Full Text Israel Political Brief January 1, 2016: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Knesset Session Marking 40 Years Since the Late President Chaim Herzog’s Speech to the UN

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Knesset Session Marking 40 Years Since the Late President Chaim Herzog’s Speech to the UN

Source: PMO, 1-5-16
Chaim Herzog was one of our preeminent delegates and representatives to the United Nations. The 40 years that have passed since the dramatic day of November 10, 1975, did not blunt the impression of deep polarization that characterized that day. On the one hand, the United Nations displayed an unprecedented low moral standard, and on the other hand is Ambassador Herzog’s proud and admirable stand.

I will start with the UN Resolution which stated, and I quote, that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination”. Any reasonable person understood that Zionism was not the only target of this ridiculous attack. Those poisonous arrows equally, and in fact first and foremost, targeted the State of Israel, which is the embodiment of the Zionist idea.

These two targets were perceived as a single one. The Arab countries, the producers of petroleum, were hostile towards Israel since the day of its establishment, and they joined forces with the Soviet Union. They brought countries from Asia and Africa into their ranks and brought their slanderous campaign to its peak, which only intensified after our victory. Their failure to defeat us on the battlefield through the use of arms jumpstarted a new effort to try and undermine the just and moral foundation for Israel’s existence, thereby gradually leading to the country’s destruction.

It was an absurd group – an absurd display and an absurd group. A group of anti-democratic countries that trample on human rights, encourage terrorism and that are infected with anti-Semitism. This group was terribly hypocritical in vilifying Israel – a democratic country that upholds freedom and democracy as sacred values and extends its hand in peace to all its neighbors.

There was another party that provided a platform for this libel about racism – I am talking about the United Nations naturally. The United Nations was formed after World War II to promote friendship among the nations and prevent tragedies similar to the ones that had transpired during the years of the war.

Unfortunately, the United Nations quickly transformed into an organization that reinforces the divisions between countries and blocs. In many cases, not only did it not facilitate conflict resolution, it deepened conflicts by adopting resolutions that almost always sided with only one side, that of tyranny versus democracy. This is what the automatic majority in the UN means and it was true in this case as well. The outrageous comparison between Zionism and racism was a turning point, not so much in the history of the UN, but rather in the history of global anti-Semitism.

Until then, hatred of Jews found expression in different countries or lands, for instance in medieval England, Spain during the inquisition, France during the Dreyfuss trial, Ukraine and Russia during the waves of pogroms and in Germany and Europe during the horrifying years of the Holocaust. However, this case created a new situation. It was the first time that our enemies used a global mechanism, a worldwide mechanism, a respected international mechanism which is supposed to represent the entirety of humanity to delegitimize and dehumanize the Jewish state.

Throughout the decades, our enemies described us as the adversaries of humanity, disinheritors of nations, murderers of children and poisoners of wells. Thirty-five countries objected to this characterization and voted against the UN resolution. They well understood the absurdity in calling the Jewish state racist. Four decades later, we are still deeply grateful to them.

They were led by the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was one of our strongest and staunchest supporters. He stated very clearly that Israel is a democracy, and the fact of the matter is that tyrannical regimes take advantage of every opportunity to destroy the thing that threatens them most, namely, democracy. Moynihan, who was a very special man, stood by the side of another very special man, our ambassador to the United Nations.

Herzog’s speech to the UN in response to those who initiated the resolution denounced the denouncers. He first mentioned Kristallnacht in Germany, which preceded the annihilation of our people and occurred on exactly the same day 37 years beforehand. Herzog condemned the hatred and ignorance, the arrogance and the slander which were the foundations for the resolution comparing Zionism to racism. He promised, and I quote, “This episode will strengthen Zionism while weakening the UN.”

Tearing up the resolution at the UN podium was an act of planned spontaneity. It was a repetition of an act by his father, Rabbi Herzog, who tore up the White Paper as a public protest during the British Mandate against its restrictions. Chaim Herzog’s profound words stirred empathy for the Zionist cause throughout the Jewish world. The impression made by his speech remains to this day. I can add that it also affected me deeply. I spoke to Chaim Herzog on many occasions, including prior to his term as the Israeli Ambassador to the UN and also during my tenure. I went to see him for some Biblical discourse with someone whom I considered a great rabbi in telling the truth about Israel.

Nine years after he made his speech, I stood at the podium in the UN and delivered my inaugural speech under similar circumstances, though not identical. Iran, supported by Libya and Syria, submitted a proposal to expel Israel from the organization. Chaim Herzog’s devotion, his allegiance to the truth and his profound knowledge of the justness of our path inspired me to say similar things. I said: “We all must decide on which side we belong.

We can continue tolerating the attempts to turn this organization into a parody of itself. We can let it deteriorate until it resembles one of the ridiculous parliaments that gather in Damascus, Tripoli and Tehran, whose representatives, not surprisingly, are the living spirit behind today’s attempt to expel Israel; or alternatively we can tell them: Please check your fanaticism at the door.”

Those years were characterized by an effort to overturn that despicable resolution, an effort that intensified later. Indeed, at the end of 1991 the resolution was overturned, 16 years after it was adopted. The end of the Cold War resulted in the decline of the ideological conflict between the Soviet bloc and the Western countries. It introduced other changes in the international sphere that enabled overturning that UN resolution. Members of Knesset, I would like to mention the obvious: Even after it was overturned, we did not achieve peace and tranquility, far from that. The hostile attitudes towards Israel in UN institutions continue to this day.

There are parties in the UN who condemn us every opportunity they have. The pattern of automatic voting against Israel continues. Over the past year, the UN General Assembly adopted close to 20 resolutions against Israel, compared to only one against Iran, for example.

The same distortion exists in the UN Human Rights Council, which stands out in its discriminatory attitude towards us. Since the establishment of the Council in 2006, millions of people have been massacred around the world or have fled conflict, but this Council adopted 61 resolutions against Israel, more than all the resolutions it adopted against all the other countries combined.

This absurdity is very clear and it has nothing to do with what we do or do not do. As a country that upholds the rule of law, we do not fear legitimate criticism, but when it comes to the UN, its tendency to slander Israel is obsessive, distorted and immoral. Not only is it doing us an injustice, it also abandons those who truly suffer the evils of tyranny, aggression and terrorism, those whom the UN disregards. In fact, it is Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, which defends itself against vicious terrorism, that is strongly condemned.
We saw this just recently following the defensive military operations that were forced on us: Cast Lead, Pillar of Defense and Protective Edge. The UN condemned us, initiated investigations against us, and thereby abuses its role and provides support for terrorism.

This distorted reality will not discourage us. Our roots are stronger than any lie or slanderous incitement. Members of Knesset, I must reiterate that many countries in the world realize this. A strange duality exists here. On the one hand, they vote for these ridiculous resolutions and on the other hand, they wish to cooperate with us. This is a dramatic transformation in the nature of our relations with the countries of the world. Powerful countries like China, Japan, India, Russia, African countries and Latin American countries wish to learn from our experience in fighting militant Islamic terrorism and from our technological capabilities in so many diverse areas.

Our relations with these countries are growing stronger, and I tell their leaders, “It is time that our good relations will also be reflected in your votes in the UN.” This message is beginning to sink in. We should repeat it in our meetings with foreign representatives. This has already begun to occur in some important votes, including the impressive majority of countries that voted against resolutions singling out Israel in the International Atomic Energy Agency and in several other votes.

As for the UN – there is still a long way to go.
That moment when Chaim Herzog tore up those false allegations against us engraved on our memories. It demonstrated his profound belief in the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, truth over the lie. We believe that, in the end, the people of Israel will prevail and Chaim Herzog played an important part in preserving this belief.

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Full Text Israel Political Brief July 2, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks on the Passing of Sir Nicholas Winton, the British Schindler Transcript

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks on the Passing of Sir Nicholas Winton

Source: PMO, 7-2-15

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks on the passing of Sir Nicholas Winton:

“The Jewish people and the State of Israel owe an eternal debt to Nicholas Winton who singlehandedly saved hundreds of Jewish children from the Nazis.

In a world plagued by evil and indifference, Winton dedicated himself to saving the innocent and the defenseless. His exceptional moral leadership serves as an example to all humanity.

Nicholas Winton will forever be remembered by us with the deepest admiration and gratitude. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

 

Full Text Israel Political Brief June 17, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Meets with Archaeological Team Responsible for the Discovery of a Clay Jar from the Time of King David

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PM Netanyahu Meets with Archaeological Team Responsible for the Discovery of a Clay Jar from the Time of King David

Source: PMO, 6-17-15


Photo by Haim Zah, GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today, met with the archaeological team responsible for the discovery – at Khirbet Qeiyafa in the Elah Valley – of a rare inscription, on a clay jar, from the time of King David. The archaeologists told the Prime Minister about the jar and noted that up until five years ago there were no known inscriptions from the Kingdom of Judah in the 10th century BCE. The team pointed out that four have been discovered in recent years – two from Khirbet Qeiyafa, one from Jerusalem and one from Beit Shemesh, thus attesting that writing was more widespread than previously thought.

