed conversation about the uncomfortable truths and difficult choices, because the alternative that is fast becoming the reality on the ground is in nobody’s interest – not the Israelis, not the Palestinians, not the region – and not the United States.

Now, I want to stress that there is an important point here: My job, above all, is to defend the United States of America – to stand up for and defend our values and our interests in the world. And if we were to stand idly by and know that in doing so we are allowing a dangerous dynamic to take hold which promises greater conflict and instability to a region in which we have vital interests, we would be derelict in our own responsibilities.

Regrettably, some seem to believe that the U.S. friendship means the U.S. must accept any policy, regardless of our own interests, our own positions, our own words, our own principles – even after urging again and again that the policy must change. Friends need to tell each other the hard truths, and friendships require mutual respect.

Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations, who does not support a two-state solution, said after the vote last week, quote, “It was to be expected that Israel’s greatest ally would act in accordance with the values that we share,” and veto this resolution. I am compelled to respond today that the United States did, in fact, vote in accordance with our values, just as previous U.S. administrations have done at the Security Council before us.

They fail to recognize that this friend, the United States of America, that has done more to support Israel than any other country, this friend that has blocked countless efforts to delegitimize Israel, cannot be true to our own values – or even the stated democratic values of Israel – and we cannot properly defend and protect Israel if we allow a viable two-state solution to be destroyed before our own eyes.

And that’s the bottom line: the vote in the United Nations was about preserving the two-state solution. That’s what we were standing up for: Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living side by side in peace and security with its neighbors. That’s what we are trying to preserve for our sake and for theirs.

In fact, this Administration has been Israel’s greatest friend and supporter, with an absolutely unwavering commitment to advancing Israel’s security and protecting its legitimacy.

On this point, I want to be very clear: No American administration has done more for Israel’s security than Barack Obama’s. The Israeli prime minister himself has noted our, quote, “unprecedented” military and intelligence cooperation. Our military exercises are more advanced than ever. Our assistance for Iron Dome has saved countless Israeli lives. We have consistently supported Israel’s right to defend itself, by itself, including during actions in Gaza that sparked great controversy.

Time and again we have demonstrated that we have Israel’s back. We have strongly opposed boycotts, divestment campaigns, and sanctions targeting Israel in international fora, whenever and wherever its legitimacy was attacked, and we have fought for its inclusion across the UN system. In the midst of our own financial crisis and budget deficits, we repeatedly increased funding to support Israel. In fact, more than one-half of our entire global Foreign Military Financing goes to Israel. And this fall, we concluded an historic $38 billion memorandum of understanding that exceeds any military assistance package the United States has provided to any country, at any time, and that will invest in cutting-edge missile defense and sustain Israel’s qualitative military edge for years to come. That’s the measure of our support.

This commitment to Israel’s security is actually very personal for me. On my first trip to Israel as a young senator in 1986, I was captivated by a special country, one that I immediately admired and soon grew to love. Over the years, like so many others who are drawn to this extraordinary place, I have climbed Masada, swum in the Dead Sea, driven from one Biblical city to another. I’ve also seen the dark side of Hizballah’s rocket storage facilities just across the border in Lebanon, walked through exhibits of the hell of the Holocaust at Yad Vashem, stood on the Golan Heights, and piloted an Israeli jet over the tiny airspace of Israel, which would make anyone understand the importance of security to Israelis. Out of those experiences came a steadfast commitment to Israel’s security that has never wavered for a single minute in my 28 years in the Senate or my four years as Secretary.

I have also often visited West Bank communities, where I met Palestinians struggling for basic freedom and dignity amidst the occupation, passed by military checkpoints that can make even the most routine daily trips to work or school an ordeal, and heard from business leaders who could not get the permits that they needed to get their products to the market and families who have struggled to secure permission just to travel for needed medical care.

And I have witnessed firsthand the ravages of a conflict that has gone on for far too long. I’ve seen Israeli children in Sderot whose playgrounds had been hit by Katyusha rockets. I’ve visited shelters next to schools in Kiryat Shmona that kids had 15 seconds to get to after a warning siren went off. I’ve also seen the devastation of war in the Gaza Strip, where Palestinian girls in Izbet Abed Rabo played in the rubble of a bombed-out building.

No children – Israeli or Palestinian – should have to live like that.

So, despite the obvious difficulties that I understood when I became Secretary of State, I knew that I had to do everything in my power to help end this conflict. And I was grateful to be working for President Obama, who was prepared to take risks for peace and was deeply committed to that effort.

Like previous U.S. administrations, we have committed our influence and our resources to trying to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict because, yes, it would serve American interests to stabilize a volatile region and fulfill America’s commitment to the survival, security and well-being of an Israel at peace with its Arab neighbors.

Despite our best efforts over the years, the two-state solution is now in serious jeopardy.

The truth is that trends on the ground – violence, terrorism, incitement, settlement expansion and the seemingly endless occupation – they are combining to destroy hopes for peace on both sides and increasingly cementing an irreversible one-state reality that most people do not actually want.

Today, there are a number – there are a similar number of Jews and Palestinians living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. They have a choice. They can choose to live together in one state, or they can separate into two states. But here is a fundamental reality: if the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic – it cannot be both – and it won’t ever really be at peace. Moreover, the Palestinians will never fully realize their vast potential in a homeland of their own with a one-state solution.

Now, most on both sides understand this basic choice, and that is why it is important that polls of Israelis and Palestinians show that there is still strong support for the two-state solution – in theory. They just don’t believe that it can happen.

After decades of conflict, many no longer see the other side as people, only as threats and enemies. Both sides continue to push a narrative that plays to people’s fears and reinforces the worst stereotypes rather than working to change perceptions and build up belief in the possibility of peace.

And the truth is the extraordinary polarization in this conflict extends beyond Israelis and Palestinians. Allies of both sides are content to reinforce this with an us or – “you’re with us or against us” mentality where too often anyone who questions Palestinian actions is an apologist for the occupation and anyone who disagrees with Israel policy is cast as anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic.

That’s one of the most striking realties about the current situation: This critical decision about the future – one state or two states – is effectively being made on the ground every single day, despite the expressed opinion of the majority of the people.

The status quo is leading towards one state and perpetual occupation, but most of the public either ignores it or has given up hope that anything can be done to change it. And with this passive resignation, the problem only gets worse, the risks get greater and the choices are narrowed.

This sense of hopelessness among Israelis is exacerbated by the continuing violence, terrorist attacks against civilians and incitement, which are destroying belief in the possibility of peace.

Let me say it again: There is absolutely no justification for terrorism, and there never will be.

And the most recent wave of Palestinian violence has included hundreds of terrorist attacks in the past year, including stabbings, shootings, vehicular attacks and bombings, many by individuals who have been radicalized by social media. Yet the murderers of innocents are still glorified on Fatah websites, including showing attackers next to Palestinian leaders following attacks. And despite statements by President Abbas and his party’s leaders making clear their opposition to violence, too often they send a different message by failing to condemn specific terrorist attacks and naming public squares, streets and schools after terrorists.

President Obama and I have made it clear to the Palestinian leadership countless times, publicly and privately, that all incitement to violence must stop. We have consistently condemned violence and terrorism, and even condemned the Palestinian leadership for not condemning it.

Far too often, the Palestinians have pursued efforts to delegitimize Israel in international fora. We have strongly opposed these initiatives, including the recent wholly unbalanced and inflammatory UNESCO resolution regarding Jerusalem. And we have made clear our strong opposition to Palestinian efforts against Israel at the ICC, which only sets back the prospects for peace.

And we all understand that the Palestinian Authority has a lot more to do to strengthen its institutions and improve governance.

Most troubling of all, Hamas continues to pursue an extremist agenda: they refuse to accept Israel’s very right to exist. They have a one-state vision of their own: all of the land is Palestine. Hamas and other radical factions are responsible for the most explicit forms of incitement to violence, and many of the images that they use are truly appalling. And they are willing to kill innocents in Israel and put the people of Gaza at risk in order to advance that agenda.

Compounding this, the humanitarian situation in Gaza, exacerbated by the closings of the crossings, is dire. Gaza is home to one of the world’s densest concentrations of people enduring extreme hardships with few opportunities. 1.3 million people out of Gaza’s population of 1.8 million are in need of daily assistance – food and shelter. Most have electricity less than half the time and only 5 percent of the water is safe to drink. And yet despite the urgency of these needs, Hamas and other militant groups continue to re-arm and divert reconstruction materials to build tunnels, threatening more attacks on Israeli civilians that no government can tolerate.

Now, at the same time, we have to be clear about what is happening in the West Bank. The Israeli prime minister publicly supports a two-state solution, but his current coalition is the most right wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements. The result is that policies of this government, which the prime minister himself just described as “more committed to settlements than any in Israel's history,” are leading in the opposite direction. They're leading towards one state. In fact, Israel has increasingly consolidated control over much of the West Bank for its own purposes, effectively reversing the transitions to greater Palestinian civil authority that were called for by the Oslo Accords.

I don’t think most people in Israel, and certainly in the world, have any idea how broad and systematic the process has become. But the facts speak for themselves. The number of settlers in the roughly 130 Israeli settlements east of the 1967 lines has steadily grown. The settler population in the West Bank alone, not including East Jerusalem, has increased by nearly 270,000 since Oslo, including 100,000 just since 2009, when President Obama's term began.

There's no point in pretending that these are just in large settlement blocks. Nearly 90,000 settlers are living east of the separation barrier that was created by Israel itself in the middle of what, by any reasonable definition, would be the future Palestinian state. And the population of these distant settlements has grown by 20,000 just since 2009. In fact, just recently the government approved a significant new settlement well east of the barrier, closer to Jordan than to Israel. What does that say to Palestinians in particular – but also to the United States and the world – about Israel’s intentions?

