Full Text Israel Political Brief September 30, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Memorial Service for Former Israeli President Shimon Peres Transcript

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Remarks by President Obama at Memorial Service for Former Israeli President Shimon Peres

Source: WH,  9-30-16

Mount Herzl

Jerusalem

11:14 A.M. IDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Zvia, Yoni, Chemi and generations of the Peres family; President Rivlin; Prime Minister Netanyahu; members of the Israeli government and the Knesset; heads of state and the government and guests from around the world, including President Abbas, whose presence here is a gesture and a reminder of the unfinished business of peace; to the people of Israel:  I could not be more honored to be in Jerusalem to say farewell to my friend Shimon Peres, who showed us that justice and hope are at the heart of the Zionist idea.

A free life, in a homeland regained.  A secure life, in a nation that can defend itself, by itself.  A full life, in friendship with nations who can be counted on as allies, always.  A bountiful life, driven by simple pleasures of family and by big dreams.  This was Shimon Peres’s life.  This is the State of Israel.  This is the story of the Jewish people over the last century, and it was made possible by a founding generation that counts Shimon as one of its own.

Shimon once said, “The message of the Jewish people to mankind is that faith and moral vision can triumph over all adversity.”  For Shimon, that moral vision was rooted in an honest reckoning of the world as it is.  Born in the shtetl, he said he felt, “surrounded by a sea of thick and threatening forests.”  When his family got the chance to go to Palestine, his beloved grandfather’s parting words were simple:  “Shimon, stay a Jew.”  Propelled with that faith, he found his home.  He found his purpose.  He found his life’s work.  But he was still a teenager when his grandfather was burned alive by the Nazis in the town where Shimon was born.  The synagogue in which he prayed became an inferno.  The railroad tracks that had carried him toward the Promised Land also delivered so many of his people to death camps.

And so from an early age, Shimon bore witness to the cruelty that human beings could inflict on each other, the ways that one group of people could dehumanize another; the particular madness of anti-Semitism, which has run like a stain through history.  That understanding of man’s ever-present sinfulness would steel him against hardship and make him vigilant against threats to Jewry around the world.

But that understanding would never harden his heart.  It would never extinguish his faith.  Instead, it broadened his moral imagination, and gave him the capacity to see all people as deserving of dignity and respect.  It helped him see not just the world as it is, but the world as it should be.

What Shimon did to shape the story of Israel is well-chronicled.  Starting on the kibbutz he founded with his love Sonya, he began the work of building a model community.  Ben Gurion called him to serve the Haganah at headquarters to make sure that the Jewish people had the armaments and the organization to secure their freedom.  After independence, surrounded by enemies who denied Israel’s existence and sought to drive it into the sea, the child who had wanted to be a “poet of stars” became a man who built Israel’s defense industry, who laid the foundation for the formidable armed forces that won Israel’s wars.  His skill secured Israel’s strategic position. His boldness sent Israeli commandos to Entebbe, and rescued Jews from Ethiopia.  His statesmanship built an unbreakable bond with the United States of America and so many other countries.

His contributions didn’t end there.  Shimon also showed what people can do when they harness reason and science to a common cause.  He understood that a country without many natural resources could more than make up for it with the talents of its people.  He made hard choices to roll back inflation and climb up from a terrible economic crisis.  He championed the promise of science and technology to make the desert bloom, and turned this tiny country into a central hub of the digital age, making life better not just for people here, but for people around the world.

Indeed, Shimon’s contribution to this nation is so fundamental, so pervasive, that perhaps sometimes they can be overlooked.  For a younger generation, Shimon was probably remembered more for a peace process that never reached its endpoint.  They would listen to critics on the left who might argue that Shimon did not fully acknowledge the failings of his nation, or perhaps more numerous critics on the right who argued that he refused to see the true wickedness of the world, and called him naïve.

But whatever he shared with his family or his closest friends, to the world he brushed off the critics.  And I know from my conversations with him that his pursuit of peace was never naïve.  Every Yom HaShoah, he read the names of the family that he lost.  As a young man, he had fed his village by working in the fields during the day, but then defending it by carrying a rifle at night.  He understood, in this war-torn region, where too often Arab youth are taught to hate Israel from an early age — he understood just how hard peace would be.  I’m sure he was alternatively angry and bemused to hear the same critics, who called him hopelessly naïve, depend on the defense architecture that he himself had helped to build.

I don’t believe he was naïve.  But he understood from hard-earned experience that true security comes through making peace with your neighbors.  “We won them all,” he said of Israel’s wars.  “But we did not win the greatest victory that we aspired to: release from the need to win victories.”

And just as he understood the practical necessity of peace, Shimon believed that Israel’s exceptionalism was rooted not only in fidelity to the Jewish people, but to the moral and ethical vision, the precepts of his Jewish faith.  “The Jewish people weren’t born to rule another people,” he would say.  “From the very first day we are against slaves and masters.”

Out of the hardships of the diaspora, he found room in his heart for others who suffered.  He came to hate prejudice with the passion of one who knows how it feels to be its target.  Even in the face of terrorist attacks, even after repeated disappointments at the negotiation table, he insisted that as human beings, Palestinians must be seen as equal in dignity to Jews, and must therefore be equal in self-determination.  Because of his sense of justice, his analysis of Israel’s security, his understanding of Israel’s meaning, he believed that the Zionist idea would be best protected when Palestinians, too, had a state of their own.

Of course, we gather here in the knowledge that Shimon never saw his dream of peace fulfilled.  The region is going through a chaotic time.  Threats are ever present.  And yet, he did not stop dreaming, and he did not stop working.  By the time that I came to work with Shimon, he was in the twilight of his years — although he might not admit it.  I would be the 10th U.S. President since John F. Kennedy to sit down with Shimon; the 10th to fall prey to his charms.  I think of him sitting in the Oval Office, this final member of Israel’s founding generation, under the portrait of George Washington, telling me stories from the past, but more often talking with enthusiasm of the present — his most recent lecture, his next project, his plans for the future, the wonders of his grandchildren.

In many ways, he reminded me of some other giants of the 20th century that I’ve had the honor to meet — men like Nelson Mandela; women like Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth — leaders who have seen so much, whose lives span such momentous epochs, that they find no need to posture or traffic in what’s popular in the moment; people who speak with depth and knowledge, not in sound bites.  They find no interest in polls or fads.

And like these leaders, Shimon could be true to his convictions even if they cut against the grain of current opinion.  He knew, better than the cynic, that if you look out over the arc of history, human beings should be filled not with fear but with hope.  I’m sure that’s why he was so excited about technology — because for him, it symbolized the march of human progress.  And it’s why he loved so much to talk about young people — because he saw young people unburdened by the prejudices of the past.  It’s why he believed in miracles — because in Israel, he saw a miracle come true.