Among those attending today’s meeting were Prof. Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology, Saar Ganor from the Israel Antiquities Authority, and other IAA personnel who were involved in the excavations.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “This is an amazing find and a very important discovery. It attests to what happened here, in this country, in the time of King David.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief May 13, 2015: PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Knesset Special Session Marking Victory Over Nazi Germany Day

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Knesset Special Session Marking Victory Over Nazi Germany Day

Source: PMO, 5-13-15

-Translation-
Every child in Israel learns the story of Joseph Trumpeldor, whose bravery still serves as an example of sacrifice for one’s country. But anyone who digs deeper into the role played by Jewish fighters in the campaign to defeat Nazi Germany discovers that in the ranks of our people are hundreds of thousands of additional heroes. These courageous fighters, imbued with a sense of mission, were the ones who seven decades ago freed humanity from the bloody nightmare imposed on it during six years of war.

Approximately one and a half million Jewish soldiers were among the ranks of the Allied armies fighting the Nazis. The majority of them served in the Red Army and the American army. Out of half a million Jewish fighters in the Red Army, more than 200,000 men and women died in battle. This is an unbelievable percentage of fallen soldiers by any measure, both in terms of the rate and in terms of the enormous number. Anyone who has been in battle knows how vast that number is. Many of them were young men and women, 17, 18 years old, who said goodbye to their parents before leaving for the front and never saw them again.

The fighting along the long and twisting Eastern Front, in snow, in mud, took place over 1,418 days, from Moscow to Berlin and Prague, and yes, Mr. Speaker, through Stalingrad and Kursk and all those places which echo from the pages of history. For you, they are a part of your personal history. This whole route is littered with your fallen countrymen, buried without a grave or a headstone.

This was not just the collision of tank with tank, submarine with submarine, plane with plane. In numerous cases, the soldiers of the Red Army charged at the Germans with knives, axes, shovels, even pitchforks, and often with bare hands.

The holding actions and the shift to counterattacks between 1942 and 1943 succeeded in shattering the myth of an invincible Nazi army. This is the first stage of any victory – the change, the enemy’s understanding that they are going to lose. And as the war progressed, the Soviet Army landed blow after blow on the Germans. It happened parallel to and at the same time as the attacks by the other Allied armies from the West, including Jewish fighters who landed and fought on the beaches of Normandy, and in all the battles from that point on. This effort pushed the Nazis back and led to their final surrender in May 1945.

Dear veterans, I know your lives were divided in two – before the war and after it. And despite the time that has passed, you can still recall the smallest details of every step, every operation, every battle. Your lives changed beyond recognition during those difficult years. Your remember with great pain your comrades who fell, your loved ones who did not live to see the moment of victory, but at the same time you can hold your heads high because it is thanks to you that the free world survived and that the Jewish people were saved from annihilation.

The historical lesson of what occurred is that radical regimes that call for genocide and seek to invade other countries cannot be conceded to. When faced with the enemies of freedom, enlightenment and progress, one should stand forcefully, in a timely fashion, to prevent them from having the opportunity to make use of destructive tools to realize their murderous aspirations.

The new government that will soon be sworn in will face many challenges – political, military, economic and social, but the ongoing challenge of the Iranian threat will take a central place. Just today the Arab press quoted an Iranian senior official saying that Iran has divine permission to eliminate Israel. He said that even if an agreement is not reached on the nuclear issue, Iran has a holy mission that it will not give up – to destroy the State of Israel. These statements are heard by representatives negotiating with Iran and they continue on as usual.

The Iranian threat does not pass over any of us – Jew and Arab alike. The missiles their Hezbollah proxies fired at us did not distinguish between Jew and Arab in the State of Israel. Iran’s efforts to acquire a nuclear weapon, while at the same time expanding its tentacles of terror across the Middle East, obligate us to determinedly defend our sovereignty and security.

We do not stand alone against Iran’s fanaticism. There are many countries, even in our immediate surroundings, which correctly see in Iran’s steps the danger to the peace of the world and to their own peace. I believe that here are sown the seeds to expand the circle of parties in our region that will soon extend their hands to us in peace. The horrible damage caused Islamist extremism is clear to everyone. It is time that the moderate countries make their voices heard – to make alliances, to create cooperation, to establish friendly relations and peace.

At the same time, we do not stop in our efforts to warn the world powers that a conciliatory agreement with Iran will turn out to be a mistake that will exact a very heavy cost, and in any event Israel will defend itself by itself against any threat. Unlike in the past, we have the strength to defend ourselves from threats of destruction, those same threats we could not defend ourselves against 70 years ago.

One of the veterans said to me, “In the Soviet Union and in Israel, defending the homeland is a profession.” I would add also a mission. There were years during which we stared in amazement and wonder at your many medals, even though not everyone knew your stories. However, with time, things have changed and today, when you march in front of us in glory and splendor, we see ourselves as those who stand with you in a single line.

I participated in a moving and wonderful ceremony at Latrun the other day. It was an experience for all the participants to see the stories of the Jewish fighters from around the world, dramatic, heartwarming, heartbreaking stories. It was just as moving to see the grandchildren – officers and soldiers in the IDF – your grandchildren, standing there and expressing the meaning of heritage, their profound commitment, what they learned from you. Because your heroism, the heroism of the veterans who saved the world, is the heroism of the fighters in the Israel Defense Forces who defend the State of Israel. Both that heroism and this one are intertwined. Your past and your present are integrated in order to ensure a better and safer future for the State of Israel.

We salute your courage and honor your resilience. The people of Israel owe you their lives, and humanity owes you its deliverance from the darkness. Be strong and of good courage, congratulations on your tremendous work. Thank you.

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 22, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Yom Hazikaron Memorial Ceremony for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers at Mount Herzl — Transcript

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Memorial Ceremony for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers at Mount Herzl

Source: PMO, 4-22-15


Photo by:Amos Ben Gershom, GPO

– Translation –
The Honorable President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin,
Distinguished guests,

Three months ago, on this mountain – which more than anything illustrates the cost of our national rebirth –Malka Kalangel, the mother of Major Yochai Kalangel, who was killed on the northern border, stood and cried from the depths of her heart, “How do you say goodbye to your child?” Nothing compares to the power of this cry from a mother and father who are informed of their child’s death. Anyone at their side at the moment they receive the difficult news remembers it for the rest of their life. I do. “How do you say goodbye to your child?” Malka asked. “How do we say goodbye to our son?” my parents asked. “How do I say goodbye to my brother?” I asked.

Last night there was a very moving event at the Knesset, an event that shook us to our very core, during which bereaved family members described that terrible moment in their lives, the moment in which they heard the knock at the door, that same knock by those who came to tell the horrible news that would shatter their lives and change them forever. I received my knock when I was a student in the United States in the guise of a telephone call from my brother, Iddo, telling me of the death of our older brother, Yoni. It was the worst moment of my life, besides one other moment, seven hours later, after a tortuous nightlong journey, when I walked up the path leading to the house of my mother and father, who was teaching at Cornell University in New York at the time. It was my lot to be the one to break the news. I was the one knocking on my parents’ door. Through the wide window in the front of the house, I could see my father pacing back and forth, lost in thought, his hands joined behind his back as was his wont. He suddenly looked up and when he saw me walking up the path, without his saying a word, his expression changed all at once. A bitter cry burst from his throat. I went into the house. As long as I breathe, I will never forget his cry and that of my dear mother. To get the knock at the door from my brother and then knock on my parents’ door – it was as if Yoni had died twice.

For those of us who have been through this hell, no other moment can compare in terms of power, shock, pain and suffering, and we know that the wound never really heals.

This week I met with boys and girls who lost their fathers who were soldiers and officers in the IDF. I saw the grief on their faces, the quiet sadness they radiated. I embraced them and said a prayer in my heart that the passage of time, the force of life and the love of the people would grant them relief and joy later on.

Anyone who has experienced the torments of bereavement and the terror of war, the dead and injured, the amputation of limbs, does not seek out war. When I need to decide whether or not to send soldiers into battle, I think of each soldier and their family as if they were my son, my family. But if we have no choice, we must be ready to charge into battle in order to defend ourselves and our land.

This constant readiness is the only thing that will deter war, or when necessary decide it. This is where we can see the great change that took place in the destiny of our people since the establishment of the State of Israel. Ron Vanunu, the sister of Sergeant Ben Vanunu, who was killed in Operation Protective Edge, said it best. Ron, a high school senior, went to Poland with her school in Ashdod, and at one of the death camps where our people perished, she said, “My brother was killed defending our homeland, but when I am here, I understand that he had the privilege of fighting as part of the Israeli army and he fell while wearing his IDF uniform, wrapped in the Israeli flag.” Ron will join the IDF soon and she is supposed to be posted to the Golani Battalion, in which her brother served.

I knew the fathers and the brothers, and I often meet the sons and the brothers and sisters. “I want to follow in my father’s footsteps”, “I am continuing my brother’s path”, they say. Nothing detracts from the great spirit that breathes through this nation. As with those who came before them, they feel the great and historic responsibility and the justness of our path and our struggle.

The continuum of threats to the existence of Israel requires a continuum of fights and our resilience in this fight depends on our determination, our strength, our unity. The State of Israel will continue to prosper and flourish as long as we are ready to defend ourselves in every situation. I am certain that the tremendous strengths we have will allow us to successfully face every challenge until we reach safe harbor, until our region changes its character, until we reach the desired peace. But this could be a prolonged process and in the meanwhile we grit our teeth, stiffen our upper lips and continue onwards. As one of the IDF widows said so simply and clearly last night at the moving event at the Knesset: Our enemies need to know that they will not break us, that despite the pain we will continue to defend our country, that we are staying right here.

