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 October 12, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the Opening of the Knesset Winter Session Transcript

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PM Netanyahu’s Speech at the Opening of the Knesset Winter Session

Source: PMO, 10-12-15

At the outset, I would like to send my wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded and to encourage the security forces.

In the 1920s, Albert Londres, who is still considered one of the greatest journalists in France, visited the Land of Israel. In his book, The Wandering Jew Has Arrived, he described the repeated terrorist attacks by rioting Arabs against the Jewish inhabitants of the Land of Israel and against the first Jewish city, Tel Aviv. Londres mentions in particular that the city’s symbol contained the words from the Bible, “I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt”, but he added, and I quote, “From the very day that the first stone was laid, the Arab stance has been ‘I will destroy you and you will be destroyed'”.

When Londres visited Tel Aviv in 1929 it had several tens of thousands of residents. Today more than one million people live in the Greater Tel Aviv area. One hundred years of terror, one hundred years during which our enemies have tried to destroy the Zionist enterprise, and they have still not learned: Terror will not vanquish us. Time and again we are the ones who vanquish it. “But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread.”

We will also vanquish this current wave of terror, through the determined action of our soldiers and police officers, by neutralizing the terrorists, as occurred today in Jerusalem, through the resourcefulness and courage of our citizens as events happen, through the mutual responsibility for one another that characterizes our people, especially when they are in danger, as the late Rabbi Nehemia Lavi demonstrated, when he, with supreme and extraordinary bravery, came to the aid of the Benita family, thereby saving the lives of Adel and her two small children.

We are working against these terrorists on all fronts. I instructed that there be massive reinforcement of forces. We added regiments in Judea and Samaria. We mobilized many companies of border patrol fighters to Jerusalem and all parts of the country. We are taking the initiative, entering neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, preventing the immunity of rioters wherever they are, destroying the homes of terrorists, working against inciters, setting up ambushes and conducting undercover operations, making arrests, advancing legislation to revoke the rights of murderers, and working to make the Islamic Movement illegal. We clarified the instructions for opening fire on firebombers and rock throwers, like those who took the lives of innocent civilians like the toddler, Adele Biton, or Jerusalem resident Alexander Levlovitz.

Members of Knesset, yesterday the Government approved legislation for minimum sentences for rock throwers and firebombers, and the imposition of fines on minors and their parents. I expect the support of the opposition parties for this emergency legislation on this important security issue, as well as for legislating the war on terror law, which will also be presented during this session. What guides us is the profound recognition that we are fighting a just fight.

There were terrorist attacks before the establishment of the country and after it, before the Six Day War and after the Six Day War, when the peace process was at its zenith and when the peace process was stopped. It must be understood once and for all: Terror does not result from frustration due to the lack of progress in the political process. Terror is the result of a desire to destroy us. It was the motivation for terrorism during the early days of Zionism and it is the motivation today as well.

After the beginning of the peace process in Oslo, during the mid-1990s, 1994 through 1996 and also in the early 2000s, more than 1,000 Israelis were murdered in suicide terror attacks and on buses that exploded. Suicide terror did not vanquish us then and the terror of knife attacks will not vanquish us now. What wins every time is the recognition that this is our home, this is our homeland. What wins is our will to live, which overcomes our enemies’ will to die. I tell you, enemies of Israel: You did not succeed and you will not succeed in destroying the State of Israel. There is no way to stop the Zionist enterprise.

Members of Knesset, this is not the first time our enemies have used specious propaganda regarding the Temple Mount in order to encourage riots. My late grandfather arrived in the Land of Israel in 1920, and that same year at the Nebi Musa celebrations in April, Mufti Hajj Amin al-Husseini stated that the Jews were planning a surprise, and I quote, “to take control of the Temple Mount and destroy the mosques”. This lie is repeated today, although I must admit that back then, in 1925, the Supreme Muslim Council at least included one iota of truth. Allow me to read from the booklet it published in English for tourists visiting the Temple Mount. “The fact that Haram el-Sharif stands where in the past Solomon’s temple stood is unimpeachable. This is also the place where, according to tradition, David built an altar to God.”

Even they, at least back then, could not deny the historic fact that the two temples built by the Jews – the First and Second Temples – stood on that location for a thousand years. And some people tell us today that the Jews have no connection to the Temple Mount. Apparently one can say anything because Husseini’s successors today arrogantly claim that the Jews have absolutely no connection to this place. They say the Jews dirty and defile the Temple Mount. They repeat over and over again the lie that we intend to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque or change the status quo at the Temple Mount. This is an absolute lie. The complete opposite is true: We are committed to preserving the status quo at the Temple Mount.

We stringently protect the holy places of all religions. And moreover, members of Knesset, if it were not for Israel, radical Islamic extremists would come here and they would destroy the holy places and historic heritage sites – at the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem – as they do across the entire Middle East. We are those who protect the holy places of all religions at the Temple Mount and in Jerusalem.

The distributors of this defamatory incitement, and I mention incitement because it is the source and it is explosive – explosive. This is an attempt to ignite a religious conflagration which none of us want. The President rightly said that we have no argument with Islam, but rather with the attempt of radicals to ignite a religious conflagration based on an absolute lie. This is very dangerous incitement, which unfortunately takes its toll in human lives. Its distributors include, first and foremost, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Regrettably, they do not educate their people for peace but rather to continue the conflict, each in their own way. They include anti-Semitic incitement in their textbooks, in the media and on social media.

Abu Mazen must renounce the incitement and defamatory statements against Jews and against Israel. He must strongly condemn the attacks, just as I condemned serious acts of terror carried out by Jews against Arabs. We are a law-abiding country and we will not allow any party, any side, to break the law. We will deal severely with anyone who lifts their hand against innocents, Jews and Arabs alike.

But there in another main party which incites all the time, which constantly spreads this great lie about the Temple Mount – and this party is the northern branch of the Islamic Movement. We will act against this source of incitement with all means. Yesterday, I asked that the legal infrastructure to declare them illegal be completed. There will be no immunity for those who incite and encourage terror.

Let it be clear, we want coexistence between Jewish and Arab citizens of the State of Israel. We are investing in the Arab sector, in Druze, in Circassians, in Bedouins, as governments before us did not, in tremendous amounts. This is a worldview. But unfortunately, in the boundaries of the State of Israel, it is not just the Islamic Movement which incites, and I think it is impossible to deal with this without saying these things.

The recent wave of murders has taken the lives of young parents, the late Naama and Eitam Henkin. They were slaughtered in front of their young children. Someone here, a member of this house, said, “The Henkins were settlers. You cannot treat them as if they were innocent civilians.” What does that mean? That they can be murdered? That it is permissible to murder Nehamia Lavi and Aharon Benita? And hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens? It was MK Ghattas who said this, but MK Zoabi did not limit herself to settlers. She justifies all acts of terrorism. She said, I must say with sadness, with concern, to a Hamas newspaper, just two days ago, “Actions by individuals is not enough; we need an entire intifada.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is unbelievable; it is simply unbelievable. A member of Knesset in Israel calls for wholesale terrorist attacks against the citizens of Israel. There is nothing more justified than initiating a criminal investigation against her. This is what should be done, period.

Members of Knesset are the first who must respect the law in the State of Israel. They cannot justify murder. They cannot call for murder. Whoever has done so or does so is not deserving of being a member of this house.

I appeal to the Israeli Arabs: You must see that Israel is the only place that is quiet, normal, in the entire area. You see what is happening to Muslims and Christians in the region, what happens to the countries that devolved into religious wars and civil wars. We will meet every challenge, but I call on you to eject the radicals among you, just as I call on the Jewish citizens of the State of Israel to do the same.

I appeal to the Israeli Arabs, citizens of this country, and I say: Will you follow a leadership which incites, which reaches absurd heights – the members of the communist Balad party, behind whom stands a trail of ISIS flags? A leadership which seeks to fragment the country? Or will you follow the path of coexistence, peace, loyalty to the country of which you are a part? Because you cannot have it both ways. You cannot have the best of both worlds, enjoying all the rights available in democratic Israel, which respects the rights of all its citizens, Jews and Arabs alike, while at the same time undermining the country. I beseech you: Chose the right path, the path of truth, the path of coexistence. There is no other choice. We will meet any challenge, but this is important for you, for your children, for all of us – for all of us.

Members of Knesset, the wave of radical Islam is flooding the entire region. Just two days ago, nearly a hundred people were murdered in the heart of Ankara, Turkey, and the flames reach us here too. All our neighbors within a very wide radius are fighting the Islamist volcano. Hundreds of thousands of people have been slaughtered just beyond our borders. Millions of refugees are escaping the expanse of extremism. I assure you, they understand very well – just ask them – they understand very well to which depths they have been dragged by those same extremist Islamic radicals, which are composed of two camps: the radical Shiite axis, led by Iran, and the extremist Sunni axis, led by ISIS. They certainly are not partners for peace, but unfortunately Abu Mazen also runs time and again from peace negotiations. Many times I have called on Abu Mazen to sit with me – most recently in my speech at the UN – to try and advance the issues on the agenda, but he persists in refusing.