As Americans and Israelis, we often talk about the unbreakable bonds between our nations.  And, yes, these bonds encompass common interests — vital cooperation that makes both our nations more secure.  But today we are reminded that the bonds which matter most run deeper.  Anchored in a Judeo-Christian tradition, we believe in the irreducible value of every human being.  Our nations were built on that idea.  They were built in large part by stubborn idealists and striving immigrants, including those who had fled war and fled oppression.  Both our nations have flaws that we have not always fixed, corners of our history which date back to our founding that we do not always squarely address.  But because our founders planted not just flags in the eternal soil, but also planted the seeds of democracy, we have the ability to always pursue a better world.  We have the capacity to do what is right.

As an American, as a Christian, a person partly of African descent, born in Hawaii — a place that could not be further than where Shimon spent his youth — I took great pleasure in my friendship with this older, wiser man.  We shared a love of words and books and history.  And perhaps, like most politicians, we shared too great a joy in hearing ourselves talk.  But beyond that, I think our friendship was rooted in the fact that I could somehow see myself in his story, and maybe he could see himself in mine.  Because for all of our differences, both of us had lived such unlikely lives.  It was so surprising to see the two of us where we had started, talking together in the White House, meeting here in Israel.  And I think both of us understood that we were here only because in some way we reflected the magnificent story of our nations.

Shimon’s story, the story of Israel, the experience of the Jewish people, I believe it is universal.  It’s the story of a people who, over so many centuries in the wilderness, never gave up on that basic human longing to return home.  It’s the story of a people who suffered the boot of oppression and the shutting of the gas chamber’s door, and yet never gave up on a belief in goodness.  And it’s the story of a man who was counted on, and then often counted out, again and again, and who never lost hope.

Shimon Peres reminds us that the State of Israel, like the United States of America, was not built by cynics.  We exist because people before us refused to be constrained by the past or the difficulties of the present.  And Shimon Peres was never cynical.  It is that faith, that optimism, that belief — even when all the evidence is to the contrary — that tomorrow can be better, that makes us not just honor Shimon Peres, but love him.

The last of the founding generation is now gone.  Shimon accomplished enough things in his life for a thousand men.  But he understood that it is better to live to the very end of his time on Earth with a longing not for the past but for the dreams that have not yet come true — an Israel that is secure in a just and lasting peace with its neighbors.  And so now this work is in the hand of Israel’s next generation, in the hands of Israel’s next generation and its friends.

Like Joshua, we feel the weight of responsibility that Shimon seemed to wear so lightly.  But we draw strength from his example and the fact that he believed in us — even when we doubted ourselves.

Scripture tells us that before his death, Moses said, “I call upon heaven and earth to bear witness this day that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.”

Uvacharta Bachayim.  Choose life.  For Shimon, let us choose life, as he always did.  Let us make his work our own. May God bless his memory.  And may God bless this country, and this world, that he loved so dearly.

Shimon: Todah Rabah Chaver Yakar.

END
11:37 A.M. IDT

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Full Text Israel Political Brief September 30, 2016: PM Netanyahu’s Eulogy at the Funeral for Israel’s Ninth President Shimon Peres Transcript

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PM Netanyahu’s Eulogy at the Funeral for Israel’s Ninth President Shimon Peres

Source: PMO, 9-30-16


PM Netanyahu at the Funeral of Israel’s Ninth President Shimon Peres
Photo by Kobi Gideon, GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today, at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem, at the funeral for Israel’s ninth President, Shimon Peres, delivered the following eulogy:

“You have come from near and far to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, to pay last respects to Shimon Peres, one of the founders of the state, one of the greatest leaders of our nation, a venerable leader, the remarkable Shimon Peres.
_____

[Transcribed from the English]

I want to thank you all for coming today.

That so many leaders came from around the world to bid farewell to Shimon, is a testament to his optimism, his quest for peace, his love of Israel.

The people of Israel deeply appreciate the honor you have shown Shimon and the state to which he dedicated his life.

Shimon lived a life of purpose. He soared to incredible heights. He swept so many with his vison and his hope. He was a great man of Israel. He was a great man of the world.

Israel grieves for him. The world grieves for him. But we find hope in his legacy, as does the world.
_____

My friends,

Shimon Peres not only led a long life, but a meaningful life.

He played an active role as a senior partner in the national rebirth of the Jewish people.

He belonged to the generation that emerged from bondage to liberty, that struck roots in our ancient homeland, and wielded the Sword of David in its defense.

Shimon made a monumental contribution to guaranteeing our capacity to defend ourselves for generations.

And for that he will have the gratitude of generations.

At the same time, he made every effort throughout his adult life to achieve peace with our neighbors.

It is no secret that Shimon and I were political rivals, but over time we became friends, close friends.

In one of our many late night meetings at the President’s House, late at night, I asked him, “Tell me, Shimon, throughout your long career, who were the Israeli leaders you most revered?”

Before he managed to answer me, I said, “The first one is clear. You studied at the feet of Ben-Gurion.”

For indeed, as a young man, Shimon saw how Ben-Gurion forged our freedom and shouldered the responsibility for building Israel and securing its destiny.

But in the same conversation, he also talked about Rabin, Begin, and other leaders with genuine appreciation for their unique contributions to our state.

He then surprised me somewhat when he also mentioned one other person – Moshe Dayan.

Shimon talked about Dayan’s valor on the battlefield and his originality, and one other characteristic.

“Moshe never cared what anybody thought about him,” Shimon told me.

“Dayan completely ignored political considerations. He was what he wanted to be.”

Shimon appreciated these qualities, but he also knew one other truth – that if you want to realize the things you believe in, your diplomatic, economic and social goals, you can’t really disconnect from politics.

And therefore, in the 50 years that he served in Knesset and in government, Shimon lived in that inherent tension between statesmanship and politics.

He soared on the wings of vision but he knew that the runway passes through the rocky field of politics.

He was able to do all that—to be pummeled, to fall and get back on his feet time after time—thanks to his passion for activism and ideals.

I first encountered that passion, here, on this very hill 40 years ago.

Two days after the bold rescue operation in Entebbe in which my brother gave his life, Yoni’s funeral was held here.

As defense minister, together with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon approved that operation.

At the funeral, he delivered a deeply stirring eulogy, which I will never forget.

It was the first time I ever met him.

My late parents, my brother, and I were profoundly moved by what he said about Yoni, about the Operation, about the bond with our forefathers, and about the pride of our nation.

From that point on, a special bond was formed between us.

Shimon and I disagreed about many things, but those disagreements never overshadowed our many warm and thoughtful discussions.

Our friendship deepened with each meeting.

Yet we never glossed over our differences of opinion.

In one of our nearly night-long discussions, we addressed a fundamental question: From Israel’s perspective, what is paramount—security or peace?

Shimon enthusiastically replied, “Bibi, peace is the true security. If there will be peace, there will be security.”

And I responded to him, “Shimon, in the Middle East, security is essential for achieving peace and for maintaining it.”

The debate intensified.

We went back and forth for hours, flinging arguments at one another.

He came from the left, I came from the right.

I came from the right, and he came back from the left.

And in the end – like two worn-out prizefighters – we put down our gloves.

I saw in his eyes, and I think he saw in mine, that our principles stemmed from deep-seeded beliefs and a commitment to the cause – ensuring Israel’s future.

