Full Text Israel Political Brief December 6, 2015 : PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks to the Saban Forum

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu’s Remarks to the Saban Forum

Source: PMO, 12-6-15

Greetings from Jerusalem.

I want to thank my friend Haim for giving me the opportunity to address you. This comes at a time when the United States has experienced a terrible and savage attack in San Bernardino, and I wish to offer the condolences of the people of Israel to the families, the aggrieved families, and of course send our wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded.

The terrorists are attacking in California or in Israel, or for that matter in Paris. They are attacking the very values that we hold dear – freedom, tolerance, diversity. All the things that define the value of life and society in our eyes, they find anathema and that’s why they attack us. I think too that this is what makes us strong. They think that we are hedonistic and weak; we’re actually very strong societies, very resilient, because of the very values that they despise so much.

And these values are what makes the bond between Israel and the United States, the American people and the people of Israel, so strong. It’s that identity of values, those very values that are under such fierce attack today. I think nobody should underestimate the resilience and power of our societies. Nobody should underestimate the United States. It was, it remains and will be the leader of the world precisely because it is so rooted in the values that make societies great.

And these are the same values by which we live, and that’s why nobody should underestimate Israel, and nobody should underestimate the strength of our alliance. It’s strong and it will be even stronger in years to come. And I appreciate the President’s willingness to forge a new agreement between Israel and the United States, a ten-year MoU to strengthen Israeli-American cooperation and strengthen Israel’s security with American support. I think everybody in Israel appreciates that, beginning with me.

We face today two challenges that I’d like to briefly discuss with you. One is a global challenge of the battle of militant Islamic terrorism that plagues not only the Middle East, but increasingly Europe and the United States and Asia, everywhere – Africa. And the second is the specific problem of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which I’d like to address.

On the global front, I have to say that many used to say that the core of the conflicts in the Middle East, and from there the rest of the world, were rooted in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That was never true, but it’s now demonstrably false. And what we see is the old order established after the Ottoman Empire collapsing and militant Islam, either of the Shiites, Shiite hue led by Iran, or the Sunni hue, led by ISIS, rushing in to fill the void. Now those two forces are clashing with each other because each wants to be the king of the Islamist hill. They hope to first establish in the Middle East and after that in their mad designs throughout the rest of the world, but it nonetheless is a battle of militant Islam against other Muslims and against everyone else.

That is clearly demonstrated in the case of ISIS, that doesn’t mince its words, and is disguised by Iran, that has equal ambitions. The danger that we face is augmented when militant Islam gets a sovereign state, because a state gives them money, in oil revenues in particular for either one, and it gives them the power to develop weapons or acquire weapons – chemical weapons in the case of ISIS and other sophisticated weapons – and of course the quest for nuclear weapons or submarines or satellites and sundry other rockets and precision-guided missiles in the case of Iran.

These battles, these forces are battling each other now over the soil of Syria, and our position has been – my position has been not to intervene because an ISIS-dominated Syria is bad and a Iran-dominated Syria is bad. I think that our policy has been therefore not to try to strengthen one at the expense of the other, but weaken both. But in any case, my policy has been non-intervention with two exceptions. The first is humanitarian. We were among the first countries to offer humanitarian aid to Syria. We established a field hospital right next to the border of, our border in the Golan and have taken in thousands of Syrians who’ve come in, astounded. They were always taught that Israel and Israelis were devils and now they were healing angels. And the second thing that I’ve decided to do is to make it clear that Israel will not tolerate the use of Syrian territory for passing lethal weapons to Hezbollah, to open up a warfront against us in Lebanon, or to use Syrian territory for attacks against us or to enable Iran to build a second terror or military front against us from the Golan or anywhere else in Syria.

These are clear principles which we uphold. I’ve expressed also to President Putin of Russia that these are principles that we’ll continue to uphold and that it makes sense that Russia and Israel have deconfliction. We’ve done that, just as the United States has done that, but it’s very important for me to stress that Israeli policy will continue along the lines that I’ve just outlined.

If I look at the world overall, the core of the conflicts in the Middle East, that is the battle between early medievalism and modernity, is the battle that is being waged now around the world. And the advanced countries in the world, the civilized countries of the world, have to make common cause to contain and ultimately defeat militant Islam. Deep down, human beings want to have freedom and I think that desire and the technology of freedom, the spread of information, will ultimately defeat militant Islam, just as it defeated another murderous ideology bent on world domination: Nazism.

In the case of Nazism, it took down about 60 million people and a third of our own people before it went down, and this cannot allow to happen again. I think it won’t happen again: one, because we have the historical antecedents; and two, because we have the State of Israel, as far as the Jewish people are concerned. We will not allow any one of these violent medievalist forces to threaten our country and threaten our people.

Insofar as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is concerned, I think there is another misunderstanding. People have long said that the core of this conflict is the acquisition of territories by Israel in the 1967 War. That’s an issue that needs to be addressed in any peace process, as is the question of settlements, but it’s not the core of the conflict. In Gaza, nothing changed. In fact, instead of getting peace, we gave territory and got 15,000 rockets on our heads. We took out all the settlements; we disinterred people from their graves; and did we get peace? No. We got the worst terror possible.

I think that happened earlier too, when we left Lebanon and people said, “Well, if you leave Lebanon, then Hezbollah will make peace with you.” And in fact, we got 15,000 rockets from there too. And so people are naturally saying, look, if we want a solution vis-à-vis the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, in the West Bank, how can we ensure that this doesn’t happen again? Well, in order for us to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, we have to address the root cause of the problem. Why has this conflict not been resolved for a hundred years? Why has it not been resolved after successive Israeli prime ministers, six in fact after the Oslo Agreement, have offered to make peace, have offered the Palestinians the possibility of building a state next to Israel – it’s because the Palestinians have not yet been willing to cross that conceptual bridge, that emotional bridge, of giving up the dream not of a state next to Israel, but a state instead of Israel.

And that’s why they persistently refuse – not only Hamas in Gaza, but the PA – they consistently refuse to accept that in a final peace settlement, they will recognize the Jewish state, they will recognize a nation-state for the Jewish people. They ask that we recognize a nation-state for the Palestinian people, but refuse to accord that same right to us. I have said and I continue to say it, that ultimately the only workable solution is not a unitary state, but a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state. That’s the solution. But the Palestinians have to recognize the Jewish state and they persistently refuse to do so. They refuse to recognize a nation-state for the Jewish people in any boundary. That was and remains the core of the conflict. Not this or that gesture or the absence of this or that gesture, but the inability or unwillingness of the Palestinian leadership to make the leap.

You got a hint of that the other day when Abu Mazen spoke about the “occupation of Palestinian lands for the last 67 years”. Did you hear that? Occupation of Palestinian lands? For the last 67 years? Sixty-seven years ago was 1948. That’s when the State of Israel was established. Does Abu Mazen mean that Tel Aviv is occupied Palestinian territory? Of Haifa? Or Beer Sheba? He refuses to fess up to his people and say it’s over, from their point of view what they say are the borders they wish, the final borders they wish. They refuse to recognize that they will have no more claim on the territory of the Jewish state, that they will not try in any way to flood it with the descendants of refugees. After all, we in Israel took in an equal and even larger number of Jewish refugees from Arab lands.

I mention this point about mutual national recognition because it is so fundamental, and like the mantra that was raised time and time and time again, that the core of the conflict, always in the singular, the conflict in the Middle East was the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, that has turned out to be even childish and irrelevant. The same thing I am saying will happen with the argument about the core of the conflict being the settlements or the territories. They’re an issue to be resolved, but they are not the core of the conflict.

And I think it’s important if we’re ever going to resolve this issue is to demand from the Palestinian leadership to recognize the Jewish state. We’ll still have many, many issues to resolve, but it begins with the recognition of the right of the Jewish people to have a state of their own. This is the fundament of peace and the absence of this recognition is the real obstacle.

I don’t lose hope. You can’t be a leader of the Jewish people and not have hope because we’ve overcome so many travails in the last thousands of years and in the last hundred years. We have clawed our way back to a sovereign existence. We built a remarkable state. It’s a world leader in technology, in agriculture, in irrigation, in cyber, in medicine – in so many areas. And we’ve made peace with two countries: Jordan and Egypt. And as the picture that I described about the threat of militant Islam to Arab and Muslim society emerges, we are making inroads and a lot of contacts with Arab countries – a lot of contacts that are not Arab countries as well: the leading countries of Asia, China, India, Japan; dozens of African countries; countries in Latin America. And it’s heartening. It’s heartening to see how Israel is being received and how people are changing their view of Israel as they change their view of the essential conflict between medievalism and modernity that is now spreading throughout the entire world.

But I know, with all the openness that we have with dozens and dozens of countries, including in our own region, I still know that we have no better friend than the United States. This is a partnership of solid values. It’s the deepest partnership there is. I value it across the partisan divide – Democrats, Republicans, Independents – we cherish your support. We value it and we believe that this partnership between Israel and the United States of America is the axis around which many other partnerships can be built in our region and beyond for the betterment of all humanity.

Thank you.