Let me emphasize, this is not to say that the settlements are the whole or even the primary cause of this conflict. Of course they are not. Nor can you say that if the settlements were suddenly removed, you’d have peace. Without a broader agreement, you would not. And we understand that in a final status agreement, certain settlements would become part of Israel to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 49 years – we understand that – including the new democratic demographic realities that exist on the ground. They would have to be factored in. But if more and more settlers are moving into the middle of Palestinian areas, it’s going to be just that much harder to separate, that much harder to imagine transferring sovereignty, and that is exactly the outcome that some are purposefully accelerating.

Let’s be clear: Settlement expansion has nothing to do with Israel's security. Many settlements actually increase the security burden on the Israeli Defense Forces. And leaders of the settler movement are motivated by ideological imperatives that entirely ignore legitimate Palestinian aspirations.

Among the most troubling illustrations of this point has been the proliferation of settler outposts that are illegal under Israel’s own laws. They’re often located on private Palestinian land and strategically placed in locations that make two states impossible. There are over 100 of these outposts. And since 2011, nearly one-third of them have been or are being legalized, despite pledges by past Israeli governments to dismantle many of them.

Now leaders of the settler movement have advanced unprecedented new legislation that would legalize most of those outposts. For the first time, it would apply Israeli domestic law to the West Bank rather than military law, which is a major step towards the process of annexation. When the law passed the first reading in the Israeli parliament, in the Knesset, one of the chief proponents said proudly – and I quote – “Today, the Israeli Knesset moved from heading towards establishing a Palestinian state towards Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.” Even the Israeli attorney general has said that the draft law is unconstitutional and a violation of international law.

Now, you may hear from advocates that the settlements are not an obstacle to peace because the settlers who don’t want to leave can just stay in Palestine, like the Arab Israelis who live in Israel. But that misses a critical point, my friends. The Arab Israelis are citizens of Israel, subject to Israel’s law. Does anyone here really believe that the settlers will agree to submit to Palestinian law in Palestine?

Likewise, some supporters of the settlements argue that the settlers could just stay in their settlements and remain as Israeli citizens in their separate enclaves in the middle of Palestine, protected by the IDF. Well, there are over 80 settlements east of the separation barrier, many located in places that would make a continuous – a contiguous Palestinian state impossible. Does anyone seriously think that if they just stay where they are you could still have a viable Palestinian state?

Now, some have asked, “Why can’t we build in the blocs which everyone knows will eventually be part of Israel?” Well, the reason building there or anywhere else in the West Bank now results in such pushback is that the decision of what constitutes a bloc is being made unilaterally by the Israeli Government, without consultation, without the consent of the Palestinians, and without granting the Palestinians a reciprocal right to build in what will be, by most accounts, part of Palestine. Bottom line – without agreement or mutuality, the unilateral choices become a major point of contention, and that is part of why we are here where we are.

You may hear that these remote settlements aren’t a problem because they only take up a very small percentage of the land. Well, again and again we have made it clear, it’s not just a question of the overall amount of land available in the West Bank. It’s whether the land can be connected or it’s broken up into small parcels, like a Swiss cheese, that could never constitute a real state. The more outposts that are built, the more the settlements expand, the less possible it is to create a contiguous state. So in the end, a settlement is not just the land that it’s on, it’s also what the location does to the movement of people, what it does to the ability of a road to connect people, one community to another, what it does to the sense of statehood that is chipped away with each new construction. No one thinking seriously about peace can ignore the reality of what the settlements pose to that peace.

But the problem, obviously, goes well beyond settlements. Trends indicate a comprehensive effort to take the West Bank land for Israel and prevent any Palestinian development there. Today, the 60 percent of the West Bank known as Area C – much of which was supposed to be transferred to Palestinian control long ago under the Oslo Accords – much of it is effectively off limits to Palestinian development. Most today has essentially been taken for exclusive use by Israel simply by unilaterally designating it as “state land” or including it within the jurisdiction of regional settlement councils. Israeli farms flourish in the Jordan River Valley, and Israeli resorts line the shores of the Dead Sea – a lot of people don’t realize this – they line the shore of the Dead Sea, where Palestinian development is not allowed. In fact, almost no private Palestinian building is approved in Area C at all. Only one permit was issued by Israel in all of 2014 and 2015, while approvals for hundreds of settlement units were advanced during that same period.

Moreover, Palestinian structures in Area C that do not have a permit from the Israeli military are potentially subject to demolition. And they are currently being demolished at an historically high rate. Over 1,300 Palestinians, including over 600 children, have been displaced by demolitions in 2016 alone – more than any previous year.

So the settler agenda is defining the future of Israel. And their stated purpose is clear. They believe in one state: greater Israel. In fact, one prominent minister, who heads a pro-settler party, declared just after the U.S. election – and I quote – “the era of the two-state solution is over,” end quote. And many other coalition ministers publicly reject a Palestinian state. And they are increasingly getting their way, with plans for hundreds of new units in East Jerusalem recently announced and talk of a major new settlement building effort in the West Bank to follow.

So why are we so concerned? Why does this matter? Well, ask yourself these questions: What happens if that agenda succeeds? Where does that lead?

There are currently about 2.75 million Palestinians living under military occupation in the West Bank, most of them in Areas A and B – 40 percent of the West Bank – where they have limited autonomy. They are restricted in their daily movements by a web of checkpoints and unable to travel into or out of the West Bank without a permit from the Israelis.

So if there is only one state, you would have millions of Palestinians permanently living in segregated enclaves in the middle of the West Bank, with no real political rights, separate legal, education, and transportation systems, vast income disparities, under a permanent military occupation that deprives them of the most basic freedoms. Separate and unequal is what you would have. And nobody can explain how that works. Would an Israeli accept living that way? Would an American accept living that way? Will the world accept it?

If the occupation becomes permanent, over the time the Palestinian Authority could simply dissolve, turn over all the administrative and security responsibilities to the Israelis. What would happen then? Who would administer the schools and hospitals and on what basis? Does Israel want to pay for the billions of dollars of lost international assistance that the Palestinian Authority now receives? Would the Israel Defense Force police the streets of every single Palestinian city and town?

How would Israel respond to a growing civil rights movement from Palestinians, demanding a right to vote, or widespread protests and unrest across the West Bank? How does Israel reconcile a permanent occupation with its democratic ideals? How does the U.S. continue to defend that and still live up to our own democratic ideals?

Nobody has ever provided good answers to those questions because there aren’t any. And there would be an increasing risk of more intense violence between Palestinians and settlers, and complete despair among Palestinians that would create very fertile ground for extremists.

With all the external threats that Israel faces today, which we are very cognizant of and working with them to deal with, does it really want an intensifying conflict in the West Bank? How does that help Israel’s security? How does that help the region?

The answer is it doesn’t, which is precisely why so many senior Israeli military and intelligence leaders, past and present, believe the two-state solution is the only real answer for Israel’s long term security.

Now, one thing we do know: if Israel goes down the one state path, it will never have true peace with the rest of the Arab world, and I can say that with certainty. The Arab countries have made clear that they will not make peace with Israel without resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That’s not where their loyalties lie. That’s not where their politics are.

But there is something new here. Common interests in countering Iran’s destabilizing activities, and fighting extremists, as well as diversifying their economies have created real possibilities for something different is Israel takes advantage of the opportunities for peace. I have spent a great deal of time with key Arab leaders exploring this, and there is no doubt that they are prepared to have a fundamentally different relationship with Israel. That was stated in the Arab Peace Initiative, years ago. And in all my recent conversations, Arab leaders have confirmed their readiness, in the context of Israeli-Palestinian peace, not just to normalize relations but to work openly on securing that peace with significant regional security cooperation. It’s waiting. It’s right there.

Many have shown a willingness to support serious Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and to take steps on the path to normalization to relations, including public meetings, providing there is a meaningful progress towards a two-state solution. My friends, that is a real opportunity that we should not allow to be missed.

And that raises one final question: Is ours the generation that gives up on the dream of a Jewish democratic state of Israel living in peace and security with its neighbors? Because that is really what is at stake.

Now, that is what informed our vote at the Security Council last week – the need to preserve the two-state solution – and both sides in this conflict must take responsibility to do that. We have repeatedly and emphatically stressed to the Palestinians that all incitement to violence must stop. We have consistently condemned all violence and terrorism, and we have strongly opposed unilateral efforts to delegitimize Israel in international fora.

We’ve made countless public and private exhortations to the Israelis to stop the march of settlements. In literally hundreds of conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu, I have made clear that continued settlement activity would only increase pressure for an international response. We have all known for some time that the Palestinians were intent on moving forward in the UN with a settlements resolution, and I advised the prime minister repeatedly that further settlement activity only invited UN action.

Yet the settlement activity just increased, including advancing the unprecedented legislation to legalize settler outposts that the prime minister himself reportedly warned could expose Israel to action at the Security Council and even international prosecution before deciding to support it.

In the end, we could not in good conscience protect the most extreme elements of the settler movement as it tries to destroy the two-state solution. We could not in good conscience turn a blind eye to Palestinian actions that fan hatred and violence. It is not in U.S. interest to help anyone on either side create a unitary state. And we may not be able to stop them, but we cannot be expected to defend them. And it is certainly not the role of any country to vote against its own policies.

That is why we decided not to block the UN resolution that makes clear both sides have to take steps to save the two-state solution while there is still time. And we did not take this decision lightly. The Obama Administration has always defended Israel against any effort at the UN and any international fora or biased and one-sided resolutions that seek to undermine its legitimacy or security, and that has not changed. It didn’t change with this vote.

But remember it’s important to note that every United States administration, Republican and Democratic, has opposed settlements as contrary to the prospects for peace, and action at the UN Security Council is far from unprecedented. In fact, previous administrations of both political parties have allowed resolutions that were critical of Israel to pass, including on settlements. On dozens of occasions under George W. Bush alone, the council passed six resolutions that Israel opposed, including one that endorsed a plan calling for a complete freeze on settlements, including natural growth.

