ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES
- February 26, 2015
Posted by bonniekgoodman on February 26, 2015
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Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 8, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 29, 2014
Source: MFA, 6-26-14
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.
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.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on June 26, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 3, 2014
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Posted by bonniekgoodman on August 4, 2013
Posted by bonniekgoodman on June 5, 2013
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 29, 2013
Source: Washington Post (blog), 3-5-13
In concluding the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference Tuesday, executive director Howard Kohr announced that committee representatives would call upon every Senate and House member….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 5, 2013
Source: Newsroom America Feeds, 3-4-13
Thank you, it is an honor to be here at AIPAC’s policy conference. And, it’s an honor to be here with my good friend, one of Congress’ strongest pro-Israel allies Steny Hoyer.
Tonight, we celebrate a friendship between two countries. Simple in concept, but mighty in force. This friendship is centered on commitment to community and dedication to faith. It values education, human progress, and the guarantee of opportunity for all. With this friendship, the world is a better place.
The alliance between the United States and Israel is often tested, but never shaken. We’ve helped protect each other. We’ve help protect our friends, and we’ve helped protect humanity.
If there is a tsunami, our military and aid ships are the first to set sail. If disease is ravaging a nation, or as is the case of AIDS in Africa, an entire continent, we send help. And we save lives. Israel shares our moral compass. When massive earthquakes struck Haiti and Turkey, Israel was among the first to offer assistance. And hundreds of Israeli rescue workers responded to the deadly terrorist attacks in East Africa, saving the lives of Africans injured in the attacks on America’s embassies.
For those of us who have visited Israel, you know what a special place it is. You have walked down the Tayelet in Tel Aviv on a Thursday afternoon and you’ve seen the people leisurely lingering in cafes as the waves of the Mediterranean crash in the background.
But for many Americans, the only images of Israel that they see are of blown out clubs and cafes, missiles firing, death and tragedy. That in itself is a tragedy.
These news stories often miss the beauty and the human element of why our nations care so much for one another. But, these stories do serve as a constant reminder of the threat Israel faces, and why Israel needs our friendship.
Asher Afriat needs no reminders. Asher is a friend to many of us, and he’s here tonight. He owns a travel company in Israel, and leads many of the AIPAC tours. Several months ago, when rockets were flying over Israel, Asher sent me an email. He was up early in Tel Aviv, on his way to pick up some tourists. He saw some young reservists with packed military bags waiting to be picked up. He yearned to drop everything and jump in the truck with them. As he drove, his favorite radio station was interrupted by Code Red Alerts.
“A somber mood took over,” he wrote. But a few minutes later, Asher passed the entrance to the Ben Shimon Forest, a magnet for mountain bikers from across the country and one of his favorite riding places. The parking lot was jam packed with cars and hundreds of bikers ready to “shred” the countryside. Despite rockets flying, they all came. Asher could barely stand the urge to pull over and get his own bike out. But he pressed on, now with a big smile on his face. In his email he observed: “How surreal is this moment, how incomprehensible is the reality we live in”
Yet for me, that moment of Asher’s reflected the true essence of Israel with all its pain and beauty.
We are here together tonight, people of all faiths to support Israel and the US-Israel relationship. So, to all our Christian brothers and sisters who are with us, we salute you and we thank you for standing with Israel.
Thank you for standing with us to defend the gift that is Israel. Israel is a gift to all free loving people around the world. The Jewish people know and realize this gift better than anyone. The creation of the modern state of Israel had a special effect on what it means to be a Jew. Before 1948, we Jews often had difficulty defining ourselves publicly, and instead we were defined by stereotypes.
The craven hook nose man counting money behind closed doors. Secretive. Untrustworthy. The caricatures were ugly, and unfortunately some still linger.
But after Israel was created, people around the world began to see something else. They saw farmers, and warriors, and creative souls. They saw innovators, scientists and chemists giving back to the world and saving lives. The survival of Israel and what it says about its Jewish and Arab citizens is a bulwark against ever returning to the days of being the eternal outsider – the wandering Jew.
Throughout my entire political life, I have never known a time where I have questioned America’s resolve and support for Israel. I have never questioned America’s historic support for the little guy against the bully. I have never questioned the role we play as protectors of liberty and defenders of justice. Until now.
It is only recently where I have begun to worry. I worry that some of our nation’s leaders are complacent. I worry that some in Washington think we must retreat to our domestic politics and reduce focus overseas. I worry that in the pursuit of comity with Israel’s foes, some will seek distance. I worry that they indeed overlook the gift that is Israel.
And I worry that Israelis worry. And these worries are not unfounded. Israel’s under attack.
A while back, I received a briefing in Israel from one of the engineers of the Iron Dome system. His name was Avi Sacher. Avi’s presentation was impressive. He demonstrated through slides and video the precision and agility of the anti-rocket defense system.