My brothers and sisters, bereaved families, the stories of your loved ones is not only engraved on their headstones, but they are rooted in the hearts of our people. We must continue on their path together and united. It is written in Proverbs, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” This is the secret to Israel’s strength. Only here are the shards transformed into one whole thing.

We are one family, Jews and our non-Jewish brothers – Druze, Muslims, Bedouin, Christians, Circassians. We are partners through bad times and good, in grief and in joy. Tonight, as the lights of the Independence torches shine forth, when the lights of the Independence torches shine on this mountain, we will feel profound gratitude for our loved ones, the heroes of the people, Israel’s fallen soldiers. We will cherish the wounded, who stopped enemy attacks with their bodies and we will pray for their recovery. At the same time we will express our recognition of the good of everything we have won, of the wonder of our renaissance, of the gift of freedom, of the miracle of our rebirth.

May the memories of the fallen be forever blessed and their lives tied to the eternity of Israel.

דברי ראש הממשלה נתניהו בטקס האזכרה הממלכתי לחללי מערכות ישראל בהר הרצל

22/04/2015
יום רביעי ג’ אייר תשע”ה –

– הטקסט עבר התאמת עריכה –

“מכובדי נשיא מדינת ישראל, ראובן ריבלין,

מכובדיי כולם.

על ההר הזה, שממחיש יותר מכל את מחיר תקומתנו הלאומית, עמדה לפני שלושה חודשים מלכה קלנגל, אמו של רב סרן יוחאי קלנגל, שנפל בגבול הצפון, וזעקה ממעמקי לבה: “איך אפשר להיפרד מילד?!”. אין משהו שמשתווה בעוצמתו לזעקה הזאת של אם ואב המתבשרים על מות ילדם. כל מי שנמצא לצדם ברגע קבלת הבשורה המרה זוכר זאת כל חייו. גם אני. איך אפשר להיפרד מילד, שאלה מלכה. איך אפשר להיפרד מבן, שאלו הוריי. איך אפשר להיפרד מאח, שאלתי אני.

בערב מרגש אתמול בכנסת, ערב שהרטיט את נימי הנפש, סיפרו בני משפחות השכול על הרגע הנורא הזה בחייהם, הרגע בו שמעו את הנקישה בדלת, אותה נקישה של מבשרי הבשורה הנוראה שריסקה את חייהם ושינתה אותם לעד. את הנקישה שלי קיבלתי אני כשהייתי סטודנט בארה”ב, דרך שיחת טלפון מאחי עידו, שסיפר על נפילתו של יוני אחינו הבכור. זה היה הרגע הנורא בחיי, חוץ מאחד. שבע שעות מאוחר יותר, לאחר נסיעת ייסורים של לילה שלם, פסעתי בשביל שהוביל לביתם של אמי ואבי, שלימד אז באוניברסיטת קורנל במדינת ניו יורק. נפל בגורלי להיות המבשר. אני הייתי הנוקש בדלת הוריי. מבעד לחלון הרחב בחזית ביתו ראיתי את אבי פוסע הלוך וחזור, שקוע במחשבותיו, ידיו שלובות מאחורי גבו בדרכו האופיינית. לפתע הפנה מבטו, וכשראה אותי צועד בשביל בלי שהוא אמר דבר, השתנתה ארשת פניו בבת אחת. זעקה מרה פרצה מפיו. נכנסתי לבית. כל עוד נשימתי באפי, לא אשכח את זעקותיו ואת זעקותיה של אמי היקרה. לקבל את הנקישה בדלת מאחי ולנקוש בדלת הוריי זה היה כאילו יוני מת פעמיים.

לאלה מאיתנו שעברו את התופת הזאת אין רגע שישתווה לו בעוצמה, ההלם, הכאב והייסורים, ואנחנו יודעים שהפצע לעולם לא מגליד באמת.

נפגשתי השבוע עם ילדים וילדות שנתייתמו מאבותיהם, חיילי צה”ל וקציניו. ראיתי את תוגת פניהם, את העצב השקט שבוקע מתוכם. חיבקתי אותם והבעתי תפילה בלבי שמרחק השנים, כוח הסחף של החיים ואהבת העם יתנו להם מזור ושמחה בהמשך חייהם.

כל מי שחווה את ייסורי השכול ואת אימת המלחמה, את ההרוגים והפצועים, את קטיעת האיברים, איננו יכול לשוש אלי קרב. כשאני צריך להחליט אם לשלוח את חיילינו למערכה, אני חושב על כל חייל ומשפחה כאילו היה בני, כאילו מדובר במשפחתי. אבל אם אין לנו ברירה, עלינו להיות מוכנים להטיל עצמנו לחזית המלחמה כדי להגן על עמנו וארצנו.

רק נכונות מתמדת זו תרתיע מלחמה או בעת הצורך תכריע אותה. בזה טמון השינוי הגדול שהתרחש בגורל עמנו מאז הקמתה של מדינת ישראל, והיטיבה לבטא זאת רון וענונו, אחותו של סמל בן וענונו, שנפל במבצע צוק איתן. רון, תלמידת כיתה י”ב, יצאה מטעם בית ספרה באשדוד למסע בפולין, ובאחד מאתרי ההשמדה של בני עמנו היא אמרה: “אח שלי נהרג על הגנת המולדת, אבל כשאני נמצאת כאן אני מבינה שהוא זכה להילחם במסגרת צבא ישראל ונפל כשהוא לבוש מדי צה”ל ועטוף דגל ישראל”. רון תתגייס בקרוב לצה”ל והיא אמורה להשתלב בגדוד גולני, שבו שירת אחיה.

הכרתי את האבות ואת האחים ואני פוגש תכופות את הבנים ואת האחים והאחיות. “אני רוצה ללכת בעקבות אבא”, “אני ממשיכה את דרכו של אחי” – הם אומרים. דבר לא נגרע מהרוח הגדולה שנושבת במפרשי האומה. כקודמיהם, הם חשים בגודל האחריות ההיסטורית ובצדקת דרכנו ומאבקנו.

רצף האיומים על קיום המדינה מחייב רצף של מאבק, ויכולת העמידה במאבק זה מותנית בנחישותנו, בעוצמתנו, באחדותנו. מדינת ישראל תוסיף לשגשג ולפרוח בתנאי שנהיה מוכנים להגן עליה מכל משמר. אני בטוח שהכוחות האדירים שטמונים בנו יאפשרו לנו להתמודד בהצלחה עם כל אתגר, עד שנגיע לחוף מבטחים, עד שאזורנו ישנה פניו, עד שנגיע לשלום המיוחל. אבל זה יכול להיות תהליך ממושך, ובינתיים עלינו לקפוץ ידינו, לחשוק שפתותינו, להמשיך הלאה. כפי שאמרה זאת בפשטות ובבהירות מזוקקת אחת מאלמנות צה”ל אמש בערב המרגש בכנסת: אויבינו צריכים לדעת שהם לא ישברו אותנו, שחרף הכאב אנחנו נמשיך להגן על המדינה שלנו, אנחנו נשארים פה.

אחיי ואחיותיי, בני המשפחות השכולות, סיפורם של יקירינו אינו טמון רק במצבות האבן, הוא נטוע בלבבות עמנו. עלינו להמשיך את דרכם מאוחדים ומלוכדים. “ברזל בברזל יחד ואיש יחד פני רעהו”, נאמר בספר משלי. זהו סוד כוחה של ישראל. רק כאן מתחברים הרסיסים לדבר שלם.

אנחנו משפחה אחת, יהודים ואחינו הלא יהודים – דרוזים, מוסלמים, בדואים, נוצרים, צ’רקסים. אנחנו שותפים ברע ובטוב, ביגון ובשמחה. הערב, שכאורן של משואות העצמאות יבהיקו, כשאורן של משואות העצמאות יבהיק בפסגת ההר, נחוש הכרת תודה עמוקה ליקירינו גיבורי העם, חללי מערכות ישראל. נוקיר את הפצועים שבלמו בגופם מתקפות אויב, נישא תפילה להחלמתם. בו ברגע נבטא את הכרת הטוב על כל מה שזכינו לו, על פלא הקוממיות, על מתנת החירות, על נס ההתחדשות.

יהי זכרם של הנופלים ברוך לעד וחייהם קשורים בנצח ישראל.”

 

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 15, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Yom HaShoah Holocaust Remembrance Day Address at Yad Vashem — Transcript

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Holocaust Remembrance Day Address by PM Netanyahu at Yad Vashem

Source: PMO, 4-15-15

Photo: Haim Zah, GPO 

[Translation]

Seventy years ago, the bells of freedom rang out across the free world. The horrific nightmare that had engulfed all humanity in blood had come to an end in Europe. But the day the Nazis were vanquished was not only a day of relief and jubilation. It was also a day of great sorrow for our nation, and a day of reflection for the world’s leaders. Leaders of modern countries realized that it was a propitious time to establish a new world order based on defending liberty, eradicating evil and opposing oppression. They articulated the most important lesson of World War II: democracies must not turn a blind eye to the aspirations of tyrannous regimes to expand. A conciliatory attitude toward these regimes only increases their propensity for aggression. And if such aggression is not stopped in time, humanity might find itself in a much bloodier battle.

