Obama at Holocaust museum: ‘I’ll be there for Israel’

WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama in an address at a Holocaust remembrance event said he would “always be there for Israel” and defended his administration’s record on preventing atrocities.

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Obama spoke Monday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, a few days after Holocaust Remembrance Day. Prior to his address, he took a tour of the museum guided by Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust memoirist and Nobel Peace laureate.

He recounted meeting with a woman at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, when he was a presidential candidate in 2008, who told him that the Jews only had one state.

“I said I would always be there for Israel,” Obama said, and he cited the steps he has taken to isolate Iran because of its suspected nuclear weapons program.

Obama also recounted steps taken by his administration through military and diplomatic action to prevent atrocities in Sudan, Libya, Uganda and Ivory Coast.

The president has come under pressure in recent months for not doing more to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose crackdown on opponents has killed thousands. Obama pledged to keep working with allies to bring about “the end of the Assad regime.”

Elsewhere in his address, however, he said that his commitment to preventing atrocities “does not mean we intervene militarily every time there is an injustice in the world.”

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Ron Kampeas is JTA’s Washington bureau chief.

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