Avi beamed with pride as he explained how countless lives were saved by the Iron Dome technology. How families were spared despite deadly rockets aimed at their home, and how mothers were relieved to see their children safe while sirens wailed at terrorists’ rockets overhead.
Five days later, still in Israel, I met with Avi again. His enthusiasm was gone and there was pain in his eyes. He spoke with great emotion as he told us of the one rocket that had gotten through. It somehow slipped past the defense system, hitting the town of Be’er Sheva, and killing an innocent Israeli. He was tortured by that experience. And Avi went back to work, determined to perfect the system that had already saved countless lives.
The importance of the Iron Dome’s capability was driven home again recently during the conflict in Gaza. The Iron Dome has to be right 100 percent of the time, or Israelis die.
As important as they are, defensive systems like Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and the Arrow are not panaceas. True peace will require an end to Iranian backed weapons smuggled into Gaza. It will also require a recognition by Hamas and the Palestinians that violence does not help, but hurts their cause. Only when Palestinians lay down their arms, can we hope to achieve peace.
My message to you tonight is this: Our enemies know that if they divide the United States from Israel, they will defeat Israel. And they will be one step closer to defeating America. That is their goal. That is their mission. And we must not ever, ever let them succeed.
Three weeks from tonight, we will be sitting down with our families to celebrate Passover, and the words we will read from the Haggadah seem as relevant today as ever – “In every generation, they rise against us to destroy us.”
Just listen to President Ahmadinejad or Ayatollah Khamenei speak anywhere at any time and their intentions are clear. Iran is a direct and immediate threat to Israel, to our allies in the region and to the civilized world. But, some in Washington hold the view that Iran is all bluster. That Iran can be contained and negotiated with. But that impression is wrong.
We need to be clear-eyed that the nuclear talks with Iran cannot be unending, and that they may fail. We need to recognize that military action against Iran may become necessary to protect America, Israel and our allies.
America must be prepared to lead from the front. And the challenge should not be Israel’s alone to bear.
In Syria, tens of thousands of people have been brutally and relentlessly slaughtered by an evil dictator intent on massacring his people. Our hearts ache as we see mass graves, all too familiar to us Jews.
But, Syria is not just a moral challenge, it’s a strategic challenge.
The United States cannot and should not stand aside and let the chips fall where they may. We’ve got to be on the side of those looking to end Assad’s tyranny.
We cannot guarantee that those who succeed him will be greater friends to our nation or Israel, anymore than Assad was. But without action, we can guarantee that more innocent lives will be lost. We will have failed to shape the outcome of this conflict. And we will guarantee that Syria’s future leaders will not have known the helping hand of America when the Syrian people so desperately needed help.
Beyond just Syria, the entire Middle East is in an epic state of political transition and uncertainty. The stakes could not be higher. When there is no American leadership; there is no leadership.
Bottom line, Israel’s security goes hand in hand with America’s security. And, America’s security depends on freedom and democracy growing and open societies hearing our message. America’s security depends on putting a stop to the bullying on the world playground.
To all of you here tonight at AIPAC, the future depends on your voice. It must be heard on Capitol Hill and it must be heard by this Administration. It must be heard around the world.
We must now and forever stand with Israel, or we risk losing the great promise of America.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 4, 2013
Source: JTA, 3-4-13
“We need to recognize that military action against Iran may become necessary to protect America, Israel and our allies,” Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the U.S. House of Representatives majority leader, said in his address Monday night to the AIPAC conference….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 4, 2013
“We gather tonight recognizing that Israel’s existence is testimony that faith and courage can triumph even in a cauldron of enmity, terror, and constant threat.
“Israel’s history is that of a courageous people’s perseverance against injustice from one generation to the next. It is a history Americans understand and look to for inspiration.
“The State of Israel, though besieged by forces of hatred, intolerance, and extremism, has never abandoned its founding principles nor lost sight of its historic mission – to provide freedom and sanctuary in a democracy for the Jewish people in their ancient homeland.
“Some of my proudest moments as a Member of Congress were working with many of you to help Soviet Jews emigrate from behind the Iron Curtain to reach that freedom and security in the land of their ancestors.
“In January, we lost a dear friend and a passionate advocate in Ambassador Max Kampelman, who was instrumental in that effort. I was Chairman of the Helsinki Commission at the time, and Max was leading the negotiations with the Soviet Union on arms reduction and human rights.
“Max may no longer be with us, but his legacy of linking human rights to international security is a practice that can serve us well today. The safety and prosperity of democracies such as Israel, which promote freedom and individual rights, advance America’s national security interests.
“Today, we continue to fight for what Israel represents: an outpost of freedom in a region where democracy struggles to take hold with no guarantee of success. From Tahrir to Tripoli, from Aden to Aleppo, America and Israel will remain vigilant and work to ensure that legitimate yearnings for democracy are not hijacked by extremists.
“And nowhere must we be more united and vigilant than when facing the threat posed by Iran. The stakes have never been higher.