PM Netanyahu at the Funeral of Israel’s Ninth President Shimon Peres
Photo by Amos Ben Gershom, GPO Click Here to Enlarge Picture

My friends, do you know what surprising conclusion I reached with the passage of time?

We were both right.

In a turbulent Middle East in which only the strong survive, peace will not be achieved other than by permanently preserving our power.

But power is not an end in itself.

It’s a means to an end.

That goal is to ensure our national existence and co-existence.

To promote progress, prosperity and peace – for us, for the nations of the region, and for our Palestinian neighbors.

Distinguished guests,

Shimon also reached the conclusion that no one camp has a monopoly on truth.

The day after his swearing in as Israel’s 9th president, he attended the official memorial ceremony for Ze’ev Jabotinsky, whom I regard as one of my spiritual mentors.

Addressing the ceremony, Shimon said, “History bestowed on the two major streams of Zionism – the Labor movement and the Jabotinsky movement – the task of building the Zionist enterprise. The many gaps between these two camps have narrowed on many issues. The adherents of these streams are today partners in political parties and in the leadership of the state – something that was inconceivable in the distant past.”

“It seems,” Shimon concluded, “that King Solomon was right. Two are better than one.”

At the end of his speech, I approached him, shook his hand and warmly thanked him for his unifying message.

Nine years later, two months ago, my wife and I came to honor Shimon at the opening of the “Peres Center for Innovation.”

Nano and medical technology, neuroscience and computer engineering, satellites and robotics—all were on prominent display.

Shimon radiated pride. I don’t think I had ever seen him that happy.

It was the realization of one of his dreams.

He put a pair of 3-D glasses over his eyes – the same eyes from which his corneas have been donated for the benefit of the next generation.

Nothing could be more symbolic.

Shimon always looked to the future. He believed, as we believe, in progress, in science and technology.

They have the power to strengthen our security as well as to lay the future foundations for peace.

If we nurture these capabilities and act resolutely against the enemies of progress, modernity will triumph over barbarism, good will win out over evil, and light will defeat darkness.

Shimon, my friend, you said that one of the few times you shed a tear was when you heard the tragic news of the death of my brother Yoni in Entebbe.

You cried then, Shimon. And today, I weep for you.

I loved you. We all love you.

Be at peace, Shimon, dear friend, great leader.

We will cherish your memory in the heart of our nation and – I can confidently say – in the heart of all nations.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief June 26, 2014: President Shimon Peres Addresses the United States Congress and Receives the Congressional Gold Medal

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President Peres Addresses the United States Congress & Receives the Congressional Gold Medal

Source: MFA, 6-26-14

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​President Peres: “Terror knows no borders and obeys no rules.  Terrorists act globally and should be fought globally. We must fight not only the acts of terrorism but also the roots of terrorism.”
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President Shimon Peres addressing the US Congress

  President Shimon Peres addressing the US Congress

Copyright: GPO/Kobi Gideon

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(Communicated by the Office of the President)

Leaders and Members of Congress,

I am humbled to stand here today in this Rotunda, in this great Pantheon of Democracy, the Congress of the United States.

Here, you give expression to the unbreakable spirit of the American people. It was first expressed 237 years ago when your forefathers signed a document whose words will echo for all time. “Among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Those words resonate with as much meaning today, as they did when America’s first patriots wrote them. They have inspired generations of Americans to dream of a better America. And they have inspired peoples across the globe to dream for a better world.

Many people call me a dreamer. I suppose that’s why I have always felt at home here in America. America that was given the privilege to carry the dreams of humanity. My own first dream was to be a shepherd on a kibbutz. This dream came true. At dawn, I watched the sheep in order not to lose one. At night, I watched the stars in order not to miss one.

The dreams of a young shepherd were interrupted by David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s George Washington, who called me to serve the Jewish state at birth. I was 24 years old. yet Ben-Gurion entrusted me with heavy responsibilities. He made me Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Defense. He charged me with securing our young nation’s ability to defend itself. I worked hard. I had little time to study. I didn’t know a word of English.

After our War of Independence, Ben-Gurion suggested I go the United States to learn English. “Study the American dream.” He told me. So I did.

I learned that America is not a land for the idle. It is a home for the daring. The American dream is about hard work, pioneering spirit, can-do attitude. I learned that the two great bodies that sit under this iconic marble dome – the Senate and the House of Representatives – offered a tiny Israel, struggling for life, an unbelievable and unbreakable friendship.

You helped Israel out of its loneliness. You helped Israel overcome our small size in a tough neighborhood. You helped us maintain a resilient democracy, to become strong enough to take risks for peace. Whether through military assistance and security cooperation or through diplomatic and moral support, you sent us a clear message: That we are not alone.

On behalf of all the people of Israel, I want to thank my friend and Israel’s friend, President Barack Obama, for standing by our side with an unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.

I want to thank each and every one of you, the American Congress, for your unwavering, bipartisan and generous support. Thank you for helping us weather so many storms, And for giving us confidence to face the future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The challenges we face are considerable. Together, we must fight terrorism, advance peace, prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. Like President Obama, Israel hopes that the issue of Iran will be resolved peacefully. And like President Obama, we believe that Iran should be judged by actions not words.

The artificial structures in the Middle East built by the previous empires are falling apart. At the same time, the rules governing the world are being rewritten. Security and prosperity are no longer mainly national issues. National economies are dependent on the global economy. National security is increasingly dependent on fighting global terrorism. And national security is now increasingly dependent on fighting global terrorism.

Amidst all the chaoss in the Middle East, it is easy to sink into despair. But I have seen too much in my life to lose hope. I have seen Israel defy the odds, time and again. I have seen Israel defeat superior enemies on the battlefield and send soldiers to rescue hostages thousands of miles from home.

Israel has shown it can defend itself against those who sought our destruction. Israel did and will do, everything in our power to bring home our three kidnapped boys – Naftali, Gilad, and Eyal. I met with their parents. They asked me to speak here on their behalf. To make your voices heard all over the world to help bring our boys home. To sound a call across the world against terror. Let’s raise our voices together against terrorism.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have seen the genius of Israelis make our poor Middle Eastern land bloom and turn Israel into a global center of technology. I learned that hi-tech can quench the world’s thirst for water and heal the planet. We increased yields without increasing land. As the grandson of a Rabbi burnt alive with his community by the Nazis in a synagogue in Belarus in 1942 –  I know that even the darkest hour cannot prevent a new dawn from arriving.

My friends,

Today and together, we must tackle the two monumental challenges we face: Terrorism and poverty.

Terror knows no borders and obeys no rules. It kills hundreds of thousands, and turns millions into refugees. We see it in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Gaza and elsewhere. Terrorists act globally. Therefore, they should be fought globally. We must fight not only the acts of terrorism but the roots of terrorism. Not just by military means. But by drying up their financial resources. By sanctioning their suppliers of arms. By delegitimizing their actions. By weaving a modern regional net that can catch terrorists and protect the innocent populations.

Arabs are not Israel’s enemies. The terrorists are the enemies of both of us. Terrorists spread danger over the entire region. The region must come together to stop them. The time is ripe to do so.

