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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good afternoon, everyone.  As you can see, I’ve just landed in Israel at what is a pivotal moment.  I’m very much looking forward to getting into my discussions, but I just wanted to offer a few words immediately upon landing.

On Shabbat, Jews around the world recite the Ma Tovu.   Part of that prayer reads, “Your great love inspires me to enter Your house, to worship in Your holy sanctuary, filled with awe for You.  I love Your house.”   Seven people were killed in Friday’s terrorist attack in Neve Yaakov; many more were wounded.  Most were leaving a synagogue after prayer.  To the families of the victims, we express our most heartfelt condolences knowing that we can never know the depth of your loss.  May the memory of your loved ones be a blessing.

To take an innocent life in an act of terrorism is always a heinous crime, but to target people outside their place of worship is especially shocking.  For every faith, the house of worship is hallowed.  It’s a place of communion, of awe, and, as Ma Tovu reminds us, of love.  So Friday’s attack was more than an attack on individuals; it was also an attack on the universal act of practicing one’s faith.  We condemn it in the strongest terms.  We also condemn the subsequent terrorist attack in Jerusalem on Saturday in which a father and son were wounded.  And we condemn all those who celebrate these and any other acts of terrorism that take innocent lives, no matter who the victim is or what they believe.  Calls for vengeance against more innocent victims are not the answer and acts of retaliatory violence against civilians are never justified.

It’s the responsibility of everyone to take steps to calm tensions rather than inflame them, to work toward a day when people no longer feel afraid in their communities, in their homes, in their places of worship.  That is the only way to halt the rising tide of violence that has taken too many lives – too many Israelis, too many Palestinians. I’ll make that clear throughout my time in Israel and the West Bank with everyone that I meet.

Friday’s attack occurred on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day when we mourn the 6 million Jews killed in the Shoah and dedicate ourselves anew to rooting out the hatred and dehumanization that makes such unspeakable crimes possible, to ensure that history never repeats itself.  All of us must recommit to that responsibility.  We will not shrink from it; we will rise to meet it.

Thank you.

U.S. Department of State

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