Video Remarks to Anti-Defamation League's Centennial Summit

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
April 30, 2013

The video is available with closed captioning on YouTube.

It's my great pleasure to congratulate all of you -- the committed men and women of the Anti-Defamation League -- on the ADL's remarkable 100 years of service to our nation and to the world. I'm genuinely sorry that I couldn't join you in person, I would love to be there, but I send my best wishes for a successful summit and a landmark centennial year. And I also want to particularly congratulate Abe Foxman on his decades of inspiring leadership at the ADL. It's been a privilege to work with you, Abe, over the years.

Can I also say to everybody that way back in 1986, a young fellow by the name of Lenny Zakim took me on my very first trip to Israel with a bunch of friends. It's a memorable trip, one that just stands out and Lenny and I became fast friends as a result of that. And he was an extraordinary contributor to the ethic and the values of the ADL, as all of you know.

The challenge that you're now setting out before us this year -- and I guess every year -- is really simple: “Imagine a world without hate.” I've never met a child, two-and-a-half years old, or two years old, or three years old, who hates anybody. Hate is taught. And all of you understand that before we can rid others' hearts of hate, the conviction to do so has to start in our own imaginations. Behind my desk at the State Department, I have a wonderful photograph from way back in 1971 of myself as a young man standing next to John Lennon at an antiwar rally in New York. John knew the power of imagination.

And of course, as you well know, that dream has proven all too difficult to achieve.

In too many places, our world is still torn by strife rooted in ignorance or prejudice. Differences of religion or race, of creed or culture, of homeland or sexual orientation are somehow seen as threats by too many people. In truth, they ought to be celebrated for enriching our societies.

For 100 years, the ADL has been on the front lines, sometimes very, very difficult, sometimes even dangerous, promoting tolerance and combating hatred wherever it arises. You've been an invaluable ally in our shared struggle to promote human dignity and justice for imperiled minority groups around the world. And frankly, important progress has been won. But the work, we all know, is far from done.

More than six decades after World War II ended, six decades after the world's collective horror at the Holocaust, anti-Semitism remains a dangerous menace. We need to continue to tell the world this is simply unacceptable. At the beginning of the 21st century, we need to come together to condemn anti-Semitism in every form -- whether it's the disturbing rise of xenophobic and anti-Semitic parties in Europe or the uptick of violence against Jewish people anywhere in the world.

We all of us have to join in a common resolve to stand up, speak out, and act against anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred, whenever and wherever they occur. The State Department, I commit to you, I promise you, will continue to stand alongside the ADL in this effort, and as long as I am Secretary of State, wherever I go I will continue to advocate for human rights, pursue peaceful and respectful dialogue, and promote tolerance. Together, we will keep fighting -- we will keep imagining -- and we will not stop until we achieve the dream that you challenge us to reach: a world without hate. Thank you.