Religions can play a meaningful role in restoring tolerance and hope. Religion can never permit terrorists to hijack faith and perpetrate violence in the name of heaven. We need more voices like Pope Francis. We need rabbis, priests and imams to preach respect for God in heaven and life on earth.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is our duty to offer the young generation a vision more compelling more promising for the future.  The population of the Middle East grew 5 times over in the last 50 years. Its economy did not.
Poverty soared. An era of science replaced the era of land. We experience it daily. Israel has little land, even less water and no oil. But we became a start-up nation through hi-tech and hard work. I learned that the turmoil of today can provide a new hope for tomorrow. And my dream today is that the Middle East will become a start-up region. To make that happen, leaders in the region must do their share to open their societies.

Because without free thinking there is no new thinking. And without openness there are no discoveries. Global companies should play a role helping the region become up to date and prepare for tomorrow. Two thirds of the Middle East population is under 25. For some, that is a cause for concern. For me, it’s a source of hope. For business, it’s a great opportunity for investment both economically and socially. Global companies are aware that young people want a different future.

They want free expression and self-expression. They want equal rights, including the equal right to be different.

Our two countries – Israel and America – also have a unique contribution to offer. We’re not the same size but we share the same values and the same dreams. Our dreams keep us young. Our values keep us true.

What Israel already learned from experience, we want to share with our neighbors. In my decades of having the privilege of serving Israel. I saw her become a thriving democracy. A diverse society. A leading defense force. And a cutting edge scientific community.

Together we can help put the region on a more promising course. Through initiatives in health, education, agriculture, water, and science. I hope to dedicate myself to this work in the years ahead.

As for America, it remains indispensable. America is the greatest power in the world today. And the only great power in history that never tried to become an Empire. You became great not by taking but by giving. America is a force for good. A force for progress. A force for peace. The world is fortunate that America continues to lead it. 60 years ago, America looked to the moon to discover a distant land. Today, the United States is leading a major scientific effort to reveal the secrets of the mind. We are partners in this effort. May I say that in my judgment, there may be more to discover in the brain than on the moon.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

America and Israel should continue to work together to advance peace. Wars can be waged alone. Peace calls for a collective effort. Israel went through 7 wars and attained 2 peace agreements. With Egypt – the largest Arab country. And Jordan – our longest shared border. I hope that we will be able to renew peace talks with the Palestinians soon. Israel does not intend to rule over other people. It stands against our values and heritage. Israel is committed to Tikkun Olam, bettering the world, and making peace with its neighbors.

President Abbas is clearly a partner for peace. He spoke bravely in Saudi Arabia, in Arabic, against the kidnappings, against terror, and for peace. But you cannot put fire and water in the same glass. Hamas is clearly not a partner for peace. Hamas fires rockets at our civilians. They oppose peace and support terror. Finding a way forward is hard. But we must not lose hope. There is no better solution than two states for two peoples. A Jewish state – Israel. And an Arab state – Palestine.

Peace between Israel and Palestine can forge a broader regional peace. A bridge should be built to enable an Israeli peace initiative to meet the Arab peace initiative. I have lived long enough to see the impossible become possible. To skeptics, I can say: Believe me. Peace is the most possible impossibility.

In one month, I will end my term as Israel’s ninth President. But I will never give up on the struggle to achieve peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I leave you today with one piece of advice. It is the advice of a boy who dreamed on a kibbutz who never imagined where his blessed life would take him. When Theodore Herzl said: “If you will it, it is no dream.” He was right. Looking back on the life of Israel, our dreams proved – not to be too big – but too small.

Because Israel achieved much more than I could have ever imagined. So I ask only one thing of you, the United States of America, this mighty nation of dreamers. Don’t dream small. You are great. Dream big.  And work to will those dreams into a new reality. For you and all humanity. God bless you all. And God bless the United States of America.

Full Text Israel Political Brief June 25, 2014: National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice’s Remarks at a Dinner Honoring Israeli President Shimon Peres

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Remarks by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice at a Dinner Honoring Israeli President Shimon Peres

Source: WH, 6-25-14 

Washington, DC
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
As Delivered 

Good evening everyone—erev tov.  And, thank you so much, Ron, Rhoda, for this lovely evening.  It’s a true honor, Ron, to be asked to celebrate one of Israel’s greatest sons and a walking global treasure, my friend President Shimon Peres.

Over the years, Mr. President, you have been many things—a dreamer, a state-builder, a founding father, a prime minister, a peacemaker.  Your life has been the life of the state of Israel. You all sometimes hear him called an “elder statesman,” but I know every one of us in this room would kill to have the energy that you have (Laughter),  You’ve won the world’s admiration and most of its medals, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and, tomorrow, the Congressional Gold Medal—together, America’s highest civilian honors.  And you didn’t just win the Nobel Peace Prize, you earned it, and you earn it every single day.  So thank you, Mr. President, for your tireless efforts to make this world a better place—for your tireless commitment to the state of Israel and tikkun olam.

President Peres and I became friends after we met in 2009 in New York, and he invited me to Israel later that year to speak at the incredible conference that he convenes.  And since then, I’ve been extremely privileged to meet with him many times and to benefit not only from his extraordinary wisdom but also from his unbelievable kindness.  On more than one occasion, when from very far away, he sensed that perhaps I was having a bit of a rough patch, he would call or write or find some other special way of letting me know that he was there, and that I was in his thoughts.  What a wonderful man.  Thank you.

Someone once asked Meir Dizengoff, the first mayor of Tel Aviv, how it is that you become mayor of a city in Israel—and he said, first, you build the city (Laughter).  So, if someone asks President Peres how he came to lead the state of Israel, well—first, you build the state of Israel.  And that is just what you have done, more than any other man alive.  And, that makes him a great gift to all of us—the last of Israel’s founding lions.

From the moment that President Truman made the United States the very first country to recognize the Jewish state, 11 minutes after Shimon’s great mentor David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s independence in Tel Aviv, the relationship between our two proud democracies has grown like a mighty oak.  As President Obama reaffirmed when he met with President Peres today, the United States’ commitment to the peace and security of Israel is unbreakable and unshakable.  Our peoples share a friendship that’s rooted in our common values:  liberty, democracy, human rights, and human dignity. You can see it in this room tonight, where we’ve all gathered—leaders and citizens from across America’s political spectrum, united in our love and support for Israel.  And so much of that, too, is because of the personal efforts—over a lifetime—of Shimon Peres.

Now, everyone here knows that he’s eminently quotable.  He’s the inventor of the “Peres-ism” (Laughter).   I’m sure all of you have your favorites. There’s the one that every campaign manager should know, and I quote, he actually said it today, “Polls are like perfume—nice to smell, dangerous to swallow” (Laughter). Especially apt in this room.  But the one that most stays with me is pretty simple.  He said, “There are no hopeless situations, only hopeless people.”

