[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book I)]
[April 9, 1995]
[Pages 508-511]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at the United Jewish Fund Luncheon in Los Angeles
April 9, 1995

    Thank you very much, Peter, for your very fine introduction. To you 
and Gloria; to Irwin and Helgar Field; to our good friends Senator Boxer 
and Congressman Berman and his wife, Janice; Lew and Edie Wasserman; and 
Barbra Streisand and all the others who have come here to be with us 
today and mostly to all of you for inviting Hillary and me to share this 
moment with you, I thank you.
    The terrible incident of violence upon the people of Israel, which 
reached today also to some Americans who were also affected, gives me a 
way of beginning what I came here to say to you. I offer my condolences 
and the condolences of the American people to the people of Israel and 
the Government of Israel as well as to the American citizens and their 
families who were affected by this attack.
    Once more, the enemies of peace have sought to abuse the opportunity 
peace presents, to kill it, to kill hope, to kill all possibility of a 
normal life for the people of Israel, for the Palestinians who are 
struggling to do the right thing there, and for, indeed, people 
throughout the Middle East who can see a permanent and lasting peace 
within their grasp.
    As we give our sympathies to those who have suffered and died and 
their families, let us stiffen our resolve to say to those who seek to 
abuse human life so that they can continue to kill and continue to keep 
peace from people who want it: You will not succeed. You must not 
    I ask you to think today for a few moments about the connection 
between what you hope will happen in the Middle East--what I have worked 
for as your President in terms of peace in the Middle East and Northern 
Ireland and South Africa and Haiti, worked for to reduce the nuclear 
threat in North Korea and to be able to say that this is the first time 
since the dawn of the nuclear age when no Russian missiles are pointed 
at the children of America--what is the connection between all of this 
and the work you have done here at home? The literally tens of millions 
of dollars that you have raised for any number of worthy public purposes 
and the partnerships that you have had with our Government, our 
National, State, and local governments, serving families, resettling 
refugees, helping the elderly and the sick, promoting education, and of 
course, as Mr. Gold said, dealing with the aftermath of the terrible 
earthquake; even the help you sent to the people of Rwanda and those who 
were affected by the Kobe earthquake--what is the connection between 
these two things?
    You have a sense of mission and purpose. You know that it is for all 
of us to make the most of our God-given capacities, but that we can only 
do it if we work together with some common purpose. I believe that the 
role of our Government must be as a partner to people like you, people 
who are willing to give of your time and your money and your heart and 
soul to try to solve the problems of other people because you think your 
life will be richer and stronger as well, not--to use your phrase, sir--
not because it's a matter of charity but because it's a matter of 
    I have done what I could to be a good partner, and I thank you for 
what you said about the earthquake. We worked hard there. And we 
continue to work hard to make sure that all the consequences of the 
quake will be overcome and that the future will be bright.
    What I want to say to you today is that if you look at the economic 
problems and the social problems tearing America apart, if you look at 
the level of violence and gangs and drugs

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among our children, the number of children who are born out of wedlock, 
if you look at the problems we have with stagnant incomes, and then you 
look on the other side of the ledger at the fact that we are creating 
new businesses at a record rate, we are creating new millionaires at a 
record rate, our country has the lowest combined rate of unemployment 
and inflation that we've had in 25 years, you might ask yourself, how 
can this global economy, how can the end of the cold war, how can the 
transfer from the industrial age to the information age bring us so much 
good and leave so many problems in its wake?
    If you look at the Middle East, you see that the very act of making 
peace has made it possible to have more violence. Look at what happened 
in Gaza. If peace is made and the PLO has a government there and the 
borders are open and the people are more integrated, then the incomes of 
the Palestinians go up, prosperity increases, the love of peace deepens. 
But if the borders are open, then that means there is also a greater 
possibility for terrorism, violence, murder, and killing the peace.