In the years before World War II, the free world tried to appease the Nazi regime, to gain its trust, to curry its favor through gestures. There were those who warned that this concessionary policy would only whet Hitler’s appetite, but these warnings were ignored due to the natural human desire for calm at all costs. And indeed, the price was exacted not long after, and it was too heavy to bear – six million of our people were slaughtered in the Holocaust, and millions of others were killed in this terrible inferno.

When the war ended, the conclusion was clear: there is no room for weakness when facing tyrannous regimes that send their murderous tentacles in every direction. Only by standing firm and adhering to the values of liberty and tolerance can we ensure the future of humankind.
There are many around the world who claim that the lessons learned then are still valid today. They affirm: “Never again!” They declare: “We will not turn a blind eye to the expansionist intentions of a violent tyranny.” They promise: “We will oppose evil as soon as it begins.” But as long as these announcements are not backed by practical actions – they are meaningless. Did the world really learn a lesson from the inconceivable universal and Jewish tragedy of last century? I wish I could stand here and tell you that the answer to this was yes.

Today, ever more threats challenge human civilization. Radical Islamist forces are flooding the Middle East, destroying remnants of the past, torturing the helpless, murdering innocents. They hope to establish caliphates, more than one, like in the Middle Ages. At the same time, the extremist regime in Iran is oppressing its people; it is rushing forward and submerging the Middle East in blood and suffering – in Yemen, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Iraq, in Gaza and across the border of the Golan Heights.

Just as the Nazis aspired to crush civilization and to establish a “master race” to replace it and control the world while annihilating the Jewish people, so too does Iran strive to gain control over the region, from which it would spread further, with the explicit intent of obliterating the Jewish state. Iran is advancing in two tracks: the first is in developing the ability to arm itself with nuclear weapons and stockpile ballistic missiles; and the second – exporting the Khomeinist revolution to many countries by widely using terrorism and taking over large parts of the Middle East. Everything is out in the open – it is all taking place in broad daylight, in front of the cameras. And yet, the blindness is immense.

“For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples,” said the Prophet Isaiah. The determination and lessons that were acquired through blood seventy years ago are now dissipating, and the darkness and fog of denying reality are taking their place. The bad deal that is being made with Iran demonstrates that the historic lesson has not been internalized. The West is yielding in the face of Iran’s aggressive actions. Instead of demanding a significant dismantling of the nuclear program in Iran – a country that clearly states its plans to exterminate six million Jews here and elsewhere, to eradicate many countries and many regimes – the superpowers back down. They are leaving Iran with its nuclear capabilities intact, and even allowing it to expand them later on, regardless of Iran’s actions in the Middle East and around the world.

As the civilized world is lulled into slumber on a bed of illusions, the rulers of Iran continue to encourage subversion and terrorism and disseminate destruction and death. The superpowers turn a deaf ear to the crowds in Iran shouting: “Death to America; Death to Israel.” They turn a blind eye to the executions of those who oppose the regime and of members of minority populations. And they hold their peace in the face of the massive arming of terrorist organizations. At most, they make a halfhearted statement for the record.

I have heard that in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day a competition with prizes is soon to take place in Tehran with participants from 56 countries. It is a Holocaust denial cartoon competition. Will we hear protests? At best, a minor condemnation might be heard; that will minimally fulfill their obligation.

Distinguished guests, Israeli citizens and representatives of other countries,
The bubble of this illusion is going to burst. Democratic governments made a critical mistake before World War II, and we are convinced – and I must say that many of our neighbors are too – that they are making a grave mistake now too. It is possible that this partnership with many of our neighbors, the partnership in identifying threats, will be the foundation for the partnership to forge a better, safer and more peaceful future in our region. Meanwhile, we will not flinch. We will continue to insist on the truth, and we will do everything we can to open the eyes that are shut.

I do not want to mislead anyone. We have tests ahead of us. We are in the midst of a great battle against the enervation, the weakness, the denial of reality – we will stand with our full force.

While there are those who refuse to understand our position, there are many others who identify with us. But even if we are compelled to stand alone, we will not be afraid. In any scenario, in any situation, we will safeguard our right, we will maintain our ability, we will keep our resolve to defend ourselves.

Seventy years ago we were war refugees, powerless and voiceless. Today we express what we have to say, and we are determined to safeguard our existence and our future. It is our duty to fight those who wish to destroy us, not to bow down to them or to downplay reality. We will not allow the State of Israel to be a passing episode in the history of our people.

Distinguished guests,
Today in my office I met an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, Abraham Niederhoffer. Abraham was born in Romania. When he was 12 years old he witnessed the brutal murder of his relatives by a Romanian soldier. He was taken on a cattle train to Ukraine, where he survived the Holocaust. Due to the persistent refusal of the communist authorities in Romania to permit his emigration, he only came to Israel in 1969. Here he worked as an engineer and supervisor, contributing to the building of the country. He told me his story with great emotion, so much so that he had to pause several times. At the end of the meeting, he beseeched me, “Prime Minister,” he said, “it is your duty to prevent another Holocaust.” And I responded: “That is exactly how I see my responsibility. That is exactly how I see my responsibility.”

Seven decades ago, the survivors emerged from the camps, from the forests, from the March of Death, battered and bruised with nothing but the tattered clothes on their backs. Upon their release, the prisoners of the camps from all nations were asked by the Allied soldiers where each one wished to go. The Poles returned to Poland; the Russians returned to Russia; the Hungarians – to Hungary; the Ukrainians – to Ukraine. But a great many of them had nowhere to return to. They stood hopeless, because they did not have their own country.

Today, we have our own country – a flourishing and modern country; a country that rests on the heritage of our forefathers and stands at the vanguard of global knowledge; a country that disseminates a great light; a country that has taken charge of its destiny. Seventy years after the valleys of death, we revere the living, the vibrant, the creative, the flourishing.

Israel breaks ground on every front of modernization – in science, medicine, technology, agriculture, education and culture. And we do this not only for our people. We do this for the benefit of all humanity. This is what our existence is based upon – on our commitment to the safety and future of Israel, on the deference to our heritage, and on the unity of a nation in which a vast life force shines. The nation of Israel, which has arisen from the hellfire, is ready for any challenge.

“Shake thyself from the dust; put on thy beautiful garments, my people.” The eternal nation has shaken itself from the dust, returned home, stood tall, established an outstanding country and an outstanding army, the Israel Defense Force, in which our brave and courageous sons and daughters serve.

We will remember those who were murdered, we will guarantee life.

דברי ראש הממשלה נתניהו בטקס יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה ביד ושם

 

15/04/2015

יום רביעי כ”ו ניסן תשע”ה

– הטקסט עבר התאמת עריכה –

מכובדי נשיא מדינת ישראל ראובן ריבלין ורעייתו נחמה,
נשיאת ביהמ”ש העליון מרים נאור ובעלה פרופ’ אריה נאור,
יו”ר הכנסת יולי אדלשטיין,
הרבנים הראשיים,
שרים,
חברי כנסת,
אבנר שלו, יו”ר יד ושם,
מכובדיי הרבים מן הארץ ומן העולם,
ניצולי השואה היקרים לנו, חסידי אומות העולם שנותנים מופת לאנושות כולה,
אזרחי ישראל,

לפני שבעים שנה צלצלו פעמוני החירות ברחבי העולם החופשי. סיוט האימים שהשקיע את האנושות כולה במצולות של דם – בא לקצו באירופה. אך יום הניצחון על הנאצים לא היה רק יום של הקלה ושמחה. הוא היה יום מהול בעצב נורא לעמנו, אבל הוא גם יום של חשבון נפש למנהיגי העמים. מנהיגי המדינות הנאורות הבינו שזוהי שעת כושר לכונן סדר עולמי חדש שמתבסס על הגנת החופש, מיגור הרשע והתנגדות לעריצות. הם ביטאו בקול רם וצלול את הלקח העיקרי של מלחמת העולם השנייה: לדמוקרטיות אסור להעלים עין מכוונות ההתפשטות של משטרי הרודנות. פייסנות כלפי משטרים אלה רק מגבירה את נטייתם לתוקפנות. ואם תוקפנות זו לא תיבלם בזמן, עלולה האנושות להיקלע למלחמות קשות הרבה יותר.

בשנים שקדמו למלחמת העולם השנייה, העולם החופשי ניסה לפייס את המשטר הנאצי, לרכוש את אמונו בוויתורים, לקנות את רצונו הטוב במחוות. היו אמנם מי שהזהירו שמדיניות פשרנית זו רק תגביר את תיאבונו של היטלר. אך האזהרות האלו נדחו הצדה מכוח הטבע האנושי הטבעי, לקנות שקט בכל מחיר. ואכן המחיר לא איחר לבוא – והוא היה כבד מנשוא. שישה מיליון בני עמנו שנטבחו בשואה, ועשרות מיליוני בני-אדם נוספים שנהרגו בתופת הנוראה.

בגמר המלחמה, המסקנה הייתה חותכת: אין מקום לרפיון מול משטרי עריצות ששולחים את זרועותיהם הרצחניות לכל עבר. רק עמידה איתנה מולם, תוך שמירה על ערכי החירות והסובלנות – רק עמידה כזו תבטיח את עתיד האנושות.