Shimon Peres is someone who believes that despair is a sin and service is a duty.  And, serve is what you have done your entire life—from your early days on the kibbutz, making the desert bloom, and throughout your decades of dedication to Israel.  That’s the spirit in which Shimon Peres has worked with every American president since John F. Kennedy.  That’s how he’s earned admirers the world over.  And that’s why he remains so committed to advancing the cause of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, including through his meeting with President Abbas and Pope Francis at the Vatican this month.

Mr. President, you set an example for us all.  And so, we too will stay true to the cause of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.  Because ultimately, the only path out of this tragic conflict is a secure, democratic, Jewish state living side-by-side in peace and security with a viable, independent Palestinian state (Applause).

Tonight as well, all of our hearts are hurting for the three Israeli students who were kidnapped in the West Bank, one of whom, as you all know, is also an American.  President Obama and all of us in the U.S. government are deeply concerned.  We have offered every assistance, and, as parents—in my case of a sixteen year old boy—we all feel this very personally.  So, we pray for their safe return and for the strength for their families through this agonizing vigil.  And, continued cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians is also critical—both to ensure that the search succeeds and to prevent the situation in the West Bank from further destabilizing.

One might argue that these are difficult days.  But there are no hopeless situations, only hopeless people—and President Peres reminds us never to count ourselves among them.  What counts is working to bend history in the direction of hope.

So, in the book that I know as Psalms, and that many of you know as Tehillim, Moses beseeches the Lord, quote, “establish thou the works of our hands upon us.”  Many of us were raised on that prayer, though some of you learned it in the original.  And I hear in it not only a cry to heaven, but a call to action here on earth.  That’s a call you have answered, Mr. President, every day of your life.  And, we are all inspired by the work to which you have put your able hands.  This room is full of people deeply moved by your service, your courage, and your determination to pursue progress, security, and peace.

So, tonight, we celebrate the next chapter in the life of Shimon Peres.  We join you in recommitting ourselves to the cause of peace.  And, together, we ask for that ancient blessing:  Establish thou the works of our hands, oh Lord.  On behalf of President Obama and all of your friends here in the United States, we wish you, like Moses, “Ad meyah v’essreem!”  May you live to 120! (Laughter) Thank you.

Israel Political Brief June 25, 2014: President Shimon Peres meets with President Barack Obama at the White House Oval Office

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

President Peres meets with President Obama

Source: MFA, 6-25-14

MFASummaryNew
“I thank you for your friendship to the State of Israel and the Jewish people – under your leadership our strategic relations have reached new heights.”
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President Peres meets with President Obama

  President Peres meets with President Obama

Copyright: GPO/Kobi Gideon

 

Full Text Israel Political Brief June 10, 2014: US President Barack Obama’s Statement on the Presidential Election in Israel

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Statement by the President on the Presidential Election in Israel

Source: WH, 6-10-14 

The people of the United States join me in offering Reuven Rivlin congratulations on his election as the next President of the State of Israel.

Over more than six decades, the United States and Israel have developed a unique relationship based on shared democratic values, our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security, and our partnership in scientific research and innovative technology.  President-elect Rivlin has a long and dedicated record of public service and we look forward to continued strong ties, to the benefit of both our nations, under Mr. Rivlin’s presidency.

As President Shimon Peres nears the end of his term, he can look back on a remarkable legacy of courage, conviction, and compassion.  He has dedicated his extraordinary life to the cause of peace, and I look forward to welcoming him in Washington later this month where he will receive the Congressional Gold Medal.

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

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ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Netanyahu, Peres offer video welcomes for Independence Day

Source: JTA, 5-5-14

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

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

ISRAEL BRIEF

ISRAEL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day Begins

Source: Arutz Sheva, 4-28-14

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

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

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ISRAEL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Nation commemorates Holocaust with sirens, ceremonies

Source: Jerusalem Post, 4-27-14

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

Israel Musings January 22, 2014: Harper and Netanyahu hold joint cabinet meeting and press conference

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

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 November 18, 2013: France backs Israel’s position on Iran nuclear weapons deal

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

France backs Israel’s position on Iran nuclear weapons deal

By Bonnie K. Goodman

French President Francois Hollande landed in Israel on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 on a three-day visit with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres where the main topic of conversation was the Iran nuclear weapons talks and…READ MORE

Israel Musings November 12, 2013: Netanyahu focuses on Iran and peace talks in JFNA General Assembly address

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Netanyahu focuses on Iran and peace talks in JFNA General Assembly address

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the Jewish Federations of North America’s annual General Assembly on Sunday evening, Nov. 10, 2013 in Jerusalem where he continued to warn against a deal with Iran that does not completely dismantle…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 10, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly

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PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly

Source: PMO, 11-10-13

יום ראשון ז’ כסלו תשע”ד

 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers an address to the Jewish Federation of North America's General Assembly, Jerusalem, Nov. 10, 2013; Netanyahu spoke of the proposed Iran nuclear weapons deal and the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

AG for JFNA

Transcription

Thank you Michael, and thank you all. He was subtle, wasn’t he? Well, wait until you hear me.
I want to start with the most important thing: the most important thing is to assure the security and the future of the Jewish state, the one and only Jewish State of Israel. For decades we have been struggling mightily against a regime that calls for our destruction and it pursues nuclear weapons in order to achieve our destruction. Other’s destruction too, but first ours. It is a vital interest for other countries – the United States, the Europeans, many others, the Arabs, in my opinion the Chinese and the Russians as well – but for us it’s a matter of our existence. And the international community has placed demands on Iran to cease and desist the building of capabilities to produce atomic bombs that will threaten us and threaten the peace of the world. They put together a sanctions regime that has brought Iran to its knees, crippling sanctions. The purpose of those sanctions was to get Iran to dismantle – dismantle – its nuclear enrichment capabilities, which are used for atomic bombs and its heavy water plutonium reactor, which is used for atomic bombs.

This is what the sanctions are for. They’re not for preventing civilian nuclear energy or medical isotopes. I suppose Iran is building those ICBMs in order to launch medical isotopes to the Iranian patients orbiting the Earth. It is to prevent fissile material – that’s the material that you put inside an atomic bomb – that’s what those sanctions were about. To dismantle the centrifuge installations, underground military installations, centrifuge halls, and the plutonium reactor.

Now there’s a deal. Why the Iranians came to deal is obvious: because the sanctions are biting, biting their economy, crippling that regime. So they came to the table because they have to. And what is being offered now, and I’m continuously updated in detail. I know whereof I speak. What is being proposed now is a deal in which Iran retains all of that capacity. Not one centrifuge is dismantled. Not one. Iran gets to keep tons of low enriched uranium and they can take these centrifuges, which are not dismantled, in the halls, underground, which are not dismantled – using advanced centrifuges that they’ve already installed, some of them, that are not dismantled – and they can rush within a few weeks, maybe a couple of months, that’s all, and create at the time of their choosing, the fissile material for a bomb.

Iran does not give up anything of that. It makes a minor concession that is meaningless in today’s technology and in their current capacities. In other words, none of the demands of the Security Council resolutions, which the P5+1 powers passed are met. None of them! But what is given to them is the beginning of the rollback of sanctions. This means that the sanctions that took years to put in place are beginning to rollback with several billions of dollars of assets that are freed up; the automotive industry contracts that is central to Iran’s economy freed up; petrochemical industry freed up; matters that involved gold and even petroleum revenues freed up some.