I know that he knows that I do not have any preconditions for entering negotiations for any peace arrangement, but he knows that in any peace arrangement, no matter who is in this house, he will eventually need to declare an end to the conflict, relinquish the right of return and recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. He knows that he will have to give us, our people, what he demands for his own people. It is this refusal to recognize the nation-state of the Jewish people in any borders which was and is the root of the conflict.

Distinguished colleagues, at this time what we must do is stand strong in the face of the radical Islamic proxies surrounding us. Iran is expanding its activities in Syria as we speak. Just today, thousands of Iranian soldiers arrived in Syria, not far from our northern border. ISIS is also established there and it is also established in the Sinai. Our first duty is to strengthen control over our borders. I instructed that a security fence be built along our eastern border, as we previously built a 220 kilometer-long security fence along our shared border with Egypt, as well as in the Golan. Work began there one month ago.

In addition to sealing our borders, we will prevent the establishment of terrorist bases near our borders. Anyone who endangers our security and threatens our sovereignty will bear the consequences. I made this clear to the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin. During our meeting in Moscow, I stood up for our principles: Israel attacks whoever attacks it. We will not allow Iran to transfer deadly weapons to Hezbollah from Syrian territory, or at least we will do everything in our power to prevent it; and we will not allow Iran to open an additional terrorist front against us in the Golan.

In the face of the threats posed by Iran and radical Islam, we stand united with Egypt and Jordan, members of Knesset, and with many other Arab countries in the region. I choose my words carefully. Reality shifts rapidly. We reserve the right to act against anyone who threatens to destroy us. No international agreement will bind our hands.

I wish to tell you that despite the differences of opinion regarding the nuclear agreement, President Obama and I have full understanding regarding the need to oppose Iranian aggression and the need to prevent Iran from transferring weapons to its terrorist proxies. In the United States, both the supporters of the agreement and those opposed to it as a whole agree that Israel must be strengthened even more at this time in order to face the threats I described and others, and during my upcoming visit to Washington, I will discuss Israel’s security needs in the coming years, the coming decade, with the President.

Members of Knesset, security and safeguarding lives come first, but they are not the most important thing. Alongside the fight against terror and the other threats, we continue building our country and acting for the benefit of all the citizens of Israel. Soon we will present a budget which includes many reforms, including those to reduce the cost of living – of food, transportation, health, credit and many other areas.

We reduced the value added tax by 1%, the corporate tax rate by 1.5%. We will continue increasing the minimum wage. We will soon continue the process of producing natural gas. We will continue developing transportation arteries along the length and breadth of Israel. You must see this every day: The road to Jerusalem is expanding, the work on the light rail in Tel Aviv has begun, we are connecting the periphery to the center of the country. These are not just empty words; it is finally happening after half a century of talk.

The Negev and the Galilee are transforming. We are moving IDF units south to the Negev, to the “training camp city”. The bases we will evacuate – in Ziffrin, in Tel Hashomer – in these evacuated areas we will establish new residential neighborhoods. We will advance the plan for the train from Eilat to Kiryat Shmona. This is the vision: One uninterrupted line of transportation, a continuous multi-lane road and eventually also a rail line, a railway connection from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat. We will open a new airport in Timna soon. We signed agreements with municipalities for the construction and development of tens of thousands of housing units in Rishon Le’Zion, Rosh Ha’Aiyn, Modi’in, Kiryat Bialik, Kiryat Gat, and recently an historic agreement for 20,000 housing units in Beer Sheva. All the money earned from selling the land will be invested in the infrastructure of these cities.

My vision is clear: Within 12 years, half a million citizens will live in Beer Sheva. And this vision includes something else: Beer Sheva will become, is already becoming, a global cyber city. This is a tremendous revolution which is transforming the Negev and the country. Several years ago, from this podium, I promised that Israel would become a cyber world power.

Allow me to present you a single figure: In 2014, the State of Israel received 10% of global investments in cyber security. This is one hundredfold for our relative size, but that figure has changed. In 2015 we see that this percentage will increase to 20%. It doubled itself in one year. This is geometric growth. All the countries and companies around the world have noticed our technological capabilities, which are integrated – and this is because of the genius of our citizens but it is also because of the government’s investments in these areas.

This week the President of India is coming to Israel for an historic first visit. My friends, Indian Prime Minister Modi told me, “I need Israel. I need its technology and its knowledge.” This is what is happening in our relations with China and Japan as well. I just came from a meeting with the Vice President of Kenya, and he told me, “Most of the African countries greatly desire to renew their relations with Israel now.”

Just this month, I will meet with leaders from four continents. I know, members of the opposition, that you like to speak about Israel’s isolation in the world, but this is simply not true. We are expanding our relations with Arab countries in the region, with Asian countries, with African countries and with Latin American countries. I do not deny that we have problems with some of the Western European countries.

They are captive to an old line of reasoning, a line of reasoning that is outdated, i.e. that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the source of all conflict in the Middle East. Once, people would say conflict in the singular, just one conflict – and I think it is time that they suit themselves and their countries to the changing reality.

Despite the difficulties, faced with these challenges, Israel continues to march forward in developing its economy, in making the land bloom, in absorbing new immigrants in ever increasing numbers. Our hope is not the result of burying our heads in the sand, of creating a false reality, of ignoring the difficulties. Our hope, as stated in our national anthem, is the result of fortifying our strength as a free people in our land. Our response to one hundred years of terror is one hundred years of development, creation and prosperity.

We established a country whose accomplishments are unique on any scale. I am proud of our country, proud of its residents, proud of its soldiers and police officers, who are working night and day to safeguard our security and well-being. I am proud of you, citizens of Israel. One hundred years of terror did not succeed and will not succeed. Israel will remain here forever.

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.

Israel Musings March 31, 2015: Netanyahu points out Obama flip flopping on Iran deal at 20th Knesset opening

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Netanyahu points out Obama flip flopping on Iran deal at 20th Knesset opening

March 31, 2015

After the 20th Knesset opened in Israel and the new members were sworn-in on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toasted the new Knesset and its 39 new members in Jerusalem, Israel. In his remarks he…

20th Knesset: Full List

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20th Knesset: Full List

Source: Arutz Sheva, 3-19-15

Likud

  • 1. Binyamin Netanyahu
  • 2. Gilad Erdan
  • 3. Yuli Edelstein
  • 4. Yisrael Katz
  • 5. Miri Regev
  • 6. Silvan Shalom
  • 7. Moshe Ya’alon
  • 8. Ze’ev Elkin
  • 9. Danny Danon
  • 10. Yariv Levin
  • 11. Benny Begin
  • 12. Tzahi Hanegbi
  • 13. Yuval Steinitz
  • 14. Gila Gamliel
  • 15. Ofir Akunis
  • 16. David Bitan (new MK)
  • 17. Haim Katz
  • 18. Jackie Levy (new MK)
  • 19. Yoav Kish (new MK)
  • 20. Tzipi Hotovely
  • 21. David Amsallem (new MK)
  • 22. Miki Zohar (new MK)
  • 23. Anat Barko (new MK)
  • 24. Ayoub Kara (new MK)
  • 25. Nava Boker (new MK)
  • 26. Avi Dichter (new MK)
  • 27. Avraham Nasoga (new MK)
  • 28. Nurit Koren (new MK)
  • 29. Yaron Mazuz (new MK)
  • 30. Oren Hazan (new MK)

Zionist Union

  • 1.Yitzhak Herzog
  • 2. Tzipi Livni
  • 3. Shelly Yechimovich
  • 4. Stav Shaffir
  • 5.Itzik Shmuli
  • 6. Omer Bar Lev
  • 7. Hilik Bar
  • 8. Amir Peretz
  • 9. Merav Michaeli
  • 10. Eitan Cabel
  • 11. Manuel Trajtenberg (new MK)
  • 12. Erel Margalit
  • 13. Mickey Rosenthal
  • 14. Revital Sueid (new MK)
  • 15. Danny Atar (new MK)
  • 16. Yoel Hasson (new MK)
  • 17. Zohir Bahalul (new MK)
  • 18. Eitan Broshi (new MK)
  • 19. Michal Biran
  • 20. Nahman Shai
  • 21. Kasenya Svetlova (new MK)
  • 22. Ayelet Nahmias Verbin (new MK)
  • 23. Yossi Yona (new MK)
  • 24. Ayal Ben-Reuven (new MK)