    I want to make this common point. I believe the greatest challenge 
to civilization at the end of this century, with the globalization of 
the economy and the revolution of information and technology we're 
seeing, is that all of the forces of integration, which give us the hope 
of building people up and having untold dreams fulfilled, seem to be 
accompanied by seeds of disintegration, which threaten our most basic 
human decency. And our job as citizens of our country and as human 
beings is to try to stabilize and shape and humanize those forces so 
that we can allow all the wonderful things of this new age to lift our 
people up and, at the same time, beat back the demons that would destroy 
    Now, I could give you a lot of examples of that. The financial 
crisis in Mexico: We signed NAFTA; everything looked great. The world 
financial markets are integrated. Money rushes into Mexico. Mexico grows 
more rapidly than ever could have happened 15 years ago. Errors were 
made, and instead of a mid-course correction, there is a huge flow of 
capital out of Mexico. The same speed that brought the country up 
threatened to bring it down, which is why I moved in to try to stabilize 
the situation. Overreaction, integration, disintegration.
    Japan becomes a great industrial power by developing an incredible 
ability to fill different little market niches and do specific things, 
smaller and smaller things with bigger and bigger impacts. And the 
miniaturization and openness and rapid moving of that society also makes 
it possible for a religious fanatic to walk into a subway with a little 
piece of poison gas in a little vial and kill 60 people and hospitalize 
hundreds more.
    Russia throws off the shackles of communism, gets rid of 
totalitarianism. No more oppression. Free enterprise banks. The first 
thing you know, the biggest problem is organized crime taking over the 
    In the Baltics--Hillary and I went to the Baltics, and people were 
cheering us on, saying the United States got Russian troops out of the 
Baltics for the first time since before World War II, thank you very 
much. We had this moving ceremony. Everybody was in tears. We walked 
into a room to have a private meeting, and the first thing the leader of 
the country asked me for was an FBI office, because now that they were 
free they were going to be vulnerable to organized crime and drug 
    Closer to home, the more free and open we are, the more the free 
markets can lift us up, the more people who have great skills will be 
rewarded. That's why education is more important than ever before. But 
things are happening so fast, people who are willing to work hard but 
don't know a lot and can't learn a lot or don't have access to learning 
are going to be far more punished than they have been in the past; which 
is why, in the last 15 years, you see a dramatic departure from all 
previous years before World War II, when the middle class is splitting 
apart. The forces of integration are giving people who can triumph in 
the information age untold opportunities in America, but there are 
forces of disintegration for those who don't have them. They're not as 
obvious and tangible as the disintegration that comes from an 
earthquake, but they are happening nonetheless.
    And you have stepped into the breach. The generosity you have shown 
by raising this money and working in partnership with public agencies 
and dealing with all these problems is of more historic importance than 
at ever before, at least in the latter half of the 20th century. Because 
we have to find a way to push for peace in the Middle East and not let 
the forces of dis-

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 integration destroy it. We have to find a way to help people overcome 
the horrible legacy of totalitarianism and build the institutions of 
freedom and not let them be destroyed by people who abuse freedom.
    We have to find a way in this country to lift up all people in the 
technological and information revolution, which gives us the potential 
of liberating poor people at a more rapid rate than ever before, without 
instead creating a huge class of new poor who are working all the time 
and cannot get ahead. That is what is fueling all the cauldron of 
feelings around immigration. It's what's fueling all the cauldron of 
feelings around the affirmative action debate in this State. It is the 
force of integration running smack dab against the force of economic 
    And because you have a social conscience, because you understand 
that as a country and as a community we must go up or down together, 
because you know that our diversity, our freedom, our openness will 
ensure America's greatness indefinitely if we can solve this problem, 
you are critical to our future.
    Now, in Washington today, we are having an unprecedented debate 
about what the role of the Government should be in this time. And it is 
fashionable now, as it once was fashionable to say that there were 
people in Washington who never met a Government program they didn't 
like, now you see people who never met one they did like. Where once the 
problem was people who wanted to spend more money on everything, today 
the problem is people want to spend less money on everything, who make 
no distinctions.
