Full Text Israel Political Brief May 10, 2016: PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Memorial Ceremony for Those Who Fell During their Foreign Service Transcript

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Memorial Ceremony for Those Who Fell During their Foreign Service

Source: PMO, 10-10-16

The names of the 16 people from our Foreign Service who were killed during their service are engraved in iron and stone on the wall of commemoration behind me. The acted bravely and with great dedication to bring word of Israel to the nations. Their lives were cut short by malicious hands. We do not only remember our loved ones through this physical memorial, but first and foremost in our hearts, in the nation’s consciousness, with gratitude to its emissaries for their contribution in strengthening the country’s position.

Our people here in Israel and abroad have for many years faced a dual front: first, on the public diplomacy front where they have been conducting a continual campaign to convince the world of the justness of our actions, deepen our international ties, gain public support and curb the many lies about the Jewish state.

The second front is that of their personal safety. As those who represent sovereign Israel, they themselves are a target for attack. Employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are under threat from parties that use every method available to undermine the relations between Israel and countries around the world. Our representatives stand guard to beat back political propaganda attacks, and because of this they may become victims of physical attacks.

I remember well the first incident. Edna Pe’er’s name is engraved here on the wall. I was a soldier in the Special Forces at the time, and I remember the great shock the Israeli public felt after what happened in Asuncion. Since ancient times it was customary that diplomats were off limits. Not only were they off limits, they were the limit, and it became clear that all-encompassing terror would strike at this foundation of our relations. My fellow soldiers in the unit and I felt at the time that we had to act vigorously against these terrorists who had no consideration for human lives.

Over the years, the State of Israel has had many significant achievements in its determined campaign against terror and against terror directed at diplomats. Warnings keep coming. Clearly, in most cases we are successful in stopping terrorist attacks in Israel and abroad. I say most cases because unfortunately we have experienced tragedies we were unable to stop, during which we lost the best of our people – in Turkey, in London, in Argentina – and every tragedy is burned into our skin.

We make efforts, mainly through the Mossad and the ISA, to defend ourselves and all our employees in the Foreign Service and our representatives abroad. This effort is large-scale, it is unique and it has saved many hundreds of lives, not only in our Foreign Service, but also in the Foreign Services of other countries.

Sometimes these efforts are successful by a hairsbreadth. Here, several years ago, in the situation room of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we dealt with a siege that grew ever tighter around our people in the Israeli embassy in Cairo. A wild mob came to slaughter our people and that night we worked with all the tools at our disposal, including threats to extract them using the IDF, which finally tipped the scale and the Egyptian forces, then under the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, together with tight coordination on our end from the situation room, and eventually led to a successful outcome in this instance.

The employees of the office and I spoke with the security officer in charge. He told me over the radio, “My name is Yoni”. And I told him, “Yoni, the State of Israel will get you out of there”. I regret that we were unable to do so in other cases that we commemorate today, but I do want to tell you that we spare no effort in defending you while you are defending our country.

Israel is in the eye of a storm. In many ways it serves as the vanguard in the ongoing fight against terror, including terrorism directed at diplomats. There are no compromises to be made with bloodthirsty extremists. We owe ourselves and the following generations a crushing victory by the forces of freedom and enlightenment. At the same time, we continue the mission of those who fell during their Foreign Service, and are expanding in an unprecedented manner, as you here know, the scope of our diplomatic ties – a tight net of relations with approximately 160 countries – and there is still more to be done.

Countries around the world are taking advantage of our capabilities in the fight against terror. They are also growing closer to us because of our proven technological innovation, and this is why Israel is courted and pursued, parallel to the various attacks that continue to be waged against us. I am certain that this accomplishment would make our lost loved ones very proud. Their lives were cut short, but their life’s mission, this mission, is being realized in an impressive fashion.

Dear families, bereaved families, we all bow our heads in memory of the fallen. Losing them left deep wounds on your hearts, all our hearts. The entire nation shares your pain, and of course so does the Foreign Service family from throughout its history. We will continue to pursue the realization of their last will and testament – safeguarding the strength, security, prosperity and well-being of our country. May their memories forever be blessed.

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Full Text Israel Political Brief May 10, 2016: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the Opening Ceremony of the Memorial Day for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers Yom Hazikaron Transcript

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Address by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Opening Ceremony of the Memorial Day for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers

Source: PMO, 10-10-16 

Honorable Speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein,
Distinguished guests, first and foremost my brothers and sisters, members of the bereaved families,

As the son of a bereaved family, I, like you, carry the weight of despair. I know the depths of sadness and the agonizing pain of loss. They are relentless. When I received the news of my brother and later had to break it to my parents, my whole world collapsed. The same thing happened to you. We spend the remainder of our lives struggling to emerge from the ruins. It never fully happens, but there is new life. Today I spoke with the mother of Ben Vanunu, a remarkable young boy who fell in Operation Protective Edge. Sarit and Ilan welcomed a daughter into the world today, and tears of sadness and joy mix together.

Twenty three thousand, four hundred and forty seven – this is the number of Israel’s fallen soldiers, in honor of whom we bow our heads today – in grief, silence, admiration and gratitude. The day bereavement first enters our doorstep is the day our loved ones become no longer just ours. While they fundamentally belong to us, a part of our flesh that has been cut off, they also belong to the nation, a nation that pays tribute to them today and acknowledges the enormity of their sacrifice. Jews, Druze, Christians, Muslims, Bedouins, Circassians, men and women – we all share one fate.

Anyone who has ever lost a son, a brother, a father, a daughter or a friend has cried out: Why? I myself asked the exact same question when my brother was killed. But in time I came to understand that the question should be: For what? What is the purpose? What is the meaning of the price that we have paid? Our sons and daughters went to battle with their heads held high. They died for a higher calling – to ensure Israel’s existence and guarantee its future. This is precisely the difference, the whole difference, between a beaten and oppressed nation, a persecuted nation that is forced to rely on the kindness of strangers, as we were until 68 years ago, and a nation that lives on its land, builds its country, controls its destiny. But the price is horrible. We know more than anyone how horrible it is.

I try to familiarize myself with the personal stories of many of the fallen. So much power is embodied in what they themselves said and wrote. Avraham Lustig, who fought in the War of Independence and was killed in the Convoy of 35, wrote in his journal a day before he went to battle that suffering is okay and death is okay as long as you know why and what for. Eliraz Peretz, son of our friend Miriam, who fell six years ago on the border with Gaza, adopted this principle: “If you love, love with no limits; if you are going to be friends, be friends with no limits; and if you are going to be a combat soldier, then without limits and give it your all.” Eliav Gelman, an officer in an elite unit who was killed two months ago at the Gush Etzion Junction while trying to protect civilians from a knife-wielding terrorist, used to say to his soldiers: “Self-sacrifice for higher values such as love for the Land of Israel, connection to the succession of generations and contribution to the greater good is what enables our people’s existence in its land.” It is an ongoing account of resilience and strength – on the battlefield, in protecting our borders and at the forefront of the fight against terrorism.

