Home > 1999 Presidential Documents > pd08no99 Joint Statement by President Clinton and Prime Minister Kjell Bondevik...

pd08no99 Joint Statement by President Clinton and Prime Minister Kjell Bondevik...

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Arafat have made some real movement forward. They've made some hard 
decisions. They're working hard on preserving security and fighting 
terrorism, and they're making progress in implementing the provisions of 
the Oslo agreement.
    We actually have a chance within the reasonably near future for 
peace for Israel and its neighbors, for security so necessary for 
progress and prosperity, and freedom and justice all across that region.
    But like all chances in life, it is fleeting. It will require hard 
choices and hard work within a short time frame. And it cannot be done 
without the support of the most determined friends of peace, like those 
of you in this room.
    I still believe that we're either going to go forward or drift 
backward. We can't just freeze this moment. The region could reverse 
course. There's still plenty of extremists and terrorists out there. 
There's still people all over the world who represent the forces

[[Page 2209]]

of destruction and the enemies of the nation-state--not simply Israel, 
but everywhere, working to develop weapons of massive destruction that 
can be miniaturized and carried around and used at a moment's notice. 
And the same technology that gives you a tiny, tiny cell phone that guys 
with big fingers like me can hardly dial these days will lead to the 
miniaturization of weapons in the 21st century.
    Make no mistake about it. Our problems with the enemies of peace, 
with the terrorists, are far from over. And I'll make you a prediction. 
Within 10 years, it will be normal to see a very sophisticated alliance 
all around the world between terrorists, drug runners, and organized 
crime, maximizing the same modern technologies that we all seek to 
access to do good.
    This is the moment that we must seize. It is so important for 
America to support the peace process and to provide the resources to 
make peace work. I don't know how many times I have heard one of my 
leaders at the Pentagon say, ``Mr. President, the most expensive peace 
is far, far cheaper than the cheapest war.'' It is inexcusable that we 
would not fund a national security budget for peace, necessary to meet 
our responsibilities in the Middle East.
    Congress sent me a foreign aid bill without the $800 million I 
requested this year, or the $500 million for next year to fund our part 
of the Wye River agreement. The bill sent a terrible signal to our 
friends in the Middle East, the strongest possible encouragement to the 
enemies of peace that there will be no immediate rewards for peace. 
That's why I vetoed it, and I'll veto it again if it doesn't provide for 
the funding of our obligations around the world.
    I ask you to support the other provisions of the bill, the funds 
necessary to reduce the nuclear threat from Russia, to provide debt 
relief to the poorest countries as the Pope and so many others have 
asked us to do in the millennial year, to meet our obligations to the 
United Nations, to do the other things that promote democracy and 
opportunities for trade and investment.
    We must sustain America's leadership. I want you to know, on a 
subject I know you care a lot about, I have urged the Russian leadership 
not to allow the current challenges they face to undermine respect for 
human rights and individual liberty and opposition to anti-Semitism in 
Russia. If we want--I will say again, if we want to have influence with 
other countries, none of them are asking us to buy our way into their 
favor. But as the wealthiest, most powerful country in the world at the 
moment of our greatest success, for us not to even pay our fair share 
when already we spend a smaller percentage of our income on nonmilitary 
national security measures than any major country in the world is 
    So for all of those other challenges I mentioned, we must be a force 
for good around the world. And we cannot do that for free. We get a lot 
out of our interdependence with others. We contribute to the United 
Nations so that when something happens like Kosovo--yes, our planes flew 
the bulk of the mission and, yes, we bore the bulk of the financial 
burdens to save those 800,000 people from ethnic cleansing, and I'm glad 
we did it.
    But today, as they work to rebuild, the bulk of the burdens in 
manpower and in money is being borne by our Allies in Europe. Yes, it 
was necessary for the United States to take a strong position on the 
problem in East Timor to stop the terrible slaughter there as a result 
of their vote for independence. But now the bulk of the load is being 
carried by our friends, like Australia and Malaysia and others there, 
because we live in an interdependent world where we share 
    Yes, we spend some money in Africa to train troops, but that means 
the next time a horrible slaughter like Rwanda comes along, it can be 
handled by the Africans and we can give them support, and they won't 
have to look at us and say, ``Why didn't you send 100,000 Americans to 
stop this before it started?'' We get a lot out of being good neighbors 
and responsible parties, and we need to continue to do it.
    The last point I want to make is one the ADL well knows. We can't be 
a force for good abroad unless we are a force for good at home. And 
while, thank God, we have been spared the ravages in the modern age of 
mass conflict based on religion as in

[[Page 2210]]

