Obama ending Israel visit with symbolic stops - WFLA News Channel 8

Obama ending Israel visit with symbolic stops

Posted: Updated:
Obama lays a wreath during his visit to the Hall of Remembrance at the Vad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. Image AP. Obama lays a wreath during his visit to the Hall of Remembrance at the Vad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. Image AP.

Wrapping up a three day visit to Israel, President Barack Obama paid respects to its heroes and to victims of the Holocaust, solemnly reaffirming the Jewish state's right to exist.       

Accompanied by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, Obama laid wreaths at the graves of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism who died in 1904 before realizing his dream of a Jewish homeland, and former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated in 1995.     

He also toured the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, declaring after that the memorial illustrates the depravity to which man can sink but also serves as a reminder of the "righteous among nations who refused to be bystanders."   

Friday's stop at Herzl's grave, together with Thursday's visit to see the Dead Sea Scrolls, the ancient Hebrew texts, were symbolic stops for Obama that acknowledged that the rationale for Israel's existence rests with its historical ties to the region and with a vision that predated the Holocaust. Obama was criticized in Israel for his 2009 Cairo speech in which he gave only the example of the Holocaust as reason for justifying Israel's existence.    

"Here on your ancient land, let it be said for all the world to hear," Obama said at Yad Vashem Friday, in a clear response to that criticism. "The state of Israel does not exist because of the Holocaust, but with the survival of a strong Jewish state of Israel, such a holocaust will never happen again."

Later in the day, Obama was traveling to Jordan where he planned to meet with King Abdullah II. Among the topics is Jordan's struggle with the influx of a half-million refugees from the Syrian civil war. Abdullah has voiced fears that extremists and terrorists could create a regional base in Jordan.  

Before leaving for Jordan, Obama was to have lunch with Netanyahu and then tour the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.     

Obama and his hosts arrived at the somber Herzl grave site under cloudless skies. Obama approached Herzl's resting place alone and bowed his head in silence. He turned briefly to ask Netanyahu where to place a small stone in the Jewish custom, then laid the stone atop the grave.     

"It is humbling and inspiring to visit and remember the visionary who began the remarkable establishment of the State of Israel," Obama wrote in the Mt. Herzl guestbook. "May our two countries possess the same vision and will to secure peace and prosperity for future generations."     

At Rabin's grave a short walk away, Obama was greeted by members of Rabin's family. He initially placed a stone on Rabin's wife's side of the grave, then returned to place one atop Rabin's side. In a gesture linking the U.S. and Israel, the stone placed on Rabin's grave was from the grounds of the Martin Luther King memorial in Washington, the White House said.      

Rabin, Obama told family members, was "a great man." 

Chatting with the family, Obama joked that "Bibi arranged for perfect weather," using Netanyahu's familiar name. He then added that "Shimon plied me with wine" at the official state dinner Thursday evening. At one point the talk turned to the singer who performed at the dinner, and Obama pointed out that he was known to sing, too. "They had me on YouTube," he said with a laugh. "Check it out -- Obama singing Al Green."

At Yad Vashem, Obama donned a skull cap and was accompanied by Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, a survivor of the Buchenwald Concentration camp who lost both parents in the Holocaust. Among his stops was Yad Vashem's Hall of Names, a circular chamber that contains original testimony documenting every Holocaust victim ever identified.    

"Nothing could be more powerful," Obama said.

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Pinellas front desk school staff trained to handle medical needs at some schools

    Pinellas front desk school staff trained to handle medical needs at some schools

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-08-26 21:15:59 GMT
    Penny Perez, of St. Petersburg, worries every time she sends her 11-year-old son, Keith, to school. Keith has a rare condition called Williams Syndrome. He is developmentally delayed, and if his blood pressure is too high for an extended period of time, his heart could stop.
    Penny Perez, of St. Petersburg, worries every time she sends her 11-year-old son, Keith, to school. Keith has a rare condition called Williams Syndrome. He is developmentally delayed, and if his blood pressure is too high for an extended period of time, his heart could stop.
  • Venice man says he has melting dashboard in his Toyota Camry