“If there is one lesson we have learned about the Middle East in recent years, it is that nuance is not only not effective but can be dangerous. We must speak with unambiguous clarity: the United States will not accept a nuclear-weapons-capable Iran. They must know our clear intent and firm commitment. America and Israel cannot leave any uncertainty in the minds of those who describe us as their common foes.
“Let there be no doubt that it is in America’s direct interest to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. A nuclear Iran would set off an arms race in the region, pose a clear and present danger to American troops stationed in the Middle East and Europe, and threaten Israel’s very existence.
“As nuclear talks with Iran continue, still without result, Iran’s leaders must understand that these talks cannot go on indefinitely. Let me repeat this point, because it is critically important: the day will come when diplomacy ends. And Iran’s leaders will ultimately decide whether it is because they have willingly dismantled their nuclear weapons program or whether they have compelled the free world to do it for them.
“The threat from Iran comes not only from its nuclear ambitions but from its long history of state-sponsored terrorism across the globe. A nuclear-armed Iran would be even more aggressive in sponsoring its deadly agents of terror – Hamas and Hezbollah – and proliferating its weapons of mass destruction.
“There are some who say that Hamas and Hezbollah are simply politicians. Make no mistake: they are terrorists.
“Those in Europe who think differently ought to listen to the defense of one Hezbollah agent who was arrested in Cyprus scouting areas frequented by Israelis. He said – and I quote: ‘I was just collecting information about Jews. This is what my organization is doing everywhere around the world.’
“The threat Hamas and Hezbollah pose to Israel and to the Jewish people is chillingly clear.
“And so, like any sovereign nation, it is Israel’s right to take such steps as are necessary to defend itself and its people. It is not only international norms that give Israel that right but the hard lessons of Jewish history.
“As my friend Eric Cantor said earlier – later this month, Jews in America and throughout the world will open the Passover Haggadah and remember that history with these perennial words: ‘In every generation there are those who have risen against us.’ And the sentence continues: ‘but the Holy One saves us from their hands.’
“Doing so is not only the work of God but for our generation, which must continue to strengthen and fortify the relationship between Israel and America.
“Thanks to the work AIPAC performs on Capitol Hill and around the country, Congress’s support for Israel has endured and grown stronger each year. The bipartisan nature of Congress’s support makes it ever more clear to those who would do the Jewish State harm that Israel is here to stay – and will never, never stand alone.
“One direct result of America’s commitment to Israel’s security is Iron Dome. I hope you will join me in thanking again the operators of Iron Dome for protecting Israel’s border communities.
“But America’s ties with Israel run far deeper than matters of security and statecraft. The United States, a young nation, and Israel, heir to an ancient birthright, were founded on the same values. These are the principles of human dignity and basic justice first laid out in the Torah and embraced by America’s Founders. A line connects the wisdom of our shared scripture to the hearts and minds of those who wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and our Bill of Rights.
“Jewish history is and always will be intertwined with American history. And from helping to draw back an Iron Curtain to constructing an Iron Dome, it has been the privilege of my life to work with you to shape that history.
“And, with clarity in our common cause, with the courage to pursue our common commitment, we must face our shared challenges with an iron resolve. Such is AIPAC’s legacy and our enduring mission: to ensure the survival and success of Israel – and the safety and security of its people – in our generation and for every generation yet to come.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 4, 2013
Source: Algemeiner, 3-3-13
Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference on Sunday…..
The fact that Israel, as a democracy unlike its Arab neighbors, “remains a country where Arabs can serve in parliament” and heckle the prime minister is at the heart of why an “overwhelming bipartisan consensus” is maintained in Congress in favor of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, in contrast to the “political football” played with other issues, according to Cornyn. Americans feel a “special kinship” with Israel because of shared values such as liberty and human rights, he said….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 4, 2013
Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) offered a sobering view of the present situation in the Middle East along with a harsh critique of the Obama administration’s foreign policy strategy at this morning’s Foreign Policy Roundtable at American Israeli Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) annual policy conference in Washington, D.C….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 4, 2013
Source: JTA, 3-3-13
Israel’s finance minister expressed concern that U.S. financial difficulties would affect Israel’s economy…READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 3, 2013
Source: PMO, 2-20-13
יום רביעי י’ אדר תשע”ג
Photo by GPO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, met with US Senator (R-FL) Marco Rubio. The Prime Minister said: “I appreciate your support. I appreciate the tremendous support of the American people, bipartisan support for our security and our quest for peace. It’s a daunting task, both security and the quest for peace, but we know we have your support and we appreciate it. I look forward to talking with you about our challenges.”
Sen. Rubio said: “Well, you live in a challenging neighborhood but the Israeli-American relationship is one of the most important ones we have, and certainly our commitment to that partnership is bipartisan and it should remain that way. And that’s why I’m pleased the President is coming here in March
Posted by bonniekgoodman on February 20, 2013
Source: JTA, 2-17-13
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has left for an official visit to the Middle East, including Jordan and Israel….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on February 17, 2013