In what was billed as the first address by a sitting U.S. president to a local Jewish federation, President Clinton praised leaders here for creating a model of public and private cooperation.
He also took the opportunity to denounce Sunday’s terrorist attack in the Gaza Strip, which occurred only hours before his scheduled talk.
Clinton expressed his condolences to the Israeli people and government over the attack, which left eight people dead.
At the same time, he said attacks such as the one that took place that day would “stiffen our resolve” to continue the Middle East peace process.
“You will not succeed, you must not succeed,” he warned the terrorists.
Clinton addressed 700 leaders and supporters of the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles.
In the Middle East and other global trouble spots, as on the domestic scene, constructive developments “are accompanied by the seeds of disintegration,” the president said.
The very act of creating peace in the Middle East, he said, has given terrorits new openings to strike at their victims and disrupt the process.
The same struggle between integration and disintegration faces Mexico, the Baltic states and even Japan, Clinton said. It also confronts the people of the former Soviet Union, who have thrown off the shackles of tyranny but must cope with a wave of organized crime, he added.
Within the United States, the promise of the new information age threatens to leave behind an entire class of people unable to cope with the new technologies, he said.
To tackle these and other social problems in America, Clinton called on the “sense of mission and purpose” shown by the Jewish federation to strengthen its partnership with the federal and state governments.
“I have tried to do what I could to be a good partner,” said Clinton. He cited the joint efforts of the federal government and the federation after last year’s earthquake in Los Angeles.
Other areas of fruitful interaction have been in the resettlement of refuges and assistance to the elderly, he said. “Because you have a social conscience,” Clinton told his audience, “you are critical to our future.”
Joining the president and first lady Hillary Clinton on the dais at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel were a mix of Jewish community leaders, public office holders and Hollywood celebrities. Among the latter were Barbra Streisand, who got the biggest hand, and MCA Chairman Lew Wasserman.
On Saturday evening, producer-director Steven Spielberg and his wife hosted the Clintons at an all-star, $50,000 a couple fund-raiser, which enriched Democratic coffers by some $2 million.
Earlier in the day, Clinton played golf at the Hillcrest Country Club, the ritziest Jewish gathering place in the city.