רבים בעולם מצהירים שהלקחים שהופקו אז, תקפים גם היום. הם מכריזים: “לעולם לא עוד”. הם מצהירים: “לא נעלים עין משאיפות ההתפשטות של רודנות אלימה”. הם מבטיחים: “נתנגד לדברים הרעים בתחילתם”. אבל כל עוד למלים הללו אין ביטוי בפועל – הן חסרות משמעות. ובכן, האם העולם באמת למד מהטרגדיה הבלתי נתפסת, האוניברסלית והיהודית, של המאה הקודמת? הלוואי שהייתי יכול לעמוד כאן ולומר לכם שהתשובה לכך חיובית.

בימים אלה הולכים ומתרבים האיומים על התרבות האנושית. כוחות האסלאם הקיצוני שוטפים את המזרח התיכון, משמידים את שרידי העבר, מתעללים בחסרי ישע, טובחים בחפים מפשע, ומבקשים להקים ח’ליפות, אפילו יותר מאחת, בסגנון ימי הביניים. במקביל, המשטר הקנאי באיראן מדכא את עמו, שועט קדימה ומטביע בדם וסבל את המזרח התיכון: בתימן, בסוריה, בלבנון, בעיראק, בעזה ומול גולן.

כשם שהנאצים שאפו לרמוס את הציוויליזציה ולהשליט במקומה את “הגזע העליון” עלי אדמות, תוך השמדתו של העם היהודי – כך חותרת איראן להשתלט על האזור וממנו להתפשט הלאה, תוך כוונה מוצהרת להשמיד את מדינת היהודים. איראן מתקדמת בשני נתיבים: הראשון – פיתוח יכולת להתחמש בנשק גרעיני ובניית מאגר של טילים בליסטיים. השני – ייצוא של המהפכה החומייניסטית לארצות רבות, תוך שימוש מסיבי בטרור ובכיבוש של שטחים נרחבים במזרח התיכון. הכל גלוי לעין. הכל מתרחש לאור יום ולעיני המצלמות. ובכל זאת העיוורון גדול.

“כי הנה החושך יכסה ארץ, וערפל לאומים”, אומר הנביא ישעיהו. הנחישות והלקחים שנקנו בדמים רבים לפני שבעים שנה, כל אלה מתפוגגים היום. את מקומם תופסים החושך והערפל של הכחשת המציאות. ההסכם הרע שמתגבש עם איראן מלמד שהלקח ההיסטורי לא הופנם. מול פעולותיה האגרסיביות של איראן – המערב מוותר. במקום לדרוש פירוק משמעותי של יכולת הגרעין של איראן, מדינה שאומרת בפירוש שהיא הולכת להשמיד שישה מיליון יהודים כאן, ולא רק כאן, להשמיד הרבה מדינות והרבה משטרים – במקום לדרוש זאת ובמקום להתנות את הסרת המגבלות המוטלות עליה בהפסקת תוקפנותה – המעצמות נסוגות. הן משאירות בידי איראן את היכולות הגרעיניות שלה ואף מאפשרות לה להרחיבן בהמשך, ללא קשר למעשיה של איראן במזרח התיכון וברחבי העולם.

בעוד העולם התרבותי שוקע בתרדמת על מצע של אשליות –שליטי איראן מעודדים חתרנות וטרור, מפיצים הרס ומוות. למשמע המונים שקוראים בטהרן: “מוות לאמריקה, מוות לישראל” – המעצמות אוטמות את אוזניהן. למראה ההוצאות להורג של מתנגדי המשטר ובני קבוצות המיעוט באוכלוסייה, הן עוצמות את עיניהן. ונוכח החימוש המסיבי של ארגוני טרור, הן ממלאות פיהן מים. לכל היותר, הן משמיעות אמירה רפה למען הפרוטוקול.

בדקתי ומצאתי שלקראת יום הזיכרון לשואת עמנו, “התבשרנו” שבקרוב תתקיים בטהראן תחרות בינלאומית עם נציגים מחמישים ושש מדינות, תחרות נושאת פרסים של איורים העוסקים בהכחשת השואה של העם היהודי. האם על כך תישמע מחאה? במקרה הטוב, יישמע גינוי מינורי כדי לצאת ידי חובה.

מכובדיי, אזרחי ישראל ונציגי המדינות שאיתנו, סופה של האשליה הזאת להתנפץ. הממשלות הדמוקרטיות טעו טעות גורלית לפני מלחמת העולם השנייה, ואנחנו משוכנעים, אני חייב להגיד שיחד עם רבים משכנינו, שהן טועות טעות מרה גם עכשיו. ייתכן שהשותפות הזאת עם לא מעט משכנינו, השותפות בזיהוי האיומים, תהווה בסיס גם לשותפות ביצירת עתיד טוב יותר, בטוח יותר ושליו יותר באזורנו. בינתיים לא נירתע. נוסיף להתעקש על האמת, ונעשה כל מה שביכולתנו לפקוח את העיניים הנעצמות.

אינני רוצה להשלות אף אחד, עוד נכונו לנו ימי מבחן. אנחנו בעיצומו של מאבק גדול. מול העייפות, מול הרפיון, מול הכחשת המציאות –נתייצב במלוא כוחנו. בצד אלה שמסרבים להבין את עמדתנו, ישנם רבים אחרים שמזדהים איתנו. אבל גם אם ניאלץ לעמוד לבד, לא יירא לבנו. בכל תרחיש, בכל מצב, נשמור על זכותנו, נשמור על יכולתנו, נשמור על נחישותנו להגן על עצמנו.

לפני שבעים שנה היינו אומה של פליטי חרב, חסרי כוח וחסרי אפשרות להשמיע את קולנו. היום אנחנו משמיעים את דברנו, ואנחנו נחושים להבטיח את קיומנו ועתידנו. תפקידנו להיאבק בשואפים להשמידנו, ולא להרכין ראש בפניהם וגם לא להקל במציאות. לא ניתן שמדינת ישראל תהיה אפיזודה חולפת בתולדות עמנו.

מכובדיי, פגשתי היום במשרדי ניצול שואה בן שמונים וחמש – אברהם נידרהופר. אברהם נולד ברומניה, בגיל 12 היה עד לרצח מזעזע של קרובי משפחתו בידי חייל רומני. הוא נלקח ברכבת משא של בהמות לאוקראינה, שם שרד את השואה. רק ב-1969, בשל סירובם העקשני של השלטונות הקומוניסטיים ברומניה להרשות את יציאתו – הוא הגיע ארצה. בישראל עסק אברהם כמהנדס ומפקח בבניית המדינה. הוא סיפר לי את סיפורו בהתרגשות עצומה, לעתים הוא היה צריך לעצור מרוב התרגשות, ובסוף הפגישה הפציר בי: “ראש הממשלה”, הוא אמר, “תפקידך למנוע שואה נוספת”. והשבתי לו: “כך בדיוק אני רואה את אחריותי, כך בדיוק אני רואה את תפקידי”.

לפני שבעה עשורים הגיחו הניצולים מן המחנות, מן היערות, מצעדות המוות– רק בגדים בלים לגופם, כולם פצע וחבורה. כשניצבו אסירי המחנות מכל האומות למסדר השחרור, הם נשאלו על ידי חיילי בעלות-הברית לאן כל אחד מהם רוצה לחזור. הפולנים חזרו לפולין; הרוסים שבו לרוסיה; ההונגרים – להונגריה; האוקראינים – לאוקראינה. אלא שלהמוני יהודים כלל לא היה לאן לחזור. הם עמדו חסרי אונים, כי לא הייתה להם מדינה משלהם.

היום יש לנו מדינה משלנו – מדינה פורחת ומתקדמת. מדינה שיונקת ממורשת אבות וניצבת בחזית הידע העולמי. מדינה שמפיצה אור גדול. מדינה שלוקחת את גורלה בידיה. שבעים שנה אחרי גיאיות המוות, אנו מקדשים את החי, התוסס, היוצר, הפורח.

ישראל פורצת דרך בכל חזיתות הקדמה – במדע, ברפואה, בטכנולוגיה, בחקלאות, בחינוך ובתרבות – ואנחנו עושים זאת לא רק למען עמנו, אנחנו עושים זאת למען כל יושבי תבל. על אלה ייכון קיומנו – על המחויבות לביטחון ועתיד ישראל, על הדבקות במורשתנו, ועל אחדות העם שמפעם בו כוח חיים אדיר. עם ישראל שיצא משאול תחתיות –יכול לכל אתגר.

“התנערי מעפר קומי, לבשי בגדי תפארתך, עמי”. עם הנצח התנער מעפר, שב הביתה, זקף קומתו, הקים מדינה לתפארת והקים צבא לתפארת, צבא ההגנה לישראל, בו משרתים בנינו ובנותינו האמיצים והגיבורים.

נזכור את הנספים, נבטיח את החיים.

Full Text Israel Brief May 1, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech During his Visit to Independence Hall Tel Aviv

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks During his Visit to Independence Hall

Source: PMO, 5-1-14
יום חמישי א’ אייר תשע”ד

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today, made the following remarks during his tour of Independence Hall in Tel Aviv:

“The Declaration of Independence sets, as the cornerstone in the life of the state, the national Jewish identity of the State of Israel. To my great regret, as we have seen recently, there are those who do not recognize this natural right. They seek to undermine the historic, moral and legal justification for the existence of the State of Israel as the nation-state of our people.

One of my main missions as Prime Minister of Israel is to bolster the status of the State of Israel as the nation-state of our people. To this end, it is my intention to submit a basic law to the Knesset that would provide a constitutional anchor for Israel’s status as the nation-state of the Jewish people.  I believe that the most basic component in our life as a nation will receive constitutional status similar to the other main components that are the foundation of our state, as determined in the basic laws.

