Bush to Jewish leaders: I don’t believe in Iran’s peaceful intentions

WASHINGTON (JTA) — President George W. Bush told a Jewish gathering that he did not trust the Iranian regime to change its intentions toward Israel.

“I will not believe in Iran’s peaceful intentions until they can irrevocably prove that it’s true,” Bush told the 1,200 guests at the gala of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, according to several people in attendance. “The United States’ foreign policy must be clear eyed and understand that until the form of government changes in Iran, it is unlikely that their intentions toward Israel will change.”

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The event, held Tuesday night at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, honored several past presidents of the organization and its longtime executive vice-chairman, Malcolm Hoenlein.

Bush’s appearance had not been publicized, and attendees were asked not to record or tape Bush’s comments.

The program also featured video testimonials from President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as remarks from several Israeli and U.S. politicians, and Jewish notables.

Bush, Obama and Netanyahu all praised the Conference of Presidents for its work in supporting Israel and strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship. Attendees said that Bush thanked Conference leaders for always being professional, knowledgeable and respectful of the office of the presidency, even when there were disagreements over tactics.