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Full Text Israel Political Brief November 10, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Address to the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu’s Address to the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly

Source: PMO, 11-10-15


PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the GA
Photo by Haim Zah, GPO Click Here to Enlarge Picture

-Transcription-

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the GA

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’m delighted to be here today with you, the leaders of Jewish communities across North America. You work tirelessly to strengthen Jewish identity and you work tirelessly to support the State of Israel. You are Israel’s partners, you are my partners in building the Jewish future.

Now, this past year has not been simple. Great issues were debated. Passions ran high and the stakes were even higher. But we must always remember two simple truths. The first one is that no matter what disagreements there are between Israel and the United States, Israel has no better friend than America and America has no better friend than Israel. Here’s the second truth: No matter what disagreements there have been within the Jewish community, maintaining the unity of our people is of paramount importance. There is only one Jewish people. There is only one Jewish state. And now, more than ever, we must work together to unite the Jewish people and secure the Jewish state.

Israel is a state of amazing, amazing successes. If we were in the South, I would say amazing grace. I’m saying it here too – amazing success, amazing grace. You know all about the start-up nation. You know that Israel is a global epicenter of innovation, of ingenuity – a leader in water technology, in agritech, in medicine, in science, in cyber.

I want to give you two numbers. First on water: We had twice the rainfall in 1948, the year of Israel’s founding and one-tenth the population. So in 67 years, the water supply has gone down by half from rainfall, roughly half, and the population has grown ten times. Our GDP per capita has grown 40 times, and with it goes water usage. So we had to have a big water problem, but we don’t. We have a water surplus. Israel leads the world by far in the recycling of waste water and in so many other technologies related to water. And people are coming to us and they say: Teach us. Or la’goyim. Teach us. Teach us what you’ve done for yourself. We can do it in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America. Every week somebody else comes and says teach us how to get water out of the stone.

So here’s another little factoid. Is that how you call it, factoid? Factum? Fact. Okay, here’s another fact. In 2014 Israel was receiving 10% of the global investment in cyber security. That’s an extraordinary number given that we are… It’s about 100 times our size in the relative population of the world. In 2015 that number has changed. It grew from 10% to 20%. It doubled in one year, one year. So in cyber, Israel is punching 200 times above its weight. That’s an extraordinary figure.

In cyber, in water and in many, many other fields of Israeli technology, our economy continues its remarkable ascent. In 1948, Israel had roughly the same GDP per capita as our neighbors. Today Israel’s GDP per capita has surpassed the European average and according to three of the four indices that I looked at before I came here, it surpassed that of Japan. And as our economy has grown, so has the reach of Israeli exports. Today Israel is dramatically increasing trade with India and China. I point that out because they’re two small countries, and together with our small country, we encompass about a third of the population of the world, which is another factoid you can file away. The combination of new innovations, really new products and services, and new markets, is propelling Israel’s economy to ever greater and greater heights.

That’s important because, you see, while we have tremendous opportunity, we also have one or two challenges. I think you’ve heard about them. We have to pay for defense. Defense is very, very expensive. In fact, it gets more and more expensive all the time, so the principal way by which we pay for our defenses is by growing our economy. And the other, I have to say, is the generous support that we are getting from the United States of America, and yesterday I had a wonderful discussion with President Obama how to secure that assistance for the coming decade. Thank you America and thank you President Obama.

I know that all of you are proud of Israel’s stunning technological achievements. But I think we should no less be proud of Israel’s values. And you see those values on display every day. You see it in our freedom – when you watch the passionate speeches in our Knesset, if you bring noise plugs, and indeed when you read the spirited debate in our press – bring pink sunglasses; it’ll lower the glare. But this is democracy. This is intense, robust democracy.

You see it in our pluralism – in our growing and thriving Christian population, the only Christian population in the Middle East that is growing and thriving and not shrinking and being decimated; in our proud and our strong LGBT community. Tel Aviv is a renowned capital of pluralism and diversity and tolerance, as is Israel altogether.

You see it in our egalitarianism. You see it in an Arab schoolboy who knows that – or schoolgirl – they can grow up to be Knesset members or ambassadors or a Supreme Court justice. We have an Arab Supreme Court justice, in case you didn’t know. And it’s the only truly independent court in a very, very large radius. You see it in Israeli schoolgirls who know they can become fighter pilots, central bank governors and prime ministers. We’ve had one of each, actually more than one of each – one of each for prime minister.

You see our compassion when you visit the hospitals, the field hospital that we’ve set up that treat thousands of wounded Syrians from the battles inside the Syrian inferno. We set up a field hospital I think about ten or fifty yards away, on our side of the Syrian border, and we take in these people who’ve suffered unbelievable tragedy. We take care of them at our expense and we’ve been doing so for years. You won’t read about it, but you should know about it. It’s very important.

And you see our values when you follow our expert rescue teams to faraway places like Haiti and Nepal. Just recently we had this horrible earthquake in Nepal and the biggest rescue delegation was from India. That’s a small country. The second largest in the world came from Israel. Second largest rescue delegation in the world.

Now, the demonstration of liberal democratic values would be impressive anywhere, anytime. But what is truly remarkable is that Israel upholds these values in the darkest and most oppressive region on earth and when facing unmatched security challenges. This is why when our detractors defame Israel, we must defend Israel. This is why when they tell us that we should be ashamed of Israel, we must tell them we are proud of Israel.

From my office in Jerusalem the dangers facing Israel can sometimes appear daunting. Israel is surrounded by many forces driven by fanaticism and hatred. Militant Islam is on the march – the Sunni extremists led by ISIS, the Shiite fanatics led by Iran.

But despite these enormous dangers, I have no doubt that Israel will continue to flourish in the years and decades ahead because the people of Israel are strong, because the alliance between America and Israel is strong and because the partnership between Israel and Jewish communities around the world is strong.

Through decades of war and terrorism, three generations of Israelis have shown extraordinary fortitude and resilience. I visit our troops just about every week. I go and see our young men and women in uniform and it is an experience that I hope that all of you can share, possibly have shared. To talk with our young men and women in uniform is to be inspired by their deep faith in the justice of Israel’s cause and by their fierce determination to defend our homeland. We’re going to be celebrating Hanukkah. These are the new Maccabees. They have such fortitude, such courage, such spirit. These soldiers are Israel’s future. So believe me when I tell you, Israel’s future is in very, very good hands.

The second source of my confidence in Israel’s future is the unshakeable alliance between Israel and America – an alliance that I believe will only get stronger. And as I said, yesterday I had a very good meeting with President Obama at the White House, and I deeply appreciate his commitment to bolster Israel’s security at the time when the Middle East is becoming more dangerous than ever.

And I also want to say that we are sharing so many things. The United States is giving indispensable help to Israel, indispensable, but Israel is returning that assistance almost on a daily basis in intelligence and in many other things. I think that what is important is not merely President Obama’s commitment to bolstering Israel’s security for the next ten years, but also his commitment to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge so that Israel can defend itself by itself against any threat. That is the most important commitment. And despite our disagreement over the nuclear deal with Iran, I believe that America and Israel can and should work together now to ensure Iran complies with the deal, to curb Iran’s regional aggression and to fight Iranian terrorism around the world.

Now, the third reason I am confident about the future is the tremendous partnership between us. Since the founding of Israel, well, even before the founding of Israel, you have been our partners in building the Jewish future. Your support has been invaluable in helping Israel successfully absorb millions of immigrants, build world-class hospitals, create an oasis of modernity in the middle of the desert, and in the last two decades, well, in the last two decades, well, Israel has begun investing in you.

This was a revolutionary idea that was put to me, a young prime minister, 20 years ago. They said, well, you know, the Diaspora and Jewish communities, especially in North America, have been investing in Israel, you know, for five decades. How about returning the favor? As our economy grows, we could invest in Jewish education, in Jewish identity. And I said, well, that’s a crazy idea. I like that. So well before we reached our current economic levels, we began, and Natan Sharansky remembers that very well, we began to invest in Birthright, which I thought was an extraordinary idea.

Now, half a million people later, half a million young Jews, young men and women who have visited Israel, I’m proud to say that we’ll continue to invest in Birthright. It is, after all, our birthright. And tens of thousands of course, tens of thousands have participated in the longer Masa programs. And thousands have decided to make Israel their permanent home. I think the hundreds of thousands have come back to their communities – this is a large number. Hundreds of thousands who come back to the Jewish communities with stronger Jewish identities and a stronger commitment to the Jewish future – that strengthens the Jewish world. It is a remarkable program. And whether Jews decide to live in Israel or not, I want to guarantee one thing to each and every one of you: As Prime Minister of Israel, I will always ensure that all Jews can feel at home in Israel – Reform Jews, Conservative Jews, Orthodox Jews – all Jews.

As a testament to my commitment to this principle, I have established a roundtable, headed by my Cabinet Secretary, to address the concerns of the different streams of Judaism in Israel. That’s significant. That’s a governmental decision. You want to know our politics? Not now, but that’s a significant decision. This is a roundtable of the Government of Israel in which the various streams of Judaism sit together side-by-side to discuss problems and more importantly to discuss solutions. And now, for the first time, the Government of Israel is joining with the Jewish Agency to invest in strengthening Reform and Conservative communities within Israel. I am also hopeful that we will soon conclude a long overdue understanding that will ensure that the Kotel is a source of unity for our people, not a point of division. And we’re getting there, I have to say.