Joint Arab List

  • 1. Ayman Odeh (new MK)
  • 2. Masud Ganaim
  • 3. Jamal Zahalka
  • 4. Ahmed Tibi
  • 5. Aida Touma-Suleiman (new MK)
  • 6. Abdul Hakim Haj-Yahia (new MK)
  • 7. Hanin Zoabi
  • 8. Dov Khenin
  • 9. Talab Abu Arar
  • 10. Youssef Jabarin (new MK)
  • 11. Basel Ghattas
  • 12. Osama Sa’adi (new MK)
  • 13. Abdallah Abu Meurash (new MK)

Yesh Atid

  • 1. Yair Lapid
  • 2. Shai Piron
  • 3. Yael German
  • 4. Meir Cohen
  • 5. Yaakov Peri
  • 6. Ofer Shelah
  • 7. Haim Yellin (new MK)
  • 8. Karin Elharar
  • 9. Yoel Razvozov
  • 10. Aliza Lavie
  • 11. Mickey Levy

Kulanu (all new MKs)

  • 1. Moshe Kahlon
  • 2. Yoav Galant
  • 3. Eli Elaluf
  • 4. Michael Oren
  • 5. Rachel Azaria
  • 6. Tali Ploskov
  • 7. Yifat Sasa-Biton
  • 8. Eli Cohen
  • 9. Roey Folkman
  • 10. Merav Ben-Ari

Jewish Home

  • 1. Naftali Bennett
  • 2. Uri Ariel
  • 3. Ayelet Shaked
  • 4. Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan
  • 5. Nissan Slomiansky
  • 6. Yinon Magal (new MK)
  • 7. Mordecai Yogev
  • 8. Bezalel Smotrich (new MK)

Shas

  • 1. Aryeh Deri
  • 2. Yitzhak Cohen
  • 3. Meshulam Nehorai
  • 4. Yaakov Margi
  • 5. David Azulay
  • 6. Yoav Ben-Tzur
  • 7. Yitzhak Vakhnin

United Torah Judaism

  • 1. Yaakov Litzman
  • 2. Moshe Gafni
  • 3. Meir Porush
  • 4. Uri Maklev
  • 5. Menahem Eliezer Mozes
  • 6. Yisrael Eichler

Yisrael Beytenu

  • 1. Avigdor Liberman
  • 2. Orly Levi-Abekasis
  • 3. Sofa Landver
  • 4. Ilan Shohat (new MK)
  • 5. Sharon Gal (new MK)
  • 6. Hamad Amar

Meretz

  • Zehava Galon
  • Ilan Gilon
  • Issawi Freij
  • Michal Rozin
  • Tamar Zandberg

Israel Musings December 3, 2014: Israeli Knesset votes sets election date after Netanyahu fires cabinet minister

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Israeli Knesset votes sets election date after Netanyahu fires cabinet ministers

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The Israeli Knesset voted 84 to 0 with only one abstention on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014 to dissolve the Knesset and set an election date for March 17, 2015. The vote comes a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired…READ MORE

 

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 24, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks in the Knesset on Iran — Transcript

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PM Netanyahu’s remarks in the Knesset on Iran

Source: MFA, 11-24-14

​PM Netanyahu: It is very important that this agreement has been prevented as of now, but a struggle is yet before us and we intend to continue this struggle in order to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold state that would endanger us and others.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks in the Knesset today (Monday, 24 November 2014):

“We are anxiously monitoring the nuclear talks with Iran. We are also using our contacts and expressing our views, directly as well, in the international media, in my contacts with the American administration and other heads of government, in Minister Steinitz’s contacts with various security elements, in contacts with ministers in these governments and in the work of the National Security Council.

“I think that an important thing happened today. We have always said that no agreement is preferable to a bad agreement and the agreement that Iran signed is a very bad and dangerous agreement for Israel, for the region and in my opinion for the future of the entire world.

“It is very important that this agreement has been prevented as of now, but a struggle is yet before us and we intend to continue this struggle in order to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold state that would endanger us and others. Israel will always act on this matter and reserves its right to defend itself by itself.”

 

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 23, 2014: Basic Law: Israel – the National State of the Jewish people — Israel Jewish Nation State

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Basic Law: Israel – the National State of the Jewish people

Source: MFA, 11-23-14

The Cabinet discussed three versions of draft Basic Law: Israel – the National State of the Jewish people, that of MK Zeev Elkin, of MK Ayelet Shaked and MK Yariv Levin, and of MK Robert Ilatov.

The Cabinet decided to support Prime Minister Netanyahu’s draft principles.

The Cabinet decided to support, in preliminary Knesset discussion, the aforementioned three draft versions on condition that their sponsoring MKs agree that their draft versions would be attached to the Government version to be presented by Prime Minister Netanyahu, which will be formulated on the basis of the principles detailed in the annex below, and will be adapted to it. The Government draft will be formulated in coordination with Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.
Annex of Principles

I. Objective

Defining the State of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people, and anchoring the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state in the spirit of the principles of the Declaration of Independence.

II. Basic principles

The Land of Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and the place of the establishment of the State of Israel.

The State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people in which the Jewish People realizes its right to self-determination in accordance with its cultural and historic heritage.

The right to realize national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.

The State of Israel is democratic, based on the foundations of freedom, justice and peace in light of the visions of the prophets of Israel, and upholds the individual rights of all its citizens according to law.

III. Symbols of the State

The national anthem is Hatikvah.

The national flag is white with two sky-blue stripes close to the margins and a sky-blue Star of David in the center.

The national emblem is a seven-branched menorah with two olive branches at its sides and the word ‘Israel’ below.

IV. Return

All Jews are eligible to immigrate to the country and receive citizenship of the state according to law.

V. Ingathering of the Exiles and Strengthening Links with the Jewish People in the Diaspora

The State will act to gather the exiles of the Jewish people and strengthen links between Israel and Jewish communities in the Diaspora.

VI. Assistance to Jews in Distress

The State will act to assist Jews in distress and in captivity due to their being Jews.

VII. Heritage

The State will act to preserve the historical and cultural heritage and tradition of the Jewish people and to enshrine and cultivate it in the country and in the Diaspora.

All educational institutions that serve the Jewish public in the country will teach the history, heritage and tradition of the Jewish people.

The State will act to enable all residents of Israel, regardless of religion, race or nationality, to preserve their culture, heritage, language and identity.

VIII. Official Calendar

The Hebrew calendar is the official calendar of the State.

IX. Independence Day and Remembrance Day

Independence Day is the national holiday of the State.

Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars and Holocaust Heroes and Martyrs Remembrance Day are the official remembrance days of the State.

X. Public holidays

The regular public holidays of the State of Israel are the Sabbath and the Jewish holidays on which no worker shall be employed except under conditions to be defined by law; members of recognized faiths shall be entitled to rest on their Sabbaths and holidays.

XI. Jewish Law

Jewish law shall serve as a source of inspiration for the Knesset

If a court shall consider a legal question that requires a decision and not find an answer in legislation, precedent or clear inference, it shall render a decision in light of the principles of freedom, justice, fairness and peace of the heritage of Israel.

XII. Maintaining the Holy Places

The Holy Places shall be guarded against desecration, any other damage and against anything that is liable to infringe on freedom of access by worshippers to the places that are holy to them or on their feelings toward those places.

XIII. Infringement of rights

There shall be no infringement of rights according to the basic laws except by law that befits the values of the State of Israel, that is designed for a worthy purpose and which does not exceed that which is required.

XIV. Amendment

The basic law shall not be amended except by a basic law that is approved by a majority of MKs.

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 23, 2014: Excerpt from PM Bernjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the weekly Cabinet Meeting on Iran Nuclear Talks and Israel Jewish Nation State Bill – Transcript

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Excerpt from PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the weekly Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 11-23-14

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting, today (Sunday, 23 November 2014):

“Last night US Secretary of State John Kerry updated me on the situation in the nuclear talks with Iran. We are anxiously monitoring developments in these talks. We are holding discussions with the representatives of other major powers and are presenting them with a vigorous position to the effect that Iran must not be allowed to be determined as a nuclear threshold state. There is no reason why it should be left with thousands of centrifuges that could enable it to enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb in a short time. Neither is there any reason why Iran should continue to develop intercontinental missiles, which could carry nuclear warheads, and thereby threaten the entire world. Therefore, no agreement at all would be preferable to a bad agreement that would endanger Israel, the Middle East and all of humanity.

Over the weekend I instructed Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mendelbit, along with Interior Minister Gilad Erdan, to submit draft legislation to revoke rights from residents who participate in terrorism or incitement against the State of Israel. It cannot be that those who attack Israeli citizens and call for the elimination of the State of Israel will enjoy rights such as National Insurance, and their family members as well, who support them. This law is important in order to exact a price from those who engage in attacks and incitement, including the throwing of stones and firebombs, and it complements the demolition of terrorists’ homes, and helps to create deterrence vis-à-vis those who engage in attacks and incitement.