Let me read you the lead paragraph from a New York Times story dated December 23rd. I quote: “With the United States abstaining, the Security Council adopted a resolution today strongly deploring Israel’s handling of the disturbances in the occupied territories, which the resolution defined as, including Jerusalem. All of the 14 other Security Council members voted in favor.” My friends, that story was not written last week. It was written December 23rd, 1987, 26 years to the day that we voted last week, when Ronald Reagan was president.

Yet despite growing pressure, the Obama Administration held a strong line against UN action, any UN action, we were the only administration since 1967 that had not allowed any resolution to pass that Israel opposed. In fact, the only time in eight years the Obama Administration exercised its veto at the United Nations was against a one-sided settlements resolution in 2011. And that resolution did not mention incitement or violence.

Now let’s look at what’s happened since then. Since then, there have been over 30,000 settlement units advanced through some stage of the planning process. That’s right – over 30,000 settlement units advanced notwithstanding the positions of the United States and other countries. And if we had vetoed this resolution just the other day, the United States would have been giving license to further unfettered settlement construction that we fundamentally oppose.

So we reject the criticism that this vote abandons Israel. On the contrary, it is not this resolution that is isolating Israel; it is the permanent policy of settlement construction that risks making peace impossible. And virtually every country in the world other than Israel opposes settlements. That includes many of the friends of Israel, including the United Kingdom, France, Russia – all of whom voted in favor of the settlements resolution in 2011 that we vetoed, and again this year along with every other member of the council.

In fact, this resolution simply reaffirms statements made by the Security Council on the legality of settlements over several decades. It does not break new ground. In 1978, the State Department Legal Adviser advised the Congress on his conclusion that Israel’s government, the Israeli Government’s program of establishing civilian settlements in the occupied territory is inconsistent with international law, and we see no change since then to affect that fundamental conclusion.

Now, you may have heard that some criticized this resolution for calling East Jerusalem occupied territory. But to be clear, there was absolutely nothing new in last week’s resolution on that issue. It was one of a long line of Security Council resolutions that included East Jerusalem as part of the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, and that includes resolutions passed by the Security Council under President Reagan and President George H.W. Bush. And remember that every U.S. administration since 1967, along with the entire international community, has recognized East Jerusalem as among the territories that Israel occupied in the Six-Day War.

Now, I want to stress this point: We fully respect Israel’s profound historic and religious ties to the city and to its holy sites. We’ve never questioned that. This resolution in no manner prejudges the outcome of permanent status negotiations on East Jerusalem, which must, of course, reflect those historic ties and the realities on the ground. That’s our position. We still support it.

We also strongly reject the notion that somehow the United States was the driving force behind this resolution. The Egyptians and Palestinians had long made clear to all of us – to all of the international community – their intention to bring a resolution to a vote before the end of the year, and we communicated that to the Israelis and they knew it anyway. The United States did not draft or originate this resolution, nor did we put it forward. It was drafted by Egypt – it was drafted and I think introduced by Egypt, which is one of Israel’s closest friends in the region, in coordination with the Palestinians and others.

And during the time of the process as it went out, we made clear to others, including those on the Security Council, that it was possible that if the resolution were to be balanced and it were to include references to incitement and to terrorism, that it was possible the United States would then not block it, that – if it was balanced and fair. That’s a standard practice with resolutions at the Security Council. The Egyptians and the Palestinians and many others understood that if the text were more balanced, it was possible we wouldn’t block it. But we also made crystal clear that the President of the United States would not make a final decision about our own position until we saw the final text.

In the end, we did not agree with every word in this resolution. There are important issues that are not sufficiently addressed or even addressed at all. But we could not in good conscience veto a resolution that condemns violence and incitement and reiterates what has been for a long time the overwhelming consensus and international view on settlements and calls for the parties to start taking constructive steps to advance the two-state solution on the ground.

Ultimately, it will be up to the Israeli people to decide whether the unusually heated attacks that Israeli officials have directed towards this Administration best serve Israel’s national interests and its relationship with an ally that has been steadfast in its support, as I described. Those attacks, alongside allegations of U.S.-led conspiracy and other manufactured claims, distract attention from what the substance of this vote was really all about.

And we all understand that Israel faces very serious threats in a very tough neighborhood. Israelis are rightfully concerned about making sure that there is not a new terrorist haven right next door to them, often referencing what’s happened with Gaza, and we understand that and we believe there are ways to meet those needs of security. And Israelis are fully justified in decrying attempts to legitimize[1] their state and question the right of a Jewish state to exist. But this vote was not about that. It was about actions that Israelis and Palestinians are taking that are increasingly rendering a two-state solution impossible. It was not about making peace with the Palestinians now – it was about making sure that peace with the Palestinians will be possible in the future.

Now, we all understand that Israel faces extraordinary, serious threats in a very tough neighborhood. And Israelis are very correct in making sure that there’s not a terrorist haven right on their border.

But this vote – I can’t emphasize enough – is not about the possibility of arriving at an agreement that’s going to resolve that overnight or in one year or two years. This is about a longer process. This is about how we make peace with the Palestinians in the future but preserve the capacity to do so.

So how do we get there? How do we get there, to that peace?

Since the parties have not yet been able to resume talks, the U.S. and the Middle East Quartet have repeatedly called on both sides to independently demonstrate a genuine commitment to the two-state solution – not just with words, but with real actions and policies – to create the conditions for meaningful negotiations.

We’ve called for both sides to take significant steps on the ground to reverse current trends and send a different message – a clear message – that they are prepared to fundamentally change the equation without waiting for the other side to act.

We have pushed them to comply with their basic commitments under their own prior agreements in order to advance a two-state reality on the ground.

We have called for the Palestinians to do everything in their power to stop violence and incitement, including publicly and consistently condemning acts of terrorism and stopping the glorification of violence.

And we have called on them to continue efforts to strengthen their own institutions and to improve governance, transparency, and accountability.

And we have stressed that the Hamas arms buildup and militant activities in Gaza must stop.

Along with our Quartet partners, we have called on Israel to end the policy of settlement construction and expansion, of taking land for exclusive Israeli use and denying Palestinian development.

To reverse the current process, the U.S. and our partners have encouraged Israel to resume the transfer of greater civil authority to the Palestinians in Area C, consistent with the transition that was called for by Oslo. And we have made clear that significant progress across a range of sectors, including housing, agriculture, and natural resources, can be made without negatively impacting Israel’s legitimate security needs. And we’ve called for significantly easing the movement and access restrictions to and from Gaza, with due consideration for Israel’s need to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks.

 

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Remarks at a Press Availability

Remarks    John Kerry  January 5, 2017

SECRETARY KERRY: Hi, everybody. Matt, welcome back.

QUESTION: Happy New Year. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Congratulations, Matt.

QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY KERRY: A little Vaille.

QUESTION: Yeah.

SECRETARY KERRY: No sleep.

QUESTION: Happy New Year, Mr. Secretary.

QUESTION: What’s that?

SECRETARY KERRY: What?

QUESTION: Happy New Year, sir.

SECRETARY KERRY: Happy New Year to everybody. Thank you all. Great to see you. That’s sort of a wistful smile. (Laughter.) Anyway.

Thanks all for coming to share some thoughts here. I want to wish everybody a very, very happy 2017 and great adventures ahead of all of you. I guess everybody wants to start off the new year by visiting our very elegant briefing room, so here I am.

Obviously, 2017 is a little different for me and for those of us who represent the transitory force of the State Department. So our key is to at this point be ensuring a smooth transition. And ensuring a smooth transition is guaranteeing that you have sort of a starting point, I think, which is what brings us all here. It brings me here this afternoon. It’s a moment where I have an opportunity to be able to talk about where we are now and how we got here.

So as all of you know, the White House – excuse me – the White House released a Cabinet memo earlier today that summarized the actions and accomplishments of the State Department over the course of these last four years. And as the memo makes clear, the United States has been more deeply engaged in more places to greater effect than at any time in American history. And while the full list is too expansive to review in detail here, I do want to just highlight a few key areas if I can.

First of all, the State Department’s core responsibilities are to protect the American people at home and abroad, and also to advance our interests and our values. That is what we do every single day, and nowhere, I think, has that been more pronounced than in our campaign to take on and defeat the terrorist group known as Daesh, or in some quarters, ISIL.

At President Obama’s direction, we here worked overtime to assemble a 68-nation coalition that has come together from across the globe to oppose a genocidal enemy waging war on civilization itself. Now remember, just two years ago these thugs were rampaging across the Middle East. I think everybody here can remember the images of convoys of Toyotas waving black flags and triumphantly parading through the desert and through community after community as they threatened the entire stability of the region. And we can all recall – some of us perhaps much more vividly than we might like to remember because of intelligence briefings – the videos, the horrific videos, of people being beheaded, burned alive, and the panicky predictions that Daesh was about to redraw the entire map of the Middle East. I ask you just to go back to those months and review a few days of the discussions to get back in touch with the fear and the impending sense of doom that a lot of people felt.

The President of the United States made an immediate decision then to deploy American airpower and to guarantee the safety of Baghdad – indeed, the security of Iraq and the region itself. And together with our coalition members and friends, we did not let the worst happen. We turned it around.

Our strategy has been to rehabilitate Iraq’s military, to kill Daesh’s leaders, to demolish their revenue sources, to curb their recruitment, to rebut their poisonous ideas, and to support our local partners as they liberate the towns and the communities that Daesh once occupied. I’m proud to tell you that that plan has in fact been working. Today, Kobani is free. Tikrit is free. Fallujah is free. Ramadi is free. And in time, Mosul, where there’s about a 60 percent liberation of the eastern side of the community, is inextricably going to be free. And then, Raqqa. And before long, Daesh’s phony caliphate is going to have been turned to dust.

Now, that doesn’t mean that the whole threat of Daesh is gone all of a sudden. No, it isn’t. Daesh obviously continues to adapt in certain ways to these changing circumstances, and so the threat adapts with it. And they will most likely try to establish new footholds or to instigate and to inspire isolated attacks. We have seen some of that obviously through social media.