My dear friends,

The unity of the Jewish people is important at all times, but especially at this time. It’s especially important when the assault on the Jews is not confined to the Middle East, because as Michael said correctly there is a wave of anti-Semitism that is raging across Europe, but it goes beyond there to other continents as well.

I want to say something about anti-Semitism. My father was a great historian and a student of this phenomenon. It has ancient roots. It goes back roughly to Hellenistic times, five hundred years before the birth of the Christian era. It has a long tradition and old traditions die hard. Sometimes they don’t die. For centuries the world believed the worst things about Jews – and these lies were believed not just by the ignorant masses; they were believed as well by the educated elites. They said about us that we were poisoners of wells, spreaders of plagues, killers of children. Now the lies that were once leveled at the Jewish people are now leveled at the Jewish state. They say that Israel harvests organs, spreads AIDS and executes innocent children.

Once, the Jewish people couldn’t even raise its collective voice to fight against these lies, these slanders. Today, we have a voice. Today we have a voice. And we must ensure that our voice is heard loud and clear. We must speak out against the slander of the Jewish people and the Jewish state. Now, whether it’s the Prime Minister of Israel speaking at the United Nations or Jewish students speaking at a college campus, we can and must fight lies and the only way you fight lies is telling the truth. We have nothing to be ashamed of. We have everything to be proud of. Stand up proudly. Speak the truth about Israel. Be proud as Jews.

The truth is Israel is a great country, a deeply moral country. Of course, like all countries, Israel is not a perfect country. But Israel is constantly judged by many in the international community according to a standard of perfection that is applied to no other country and that no country could possibly meet.

There is a name for holding the Jews to a different standard than other people. You know what it’s called. It begins with an “a” and it ends with an “m”. We recognize it for what it is. You cannot, you cannot hold the Jewish state to what I call the triple standard. One standard is for the dictatorships – you don’t expect much of them. The second standard is for the democracies. And the third standard – it’s not even a double standard, it’s the triple standard. There’s a special defined standard for the democracy called Israel. No way, no double standards, no triple standards. Treat Israel fairly. Treat Israel decently.

Now I have a friend whom you may know. His name is Alan Dershowitz. And he gave what I think is a very good test. He said this in the Oxford Student Union. By the way, he said he was the only one who won an Oxford Student Union debate on Israel. He gives a great fight. So here’s what our friend Alan Dershowitz, a great exponent of the truth, said. He said name a single country in the history of the world faced with threats comparable to those faced by Israel that has a better record of human rights, complies more rigorously with the rule of law and does more to minimize civilian casualties. He asked that and the answer was: There is no other country. Israel stands at the top of the list.

And I think we have to speak the truth about peace as well. The truth is that the reason that we don’t have peace yet with the Palestinians is not because of the settlements or a territorial dispute, the territories that that were won in our defensive war of 1967. Israelis and Palestinians had a conflict for half a century – almost 50 years – before Israel captured any of those territories or built even a single one of those settlements. And afterwards, we left part of that territory – Gaza. Left it to the very last centimeter or inch. Stripped out the settlements, went to the ’67 boundaries, uprooted all the people who were there, disinterred people from their graves. What did we get? Peace? We got rockets.

The truth is that the reason that there isn’t peace between Israelis and Palestinians is the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any boundary. That’s the truth. If you recognize the problem, you’ll be able to get to its solution.

And here’s another simple truth: The truth is that Israel seeks peace. The truth is that I seek peace. And when Israel, the people of Israel, the governments of Israel, met Arab leaders who wanted peace equally, like Egypt’s Anwar Sadat and Jordan’s King Hussein, Israel made peace. We could do so when you meet an Arab leader who essentially says we’re burying the past. We’re seizing the future. We have no more demands of the Jewish state.

And when Israel will face a Palestinian leadership that seeks peace, that is willing to bury the past, that will make no more demands on the State of Israel – not get a state next to Israel in order to displace Israel, not get a state next to Israel in order to flood the adjoining State of Israel with millions of Palestinian descendants; when we meet a leader who actually is willing to recognize finally the Jewish state, we will have peace and that is the first requirement, the most essential requirement.

I remain committed to a vision of two states for two peoples where a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state, and Israel will continue to work for peace in the hope that what is not achievable today might be achievable tomorrow.

My friends,

If you have any doubts about Israel’s future, I suggest you think about how far Israel has already come. You know, for each of us, especially the older ones, we have a personal perspective that we can… we can assess the future based on the road we’ve travelled so far. I was born a year after the founding of the state, and the change, in my perspective, has been nothing less than stunning.

I remember as a child the excitement that gripped my friends and the entire country as we celebrated our first decade of independence, chag asor. It was a decade in which we won our War of Independence and doubled our population. And as Israel turned 20, I celebrated as a young soldier, with my fellow soldiers and with the people of Israel – I’d enlisted shortly after our great victory in the Six Day War and I was still awed that only a year earlier we had liberated and reunited our eternal capital Jerusalem.

I remember the feeling, I remember the feeling at the end of the Six Day War. I’d grown up in Jerusalem, and my father’s office – he was the editor-in-chief of the Hebrew Encyclopedia – and his office was right next to the wall separating Jerusalem. And I would go there because the bicycle fixers were there, so I always knew that I couldn’t go that direction because I’d hit the wall and Jordanian snipers. And all of a sudden, there was, at the end of the Six Day Way, there was a breach in the wall and we started flowing, just thousands, tens of thousands flowing through that breach into the Old City to the Kotel. And we went there and just stood next to the Kotel. Nobody said anything. We were just so mesmerized by realizing the dream of ages. That was what I remember from the third decade of Israel’s existence, the beginning of the third decade.

And then, at the end of it, when Israel turned 30, we were on the verge of achieving a great historic peace with the largest Arab country, with Egypt. And when I was privileged to preside over Israel’s 50th anniversary celebrations as prime minister, we were already at peace with Jordan and we were busy welcoming home nearly a million immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Now, two decades have passed since that 50th anniversary – nearly two decades since that 50th anniversary celebration, and we have since then liberalized our economy, won eight more Nobel Prizes – that’s a large number – built 21st century roads and rails, discovered gas, transformed Israel into a global technological power and reversed that joke, “How do you make a small fortune in Israel? Start with a big fortune”. Turned it completely on its head. And we are showing the world new ways to travel, new ways to enrich life, new ways to protect health, new ways to grow crops. Today we’re forging new ties with countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and no less important, today we’re forging new ties with Arab states in the region that increasingly see Israel not as an implacable enemy but as a valued ally, as a partner, in confronting common dangers together. I hope they also see it as a partner in seizing the future for the betterment of their peoples in this great battle between modernity and medievalism. Modernity must win.

So now that Israel is approaching the end of its seventh decade, we can only marvel at what we have been able to achieve against impossible odds. And I have no doubt that despite the enormous challenges we still face, Israel will continue to thrive because I believe in the indomitable spirit of our people, because I believe in our unshakable bond with the United States and because I believe in you, in the unbreakable bond that unites Jews everywhere with the Jewish people. It’s a bond of faith. It’s a bond of hope – not the shallow hope of wishful thinking but the deep wellspring of confidence that comes from a people who have forded history’s most turbulent rivers and emerged triumphant on the other side in the Promised Land. That’s what I believe in.

Thank you all for your indispensable part in our common journey. And thank you all for your unceasing efforts to secure our common future. Thank you all. Thank you very much.

Full Text Israel Political Brief May 12, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu addresses 5th Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu addresses 5th Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism

Source: MFA, 12 May 2015

Today’s antisemitism is not limited to the various sects of militant Islam, nor is it limited just to the xenophobic elements on the fringes of European society. Because today it often wears the mask of so-called progressive thinking in the West.

PM Netanyahu addresses 5th Global Forum for Combating Antsemitism

PM Netanyahu addresses 5th Global Forum for Combating Antsemitism
Copyright: GPO
I’m very pleased to welcome you all to Jerusalem. There are senior government ministers here from Germany, from Romania, from Bulgaria, from Canada. Our own Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Naftali Bennett, the Mayor of Paris, the UN Coordinator for the Peace Process, religious leaders from across the face, many from the Muslim community. I had an excellent discussion just now with the Imam of Paris. There are ambassadors here and distinguished guests from so many walks of life, from so many lands, including great actors.

So I’m delighted to see all of you here, even though the subject of our deliberations is not a source of delight.

Seventy years ago, with the end of World War II and the revelation of the horrors of the Holocaust, some believed that humanity would discard one of history’s oldest hatreds – antisemitism. And it’s true that in the years immediately following World War II, blatant expressions of hatred for the Jews appeared to take a respite, at least in the liberal West.

Yet today there is no doubt that we are living in an age of resurgent antisemitism. Jews everywhere are once again being slandered and vilified.

This is taking place in the intolerant parts of the Middle East but it’s also taking place in what otherwise would be expected to be the tolerant parts of the West. It’s taking place in Beirut, in Damascus, in Tehran. But it’s also taking place, violently so, in Toulouse, in Paris, in Brussels. Because along with vilification come the inevitable violent attacks.