Northern Ireland, or religion and ethnic differences as in the Middle 
East or the Balkans, or tribal bloodshed as in Rwanda, Burundi, and 
other places in Africa.
    We see in these hate crimes--the murder of young Matthew Shepard in 
Wyoming, the horrible dragging death of James Byrd in Texas, the killing 
of the postman, the Filipino postman; and the shooting of the children 
at the Jewish community center in Los Angeles, the murder spree in the 
Midwest that took the lives of the African-American basketball coach 
outside Chicago and a young Korean Christian as he walked outside his 
church, those perpetrated by a man who claimed he belonged to a church 
that did not believe in God, but did believe in white supremacy--we see 
that we are not immune from this. And why is that? Because it is a part 
of human nature. Why was it in the Torah in that provision I read 
earlier? Because of the knowledge from God that in us, there is all the 
tendency, in all of us, to turn away from the right of a stranger.
    Every one of us, I believe--maybe you don't; maybe you guys are 
perfect--I wake up every day, and I know--I sort of think of my life and 
my attitude toward the world and of its people as being governed by an 
internal scale, and on one side of the scale there is light and on the 
other side there is darkness. And you always want it tilting toward the 
light, but not so much as to be naive, but enough to have a genuine 
charitable view toward others--a genuine respect, a genuine humility--
and understand that you may not always be right, but you have an 
obligation to recognize the integrity and the common humanity of others.
    But it's easy to get that scale out of balance. Even all of us have 
our good days and our bad days. When it gets badly out of balance, then 
the fear and the dehumanization of the other drives people to these 
terrible, tormented acts of slaughter. Sometimes there's a political 
patina on it, so people can actually act as if it's justified. Sometimes 
it's just some poor, demented, twisted soul, acting out of pain and fear 
and anger and blindness. Nothing is more important to our future than 
flushing that not only from the killers but flushing that feeling in its 
less violent manifestations from all of our hearts.
    If I could leave America after my Presidency with one wish, it would 
be to be one America--to revel in our diversity, to respect it, to 
celebrate it, to enjoy it, to make it interesting.
    It can only happen--you can only have fun--in a diverse country. You 
can only find it interesting to examine whether someone else's religious 
perspective or cultural heritage has some validity for you, something 
you can learn--you can only really revel in it if you believe that our 
common humanity is more important than the things which make us 
    Now, that means, it seems to me, we need to stand against 
manifestations of our inhumanity, and we need to do more to reaffirm our 
common humanity. That's why I was so disturbed when the Republican 
majority on the relevant committees of Congress took out the hate crimes 
legislation in the form of the bill that had already passed the Senate. 
I vetoed the bill that came to me, in part because it didn't contain 
those hate crimes provisions.
    And I think it's very important that we say, ``Look, it's not that 
the victims of these hate crimes''--you know, the people that say we 
don't need these things are saying, ``You're saying those victims are 
more important than other victims.'' That's not true. What we are saying 
is that hate crimes victimize not only the victim but they victimize 
society as a whole in a special way, because they contradict the very 
idea of America we are trying to build. We're not letting somebody else 
off the hook. We're saying we want a clear and unambiguous stand against 
things that contradict the very idea of the America we want to build.
    The other point I'd like to make is, it's not enough just to be 
against things. We need to be for things that will enable us to live up 
to our full potential. That's why I'm also for strengthening the equal 
pay law, for the ``Employment Non-Discrimination Act,'' or the so-called 
Kennedy-Jeffords bill to let people with disabilities go into the 
workplace and keep their Government health care through Medicaid, so 
that they can work and be a part of our society. We need to be for 
things that bring us together.
    I want to close with these two stories. I told you earlier we had 
this millennial

[[Page 2211]]