But the bottom line remains that we have made enormous gains over the course of these two years, and we have done it without betraying our democratic ideals, without betraying our democratic values or changing our way of life. So we are on the right path both diplomatically and militarily and we need to stay on that course. And I guarantee you that over the period of this next year and into the future, Daesh is going to be thoroughly defeated.

We also need to remember that we will not defeat these terrorists anywhere, at any place, without the help from the one group that has been most victimized by terrorism, and that is our friends and our partners in the Islamic world itself.

The second area that I want to highlight is the Iran nuclear agreement, which is a demonstration, quite simply, of the power of diplomacy to be able to address major international problems short of war. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has made the world and our allies safer, including Israel and the Gulf states.

Let me be very explicit about that. When we sat down to begin that negotiation, there were more than 19,000 centrifuges spinning and enriching fuel. There were 12,000 kilograms of enriched radioactive fuel material, which with one more enrichment could move to bomb-level development capacity. There was enough nuclear material to be able to produce somewhere between 10 to 12 bombs, if that were the direction that Iran decided to continue to move. And a unilateral approach or refusing to negotiate at all, which some advocated, would have left us with two very bad choices: the short-term risk of a nuclear-armed Iran, and yet another conflict in the Middle East.

And to be clear – to be crystal clear – terminating that agreement now would leave us with those same bad choices. You cannot make a bomb with 300 kilograms of enriched material – that’s all they have today – from 12,000. You cannot make a bomb when you are limited to 3.67 percent of enrichment, and that is being tracked on a daily basis. The number of centrifuges today is down to about 5,000, which is permitted under the agreement.

So what we’ve seen is the joint plan has in fact blocked each of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon, and I might add, by the choice of Iran to submit to this – not because it does it in and of itself, but because this is an agreement and Iran agreed to these terms of the agreement. We have eliminated 98 percent of the stockpile that existed of enriched uranium, and we’ve shut down two-thirds of the centrifuges, and we have made the overall – I think a better way to phrase that is that the agreement, because it takes two to create an agreement, or more – in this case the P5+1 – the agreement itself creates the most rigorous inspection regime that has ever been negotiated.

We simply could not have accomplished any of that by going it alone, which is why we engaged in a joint diplomatic effort, and the result is that we now have the world on our side. The world is supporting this agreement and supporting the fact that a potential nuclear weapon has been eliminated in a particularly volatile region of the world.

The result is that if we maintain our leverage and meet our obligations, then we will be able to ensure that Iran has a reason to and a requirement to do the same.

Now, our diplomacy has already also made a major difference on global issues, including climate change. The science is absolutely irrefutable that the growth in greenhouse gas emissions is a dire threat to which we have to respond. And in 2016, we did respond. I think it’s safe to say that, in terms of environmental diplomacy, the past year may have been the most productive in history.

Our initiative to reach out to China changed the trajectory of possibilities after the disappointment of Copenhagen, where China had been on the other side. But because we reached out and we engaged proactively in diplomacy and we were able to reach agreement with China, our President, President Obama, and President Xi were able to stand up together in Beijing and together announce the unity of the two largest emitters in the world – emitters of gases – to come together to try to forge an agreement in Paris. And that initiative allowed us to reach the Paris Agreement, which then entered into force far more effectively and quickly than anybody in the world could have predicted.

The Paris climate agreement commits the parties to set and meet ambitious emission targets, each country with its own plan. I meant to bring it down and I didn’t bring it with me from my office upstairs. I have a number of vials of air in my office – small little vials, glass vials. They come from the South Pole. When I was in Antarctica, I was given these vials. We were snowed out in our ability to get there, but they gave me this vial, which has on it a tracing of the rise of carbon dioxide. And on the vial, it says “The Cleanest Air in the World.” And that air that is the cleanest air in the world is 401.6 parts per million filled with carbon dioxide. That is more than 50 parts per million above what scientists tell us is the tipping point with respect to the potential damage to the Earth’s climate. And that’s the cleanest air on Earth.

So the challenge comes home in scientific terms again and again, in ways that are just indescribable. And we now have, because of Paris, more than 186 nations joined together, each with their own plan to reduce emissions and try to preserve this planet of ours. But in addition to that, we worked together with other countries to bring the aviation industry together to the table. The aviation industry was not part of the Paris Agreement, but when you add the aviation industry to – all together, you have what would be the equivalent of the twelfth largest country emissions in the world. But we reached an agreement, whereby the aviation industry will also contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases.

And then in Kigali, we managed to approve an amendment to phase down the use of heat-trapping hydrofluorocarbons – HFCs as they’re called, which are – they’re used in refrigerants. And by phasing them down, this may be the single most effective one step we could take to try to reduce a rise in temperature, and the scientists tell us that that step alone could reduce the rise of temperature by one half a degree centrigrade by itself.

And finally, we designated the planet’s largest marine protected area, the Ross Sea, in the Antarctic Ocean and will preserve it for the future, in terms of science and research and in terms of fishing exploitation.

So the bottom line is that we have sent a powerful message to governments, to the private sector, to citizens everywhere that we are entering a new era in which reliance on fossil fuels is reduced while greener and cleaner energy carries us forward. And make no mistake – we do not believe that we can shift into reverse or even stop in this endeavor. This is a race against time, a race against what is unraveling, in terms of forces of ecosystem and Mother Nature that not everybody completely comprehends in terms of how fast or what may happen, but absolutely comprehends that it presents catastrophic risk to human beings. If we’re going to keep faith with future generations, it is imperative for us to keep moving ahead.

We also have progress to report in our own region. Our opening to Cuba after 54 years has strengthened our position throughout the hemisphere, and it’s given fresh hope to an embattled population just 90 miles from our shores. We also helped Colombia end the world’s longest-running civil conflict. We appointed a special envoy, Bernie Aronson, who worked day-to-day on that, and our team worked on it. I met with FARC; we met with President Santos, with the Colombians. We encouraged this process and, together with Norway, we are co-chairing the demining initiative, which will make a profound impact when it is complete to the lives of people in Colombia.

Across the Atlantic, we have been steadfast in supporting a democratic Ukraine and in responding to Russian provocations through expanded assistance to our allies in Northern and Central Europe. We have quadrupled, to about $3.4 billion, the amount of money that we are putting in to helping our friends on the frontlines be able to adequately build up their defenses and to guarantee their security.

We played a pivotal role in forging a national unity government in Afghanistan that, while still facing challenges, has kept alive the chance for future progress. And we all know how difficult that could have been when an election had serious problems and the country was poised to perhaps see the government fall apart and maybe even enter into civil war. And yet we helped to broker and pull together the parties into a unity government that still today is managing to move forward in Afghanistan.

Elsewhere in Asia, we have been standing side-by-side with our friends, strengthening sanctions on North Korea, improving regional missile defense capabilities, supporting the rule of law in the South China Sea, and forging a strategic partnership with India, enhancing our ties with Vietnam, and spurring democratic progress in Myanmar, where a freely elected parliament has been seated for the first time.

In Africa, I’m proud to say that we have worked long and hard with country after country, with governments and civil society every single day to combat hunger, to increase digital access, to train the leaders oftomorrow. I think one of the most lasting, enduring efforts of President Obama will be his Young Leaders Initiatives, and particularly the Young African and Young Southeast Asian, Young Asian Leaders Initiatives. And we have also taken a lead in helping Nigeria through a difficult election process and then ultimately to fight back against Boko Haram. We’ve helped the Somalians fight back against al-Shabaab. We have worked diligently to try to prevent genocide in South Sudan and worked in the region to try to bring people together and turn away from the potential of challenged and failing governments.

We have particularly helped push back against any number of violent extremist groups, including our efforts most recently to liberate Sirte in Libya from the clenches of Daesh.

We also joined with partners – and I think this is one of the most not fully understood but nevertheless important accomplishments of these last years, and that is rescuing the world, in a way, from the threat of Ebola. We stopped Ebola in its tracks, but it wasn’t easy, because nobody knew completely what we didn’t know even. And the President made the daring choice of sending some 3,000 or so American troops there to build capacity so we could deliver health care, working with the French, who took on major responsibility, and the British, who took on major responsibility. And together with partners all around the world, we were able to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people whom it was predicted would die by Christmas of two years ago. The predictions, as you recall, were perhaps a million people would die by Christmas. And through PEPFAR and the Global Fund, we’ve brought our world to the threshold of the first born-free-from-AIDS generation in 30 years.

Now, obviously we haven’t solved every problem. No, we haven’t. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues, but we are absolutely right to support a two-state solution and to warn about the danger of actions on any side that could obstruct that possibility.

We’re also right to insist that a diplomatic path is the only way out of the disastrous situation in Syria, one of the most intractable and complex conflicts in modern history and the worst humanitarian catastrophe since World War II. And despite our best efforts to mobilize a unified response from the international community and to ease tensions and reduce violence and save lives, obviously the war has continued at considerable human cost.

After more than five years of tragedy, this much remains clear: It is only through a political solution that ultimately the country can be unified, the country can be rebuilt, and the violence can actually be stopped. It is only through a political solution that actual peace can finally come to Syria.

Now, the military strategies that are pursued by the regime and its backers in Moscow and Tehran, if that’s all there is, will only lengthen the war and generate more extremists and further inflame sectarian fighting. That’s why the United States continues to support diplomatic efforts to achieve an effective cessation of hostilities and a transition to a government capable of uniting the Syrian people. And we’re not competing with – we back – the efforts of Russia and Turkey and Iran to talk. We’ve – I’ve been in conversation with secretary – with Minister Lavrov, with Minister Cavusoglu and others, even in the last days, encouraging this process and talking about how we would build conceivably on what happens in Astana, if it can happen, in order to get to Geneva and get to the real negotiations that the international community supports.

