Daily Archives: September 23, 2010

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Address the Clinton Global Initiative Meeting

Posted by: Audiegrl

Today, the President and First Lady joined President Bill Clinton to address the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). Introduced by the President,  First Lady Michelle Obama addressed the closing session of the Clinton Global Initiative Annual meeting. She discussed an issue near and dear to her heart as First Lady, and that is the challenges faced by America’s veterans and military families, particularly as they transition to civilian life.

Harness the Potential of Veterans and Military Families

First Lady MIchelle Obama talks to President Bill Clinton at the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting at the Sheraton in New York. September 23, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative convenes global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. These CGI members have made commitments valued at $57 billion, bringing hope and opportunity to more than 200 million people around the world.This year, commitments were announced to support the long-term recovery of the Gulf Coast.

President Bill Clinton, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama address the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers in New York. September 23, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

In President Obama’s introduction, he discussed the First Lady’s focus on public service, “No matter what the issue, there’s only one thing that she wants to know, and that’s ‘who are we helping?’  That’s what she asks.  ‘Who is this going to make a difference for?  Whose life is this going to improve?’”  In her remarks at CGI, Mrs. Obama continued her work as a voice for America’s military families and veterans, using her platform as First Lady to make sure they get the support and appreciation they deserve.

At this year’s meeting, President Clinton asked participants to address the challenge of harnessing the human potential, asking participants to consider, “What can we do to get more people involved in our common endeavors?”  The First Lady called on the business and non-profit leaders present to harness the skills, talent and potential of veterans and military spouses. Asking them to reach out and engage veterans and military spouses and to take advantage of their talent, dedication and experience.

After all, hiring America’s vets and military spouses is not just about helping them — it’s about how they can help you.  So I’m not asking you to do this out of the goodness of your heart — do it because it’s good for your bottom line and the success of your organization.

In the spirit of CGI, the First Lady made a promise to continue to use her platform as First Lady to bring people together around the issue “to spark not just a national conversation, but national action to give our vets and military spouses the opportunities they deserve.”

With Blue Star mom, Dr. Jill Biden, Mrs. Obama discussed what they have both seen firsthand — the potential that America’s vets and military spouses have to offer. Last week Tom Tarantino, an Army veteran, came to the White House to meet with staff. Tarantino put it best:

He was talking about his experience transitioning from military to civilian life.  And he said — and this is his quote — “When I left the service, I was looking for more than a paycheck.  I was looking for a mission.”

And ultimately, that is the same reason all of you are here today.  That’s the same determination that you bring to your own service, the same conviction that a career is about more than just making a living — it’s about making a difference.

You’re here today because you’ve found your mission. Now it’s time for us to work together to help America’s veterans and military families find theirs.

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Filed under First Lady Michelle Obama, Pres. Barack Obama, William (Bill) J. Clinton

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Attend the 65th United Nations General Assembly

Posted by: Audiegrl

People listen backstage at the United Nations, as President Barack Obama addresses the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), in New York, N.Y., Sept. 23, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

At the beginning of the President’s speech this morning to the United Nations General Assembly, the President spoke first of the great challenges facing America – an economy only now being brought back from the brink of total disaster, and defeating Al Qaeda.  He spoke of what’s been done on both fronts, from international cooperation on financial stability, to withdrawal from Iraq and refocusing on Afghanistan – “There is much to show for our efforts, even as there is much more work to be done,” he said.  He spoke also about the ongoing international commitment to hold Iran accountable on its nuclear program.  And he concluded his speech with a focus on human rights, a forceful denunciation of tyranny, and a call for the world to come together for global development as he described yesterday — “The world that America seeks is not one we can build on our own,” he said.

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But the bulk of his speech was on a topic that saw a spark of hope a few weeks ago here at the White House:

And we all have a choice to make.  Each of us must choose the path of peace.  Of course, that responsibility begins with the parties themselves, who must answer the call of history.  Earlier this month at the White House, I was struck by the words of both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.  Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “I came here today to find a historic compromise that will enable both people to live in peace, security, and dignity.”  And President Abbas said, “We will spare no effort and we will work diligently and tirelessly to ensure these negotiations achieve their cause.”

These words must now be followed by action and I believe that both leaders have the courage to do so.  But the road that they have to travel is exceedingly difficult, which is why I call upon Israelis and Palestinians — and the world — to rally behind the goal that these leaders now share.  We know that there will be tests along the way and that one test is fast approaching.  Israel’s settlement moratorium has made a difference on the ground and improved the atmosphere for talks.

And our position on this issue is well known.  We believe that the moratorium should be extended.  We also believe that talks should press on until completed.  Now is the time for the parties to help each other overcome this obstacle.  Now is the time to build the trust — and provide the time — for substantial progress to be made.  Now is the time for this opportunity to be seized, so that it does not slip away.

Now, peace must be made by Israelis and Palestinians, but each of us has a responsibility to do our part as well.  Those of us who are friends of Israel must understand that true security for the Jewish state requires an independent Palestine — one that allows the Palestinian people to live with dignity and opportunity.  And those of us who are friends of the Palestinians must understand that the rights of the Palestinian people will be won only through peaceful means — including genuine reconciliation with a secure Israel.

I know many in this hall count themselves as friends of the Palestinians.  But these pledges of friendship must now be supported by deeds.  Those who have signed on to the Arab Peace Initiative should seize this opportunity to make it real by taking tangible steps towards the normalization that it promises Israel.

And those who speak on behalf of Palestinian self-government should help the Palestinian Authority politically and financially, and in doing so help the Palestinians build the institutions of their state.

Those who long to see an independent Palestine must also stop trying to tear down Israel.  After thousands of years, Jews and Arabs are not strangers in a strange land.  After 60 years in the community of nations, Israel’s existence must not be a subject for debate.

Israel is a sovereign state, and the historic homeland of the Jewish people.  It should be clear to all that efforts to chip away at Israel’s legitimacy will only be met by the unshakeable opposition of the United States.  And efforts to threaten or kill Israelis will do nothing to help the Palestinian people.  The slaughter of innocent Israelis is not resistance — it’s injustice.  And make no mistake:  The courage of a man like President Abbas, who stands up for his people in front of the world under very difficult circumstances, is far greater than those who fire rockets at innocent women and children.

The conflict between Israelis and Arabs is as old as this institution.  And we can come back here next year, as we have for the last 60 years, and make long speeches about it.  We can read familiar lists of grievances.  We can table the same resolutions.  We can further empower the forces of rejectionism and hate.  And we can waste more time by carrying forward an argument that will not help a single Israeli or Palestinian child achieve a better life.  We can do that.

Or, we can say that this time will be different — that this time we will not let terror, or turbulence, or posturing, or petty politics stand in the way.  This time, we will think not of ourselves, but of the young girl in Gaza who wants to have no ceiling on her dreams, or the young boy in Sderot who wants to sleep without the nightmare of rocket fire.

This time, we should draw upon the teachings of tolerance that lie at the heart of three great religions that see Jerusalem’s soil as sacred.  This time we should reach for what’s best within ourselves.  If we do, when we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations — an independent, sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel.  (Applause.)

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Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our special section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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Filed under First Lady Michelle Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton (Sec of State), Pres. Barack Obama, Uncategorized, United Nations