Full Text Israel Political Brief September 15, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the Ceremony Marking 40 Years Since the Yom Kippur War



PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Ceremony Marking 40 Years Since the Yom Kippur War

Source: PMO, 9-15-13

יום ראשון י”א תשרי תשע”ד

Photo by GPO


With humility and gratitude, we pay tribute to the heroism of the fighters of the Yom Kippur War. Thousands of our finest sons and daughters were killed in that war, thousands more were injured and some still bear their wounds today. So too do thousands of bereaved families carry the scar of their loss every day of their lives.

My brothers and sisters, I know your pain, your hearts. The hearts of the people are with you on this day and every day. A people’s mettle is greatly tested on turbulent days of failure and grief, when it appears as if the line of our lives may be cut. It was like this on Yom Kippur 40 years ago, when the sounding of the siren pierced the holiest of days for the Jewish people.

When the war broke out, I was an Israeli student in the United States. Like many other Israelis who studied abroad, I asked to return home quickly, to join my unit and defend the country. For too many who flew to Israel with me, it was their last journey. We came home to a difficult reality: the initiative was in the hands of the enemy; the leadership had failed in its estimation of the enemy and the actions required to stop them in time. For some of us, it seemed as if we were fighting for the very existence of the Third Temple. As one, without debate or hesitation, the reserve soldiers mobilized and joined the regular soldiers at the front. Together, with supreme bravery, they pushed backed the enemy swarms that flowed over the sands of the Sinai and the basalt fields of the Golan Heights. They understood well that the fate of Israel was dependent on each and every one of them. The IDF, under the leadership of the Chief of General Staff, David Eliezer Dado, fought back vigorously and took the offensive. Within three weeks, we were at the gates of Cairo and Damascus, and there was no military force that could stop us.

My late brother, Yoni, who fought in many battles during the war, wrote to my parents only weeks after its end, “It is hard to describe how tightly clenched the fingers are in the steel glove during days of pogroms. How strong the nation is and how great it is during times of crisis”. He added, “Don’t forget: force, justice and a decisive decision are with us and that is a great deal”.

The resilience of the people held then and it is always needed, every day and every hour, even today, but we cannot be satisfied with that. The duty of the people’s leadership is to be realistic and not get carried away by illusions or false hopes. It must see the entirety of the strategic arena. It must be ready at all times. Sometimes it must make the difficult choice between bad and worse, and it must ensure the existence of the State of Israel. This existence rests not only on our leadership’s capabilities, but also on the crushing force of the offensive, on letting the enemy know that the cost we will exact for their aggression against us will be unbearable. This is the true foundation of our existence.

The strategic situation has changed a great deal since the Yom Kippur War: we signed peace accords with Egypt and Jordan and we are trying to reach an agreement with the Palestinians. None of this would have happened without our neighbors’ understanding that we cannot be defeated on the battlefield.

We are now in a new era – at the height of an upheaval in our region unprecedented since the establishment of the State. We are faced with new threats – missiles, cyber warfare and weapons of mass destruction. We hope that the understandings reached between the United States and Russia regarding Syrian chemical weapons will bear fruit and that they be judged by their results – the full destruction of all chemical weapons stores held by the Syrian regime, weapons it has used against its own civilians.

Photo by GPO Click Here to Enlarge Picture
Photo by GPO

We must also judge the results of the efforts of the international community to stop Iran’s nuclear armament. Here as well, it is not words that will determine the outcome, but rather actions and results. In any case, Israel must be ready and willing to defend itself by itself against any enemy, and this ability and willingness is as important today as ever.

Forty years after the Yom Kippur War, Israel is stronger than ever. At the same time, we remember that the true foundation of our strength was and remains the spirit of our people, the same spirit of the warriors who fell in battle and of those who returned from the war. This is the spirit of an ancient people which returned to its homeland, which holds on to it with all its might and will defend its one and only country with all its brains and courage.

In the days between Yom Kippur and Sukkoth, as we remember the brave soldiers who died defending us, we bow our heads and find comfort in the words of the prophet Amos:

“On that day I will raise up the fallen shelter of David; I will repair their breaches and raise up its ruins, and I will build it up as in days of old.”

May the memories of the fallen be blessed

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