There are people here who deal in the marketplace. The price of anything is determined by future expectations. The pressure on Iran today is based on future expectations. That’s the pressure that’s built up in Iran. That’s the pressure in the international community. But when you start letting up sanctions, rolling back sanctions, you are signaling in Iran that it’s reversed. For the first time, you go down. And people understand it’s over.

This is the deal that is proposed now. Iran does not roll back its nuclear weapons-making capacities at all, but the P5+1 are rolling back sanctions. That’s a bad deal. It’s a dangerous deal because it keeps Iran as a nuclear threshold nation and it may very well bring about a situation where the sanctions are dissolved or collapsed. It’s a bad and dangerous deal that deals with the thing that affects our survival. And when it comes to the question of Jewish survival and the survival of the Jewish state, I will not be silenced, ever. Not on my watch.

When the Jewish people were silent on matters relating to our survival, you know what happened. This is different. We are the Jewish state. We are charged with defending ourselves and we are charged with speaking up. And it is time now to speak up – all of us. All of us have to stand up now and be counted.
I can think of nothing that is as important and as crucial. We shall continue to work with the rest of the world, and it’s good that we have now a few days because this is not only in the interest of Israel; this is in the interest of the entire world. Yes, we speak up, but I think there are other nations in this region and perhaps beyond who can now unite and say: we do not want a nuclear Iran and we stand together to make sure that Iran dismantles its enrichment capacities, its heavy water plutonium reactor, all the things that they need to make nuclear weapons. They’re not entitled to it and it is possible right now, given the precariousness and vulnerability of the Iranian economy, to press forward the demand for Iran to dismantle its nuclear bomb-making capacity. That’s what I expect from every one of you, and I know it’s achievable. And it’s important.

I know that there have been many times that we have stood together. You have stood together with us. I have to stand more comfortably. Well, I have a list of all the people who are here and I want to acknowledge all of you, my dear friends. First of all, my friend of many, many decades, Michael Siegal. Michael, you’re a true champion of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
And Dede Feinberg and Jerry Silverman and Michael & Susie Gelman and Ronny Douek and recently elected Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat, doing a great job. Well, one mayor deserves another, Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, welcome.
Well now, I know something about Philadelphia. It’s the City of Brotherly Love. We’re all brothers and sisters here in a common cause, so welcome back to Jerusalem all of you.

Every five years, the Jewish Federations convene the General Assembly here in Israel. Well, that’s a fact. You’ve come here in good times, and you’ve come here in difficult times. You have come here when we have have faced violence and terrorism. You kept on coming and so I am very glad to welcome you here. And you demonstrate by doing this to the entire world that there is a vibrant, united Jewish world, and that is exemplified first by the tremendous bond between Israel and the Jewish communities of the United States and Canada. You are our partners. You are our brothers and sisters, and we are one big Jewish family. And like all families, we have to face challenges together. That’s what families do.

I mentioned Iran, and I mentioned those ICBMs. What is Iran targeting when it’s building those ICBMs? Not us. They already have rockets to reach us and missiles. They need those ICBMs to reach North America. It’ll take them a few years – not many by the way. And they could be nuclear tipped ICBMs. That’s the plan coming to a theater near you. Do you want that? I don’t hear you. Well, do something about it. We are. This is the greatest threat. I began with it, I continue with it. Iran must end enrichment at all levels, because they don’t need it. They must take out from their territory all the fissile material. They must stop the construction of the heavy water reactor in Arak. And Iran must dismantle the considerable military nuclear infrastructure, including the underground facilities and the advanced centrifuges.

It’s not my position. This has been the position of the international community. I stress it again. So here’s what you see over time: what you see is as you go from 2005, 2004, Iran is steadily building its nuclear weapons capability and the international community is steadily diminishing and reducing its demands. It’s almost a perfect scissor’s movement. That’s the bad news. The good news is that parallel to the increase in Iranian capabilities, just to give you an idea, they had I think in 2005 around 170 centrifuges. You know how many they have today? About 18,000. That’s not 100% increase – it’s a hundred fold increase. This in the face of all international resolutions. That’s not surprising because this is a regime that, in the face of all international resolutions, murders tens of thousands of innocent people, including children, in Syria. It participates, its keeps Assad going. There is no Assad regime; there’s an Iranian-propped Assad regime. It’s a regime that practices terror as we speak on five continents; a regime that supplies Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah with endless rockets to fire on Israeli civilians; a regime that remains committed to our destruction and subverts just about every single country in the Middle East, and let me tell you, beyond the Middle East. It’s a regime that tries to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington and sends its killers either directly or through its proxy, Hezbollah, to Bangkok, to Nigeria, to Bulgaria, everywhere. This regime cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons. It’s a historically pivot.

So the good news is that the international community did do something powerful and the powerful thing was to get those sanctions that followed Iran’s building of its capabilities and now, when Iran is on the ropes, now when Iran has to come to negotiate, now when Iran understands that if they don’t make a real compromise, they’ll get more sanctions – now you let it out? Now you say, well, if we don’t acquiesce to their demands, they’ll continue? They can’t continue because their economy will collapse. And even if they do, they’ll maintain their capabilities now? I always said that the combination of crippling sanctions and a military option – that has the power to stop Iran and everything I see tells me that. I think it’s important to have steady nerves and a firm purpose and stop this program. We can do it.

In any case, you know that the idea of the Jewish state and the purpose of the Jewish state is to enable Jews to defend themselves. This is something that we could not do before we had the Jewish state. But we can do it now and we shall always, always defend ourselves and defend our state.

I heard the learned commentaries of experts who explained to us that Israel cannot defend itself. They must know something I don’t know. This is our purpose. This is our goal. This is our way of assuring our destiny. And we have not come nearly four millennia in our odyssey over time, from the time that Abraham set foot in this country to the present, to have the likes of the ayatollahs threaten our life. We will always defend ourselves and our state.

We also want to see peace with our Palestinian neighbors. I want to see peace with our Palestinian neighbors. I am ready for a historic compromise. We need to end this conflict once and for all, and to end it, there’s a simple principle. That principle is: two nation-states, two states for two peoples. Not one state for one people, the Palestinians, and then another state for two peoples. No. Two states for two peoples, which means that if the Palestinians expect us to recognize the Palestinian state for the Palestinian people, they must recognize the Jewish state for the Jewish people.

Now, you’ve got to ask yourself a simple question: not why am I raising this obvious, simple, basic demand; but why have they persisted in refusing to accept it? Why? Why do they refuse to accept the simple principle of a Jewish state? Now, I’m not asking it for them to affirm our identity. I don’t need that. I know our history, believe me; I know our attachment to this land; I know our own nationhood. I’m asking it because I want them to give up any demands, any national demands, any claims on the Jewish state. That’s what peace is about. It’s not to make a Palestinian state from which they continue the conflict to try to dissolve the Jewish state, either through the “right of return” or through irredentist claims on our territory in the Negev and the Galilee or anywhere else. It’s to finally come to grips with something they have refused to come to grips with for close to a century – that the Jewish state is here by right, that is has a right to be here. And they must recognize that right and teach their children to recognize that right and to accept it.

