Obama cites Middle East struggles, peace in Passover message

WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama in his Passover message "prayed for peace" for Israel while calling for the alleviation of injustice against those "not yet free" in the Middle East.

"The story of Passover, which recalls the passage of the children of Israel from bondage and repression to freedom and liberty, inspires hope that those enslaved can become free," Obama said in his message sent out April 15.

"The seder, with its rich traditions and rituals, instructs each generation to remember its past while appreciating the beauty of freedom and the responsibility it entails. This year, that ancient instruction is reflected in the daily headlines as we see modern stories of social transformation and liberation and liberation unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa. Against the background of change, we continue to pray for peace between Israel and her neighbors while reaffirming our commitment to Israel’s security."

The message was consistent with recent calls by senior Obama administration officials on Israel and the Palestinians to resume talks, saying the status quo is unsustainable given the democracy movements sweeping the region.

Obama concluded by calling for the alleviation of "the suffering, poverty, injustice and hunger of those who are not yet free" and signed off "Chag Sameach," Hebrew for "Happy Holiday."

His Monday evening plans have not yet been announced, but White House officials have said he will continue the tradition he launched two years ago of conducting a White House seder.

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