Finally, I just want to emphasize how much of this department’s work takes place out of the spotlight. There are an amazing number of unsung heroes in this building and around the world in all of our outposts and our missions, and that includes people who work for us from another country but who join in and become part of the family and part of the team in some embassy, in some outpost, in some mission, in some consulate, somewhere in the world. Every day, at more than 240 posts that represent our nation, our personnel are sitting down with foreign counterparts in order to share outlooks and deal with different problems, to help American businesses, help students, help travelers; advocate on behalf of democratic values, human rights, including the freedom of the press; and contributing in ways large and small to the global goals of stability and prosperity and peace.

And overall, I think when you consider the scale of the challenges that we faced, the speed with which we have had to act, the multiple simultaneous crises that we faced, the limits imposed on our resources, I think when you measure all of this, Americans can take enormous pride in what our diplomats and our leaders have been able to accomplish in order to advance the interests of our nation and keep our country safe.

Now, we will turn over to our successors a country whose international standing is much improved from 2009 when President Obama took office eight years ago, and no one should forget the incredible fragility of the global economic crisis as a consequence of the late 2008/early 2009 economic disaster that we faced on a global basis. Economically, we have moved from the depths of crisis to robust levels of exports – the longest sustained period of private sector job growth in United States history.

Our overseas alliances in Europe and Asia are vigorous and strong. We have strengthened what we do in Asia, strengthened the relationship between Korea and Japan, strengthened our relationship trilaterally with Korea and Japan, worked effectively with China to try to define a new model of how important powers need to work in the world. Our overseas alliances in Europe and Asia are both vigorous and strong today. We have, as I described earlier, strengthened our alliance with NATO, strengthened our alliance with the frontline states. Our level of security support to a democratic Israel is unprecedented. Across the globe, we have helped to ensure that a child entering the world today is more likely to be born healthy, more likely to receive the necessary vaccinations, more likely to be educated, more likely to live a long life, than any previous generation. And that is just as true for women and girls as it is for men and boys.

Now, obviously, there are many people yet to reach. We all understand that. I just left a meeting with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a luncheon today, in which I talked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle about the great challenge that we need to make sure we are properly funding in order to be able to meet the expectations of the United States of America as a force for good and a force for stability and a force for peace in the world.

Now, I know you know me well. I could probably go on a little longer on one or two aspects of this, but I want to save some time for your questions and have a chance to have a little give-and-take here. Let me just say, obviously, that for me it has been an enormous privilege to serve as Secretary of State. I still believe it is a spectacular job with enormous opportunities, but needless to say, those opportunities depend on the president you’re serving with to a large measure. And I have been very blessed to serve with a president who gave me a long leash, allowed me to take risks and attempt to get things done. It’s the best job I could possibly imagine.

And I’m obviously pleased to be able to share this last press briefing, press conference, with you here at the State Department, certainly, because you all do a very important job with respect to everything else we’re trying to do. And I talk about this, as you know, when I travel. We are blessed. We have a press, obviously, that’s inquisitive and open and free, that asks tough questions, and that’s part of the great strength of our system and of our country. And sometimes it gets contentious, sure. But in the end, this is part of what helps keep us free and keep us strong. So I appreciate the fact that you are trying to educate people around the world, but most of you, you’re focused on the truth. You’re trying to find out what’s really happening and keep the transparency and accountability of democracy alive and well.

I’m also mindful of the dangers that you and your colleagues face while covering conflict and turmoil and of the stress that your profession is undergoing today because of the transformation in the marketplace of ideas and of communications. I also understand it in more fundamental terms, having worked very hard to get Jason Rezaian home, and facing, as we do, challenges with respect to other reporters in other parts of the world. The demands on you are great. I salute the way in which you meet them with skill, with tenacity, and many, many long hours in pretty uncomfortable seats in the back of the airplane. And I trust that you will continue to do what you do today with the same good spirit and good intention.

So now I turn it over to you. Before I do that, I want to recognize the retirement of Samir Nader, veteran reporter from Radio Sawa. As many of you know, Samir has been covering Washington since the 1970s, here at the State Department since 2002. He is known for his incisive reporting about the Middle East and for sharing, I think, a lot of his wisdom with some younger reporters. So he’s also known for always being a gentleman. So we appreciate that and we’re all going to miss you, Samir. I wish you the best for the future. And so today, I’m going to turn to you and give you the first question. (Applause.)

You better be nice too. (Laughter.)

 


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Viola Davis introduces Meryl Streep Lifetime Achievement Award

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYTmZHfoqYI

“You’ll have to forgive me, I’ve lost my voice in screaming in lamentation this weekend, and I have lost my mind sometime earlier this year, so I have to read.

“Thank you, Hollywood Foreign Press. Just to pick up on what Hugh Laurie said, you and all of us in this room, really, belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now. Think about it: Hollywood, foreigners, and the press.

“But who are we, and what is Hollywood anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places. I was born and raised and educated in the public schools of New Jersey. Viola [Davis] was born in a sharecropper’s cabin in South Carolina, came up in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Sarah Paulson was born in Florida, raised by a single mom in Brooklyn. Sarah Jessica Parker was one of seven or eight kids from Ohio. Amy Adams was born in Vicenza, Veneto, Italy, and Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Where are their birth certificates?

“And the beautiful Ruth Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, raised in London — no, Ireland, I do believe, and she’s here nominated for playing a small-town girl from Virginia. Ryan Gosling, like all the nicest people, is Canadian. And Dev Patel was born in Kenya, raised in London, is here playing an Indian raised in Tasmania. So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners, and if we kick them all out we’ll have nothing to watch except football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.

“They gave me three seconds to say this. So an actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us, and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that. Breathtaking, compassionate work. But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head. Because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life.

“And this instinct to humiliate when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing.

“Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.

“Okay, this brings me to the press. We need a principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our Constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press, and all of us in our community, to join me in supporting the Committee to protect journalists, because we’re going to need them going forward, and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.

“One more thing: Once when I was standing around on the set one day, whining about something, you know, we were going to work through supper or the long hours or whatever. Tommy Lee Jones said to me, ‘Isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor?’ Yeah, it is, and we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy. We should all be very proud of the work Hollywood honors here tonight.

“As my friend the dear departed Princess Leia said to me once, ‘Take your broken heart. Make it into art.’ Thank you.”

「今私は声が出なくなっています。お許しください。今週、悲しみで悲鳴を上げて声が枯れてしまいました。少し前には、気が動転したこともありました。だから、みなさんへのメッセージを読み上げます。

(ゴールデングローブ賞の受賞者を選定している)ハリウッド外国人映画記者協会の方々に感謝します。ヒュー・ローリーも言っていましたが、この部屋の私たち全員が、今アメリカ社会で最もけなされている部類に属している人間であることがわかります。ハリウッド、外国人、そして報道陣、です。

私たちは誰なのでしょう?ハリウッドとは何なのでしょう?ハリウッドは、あらゆるところからやって来た人が、寄せ集まって出来ている場です。私はニュージャージーの公立学校で生まれ育ち、教育されました。

ヴィオラ・デイビスはサウスカロライナ州の農地の小屋で生まれ、ロードアイランドのセントラルフォールズで育ちました。サラ・ポールソンはフロリダ州で生まれ、ブルックリンでシングルマザーに育てられました。

サラ・ジェシカ・パーカーは、オハイオ州の7、8人のきょうだいの一人でした。エイミー・アダムスはイタリアのヴェネト州ヴィチェンツァで生まれ、ナタリーポートマンはエルサレムで生まれました。この人たちの出生証明書は、一体どこにあるのでしょうか?

そして美しいルース・ネッガは、エチオピアのアディス・アベバで生まれ、ロンドンで育ちました。いえ、ロンドンではなく、アイルランドだったはずです。ルースはバージニア州の小さな町の女性の演技を評価され、ノミネートされました。

ライアン・ゴスリングはカナダ人です。そしてデーヴ・パテールは、ケニアで生まれロンドンで育ちました。デーヴは、タスマニア育ちのインド人の役を演じました。ハリウッドはよそ者や外国人だらけです。私たちが彼らを全員排除したら、アメフトやマーシャル・アーツしか観るものがなくなってしまいます。それらは芸術ではありません。

あまり時間をもらっていないので、続けます。俳優の仕事は、自分とは異なる人の人生を演じることです。そして、その人たちの人生がどういうものなのか、観客に感じさせることです。今年私は、まさにそのことを成し遂げた、数多くの力強い演技を目にしました。息を呑むほど、思いやりのある仕事です。

でも、今年、私を驚かせた演技がひとつありました。私はそれを目にして、衝撃を受けました。感激したからではありません。そのパフォーマンスには良いところはありませんでした。しかし効果的であり、果たすべき役割を果たしました。それは、それを期待していた聴衆を笑わせました。

私たちの国で、最も尊敬されている場所に立とうとしている人が、特権、権力、そして反撃する能力において、自分のほうがはるかに上回っているにも関わらず、体の不自由な記者の真似をしたのです。

私はそれを見たとき、 胸が張り裂けそうでした。私はまだ、自分の頭の中からそのときの記憶を消し去ることができません。なぜならそれは、映画の中の出来事ではなく、現実の出来事だったからです。

誰かに屈辱的なことをする。公の場で権力を持っている人がそのような行為をした時、他のすべての人生に影響してきます。他の人たちも同じような行動をとっても良いと、許可を与えることになるからです。

無礼は無礼を招く。暴力は暴力を呼び起こす。権力者が、その地位を利用していじめをすると、私たち全員が負けることになります。

ここで、報道陣の話をさせてください。 私たちには、怒りで声をあげなくてはならない事態が起きた時に、信念のある報道陣がしっかりと声をあげてくれることが必要なのです。