And Jews are now being targeted for being Jews. Jews have the right to live freely and safely wherever they choose. And governments everywhere are responsible for guaranteeing this right.

I want to take this opportunity to praise all the governments that have been witnessing this resurgent antisemitism, their commitment to protect the rights of the Jews, the rights of individuals, the rights of their citizens. Their representatives are here, and I praise you for it. But Jews also have the right to join us here in Israel, and if they make that choice, we will welcome them with open arms.

Contemporary antisemitism doesn’t just slander, vilify and target the Jewish people. It first and foremost today targets the Jewish state. That’s the nexus, that’s the core, that’s the focus of antisemitism.

I want to give you an example of this from today, this morning. I went down to Ben-Gurion airport to welcome home the IDF’s humanitarian mission to Nepal.

The UN filed a report. Actually, this is a good UN report about Israel. It said that of all the countries in the world, and Israel is one of the smallest countries in the world, Israel fielded the second largest rescue and relief team in Nepal. Of all the nations in the earth. Our people did a magnificent job. They saved lives. They took people out of the rubble. They treated 1,600 wounded people and sick people. They delivered life, several births.

Yet yesterday state television in both Iran and Venezuela accused our humanitarian team of trafficking in babies. Now, did any of you see an Iranian rescue team in Nepal? This is the quintessential example of the Big Lie technique. The aggressor accuses his victim.

And this big lie of antisemitism is propagated most enthusiastically by those who trample on the human rights of their own people.

Iran will speak of human rights? I don’t want to talk about Venezuela. I’ll leave that to you. They lecture us on human rights, on the rule of law, on safeguarding human decency? They string people in cranes, innocent people in cranes in the squares of Tehran and Iran’s other cities. They send their goons to Lebanon, to Syria, to Yemen, slaughtering people by the thousands. They slaughter Muslims, they target Muslims who do not share their violent creed.

Today, a lot of the extreme antisemitism that we see today is coming from old quarters, intolerant quarters, xenophobic ones in parts of Europe, in a peculiar marriage with the militants who seek to overtake the world of Islam, and they have integrated the most extreme antisemitism into this murderous theology.

I want to give you an example. First, recognize that their first and greatest number of victims are their fellow Muslims. But they also target us, and I give you the Hamas Charter. It repeats the ancient libels against the Jews. It openly calls for the murder of Jews wherever they are and for the destruction of their state.

And the same can be said of Hezbollah and for the common patron of both Hezbollah and Hamas, which is of course Iran.

And of course they have competition. The militant Shi’ites have competition from the militant Sunnis of al-Qaida, of ISIS and al-Nusra who echo their murderous creed not only about Israel. You’ve seen the horrors they commit on their fellow Muslims.

Today’s antisemitism, as I said, is not limited to the various sects of militant Islam, nor is it limited just to the xenophobic elements on the fringes of European society. Because today it often wears the mask of so-called progressive thinking in the West. Some of those who consider themselves champions of tolerance are remarkably intolerant when it comes to Jews and the Jewish state.

The classic antisemite portrayed the Jews as the embodiment of all evil in the world. Modern antisemites portray the Jewish state as the embodiment of all evil in the world.

When Hamas and Hezbollah rocketed our cities, thousands and thousands and thousands of rockets, fired directly at our cities – that’s a war crime, hiding behind their civilians – that’s a second war crime – when they committed these dual war crimes, tens of thousands demonstrated on the streets of European capitals, not against Hamas, not against Hezbollah, but against Israel.

Now, thousands are being killed in the brutal conflict in Yemen. You see any demonstrations in London or Paris? A quarter of a million people have been savagely butchered in Syria. You hear any word of academic boycotts on the Assad regime? And in Iran now under the Rouhani government, executions have gone up, innocent people are taken to death. You hear any UN resolutions condemning these violations of basic human rights?

And the answer regrettably is no. The demonstrations, the boycotts, the resolutions are all reserved for the Middle East’s one true democracy, in fact it’s the most beleaguered democracy on earth – Israel.

This is a travesty. You can try to explain it away in many ways and it’s true that the internet has a multiplier effect, but you can have a multiplier effect on many, many lies, on many slanders, and yet this has a global multiplying effect, and there is something fundamentally wrong that this slander is reserved for the one country in the region where the death penalty is not even used against the most gruesome terrorist murderers, the one country that holds human rights sacrosanct, where equality is protected under the law – for women, for Christians, for minorities, for all.

You can ask yourself how is that possible, how could it be that the Jewish state is treated like that. There’s got to be fire if there’s smoke.

How do think the Jews were treated for generations? The things that peoples said about the Jews for generations were believed across so many lands. They believed that we poisoned the wells, that we drank the blood of Christian children, that we were spreading disease deliberately. By the way, these are all repeated as we speak.

You see, how could it be that they believed it? But they did. Not only did they believe it, you say, well, that’s because of ignorance. Yeah, that’s true. Except that some of the most educated people in history believed it – Voltaire, Dostoyevsky, and the list is a lot longer, by the way.

So education and knowledge may be a partial protector against this slander, but there’s something deeper here because these are such patent falsehoods. It is the willingness to submit to slander, the willingness to believe this. This is what creates the ground, and it starts not from the bottom. It starts with the elites. And that’s where it has to be challenged.

And today the treatment of Israel is no different from the treatment of our forbearers. The Jewish state is being treated among the nations the way the Jewish people were treated for generations.

And we’re not perfect, by the way. We have a lot of things that we can improve. We have a very boisterous and robust democracy. You should come to the Knesset. I invite all of you. What fun. But it is. It’s alive. It’s free. Everything is debated, everything is open, and there is a system of justice, a system of laws and true tolerance. With all the imperfections of any society, we’ve built here a tremendous society. Beleaguered? Yes, but with great success.

And our best allies actually these days are some of our Arab neighbors because they know we face a common threat.

So we see this country. How can it be that this country is slandered like no other country? Well, probably because old habits die hard.

But the sad truth is that some of them don’t die. The sad truth is that no rational examination can justify the obsession with the Jewish state, and this obsession with the Jewish state and the Jewish people has a name. It’s called antisemitism. I know you understand all this. I know that the people in this room have learned the painful lessons of 70 years ago.

I appreciate your commitment to fighting antisemitism because the battle starts from the top. Antisemitism, contrary to what people think, does not just bubble up from below. It percolates also from the top. And that’s why it’s so important that there are leaders here, across lands, across faiths, across professions, from the public and the private domain, who are gearing up to fight this old obsession.

You have learned from history, but regrettably, many around the world have yet to do so.

I want to assure you that we have. We are no longer a stateless people searching for a safe haven. We are no longer a powerless people begging others to protect us. Today we have an independent and sovereign state. Today we can protect ourselves and defend our freedoms, our lives.

What has changed in the history of the world for the Jewish people is not the hatred of the Jews, but with the founding of the Jewish state, the rediscovery by the Jews of the capacity to defend ourselves against slander and against attack. Today we can speak up against our vilification – as I am doing right now and as you have been doing, and I know you will continue to do.

Because there is a simple fact – a lie that is left unchallenged and endlessly repeated assumes the cachet of self-evident truth. Our biggest job – our biggest job – is to go and light a candle of truth.

When I came to the United Nations many years ago to serve as Israel’s ambassador, I met a famous Jewish religious leader, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and he said to me: You know, you’ll be going into a house where many, many lies will be leveled at Israel and at our people, and he said, “Remember that in the darkest halls, if you light one candle, then people will see the light of truth for a very long distance. They’ll see it from afar, and your job,” he said to me, “is to light a candle of truth in a dark hall.” Well, I’ll tell you, we need a lot of candles, a lot of lighters of candles, and that’s how I see you.

Because nowhere is this calumny that is leveled against our people more systematically propagated than in Iran. The ayatollah regime is conducting as we speak a competition. The competition is an international competition. It parallels our conference, except it’s the very reverse. It’s a competition of Holocaust deniers from around the globe, who can better deny the Holocaust. And while they are denying the Holocaust, they’re planning another genocide against our people. They openly threaten to annihilate the State of Israel.

Just a few weeks ago, a few days before the Lausanne agreement was signed, an Iranian general said, “The destruction of Israel is non-negotiable.” Openly. And of course they seek to build nuclear weapons to implement this mad design.

I have to tell you honestly that the Lausanne framework won’t stop them. Israel wants to see a peaceful solution, a better deal that will actually block Iran’s path to the bomb. But I want to be absolutely clear. The Jewish state will defend itself by itself against any threat.

That’s what we’ve learned from history. That’s what the Jewish state is all about.

But we’ve also learned something else. I don’t know if we’ll be able to eradicate the scourge of antisemitism. I know we have to fight it. We have learned that if you don’t fight it, if unstopped, these fires of antisemitism eventually spread and they consume everyone. That is I think the central lesson of the 20th century, in many ways the central lesson of modern times.

So for the sake of decency, for the sake of our common humanity, for the sake of our common future, we must all continue to stand up and fight antisemitism. The Jewish people and decent people everywhere will salute you for doing just that.

