West Wing Week: 05/29/15 or, “High Fives For Everybody!”

This week, the President donned a yarmulke at Adas Israel Congregation, where he also sang and danced with some preschoolers; marked the first Memorial Day since our war in Afghanistan came to an end; hosted the NATO Secretary-General in the Oval Office; and answered your questions on climate change during a Twitter Q&A in Miami. That's May 22 to May 28th or, “High Fives for Everybody!”

 

Friday

  • The President greeted rabbis at Adas Israel, one of Washington’s oldest synagogues, to mark Jewish American Heritage Month – and made an impromptu visit to a preschool classroom.
  • The President hosted foreign diplomats for an annual reception in the East Room.

Monday

  • On Memorial Day, the President joined 5,000 people at Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and reflect on the day with the families of those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.

Tuesday

  • Reporters from all over the world joined the President and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office, following their bilateral meeting.
  • The President teamed up with the Vice President to surprise Vivian Bailey on her White House tour.

Wednesday

  • The EPA announced its finalized Clean Water Rule, after reviewing over a million public comments. The Rule will protect safe and clean drinking water for millions of American families.

Thursday

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President Obama Offers Easter and Passover Greetings

In a special video message, President Obama offered his warmest wishes to people across the country and around the world celebrating the Easter and Passover holidays.

Last night, the President and First Lady hosted a Seder here at the White House to mark the start of the Jewish holiday of Passover. Tomorrow, the First Family will celebrate Easter, reflecting on Christ's sacrifice and embracing the hope that this sacred season represents.

"Whether we’re Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, or Buddhist; whether faith in God shapes our daily lives completely or not at all, we believe that with common effort, and shared sacrifice, a brighter future is just around the bend," the President said. "And we embrace our obligation to do something meaningful, something lasting, with the precious time we’ve been allotted on this Earth."

The President also encouraged all Americans to "pause and give thanks for the chance to live in a country where everyone has the right to worship and pray and love as they choose."

Watch the President's Easter and Passover greetings below:

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Celebrating Passover at the White House

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host a Passover Seder dinner in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House, April 3, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Sou... Read more »

President Obama on the Causes and Antidotes to Violent Extremism

"I witnessed horrible crimes committed by ISIS. 

It's not a revolution or jihad ... it's slaughter ... I was shocked by what I did. 

This isn't what we came for, to kill other Muslims.

I'm 28 -- is this the only future I'm able to imagine?" 

So said one of the many former terrorists in the world who have come to reject such violence.

What is violent extremism?

When we think of the issue, many immediately imagine the terrorists who kill innocent people -- in America, in Europe, in the Middle East, and across the world.

But violent extremism runs deeper than the barbaric acts it breeds. It’s the ideologies, the propaganda, the recruitment, the funding -- the entire infrastructure that extremists use to radicalize and recruit people to commit violence.

"We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam."

A violent extremist could be anyone -- a person of any color or creed. What we do know is that their extremism is rooted in common challenges: the unchecked spread of extremist ideologies, their economic grievances, and their political grievances.  

This week, the White House is hosting a Summit on Countering Violent Extremism -- a gathering of governments, civil society groups, and community leaders from more than 60 nations in Washington, D.C. to find ways we can empower local communities to overcome these challenges. 

President Obama addressed the Summit yesterday and today on these issues. Watch his remarks from February 18:  

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