The State of Israel will always preserve the full equality, in personal and civil rights, of all its citizens, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, in a Jewish and democratic country. And indeed, in Israel, individual and civil rights are assured for everyone, which sets us apart in the large expanse of the Middle East and even beyond.

I find it astonishing that among those who call on Israel to make concessions in Judea and Samaria due to the self-evident desire to avoid a binational state, there are those who oppose defining the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish People. One cannot favor the establishment of a Palestinian nation-state in order to maintain the Jewish character of the State of Israel and – at the same time – oppose recognizing that the State of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish People. Supporting the establishment of a Palestinian nation-state and opposing the recognition of the Jewish nation-state undermines – over the long-term – the State of Israel’s very right to exist.”

Israel Brief April 28, 2014: Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day Begins

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Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day Begins

Source: Arutz Sheva, 4-28-14

In the official ceremony at Yad Vashem, six torches will be lit by six Holocaust survivors, followed by the reciting of the “Kel Maleh Rachamim” prayer, which is recited for the deceased, and the recitation of the Kaddish for the six million….READ MORE

Israel Brief April 27, 2014: Nation commemorates Holocaust with sirens, ceremonies

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Nation commemorates Holocaust with sirens, ceremonies

Source: Jerusalem Post, 4-27-14

Following the sirens, President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other senior officials took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority’s Jerusalem museum….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 27, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Speech at Yad Vashem on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day

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Address by PM Netanyahu at Yad Vashem

Source: PMO, 4-27-14

יום ראשון כ”ז ניסן תשע”ד

Photo by  GPO

The last time I visited Yad Vashem I accompanied the Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper, a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people. We went through the exhibition rooms which present heartbreaking documentation of the destruction of European Jewry.

Today in my office, I met Fela, an 82 year old Holocaust survivor. It was important for her to tell me on this day of her memories as a child of seven who was forced to leave her two year old sister. Those memories are always with her. She told me, “I don’t remember what happened yesterday or the day before that, but as is the way of memories at my age, I remember the sad, tearful eyes of my two year old sister whom I left behind to die”.

I met Shalom, an 89 year old Holocaust survivor who told me how, aged 13, he left home at Mila 18 in the Warsaw Ghetto. Conditions in the ghetto were deteriorating. So he, a young boy, decided to leave. He said, “Mother objected and wailed but Father was quiet. He stood up, put his hands on my head, blessed me and told me to save myself”.

All the exhibition rooms here are filled with such heart-wrenching stories.

When we left Yad Vashem, I told the Prime Minister of Canada that my supreme duty as the Prime Minister of Israel is to ensure that there will be no more memorial sites like this, that there will never be another Holocaust.

I have said here many times that we must identify an existential threat in time and take action against it in time.

Tonight, on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, I ask: Why, in the years preceding the Holocaust, did the overwhelming majority of world leaders and Jewish leaders fail to detect the danger in time?

In retrospect, all the warning signs were there: the strengthening of the Nazi regime year after year; the horrific anti-Semitic propaganda which grew stronger with each passing month; and the murderous attacks on Jews which began as spurts and became a giant wave.

In retrospect, a direct line connects the racial laws and the gas chambers.

Few world leaders, notably Churchill, understood the enormity of the threat to humanity posed by Nazism. Few among our leaders, primarily Jabotinsky, warned against the imminent destruction facing our people. But they were widely criticized, their warnings disregarded and dismissed as the rantings of doomsayers and warmongers.

How is it possible that so many people failed to understand reality? The bitter, tragic truth is this: It is not that they did not see. They did not want to see.

And why did they choose not to see the truth? Because they did not want to face the consequences of that truth.

During the 1930s, when the Nazis were gaining momentum, the trauma of the First World War was still fresh. Twenty years earlier, the people of the West experienced a terrible trench war, which claimed the lives of 16 million people. The leaders of the West therefore operated on the basis of one axiom: Avoid another confrontation at any cost. Thus they laid the ground for the most horrible war in history.

This axiom of avoiding conflict at any cost was adopted not only by the leaders. It was shared by the peoples themselves, and primarily by the educated elites.

In 1933, for example, the year Hitler rose to power, a meeting was held by the students of Oxford University, an institution which produced generations of British leaders. Following a heated debate, the students voted for a resolution stating that they “would under no circumstances fight for their King and Country”.

This resolution passed by an overwhelming majority a mere ten days after Hitler entered the Chancellor’s office in Germany. The message reverberated in Berlin.

This example illustrates the West’s feeble response to the rise of Nazism.

Month after month, year after year, more and more information was received in London, Paris and Washington about Nazi capabilities and intentions. The picture gradually became clear for everyone to see.

But they had eyes and could not see, they had ears but could not hear.

When you refuse to accept reality as it is, you can deny it.

This is precisely what the leaders of the West did. They dismissed the murderous Nazi rhetoric as internal German politics; they downplayed the seriousness of the danger of the Nazi military build-up, claiming that it was the result of the natural will of a proud nation that should be recognized and accepted.

The reality was clear, but it was enveloped in a bubble of illusions. This bubble burst when the Nazis launched their blitzkrieg on Europe and Africa.

The price of illusion and wishful thinking was very steep. By the time the leaders of the West finally acted, their peoples paid a terrible price. World War II claimed the lives not of 16 million people, the horrific number of victims during World War I, but of 60 million, including one third of our people, who were butchered by the Nazi beast.

Citizens of Israel, my brothers and sisters,

Has the world learned the mistakes of the past?

Today we again face clear facts and a tangible threat. Iran calls for our destruction. It is developing nuclear weapons.

This is the reason it is building underground bunkers for enriching uranium. This is why it is constructing a heavy water facility to produce plutonium. This is the reason it continues to develop inter-continental ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads which will threaten the entire world.

Today, like then, there are those who dismiss Iran’s extreme rhetoric as serving domestic purposes. Today, like then, there are those who view Iran’s nuclear ambitions as the result of the natural will of a proud nation, a will that should be accepted.

And today, like then, those who make such claims are deluding themselves. They are making an historic mistake.

Fateful talks are currently being held between Iran and the world powers. This time too, the truth is evident to all: Iran seeks an agreement that will lift the sanctions and leave it as a nuclear threshold state with the capability to manufacture nuclear weapons within several months at most.

Iran wants a deal that will eliminate the sanctions and leave its capabilities intact.

A deal which enables Iran to be a nuclear threshold state will bring the entire world to the threshold of an abyss.

I hope that the lessons of the past have been learned, and that the desire to avoid confrontation at any cost will not lead to a deal that will exact a much heavier price in the future.

I call on the leaders of the world powers to insist that Iran fully dismantle its capacity to manufacture nuclear weapons, and to persist until this goal is achieved.

In any event, the people of Israel stand strong. Faced with an existential threat, our situation today is entirely different than it was during the Holocaust.

Today, we have a sovereign Jewish state. As Prime Minister of Israel, I do not hesitate to speak the truth to the world, even when faced with blind eyes and deaf ears. It is not only my right, it is my duty. I am always mindful of this duty, never more so than on this day, in this place.

On the eve of the Holocaust, some Jews avoided speaking out to the world’s nations, fearing that the struggle against Nazism would become “a Jewish problem”. Others believed that if they kept silent, the danger would pass.

They kept silent, and disaster struck.

Today, we are unafraid to speak the truth to world leaders. As is written in the Bible: “I will speak of your testimonies before kings, and I will not be ashamed… listen, for I will speak the truth.”

Unlike the Holocaust, when the Jewish people were like a wind-tossed leaf and utterly defenseless, we now have great power to defend ourselves, and it is ready for any mission.

This power rests on the courage and ingenuity of the soldiers of the IDF and the men and women of our security forces. It is this power that enabled us, against all odds, to build the State of Israel.

Look at the remarkable achievements we have made in the 66 years of our independence. All of us – scientists, writers, teachers, doctors, entrepreneurs, employees, artists, farmers – the entire people of Israel, each one in their own field –  together we have built a glorious state. The spirit of the people of Israel is sublime, our accomplishments tremendous. Seven decades after the destruction of the Holocaust, the State of Israel is a wonder of the world.

On this day, on behalf of the Jewish people, I say to all those who sought to destroy us, and to all those who still seek to destroy us: You have failed, and you will fail again.

The State of Israel is stronger than ever. It is a state that seeks peace with all its neighbors and it pulsates with an iron will to ensure the future of our people.

“The people will arise like a lion cub and raise itself like a lion…and Judea will dwell securely”. (Numbers 23:24; Jeremiah 23:6).