Today, I will submit to the Cabinet the nationality law and the principles that I believe need to guide this legislation. The State of Israel is the national state of the Jewish People. It has equal individual rights for every citizen and we insist on this. But only the Jewish People have national rights: A flag, anthem, the right of every Jew to immigrate to the country, and other national symbols. These are granted only to our people, in its one and only state.

I hear from people who say ‘Who needs this law? We’ve managed without it for 66 years.’ And I ask: Who needed Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty? We managed without it for 45 years. But both are necessary. Israel is a Jewish and democratic state. There are those who would like the democratic to prevail over the Jewish and there are those who would like the Jewish to prevail over the democratic. And in the principles of the law that I will submit today both of these values are equal and both must be considered to the same degree.

This law is also needed now for another reason: There are many who are challenging Israel’s character as the national state of the Jewish people. The Palestinians refuse to recognize this and there is also opposition from within. There are those – including those who deny our national rights – who would like to establish autonomy in the Galilee and the Negev. Neither do I understand those who are calling for two states for two peoples but who also oppose anchoring this in law. They are pleased to recognize a Palestinian national state but strongly oppose a Jewish national state.

On the eve of last Independence Day, I stood in the hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed in Tel Aviv and I promised to submit this legislation to the Cabinet and I am doing so today. I have not softened it and I have not changed anything. I have submitted the principles of the law that I believe in, the same principles that appear in the Declaration of Independence, the same principles that I absorbed in the Zionist sprit from my father, who absorbed them from Zeev Jabotinsky and from Binyamin Zeev Herzl.

Around the nationality law, and around other issues, I hear ultimatums, diktat and threats of quitting from various parts of the coalition; a country cannot be run this way. We must concentrate on strengthening security against waves of extremist Islam and the Iranian nuclear danger, on strengthening Israel’s economy and increasing citizens’ welfare – and not on threats. I believe that the heads of the parties in the coalition will unite and work in this spirit.”

Israel Musings October 29, 2014: US-Israel crisis reactions: Obama official calls Netanyahu coward, chickenshit

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US-Israel crisis reactions: Obama official calls Netanyahu coward, chickenshit

By Bonnie K. Goodman

United States Israel relations have gone downhill fast. At the beginning of the month, President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a friendly meeting at the White House, but in four weeks, the fragile personal relationship has…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief October 29, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the Special Knesset Session in Memory of Rehavam Ze’evi — Responding to Obama Official’s Insults, Name Calling — Transcript

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PM Netanyahu’s Speech at the Special Knesset Session in Memory of Rehavam Ze’evi

Source: PMO, 10-29-14

29/10/2014

Photo: Haim Zach, GPO
Translation
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your important and moving words. I believe they reflect the feelings of a great many Israeli citizens. When Israel is pressured to make concessions regarding its security, it is easiest to give in. We receive applause and attend ceremonies on lawns, but later the rockets and tunnels come.

As Prime Minister, I stand firm with regard to Israel’s security. I care about the lives of each and every citizen and each and every soldier. I have been on battlefields many times. I risked my life for this country, and I am not prepared to make concessions that will endanger it. And it must be understood, our supreme interests, first and foremost security and the unity of Jerusalem, are not the top priority of those same anonymous sources that attack us and me personally. I am being attacked only because I am protecting the State of Israel. If I did not protect the State of Israel, if I did not stand up decisively for our national and security interests, they would not attack me. And despite the attacks I face, I will continue to protect our country; I will continue to protect the citizens of Israel.

I would also like to add that I respect and appreciate our deep connection with the United States. Since the establishment of the country, we have had disagreements with the US and we will have disagreements in the future as well. However, they are not at the expense of the close relationship between our peoples and our countries. We have seen time and again, this year as well, that support for the State of Israel is ever increasing among the American public, and this support reached an all-time high. The strategic alliance and the moral covenant between our countries continues and will continue.

Dear Ze’evi family, my colleagues, Members of Knesset,
It is the way of the world that after a person’s death, as the years pass the lines of their personality fade from our memories and their presence dims in public opinion and public consciousness. This did not happen in the case of Gandhi, Rehavam Ze’evi. In the 13 years that have passed since his horrendous murder here in the heart of Jerusalem, the special figure he represented has become sharper.
Gandhi was a fighter and a man of letters. He walked the length and breadth of the country. Nothing undermined his confidence in the justness of Zionism’s path. He was consumed with a fire to complete his mission – to share his love for the Land of Israel, to contribute to the strength of the State of Israel and to ensure the well-being and security of the people of Israel.

Gandhi dedicated the best years of his life to defending the country and protecting its borders. He knew that the fight against our enemies was not only a security-military campaign, but also a fight to prove the rightness of our path and the justness of our historic rights to the Land of Israel and in the Land of Israel. These two challenges still concern us today, just as they did in the past. Even in the sixty-seventh year of our independence, we still have to deal with significant threats to the security of Israel in a changing Middle East, a Middle East in which radical Islam has raised it head and its proxies compete to see which of them can be the most extreme. It is enough to look at an updated map of Iraq and Syria to see the chaos that is raging there, instigated by the followers of the idea of a caliphate. The black flags are flying and the crimson blood is spilling like water.

In the face of the multitude of threats that surround us, we are determined to protect ourselves as necessary, first and foremost by defending our borders, and of course within our borders. Gandhi contributed significantly to this security doctrine. The more veteran members among us remember the years after the Six Day War. We remember the attacks that came from the Jordanian border, and we came to conclusions. Just recently we built a fence along a different border, our border with the Sinai Peninsula, a fence more than 200 kilometers long, a tremendous engineering wonder that helps us stop terror attacks from Sinai and the penetration of illegal infiltrators to the State of Israel. We are working diligently to strengthen our other borders similarly.

Gandhi was a pioneer in creating a security doctrine and implementing it. When he was Head of the Central Command, he led IDF soldiers in a joint engineering and operational campaign to prevent penetration from the Jordan River. He led IDF fighters in dozens of pursuits of terrorists who sought to break through our eastern defensive line. “In Israel, the commanders led the charge in pursuits; they adhered to their mission, charged forward, sometimes at the cost of their own lives.” And indeed within a few years quiet was restored to the Jordan Valley, which was and remains the State of Israel’s eastern security border.

As to the second challenge, Israel has long faced attacks on its right to exist. Some people deny the strong affinity of the people of Israel for its land, an affinity that was formed 4,000 years ago in the Land of Israel and 3,000 years ago with Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. Some people are not willing to recognize the right of our people to a nation-state of their own, who are not willing to recognize the right of the people of Israel to a nation-state for the Jewish people. This was and remains the root of the conflict. There are also quite a few people who accuse IDF soldiers of war crimes, even when we defend ourselves – when we defend ourselves with the highest morality against rocket attacks and terror tunnels, against a blood-thirsty enemy that uses its own children as human shields and does not care that these victims pile up. Or perhaps the opposite is true – the enemy does care and wants more and more victims, and more victims from among its own people. When we defend ourselves against such an enemy, we still face unbelievable hypocrisy and disrespect and baseless accusations.

Quite a bit of this slanderous propaganda was discredited by Gandhi, using his knowledge and expertise which were matchless. He knew very well that the light of Israel had never been extinguished in the Land of Israel, and even when we were exiled from our land we yearned to return of the land of our forefathers. Zionism led to an unbelievable change: It ingathered the exiles back to our homeland; it transformed us into a strong and independent people; and it transformed Israel into a flourishing and prosperous country.
Gandhi said, “The IDF is the only army in history that conquered the Temple Mount and did not destroy or loot the houses of worship on it.” This is a proven fact – only under Israeli sovereignty was the freedom of access to the holy places of all religions upheld. Only under Israeli sovereignty.

So at this session in memory of Minister Rehavam Ze’evi, we will honor his great contribution, a dual contribution: First, his contribution to Israel’s security; and second, his contribution to deepening our national consciousness and proving our justness.

May Gandhi’s memory be blessed.

Full Text Israel Political Brief October 22, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of Today’s Cabinet Meeting on Knesset Winter Session and Zionist Education — Transcript

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Excerpt from PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of Today’s Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 10-22-14

22/10/2014

Following is an excerpt from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the Cabinet meeting:

“Next week we will open the Knesset winter session. We have very important missions facing us, several of which we will deal with at today’s Cabinet meeting: The war against black capital, cutting the bureaucracy that finds expression in excess regulation and – of course – moving forward on dealing with natural gas and the production of electricity via alternative energies.

The last thing we need now is elections. The State of Israel needs a stable, strong and responsible government, and I call on all members of the coalition to work together and to continue working together for the benefit of the State of Israel and its citizens.”
“Today we mark the beginning of the academic year. On behalf of the Education Minister and all ministers, I would like to wish the hundreds of thousands of students in the State of Israel a productive and successful year.

