ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF
ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS
PM Netanyahu at the AEI 2015 Irving Kristol Award Ceremony
Source: PMO, 11-9-15
PM Netanyahu at the AEI 2015 Irving Kristol Award Ceremony
Photo by Haim Zah, GPO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today attended the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Annual Dinner and presentation of the Irving Kristol Award. Following are excerpts from his remarks.
From the Prime Minister’s remarks on Israel-US relations:
“Common values, first. I think the values of freedom, free societies, the idea of individual choice that is enveloped with a collective purpose. And I think that defines Israel and defines America. These are two societies built on a purpose, on the idea of freedom. I’ve spoken in the Congress a number of times and each time I look and I see the emblem of Moses in the American Congress, and it says a lot. It’s the idea of the Promised Land, the land of freedom – freedom from bondage, freedom to pursue your future.
So I think this is the, I would say the identity of conviction. But there is something else that I think has to be seen in a historic context. We were a people scattered among the nations. We had no capacity to defend ourselves and by dint of historical regularity, we should have disappeared. Most nations that existed in the past do not exist today. And certainly a nation scattered from its land and becoming utterly defenseless, subject to the whims, the worst whims of humanity, should have disappeared. We gathered our resolve, came back to the Land of Israel, the Promised Land, rebuilt our country when we repossessed the power to defend ourselves.
But it was said here before that all powers, all countries, even great powers, need alliances. We need an alliance too. We did not have that alliance in the first half of the 20th century when the founding fathers of Zionism identified the threat of anti-Semitism, the growing threat of anti-Semitism in Europe, we had no capacity yet to build our nation. We built it having lost six million of our brethren. And I believe that if the United States had been the preeminent world power in the first half of the 20th century, things might have turned out differently.
And yet Israel was born in mid-century. The United States became the global power at that point. And what a difference it made. It made a difference for the entire world by guaranteeing liberty, by facing down Soviet totalitarianism. It made a difference for us in that we had a partner. And I think that not only the common ideals of Israel and the United States – and they were mentioned here – but I think it’s also the role, the active role of the United States in defending liberty around the world and standing by its allies, in this case the best possible ally of the United States, Israel – I think it’s made a world of difference. And I bet on this alliance. I wouldn’t sell the Unites States short; I wouldn’t sell Israel short; and I would not at all diminish the importance of this alliance. I think it’s pivotal for the future of our world and if you ask me about it, I’ll tell you more. This is what I believe.”
The Prime Minister referred to the situation in the Middle East:
“Well, I went to serve in the United Nations 100 years ago as Israel’s Ambassador, and there was a woman there. Her name was Jeane Kirkpatrick. And I had read an article that she had written called Dictatorships and Double Standards. And she said basically in this article, she said we are committed to the larger battle against Soviet totalitarianism and on occasion we decide for the larger goal to make arrangements with secular dictatorships. That’s basically what she said. Now, mind you, Saddam was horrible, horrible, a brutal killer. So was Qaddafi. There’s no question about that. I had my own dealings with each of them. But I do want to say that they were in many ways neighborhood bullies. That is, they tormented their immediate environment, but they were not wedded to a larger goal.
The militant Islamists, either Iran leading the militant Shiites with their proxies Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad and Hamas, or – even though Hamas is Sunni – or the militant Sunnis led by Da’ash, by ISIS… They have a larger goal in mind. Their goal is not merely the conquest of the Middle East; it’s the conquest of the world. It’s unbelievable. People don’t believe that. They don’t believe that it’s possible to have this quest for an imamate or a caliphate in the 21st century, but that is exactly what is guiding them. And against this larger threat that could, that would present two Islamic states – one the Islamic state of Da’ash and the other the Islamic Republic of Iran – each one of them seeking to arm themselves with weapons of mass death: chemical weapons in the case of ISIS, nuclear weapons in the case of Iran. That poses a formidable threat to our world and therefore if I have to categorize the threats, I would say that these are the larger threats.
