Former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and
George H. W. Bush have been recruited by the current President
George W. Bush
to galvanize private citizens and businesses into contributing money for the relief of the South Asia tsunami victims.
The two former presidents were interviewed Monday, Jan. 3, by Larry King on the Cable News
Network—Bush from Houston, Texas, and Clinton from
Chappaqua, N.Y. They said they will encourage people and businesses to give to existing charities which have been vetted by the White House, rather than attempting to "reinvent the wheel."
Three specifically Jewish charities are included along with 56 other secular and faith-based charities on the
website for the presidential
In alphabetical order, these Jewish charities and their websites are: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (www.jdc.org) the American Jewish World Service (www.ajws.org) and B'nai B'rith International (www.bnaibrith.org).
Both former presidents agreed that it would not make sense for President George W. Bush to go to the countries hardest hit by the
tsunami— India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand—because all the security that a presidential visit requires could hamper the relief efforts.
Asked if they might go, both said they were willing to make such a visit at an appropriate
time—when they could see some of their fundraising efforts being actualized and when they could assess what more needs to be done.
King asked if disasters such as this, which as of tonight had claimed the lives of an estimated 140,000 people, ever make the two former Presidents question their faith.
Bush said that when he and his wife Barbara had lost a child, he asked "why, God?" but added that his faith was never shaken. He said he can understand if families who have lost loved ones in the earthquake-caused tsunami ask similar questions. He said he believes the adage that God moves in mysterious ways.
Bush said that those who question God in this time of catastrophe can be comforted by the fact that in time their questioning "will give way to the realization that there is a living God."
Clinton said "we all know that life is not fair in a million ways..." That he and former President George H. W. Bush should have risen to the presidency, and have achieved their dreams, is not fair when other people, such as the flood victims, lose their families and everything that they have.
Clinton noted that the world has suffered "horrible political tragedies like the Holocaust," and terrorism, and natural tragedies like earthquakes and tsunamis. The AIDS epidemic, he added, kills people "who never did a wrong thing in their life."
He said we shouldn't lost faith because we don't get "a free ride"—a life without pain, hurt or tragedy. Instead, he said, "faith should be deepened when we see the courageous response"
from humans in the face and aftermath of tragedy.
Clinton recommended to King that he have a show with religious leaders from the affected areas telling what
comfort they give to their followers in such times. He recommended that King secure a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Christian and a Muslim.
King quipped that Clinton would be a good producer for such a program
—Donald H. Harrison