President Bush met with Jewish leaders from throughout the world.
The president customarily meets with Jewish leaders before the White House’s annual Chanukah reception in the Roosevelt Room. At the meeting Monday, which was International Human Rights Day, many of the leaders were born outside the United States and came to America in search of religious freedom.
The guests included Jack Abraham, president of what is believed to be the only Afghan synagogue in the United States, Anshei Shalom in New York; Dr. Mayer Ballas, the founding president of the Council to Rescue Syrian Jews; Yuli Edelstein, a former Soviet refusenik and the ex-deputy speaker of the Knesset; and Ruth Pearl, the co-founder of the Daniel Pearl Foundation and the mother of the slain Wall Street Journal reporter.
Bush said the group discussed “how America must remain engaged in helping people realize the great blessings of religious freedom and where we find societies in which religious freedom is not allowed to practice, that we must do something about it.”
The American leader spoke of his belief that a good way to spend International Human Rights Day is to listen to the stories of those who want to practice their religion freely.
“We all recognize that we’re in an ideological struggle against people who murder the innocent in order to achieve political objectives, and that on the one hand, America must do everything to protect ourselves and are doing so,” Bush said. “In the long term, the best way to defeat an ideology of hate is with an ideology of hope.”