だからこそ、私たちの国、アメリカを建国した人たちは、憲法の中で、報道とその自由を守ることを決めたのです。だから私は、裕福なことで有名なハリウッド外国人映画記者協会と映画業界のみなさんに、ジャーナリスト保護委員会への支援を呼びかけたいのです。真実を守りながら前に進んでいくために彼らの力が必要だからです。

最後にもう一つ言わせてください。ある日、私が撮影のセットにいた時、愚痴を言っていました。撮影が長時間に渡って、夕食の時間まで続いたりしていた時です。一緒にいたトミー・リー・ジョーンズは、「メリル、俳優をやれているのはそれだけで名誉なことだよね」と言いました。

その通りです。私たちは、自分に与えられた名誉や特権、責任、他者に共感する気持ちを忘れてはいけないのです。私たちは、ハリウッドが今夜この場で褒め称えている仕事のすべてを、誇りに思うべきです。

私の友人だったレイア姫ことキャリー・フィッシャーが、生前こういうことを言っていました。「あなたの傷ついた心を、どうか芸術に昇華して」。みなさん、どうもありがとう

https://www.buzzfeed.com/claudiakoerner/heres-meryl-streeps-speech-about-trump-and-hollywood-at-the?utm_term=.dpW4vlAJyJ#.ue3MQyJg4g

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Press Conference by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at United Nations Headquarters

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6p6jzB2CAaE&t=46s

 

Following is a transcript of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s press conference, held in New York today:

It is a great pleasure to see you this morning.  Usually we gather at this time around this year but now we meet at the end of my term.  Believe it or not, I will miss these exchanges.  We have spent much time together in this room, in the halls of this building and around the world over the last 10 years.  You are part of the UN family.  And I thank you for your strong commitment and working together, working for the United Nations.

More than that, you have an important job to do — informing the world about our work — when we make progress and when we fall short.  I deeply believe in your mission.  I have been saying that you are connecting the world, connector between the United Nations and the people of the world.  And at a time when Governments across the world are harassing journalists and cracking down on press freedom, I have worked hard to be your ally and defender.  The fight for freedom of the press is everybody’s fight.

I will be brief today to allow maximum time for questions.  Let me make just three points.  First, the carnage in Syria remains a gaping hole in the global conscience.  Aleppo is now a synonym for hell.  As I told the Security Council three days ago, we have collectively failed the people of Syria.  Peace will only prevail when it is accompanied by compassion, justice and accountability for the abominable crimes we have seen.

Second, I am closely following the deteriorating situation in South Sudan.  This week marks the third anniversary of the fighting.  The country’s leaders have betrayed their people’s trust, and squandered a peace agreement.  Tens of thousands lie dead.  Most immediately, my Special Adviser Mr. Adama Dieng, has warned of the risk of genocide.  We continue to push for access for lifesaving relief.  And I urge the Security Council to take more concerted action, including through punitive measures.

Third, we will continue to support the global momentum behind the Paris Agreement on climate change.  Climate action means jobs, growth, cleaner air and better health.  Leaders from across the globe and on every front understand this — from Fortune 500 CEOs to Governors and Mayors.  The Paris Agreement on climate change is a precious achievement that we must support and nurture.  There is no turning back.  I will undertake one last trip during my final days in office — to speak at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, and to visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield.

One can draw a straight line from the principles that President Lincoln defended to those that represent the best spirit of the United States and that animate the United Nations.  Lincoln was a heroic force for equality, integration and reconciliation; and desperately, we need that spirit today.  This has been a decade of unceasing test.  But, I have also seen collective action change millions of lives for the better.

Difficult as it may sometimes be, international cooperation remains the path to a more peaceful and prosperous world.  I will continue to spare no effort to appeal to world leaders, long-standing or newly minted, to recognize and embrace that preeminent twenty-first-century fact.

Finally, I wish to express my appreciation to our host country and host city.  Yesterday in Washington, D.C., I thanked President [Barack] Obama, Vice-President [Joseph] Biden and National Security Adviser [Susan] Rice for their strong support over the years.  We all stressed the centrality of close, productive ties between the United States and the United Nations.

I have also recently met with Mayor [Bill] de Blasio of New York and Governor [Chris] Christie of New Jersey, and will speak soon to Governor [Andrew] Cuomo of New York.  The United Nations continues to draw strength from its home here in the New York metropolitan area.

Thank you again for your friendship over the past decade.  And I wish you continued good success, and work and engage more closely with the UN, so that you will always deliver and connect the world with the United Nations. And thank you very much.  Now, let me say one last thing, I am happy to take your questions. Thank you.

**Questions and Answers

Spokesman:  Giampaolo?

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, on behalf of the United Nations Correspondents Association, thank you again for the last press conference.  But, thank you, also, for your cooperation and friendship of this decade with us.  We really appreciate that.  And, also, thank you for your battle for freedom of the press.  My last question to you is a simple one.  My colleague will ask tough question.  I have a soft one.  In two weeks, you will face two options:  Relax and retire, or run for President of [the Republic of Korea].  Because this is your last question, we would like to know which one of these options you will choose, and you have to give us a real clear answer now.  Thank you.

Secretary-General:  The first part of your question, of course, I will take some more days to take rest.  As you know, during the last 10 years, frankly speaking, I have not been able to take any proper vacations and rest.  It's been quite [a] tough 10 years.  But, I have been working just to make sure that the United Nations is there when people need me and the United Nations.  For the second part of the question, I have been repeatedly saying that I am still the Secretary-General.  I still have 15 days to go.  So let’s see, after 15 days, when 1 January 2017 comes, then as I said, I'll take some rest, and then I'll go back to [the Republic of] Korea.  Then, I'll try to meet as many people as possible, which may include political leaders and leaders of the community, societies and my friends.  I will really consider seriously how best and what I should and I could do for my country, [the Republic of] Korea.

As you know, the situation is very, very difficult, in a sense, in turmoil.  I can understand and share the anxiety of people about the future of their country, as this is one of the biggest challenges the Korean people are encountering.  I know that they don't want to lose the hard-earned democracy and the economic development which, in fact, transformed [the Republic of] Korea from a recipient country to a global donor.  That is one pride that the Korean people have.  Koreans have been known as example to other nations in that regard.  And I also understand the aspiration of people for a new type of inclusive leadership that can help them overcome the challenges ahead.

And there are many issues of how to reconcile the differences between their thinking, and differences of their income, and some regionalism.  There are many, many issues which we have to think about.  That means social integration, reconciliation and much more mature democratic institutions.  At the same time, while all these seem to present great challenges for Koreans and the Korean Government, I'm confident that the Korean people, with their resilience and very mature democratic institutions, I'm sure that they will be able to overcome these difficulties soon.  Thank you.

Spokesman:  Thank you.  Edie?

Question:  Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary-General.  Um, you… you mentioned Aleppo.  I wondered if you could elaborate a little and tell us what your expectations are, since there seems to be some holdup in the evacuations today, and whether the UN has been involved in trying to promote this.  But, that was a follow-up.  My real question was you've talked about unfinished business.  And you've mentioned Syria.  And today you've mentioned South Sudan.  What other unfinished business do you think should be at the top of the agenda of your successor, Mr. Guterres? 

Secretary-General:  About this situation in Aleppo and the situation in Syria broadly, this has been really heart-breaking for me and for all the people who love peace and stability.  Syrian people have been really suffering too much, too long, the last five years — even soon six years, in March next year.  More specifically about the situation in Aleppo, in an operation that started yesterday and continued into the early morning today local time, thousands of people were able to leave Aleppo, including 194 patients who were evacuated with assistance of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, ICRC [International Community of the Red Cross] and the United Nations.  They were brought to hospitals in Idlib, western rural Aleppo and Turkey.  They were brought to hospitals nearby, with the support of humanitarian health partners in Gaziantep.

The evacuation of wounded and civilians from the besieged areas of Eastern Aleppo was unfortunately suspended today because of the Syrian authorities, earlier today.  I very much regret that we had to stop this operation at this time.  The United Nations is currently engaging and mobilizing all possible resources and manpower, engaging with and urging the parties to take all necessary measures to allow safe resumption of this evacuation process.  The UN and partners in Idlib have prepositioned the supplies which we can easily deliver to needy people.  And again, I can tell you that the United Nations stands ready full time to do whatever is needed to rescue as many people as possible.  But, as I told you, unfortunately, because of this fighting by Syrian armed groups, we have to stop this one.  Thank you.

About this unfinished business, that's hard to pinpoint.  There are many, many issues, unfortunately.  The tendency is that once the violence and conflict happen, they do not know the end.  It seems like that.  The Syrian crisis has been continuing for six years.  Now the situation in Yemen, and South Sudan, and Central African Republic, and Mali and elsewhere, all the fires are still burning.  The reason, clearly, is a lack of solidarity, global solidarity.  There are many people who believe that military solutions can address all these issues, but as I have been repeatedly saying, there is no such military solution.  Only inclusive political solutions can bring a sustainable solution of the issues.  I feel sorry that I have to leave so many unfulfilled issues to my successor and Member States, but at the end, at the end of our day, we have to also understand that we need to do much more with global solidarity and compassionate leadership.  That's what I'm urging the leaders to engage much, much more.  Thank you.

Spokesman:  Mr. Sato, NHK.

Question:  Thank you for giving me a chance to ask the Secretary-General.  My name is Sato from NHK.  My question is about the North-East Asian situation, because the Secretary-General is the first Secretary-General from East Asia, and also, the diplomat of [the Republic of Korea].  And looking back at these 10 years, DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] has been pursuing their nuclear ambition, and China has dramatically enhanced its power in international area.  In [the Republic of Korea] and Japan, the relation has been ups and down and still… still not stable.  So, what is your view on North-East Asian situation during your tenure and prospect and expectation for the future shape of this region?  Thank you.