I think this conflict began in 1921. My grandfather came here in 1920 in Jaffa, got off the boat to a little boat and then in a dinghy came to Jaffa port; went from there to the Jewish immigration office in Jaffa. In 1921, a mob attacked this immigration house because the Palestinian Arabs were opposed to any Jewish immigration at all. This was followed in 1929 by the massacre of the ancient Jewish community of Hebron. Horrible, disembowelment of children, beheading of babies, horrible. And that was followed by system attacks on the Jewish community from 1936 to 1939. And that was followed by systemic efforts by the Palestinian leadership, led by the Grand Mufti, Haj Amin el-Husseini, during the war years in Berlin with Hitler to advocate the Final Solution. Don’t expel the Jews, he said, destroy them. And that was followed finally after the tragedy that befell our people, with a declaration and a resolution by the United Nations for two states – a Jewish state. They didn’t say a Palestinian state, by the way. They said an Arab state, but that’s all right. We accepted and they refused. And then from 1947 until 1967, system attacks on us, an attempt to snuff out the life of the Jewish state by three Arab countries and several Arab armies in May of 1967 that we foiled in the great victory of the Six Day War.

So from 1921 to 1967, nearly half a century – 46 years – there were systemic attacks on the very nature of a Jewish state. Not on settlements – there weren’t any. Not on our presence in the territories – we weren’t there. What was this conflict about? Not on the absence of a Palestinian state. They rejected it; we accepted it. This conflict was not about settlements, about territories, even though these issues will have to be resolved. It wasn’t even about a Palestinian state. It was and still is about the Jewish state. They have to recognize the Jewish state.

And you know, afterwards, when we left Gaza, every square inch of it, and they kept on firing rockets at us, and we asked them: why are you firing rockets at us? Is it to liberate Judea and Samaria, the West Bank? They said, yeah, sure, but that too. We said, what do you mean, that too? They said, well, it’s to liberate Palestine – Ashkelon (they call it Majda), Ashdod, Beer Sheva, Jaffa. So that’s the bad guys, the guys who are lobbing the rockets on us. What about the other part of Palestinian society, those who don’t engage in terror (and it’s good they don’t engage in terror)? I ask them, so will you recognize the Jewish state? We recognize the Israeli people, we recognize the State of Israel. No, no, no, that’s not what I asked. Will you recognize the state of the Jewish people? You have a state. Palestinians can go there if they choose. We have a state. Jews can come here – a Jewish state – if they choose. Do you recognize that? No. Do you recognize that you won’t have any national claims wherever the border is drawn? No answer.

This conflict is about the Jewish state. Have I made that point, you think, subtly enough? You get it. Alright. So now let’s ask the second question. Because, you know, since 1921 until today it’s almost a century of unremitting incitement and an education of hatred. Now, I don’t mean in Hamas or Islamic Jihad. I mean in the Palestinian Authority: textbooks, schools, kindergartens. I showed John Kerry a teacher teaching young kids – four year olds, five year olds. What will you be? Shaheedim, martyrs (that’s suicide bombers)? And what will you struggle for? Palestine? What is Palestine? From Kiryat Shmona to Umm-Rash-Rash (that’s Eilat). From the river to the sea.

That’s what they teach. In their textbooks, Israel disappears. It completely disappears. In their state-controlled media – what a wonderful term – in their state-controlled media, they control everything. That’s what they put forward. We had a wonderful initiative that President Peres and I put forward to bring the Barcelona team, the soccer team, to Israel to play with the Palestinians and then to play with Israel, combined Jewish-Arab games in Israel. In the Palestinian territory, they played in Hebron. When they came to President Peres a day later, there was a song in Hebrew, in Arabic, we talked of peace, we talked of two states for two peoples, we had an exhibition game – Jewish children, Arab children from Israel… that was Israel. A day earlier – I found out that a day later but a day earlier in Hebron, in the soccer stadium, the Palestinian football federations, an official arm and an official spokesman and he said to the Barca team: welcome to Palestine. Palestine is from the river to the sea, from Lebanon to the Red Sea, from Eilat to Rosh Hanikra, the Arab name for Rosh Hanikra.

There is a century of this. The minimum thing that we can demand, aside from demanding the end of incitement, but to get a deal is that the official position of the Palestinian leadership recognize the Jewish state. That’s a minimum, but I don’t delude myself. This will be a long process. But it must begin with that. Otherwise, what are we saying? That this plan to dissolve Israel in stages will continue? Of course not. But we also have to recognize that it may not take root. It may not. We have at best a cold peace. I hope for a warm one. By the way, a cold peace is better than a hot war. But a warm peace is better than a cold peace. I hope for a warm peace, beginning with that recognition of the Jewish state and the abandonment of the “right of return” and all those other fantasies that are still harbored in Palestinian culture.

But we have to know that even if the Palestinian leadership puts an end to 90 years of rejection, and even if they recognize the Jewish state, we know that in this volatile and violent region, that can be reversed. We know that in our region, there can be no durable peace that is not based on security. A peace agreement that is not based on absolute, robust security arrangements for Israel, by Israel, will not stand the test of time. We want a peace that endures. We need a peace based on security. That’s the other fundament. We need security to defend the peace. But we also need security to defend Israel in case the peace unravels. And in our region, peace has a tendency to unravel now and then, if you haven’t watched around us. You have.

Now for this genuine peace of a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state, for this peace I am willing to make difficult decisions. I am willing to be both creative and flexible. But I cannot compromise and will not compromise on the safety and security of the one and only Jewish state. And the Palestinians, of course, will have to compromise too. They’ll have to compromise and accept the legitimacy and necessity of robust security arrangements that ensure that Israel’s security border does not begin four miles from Ben-Gurion airport and a few hundred meters from this hall.

You know, Israel is the most challenged country on Earth. There is no other country, no other power, that is challenged for its very survival as we are, and we are one of the smallest countries on Earth. We need to have very robust security arrangements, and these are the two essential foundations for a secure peace – mutual recognition of two nation-states and robust security arrangements. This is what we need – we need many other things, believe me, many other things. For example, we have this minor attachment – well, I’m joking – we have this small… no, we have this huge, historic attachment to our capital, Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people. It’s always been our capital; it always will be our undivided capital.
But I don’t want to do the negotiations here. I do want to say that I hope that this current round of talks will lead to peace. I hope the other side, like me, is ready to make tough decisions for peace. I stood at Bar Ilan University – it’s a religious university – and I expressed my willingness to recognize a Palestinian nation-state alongside their recognition of a Jewish nation-state. That wasn’t easy. In my previous government, I agreed to an unprecedented freeze on construction in the settlements. Believe me, that wasn’t easy. But there is something even harder, maybe the toughest decision I made. I agreed to the release of terrorist prisoners. They served 20 years. They killed a lot of people. I’ve made difficult choices to try to advance the peace, but it must be a two way street. It cannot be that the Palestinians are forever pampered by the international community; that their incitement goes by without a tick; that their refusal to recognize a Jewish state goes by without a bat of an eyelash; that their inefficacy in fighting terrorism is accepted or lionized as a great capacity. It’s time that the international community, certainly the serious members of the international community, understand this is a two-way street because peace is not a one-way street and it won’t be. To stick, it’s going to be very tough, not only for Israel. Everybody says that. It’s going to be very tough for the Palestinian leadership. It must be, otherwise it’s not a genuine peace. And we don’t want a fake peace. We’ve had enough.