Thank you, thank you for coming to Jerusalem, thank you.

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 11, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks for The Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly warning of a Iran Nuclear Weapons Deal

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks for The Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly

Source: PMO, 11-11-14
יום שלישי י”ח חשון תשע”ה
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Photo by: GPO

[Transcription]

Greetings to all of you, my friends, all of you who are attending the General Assembly 2014. Greetings from Jerusalem – the eternal and united capital of the Jewish people.

Michael are you speaking or am I speaking?

Thank you, Michael, and thank you all.

I want to thank my friend of many decades, Michael Siegal, for the kind introduction, and I want to thank you, Michael, for the exemplary work you’re doing as Chairman of the Board of the Jewish Federations.

And I also want to acknowledge and salute DeDe Feinberg, Chair of the Executive Committee;

Jerry Silverman, the JFNA President and CEO;

and the hundreds of leaders and professionals who are there tonight, for the terrific job you do to strengthen the Jewish communities of North America and to strengthen support for Israel.

Your communities have stood resolutely by our side as Israel has defended itself time and again against enemies bent on our destruction, including during this past summer in Operation Protective Edge.

You led solidarity missions; you raised money to help those in need; and you held rallies in support for Israel. And as our soldiers defended Israel on the battlefield, you helped defend Israel in another battlefield – in the court of public opinion. And you did that by doing something very simple – you just told the truth. You told the truth about Israel’s just battle against Hamas terrorists.

I want to say two words to you: Thank you. Thank you for standing up for Israel. Thank you for standing up for the truth.

I also want to recognize Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, a true hero of the Jewish people. Natan, like you, works day and night to strengthen the Jewish future.

And finally, I want to recognize Ron Dermer, Israel’s exceptionally talented ambassador in Washington.

Thank you, Ron, for all you are doing to strengthen the bonds between Israel and the United States and between Israelis and Americans – American Jews and American non-Jews.

And by the way, Ron, you can tell Vice President Biden that I know we’re still buddies. We’ll always be buddies.

The Vice President said yesterday that we don’t always agree. That’s true.

But we definitely agree that Israel has no greater friend and ally than the United States, and that the United States has no greater friend and ally than the State of Israel.

I deeply appreciate the unique and special friendship between Israel and the United States of America, as well as the great friendship between Israel and the state of Canada.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s important to have friends like the United States and Canada because, it’s important for any country to have such alliances, but especially for a country like Israel that faces many challenges unlike any other nation on Earth.

But none of these challenges is more important than the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Our goal must not be merely to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons today. We must also prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons tomorrow.

Iran is openly committed to Israel’s destruction. And even as Iran negotiates a nuclear deal with the leading powers in the international community, its Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, brazenly calls for Israel’s annihilation. These are not my words, these are his words: Israel’s annihilation.

He just did it again three days ago on his Twitter account. That’s apparently the Iranian regime’s idea of modernity – tweeting about the annihilation of Israel.

But I’m afraid these aren’t mere words. These aren’t mere words; they’re not just statements thrown out in the air, which is harmful enough. The regime in Iran’s wild rhetoric is also backed by murderous action.

Iran arms, trains, finances the Palestinian terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. It has supplied them, and its main terrorist proxy, Hezbollah, with tens of thousands of rockets to fire on Israeli citizens. Iran perpetrates murder and mayhem throughout the Middle East – in Syria, in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Yemen and elsewhere. It has spread a reign of terror across five continents – from Bangkok to Burgas, and even an attempt in Washington, DC.

Iran’s savagery abroad is also matched by its brutality at home. The ayatollah regime executes political opponents, religious and ethnic minorities, gays, feminists and journalists. And executions have increased, not decreased, under the supposedly moderate Rouhani regime.

This is how Iran acts without nuclear weapons; now imagine how Iran will act if a deal is made that leaves it as a threshold nuclear power.

My friends,

It’s obvious that Iran wants to remove the sanctions that have had such a devastating impact on its economy. But it should be equally obvious that Iran is not prepared to dismantle its nuclear weapons program in return.

Unfortunately, instead of holding firm and demanding that Iran dismantle its program, the international community is reportedly, and I hope these reports do not prove to be true, but the international community is reportedly willing to leave Iran’s nuclear program largely intact. They hope to rely on intelligence and inspectors to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

I believe this would be a bad deal and a huge mistake.

We must recognize the limitations of our own intelligence gathering capabilities. Remember – for years, both Israel’s intelligence and US intelligence failed to discover Iran’s secret enrichment facilities at Natanz and Qom. And given that record, there is no reason to believe that our intelligence facilities will be perfect in the future.

As for inspectors, they weren’t able to stop North Korea from getting the bomb. And if the ten year run-around that Iran has given the International Atomic Energy Agency is any indication, inspectors won’t stop Iran from getting the bomb either.

The IAEA itself has reported just last week that Iran continues to conceal the most suspicious aspects of its nuclear program from the international inspectors that are already in Iran.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Some people have suggested that Iran can help America solve the problems of the Middle East.

But Iran is not part of the solution.

It’s a huge part of the problem.

The Islamic State of Iran is not a partner of America.

It’s an enemy of America.

And it should be treated as an enemy – by keeping tough sanctions on the regime; by making clear that the international community is determined to do whatever it takes to prevent Iran from breaking out or sneaking out to get the bomb.

See, the worst thing that can happen now is for the international community to agree to a deal that leaves Iran as a threshold nuclear power and removes the sanctions.

That would be a disaster of historic proportions. It would embolden all of Iran’s terrorist proxies throughout the region; it would trigger a nuclear arms race between Sunnis and Shi’ites that would endanger the entire planet. And it would pose, needless to say, a grave danger to the State of Israel.

Israel cannot allow a regime committed to its destruction to develop the weapons to achieve that goal.

But the alternative to a bad deal is not war.

It means giving existing sanctions and even stronger sanctions more time to work to achieve the goal of fully dismantling Iran’s military nuclear capabilities.

To remove sanctions before that goal is reached is to remove any hope of a genuine diplomatic solution.

That is why avoiding a bad deal and maintaining strong pressure on Iran should be the policy of all responsible governments. So too, all responsible governments should help President Obama in his effort to degrade and defeat ISIS.

But as I said to the United Nations a few months ago, to defeat ISIS and allow Iran to be a threshold nuclear power would be to win the battle and lose the war.

The greatest threat facing our world is to have the forces of militant Islam get the bomb.

That must never be allowed to happen, for Israel’s sake, for the peace in the Middle East, for the peace and security of the entire world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we work to prevent the ultimate danger of a nuclear-armed Iran, we must also act forcefully to confront Palestinian terrorism and incitement.

In recent weeks, we have seen a dramatic rise in terrorist attacks against Jews across the country, including here in Jerusalem.

These attacks have been accompanied by a systemic campaign of incitement, including libels about Israel trying to change the status quo on the Temple Mount and even wild allegations that we are planning to destroy Muslim holy sites.

These are false accusations. They’re absolute fabrications. Israel is fully committed to the status quo.

Last week, I spoke to King Abdullah of Jordan, and I reiterated Israel’s commitment to maintain the religious status quo on the Temple Mount.

I will continue to make every effort to restore calm, to restore quiet and security, so that all may enjoy the religious freedom guaranteed by Israeli law.

But I regret to say that the Palestinian Authority, which should also be working to calm tensions, has joined Hamas and other radical Islamists in fanning the flames.

President Abbas himself called on Palestinians to prevent Jews from entering the Temple Mount. He used the words: “by any means possible.”

See, this – the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism, where Jews have visited peacefully for years – President Abbas says we should not set foot there. That’s changing the status quo.

President Abbas publicly praised the Islamic Jihad terrorist who tried to murder Rabbi Yehuda Glick, declaring that the would-be assassin would, and here’s his quote: “would go to heaven as a martyr defending the rights of our people and its holy places.” That’s the end of the quote.

And just today President Abbas accused Jews of “contaminating,” his word – contaminating the Temple Mount.

Once again, this incitement to violence is coupled with revisionist history intended to delegitimize the Jewish people and the Jewish state.

The official Facebook page of Fatah, just turn it on, you’ll see it, you have to Google this to believe this. The official Facebook page of Fatah denies that the Jewish people have any connection to the Temple Mount or that there was ever a Temple Mount at all – a temple on the Temple Mount.

Jerusalem, the ancient City of David, like the Land of Israel, is simply erased by the Palestinians from their history books.

Unfortunately, the international community does not hold the Palestinians responsible for this sort of incitement and denial of history, and I think that’s tragic, because these distortions and this incitement are so corrosive to the effort to reach a genuine peace.

Rather than help advance peace, many in the international community are setting back the cause of peace by convincing Palestinians that they can have a state without making peace with Israel.

Recognizing a Palestinian state without demanding an end to the Palestinian Authority’s pact with Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization is absurd.

Recognizing a Palestinian nation-state without demanding that the Palestinians recognize the nation-state of the Jewish people is unjust.

Recognizing a Palestinian state without demanding an end to incitement in official Palestinian media and schools is reckless.