My brothers and sisters, dear families, life in an era of revival and rebirth exacts a personal price and a national price. But our people’s spirit is strong and we believe in the Glory of Israel.

As a 3,000-year-old nation determined to protect its land, we will continue to stand strong in the face of our enemies, build our land, develop our country and guarantee our existence. We will not lose hope for reconciliation with our enemies, but we will first make peace within ourselves. True reconciliation comes from our shared destiny, and there is no deeper or more noble expression of this shared destiny than this day, the day we remember with great love and admiration our sons and daughters, the heroes who sacrificed their lives so that we can live in our land.

May the memory of our loved ones – Israel’s fallen soldiers – be forever blessed.

Full Text Israel Political Brief May 17, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Official Jerusalem Day Ceremony Marking 48 Years since the Unification of Jerusalem

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Excerpt from PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Official Jerusalem Day Ceremony Marking 48 Years since the Unification of Jerusalem

Source: PMO, 5-17-15

“Islamic fanaticism threatens Jerusalem, the Middle East and the entire world: Sunni fanaticism, such as that of Islamic State, and the Shi’ite extremists led by the Ayatollahs in Tehran. Extremist Sunni and Shi’ites are fighting each other but they have a common enemy – the West and the culture of freedom and progress that it represents. Only last night, after vigorous action by the US against the terrorism of Islamic State, the leader of Iran, Khamenei, attacked the US and said: It is the United States, so said the man who is heading the negotiations between Iran and the major powers, that is causing and supports terrorism. These words were said when Iran still does not have nuclear weapons and it is still not too late to go back on the plan to give Iran a deal that would pave for it a certain path to nuclear weapons. We oppose this deal and we are not the only ones who do so. It is both necessary and possible to achieve a better deal because extremists cannot be allowed to achieve their aims, not in Iran, not in Yemen and not in Jerusalem.”

דברי ראש הממשלה נתניהו בעצרת הממלכתית בגבעת התחמושת לציון 48 שנים לאיחוד ירושלים

17/05/2015
יום ראשון כ”ח אייר תשע”ה
צילום: קובי גדעון, לע”מ לחץ להגדלה

– הטקסט עבר התאמת עריכה –

נשיאנו, ראובן ריבלין ורעייתו נחמה,
סגן יו”ר הכנסת, חבר הכנסת נחמן שי,
המשנה לנשיאת בית המשפט העליון, השופט אליקים רובינשטיין, גם הוא איש ירושלים,
שרים, חברי כנסת,
ראש עיריית ירושלים, ניר ברקת,
יו”ר הסוכנות היהודית, נתן שרנסקי,
המפכ”ל, יוחנן דנינו,
מפקד פיקוד המרכז, האלוף רוני נומה,
מפקדים ולוחמי צה”ל,
משפחות יקרות,

לפני 48 שנים נתאחו קרעיה של בירתנו ירושלים, והיא שבה להיות עיר שחוברה לה יחדיו. חלוקתה גרמה לניוונה – איחודה הביא לפריחתה. ועל כן ירושלים לא תהפוך עוד לעיר פצועה ומבותרת; אנחנו נשמור לעד על ירושלים מאוחדת בריבונות ישראל.

במעמד זה אנו מרכינים ראש לזכרם של חללי צה”ל במלחמת ששת הימים, ובתוכם הנופלים בקרבות להגנת ירושלים ולשחרורה. אין עתיד בלי תקווה, ואין תוחלת לאומה בלי הנכונות להקרבה. וההקרבה שהייתה בעיר הזאת, בגבעה הזאת, השאירו חותם של מופת לדורות של לוחמים. לא בכדי המתגייסים הטריים לצבא הגנה לישראל מירושלים באים למקום הזה. הייתה לי הזכות לפני כמה חודשים, יחד עם רעייתי, ללוות את בננו שהתגייס להיות לוחם בצה”ל והתרגשנו מאוד, מטבע הדברים – כמו שאר ההורים שהיו כאן – מהיום, אבל גם התרגשנו מהמקום.

אני רוצה לומר לכם, בני המשפחות השכולות, שאני יודע את עומק כאבכם ואני שותף ליגונכם. פצעי האובדן חתומים בבשרכם. אם יש גמול ונחמה על הקורבן היקר – הם טמונים בהכרה של העם כולו לגיבורינו שבזכותם נחלצה ישראל מסכנה קיומית. בני דורי זוכרים היטב את שש היממות שהסירו את לולאת החנק מצווארה של המדינה. אבל לא פחות מכך חקוקים בנו ימי החרדה וההמתנה הדרוכה שקדמו למלחמה.

כולנו ידענו שגורלה של ישראל מונח על כפות המאזניים. קמנו כאיש אחד, התלכדנו, אזרנו עוז, והדפנו את אויבינו שסגרו עלינו בשלוש חזיתות. אין מלחמה צודקת ומוסרית מהמערכה הזאת, שבה התגלה רצון-החיים של עם ישראל במלוא עוצמתו. גולת הכותרת של הניצחון המזהיר הייתה ירושלים. במשך 19 שנים, מאז מלחמת העצמאות, היא הייתה עיר שסועה, סגורה מכל עבר, חנוקה.
יש פה הרבה צעירים, אז אני מזמין אתכם לדבר עם ותיקי ירושלים, בראשם הנשיא ריבלין וגם אנוכי, מי כמונו זוכרים זאת. תשמעו מאיתנו על שטחי ההפקר, על סכנת צליפה מצלפי הלגיון שעל החומות, על קירות הבטון שהגנו על עוברים ושבים בלב העיר מסכנת הירי, על גדרות תיל, ביצורים, מכשולים ושלטים שעליהם כתוב: “עצור, גבול לפניך”.

אני זוכר את זה היטב משכונת ממילא, ששם היה משרדו של אבי ז”ל. ואני זוכר גם את מעבר מנדלבאום. על נגישות לעיר העתיקה בכלל לא היה על מה לדבר. מעמדות התצפית שסמוכות לקו שחצה את הבירה – בהר ציון, באבו תור, על גג מנזר נוטרדם, ניסינו להביט במשקפות מאולתרות על “העיר האסורה”. תמיד הרגשנו שמשהו חסר, תמיד הייתה עננה בלתי-נראית תלויה מעל ראשינו.
כך הייתה ירושלים, וכל זה השתנה בבת אחת לפני 48 שנים. כאן, בגבעת התחמושת, התחולל קרב גבורה מכונן בין תעלות קשר, מחסני נשק ובונקרים. שני דורות לפני שחיילינו התמודדו בגבורה עם איום המנהרות של החמאס במבצע “צוק איתן”, היו התעלות הללו כאן סמל לנחישות ולהקרבה של לוחמי ישראל. ובמרחק של כשני קילומטרים מכאן התהווה הסמל האחר של הלחימה בירושלים, ואני זוכר את הרגעים ששמענו: ‘נכנסנו לעיר העתיקה’.