    Venice man says he has melting dashboard in his Toyota Camry

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 5:01 PM EDT2014-08-26 21:01:38 GMT
    Kayser Sayeg doesn't allow his wife to drive her 2008 Toyota Camry on long distances.In the hot Florida sun, the dashboard melts and becomes incredibly sticky.Aside from being a nuisance to clean, it causes a glare in the windshield, sometimes making it difficult to drive
    Kayser Sayeg doesn't allow his wife to drive her 2008 Toyota Camry on long distances.In the hot Florida sun, the dashboard melts and becomes incredibly sticky.Aside from being a nuisance to clean, it causes a glare in the windshield, sometimes making it difficult to drive
  • Apple recalls iPhones for battery trouble

    Apple recalls iPhones for battery trouble

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 8:16 AM EDT2014-08-26 12:16:28 GMT
    Noticed your iPhone's battery life getting shorter? You may be eligible for a free replacement.
    Noticed your iPhone's battery life getting shorter? You may be eligible for a free replacement.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Tanker overturns on I-75, spills gas, closes lanes for hours

    Tanker overturns on I-75, spills gas, closes lanes for hours

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 10:29 AM EDT2014-08-27 14:29:11 GMT
    Northbound lanes on Interstate 75 between Bee Ridge Road and Fruitville Road are blocked since Wednesday morning after an accident involving a tanker.
    Northbound lanes on Interstate 75 between Bee Ridge Road and Fruitville Road are blocked since Wednesday morning after an accident involving a tanker.
  • School officials to explain new Florida Standards

    School officials to explain new Florida Standards

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 5:13 AM EDT2014-08-27 09:13:59 GMT
    The majority of state's now use Common Core, a learning system that demands the same basics for every student. This school year, Florida is rolling out it's own tweaked version called the Florida Standards.
    The majority of state's now use Common Core, a learning system that demands the same basics for every student. This school year, Florida is rolling out it's own tweaked version called the Florida Standards.
  • Duke Energy to announce changes

    Duke Energy to announce changes

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 5:02 AM EDT2014-08-27 09:02:58 GMT
    Jolted by customers fed up with Duke's rollout of a plan to avoid duplicating meter reader routes, it appears the utility is ready to throw in the towel. Wednesday morning, we expect the company to announce changes that could include bill credits.
    Jolted by customers fed up with Duke's rollout of a plan to avoid duplicating meter reader routes, it appears the utility is ready to throw in the towel. Wednesday morning, we expect the company to announce changes that could include bill credits.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • 'Party mansion' in North Raleigh sells for $1 million

    'Party mansion' in North Raleigh sells for $1 million

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 12:42 PM EDT2014-08-26 16:42:52 GMT
    File photoFile photo
    A North Raleigh house commonly referred to as “the party mansion” sold last month for $1 million.
    A North Raleigh house commonly referred to as “the party mansion” sold last month for $1 million.
  • 12 arrested in Clearwater prostitution crackdown

    12 arrested in Clearwater prostitution crackdown

    Monday, August 25 2014 5:40 PM EDT2014-08-25 21:40:57 GMT
    The Clearwater Police Department targeted the East Gateway area in a crackdown on prostitution over the weekend.
    The Clearwater Police Department targeted the East Gateway area in a crackdown on prostitution over the weekend.
  • CEO of hospitality company seen on video abusing dog

    CEO of hospitality company seen on video abusing dog

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 10:49 PM EDT2014-08-27 02:49:09 GMT
    What does a puppy abuse story in Canada have to do with Tampa Bay? The CEO of a company that provides food and hospitality services to Tropicana Field and other venues in the Bay Area was caught on camera repeatedly kicking a puppy and yanking on its leash.
    What does a puppy abuse story in Canada have to do with Tampa Bay? The CEO of a company that provides food and hospitality services to Tropicana Field and other venues in the Bay Area was caught on camera repeatedly kicking a puppy and yanking on its leash.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.