And recognizing a Palestinian state without demanding robust security arrangements to enable Israel to protect itself and the peace, that is dangerous.

If the issue of Palestinian statehood is brought before the UN Security Council outside the context of a peace agreement with Israel, this should be flatly rejected. If any one-sided anti-Israel resolution is brought before that council, it should be vigorously opposed.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not be solved by exploiting the automatic anti-Israel majorities in the UN bodies. You can pass anything there. But that is not the way to achieve peace.

The only way to peace is through direct negotiations that address all the core issues.

Israel is ready for these negotiations; Israel is ready for peace; I am ready for peace. But it must be a genuine peace, a durable peace, and for that, we must have a Palestinian partner who is committed to forging such a genuine peace – a partner who is prepared to confront terrorism and end incitement; a partner who is prepared to recognize the nation-state of the Jewish people; a partner who is prepared to address Israel’s legitimate security concerns seriously; a partner who wants a Palestinian state not to continue the conflict with Israel, but to end it once and for all.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There are many countries in the region today who do want to put the conflict behind us. I think that offers hope.

There are leading Sunni Arab states that are re-evaluating their traditional hostility towards Israel. They increasingly understand that the real threat to them doesn’t come from Israel. It comes from militant Sunni radicals like ISIS and from a nuclear-armed Iran.

And I believe that cooperation with these states – that are more ready to work for peace and security with Israel than ever before – I believe that cooperation with them can help open the door to peace with the Palestinians, and I believe this is possible. But for that, we need the international community to stand by Israel, to demand from the Palestinians to stop incitement and to demand from them to go for peace.

My friends,

For 66 years, the Jewish communities of North America have been dedicated partners in building the State of Israel.

You have helped us transform Israel into a global technological powerhouse, a wonder of medicine and science and innovation, a vibrant and dynamic democracy.

You have stood by Israel’s side as we forged historic peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, and as we have worked to advance peace with the Palestinians.

And just as you have stood with Israel, Israel stands with you in confronting anti-Semitism; in strengthening Jewish identity; in working to ensure that the next generation of Jews remains just as committed to our remarkable partnership; and in ensuring that all Jews around the world know that they will always have a home in Israel.

We are one people.

We share one history,

And we have one destiny.

Thank you all.

Thank you for standing by Israel, and good bye from Jerusalem.

Israel Political Brief November 10, 2014: VP Joe Biden at Jewish Federations General Assembly: US will never abandon Israel

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Joe Biden at Jewish Federations General Assembly: US will never abandon Israel

Source: Jerusalem Post, 11-10-14

Vice President Joe Biden spoke at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly on Monday and said that the United States will never abandon Israel….READ MORE

Jewish Brief May 1, 2014: The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Overwhelmingly Rejects J Street

JEWISH BRIEF

JEWISH BRIEF: JEWISH NEWS

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Overwhelmingly Rejects J Street

Respected umbrella group of 50 major US Jewish organizations rejects far left group in secret ballot….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief February 17, 2014: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Iran, Peace Talks, and Boycotts as Anti-Semitism — Transcript

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

Source: PMO, 2-17-14

יום שני י”ז אדר א תשע”ד

Photo by GPO 

[Transcription]

Thank you Bob and thank you Malcolm. I’m delighted to see the current and the past President of the Presidents’ Conference, all good friends, and of course Moshe Arens, our Defense Minister. Once a Defense Minister, forever a Defense Minister. But he was Defense Minister three times. A tremendous job. And of course the Consul General of Egypt and all of you my friends.

First I want to welcome you again to Jerusalem, the eternal undivided capital of the Jewish people and the Jewish state.
We meet on the eve of the resumption of negotiations of what is called the final settlement with Iran. They’re supposed to begin tomorrow in Vienna. What is the goal? Or what ought to be the goal of these negotiations? It’s not merely to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons. I want to be more precise. It’s to prevent Iran from having the capability of manufacturing nuclear weapons. That is different. If Iran perches itself as a threshold state in which it has all the elements of a nuclear weapon in place, they’ll just have to do one little twist of the knob to get final enrichment of fissile material that is the core of a nuclear weapon, then all they’ll have to do is take these components from one side of a room and another side of a room, put them together and in a very short time, days or weeks or perhaps even hours, they’d have a nuclear weapon.

Our goal is to prevent Iran from having the capacity to manufacture or put together nuclear weapons. That is our goal. Now, if they claim to want only civilian nuclear energy, that they have an abundance and they certainly don’t need what it is they’re insisting on. They don’t need enrichment for peaceful nuclear energy. They don’t a heavy water reactor for that. They don’t need ICBMs, long range inter-continental ballistic missiles. They don’t need that for that. They don’t need a weaponization program that Iran of course refuses to open to inspection. They don’t need any of these things, but these are precisely the things that Iran insists on. And they’re precisely the elements that they have to be denied. Now, they haven’t been denied this, in the so-called interim deal. They’ve been allowed to maintain their ICBMs’ their long-range ballistic missiles program, they continue to develop them. By the way, the range is geared to Europe and soon to the United States. It’s not for us. And there’s only one purpose in the world to develop ICBMs. You don’t develop inter-continental ballistic missiles to deliver some hundreds of kilos of TNT. Believe me, nobody does that. You develop an ICBM in order to deliver a nuclear payload. Iran continues to develop that and continues to develop a heavy water reactor, and continues to develop latter-day models of centrifuges. Now they’re developing, as we speak, they’re developing centrifuges that are supposed to be 15 times more effective and more efficient than the centrifuges that they have today. That will enable them to leap-frog the distance and the time from low enrichment of uranium to high enrichment like that.

We’ve made a calculation. How much time has been saved by the interim deal? How much has Iran regressed by agreeing to distill or to dilute the 20% enriched uranium that they have to 3.5%? Well, given everything that they’re preparing, the 19,000 centrifuges that they have in place, and the advanced centrifuges that they continue to develop under the deal, the sub-total of what they’ve been sent back in time is four weeks. That’s what Iran has given to the world, which means it’s given practically nothing, but Iran has received a great deal. It’s received the easing of sanctions. It’s received the nations that are queuing up to ease more sanction with Iran and do more business with Iran. It’s very important to understand that. Iran has given zero, or practically zero. It’s given four weeks, but it’s receiving a new position in the world. It’s being legitimized. Everybody is embracing Iran because of a smile. But Iran’s moderation is a myth.

You should know what Iran is doing as we speak. As we speak, inside Iran innocent people are being executed. They’re executed in horrific ways. They’re executed with these cranes in the middle of cities, innocent people, hoisted up, executed by this regime. This regime continues to foster terrorism around the world. It sends the most deadly weapons to Hezbollah, to Hamas, weapons that are fired on our civilians. This regime, participates in the slaughter, the massive slaughter, the unending slaughter in Syria. That would not be possible without Iran. The Assad regime does not exist a day without Iran, without Iran’s money, without Iran’s weapons, without Iran’s commanders who were there on the site to tell what is left of the Syrian army what to do. But in addition to that, when that didn’t help, when everything else failed, Iran supplied Assad with the most important component. They actually gave them fighters. Khamenei instructed Nasrallah to go and bring his people to Lebanon, and there they do the fighting for Assad. There is no Assad regime without Iran. So as Assad perpetrates this savagery day in and day out, Iran is committing the savagery. Iran is supporting terrorists around the world. Iran is sending these weapons, deadly weapons to be fired on Israel’s cities, and Iran has not changed one iota its call to annihilate the Jewish state. And yet this regime is being embraced.

So I think what is needed are two things. One, we have to expose Iran for what it is. It smiles but it continues its deadly business every day. And secondly, it has to be stripped of the capacity to make nuclear weapons. What the deal that is being discussed today should achieve is one simple thing: zero centrifuges. Not one. Zero enrichment. They don’t need any centrifuges and they don’t have a right for enrichment. I think this is something that requires firmness and clarity. It may not be fashionable, but it’s the right thing, it’s the truthful thing, and I think that the only way that we could make Iran become a more moderate element, a more moderate nation and a more peaceful nation is by exhorting consistent pressure on it, political pressure, economic pressure and the demands of dismantling the Iranian nuclear program, which should be maintained throughout. I think any other route will actually produce the other result and make a diplomatic solution less likely. It will kick it away and force us into a reality that I think none of us want. We all want to see a peaceful solution. For a peaceful solution to succeed, you need more, not less, pressure.

The second thing that we’re discussing every day is how to achieve a secure and enduring peace with the Palestinians. By the way, the strength of Iran weakens that too, because Iran now controls one half of the Palestinian population. They control Hamas, they control Gaza through their proxies Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and of course they tell them what they say in Tehran, no peace with Israel, no reconciliation with Israel, continuous war in Israel. That’s what Hamas and the other terror proxies that Iran again, arms, funds and instructs are doing in Gaza. So one half of the Palestinian population is under the boot of Iran. And the other half, so far, has refused to confront the first half.