אני זוכר את הדברים של מוטה גור שהרטיטו את נימי הנפש של כולנו, אני זוכר צנחנים קשוחים שהתרפקו בדמעות על אבני הכותל המערבי. כל אחד מהם הרגיש שהוא נושא על גופו לא רק נשק וקסדה – אלא גם מטען היסטורי עצום של כיסופי הדורות לציון. ביום שחרור ירושלים הגיעה האחדות בעם לפסגות חדשות – בארץ ובתפוצות. המחיצות שנפלו בלבה של ירושלים, נפלו גם בתוכנו. גלים עצומים של הזדהות ושל רגש עמוק שטפו אותנו. הם הביאו להתעוררות ציונית אדירה בכל העולם, גם מעבר למסך הברזל, ולזינוק משמעותי בשיעורי העלייה לארץ.
ואכן, “היום השביעי” שלאחר המלחמה היה מסעיר לא פחות מקודמיו: שחררנו את ירושלים, ירושלים שחררה אותנו. מעיר מכווצת שהקיום בה מנוגד לחיים נורמליים – ירושלים נפתחה למרחב. היא הולכת ונבנית בתנופת פיתוח אדירה, וצדקת הנשיא כשאמרת: תנופת הפיתוח הזו חייבת לכלול גם את מזרח העיר.

אמר הנביא ישעיהו: “הִנְנִי יִסַד בְּצִיוֹן אָבֶן, אֶבֶן בֹּחַן”. ירושלים היא אכן אבן בוחן. היא מעמידה אותנו במבחן – עד כמה אנחנו נכונים להיאחז בה ולשמור עליה. בשנה האחרונה ידענו מעשי טרור חמורים בירושלים – בראשם הטבח המזעזע במתפללי בית-הכנסת בשכונת הר נוף, פיגועי דריסה קטלניים, דקירות בסכינים וידויי אבנים שנועדו לפצוע ולהרוג. גם ביום הזה יש מי שמנסה לאתגר אותנו בירושלים, ואני שולח מכאן איחולי החלמה לשוטרים, ואני משבח את שוטרי משטרת ישראל על כל פעולתה לשמור על ביטחון ירושלים, על ביטחוננו. לא נשלים עם הטרור. נרדוף את מחולליו עד חורמה. נילחם בהסתה שנובעת מהתכחשות אויבינו לזיקה ההיסטורית שלנו לירושלים, לעומק שורשינו, למורשתנו. הם מבינים שירושלים היא נקודת המוקד של הזהות שלנו. יש לנו איתה ברית בת אלפי שנים. כשיהודי אומר “ירושלים” – במלה הזאת מקופלים כל תולדותינו, חלומותינו וערכינו.
ומי מתנגד להימצאותנו בירושלים? מי שמסרב להכיר בזכותנו להתקיים כעם ריבוני במדינתנו. הם רואים בנו נטע זר שצריך לעקור אותו מכאן. אנחנו נטע זר? ציטטתי לפני כמה דקות את הנביא ישעיהו, איש ירושלים, הוא ונביאי ישראל ניבאו בירושלים, מלכי ישראל, מלכי יהודה מלכו בירושלים. צריך לומר את האמת, בלי מורא: ירושלים הייתה מאז ומעולם בירתו של העם היהודי בלבד, ולא של שום עם אחר. כאן החלה דרכנו כאומה, זהו ביתנו ופה נישאר. בד בבד, אנחנו דואגים לכך שירושלים תישאר עיר פתוחה וסובלנית. רק תחת שלטון ישראל נשמר בירושלים חופש הפולחן של בני הדתות, כל הדתות. מאמיניהם מתפללים במקומות הקדושים להם – לא חרף שליטתנו בעיר, אלא דווקא בגלל שליטתנו בעיר.

הקנאות האיסלאמית מאיימת על ירושלים, על המזרח-התיכון, על העולם כולו. הקנאות של הסונים הקיצוניים דוגמת דאע”ש, ושל השיעים הקיצוניים בהנהגת האייתוללות בטהראן. הסונים והשיעים הקיצוניים נלחמים זה בזה, אבל יש להם אויב משותף – המערב ותרבות החופש והקדמה שהוא מייצג. רק אמש, אחרי פעולתה הנחושה של ארצות-הברית נגד הטרור של דאע”ש, תקף מנהיג איראן חמינאי את ארצות הברית ואמר: ארצות הברית – כך אומר האיש שעומד בראש המשא ומתן בין איראן למעצמות – היא-היא המחוללת והתומכת טרור. הדברים הללו נאמרים כשעדיין אין לאיראן נשק גרעיני, ועדיין לא מאוחר לחזור מהתוכנית לתת לאיראן עסקה שתסלול עבורה דרך בטוחה לגרעין.

אנחנו מתנגדים לעסקה הזאת, ואנחנו לא היחידים שמתנגדים לה. צריך ואפשר להשיג עסקה טובה יותר, כי אסור לתת לקיצונים להשיג את מבוקשם, לא באיראן, לא בתימן, לא בירושלים. ירושלים נמצאת באחת מתקופות הזוהר הגדולות שלה. אנחנו מוסיפים לבנות ולטפח אותה, להרחיב את שכונותיה, ויש לנו עוד הרבה מה לעשות ולשפר בכל חלקי העיר למען כל תושביה. אנו מקימים בה פנינות חן תרבותיות, ואדוני ראש העיר, אתה עושה כאן עבודת קודש. אנחנו מקימים בה את הספרייה הלאומית החדשה והקריה לארכיאולוגיה של ארץ-ישראל.

תסתכלו סביבכם, ירושלים – מנופים סביב לה. כל מי שמגיע משער הגיא לבירה רואה שאנחנו חוצבים באבן, מרחיבים את כביש 1, משדרגים נתיבים, מניחים מסילות רכבת. המהפכה שמתחוללת במעמד ירושלים – בתוך העיר ובסביבתה – רק תלך ותגבר בשנים הבאות. יותר מאשר בכל זמן אחר, ביום המיוחד הזה ברור לנו שירושלים המחולקת היא זיכְרון עבר. העתיד שייך לירושלים השלמה שלא תחולק עוד – עיר שהיא “כְּלִילַת יֹפִי, מָשׂוֹשׂ לְכָל הָאָרֶץ”.
חג שמח לתושבי ירושלים, חג שמח לכל עם ישראל.

 

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 23, 2015: Vice President Joe Biden’s Remarks at the 67th Annual Israeli Independence Day Celebration

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden the 67th Annual Israeli Independence Day Celebration

Source: WH, 4-23-15 

Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium
Washington, D.C.

7:29 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Ron, Mr. Ambassador, my name is Joe Biden, and everybody knows I love Israel.

I was thinking as Ron was saying that he doesn’t know what it’s like in Catholic families — whether we argue as much as allegedly occurs in Jewish families.  Well, I settled all that.  Two of my three children married Jews.  (Laughter.)  And you want to see what happens then.  (Laughter.)

