ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF
ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS
PM Netanyahu’s Speech before Christians United for Israel
Source: PMO, 3-18-12
Thank you very much. Thank you all, thank you. Todah rabah.
Wow, that was like watching Home Movies. I never expected anyone to actually read that bio. But you defy all my expectations, all the time. Especially you, my good friend, Pastor Hague, Mrs. Hague, and all of you, you’re wonderful friends. There are some dates that have to be corrected there…
My son’s name is Avner. He is Israel’s National Bible Champion and he came number two, second deputy, in the International Bible Contest. It’s a quiz; it’s like the spelling bee to the nth degree. It’s very hard and he, at the age of 15, did this. I have to tell you that he didn’t make World Champion because of the Prime Minister’s question. I asked it. But it tells you what kind of society we are. And I’ll tell you more about that in a minute.
I do want to say that I do read the bible. I read it yesterday. We read it every Saturday actually. Every Shabbat, after lunch we sit down and read parashat hashavu’a, the Portion of the Week. We read Exodus now. Then you have the haftara. It’s the addition from the Bible. This was from Ezekiel. Am I correct? Absolutely. So I draw, like you, enormous reservoirs of strength from the Torah, from the Bible. This is the well from which we drink; this is the stone on which we stand.
I want to welcome all of you to Israel’s eternal and undivided capital, Jerusalem. And I want to thank all of you for standing up for the one and only Jewish state. I want to thank you Pastor Hague – not only have you stood up for Israel, you’ve inspired others to stand up as well. First you inspired dozens, then you inspired hundreds, then you inspired thousands, then tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands and now the unbelievable number: Christians United for Israel now number one million supporters. Congratulations Pastor Hague for this remarkable achievement. I should talk to you more often…
And I know this is only the beginning because there’s a dramatic transformation that’s taking place in the relationship between Christians and Jews. For centuries this relationship was focused on our differences and our tortured past. But today, thanks to leaders like you, Jews and Christians are focusing on the common future that we have and the common values that we share.
Now you look around the shifting sands of this turbulent, windswept Middle East and it’s clear that these shared values that we have, set Israel apart, just as it’s clear that these shared values bring Israel and America together.
What are these values? They’re values that spring form our common heritage, from the revolutionary ideas that were first formulated in this land millennia ago. One of these ideas that we read about is from the Book of Samuel, the Second Book of Samuel, and I want to tell you about it. In a very oblique way it touches on the thing that I told you about, the prime Minister’s question, but it’s deeper.
There was a king in this city, King David. He was a great king, but he was not without sin. One day he was looking out from his terrace in the Old City of Jerusalem, David’s City, and he sees Bathsheba. He asks to bring her to him. After she’s with child from him he says “Bring her husband.” Her husband is Uriah the Hittite, a very brave commander in the army of the Israelites fighting in Transjordan and David says “Bring him home. Give him a leave of absence.” But Uriah, who was brought to Jerusalem, refuses to go home to Bathsheba. He says, “When my men are in battle, I will sit, I will sleep on the doorstep of my king.” So David gives an order to Joab, the military commander, to put Uriah on the front lines back in Transjordan, in Moab I think, or Amon, Amman which is today the capital of Jordan. And this is done. And Uriah dies in battle. David marries Bathsheba. End of story, right?
No. Because then Nathan the prophet comes to David and says “Now, what would you do to the rich man who takes from the poor man the only possession that he has, that he values – the one lamb? What would you do to such a man if he took away that one possession from the poor man?” He said, “Well, I’d punish him.” And Nathan says, to this all-powerful king, “You are that man.”
That’s a revolutionary statement in human affairs. That’s an impossible statement 3,000 years ago, when the world was ruled by all-powerful empires with all-powerful kings and emperors. Who could possibly say that in antiquity and live? Well, Nathan said it to the King and lived. This was inscribed in our bible. This is such a revolutionary thing. Power is not all-encompassing. All men are equal under God. All men and all women – equal under God with inalienable rights. This is a Jewish concept; it’s a revolutionary Jewish concept.
I think that this message took time to resonate throughout the ages that power is not absolute and that no-one is above the law. And those values, like many others, are rooted in the Bible. They were passed from one generation to another of Jews; they were spread far and wide by Christians; and they eventually helped spark a new era of freedom and progress.