We’re trying to make peace with those Palestinians who at least have not engaged in terror and we say to them, if you want to achieve a real peace, then that peace has to be based on a real reconciliation with the Jewish State of Israel. I appreciate the effort, I must say ceaseless efforts, that Secretary John Kerry is engaging with me. We shall soon see if we have a partner in Abu Mazen, but I think if there is a partner there, then there is a way to move this process forward. And for it to move forward and for it to succeed ultimately, then it must address first the root cause of the conflict. The root cause of the conflict is not the settlements, it’s not the territories. This conflict predated it by at least half a century. The root cause of this conflict is the refusal to accept the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own in any boundaries. That remains a simple truth. Simple truths have a way of eluding common perception until they somehow land on you like a ton of bricks. Here is a simple truth that eluded all the experts and many of the commentators about the Middle East for decades. This was an area that was supposed to be preoccupied with one conflict and they always said the conflict, the core of the conflict in the Middle East, always in the singular. The core of the conflict was the Palestinian Israeli conflict. That’s what was said. Today if somebody repeated it, he should be at least laughed away. I think that you find that rarer and rarer. And that’s good, because when you see Syria imploding, and you see Iraq imploding, and you see Lebanon imploding and you see so many other parts of the Middle East imploding, Libya imploding, when you see all of that happening, you know that has nothing to do with the Palestinians.

I bring to your attention the fact that until two years ago people actually said this with a straight face. Professors, scholars, politicians, heads of state, they said the root cause of the conflict in the Middle East is the Palestinian Israeli conflict. Well that is as accurate as the next statement that they now say. That the root cause of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, inside the myriad conflicts of the Middle East is the settlements. Now, friends, you can take all the settlements and you can uproot them and the conflict will continue. You can have Israel continue, go back to the ’67 lines and the conflict will continue. How do we know that? Because we tried it. That’s exactly what we did in Gaza. We went back to the ’67 lines, we uprooted at terrible human cost and financial costs the 10,000 Israelis who were there. Did we get peace? What we got is a forward outpost of Iran from which they’ve so far fired about 12,000 rockets on our heads.

Now, what is going to prevent that from happening again? Well, what we need to see with the Palestinians who make a deal is that they’re resigned to the fact that they’ll have to make a genuine peace with Israel and that means finally recognizing the Jewish state. This will be a peace between two nation states. The Palestinians expect us to recognize a nation state for the Palestinian people. How do they have the temerity not to recognize the Jewish state, the nation state of the Jewish people? Do they not know that we’ve been here for the last 3,800 years? They don’t know that this is the land of the Bible? That this is where Jewish history and Jewish identity was forged? This is what defines us? This is how we define ourselves. We’ve been here a very long time, for God’s sake. They have no excuse, and they can try to distort ancient history and modern history, they can try to do that, but it doesn’t make it true. This is the land of Israel. We’ve been here on this land, associated with it for millennia, and now we say, we know that there has to be a very difficult decision to be made here. But in our ancestral homeland, we are the Jewish people. This is the Jewish land. This is the Jewish state. When we make an agreement it is an agreement between the nation state of the Jewish people and a nation state of the Palestinian people.

If they don’t accept that, you have to ask yourself why not? Why don’t they accept that? Why do they insist on not recognizing us? There is a reason.  Because once you accept the fact that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people then you have no more claims on this land and on this country, wherever the final border will be drawn. You cannot  claim the so called right of return because that claim of Palestinian refugees or their descendants will be satisfied in the nation state of the Palestinian people. Just as Jews can come here, Palestinians if they chose can go there. That claim evaporates.

Secondly, you cannot make any territorial claims on what remains as the territory of Israel. You cannot say, well there is another people there. Perhaps a sub-group of Israel’s citizens. They’re entitled to a sub-state or to separate state or to an irredentist claim. The minute you agree to the formulation of two nation states, a Jewish state for the Jewish people and a Palestinian state for the Palestinian people, you end all claims. You end territorial claims, and you end refugee claims, you end the so-called “right of return.” That is all incorporated in ending the conflict. The fact that the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian Authority adamantly refuses to accept this raises serious questions on whether they’re committed to a genuine peace. And unless they’re willing to accept it, they’re not committed to a genuine peace.

Now, even if they accept it, which I sincerely hope they do, that doesn’t guarantee that the decades of incitement that they’ve led to their own people, teaching them to seek this solution, an elimination of the Jewish states, that that will come to an end. We don’t know that. We cannot guarantee that. And I certainly am not coming into any of this Pollyannaish. I’m not looking at this wide eyed, from pink eyeglasses. I can understand that this will be a very difficult experience but it starts with a Palestinian leadership that accepts the Jewish state, accepts the end of claims, ends the conflict and disavows, shuts down, the whole claim of flooding Israel with refugees. That’s a necessity. It’s just not a guarantee. In fact, there is no guarantee. There is no guarantee that the incitement will stop, that the culture of hatred will end. And that’s why we need very solid security arrangements.

We hope that there will be a cultural change.  We hope that the fruits of peace will take root in the soil. We hope that the new generation of Palestinians will embrace a different path. We hope, but we can’t base the peace on hope alone. We must base it also on security. I think we have to base it also on sound economic cooperation in every way that we can to give the individual Palestinians a stake in their future. But we cannot base it merely on our wishful thinking. It just doesn’t happen that way. Look at the Middle East as a whole. The whole land is convulsing, there are earthquakes everywhere you go. And how are we to be sure that areas that we cede to the Palestinians will not be taken over by Hamas and Hezbollah and Al-Queda and Salafis. They’re all there. So we must ensure solid security arrangements that protect the peace and protect Israel in case the peace unravels. And that is the second pillar of peace.

Now what are sound security arrangements? Are they security arrangements of which we ask UNIFIL to protect us? I don’t hear a response. Maybe EUBAM? Remember EUBAM? No? EUBAM was the European force that was placed along the Gaza-Sinai border after we departed from Gaza. I have to tell you that in its favor it lasted I think seven days. Well, maybe I’m wrong, maybe a few more, maybe a few less. But that’s about it. The minute Hamas took over, EUBAM evaporated. UNIFIL has been unable to staunch or stop the arming of Hezbollah, which by now has quintupled compared to what it was when we left Lebanon in 2006. UNIFIL was charged with preventing the rearming of Hezbollah. Hezbollah is rearmed five times and in many ways with much more deadly weapons.

Now, the charge, the mandate of UNIFIL is one. It only has one mandate. To report these violations. To report these violations – not to act against them, not to intercede, not to intervene, just to report these violations. So now Hezbollah has anywhere close to 100,000 missiles. How many missiles has UNIFIL reported? Want to guess? Zero. So who are we to rely on to enforce these arrangements? Not UNIFIL, not EUBAM. Maybe UNDOF in the Golan Heights? You know what’s happening there. We have Jihad on our fences. We have attacks literally bouncing off our fences. Sometimes they cross.

We are, of course, not indifferent to the suffering of the people there and we do take, we’ve taken hundreds of these people who were bleeding to death, suffering from loss of blood or loss of limbs. We’ve taken them into our hospitals. But UNDOF? Not UNDOF, not UNIFIL, not EUBAM. And we don’t ask for Western troops. We’re the only country that is allied with the United States in distress that is not asking for American troops or for NATO troops. We’re perfectly capable of defending ourselves by ourselves against any threat, and that’s what we need to continue.

So when we speak of robust security arrangements, these are not ones that include these illusionary, illusory arrangements that don’t foster security. And by the way, if security collapses, it’s not only the peace that will collapse, it’s also the Palestinian Authority that will collapse and other important regional structures. So when we seek a peace that we can defend, that peace and that security serves not only us, but also our partners in peace. These are the twin elements, the twin pillars of the real peace.  Mutual recognition of two nation states, a Jewish state alongside a Palestinian state and it has to be a demilitarized Palestinian state that has around it and in Israel’s immediate borders the possibility of Israel defending itself with its own forces.

Now I don’t think this is a particularly complicated equation. It’s difficult, there are a lot of details in there that I haven’t discussed, as you can imagine. And I’m not saying the pursuit of peace will be easy. But I’m saying it becomes possible if you keep in mind the main items, the main elements of peace, which are mutual recognition and Israel’s capacity to defend itself by itself. I can assure you that these are not matters on which we intend to compromise. Peace always involves compromises, but I will never compromise on Israel’s security. Never. And never apologize for the fact that the Jewish people are living in their ancestral homeland. I never think of myself as an aggressor or as an outsider or some crusader kingdom. We’ve been here for so many centuries, and our attachments are so deep, that I’m always proud of the fact that the Jewish people have come home. This is our home and this is our city.

But obviously there are people who are uncomfortable with it and there is a new campaign against us, having failed to dislodge us with weapons, with armies, with terrorists, with rockets, with missiles, they now think that they’ll dislodge us with boycotts, and that’s nothing new. We’ve had that in our history as well. You know the boycotts of Jews, and I think the most eerie thing, the most disgraceful thing is to have people on the soil of Europe talking about the boycott of Jews. I think that’s an outrage, but that is something that we’re re-encountering. In the past, anti-Semites boycotted Jewish businesses and today they call for the boycott of the Jewish state. And by the way, only the Jewish state. Now, don’t take my word for it. The founders of the BDS movement make their goals perfectly clear. They want to see the end of the Jewish state. They’re quite explicit about it. And I think it’s important that the boycotters must be exposed for what they are. They’re classical anti-Semites in modern garb. And I think we have to fight them. It’s time to delegitimize the delegitimizers. And it’s time that we fight back.