As a matter of fact, my daughter — I — the dream of every Irish-Catholic father is for his daughter to marry a Jewish surgeon.  (Laughter.)  And she did.

But I want you to know I think the only time on record, at least in the state of Delaware, in the oldest Catholic church in the state, the second oldest — 1842 — we signed the ketubah in the Catholic rectory.  (Laughter.)  Not a joke.  (Laughter.)  Not a joke.  I think that’s a first.  We had a chuppah on the altar, handmade, magnificently, beautiful chuppah.  And we had a Catholic priest, Father Murphy, and a rabbi, and it was hard getting a rabbi, by the way.  (Laughter.)  I had to go up to Montgomery County to find one.  (Laughter.)  And the reason why — Montgomery County, Pennsylvania — and the reason he came is his mother loved me.  (Laughter.)  But — and my daughter asked me, she said, Daddy, what do you want played at the wedding?  I said, just one — maybe the concluding hymn could be “On Eagles’ Wings”.

And so the rabbi was a wonderful guy, literally presided over 75 percent of the wedding.  The vows were administered by the Catholic priest.  And as the wedding party was departing, as the bride and groom were departing down the aisle, they played the hora.  (Laughter.)  So I figured it out.  One way to end arguments is to marry.  (Laughter.)

Look, the fact of the matter is that 77 years [sic] ago, at midnight on May 14, 1948, against all odds, in the wake of searing tragedy, defiant in the face of overwhelming military numbers massed on its borders, the modern State of Israel was born.   (Applause.)

What you did next was no less than miraculous.  You were blessed with one of the greatest generations of founding fathers and mothers of any nation in the history of the world — Ben-Gurion, Meir, Begin, Sharon, Rabin, Peres.  They all fashioned Israel into a vibrant, vibrant democracy.

And in the process, you built one of the most innovative societies on Earth.  In the process, you defended your homeland and became the most powerful military in the entire region.  And all these years later, things have changed, but the danger still exists.  But the people of Israel still live in a dangerous neighborhood.  And just to be an Israeli — it still demands uncommon courage.

Much has changed, but two things have remained absolutely the same: the courage of your people and the commitment of mine.  (Applause.)

So today, we celebrate your independence and our friendship, which was born just 11 minutes after Israel’s founding.  And President Obama and I are proud to carry forward the unbroken line of American leaders –- Democrat and Republican —- who have honored America’s sacred promise to protect the homeland of the Jewish people.

It’s no secret that, like administrations before us, as the Ambassador said, we’ve had our differences.  I have been here for a long time, for eight Presidents.  I’ve witnessed disagreements between administrations.  It’s only natural for two democracies like ours.  As Ron said, we’re like family.  We have a lot to say to one another.  Sometimes we drive each other crazy.  But we love each other.  And we protect each other.   (Applause.)

And it’s hard to see with these lights, but I suspect I know many of you personally.  As many of you heard me say before, were there no Israel, America would have to invent one.  We’d have to invent one because Ron is right, you protect our interests like we protect yours.  (Applause.)

So let’s get something straight.  In this moment of some disagreement occasionally between our governments, I want to set the record straight on one thing:  No President has ever done more to support Israel’s security than President Barack Obama.  (Applause.)

Just look at the facts.  Each time a rocket has rained down from Gaza, President Obama stands up before the world and defends Israel’s right to defend itself like any other nation.

Under President Obama, with the United States Congress, America has provided $20 billion in military assistance to Israel -– and cutting edge weaponry needed to maintain the qualitative advantage against any potential opponent.

You all know the stories of Iron Dome.  What you may not know is that next year, we will deliver to Israel the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter –- our finest -– making Israel the only country in the Middle East with a fifth-generation aircraft.  No other.  (Applause.)

And we continue to discuss, as the Israeli military here and the intelligence communities will tell you in Israel as well as here — we continue to discuss what more must be done in the near term and the long term to continue to strengthen Israel so she can maintain that edge.  (Applause.)

Our commitment to protect Israel’s security in my case and many of your case is not just political or national interest, it’s personal.  It’s personal for me and it’s personal for the President.

You’ve heard me say this many of my friends out there before, but it bears repeating on this day, it began at my father’s dinner table.  My father was a righteous Christian.  We assembled to eat, to have discussions — and occasionally eat.  My father talked about how he could not understand why there was a debate among Americans or why there was a debate among American Jews about whether or not we should have recognized Israel; why there would be any debate about why we hadn’t done more; why we hadn’t — that’s where I first learned about not bombing the railroad tracks.  I learned from my father about the concentration camps.  And the first thing I did with my children when each of them turned 15, I took them to Europe, flew them directly to Dachau, and made them spend a day there with me.  And I’ve done the same with my grandchildren.  My grandchild Finnegan as recently as just a month ago where we met with a 94-year-old survivor of Auschwitz, as well as Dachau.  He showed us the camp because he was proud — proud — to welcome the Vice President and his granddaughter.

All you have to do to understand is stand on the Golan and look down.  I remember the first time I did that as a young senator.  All you have to do is wander throughout Israel.  All you have to do is take that helicopter ride the entire length of the fence.  All you have to do is just look at the map.  All you had to is set foot at Yad Vashem -— and you understand.

I’ve had the great privilege of knowing every Israeli Prime Minister since Golda Meir and more than just casually.  And I’ve worked with many of you in this room for up to 40 years.  You know me.  You raised me.  You educated me.  And I know you.

So believe me when I tell you:  It’s not only personal to me, it’s personal to President Obama, as well.  The President was raised with memories of his great-uncle, who marched with Patton’s Army to liberate Jewish prisoners from the horrors of Buchenwald.  As a young man, he grew up learning about Israel from the stories of Leon Uris’ in “Exodus”; the Six-Day War; and Moshe Dayan, with his eye patch and his courage.  I remember sitting in front of Golda Meir’s desk as she flipped those maps up and down, chain-smoking, talking about the losses of the Six-Day War, sitting next to her military attaché at the time, a guy named Rabin.

But Barack, as a young senator — being 19 years younger than I am, he heard about it.  He read about it.  As senator, Barack Obama went to a small town in southern Israel to see with his own eyes the lives of the families who live under threat of rockets -– families that he has helped protect as Commander-in-Chief, under Iron Dome.

As President, he stood in Jerusalem, and declared to the whole world, “Those who adhere to the ideology of rejecting Israel’s right to exist, they might as well reject the earth beneath them or the sky above, because Israel is not going anywhere.  So long as the United States of America is there, Israel will never be alone.”  (Applause.)  He means it.  He means it.  You know I mean it.  I’m telling you he means it.

That’s my President.  He understands the need for Israel to have the right and the capacity and the capability to defend itself.  At the same time, he says, “we have Israel’s back” — and you can count on it.