Secretary-General:  People often have been saying that the twenty-first century would be an era of Asia Pacific.  Among Asia Pacific, North-East Asia has been regarded as powerful growth and dynamic growth economically, particularly, and socially.  That means China, Japan, [the Republic of] Korea and these are very important drivers and have been commended, even envied, by many people around the world, many countries around the world, for their dynamic growth.  Recently, I'm concerned that the relationship among and between the countries in North-East Asia, and also Asia broadly, have not been smooth.  In all of this, there is a very serious security concern caused by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea; particularly, their continuing efforts to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technologies.  The Security Council has been seriously engaged to stem, to deter, this kind of North Korean activities.

The Security Council has met 10 times this year only.  It's very rare that the Security Council engages so frequently, so heavily, on any single subject.  They have taken already five sanction resolutions, including most recently, which was taken on 30 November.  All this kind of tensions on the Korean Peninsula also caused a lot of implications to the North-East Asian region.  And there have been some differences of opinions and positions, how to address all these security issues, particularly vis-à-vis North Korean nuclear issues between and among China, Japan, [the Republic of] Korea and the United States, and Russia.  All these countries surrounding North-East Asia have not been consistent in their positions.

I sincerely hope that with all these continuing security instabilities and the political disharmonies among these countries, the leaders of North-East Asia will continue to meet together and try to narrow down their differences of opinions and, particularly, in addressing North Korean nuclear issues.  I sincerely wish and strongly urge again the DPRK authorities to come to the international community and abide by all the international norms, including the Security Council resolutions — many resolutions.  Therefore, they can also be part of this society.  That's what I sincerely hope as Secretary-General.

Spokesman:  Joe Klein.

Question:  Thank you.  Joseph Klein of Canada Free Press.  And Mr. Secretary-General, whatever you decide to do, I wish you all of the best.  Given the prominence in the news lately of cyberattacks against political institutions and private enterprises, what concrete steps would you recommend that the United Nations take to galvanize Member States' support for an effective UN convention containing rules and norms to regulate cyberwarfare, akin to the Geneva Conventions, for example, and help build Member States' capacities to secure their critical infrastructures from cyberattacks?  Thank you.

Secretary-General:  We are enjoying all this dramatic transformative development of technologies, particularly these communication technologies.  At the same time, we are very much concerned about using this technology for rather negative purposes, cyberattacks.  This must be prevented in a concerted effort by the international community.  I sincerely hope that the United Nations' concerned department and agencies will look into this matter very seriously and try to have international conventions, so that we can prevent such kind of misuse of privilege of technologies, cyber technologies.  This is my sincere hope.  But as for the specific agency or department, I think we will have to discuss this matter with the General Assembly.

Spokesman:  Linda Fasulo.

Question:  Thank you, Steph.  Mr. Secretary-General, this is a question going back to Aleppo.  You've called Aleppo a synonym for hell.  We also know that South Sudan, you've said, is at the risk of genocide and there are UN troops there.  I was just wondering how you would assess the status of the concept of Responsibility to Protect?  Is it on life support?  Is it moving towards death?

 

Secretary-General:  In 2005, during a special summit meeting, world leaders have agreed and adopted a consensus document on the Responsibility to Protect.  As Secretary-General, even while I was campaigning, I was pledging to the Member States that I will try to translate this agreement into action and application to our daily life, addressing all these issues.  Unfortunately, Member States have shown some stepping back from their firm agreement on the Responsibility to Protect.  That is why the United Nations, the international community has not been able to fully and effectively address many conflict issues.  Particularly, we fully support the sovereignty issues.  Every country, small and big, has a sovereign right and sovereign integrity, but when it comes to a situation when the leaders are not willing or not able to defend their own people, then the international community should be able to intervene with the necessary resources.  That has been done at the time of resolving this Libyan crisis.

I regret very much that the Member States have not been giving full support and full engagement in implementing this very important Responsibility to Protect principle.  Again, this is one of the unfinished businesses.  We have a good framework, we have an agreement.  Then why we are not using these good tools?  These tools and principles should fully be used so that we can handle and address many conflict issues.  We fully support this sovereignty, but when the country simply is not able or not willing to — then the international community has a responsibility to protect those people.

Question:  Specifically, is there anything you would recommend for the international community to do at this point regarding Syria?

Secretary-General:  I have been appointing I think three of the world's best diplomats, including my predecessor Kofi Annan, Lakhdar Brahimi and Staffan de Mistura.  It's not an issue of negotiators and facilitators.  It's an issue of lack of solidarity, lack of compassion and people just sticking to very narrow personal or national interests.  That has been killing hundreds of thousands people now.  That we have to reject in the name of humanity.  How come this issue has been taking so long without being resolved?  And first of all, the Syrian people, they should be united.  Unfortunately, they have been divided completely.  The regional Powers, these Powers, they have been supporting both sides, the Government's side and the armed groups’ side.  The United Nations Security Council has been also divided.  There are divisions in three important areas and institutions.  That has provided a perfect storm for extremists, ISIL [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant], Da’esh, terrorists to take a firm root.  They're just taking a firm root among the people, just taking advantage of all the grievances of the people, the lack of good governance of the leaders.

Spokesman:  Thank you.  Fathi?

Question:  Thank you, Mr. Secretary-General.  Just before I start my question, it was a pleasure covering you in the United Nations over the past five years in New York and overseas.  Reflecting over your tenure as Secretary-General of the United Nations for an entire decade, in hindsight, what was your top three moments of pride and your top three moments of regrets?  I understand there were ups and downs, as we have witnessed, but there must be some resonation with you personally.  Thank you.

Secretary-General:  Frankly speaking, it's not good timing for me to talk about what has been achieved or what have been good moments for me.  There are more on the regrettable side, frankly speaking, again.  But, since you have raised this issue, I believe that while we think that we are living in an era of turmoil and challenges, the world leaders have shown, at least, very important guidelines and visions by adopting the sustainable development goals, the 2030 Agenda, with the 17 goals, which cover all spectrums of our life as human beings and planet earth.  If we are able to implement and achieve these all 17 goals by 2030, I'm quite confident I will be very proud to say that we are living in a world much more prosperous, much more peaceful, and much healthier for people and the planet.  That's one thing.

Even though it's a part of the Sustainable Development Goals, the climate change has been negotiated in a separate track, in a different track, with the Sustainable Development Goals.  The agreement of peace — I mean the Paris Agreement, that has to be commended.  It has taken longer than 10 years.  When I took over as the Secretary-General in 2007, the negotiation was almost dormant.  It was not moving at all.  And I thought that my priority as Secretary-General should be on this climate change.  And I have been really mobilizing, first of all, the political will of the leaders and business communities, and I have been really asking the civil societies to raise their voices, to challenge the world leaders.  Now, with this Paris Agreement — once it was known as unthinkable; now, it is unstoppable.  Nobody can stop this one.  Nobody can stop this one.  It's now going on.  It's not only the Governments, but business communities and civil societies, they all demand it.  They know that without changing our course, our pattern of consumption and production, without going through climate resilient economy, decarbonizing, then our future will be tragic.  So, that is one thing which I have been able to awaken the awareness of people's minds.  That is one thing of which I am proud, but we'll have to go at least 85 years with our target until 2100.  But, I think we have a very good start.  When we implement this with force, then we can be proud.

Then another one, at least I have, again, tried to change the mentality of the male community, male society, that it's not only men.  Men should live together equally with women.  There's gender empowerment, gender parity.  There are more women living in this planet.  Then, if not more for women, at least equal rights should be given, politically, socially and economically.  And this is a fundamental principle of the human rights declaration, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  And as a human being, I think we must adhere to this.  I have been trying to appoint many very capable women senior advisers.  And the number of women whom I have appointed during the last 10 years is much, much greater than the number of women appointed during my seven predecessors combined.  And I'm glad that my successor, he has committed in his oath-taking ceremony, that by the end of his term — I don't know when will be his end of term.  In at least 10 years, then this world will be 50/50.  But, in fact, by 2030, world leaders have already committed, by 2030 this world will be a 50/50 planet.  Thank you.

Spokesman:  Great.  Thank you very much

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First Lady Michelle Obama Speaks on The Power of Education
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AY6h804boFs
https://www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/2013/11/12/first-lady-michelle-obama-speaks-power-education#transcript

Remarks by the First Lady at Education Event with DC High School Sophomores

Bell Multicultural High School,
Columbia Heights Education Campus
Washington, D.C.

11:24 A.M. EST
 
MRS. OBAMA:  Well, good morning.  How are you all doing?  You good? 
 
STUDENTS:  Yes.
 
MRS. OBAMA:  Let me tell you, I’m thrilled to be back here at the Columbia Heights Education Campus.  How many of you guys were here when the President and I were here the last time?  (Applause.)  Yes, show -- applause are good.  That will help me out.  That’s good. 

So you guys have made some good progress, and now we’re back because we are so proud of what you all have been doing here, and we thought that this was the best place to begin this conversation.   
 
So let me start by thanking Menbere for that very kind introduction.  She is a proud representative of what this school can do, and her story is one that we want you all to emulate. 
 
I also want to recognize Mayor Gray, as well as Kaya Henderson, the Chancellor of the D.C. Public Schools.  And of course, I want to recognize your principal, Principal Tukeva, and all of the faculty and staff here at Bell Multicultural High School.  Thank you for hosting us.

Of course, I want to thank Secretary Duncan for joining me today, as well as Jeff and Keshia and everyone from 106 & Park for helping to facilitate today’s discussion.  Let’s give them all a big round of applause.  (Applause.)   
 
But most of all, I want to recognize all of the young people who are here with us, the sophomores here at CHEC.  And I wanted to come here today because you guys and students like you across America are at the heart of one of my husband’s most important goals as President. 
 
See, when Barack came into office, one of the very first things he did was to set what he calls a North Star goal for the entire country -– that by the year 2020, the year that all of you will be graduating from college, that this country will have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. 
 
Now, Barack set this goal because as a -- a generation ago, we were number one in college graduates.  But over the past couple of decades, this country has slipped all the way to 12th.  We’ve slipped.  And that’s unacceptable, and we’ve all got a lot of work to do to turn that around and get back on top.
 