I recently went to Holland, where I learned about one of those sparks. I visited this wonderful old synagogue of the Portuguese Jews in Amsterdam. It was absolutely remarkable, very beautiful. And there is a library there of old Jewish writings throughout the ages. One of them is of Maimonides, a great Medieval Jewish scholar. Maimonides was read by an Englishman – Isaac Newton. Newton not only read Maimonides, he read the Bible, in Hebrew. And he decided to recommend this book to a friend of his.
His friend was John Locke, the famous philosopher of religious tolerance, the famous writer of religious tolerance. Locke was influenced by these same ideas that shaped our civilization and then proceeded to shape the United States of America. The American Revolution and other movements of progress are all coming from that same wellspring, with additions, with important changes, with important elaborations, but this is the source. This is the water. The waters of the Shilo’ah.
We are all drinking from that same well; we are all heirs to a great civilization. A civilization that is the source, the wellspring of the values which we so deeply cherish. And those values ensure that Israel’s minorities, including over one million citizens who are Arabs, always have full civil rights; values that ensure that Israel’s Government will never tolerate discrimination against women, and values that ensure that Israel’s Christian population will always be free to practice their faith. That’s the only place in the Middle East where Christians are fully free to practice their faith. They don’t have to fear; they don’t have to flee. In a time where Christians are under siege in so many places, in so many lands in the Middle East, I’m proud that in Israel Christians are free to practice their faith and that there’s a thriving Christian community in Israel.
And these shared values set Israel apart from regimes like Syria, that butcher their own people mercilessly, and from terror organizations like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah that indiscriminately fire rockets on civilians and hide behind civilians – it’s a double war crime, and from countries like Iran whose leaders foment terrorism and violence around the globe and call for our destruction. I don’t need to explain to you why this regime must never be allowed to have nuclear weapons.
I don’t need to explain this to you because you get it. You all get it. You get the main point – that our enemies don’t hate us for what we do; they hate us for what we are. When I say us, I mean Israel and the United States – two allies anchored in common values, in seeking a common future of freedom. This is why they hate us. It’s not a simple battle and it’s one that the Jewish people have endured for many centuries.
Recently I read a book written by the great American historian Will Durant. He’s well-known for these wonderful 11 chapters; it’s a masterpiece – 11 volumes which he entitled “the Story of Civilization.” But the book I read now was a little thin. I read these books, they’re quite spectacular. They were written in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, throughout his life, and towards the close of his life with his wife Ariel, he’s just a wonderful writer. This book he wrote towards the end of his life, in 1968, after a lifetime of study, he called it “The Lessons of History.”
Do you want the good news or the bad news? What do you want first? Bad news. You’re like me… The bad news for the Jewish people can be summed up in two words: numbers count. Big populations have large economies, they have the resources to field large armies; military power produces political and economic power which in turn produces more military power. Numbers count. That’s bad news for the Jewish people because our numbers aren’t that big. And we were more-than-decimated in the previous century.
We’re a tiny nation in numbers. We’re six million in Israel and barely 13 million worldwide. So that’s the bad news. Do you want the good news? I’m sure you want the good news.
The Jewish people have always defied the laws of history. Our improbable odyssey through time, a nearly 4,000 year journey marked by indescribable tragedy and sublime triumph – our odyssey has broken every rule in the book. Writing in 1968, Durant hints that the young State of Israel, we were only 20 years old, he hints that this young state powered by deep wellsprings of faith and culture may continue to defy the laws of history. And we have: we’ve defended ourselves time after time against much larger enemies; our innovations have made Israel a technological powerhouse; our Nobel Prize winners have propelled humanity forward (by the way Israel has more Nobel Prize winners per capita than any other country in the world), and the towering genius and spirit of our people finds expression in every field: in science and medicine, in technology and industry, in art and culture.
And here’s more good news: the Jewish people are not alone. We’re not alone because we have the support of each and every one of you. And we’re not alone because we’re uniquely blessed by the support of tens of millions and even more across the United States and countless other countries across the world. Yes, numbers count, but so do you.
So I want to thank you, Christians United for Israel. I want to thank you for standing up for Israel; I want to thank you for standing up and being counted. May God bless you all. Thank you.