The same commitment to the survival and security of Israel is fundamental to our strategy for the entire Middle East.  And then we get into the controversial piece.  Iran.  Remember this is the President who made it for the first time in American history a declared policy of the United States to use all the instruments of our power to prevent -— not contain, prevent –- Iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon.  He stated that all options are on the table -— then he made sure of what did not exist before.  He made sure we spent the time and money and the research to develop the capacity required to act against their capacity to develop a weapon if ever needed.

Over the skepticism of many, we worked with the U.S. Congress, our European allies, and Russia, China, to put in place the toughest sanctions regime in modern history.

We also knew the cost of not negotiating.  Midway through the last administration, the U.S. government refused to directly engage.  It insisted at the same time that Iran dismantle its entire program.

The result?  By the time President Bush left office, Iran had dramatically advanced its movement toward ability to acquire a nuclear weapon.  So we’ve taken a different approach, combining unprecedented pressure with direct diplomacy to find an enduring solution.

Negotiations began.  And we’ve come a long way.  And you’ve all seen the parameters that were put forward.  It’s a framework, only a framework — not a final deal.  A great deal of work lies ahead to see if Iran will actually enshrine the commitments that went into that framework as part of a final deal.

If they do, each of Iran’s paths to a bomb would be meaningfully and verifiably blocked.  Iran would cut its enrichment capacity by two-thirds; shrink its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98 percent.  Breakout time to create a weapon’s worth of bomb-grade material will go from two to three months, which it is today, to over a year.

The deal would ensure at least a one-year breakout cushion for a decade.  And for years after that, the breakout time would continue to be longer than it exists today.

We’ll prevent the Arak reactor from ever being a source of plutonium for nuclear weapons.  We will put in place the toughest transparency and verification requirements in history -— providing the best possible check against a secret path to the bomb.

This isn’t a grand bargain between the United States and Iran.  It’s a nuclear bargain between Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany, the EU, America and Iran.  It’s based on hard-hitting, hard-headed, uncompromising assessments of what is required to protect ourselves, Israel, the region, and the world.

And if the final deal on the table that doesn’t meet the President’s requirements, we simply will not sign it.

A final deal must effectively cut off Iran’s pathways to the bomb.  If it doesn’t, no deal.

A final deal must ensure a breakout timeline at least for one year for a decade.  If it doesn’t, no deal.

A final deal must include phased sanctions relief, calibrated against Iran taking meaningful steps to constrain their program.  If it doesn’t, no deal.

A final deal must provide a verifiable assurance to the international community demands to ensure Iran’s program is exclusively peaceful going forward.  If it doesn’t, no deal.

And if Iran cheats at any time and goes for a nuclear weapon –- every option we have to respond today remains on the table.  And your military will tell you, and more.

I’ve been involved in arms control negotiations since I was a kid in the Senate at 30 years of age — every major SALT agreement, START agreement, and toward the end, I was deeply involved negotiating when Brezhnev was still around, leading a delegation of senators.  But just like arms control talks with the Soviet Union —- another regime we fundamentally disagreed with, another regime whose rhetoric was outrageous and unacceptable, another regime whose proxies were forcefully making trouble, and we forcefully countered around the world –- we negotiated to reduce the nuclear threat to prevent a nuclear war.  And it kept us safer.  That’s what we’re attempting to do today.

We also continue to agree with Israeli leaders going back decades –- from Rabin to Sharon, whose funeral I had the great honor of eulogizing –- that a two-state solution is essential to Israel’s long-term survival as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people.   Consistent with our commitment to Israel’s security and survival, the United States stands ready to help Israel decide — if they decide — how to get there and if they want our help in getting there.

I’ll always remember what my friend and mentor, and Holocaust survivor who worked for me as my national security advisor before he became Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Lantos once said.  He said, “the veneer of civilization is paper thin.  We are its guardians and can never rest.”

That’s why we must never retreat from fighting every scourge and source of anti-Semitism as we find it.  You see, in too many places where legitimate criticism crosses over into bigotry and anti-Semitism; where an explicitly anti-Semitic attack takes place at a kosher grocery store; assaults on religious Jews in the streets of major European capitals.  Some of you may remember how harshly I was criticized as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee over 15 years ago when I held hearings on anti-Semitism in Europe.  Emerson said, society is like a wave, the wave moves on, but the particles remain the same.  Wherever, in whatever country, whatever circumstance it rears its head, we have to stop it.

Enough is enough.   We have to fight it everywhere we find it.

I’ll conclude — and my friends kid me and I imagine Ron may, as well — telling you the story about my meeting with Golda Meir.  The reason I do it had a profound impact on me, one of the most consequential meetings I’ve ever had in my life.  I think I’ve met every major world leader in the last 36 or 37 years in the world, in a literal sense.

But I remember meeting for close to an hour with her.  She went through what happened in the Six-Day War, and the price that was paid.  And I just had come from Egypt.  They let me go to Egypt and go to the Suez Canal.  And I was saying to she and Rabin that I thought that they were getting ready to attack again.  And everyone including my military and Israeli military thought I was crazy.

I remember driving from Cairo all the way to out to the Suez.  And you could see these great plumes of dust and sand.  But none it seemed isolated.  It turns out it was maneuvers taking place in the desert.  And I was really worried.  And we went through, and she painted a bleak, bleak picture — scared the hell out of me, quite frankly, about the odds.

And all of a sudden she looked at and she said, would you like a photograph?  And I said, yes, ma’am.  And those double-blind doors opened up into that hallway — not hallway.  It looks like — it’s a foyer.  And we walked out, and the press was standing there.  We didn’t say anything.  We just stood side by side.  And she must have thought I looked worried.  And it’s an absolutely true story.  She didn’t look at me, she spoke to me.  She said, Senator, you look so worried.  I said, well, my God, Madam Prime Minister, and I turned to look at her.  I said, the picture you paint.  She said, oh, don’t worry.  We have — I thought she only said this to me.  She said, we have a secret weapon in our conflict with the Arabs.  You see, we have no place else to do.

I was criticized in the national press a couple weeks ago when I said that, in fact, every Jew in the world needs there to be an Israel.  And it was characterized by some of the conservative press as saying that I was implying Jews weren’t safe in America.  They don’t get it.  They don’t get it.  Israel, Israel is absolutely essential — absolutely essential — security of Jews around the world.  And that’s why you have never farmed out your security.  You’ve accepted all the help we could give.  The most admirable thing about you is you’ve never asked us to fight for you.  But I promise you, if you were attacked and overwhelmed, we would fight for you, in my view.  (Applause.)

The truth of the matter is we need you.  The world needs you.  Imagine what it would say about humanity and the future of the 21st century if Israel were not sustained, vibrant and free.

We’ll never stop working to ensure that Jews from around the world always have somewhere to go.  We’ll never stop working to make sure Israel has a qualitative edge.  And whomever the next President is — Republican or Democrat — it will be the same because the American people, the American people are committed.  The America people understand.

So I say happy birthday, Israel.  Happy Independence Day.  May God bless you and may God bless and protect the United States of America.  Thank you all so very much.  (Applause.)

