JERUSALEM (Oct. 30)
President Clinton concluded his trip to Israel last week with a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, where he expressed the hope that the Jewish people will never again “suffer and die because of their race or their faith.”
Accompanied by Israeli President Ezer Weizman and Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev, Clinton took part in a memorial ceremony at the Ohel Yizkor Memorial Hall, where the names of Nazi death camps are etched into the floor.
During the ceremony last Friday, Clinton rekindled the Eternal Flame and laid a wreath at the symbolic grave for the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.
The U.S. president put on a skullcap and bowed his head when Kaddish was recited for the victims of the Holocaust.
Clinton then continued to the memorial for the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust. Emerging from the dark chamber with its thousands of flickering lights, the president remarked that it was “an extremely moving experience.”
Clinton, who earlier in the week attended the historic signing of Israel’s peace treaty with Jordan, inscribed a message of hope in the Yad Vashem visitors book.
“Today we have come one step closer to the time when the people of Israel will live in peace with all of their neighbors, when the awful events of death and destruction memorialized here will be banished to the past,” he wrote.
Shalev, who has guided other world leaders through the halls of Yad Vashem, said later that Clinton had asked many questions about the Holocaust during the tour.
“He was one of the more interested and warm visitors I have met,” Shalev told reporters.
Clinton toured Yad Vashem after attending an early morning breakfast with Weizman, following which he told reporters that he would not rule out the possibility of returning to the region soon to help move the peace process along.
Clinton also said that he had promised Weizman to do all in his power to get information about Israeli MIAs from Syrian President Hafez Assad, whom Clinton met with during his tour of the Middle East.
Weizman said such information would be regarded by Israel as a confidence-building gesture on the part of the Syrians.
It was also announced that the Israeli president and his wife, Reuma, would make a state visit to Washington early next year.