 

 

Jewish Brief April 27, 2014: 10000 set out from Auschwitz to commemorate Holocaust victims in March of the Living

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10000 set out from Auschwitz to commemorate Holocaust victims in March of the Living

Source: Jerusalem Post, 4-26-14

The International March of the Living is an annual educational program which brings students from all over the world to Poland to study the history of the Holocaust and the roots of prejudice, intolerance….READ MORE

Israel Musings November 10, 2013: World political and religious leaders mark the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

World political and religious leaders mark the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht

By Bonnie K. Goodman

This Saturday evening, Nov. 9 overnight into Sunday, Nov 10, 2013 marks the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the “night of broken glass” in 1938, which was the official start to the physical and systematic persecution of the Jews…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 10, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the State Memorial Service for the Late David Ben-Gurion

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PM Netanyahu’s Speech at the State Memorial Service for the Late David Ben-Gurion

Source: PMO, 11-10-13

יום ראשון ז’ כסלו תשע”ד

 

Photo by GPO

Translation

David Ben-Gurion died 40 years ago, just one month after the end of the Yom Kippur War. The depression and despondency experienced by the people of Israel at the time mingled with grief over the death of the bold and active leader, who navigated the path of the Zionist enterprise with dedication from its most decisive moment.
It was at that low point after the Yom Kippur War that we well remembered what we were taught by Ben-Gurion – the return of the people of Israel to their land involved dealing with difficulties and complex challenges and it was not our fate or our destiny to give up, but rather to emerge victorious and ensure the existence of the people of Israel in their land forever.

“In establishing the country”, wrote Ben-Gurion, “we ascended a steep mountain. We do not have the option anymore of standing still – either we will roll down to the abyss or we will advance and climb the mountain to the pinnacle”. Throughout his entire life, Ben-Gurion aspired to climb to the pinnacle, and he called on us to follow in his footsteps.

He dedicated 73 of his 87 years to advancing Zionist goals, since the age of 14 when he founded an organization with his friends in Poland to encourage immigration to Israel and to learn Hebrew. Until his last days, he continued working towards the Zionist ideal.
I think that the Declaration of Independence and the establishment of the state – these were the crowning glory of his life’s work, but he did a great deal both before and after that. Let us remember his determined leadership of the people at other fateful crossroads which were no less crucial to our existence. He made fateful decisions related to administering the State and military systems during the War of Independence to emerge victorious; he bore the responsibility for and took the initiative to establish the IDF and fortify its strength against our enemies.

In a speech he gave in 1956 before senior IDF officers, which was only published decades later, Ben-Gurion said, “In the circle of the Middle East, if we are not strong enough to face all our neighbors’ armies, we may be obliterated from the face of the Earth, but we also live in the circle of the world and nothing is decided only by the forces in the Middle East”. Of course he was right on both points – we must fortify our strength as it guarantees our existence. It is what differentiates our fate from that of our people during the generations that preceded us.

At the same time, we look around us and see the international reality, in which we must also operate. But in this regard too Ben-Gurion added something: despite the importance he attributed to the deeds and words of nations, he said that at the end of the day, what matters is what the Jewish state will do. He expressed it a little differently – I am paraphrasing him – and he was right.

In this regard, for example, when he made his most fateful decision, the nations – including our closest friends – objected, but he determined that in this case, what was important was what the Jewish state would do before it was a state – so that it could be a state: to recruit others as much as possible at fateful crossroads, to act as needed in accordance with what was important, what was necessary, what was critical for the Jewish state, to ensure its future and existence.

Ben-Gurion believed in extending a hand in peace to the Arab countries, to all our neighbors, parallel with putting together a powerful deterrent force – again, combining our inner strength with a broad perspective. This combination was noticeable in other areas as well – by declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel and strengthening its status through mass immigration; by instilling a perception of nationhood – which must continually be strengthened against sectionalism; by working against harming institutions on which the state was dependent for its very existence, including the legal and law enforcement systems; by strengthening the values of the pioneer spirit, while providing a personal example when he decided to settle here, at Sde Boker, and help in making the Negev flourish.

In each of these aspects, our first Prime Minister was like a ladder planted on the ground with his head reaching the heavens. I quote this because I read it in the weekly Torah portion yesterday. He was a founding father who stood at the heart of the centers of activity, a man of vision who could foresee the future. He believed we would be reborn only if we took advantage of new technologies and science, while at the same time, he understood that this rebirth would have no value if it was not based on our people’s origins, Jewish origins – particularly the foundation of the Torah. He was right in this as well.
In the 40 years since his passing, we continued to fortify our strength, to build our country, to absorb immigrants from around the world, to develop our economy, to reach significant achievements in the fields of education, culture and science. We fulfill his command to strengthen the spiritual component of our national existence.

We ensure that every boy and girl – at least we are working towards this – that every child in Israel connects with our historic and cultural roots and study the Torah, but this did not emerge from thin air. Rather it rests on the physical and spiritual foundations of the vision laid by David Ben-Gurion.

If I had to pick one fundamental principle of his doctrine, a principle that guides me and the members of my government, I would choose these words: “The fate of Zionism will be determined in Zion”. As a sovereign people, we have the right and the duty to defend ourselves and our existence by ourselves. The lesson we learned from Jewish history, especially from the Holocaust, but not only from the Holocaust, is that we will never again be helpless and under the threat of destruction.

What did Ben-Gurion think is the fundamental cause of the Israeli-Arab conflict? He understood that at the heart of the conflict stood the Arab world’s refusal to recognize the existence of a Jewish-Zionist state in the Land of Israel. I can tell you that certain things have changed since then, at least partially, when we signed the peace agreements with Egypt and with Jordan, but many of the Muslim countries, the Arab countries, still refuse to make peace with us, and Iran even threatens us with destruction. However, there is another change as a result of what is happening in the region – and a great many things are happening in the region: there is a crumbling of the systems in the Arab world, and attention should be paid to this because many of the Arab countries, even the most important among them, see eye to eye with the State of Israel on the issue of Iran’s nuclear armament. And I think the leading powers in the world should pay attention to this: if Israel and Arab countries agree about something, that is important. It is no small thing. This indicates an important change in a pivotal field, and it may indicate other things as well.

We are interested in advancing peaceful relations with our Palestinian neighbors, together with the Arab countries, but this all depends on one thing – it depends on many things but at the end of the day it depends on one thing: on Israel’s strength, which has been increasing from Ben-Gurion’s time until today. This is in concert with our neighbors’ understanding – all our neighbors immediate and distant – that Israel will stand up to any party that threatens it with destruction. Israel will react strongly and painfully against anyone who places our security to the test. We do this every week, if not every day.
For the past several months, we have been conducting negotiations with the Palestinians on a number of disputed issues, while being uncompromising with regard to Israel’s essential interests. In every negotiation, there are compromises, and there will be compromises, but mutual ones. However, there are some things we cannot compromise on because they are the foundations on which we stand. We are conducting negotiations with integrity and fairness, but we will not rush them. We are negotiating in accordance with the mutuality shown by the other side.

If I may express my personal hope, I hope for a Palestinian Ben-Gurion to stand before us: one who will give the “Beirzeit” speech to his people; who will declare an end to the conflict in its profoundest meaning – not a recognition of the fact of the State of Israel’s existence, but rather of its right to exist, or of the right of existence for a nation-state for the Jewish people; who will educate his people to peace even if it takes a generation – a process that does not start with statements to foreign leaders, but rather statements in Arabic, in the Palestinian Arab press, in schools – truly standing behind these statements as we truly believe that we need to coexist in peace with our Palestinian neighbors, accepting the principle of two nation-states. This is difficult to say; it is not an easy thing. It was not easy for me either; it cannot be easy for either side. It demands standing up; it demands courage. We wish for someone who will call on his people to adopt the idea that we have spoken of today – both the President and I: we say two nation-states. This is a condition and it cannot be avoided. It requires courage, both on our side and on theirs. I hope a leader on the Palestinian side as brave as David Ben-Gurion will stand up, educate his people to peace and abandon once and for all the hopes and expectations that a Jewish state will dissolve with time, whether through violence, terror or any other way.

My friends, David Ben-Gurion’s doctrine is relevant in many other fields as well. Again in this week’s Torah portion we read, “And you shall spread out powerfully westward, eastward, northward and southward” – I will not refer to westward or eastward, but will refer to northward and southward. We are spreading northward and southward. At a later date, we will hold a Cabinet Meeting in the Galilee, but today we held it here, at this symbolic place, in order to spread southward. We are working to realize David Ben-Gurion’s vision in a manner that combines many of the things he believed in: vision, technology, science. To this I also add roads, trains, fixing the bureaucracy related to lands. Goodness gracious, it never ends, but it is essential.

Moving the IDF bases to the south: this is vital and it is exciting. The cyber headquarters at the university that you, MK Braverman, worked so hard to establish. I mention you as a typical Ben-Gurionite at Ben-Gurion University. I add what I believe in.

I believe that if we invest in government infrastructure and take the components of our national security and add to them 40 kilos in market power, 40 tons, the Negev will flourish. It already is; the change is tremendous. And I promise you here and now, the next decade will lead to tremendous benefits, and I promise you, Shimon, in this decade the population here will not be 8%, which is something that has been fairly static. That’s about to change – 8% of the total population, there is going to be a tremendous change here.
The critical mass of the genius of our people, the enterprise our people exhibits, the open territory here, the space, the sun, the climate which is becoming a positive force – all these are merging together to again – actually for the first time – realize Ben-Gurion’s vision regarding transforming the Negev and Beer Sheva and its surroundings into a region to which the entire world will pay attention, especially with regard to technology and cyber.

I take this opportunity to thank my fellow ministers who are helping in this matter. Today we spoke of incremental steps, but mostly of revolutionary steps that will change what once was and cancel out the simplistic consensus that says that the strong are in the center and the weak are on the periphery. This will be completely erased. And I am convinced that if Ben-Gurion were here with us today, his heart would be filled with pride. He would urge us to buckle down, to implement and work tirelessly as long as the path stretches in front of us, as long as there is much work to be done, but we will do it and faster than you think.