END
7:52 P.M. EDT

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 22, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Greeting for 67th Yom Ha’atzmaut Independence Day 2015 — Transcript

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu’s Greeting for Independence Day 2015

Source: PMO, 4-22-15

“Israel’s Independence Day is an occasion for genuine celebration.

Jews celebrate the rebirth of our national freedom in our historic homeland, the Land of Israel.

We celebrate that the Jewish people are no longer stateless and powerless, but are once again masters of our own fate.

We celebrate the fact that Jews everywhere enjoy a right they were denied for so many centuries, the right to make aliya and be part of the modern State of Israel.

And we can also celebrate Israel’s many achievements.

We have integrated into our society immigrants from all four corners of the earth.

We have successfully defended our freedom against attacks by hostile neighbors.

We have literally made the desert bloom, building a vibrant and dynamic hi-tech economy.

We have built a robust and healthy democracy, where freedom is sacrosanct and human rights enshrined in our laws for all.
We have built a society in which all Israel’s citizens are equal under the law, Arab and Jew alike.

We have witnessed a real renaissance in our national culture.
we take pride in Israel’s achievements.

And even though there is still much work to be done,
on this day we can unite in celebration of Israel’s many successes.

From Jerusalem, the capital of the modern State of Israel for the last 67 years, and the historic capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years,
I wish you all a very happy Independence Day”.

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

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

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 May 28, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Jerusalem Day Cabinet Meeting at Ammunition Hill

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Jerusalem Day Cabinet Meeting at Ammunition Hill

Source: PMO, 5-28-14
יום רביעי כ”ח אייר תשע”ד

Photo by GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks at the Cabinet meeting at Ammunition Hill :

“Jerusalem was unified 47 years ago and it will never be redivided. Since that day, Jerusalem has developed; it is prosperous and flourishing. We meet here every year in order to ensure that this prosperity will be even greater, that the construction will be even broader and that it will flourish even more. We are committed to a rebuilt, greater and developing Jerusalem as a historical mandate of the Jewish People. I have heard that there are those who would like to cancel today as a national holiday. I say that this is not just a national holiday; this is a historic, national miracle. The Jewish People will always see to the rebuilt and greater Jerusalem.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief May 27, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the Yom Yerushalayim Ceremony Marking the 47th Anniversary of the Unification of Jerusalem

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Address by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Ceremony Marking the 47th Anniversary of the Unification of Jerusalem

Source: PMO, 5-27-14 
יום שלישי כ”ז אייר תשע”ד
Photo by GPO

Translation

47 years ago, Jerusalem – the unified city – was joined together again. This is the way it has always been, and this is the way it always will be. We mark this date – the 28th of Iyar 1967. It is a significant date, particularly in this place, because on the 28th of Iyar 1904, 63 years earlier, Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaCohen Kook, founder of this important yeshiva, the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva, immigrated to Israel.

I feel at home here because Rabbi Kook had a tremendous impact on my grandfather, Nathan Mileikowsky. He derived endless strength and inspiration from the Rabbi. Rabbi Kook delivered a beautiful eulogy for my grandfather. Another connection is your beloved father, Rabbi Avraham Shapira, who used to tell me how, as a small child in Jerusalem, he would often listen to my grandfather talk about Zionism, the Land of Israel, Jerusalem, the Return to Zion. He told me that my grandfather was a great orator. I feel at home here. This is my home.

There was something unique about the spirit of Rabbi Kook which beats inside us. Rabbi Kook was a great Zionist. He saw Herzl as a messenger of history. I see him as the personification of a modern-day biblical prophet who emerged from the pages of the Bible. But Rabbi Kook also believed that Zionism must not disengage from Judaism as he believed that nationalism alone, disconnected from the eternal sources of the people of Israel, has neither justification nor viability. There is no spirit without substance. There is no flour without the Torah. This is the essence of the connection between the “spiritual Jerusalem” and the “profane Jerusalem”.

As the Prime Minister of Israel, I am occupied with the “profane Jerusalem”. We dig tunnels and pave roads and build bridges. You see the tremendous work on the path to Zion. All you see in Mevasseret Zion today are the bulldozers paving the paths to and inside our capital city. We are responsible for the building, development and prosperity of Jerusalem, and there is still great work to be done. Jerusalem has developed remarkably. Jerusalem after the Six Day War was not a small village, but it was not exactly a big metropolis either. Today, Jerusalem is a big metropolis. It stands out in all its glory. Jerusalem is Beit Hakerem, Kiryat Yovel and Har Homa, our “southern gate”, which I was privileged to establish during my first term as Prime Minister.

Jerusalem is factories, including advanced hi-tech factories, “From Zion will the software come forth”, and it will come forth to the entire world. Jerusalem is all of these things, but it is also Yad Vashem and Herzl’s Tomb and the Mount of Olives, where my grandfather and grandmother, Menachem Begin and many of our forefathers are buried. Jerusalem is also Mount Zion and Moriah Mountain and the Western Wall and “Eternal Israel”. We preserve our heart, the heart of our nation.

We will never divide our heart – never. As we believe that our capital is the heart of our nation, it must be united, as the Rabbi just said, it must be connected to the great soul of Eternal Israel, to the Torah and to the intellectual assets created by our Sages throughout the generations.

Each Shabbat, I draw strength from reading one book, one portion, uncovering one surprise. Most of the time there is a wise student, more or less your age, to help me, and from time to time we surf the net. The amount of strength we draw from the Bible is tremendous. Never have I read it without discovering how relevant it is to our situation today, both spiritually and practically.

The Rabbi spoke of inner strengths. Let me tell you, you need strength to be Prime Minister of Israel. It is not the easiest job in the world. From where do we draw our strength? Where does this nation – which rose from the ashes and made miracles, a nation revered throughout the world – find its strength? This is my responsibility.

I was in China where Israel is admired. I was also in Japan  where Israel is also admired. I spoke with the Prime Minister of India (I’m talking about the small countries) who respects Israel and wants to have ties with us, and many others. There is also a great deal of hatred, anti-Semitism and slander directed at us, but there is also great admiration because many among the nations of the world know that there is something special here, a spiritual spark, an eternal spark, a people that survived for thousands of years against all odds, returned to their homeland, rebuilt their homeland, established their state and built an unprecedented military force.

There is a unique spirit here, and it all concentrated in one place – Jerusalem. It is concentrated in the Book of Books, in studying it and nurturing it. Every child in our country should know this book, Judaic studies. I am telling you this with a deep conviction. Simply put, I believe it is necessary to ensure our people’s eternity.

This is the reason I am here this evening. I am here to celebrate the joy of Jerusalem with you. “Be glad with Jerusalem and rejoice in her”, said the Prophet Isaiah. I am here to encourage you to keep studying the Torah. I congratulate you on this festive day, the festive day of Jerusalem. Happy holiday to all the people of Israel. Blessings.

