During a speech at the Adas Israel Synagogue in Washington, D.C., President Obama embraced the values of the Jewish people, asserting that as a young man struggling with his identity, he identified with their history.
“Those values in many ways came to be my own values,” he said. “They believe that the story of their people gave them a unique perspective among the nations of the world, a unique moral authority and responsibility that comes from having once been a stranger yourself.”
As he began his speech, Obama declared himself an “honorary member of the tribe” and spoke wearing a white kipah.
“To a young man like me, grappling with his own identity recognizing the scars of race here in this nation, inspired by the civil rights struggle, the idea that you could be grounded in your history as Israel was, but not be trapped by it, to be able to repair the world, that idea was liberating,” he said.
Obama proclaimed his support for Israel, calling the security relationships between the two countries “stronger than ever.” Any criticism of Israeli policies, he explained, came from an honest respect and love for their shared values.
“So when I hear some people say that disagreements over policy belie a general lack of support of Israel, I must object,” he said. “And I object forcefully.”