The essence of our entire educational system, including higher education, may be summarized in two words – Zionism and excellence. Zionism, so that we know why we are here, not just where we are going but why we are staying here, and the second thing – excellence. Simply put, let us never compromise on results; it is impossible to compromise on results. A system that does not produce excellence and does not bring out the best in everyone vis-à-vis achievements, is a system that is not realizing what it can do, and the people and State of Israel have proven that they can do quite a lot. Therefore, I am pleased to hear about the Education Minister’s plans and I am very interested in moving forward on anything that will promote Zionism and excellence.”

Israel Political Brief February 12, 2014: EU Parliament President Martin Schultz’s address to the Knesset causes uproar and walkout

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EU Parliament President Martin Schultz’s address to the Knesset causes uproar and walkout

President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz adresses the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on February 12, 2014.  (Photo credit: Flash90)

President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz addresses the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on February 12, 2014. (Photo credit: Flash90)

Leaders from Israel’s Right leaning parties, including Economics Minister Naftali Bennett and his Bayit Yehudi party left as European Parliament President Martin Schulz addressed the Knesset on the last day of his Israel visit and made incorrect statements about Palestinian freedoms and access to water.

The comment that caused Knesset members to be upset was when Shulz asked; “One of the questions these young people asked me which I found most moving – although I could not check the exact figures – was this: how can it be that an Israeli is allowed to use 70 litres of water per day, but a Palestinian only 17?”

Bennett demanded that Schulz apologize for his ‘lying propaganda,’ and PM Benjamin Netanyahu stated it was “selective hearing” on the part of the EU President.

Sources:

“Lawmakers walk out of European Parliament president’s Knesset address,”  JTA, 2-12-14

“Netanyahu accuses EU Parliament chief of ‘selective hearing’ after Bennett walkout,” Haaretz, 2-12-14

Full Text Israel Political Brief February 12, 2014: European Parliament President Martin Schulz’s Speech Addressing the Knesset — Transcript

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European Parliament President Martin Schulz’s Speech Addressing the Knesset

Source: Times of Israel, 2-12-14

President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz adressess the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on February 12, 2014.  (photo credit: Flash 90)

President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz adressess the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on February 12, 2014. (photo credit: Flash 90)

I stand before you today as the German President of a multinational European Parliament. I am well aware that it is by no means self-evident that the German language should be heard in this House, and I should like to express to you my gratitude for allowing me to address you in my mother tongue.

It is a great honour for me to be in Jerusalem as a guest of the Knesset, the body which is the heartbeat of Israeli democracy, the body which symbolises the realisation of the hope cherished for so long by the Jewish people for a homeland of their own; following centuries in which the Jewish people were betrayed and persecuted throughout the world; following the unprecedented break with all civilised values which the Shoah represented; and following the barbaric murder of six million Jews.

I was born in 1955. I am a German who did not experience at first hand the atrocities of National Socialism, but the crimes committed by the Nazis were the reason I became involved in politics and their repercussions have influenced political thinking from the start. I bear the same responsibility as every other German for the mass murder perpetrated in the name of my nation. In the name of my nation, the Jewish people were forced to endure suffering for which no reparation can ever be made. I bow down before the memory of all those who were murdered.

As a German who holds political office, and international political office at that, I regard it as my first duty to honour the following pledge: Never again. Never forget.

We must make sure that the act of commemorating past disasters which have befallen humanity engenders a sense of responsibility for the present and the future, and that we let this sense of responsibility guide our actions.

Letting this sense of responsibility guide our actions means standing up for freedom, for democracy and for human dignity every day.

We are all witnessing with dismay a return to ways of thinking which we thought had long been consigned to history, in the form of anti-Semitism, ultra-nationalism and populism. This merely strengthens me in my conviction that we must stand firm together – every one of us – against all those who stir up hatred. I believe that what the philosopher Edmund Burke said still holds true: ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’.

We have no choice, therefore, but to act responsibly. Acting responsibly means observing the principle enshrined in Germany’s Basic Law that ‘human dignity is sacrosanct’.

Acting responsibly means, for us, nurturing the European unification process, because integration between our States and our peoples was the response we Europeans found to the wars, destruction and murders which disfigured the first half of the 20th century. Unification and integration have helped us to banish the old demons and have immunised Europe against the threat of war.

Acting responsibly means, for us, openly acknowledging Israel’s right to exist and the right of the Jewish people to live in security and peace. The European Union will always stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel.

Dear Members of the Knesset,
For the sake of our children and our children’s children we must remember. For the sake of future generations, who will never have the opportunity to talk with survivors of the Shoah, we need events and places which help us remember.

Yesterday I had a deeply moving experience. Together with Judge Gabriel Bach I visited the Yad Vashem memorial. I had the honour of meeting Judge Bach for the first time two years ago, on International Holocaust Memorial Day, which we celebrated at the European Parliament for the third time only a few weeks ago, together with members of the European Jewish Congress and survivors of the Shoah. I find Judge Bach’s life story very inspiring, and meeting him has restored my faith in justice. The fact that a 10-year-old boy who was driven from his homeland by a Nazi criminal in 1938 should later, as Deputy State Prosecutor of a democratic Israel, put that criminal, Adolf Eichmann, on trial, shows that there is such a thing as justice in this world. And that justice is something worth fighting for every day!

Ladies and gentlemen,
Israel embodies the hope cherished by a people of being able to live a life of freedom in a homeland of their own. As a result of the actions of brave men and women, Israel represents the realisation of that very human dream. Throwing off the shackles of prejudice and persecution, in order to live in freedom and dignity – this is a desire shared by many people throughout the world.

Today, Israel is a robust democracy, a vibrant, open society with all the conflicts that implies, and a modern economy. The kibbutzim which once made the desert bloom have been replaced by hundreds of start-ups and high-tech research centres in which work is being done which will lead to the inventions of the future; minute microchips and robots, computer tomography and ultrasound scanners. Israeli researchers are world leaders in many areas. Israel has only eight million inhabitants, but it can boast seven major research universities, including the Technion in Haifa and the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, and 12 Nobel Prize winners!

Israel has built a society founded on the values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. Israel and the European Union share these values. They are the ties which hold our partnership, our friendship, together. They are the basis for the answers we are seeking together to the challenges of the 21st century: climate change and water scarcity, refugee problems, peace and security. They are the basis for our scientific and economic cooperation.

If you will allow me, I will deal first with security and peace.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Arab Spring has brought with it revolutions and upheavals in the region which are presenting Israel and the EU with new challenges. Together, we can exert a positive influence on developments in our neighbourhood. This is a responsibility we cannot ignore.

The changes and upheavals I referred to a moment ago are leaving many people uneasy, and with good reason. Syria is experiencing an ever more brutal escalation of violence. The Assad regime would rather massacre its own population than give up power! Even children are being tortured and killed. The opposition is also guilty of perpetrating appalling massacres and recruiting child soldiers. We condemn the savage violence in the strongest possible terms. The killing must stop!

Two days ago in Jordan I visited the Al Zaatari camp, which houses 90 000 of the 2.2 million Syrian refugees. I was deeply shocked by the human suffering I witnessed there, but I was also deeply moved by the generosity which has led the States in this region to open their borders to refugees from the civil war and do whatever they can to provide them with food and a roof over their heads. Israel, too, is saving many lives by giving medical care to people damaged physically and mentally by the Syrian war. Sometimes I wish we in Europe would show the same kind of commitment.

But there are also grounds for hope: Tunisia’s new constitution is a document to gladden the hearts of all democrats. The EU will always support those who commit themselves to upholding democracy and universal human rights.

This sense of hope is creating a new opportunity to establish peace in the region.

I understand that bitter experience may make some people reluctant to extend the hand of peace. People in this chamber know much more about the Holocaust than I do. There are people in this chamber who risked their lives in wars waged to secure Israel’s survival. For years on end, Israel’s neighbours challenged its very right to exist.

No one has forgotten the open threats made against Israel by the last Iranian President, or the fact that not so long ago political gatherings in Tehran ended with the words ‘Death to Israel’.

For that reason I can readily understand why Israel regards an Iran which has the capability to launch nuclear missiles as a threat to its existence. That is a threat not just to Israel, but to world peace in general.

This is why the EU is monitoring the implementation of the preliminary agreement very closely. Let me assure you that there is one thing on which the EU and Israel agree: Iran must never acquire nuclear weapons. In our eyes, diplomacy and dialogue are the best way of ensuring that, since it is in all our interests that this issue should be resolved peacefully and that everything should be done to prevent another war in the Middle East.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Security is a very abstract concept, but it has an immediate impact on people’s lives.