And it doesn’t mean that you have to form alliances with secular dictatorships; it means you have to categorize what is the larger threat, and that is something that I think is required from all of us. Political leadership involves always choosing between bad and worse. I seldom have had a choice between bad and good. I welcome it when it happens, but these are by far the easiest choices. It’s choosing between bad and worse that defines a good part of leadership. And I think I know how to choose that.”
On the Syrian issue the Prime Minister said:
“I have acted several years ago, and I think I was the first country to do that, to put a military hospital ten yards away from our border with the Golan, with Syria. And we’ve taken in thousands of Syrians – children, women, men, amputated, horrible conditions – given them treatment in Israeli hospitals. We never show their picture because if their photograph is seen and they are then rehabilitated and they go back to their villages or towns, they’ll be executed on the spot. But other than that, I’ve left the internal battle in Syria untouched because I’m not sure what to choose and you have to openly admit it.
But here’s what I do define in Syria: I don’t want Syria to be used as a launching ground for attacks against us. And I have said this to Vladimir Putin when I flew to Moscow to see him. I went to see him first to make sure that our planes don’t crash at each other; it’s not a good idea. But I told him, here’s what we do in Syria. We will not allow Iran to set up a second front in the Golan, and we will act forcefully and have acted forcefully to prevent that. We will not allow the use of Syrian territory from which we’d be attacked by the Syrian army or anyone else, and we have acted forcefully against that. And third, we will not allow the use of Syrian territory for the transfer of game-changing weapons into Lebanon, into Hezbollah’s hands. And we have acted forcefully on that. I made it clear that we will continue to act that way. I explained that to Putin. I said, “Whatever your goals are in Syria, these are our goals and we’ll continue to act that way.” And I think that message was received.
Now, there is talk now of an arrangement in Syria and I spoke about it today in a very good conversation I had with President Obama. And I said that any arrangement that is struck in Syria if one is achievable – I’m not sure, I’m not sure Humpty Dumpty can be put back together again. I have strong doubts. I’m not sure Syria as a state can be reconstituted. But whatever arrangements are made in Syria that do not preclude Iran from continuing its aggression against us directly or by transferring weapons to Hezbollah, that doesn’t oblige us. We have very clear policy demands in Syria. We keep them and we’ll continue to keep them. The defense of Israel is what concerns me in Syria first and foremost, and on that we’ll continue to act forcefully.”
On economic-technological matters the Prime Minister said:
“Israel is becoming I would say the preeminent or one of the two great centers of innovation in the world. And as a result our ability to make alliances is shifting. We are now in an extraordinary relationship with two small countries in Asia – India and China and Japan. Together we account for roughly two-and-a-half billion people in the world. Now, they’re all coming to this new Israel. You asked where is Israel going. In the century of conceptual products and knowledge, the ones who will prosper are those who can innovate faster. Israel is a speed chess innovator. We don’t have that large a number of innovators, but we have a very, very large number of very fast innovators. And our culture promotes that.
So I think Israel is moving into a leadership position in technology. I’ll give you a number to illustrate this because I think it’s important that I take this away from general concepts and make it concrete. In 2014, as a result of a deliberate policy that my government is leading, Israel had 10% of the global investments in cyber security. That’s a hundred times our size. In 2015, we track that number, we receive double that amount. We receive 20% of the global investment in cyber security. In cyber, we’re punching 200 times above our weight.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received the 2015 AEI Irving Kristol Award. The award is given to individuals who have made exceptional intellectual and practical contributions to improve government policy, social welfare, or political understanding. The award is given at an annual event which was held this year at the National Building Museum, is America’s leading cultural institution devoted to the history and impact of the built environment. It does so by telling the stories of architecture, engineering, and design.
Among those in attendance were Supreme Court justices, Senators, members of the House of Representatives and senior managers from multi-national companies.
Previous recipients of the Irving Kristol Award include Nobel laureate Eugene Fama, Gen. David Petraeus, Bernard Lewis, US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, Leon Kass and Martin Feldstein.