Israel Political Brief May 5, 2014: Netanyahu, Peres offer video welcomes for Independence Day

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Netanyahu, Peres offer video welcomes for Independence Day

Source: JTA, 5-5-14

Israel ushered in Independence Day, or Yom Ha’atzmaut, on Monday night, at the close of Memorial Day, with a national ceremony on Mount Herzl….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief May 5, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Greeting for Independence Day Yom Ha’azmaut 2014 Israel’s 66th Birthday

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PM Netanyahu’s Greeting for Independence Day 2014

Source: PMO, 5-5-14
יום שני ה’ אייר תשע”ד

 Israel’s Independence Day is a time for celebration. And for justified pride in Israel’s many amazing successes.

For some two millennia the Jewish people had been stateless and powerless, and, of course, defenseless in the face of its enemies. After 2000 years of exile we returned to our historic homeland to re-establish our independence and sovereignty.

Yet we didn’t only create a state.

We have ingathered into our homeland a people that had been scattered around the globe.
We have defended ourselves against the attacks of hostile neighbors, overcoming threats faced by no other country.
We have built a vibrant democracy in which freedom is sacrosanct, guaranteeing equality under the law and the rights of every citizen.
We have created a robust economy, a global technological superpower.
We have signed peace treaties with two of our Arab neighbors, while we quietly talk with many more.

And while doing all this we have enjoyed the passionate friendship of so many around the world. Jews and non-Jews alike have united to speak out for Israel’s right to security and a peaceful future.

This support from our friends, together with Israel’s vibrant democracy, free economy, strong army and commitment to our shared values, form the foundation of our national strength.

So on this 66th Independence Day, I want to thank Israel’s many friends around the globe for their steadfast support for the one and only Jewish state.

And I would like to send special greetings to our special friends who have gathered at Phillips Square in Montreal to celebrate with us. Your show of support for Israel today reflects the strong friendship shared by the Israeli and Canadian peoples. The bond between us was strengthened even further this past January when I had the pleasure of hosting my friend Prime Minister Harper here in Jerusalem.

On behalf of the people of Israel, thank you all for your friendship and for your support.

Full Text Israel Political Brief May 5, 2014: Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the Yom HaZikaron Memorial Ceremony for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers at Mount Herzl

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Memorial Ceremony for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers at Mount Herzl

Source: PMO, 5-5-14
יום שני ה’ אייר תשע”ד

Photo by GPO

-Translation-

Distinguished guests, my brothers and sisters in the families of the bereaved,

Yesterday at the Yad Labanim memorial ceremony held here in Jerusalem, I heard the remarks of a bereaved mother named Idit Shema, who spoke of her inability to explain the depth of her pain to anyone who had not experienced such grief. I told her, “Idit, it may very well be that you are correct, that it is very difficult and perhaps impossible for anyone who has not experienced such grief firsthand to fully internalize the meaning of grief, the magnitude of the grief we experience, the tremendous shock that gripped us, the sense of loss, of missed opportunities, that fills us”.

On that same terrible day when the graves of our loved ones gaped open in front of us, there we sat, there we wept remembering our sons and brothers who fell for Zion. We feel the grief of the widows, of the orphans, of the siblings, and there is no pain worse than that of parents who learn of their children’s death. The blow when they hear the bitter news, like the cutting of flesh, cuts mercilessly into their consciousness, it shatters routine and it does not let up, day or night. It is endless suffering.

I saw this firsthand when my parents were thrown in the dark pit of grief after my eldest brother fell. It is a deep pit with slick walls, difficult to climb out of, and in a certain sense they never climbed out of it. However, one can deal with the grief, go on, reintegrate into the flow of life, one can create and build and contribute and strengthen others, but never forgetting, always remembering – but also taking comfort in knowing that our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, our fathers and mothers, all gave their lives to build our country and aid its survival.

The fallen came from every part of the country, from every sector of the population, from every walk of life – Jews and non-Jews, Druze, Christians, Bedouin, Circassian – and all Israel’s citizens appreciate their sacrifice which allows us to live here, to live in an independent country that is so proud of its citizens, in a country that is a national home for our people.

It is true that in generations before the establishment of the state, in the years of exile, our blood spilt in a tremendous wave, but the horrific pain then was often boundless, without purpose and almost always without a response, whereas here in Israel, the cure for this pain is understanding its purpose.

One mother, a Holocaust survivor who lost all her relatives to the crematoria, told me, “My son fell wearing a uniform, holding a weapon in defense of Israel”. Another woman told me, “My brother fell as an officer on a tank turret and was not led like a lamb to slaughter”. And indeed, the enormity of the change that took place in our people’s fate with the establishment of a military defense force in our country is clearer today than ever.

A short distance from here, several hundred kilometers north of Jerusalem, a horrible massacre is taking place, slaughter is taking place on a daily basis, and has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people who do not have the power to defend themselves. Does anyone have any doubt that this would have been our fate as well if it were not for the strength of the IDF and the courage of our fighters?

The IDF and the security forces are the only thing that differentiates the slaughter of our people in the past from our current situation. Israel is a strong country, a secure country that can defend itself against any threat and any harm. However, this security was bought at a cost too heavy to bear, with the loss of our loved ones. I said there is no greater pain than losing a son or daughter, but there is – when two children fall. This further blow, after you are certain the worst had already happened, doubles and triples the magnitude of the grief. It is inconceivable, but apparently it too can be dealt with.

Tonight, when the Independent Day celebrations begin, Miriam Peretz, a noble and courageous woman, will stand on this mountain and light a torch in honor of the State of Israel. Her two sons, Uriel and Eliraz, may their memories be blessed, both IDF officers, fell in defense of their homeland. Miriam is a symbol of the bravery of the people of Israel. She illuminates the world through her good works, by strengthening the other, by empowering the spirit. She and others like her, at all levels of society, spread light and hope. Where the darkness seems infinite, their giving is infinite.

“For there is hope for a tree: if it is felled it can still renew itself, and its branching will not cease”, it says in the Book of Job. Who knows better than I that there is no absolute cure for loss and pain: We know that this hole can never be filled, but despite this we find new strength within, and there is strength from without, from the embrace the entire nation gives us and our families, the family of bereavement, today and on others days.

On the Day of Remembrance and on Independence Day which follows, we feel part of one family, all of us together. At these moments the significance of the magnitude of the accomplishment in establishing the State of Israel, building and developing it, becomes clear. We all have the privilege to live in dedication to our country, something that previous generations could only dream of or perhaps simply imagine: An Israel that is democratic, free, advanced, vibrant and strong, an Israel that is a moral beacon, a country that desires peace, which successfully deals with the unceasing threats against its security, determined to withstand any test.
We once sang, “Here in the land yearned for by generations, all our hopes will be realized”. My friends, they are being realized: Thanks to the citizens of Israel, thanks to its fighters, thanks to those who have fallen, those who loved their country, defenders of their land, whose deaths allowed us to live and to renew our freedom.