We in Europe have little understanding of the physical and emotional scars which terrorism leaves behind, what it means for parents in Sderot and Ashkelon to live every day with the fear that their children may die in a rocket attack on their way to school. I was the father of children who could go to school without fear. For that reason, Israel has the right and the government the duty to protect its people. We condemn the rocket attacks on innocent people in the strongest possible terms. Terrorist attacks are crimes for which there is no justification.

It is only the peoples directly involved who can make peace in the Middle East. It is only the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves who can make peace between their two peoples. We Europeans support them on that difficult road, which will require both sides to make painful concessions.

We know that the Israeli people want peace. Courageous men such as Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres held out the hand of peace and signed agreements in Madrid and Oslo. The hopes embodied in those agreements have not always been fulfilled, and this has made some people pessimistic about the prospects for peace in the future. Others, only a small minority to be sure, are even actively working to scupper any peace agreement which might be signed.

On the Palestinian side as well, courageous men and women are working for peace. In recent years, building on their impressive ‘no violence’ policy, Mahmud Abbas and Salam Fayyad have developed modern institutions and done much to establish law and order.

Two days ago I spoke with young people in Ramallah. Like young people everywhere in the world, their dream is to train, study and travel, to find work and to start a family. But they have another dream as well, one which concerns something most young people take for granted: they want to be able to live freely in their own country, with no threat of violence, with no restrictions on their freedom of movement. The Palestinian people, like the Israeli people, have the right to fulfil their dream of creating their own viable democratic state. The Palestinians, just like the Israelis, have the right to self-determination and justice.

One of the questions these young people asked me which I found most moving – although I could not check the exact figures – was this: how can it be that an Israeli is allowed to use 70 litres of water per day, but a Palestinian only 17?

(In the wake of this question, members of the right-wing Jewish Home party heckled Shultz, with Moti Yogev MK declaring “that’s a lie, the Palestinians are lying,” and several walked out of the chamber. Left-wing MKs later criticized them for their behavior.)

Ladies and gentlemen,
Today, the upheavals in the Middle East are creating a new opportunity for peace.

The future of young Palestinians, but also the future of young Israelis, hinges on the way Israel responds to these changes.

For without peace there can be no security. Military power can quell disorder, but it cannot create peace.

Ariel Sharon, may he rest in peace, said something for which I admire him: ‘It is impossible to have a Jewish democratic state, and at the same time to control all of Eretz Israel. If we insist on fulfilling the dream in its entirety, we are liable to lose it all.’

From the outset, the whole rationale behind the two-State solution proposal was to make it possible for the Palestinian people to live in dignity, and on the basis of self-determination, and to safeguard peace and security for all Israelis. Despite all the obstacles in the way of its achievement, we must remain true to the objective, born out of a desire to build a better future, which the two-State solution represents. Even if this objective is achieved, the security of the Israeli state will remain an issue of major importance.

For that reason, we support the US commitment to mediation and the tireless work being done by Secretary of State John Kerry.

One of the main bones of contention is Israel’s settlement policy. As you are no doubt aware, both the European Parliament and the United Nations have adopted numerous resolutions which criticise the ongoing process of building and expanding settlements and call for it to be halted. In the eyes of the EU and the entire international community, the fact that East Jerusalem is cut off from the West Bank is certainly an obstacle on the road to a peaceful settlement.

The blockade of the Gaza Strip is your response to attacks on Israeli civilians and I can understand that. But it is stifling all economic development and driving people to despair – despair which in turn is being exploited by extremists. The blockade may in fact undermine, rather than strengthen, Israel’s security.

How can we break the vicious circle of violence?
This was the question which lent the initial impetus to the European unification process, and the founding fathers of the European Union came up with the answer. My grandparents’ generation would have regarded reconciliation with the arch enemy France as impossible. But the impossible came to pass, through a simple acknowledgement of the fact that if Europe was not to continue tearing itself apart on the battlefield we Europeans had no choice but to make peace and work together. I believe that if we want to grant people a life in dignity there is no alternative to peace for the Israelis and Palestinians today.

It was because our neighbours were prepared to hold out the hand of reconciliation to Germany, which had started the war in the first place, that Germany was able to find its place in the international community once again and become a stable democracy. As Yitzhak Rabin put it so aptly, ‘peace is something you make with your enemies, not with your friends’.

Yes, we achieved reconciliation. Then, through the efforts of courageous men and women, who planned for and organised peace, the idea took root in people’s hearts and trust grew.

I firmly believe that a negotiated settlement, the outcome of which is an Israeli State and a Palestinian State living side by side in peace, is realistic. The European Union believes this as well, which is why, once a definitive peace agreement has been signed, we have pledged to provide unprecedented support, in the form of funding and human resources, under a special privileged partnership. The agreement reached by the Foreign Ministers in December will also afford Israel and a future State of Palestine easier access to the European market, will facilitate trade and investment, will enhance cultural and scientific exchanges and will lead to closer cooperation in the area of security. Let me seize this opportunity to make a clarification: the EU has no intention to boycott Israel. I am of the conviction that what we need is more cooperation, not division.

All too often issues of security and peace overshadow other aspects of our relations which are hugely important for people in Israel and Europe – social justice and equal opportunities are cases in point.

The financial and economic crisis has brought with it increased levels of poverty and unemployment in Europe. Huge numbers of young people are jobless, and as a result more and more of them are losing faith in politics. This is hardly surprising if we consider that the most open-minded and best educated generation which Europe has ever had is watching as its prospects are destroyed by a crisis for which it was in no way to blame.

Everywhere, even in countries whose economies are performing well, poverty and despair are spreading to the middle classes and the weakest members of society are being marginalised more and more. The marches of the indignados which reached our capitals in spring 2011 were repeated a few months later in the heart of Tel Aviv.

Giving young people fresh hope in a better future is certainly our most important task as politicians. To do this, we must also safeguard the competitiveness of our economies in the globalised 21st century. Only in this way will jobs – good jobs – be created.

Our economic ties are already close. The EU is Israel’s most important trading partner and our cooperation in the area of research, science and technology is the basis for our future economic strength. Our competitiveness in a globalised world will hinge on two things – innovation and education.

The Israeli-European research community is already into its third generation and its members are forging ever closer links. Israel’s formal involvement in the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, which will start soon, will take our cooperation to a new level. Horizon 2020 is the largest research and innovation programme there has ever been. It promises to yield more breakthroughs and discoveries because it will provide backing for every stage in the process of turning ideas tested in the laboratory into marketable products. Scientific cooperation is already the most successful aspect of our partnership. I am convinced that as a result of our cooperation under Horizon 2020 new records will be set. I am also particularly delighted that more and more Israeli students are taking part in the Erasmus Mundus exchange programme.

You and I are the heirs of the founding generation of the State of Israel and of the European Union. We must safeguard that heritage.

Parents all over the world are prepared to make sacrifices for their children, to do everything they can to give them a good future. It is now up to us, the heirs, to show the same boldness, drive and vision in safeguarding the State of Israel and the European Union for future generations. The words which should guide us in that endeavour are those spoken by the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Willy Brandt, a man who fought against Nazi Germany and knelt before the memorial to the Jews murdered in the Holocaust. ‘Peace is not everything, but without peace there is nothing.’

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 20, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Knesset Marking the Visit of PM of Canada, Stephen Harper, in Israel

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Knesset Marking the Visit of PM of Canada, Stephen Harper, in Israel

Source: PMO, 1-20-14

יום שני י”ט שבט תשע”ד

Photo by GPO
– Translation –

Mr. Speaker,
Ministers,
Members of Knesset,
Head of the Opposition,
Supreme Court Justice, Hanan Melcer,

Distinguished visitors from Canada, ministers, senators, everyone else is distinguished, too. But above all, my dear friend, Israel’s great friend, the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper.

The warmest welcome to you, Stephen, to you dear wife, Laureen and to your entire delegation. The people of Israel deeply appreciate your steadfast support, your sincere friendship. Welcome to Israel, dear friend.

Stephen, you decided to start your visit to Israel with a lookout over Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.

This is the Jerusalem that has been the eternal capital of the Jewish people since the time of King David, 3,000 years ago. There are those in the international community who try to refute our connection to Jerusalem and our land, but not you. You are well familiar with the facts, past as well as present. I want to tell you, Members of Knesset, that there are others in the international community who also know the facts; but unlike the others, Stephen, you have the courage to stand up for the truth, and you have the courage to say the truth.

We live in an age of hypocrisy. In this age of hypocrisy there are those who, instead of dealing with the real problems of the Middle East – the slaughtering of thousands, the trampling on human rights, the systematic oppression of women, minorities and religions – in this age of hypocrisy, there are those who choose to denounce Israel, the only democracy in the region, where human rights are respected, where the rule of law is maintained and freedom of religion is guaranteed to members of all faiths.