So the question is, will they rise up to it? I don’t know. It’s in their interest. I hope that they stand up, not only for themselves – and I think they would if they accepted what I’m saying, but they would ensure a future for their children and for their grandchildren and for future generations. But they must be able to give the Beir Zeit speech. They must be able to give the Beir Zeit speech. A Palestinian leader must do what Anwar Sadat did. He said, it’s over, it’s gone. No more war. No more bloodshed. But he was speaking for Egypt. A Palestinian leader must stand and say, I accept the Jewish state. That’s a simple litmus test of seriousness.

We have another kind of peace that we have to foster and continuously promote – it’s our internal peace. We call it shalom bayit, peace in our house. That’s always guided me as Prime Minister. I always said I have to keep the peace of the Jewish people. I am the Prime Minister of Israel, Israel is the Jewish state. I have to worry about the inclusion of Jews from every part of the Jewish world.

The Kotel is in Israel, but the Kotel belongs to all the Jewish people. And I have been working with you – not merely for you, with you – because I think we have to consult together and reach solutions together. I asked Natan Sharansky, a great Jewish leader, to bring the Jewish people a solution, to bring me a solution, and I think he has. I asked my Cabinet Secretary, Avichai Mandelblit, a very able, very able public servant, to help along with that. We have now a solution; it reflects my desire to have a solution for all of you, by all of you, with all of you. And I am convinced that we can soon have this solution in place.

We have also been working closely to have young Jews from North America and from around the world, come to Israel. When I was Prime Minister the first time – this is my third term. In my first term, people came to me, Michael Steinhardt and Charles Bronfman, came to me with a revolutionary idea of having Taglit. They said they’re putting up the money, but they said, you know, there’s one small factor: you have to put up money too. And when we spoke about it with the Cabinet and with others, they said, what? Israel will pay money? You remember this, Natan. Israel will pay money to bring American kids here? And I said, yeah, it’s our future, and yes, we’re going to do it. And we’ll put our money where our mouth is. And we did 15, 16 years ago. And we’ve done it since. It’s been a tremendous success – Taglit, Masa, Hefzibah. We’re committed to this.

Now, as you know, we have a new initiative, a broad and deep initiative to unite the Jewish people, to initiate programs to help reach the inner cords of identity of the Jewish people around the world. We know we’re challenged by the internet age. We know that it fragments people. We cannot change that; we don’t intend to change that; we don’t intend to go against the internet. We intend to use the internet. We’re not going to go into horse and buggies. We understand it’s a new age. In fact, Israel is leading technologically this tremendous development. But we also know it challenges our unity. We also know that the forces of assimilation and intermarriage are there. We also read these recent polls. We understand: we have a challenge. You understand, together, that we have a challenge. And we have sponsored this initiative to work together, think this through together, and then put forward programs to help solidify the core of the conviction and identity that is so central to securing our future.
When I think of the challenges that the Jewish people have undergone, challenges that no nation has undergone, no people have undergone, and we’ve been able to overcome them over nearly 4,000 years – challenges to our physical survival, challenges to our spiritual survival and cohesion. I know that we have that inner strength to guarantee the Jewish future. I know it and you know it; and together we’re going to achieve exactly that – to defend and secure the Jewish people and the one and only Jewish state. I say that here in our eternal capital, Jerusalem, and I know, I know that you stand with me.

Thank you very much, all of you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.

Israel Musings November 2, 2013: Netanyahu urges pressure on Iran during Yom Kippur War 40th anniversary ceremony

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Netanyahu urges pressure on Iran during Yom Kippur War 40th anniversary ceremony

November 2, 2013

Iran took center stage at a ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon all spoke at…READ MORE

Israel Musings October 15, 2013: PM Netanyahu kicks-off Knesset winter session with focus on Iran and peace talks

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Netanyahu kicks-off Knesset winter session with focus on Iran and peace talks (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The Israeli Knesset returned for the winter session on Monday, Oct. 14, 2013, with a ceremony that included speeches by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Opposition Leader Shelly Yachimovich from the Labor Party…READ MORE

Israel Political Brief September 15, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Discusses Syria Arms Deal at Yom Kippur War 40th Anniversary Ceremony

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Netanyahu: Efforts to disarm Syria, stop nuclear Iran will be judged by results

Source: Haaratz, 9-15-13

In address at memorial marking 40 years since Yom Kippur War, Netanyahu also says Syria deal must yield ‘complete destruction’ of chemical weapons arsenal.

Yom Kippur war 2

President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister MosheYa’alon at a ceremony marking 40 years since the Yom Kippur War. Photo by Noam Moshkovitz

Noam Moshkovitz

President Shimon Peres speaking at a memorial marking 40 years since the Yom Kippur War. Photo by Noam Moshkovitz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel hoped a U.S.-Russian deal to remove Syria’s chemical weapons would result in the “complete destruction” of the arsenal, and urged the international community to apply the same efforts to destroying Iran’s nuclear program.

“We hope the understandings reached between the United States and Russia regarding the Syrian chemical weapons will yield results,” he said in a speech at a memorial ceremony for Israeli soldiers killed in the 1973 Yom Kippur War….READ MORE

Israel Musings August 4, 2013: Shimon Peres turns 90, US Congress considers Congressional Gold Medal honor

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Shimon Peres turns 90, US Congress considers Congressional Gold Medal honor (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

80413_Peres_Granddaughter_Clinton_Netanyahu_Birthday

 

SLIDE SHOW
Israeli President Shimon Peres officially turned 90 on August 2, 2013, and the United States Congress intends to honor the occasion by introducing legislation to award him with the Congressional Gold Medal. Last year President Barack Obama awarded Peres…..READ MORE

Israel Musings August 4, 2013: President Shimon Peres turns 90, US Congress considers Congressional Gold Medal honor

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Shimon Peres turns 90, US Congress considers Congressional Gold Medal honor (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

80413_Peres_Granddaughter_Clinton_Netanyahu_Birthday

Israeli President Shimon Peres officially turned 90 on August 2, 2013, and the United States Congress intends to honor the occasion by introducing legislation to award him with the Congressional Gold Medal. Last year President Barack Obama awarded Peres the…READ MORE

Israel Musings July 22, 2013: Israel and Palestinians agree to peace talks, but what will be the concessions?

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Israel and Palestinians agree to peace talks, but what will be the concessions? (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

 United States Secretary of State John Kerry announced from Amman, Jordan on Friday July 19, 2013 that the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority agreed to sit down together for peace talks in Washington, DC….READ MORE
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