I am convinced that Ben-Gurion would be extremely proud. We will continue to work in the coming years inspired by his vision and his legacy – until they are fully realized.

May the memories of David Ben-Gurion and his wife Paula be blessed and engraved in the heart of the nation forever.

Full Text Israel Political Brief October 15, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at Special Knesset Session Marking the 40th Anniversary of the Yom Kippur War

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Address by PM Netanyahu Special Knesset Session Marking the 40th Anniversary of the Yom Kippur War

Source: PMO, 10-15-13

יום שלישי י”א חשון תשע”ד
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Photo by GPO

Translation

The Yom Kippur War was a time of trial for the State of Israel, which found itself in a fateful battle against those who sought its destruction. The blow that we suffered in the first few days necessitated the mobilizing of all forces in the war effort.

With talks about the “destruction of the Third Temple” in the background, the soldiers of the IDF demonstrated unparalleled bravery on both the southern and northern fronts. Those who forced us into a war we did not seek encountered national unity and the willpower of a determined nation. Within a few days, the IDF soldiers succeeded in turning the tables: we moved from defense to offence, and by the time the cease fire was announced, the IDF was already on its way to Cairo and Damascus.

Today, forty years after the attack that sent shockwaves throughout the country, we salute the heroic soldiers who rescued us from the traps of complacency, vanity and misconception.

Distinguished guests,

The war left a painful wound in our souls and a deep scar in our flesh. The bottom line, however, is that we won a major victory. The lessons of that war have remained with us for the past four decades, and they are interwoven into the lessons we have accumulated from all the other wars and battles we fought.

The first lesson is to never underestimate the threats and never underestimate the enemy. Never ignore the warning signs. One cannot assume that our enemies will necessarily act in accordance with our assessments. They can be surprising and unpredictable. We paid the price of repression and self-deception, and we will never make that mistake again. Israel will always stand guard.

The second lesson is that the option of a preemptive strike cannot be automatically dismissed. Not every situation necessitates such a strike and all options must be weighed carefully, but there are times when the fear of an international response is diminished in comparison with the price we could pay for absorbing a strategic strike for which we will have to respond late, maybe too late.

A preemptive strike is one of the most difficult decisions a government is required to make, because it will never be able to show what would happen had it not taken action. At the same time, the major difference between the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War lies first and foremost in the fact that in the Six Day War we initiated a preemptive strike to extricate ourselves from the noose imposed on us by our enemies, while in the Yom Kippur War, despite the warning signs, the government chose to absorb the full force of the enemy’s attack.

The third lesson is the strategic importance of buffer zones. Our presence in the Golan and the Sinai enabled us to prevent infiltration deep into the territory of Israel. Following this experience, no one could comprehend forfeiting these buffer zones, even in peace arrangements. Therefore, it was clear that in the peace negotiations with Egypt, the Sinai Peninsula would have to be demilitarized. Such demilitarization, which has existed for almost 40 years, is essential. Without it, I doubt that the peace would hold. This demilitarization has been in place for almost 40 years, since the signing of the peace treaty with Egypt.

And there is a fourth lesson as well. Peace is achieved through strength. In the Yom Kippur War, despite the enemy’s excellent opening terms, our neighbors learned that they could not defeat us by force. This understanding is a result of the war. Five years later, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and the Prime Minister of Israel, Menachem Begin, signed a peace treaty. A peace agreement would later be reached with Jordan, and we are making genuine efforts to achieve peace with our Palestinian neighbors.

Peace can only be achieved if the hostile countries around us understand that Israel is powerful enough and that it will not disappear and will not be uprooted. The Yom Kippur War changed the face of Israeli society, necessitating a very painful and ongoing soul-searching. The failures, the debacles and the weaknesses entailed an in-depth and fundamental correction. This is an ongoing effort and we work on it constantly. It is first and foremost because of that war, but as I said earlier, in retrospect, Israel emerged stronger from the war.

Forty years ago there were less than three and a half million people living here. Today, we are more than eight million. Our economy expanded, and it is stable and prosperous. Just to clarify – our population has more than doubled, our economy is 25 times larger. It is as if you took the Israeli economy during the Yom Kippur War and placed 25 such economies side by side – this is the State of Israel today. Israel is a creative and advanced state, with a free and vibrant society, a society of remarkable achievements. And we continue to move forward and reach new heights. Our greatest achievement, however, was gained during the agony and despair of that terrible attack on Yom Kippur. Sporadic rumors about the falling of friends and acquaintances turned into a massive flow, and all forces needed to be mobilized to bear the terrible grief.

My brother Yoni participated in the battles on the Golan Heights. I wish to read you a portion of a letter he wrote to my parents, the first letter after the fights: “It was undoubtedly the most difficult war we have ever known. It was, at the very least, more intense and more terrifying, with more casualties, more successes and more failures than the battles and wars I have known. But it is because of the initial failures – failures in the military assessment, in the interpretation of the intelligence, in war doctrines, in political assessments and in the complacency of the entire nation – that the victory was so great. The army is strong and good and it has proven its abilities beyond any doubt. And when I say the army”, he wrote, “I mean not only the regular army, but the entire people. The soldiers succeeded, at a very heavy cost, to ward off the enemies, but it is the people who won the war”.

He was right, but the price we paid was unbearably high, the highest since the War of Independence. More than 2,100 of our finest sons fell in the Yom Kippur War, and thousands of others were injured. Some still bear the scars, some are with us here today.

Today, the 11th of Cheshvan, marks the passing of Rachel the Matriarch, the mother of the nation, who shares in the agony of her sons in their time of trouble. The Prophet’s promise to Rachel echoes in our ears: “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for there is reward for your accomplishment.”

We mourn the loss of our sons and our friends and we send our best wishes for recovery to the wounded. There is reward for their actions. Thanks to their courage and perseverance, our independence and the existence of our nation from generation to generation were secured. May their memory be blessed.

Israel Brief September 12, 2013: The Yom Kippur War: Forty Years Later

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The Yom Kippur War: Forty Years Later

Source: Chabad.org, 9-12-13

In the summer of 1973, weeks before the surprise outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, urgently requested that thousands of Jewish children gather at the Western Wall and other locations across….READ MORE

Israel Brief September 9, 2013: IDF Seminar Marks 40th Anniversary of Yom Kippur War

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IDF Seminar Marks 40th Anniversary of Yom Kippur War

Source: Arutz Sheva, 9-9-13

A seminar was held today (Monday) to mark the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. The event, which was hosted by the Military Colleges at the Palmachim base was attended by President Shimon Peres, Minister of Defense Moshe (Boogie) Yaalon….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 29, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Statement at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem

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PM Netanyahu’s Statement at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem

Source: PMO, 11-29-12

Photo by GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem, made the following statement:

“Israel is prepared to live in peace with a Palestinian state, but for peace to endure, Israel’s security must be protected.  The Palestinians must recognize the Jewish State and they must be prepared to end the conflict with Israel once and for all.  None of these vital interests, these vital interests of peace, none of them appear in the resolution that will be put forward before the General Assembly today and that is why Israel cannot accept it.  The only way to achieve peace is through agreements that are reached by the parties directly; through direct negotiations between themselves, and not through UN resolutions that completely ignore Israel’s vital security and national interests.  And because this resolution is so one-sided, it doesn’t advance peace, it pushes it backwards.

As for the rights of the Jewish people in this land, I have a simple message for those people gathered in the General Assembly today: No decision by the UN can break the 4000-year-old bond between the people of Israel and the land of Israel.”

Israel Brief October 28, 2012: Tel Aviv rally marks 17th anniversary of assasinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s death

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ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Tel Aviv rally marks anniversary of Rabin’s death

Source: JTA, 10-28-12

About 20,000 people gathered in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to pay tribute to the memory of slain Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin….READ MORE

Jewish Brief July 31, 2012: Romney Tours Site of Future Polish Jewish Museum

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Romney tours site of future Polish Jewish museum

Source: JTA, 7-31-12

Mitt Romney toured the site of the future Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw….READ MORE

Jewish News Brief May 30, 2012: President Obama, White House ‘regrets’ reference to ‘Polish death camp’

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White House ‘regrets’ reference to ‘Polish death camp’

Source: JTA, 5-30-12

The White House expressed its regrets about President Obama’s use of the term “Polish death camp.”

In a statement Wednesday morning, Tommy Vietor, the spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council, said the president “misspoke” during his presentation of a posthumous Medal of Freedom a day earlier to Jan Karski, a Polish resistance fighter who was among the first to report German atrocities in his country.

“He was referring to Nazi death camps in Poland,” Vietor said. “We regret this misstatement, which should not detract from the clear intention to honor Mr. Karski and those brave citizens who stood on the side of human dignity in the face of tyranny.”

During the ceremony, Obama said of Karski, “Fluent in four languages, possessed of a photographic memory, Jan served as a courier for the Polish resistance during the darkest days of World War II. Before one trip across enemy lines, resistance fighters told him that Jews were being murdered on a massive scale, and smuggled him into the Warsaw Ghetto and a Polish death camp to see for himself. Jan took that information to President Franklin Roosevelt, giving one of the first accounts of the Holocaust and imploring to the world to take action.”

Poles insist on the term “Nazi death camps” to describe facilities such as Auschwitz and Sobibor….READ MORE

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