In this age of hypocrisy that we live in, Canada, under your leadership, is a moral compass and a beacon of decency. You fight the attempts to deny the State of Israel’s legitimacy. You stand with us in the war against terror. Canada, and you Stephen in particular, fight anti-Semitism fearlessly. I believe that you understand and appreciate our desire for peace, true peace, peace that is based on the Palestinians recognizing Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people – because that is the root of the conflict and always has been, and I hope it will be solved one day, perhaps soon – and peace that is based on solid security arrangements.

Stephen, you went from Jerusalem to Ramallah today. I am certain that you realized that the distance is not that great. I think that there are streets in Toronto that are longer than that. If I am not mistaken, Young Street is longer than the state of Israel. That illustrates why we yearn for peace – because we live so close to each other. But it also demonstrates why we require steadfast security arrangements – because in such short distances, we have no margin of error. We have to be very precise. We must make certain that after reaching an agreement, what happens in Ramallah is an explosion of construction, not a blast of rockets launched at us, like we have seen and still see in Gaza.

Distinguished guests, thousands of kilometers separate Canada, calm and vast, from Israel, not so big – bigger than life perhaps, but not as large as Canada – and dealing with endless existential threats. The geographic distance is immense, but our two peoples are truly close. This closeness, rooted in our hearts, narrows that distance.

Canada was one of the 33 countries which voted for the UN resolution to establish a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. When Israel was established in the midst of war, volunteers arrived from Canada to fight in the War of Independence. One of the most prominent volunteers was Ben Dunkelman, a Toronto-born Jew who was a war hero in the Canadian army. He was in the invasion of Normandy, and wanted to come here, and use the military experience he had gained in World War II to help the embryonic Jewish state. He participated in the breaking of the siege of Jerusalem, and then commanded the Armored Brigade that freed the Upper Galilee.  This is what he wrote in his memoir: “I was simultaneously a Canadian and a Jew, and neither as a child not as an adult did I find any conflict between the two.”

This is the distinctive spirit of Canadian Jews which I encounter every time I visit: a warm, vibrant community, proud of its Jewishness and proud of Canada. Prime Minister Harper, my friend Stephen, Canada and Israel march together, shoulder to shoulder, throughout the years. Our two peoples believe in the future, a future of progress, of technology, of initiative, of freedom. These are the principles that I know guide you in Canada, and these are the principles that guide us here, in Israel.

In this visit, we are discussing ways to further enhance the ties between us, as cooperating with each other helps make both countries stronger, more prosperous, more progressive. I hope that the day comes that we will find partners here in the Middle East who share our vision, many partners. I hope that the parliaments will cooperate; I hope that there will be real parliaments. For example, let’s look at Syria. Here in the Parliament, as you have seen Stephen, anyone can speak their mind. They can stand up, talk, yell, irritate. But these are not things that can be done in Damascus. Only here in Israel do we have freedom. I must say that I have not found that our friends, Israeli Arabs, want to take leave of Israel. They all want to be here, and justly so. I understand them. I think I made my point about the robustness of Israeli democracy. That’s easy.

But looking forward, our feet must stay firmly planted in the ground. The Middle East outside of this home, outside of this country, is turbulent and unstable. But more than anything, what threatens peace, stability and security, and I add progress in the Middle East, is Iran’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. The international community’s objective must be to stop Iran from achieving nuclear capabilities. That goal is still ahead of us.

The interim agreement, which went into effect today, does not stop Iran from realizing its goal of making nuclear weapons. Producing the fissile material, the core of the atomic bomb, is like a train that stops in three stations: station 1 – enriching uranium to 3.5%, station 2 – 20%, and the final destination – 90%. The Geneva agreement cancelled the 20% station, but left the train on the tracks, enabling Iran to improve and upgrade the engine by developing new centrifuges. When the time comes, Iran will be able to leap to the last stop faster, on an express line, without stopping at the stations on the way. In a final agreement, the international community must derail the Iranian nuclear train. Iran must not be left with the ability to build nuclear weapons.

Stephen and distinguished guests, I believe that it is time that the international community, which has recently been easing sanctions and giving Iran legitimacy, also demand that Iran stop calling for Israel’s destruction and arming terror organizations: Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and others. There is no justification for legitimizing a regime like Iran that maintains its murderous policy, and there is every reason to demand that it dismantle its nuclear capabilities and its radical policy.

I know Stephen, that our concerns are your concerns. You fully share our desire to see a stable, safe and peaceful Middle East. Canada, under your leadership, is one of Israel’s closest allies, and you will find that we have a fascinating country, a wonderful land, and we are happy that you and your dear wife, Laureen, have the opportunity to visit parts of it. Wherever you go, you will feel the deep friendship that the citizens of Israel have for you and your country. We will always have a close friend in Canada, and in you, a friend and leader of great stature, whose name will always be remembered with pride in the history of our relations.

Welcome to Jerusalem.
Bienvenue a Jerusalem.

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 20, 2014: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s historic speech to Israel’s Knesset

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Full text of Harper’s historic speech to Israel’s Knesset

Prime Minister Stephen Harper addresses the Knesset on Monday, January 20, 2014. Harper is visiting Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan on this trip.

Source: Globe and Mail, 1-20-14

Shalom.

And thank you for inviting me to visit this remarkable country, and especially for this opportunity to address the Knesset.

It is truly a great honour.

And if I may, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my wife Laureen and the entire Canadian delegation, let me begin by thanking the government and people of Israel for the warmth of your hospitality.

You have made us feel extremely welcome.

We have felt immediately at home.

Ladies and gentlemen, Canada and Israel are the greatest of friends, and the most natural of allies.

And, with your indulgence, I would like to offer a reflection upon what makes the relationship between Canada and Israel special and important because the relationship between us is very strong.

The friendship between us is rooted in history, nourished by shared values, and it is intentionally reinforced at the highest levels of commerce and government as an outward expression of strongly held inner convictions.

There has, for example, been a free trade agreement in place between Canada and Israel for many years, an agreement that has already proved its worth.

The elimination of tariffs on industrial products, and some foodstuffs, has led to a doubling in the value of trade between our countries.

But this only scratches the surface of the economic potential of this relationship and I look forward to soon deepening and broadening our mutual trade and investment goals.

As well, our military establishments share information and technology.

This has also been to our mutual benefit.

For example, during Canada’s mission to Afghanistan, our use of Israeli-built reconnaissance equipment saved the lives of Canadian soldiers.

All such connections are important, and build strong bridges between us.

However, to truly understand the special relationship between Israel and Canada, one must look beyond trade and institutions to the personal ties of friendship and kinship.

Jews have been present in Canada for more than 250 years.

In generation after generation, by hard work and perseverance, Jewish immigrants, often starting with nothing, have prospered greatly.

Today, there are nearly 350,000 Canadians who share with you their heritage and their faith.

They are proud Canadians.

But having met literally thousands of members of this community, I can tell you this:

They are also immensely proud of what the people of Israel have accomplished here, of your courage in war, of your generosity in peace, and of the bloom that the desert has yielded, under your stewardship.

Laureen and I share that pride, the pride and the understanding that what has been achieved here has occurred in the shadow of the horrors of the Holocaust; the understanding that it is right to support Israel because, after generations of persecution, the Jewish people deserve their own homeland and deserve to live safely and peacefully in that homeland.

Let me repeat that: Canada supports Israel because it is right to do so.

This is a very Canadian trait, to do something for no reason other than it is right even when no immediate reward for, or threat to, ourselves is evident.

On many occasions, Canadians have even gone so far as to bleed and die to defend the freedom of others in far-off lands.

To be clear, we have also periodically made terrible mistakes as in the refusal of our government in the 1930s to ease the plight of Jewish refugees but, as a country, at the turning points of history, Canada has consistently chosen, often to our great cost, to stand with others who oppose injustice, and to confront the dark forces of the world.

It is, thus, a Canadian tradition to stand for what is principled and just, regardless of whether it is convenient or popular.

But, I would argue, support today for the Jewish state of Israel is more than a moral imperative it is also of strategic importance, also a matter of our own, long-term interests.

Ladies and gentlemen, I said a moment ago, that the special friendship between Canada and Israel is rooted in shared values.

Indeed, Israel is the only country in the Middle East, which has long anchored itself in the ideals of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

These are not mere notions.

They are the things that, over time and against all odds, have proven to be the only ground in which human rights, political stability, and economic prosperity, may flourish.

These values are not proprietary; they do not belong to one nation or one people.

Nor are they a finite resource; on the contrary, the wider they are spread, the stronger they grow.

Likewise, when they are threatened anywhere, they are threatened everywhere.

And what threatens them, or more precisely, what today threatens the societies that embrace such values and the progress they nurture?

Those who scorn modernity, who loathe the liberty of others, and who hold the differences of peoples and cultures in contempt. Those who, often begin by hating the Jews, but, history shows us, end up hating anyone who is not them. Those forces, which have threatened the state of Israel every single day of its existence, and which, today, as 9/11 graphically showed us, threaten us all.