evening at the White House, with the genome scholar from Harvard and 
Vint Cerf, who was one of the architects of the Internet. And we were 
talking about--they were talking about how the mysteries of the human 
gene could not have been solved without the advances in computer 
science. And then they put them all up on the screens, the formula for 
what our genes look like. And I pretended to understand that. [Laughter]
    But I did understand the point they were making. So I said to them, 
I said, ``Look, with these 100,000 sequences and all the possibilities 
and permutations, how much are we alike or different?'' And Professor 
Lander said, ``The truth is that all people, genetically, are 99.9 
percent the same.'' That confirms your philosophy, right?
    Here's the next point he made, which is more interesting to me. He 
said if you were to get groups of people together by ethnicity or race--
let's suppose you've got 100 European Jews together, and you've got 100 
Arabs, and you've got 100 Iranians, and then you've got 100 people from 
the Yoruba Tribe in Nigeria, and you've got 100 Irish people together, 
and you put them all in a room with their groups, here's what they said. 
They said the genetic differences among the individual groups--that is, 
among the Yorubas, among the Irish, among the Jews, among the Arabs--the 
genetic differences within the groups would be greater than the genetic 
differences between any one group and any other group. Now, think about 
    When you look at a profile of any sizeable ethnic group--Hispanic, 
African, you name it--the genetic differences of the individuals within 
the group are greater than the group genetic profile of one group as 
compared with another. In other words, the most advanced scientific 
knowledge confirms the wisdom of the Torah and tells us not to turn 
aside a stranger. Because it turns out a stranger is not so strange 
after all.
    In the summer of 1994, as I remember, it was just before we went to 
the Wadi Araba to sign the peace agreement between Israel and Jordan. 
The late Prime Minister Rabin and the late King Hussein addressed the 
United States Congress. Near the end of his speech, Rabin turned to 
Hussein and said, and I quote, ``We have both seen a lot in our 
lifetime. We have seen too much suffering. What will you leave to your 
children? What will I leave to my grandchildren? I have only dreams,'' 
he said, ``to build a better world--a world of understanding and 
harmony; a world in which it is a joy to live. That is not asking for 
too much.''
    That dream has united those of you in this organization for 85 years 
now. That dream in our time requires us to build one America and 
requires America to be a force for peace and harmony in the world. Think 
of it--Rabin gave his life so that we might build a world in which it is 
a joy to live. It is not asking for too much, but it will require all we 
can give.
    Thank you, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 9:25 p.m. at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. In his 
remarks, he referred to Howard P. Berkowitz, national chairman, Abraham 
H. Foxman, national director, and Glenn Tobias, national executive 
committee chairman, Anti-Defamation League; Atlanta City Council 
President Robb Pitts; De Kalb County Chief Executive Liane Levetan; 
Representative John Lewis' wife, Lillian; Vinton G. Cerf, senior vice 
president of Internet architecture and technology, MCI WorldCom, and his 
wife, Sigrid; Eric Lander, director, Whitehead/MIT Center for Genome 
Research; Prime Minister Ehud Barak of Israel; and Chairman Yasser 
Arafat of the Palestinian Authority. This item was not received in time 
for publication in the appropriate issue.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 2211-2212]
Monday, November 8, 1999
Volume 35--Number 44
Pages 2199-2266
Week Ending Friday, November 5, 1999
The President's Radio Address

October 30, 1999

    Good morning. Two weeks ago I reaffirmed our Nation's commitment to 
environmental protection and announced our plan to protect more than 40 
million acres of roadless area in our national forests. Today I'm 
announcing new actions we're taking to protect our air, our water, and 
some of our most precious lands.
    One of the simplest but most potent tools in our fight against 
pollution is public information. By requiring industries to tell 
communities how much they pollute the air and water, we empower citizens 
to fight back and create a powerful incentive for industry to pollute 
less. Remarkably, in the decades

[[Page 2212]]

since the public's right-to-know about chemical releases became the law 
of the land, industry's toxic pollution has fallen nearly 50 percent.
    Today, my administration is again expanding the public's right-to-
know. We're acting to protect families against some of the most 
dangerous chemicals ever known, including mercury, dioxin, and PCB's. 
These chemicals are troubling for two reasons. First, they don't break 
down easily; instead, they build up in the environment and in our 
bodies. Second, many of them heighten the risk of cancer or other 
illness, even at very low doses.
    Right now companies are required to disclose their uses of these 
chemicals only if they handle huge quantities. Beginning January 1st, 
we'll require companies to inform the public even if they're using much 
smaller quantities--in some cases, just 10 pounds a year. In the case of 
dioxin, a chemical that can cause harm even in minute quantities, 
companies must report if they produce as little as a tenth of a gram.
    By posting this information for all to see, we can speed the day 
when families no longer need worry about hidden dangers in the air they 
breathe and the water they drink.
    As we step up our fight against pollution, we must work as well to 
preserve lands across America that are still pristine. Today I'm 
announcing a new effort to protect the incomparable California desert so 
future generations can enjoy it in all its splendor. Five years ago I 
signed the California Desert Act, preserving millions of acres of stark 
but fragile landscape, rich with history and precious wildlife.
    Today, to mark the anniversary, the nonprofit Wildlands Conservancy 
is donating to the Federal Government an additional 14,000 acres within 
the Joshua Tree National Park--lands that otherwise might be developed. 
It's through partnerships like this that we can protect vital pieces of 
our national endowment.
    We have also just completed our agreement to preserve New Mexico's 
spectacular Baca Ranch, home to one of the largest herds of wild elk 
anywhere in the world. I'm working closely with Congress to secure the 
funding to complete this purchase so that we can preserve this 
extraordinary land for all time.
    In my balanced budget for this year, I proposed a $1 billion lands 
legacy initiative to preserve other natural treasures and to help 
communities protect local green spaces. Regrettably, Congress has failed 
to provide even half the necessary funding.
    And even more troubling, the Interior bill that Congress has 
produced once again is laden with provisions that would benefit special 
interests at the expense of our public interest and our environment. One 
of these provisions would allow excessive logging on our national 
forests. Another would let mining companies dump more toxic wastes on 
public lands. A third would grant a windfall to major companies that 
produce oil on Federal lands.
    This makes no sense. Today, while I'm taking action to protect 
communities against toxic chemicals, Congress is giving special 
interests license to pollute our public lands. While I'm taking action 
to save some of our most treasured places, Congress is putting other 

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