On this day, with heads lowered but not bowed, with deep pain and pride, we all salute the fallen of Israel’s security forces, our brothers and sisters, heroes all.
May their memories be forever cherished.

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 May 9, 2013: Photo Essay: Thousands Wave Flags at Yom Yerushalayim / Jerusalem Day Parade

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Photo Essay: Thousands Wave Flags at Jerusalem Day Parade

Source: Arutz Sheva, 5-9-13


The dome of the Heichal Shlomo building on King George Avenue.

The annual Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) parade took place Wednesday afternoon, and passed through downtown Jerusalem. An estimated 60,000 people took part….READ MORE

Israel Brief May 8, 2013: Over 60,000 Celebrate Yom Yerushalayim in Jerusalem Annual Event Celebrates 46 Years of Reunification

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Over 60,000 Celebrate Yom Yerushalayim in Jerusalem

Annual Event Celebrates 46 Years of Reunification

Source: Shalom Life, 5-8-13

Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) in Israel

Jerusalem’s annual Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) parade took place Wednesday afternoon, transforming downtown Jerusalem into a veritable sea of blue and white with more than 60,000 spectators, many carrying Israeli flags, looking on….READ MORE

Israel Brief May 8, 2013: Yom Yerushalayim Parade Wednesday in Jerusalem

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Yom Yerushalayim Parade Wednesday in Jerusalem

Source: Arutz Sheva, 5-8-13

The annual Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) parade is taking place Wednesday afternoon through downtown Jerusalem. The Rikidgalim, or flag dance, will involved participants waving flags, an singing….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief May 8, 2013: Why is PM Benjamin Netanyahu in China for Yom Yerushalayim?

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Why is Netanyahu in China for Yom Yerushalayim?

Source: Algemeiner, 5-8-13

This year, Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, is observed on Tuesday evening, May 7th through Wednesday night, May 8th and celebrates the 46th anniversary of the reunification of Judaism’s holiest city….READ MORE

Israel Brief May 7, 2013: Yom Herut Yerushalayim: 46 years after Jerusalem’s historic reunification, Israel’s capital is on the up

ISRAEL BRIEF

ISRAEL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

46 years after historic reunification, Israel’s capital is on the up

Source: Israel Hayom, 5-7-13

Ahead of 46th annual Jerusalem Day, statistics show that more young people are choosing to live in Jerusalem than in previous years, tourism is on the rise • Jerusalem mayor: We Jerusalemites are now once again proud of our city, which we love so much….READ MORE

Israel Brief May 7, 2013: Yom Herut Yerushalayim: Jerusalem Day Event Schedule

ISRAEL BRIEF

ISRAEL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Jerusalem Day Event Schedule

Source: Arutz Sheva, 5-7-13

The traditional annual Jerusalem Day celebration at Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in the capital will commence at 22:00, with the participation of rabbis, government and Knesset members as well as other renowned public figures….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief May 5, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu at Weekly Cabinet Meeting: Jerusalem is On a Roll

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Netanyahu: Jerusalem is On a Roll

Source: Arutz Sheva, 5-5-13

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened the Cabinet for a special session in honor of the 46th Jerusalem Day at the Herzl Museum Sunday….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief May 5, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting About Jerusalem Day / Yom Yerushalayim

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 5-5-13

יום ראשון כ”ה אייר תשע”ג

Photo By GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting, which was held at the Herzl Museum on Mt. Herzl, in honor of Jerusalem Day:

“We are marking Jerusalem Day here in the museum on Mt. Herzl. Herzl said, ‘In Basel, I founded the Jewish State’ and in Jerusalem we are developing the Jewish State and ensuring its future.

There is no place more fitting from which to call on the children and citizens of Israel to come visit Jerusalem, to come to this museum, to see the greatness of this man, who was one of the giants of history. I think that it was his vision and his strength, which breathed life into a scattered and weak people that was unable to see to its own fate, that brought us here – to a new life. It would be proper for every boy and girl in Israel, and the many who visit here, to understand our roots, our ties to Zion and our obligation to continue developing our land and our state for the coming generations.

I am also pleased to tell you that we can mark a very important development in Jerusalem. In recent years, there has been very strong momentum in all areas: Education, culture, sports, transportation, tourism, and science and medicine. There has been very major development in all these areas. Jerusalem is becoming a modern metropolis with a very strong link to the past and a very promising leap to the future. This is exactly what Herzl envisioned; by the way, this is how he wrote about Jerusalem and about the entire Land of Israel.

I am pleased that we are cooperating on this. This meeting expresses the Government’s commitment to continue the momentum, along with the Municipality of Jerusalem and with all ministries, in all areas, so that this change, this turning point might continue unabated.”

דברי ראש הממשלה בפתח ישיבת הממשלה השבועית שהתקיימה בסימן יום ירושלים בהר הרצל

Source: PMO, 5-5-13
יום ראשון כ”ה אייר תשע”ג

ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו בפתח ישיבת הממשלה השבועית שהתקיימה בסימן יום ירושלים בהר הרצל: “אנחנו מציינים כאן את יום ירושלים בהר הרצל, במוזיאון של חוזה המדינה. הרצל אמר: “בבאזל ייסדתי את מדינת היהודים” – ובירושלים אנחנו מפתחים את מדינת היהודים ומבטיחים את עתידה.

אין מקום ראוי יותר מלקרוא לאזרחי וילדי ישראל לבוא לבקר בירושלים, לבוא למוזיאון הזה, לראות את הגדולה של האיש הזה, שהיה אחד מענקי ההיסטוריה. אני חושב שהחזון והעוצמה שלו, שהפיח חיים בעם מפוזר וחלש שלא יכול היה לדאוג לגורלו, הם שהביאו אותנו לכאן- לחיים חדשים. ראוי שכל ילד וילדה בישראל וגם רבים שמבקרים כאן, יבינו מה השורשים שלנו, מה הקשר שלנו לציון והמחויבות שלנו להמשיך לפתח את ארצנו במולדתנו, ואת מדינתנו לדורות הבאים.

אני שמח גם לומר שבמעמד הזה אנחנו יכולים לציין התפתחות גדולה מאוד בירושלים. בשנים האחרונות יש תנופה חזקה מאוד בכל התחומים: בחינוך, בתרבות, בספורט, בתחבורה, בתיירות, במדע וברפואה, ישנה התפתחות גדולה מאוד. ירושלים הופכת להיות מטרופולין מודרני עם חיבור חזק מאוד לעבר והזנקה לעתיד מאוד מבטיח. זה בדיוק החזון של הרצל, אגב, כך הוא כתב על ירושלים, כמו שהוא כתב על ארץ ישראל כולה.

אני שמח שאנחנו משתפים פעולה בדבר הזה. הישיבה הזאת מבטאת את המחויבות של הממשלה להמשיך את התנופה, יחד עם עיריית ירושלים, בכל המשרדים ובכל האפיקים, כדי שהשינוי הזה, התפנית הזאת תימשך במלוא עוצמתה”.

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