    We cannot live without a public purpose and institutions to bring us 
together in public endeavors so that the forces of integration can 
triumph over the forces of disintegration, so that the people who are 
lifting us up can prevail.
    I believe in the forces of the free market. I have done everything I 
could to unshackle them from destructive Government interference. I have 
done everything I could to expand trading opportunities for the American 
private sector. But the market alone, in a time when the forces of 
disintegration are powerful, will not solve all of our problems.
    And so you must work with us to define the mission of your 
Government and the level of partnership we will have as we move toward 
the end of this century and into the next. But as you go home today, I 
want you to think about it. Think about the terrible burden that the 
people of Israel bear. The more risks they take for peace, the more at 
risk they are from openness.
    And the same is true of the Palestinians proceeding in good faith. 
They never had to run a police force before. They never had to turn the 
lights on before or run the water systems or make the trains run on 
time, to use the American slogan. They don't have the infrastructure to 
deal with this. And so their enemies say, ``I liked it the other way. I 
could get plenty of money for making bombs. I could get plenty of 
ammunition for my uzi. I do not want to live in peace.''
    And peace requires openness and interchange so that the more risks 
you take, the more at risk you are because disintegration becomes an 
option as you try to integrate people and bring them together. In this 
kind of a world, we must have strong institutions devoted to preserving 
responsibility, family, work, community, to giving everybody a chance to 
imagine that their tomorrows can be better than their yesterdays.
    Now, we could take every last issue being debated in Washington and 
every last issue being debated in the global community, and it all comes 
down to that. And I ask you not to forget that some of the forces who 
are arguing that we don't need any kind of Government are also arguing 
that we should withdraw from the United Nations, turn our back on 
peacekeeping, not be involved in the rest of the world. That would be a 
disaster for the future of our country and this globe. And we must not 
do it.
    This is not a partisan issue. At the end of this century, at the 
dawn of the next, we must have public institutions working in 
partnership with public-spirited citizens to enhance our security, to 
enhance opportunity, to insist on more responsibility, and to empower 
people through continuous education to make the most of their own lives 
and to develop the self-confidence to believe that they can live good 
lives without hurting other people, that they don't have to define their 
success in life by someone else's failure. And that is the common 
element in all destructive behavior.
    Why do people blow up buses in Israel? There are people who believe 
they can only be successful in life if someone else is dying. And in a 
much more pedestrian way, how many

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times do we see conflicts within our own borders from people who believe 
they can only be successful if someone else is failing?
    You have believed, always, there was a public interest, there were 
shared values, there were common goals, we could go up together. That is 
what America needs now. We need it in thinking about our own problems. 
We need it in looking out to the world. We need to behave as citizens 
the way you behave as members of this organization. We need to give, 
because when we give, we get; because we're better off if we're all 
doing better. We dare not define our success in life by someone else's 
    So I say to you, keep doing what you're doing. But when you go home 
and when you continue this conversation, think about how many examples 
there are of the point I have made to you today. And think about all the 
wonderful opportunities the world affords us. I believe America's best 
days are still ahead. We have only to figure out how to get the benefits 
of these fantastic new changes without bearing the burdens of the forces 
of disintegration. It will not happen unless we believe in the public 
interest, unless we believe in the human ties that bind us, and unless 
we join hands to work together. That is the wisdom you have to give to 
the rest of America, and I ask you to do your very best to impart it.
    Thank you, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 12:10 p.m. at the Beverly Wilshire Regent. 
In his remarks, he referred to Peter Gold, 1995 Jewish Federation 
campaign chairman, and his wife, Gloria; Irwin Field, Jewish Federation 
president, and his wife, Helgar; Lew Wasserman, chairman and CEO, MCA, 
Inc., and his wife, Edie; and entertainer Barbra Streisand.