And so, either we stand up for our values and our interests, here, in Israel, stand up for the existence of a free, democratic and distinctively Jewish state or the retreat of our values and our interests in the world will begin.

Ladies and gentlemen, just as we refuse to retreat from our values, so we must also uphold the duty to advance them.

And our commitment as Canadians to what is right, fair and just is a universal one.

It applies no less to the Palestinian people, than it does to the people of Israel.

Just as we unequivocally support Israel’s right of self-defence, so too Canada has long-supported a just and secure future for the Palestinian people.

And, I believe, we share with Israel a sincere hope that the Palestinian people and their leaders… will choose a viable, democratic, Palestinian state, committed to living peacefully alongside the Jewish state of Israel.

As you, Prime Minister [Netanyahu], have said, when Palestinians make peace with Israel, Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations — it will be the first.

Sadly, we have yet to reach that point.

But, when that day comes, and come it must, I can tell you that Israel may be the first to welcome a sovereign Palestinian state, but Canada will be right behind you.

Ladies and gentlemen, support – even firm support – doesn’t mean that allies and friends will agree on all issues all of the time.

No state is beyond legitimate questioning or criticism.

But our support does mean at least three things.

First, Canada finds it deplorable that some in the international community still question the legitimacy of the existence of the state of Israel.

Our view on Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is absolute and non-negotiable.

Second, Canada believes that Israel should be able to exercise its full rights as a UN member-state and to enjoy the full measure of its sovereignty.

For this reason, Canada has spoken on numerous occasions in support of Israel’s engagement and equal treatment in multilateral fora.

And, in this regard, I should mention that we welcome Israel’s induction this month into the western, democratic group of states at the United Nations.

Third, we refuse to single out Israel for criticism on the international stage.

Now I understand, in the world of diplomacy, with one, solitary, Jewish state and scores of others, it is all too easy “to go along to get along” and single out Israel.

But such “going along to get along,” is not a “balanced” approach, nor a “sophisticated” one; it is, quite simply, weak and wrong.

Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, we live in a world where that kind of moral relativism runs rampant.

And in the garden of such moral relativism, the seeds of much more sinister notions can be easily planted.

“And so we have witnessed, in recent years, the mutation of the old disease of anti-Semitism and the emergence of a new strain.

We all know about the old anti-Semitism.

It was crude and ignorant, and it led to the horrors of the death camps.

Of course, in many dark corners, it is still with us.

But, in much of the Western world, the old hatred has been translated into more sophisticated language for use in polite society.

People who would never say they hate and blame the Jews for their own failings or the problems of the world, instead declare their hatred of Israel and blame the only Jewish state for the problems of the Middle East.

As once Jewish businesses were boycotted, some civil-society leaders today call for a boycott of Israel.

On some campuses, intellectualized arguments against Israeli policies thinly mask the underlying realities, such as the shunning of Israeli academics and the harassment of Jewish students.

Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state.

Think about that.

Think about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that: a state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded so Jews can flourish, as Jews, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history, that is condemned, and that condemnation is masked in the language of anti-racism.

It is nothing short of sickening.

But this is the face of the new anti-Semitism.

It targets the Jewish people by targeting Israel and attempts to make  the old bigotry acceptable for a new generation.

Of course, criticism of Israeli government policy is not in and of itself necessarily anti-Semitic.

But what else can we call criticism that selectively condemns only the Jewish state and effectively denies its right to defend itself while systematically ignoring – or excusing – the violence and oppression all around it?

What else can we call it when, Israel is routinely targeted at the United Nations, and when Israel remains the only country to be the subject of a permanent agenda item at the regular sessions of its human rights council?

Ladies and gentlemen, any assessment – any judgment – of Israel’s actions must start with this understanding:

In the sixty-five years that modern Israel has been a nation, Israelis have endured attacks and slanders beyond counting and have never known a day of true peace.

And we understand that Israelis live with this, impossible calculus:

If you act to defend yourselves, you will suffer widespread condemnation, over and over again.

But, should you fail to act, you alone will suffer the consequence of your inaction, and that consequence will be final, your destruction.

The truth, that Canada understands, is that many of the hostile forces Israel faces, are faced by all western nations.

And Israel faces them for many of the same reasons we face them.

You just happen to be a lot closer to them.

Of course, no nation is perfect.

But neither Israel’s existence nor its policies are responsible for the instability in the Middle East today.

“One must look beyond Israel’s borders to find the causes of the relentless oppression, poverty and violence in much of the region, of the heartbreaking suffering of Syrian refugees, of sectarian violence and the fears of religious minorities, especially Christians, and of the current domestic turmoil in so many states.

So what are we to do?

Most importantly, we must deal with the world as we find it.

The threats in this region are real, deeply rooted, and deadly and the forces of progress, often anaemically weak.

For too many nations, it is still easier to scapegoat Israel than to emulate your success. “It is easier to foster resentment and hatred of Israel’s democracy than it is to provide the same rights and freedoms to their own people.

I believe that a Palestinian state will come, and one thing that will make it come is when the regimes that bankroll terrorism realise that the path to peace is accommodation, not violence.

Which brings me to the government of Iran.

Late last year, the world announced a new approach to diplomacy with the government in Tehran.

Canada has long held the view that every diplomatic measure should be taken to ensure that regime never obtains a nuclear weapon.

We therefore appreciate the earnest efforts of the five permanent members of the security council and Germany.

Canada will evaluate the success of this approach not on the merits of its words, but on the implementation and verification of its promised actions.

We truly hope that it is possible to walk the Iranian government back from taking the irreversible step of manufacturing nuclear weapons.

But, for now, Canada’s own sanctions will remain fully in place.

And should our hopes not be realized, should the present agreement prove ephemeral Canada will be a strong voice for renewed sanctions.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude with this thought.

I believe the story of Israel is a great example to the world.

It is a story, essentially, of a people whose response to suffering has been to move beyond resentment and build a most extraordinary society a vibrant democracy a freedom-loving country… with an independent and rights-affirming judiciary, an innovative, world-leading “start-up” nation.

You have taken the collective memory of death and persecution to build an optimistic, forward-looking land one that so values life, you will sometimes release a thousand criminals and terrorists, to save one of your own.

In the democratic family of nations, Israel represents values which our government takes as articles of faith, and principles to drive our national life.

And therefore, through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.

My friends, you have been generous with your time and attention.

Once more, Laureen and I and our entire delegation thank you for your generous hospitality, and look forward to continuing our visit to your country.

Thank you for having us, and may peace be upon Israel.

Israel Political Brief January 1, 2014: Knesset asks President Shimon Peres to intercede for Jonathan Pollard

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Knesset asks Peres to intercede for Pollard

Source: JTA, 1-1-14

A petition signed by 106 Knesset members calling for the release of Jonathan Pollard, held in a U.S. prison for over 28 years for spying for Israel, was presented to Israeli President Shimon Peres….READ MORE

Israel Musings December 30, 2013: Netanyahu to make Pollard major condition in the peace talks as Kerry returns

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Netanyahu to make Pollard major condition in the peace talks as Kerry returns

By Bonnie K. Goodman

United States Secretary of State John Kerry is set to return to the Middle East for his 10th trip since March 2013 in attempt to advance the Israeli Palestinians peace talks after a freak snowstorm cut short his trip to…READ MORE

Israel Political Brief December 26, 2013: PM Netanyahu, Liberman raise electoral threshold, compromise could keep Arabs out of Knesset

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Netanyahu, Liberman compromise could keep Arabs out of Knesset

Source: Jerusalem Post, 12-26-13

PM, foreign minister decide to raise electoral threshold from 2% to 3.25%, which would make factions have minimum of 4 MKs….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 25, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks in the Knesset Regarding the Iran Interim Geneva Agreement

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks in the Knesset Regarding the Geneva Agreement

Source: PMO, 11-25-13
יום שני כ”ב כסלו תשע”ד

Following is an excerpt from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks today in the Knesset:

“I would be happy if I could join those voices around the world that are praising the Geneva agreement. It is true that the international pressure which we applied was partly successful and has led to a better result than what was originally planned but this is still a bad deal. It reduces the pressure on Iran without receiving anything tangible in return and the Iranians who laughed all the way to the bank are themselves saying that this deal has saved them.

I spoke last night with US President Barack Obama. We agreed that an Israeli team led by National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen will leave soon for the US to discuss the permanent agreement with Iran.

That agreement must lead to one result: The dismantling of Iran’s military nuclear capability. I remind you that only last week, during the talks, the leaders of Iran repeated their commitment to destroy the State of Israel, and I reiterate here today my commitment, as Prime Minister of Israel, to prevent them from achieving the ability to do so.”

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