But Barack didn’t just set that goal because it’s good for our country.  He did it because he knows how important higher education is to all of you as individuals.  Because when the year 2020 rolls around, nearly two-thirds of all jobs in this country are going to require some form of training beyond high school.  That means whether it’s a vocational program, community college, a four-year university, you all are going to need some form of higher education in order to build the kind of lives that you want for yourselves, good careers, to be able to provide for your family. 
 
And that’s why the President and Secretary Duncan have been doing everything they can to make sure that kids like you get the best education possible and that you have everything you need to continue your education after high school.  They’ve been fighting to strengthen your schools and to support your teachers.  They’ve been working hard to make college more affordable for all young people in this country no matter where you come from or how much money your parents have.  They’ve been working with parents, teachers, administrators, community leaders all across this country just to help you succeed.
 
But here’s the thing -- and I want you to listen to this -- at the end of the day, no matter what the President does, no matter what your teachers and principals do or whatever is going on in your home or in your neighborhood, the person with the biggest impact on your education is you.  It’s that simple.  It is you, the student.  And more than anything else, meeting that 2020 goal is going to take young people like all of you across this country stepping up and taking control of your education. 
 
And that’s what we’re going to talk about today.  We’re going to talk about the power that each of you has to commit to your education.  We’re going to talk about the power that you have to fulfill your potential and unlock opportunities that you can’t even begin to imagine for yourselves right now.  And when I talk about students needing to take responsibility for their education, I want you all to know that I’m speaking from my own personal life experience. 
 
Like Menbere, growing up, I considered myself pretty lucky.  Even though my parents didn’t have a lot of money, they never went to college themselves, they had an unwavering belief in the power of education.  So they always pushed me and my brother to do whatever it took to succeed in school.  So when it came time for me to go to high school, they encouraged me to enroll in one of the best schools in Chicago.  It was a school a lot like this one. 
 
And listening to Menbere’s story, it was so similar, because my school was way across the other side of the city from where I lived.  So at 6:00 a.m. every morning, I had to get on a city bus and ride for an hour, sometimes more, just to get to school.  And I was willing to do that because I was willing to do whatever it took for me to go to college. 
 
I set my sights high.  I decided I was going to Princeton.  But I quickly realized that for me, a kid like me, getting into Princeton wasn’t just going to happen on its own.  See I went to a great school, but at my school we had so many kids, so few guidance counselors, they were dealing with hundreds of students so they didn’t always have much time to help me personally get my applications together.  Plus, I knew I couldn’t afford to go on a bunch of college visits.  I couldn't hire a personal tutor.  I couldn't enroll in SAT prep classes.  We didn't have the money. 
 
And then -- get this –- some of my teachers straight up told me that I was setting my sights too high.  They told me I was never going to get into a school like Princeton.  I still hear that doubt ringing in my head.  So it was clear to me that nobody was going to take my hand and lead me to where I needed to go.
 
Instead, it was going to be up to me to reach my goal.  I would have to chart my own course.  And I knew that the first thing I needed to do was have the strongest academic record possible. 
 
So I worked hard to get the best grades I could in all of my classes.  I got involved in leadership opportunities in school where I developed close relationships with some of my teachers and administrators.  I knew I needed to present very solid and thoughtful college applications, so I stayed up late, got up early in the morning to work on my essays and personal statements.  I knew my parents would not be able to pay for all of my tuition, so I made sure that I applied for financial aid on time.  That FAFSA form was my best friend.  I knew the deadlines, everything.
 
Most importantly, when I encountered doubters, when people told me I wasn’t going to cut it, I didn't let that stop me -- in fact, I did the opposite.  I used that negativity to fuel me, to keep me going.  And at the end, I got into Princeton, and that was one of the proudest days of my life. 
 
But getting into Princeton was only the beginning.  Graduating from Princeton was my ultimate goal.  So I had to start all over again, developing and executing a plan that would lead me to my goal.  And of course, I struggled a little bit.  I had to work hard, again, to find a base of friends and build a community of support for myself in this Ivy League University.
 
I remember as a freshman I mistakenly rolled into a class that was meant for juniors and seniors.  And there were times when I felt like I could barely keep my head above water.  But through it all, I kept that college diploma as my North Star.  And four years later, I reached that goal, and then I went on to build a life I never could have imagined for myself.
 
I went to law school, became a lawyer.  I’ve been a vice president for a hospital.  I’ve been the head of a nonprofit organization.  And I am here today because I want you to know that my story can be your story.  The details might be a little different, but let me tell you, so many of the challenges and the triumphs will be just the same.  
 
You might be dreaming of becoming a doctor or a teacher; maybe a mechanic or a software designer.  Or you might not know what you want to do right now –- and that’s fine.  But no matter what path you choose, no matter what dreams you have, you have got to do whatever it takes to continue your education after high school –- again, whether that’s going to community college, getting a technical certificate, or completing a training opportunity, or going off to a four-year college.
 
And once you’ve completed your education, you will have the foundation you need to build a successful life.  That’s how me, that’s how Menbere, that’s how so many other students have overcome adversities  to reach our goals.
 
There’s another young man, Roger Sanchez.  He is another example of a CHEC alum who is working toward his North Star goal. 
 
In fifth grade, Roger came to the United States from the Dominican Republic to live with his mother.  When Roger arrived in America, he could barely speak a word of English.  He often couldn’t understand anything his teachers were saying, so he decided to put a piece of paper in his pocket so he could jot down all the new words he heard, and then he’d ask his friends and teachers to translate for him. 
 
He went to the library and poured through books and videos and cassettes to help teach himself English.  And after all those hours of studying and practicing, Roger arrived here at Bell ready to thrive.  And every day, he put the same effort into his classes that he put into learning English.  He joined the baseball, the football teams.  He helped found your Global Kids Club so that students could discuss world issues.  And last spring, he graduated with nearly a 4.0 GPA. 
 
And today, Roger is a freshman at American University.  He’s majoring in international relations, and he also volunteers as a mentor.  He’s paying it forward.  He’s helping high school students just like all of you with their college applications and essays.  And I had a chance to meet Roger, who’s here today, and I'd like to -- Roger, can you stand up if you’re in the audience so we can give you a round of applause?  We’re so proud of you.  There Roger is.  (Applause.)  Congratulations. 
 
So every day, students like Menbere and Roger and all of you are proving that it is not your circumstance that define your future -- it’s your attitude.  It’s your commitment.  You decide how high you set your goals.  You decide how hard you’re going to work for those goals.  You decide how you’re going to respond when something doesn’t go your way.
 
And here’s the thing:  Studies show that those kinds of skills –- skills like grit, determination, skills like optimism and resilience –- those skills can be just as important as your test scores or your grade scores -- or your grades.  And so many of you already have those skills because of everything you’ve already overcome in your lives.   
 
Maybe you’ve had problems at home and you’ve had to step up, take on extra responsibilities for your family.  Maybe you come from a tough neighborhood, and you’ve been surrounded by things like violence and drugs.  Maybe one of your parents has lost a job and you’ve had to struggle just to make it here today.
 
One of the most important things you all must understand about yourselves is that those experiences are not weaknesses.  They’re not something to be ashamed of.  Experiences like those can make you stronger and more determined.  They can teach you all kinds of skills that you could never learn in a classroom –- the skills that will lead you to success anywhere in life.  But first, you’ve got to apply those skills toward getting an education. 
 
So what does that mean?  That means, first and foremost, believing in yourselves no matter what obstacles you face.  It means going to class every single day -- that’s what I did -- not just showing up, but actually paying attention, taking some notes, asking questions. 
 
It means doing your homework every single night -- I did -- studying hard for every test, even if it’s not your favorite subject.  It means reaching out to your teachers and counselors and coaches and asking for help whenever you need it.  And when you stumble and fall –- and I guarantee you, you will, because we all do –- it means picking yourself up and trying again and again and again. 
 
All of that is on you.  You’ve got to own that part of it.  You’ve got to step up as individuals.  Because here’s the key:  If you step up, if you choose to own your future and commit to your education, and if you don’t let anything stand in your way until you complete it, then you will not only lead our country to that North Star goal, but you will lead yourselves to whatever future you dream of.
 
That is my message for all of you today.  And over these next few years, I’m going to continue sharing that message all across the country and all across the world to students just like you.  We, with the help of Arne and the President and everyone in this administration, we’re going to do everything we can to help connect you to all the resources that are available to help you on your journey -– many resources that weren’t around when I was your age.
 
For example, we’re going to tell students about our College Navigator and College Scorecard that can help you find affordable programs that fit your interests, your goals.  We also want to make sure that you know about websites like StudentAid.gov, which helps you apply for grants and loans, and also provides you with a year-by-year checklist so you know what you need to be doing to get you to college, or whatever program you need to get to.
 
But I also believe that this conversation -- it’s got to be a two-way conversation.  I know that you all have important things to say, you have important questions that you deserve answers to, and that that’s why I want to make sure that I continue to hear your stories as well as talking to you.  I want to hear about your dreams.  I want to hear about the things you're worried about.  I want folks like me and my husband and your teachers and parents, I want you to tell us what we can do to help you get to college and fulfill your dreams.
 
So that’s what we’re going to do next.  I’m going to step away from the podium, and Secretary Duncan, Menbere, Jeff, and Keshia are going to come back out, and we’re going to talk.  We’re going to ask you some questions, you’re going to ask you some questions.  We’ll listen.  I don't want you go be shy, I want you to be relaxed, okay?  And we’ll talk more about how do we get you to your goals, okay?  And hopefully, this conversation here will help students around the country.
 
So are you all ready for that?  You have questions?
 
STUDENTS:  Yes.
 
MRS. OBAMA:  All right.  Well, let’s get it started.  Let’s bring out the other panelists.  You all, thank you so much.  We love you, and I’m so proud of you all.  Keep going.  (Applause.)

 

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