I know all of you participate in this. There are two ways of fighting back. One is exposing them and the other is something that is happening and they can’t do very much about it. And I’ll tell you what it is. You know, I meet heads of state, and captains of industry, as they’re called, that is founders and leaders of big companies and some small companies and medium-sized companies. They’re all coming to Israel, including today. I had a meeting with another head of state, and they all want the same three things: Israeli technology, Israeli technology and Israeli technology. They crave it. They thirst for it, because they know that we’re in the knowledge century. They know that Israel is the repository of great genius, great creativity, entrepreneurship, innovation, scientific capability, out-of-the-box thinking. This is a tremendous capacity that we have. It’s crystalized here for a variety of reasons. It’s not always easy to explain why these things happen, but it’s very important for us to realize that we possess a great treasure – the capacity to innovate is a great treasure of profound economic value in today’s world.

And that is something that is bigger than all these boycotters could possibly address. Because people are coming here. The new powers, the old powers and the new powers. You know, the new world powers, the super-powers, Google, Yahoo. They all want to participate in this. They all understand that the world economy is being propelled forward by the internet. The internet requires cyber protection, you have to protect your bank accounts, your privacy, your communications, the power lines, the power grids, traffic lights, train schedules. All of that is run today in the digital world and all of that requires protection and we happen to have a capacity to protect it.

So for this and for many many other reasons, Israel is being sought after. And I say that the response that we have to the BDS is twofold. One, expose them, the second is outflank them. We have the economic future of the world in Israel. We have it because we support it, we develop it. And somebody said to me, you know there are only two real centers of high-tech innovation. This was said to me by a young man whose company is worth today nine billion dollars and two years ago was worth a billion dollars. And he said to me, you know, there are only two centers of high-tech innovation in the world. He said, Palo Alto and Tel Aviv. I said, correction, add Be’er Sheva. Because Be’er Sheva will be the new cyber capital of Israel. And you should see what is happening now in the south of Israel, in the Negev. This fantastic growth, this fantastic explosion. We’re putting highways and railways to the North and to the South, it makes Israel sound like an enormous country. We’re just doing what the United States did in the 19th century. But we’re doing it. We’re connecting the periphery, we’re trying to eliminate the periphery. And the most important lines that we’re paving are the fast cyber, of rather fast fiber that we’re putting from Kiryat Shmona right to Eilat. That’s the real highway. That’s the information highway. That every child, every boy, every girl in Israel, Jew, non-Jew, Christian, Muslims, Bedouins, they’re all going to be connected to it and it’s a fabulous future that we have.

I think we’re perfectly suited for the information society. We have a lot of things that we have to do, improve our education, reduce our bureaucracy, deregulate, open ourselves up and we’re consciously opening ourselves up, including to the cyber companies of the world.

We’re doing this because I believe in Israel’s future. I believe we can overcome all these challenges that we face. But we have to be clear about the challenges. We have to be clear that there’s a force against us, engine of modernism that I call, and that is the force of Medievalism that is centered in Iran, and we have to make sure that those eerie Medievalists do not get their hands on the weapons of mass death. It is perfectly possible. It is within our reach if we so wish it. And we have to achieve a durable and stable peace with our Palestinian neighbors. One that is based on mutual recognition and solid security arrangements, and we have to keep developing the State of Israel while exposing those who would rob us of the legitimacy that we so much deserve and that we have earned over centuries of suffering.

These are tasks that I know you share. We have embarked on a task to ensure the Jewish future by cooperating between ourselves and the Jewish Agency, by bringing young people here in Taglit, in Masa, and so many other efforts. I’m always delighted when I see the Birthright kids who come here. I see their eyes sparkle and glow. I see what happens to them when they touch the Kotel. I see what happens to them when they realize that this is their land. Well, this is your land as well, and I know that we have no better partners than you.

I want to thank you for everything that you’ve been doing this year and over the years on behalf of the State of Israel, on behalf of the Jewish people. It’s one and the same thing.
Thank you

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 26, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting Including about Iran

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks – Including about Iran – at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 1-26-14
יום ראשון כ”ה שבט תשע”ד

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting:

“The purpose of the visit to Davos was to detail the advantages of the Israeli hi-tech and cyber defense industries to the leading forces in the world, both countries and new non-state forces, such as international organizations that are as strong as countries, even major powers. The good news is that Israel is very much in demand.

The interest in Israel is very great. The desire to operate here is very great. I estimate that in the coming year we will see the results of both this activity and that of our other actions, i.e. the entry of new companies into Israel, especially in the cyber market, and the expansion of their business activities within Israel, which is already happening.

I met there with the largest companies, including Google ,
Yahoo: ,
Cisco, Microsoft and various cyber companies in both individual and group meetings .

It is widely understood that in the information age information must be protected, otherwise there will be chaos, the jungle.  This is becoming a positive component in all new economic developments. The assessment is that Israel, due to our special circumstances could offer various solutions in this area. It is clear that there is a great opportunity and challenge for us here, first of all to ensure a favorable – and not hostile – business climate for these companies, and secondly, to ensure that our education system will be able to deliver the right tools to our boys and girls so that they will be able to continue to develop with the ability to bring results.

I held talks in Davos with representatives from all continents: With US Secretary of State John Kerry, with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi , with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott , with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. All of them are important countries with markets and opportunities and important diplomatic significance.

Of course, they would all like to see progress in the diplomatic process with the Palestinians. I made it clear that the desire is there and I think they also understand this.

I must say that the main interest was in regard to Iran’s ‘assault of pleasantness.’  Here, perhaps in contrast to what was depicted in the talks with the leaders, there was greater sharpness and greater clarity regarding the contradictory and mendacious messages that came up in Rouhani’s speech . Rouhani said that Iran was against international involvement in Syria, but Iran is the country that is most involved and aids the Assad regime in perpetrating mass slaughters on a daily basis.

He said that he was against the killing of innocents, but several days previously dozens of people were executed in Iran, most of whom, I can assure you, were innocent. He said that they favored free access to technology even as Iran denies its citizens free access to the Internet. He said that he favored the recognition of all countries in the Middle East and refused to answer the pointed questions that were directed to him about recognizing the State of Israel. The regime there calls for our destruction on an almost daily basis. Finally, the most important and most significant thing, Rouhani said that Iran would not dismantle even one centrifuge.

If Iran persists in saying this it means that the permanent agreement, which is the goal of any diplomatic process with Iran, cannot succeed. In effect, Iran is insisting on maintaining its ability to attain [enough] fissionable material for a bomb without any time constraints following the breakthrough. This means that many of the things which we have been saying will come true – are indeed coming true. Of course, there was also an attempt there to break through the sanctions regime. US Secretary of State Kerry told me that the US would act in order to maintain the existing sanctions, which is important, but it is important to see the test of its implementation.

In any case, Iranian President Rouhani’s remark that Iran would not dismantle even one centrifuge, alongside the interview given by the ‘exceedingly moderate’ Foreign Minister Zarif, in which he made it clear that Iran has an ideological agenda that brings it into perpetual conflict with the West and with the US, because it aspires to see a different world, a different world order, and you know what he means, the combination of these two remarks is causing people to understand that the reality vis-à-vis Iran is not rosy. There is a problem here. We know the truth. There is a regime here that, under cover of an assault of smiles, is trying to arm itself with nuclear weapons, to reach the status of a threshold state that could achieve nuclear weapons very quickly, and a country that has not changed its true ideology at all.

There are arguments inside Iran. There is an internal struggle within Iran over domestic reforms, but there is no change, not as of now, neither in the military nuclear program nor in Iran’s aggressive policy throughout the Middle East and in regard to terrorism well beyond the Middle East. Therefore, such a country cannot be allowed to have the ability to produce nuclear weapons. This has been, and remains, our policy. I assure you that whoever we came into contact with there heard matters clearly both from myself and from President Peres.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 23, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s Davos Speech

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks on Iranian President Rouhani’s Davos Speech

Source: PMO, 1-23-14

יום חמישי כ”ב שבט תשע”ד

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today in Davos, made the following remarks:

“Rouhani is continuing with the Iranian show of deception.

At a time when Rouhani condemns the killing of innocents, dozens of innocents were recently executed in Iran.

At a time when Rouhani talks about a positive approach to technology, he prevents Iranians from freely surfing the Internet.

At a time when Rouhani is talking about the end of outside involvement in Syria, Iran is arming the Assad regime and directing Hezbollah to slaughter innocents in Syria.

At a time when Rouhani talks about peace with the countries of the Middle East, he refuses – even today – to recognize the existence of the State of Israel, and his regime daily calls for the destruction of the State of Israel.

At a time when Rouhani claims that Iran is not interested in a nuclear project for military purposes, Iran continues to strengthen its centrifuges and heavy water reactor, and to arm itself with intercontinental missiles, the sole purpose of which is for nuclear weapons.

Rouhani has admitted that a decade ago, he deceived the West in order to advance the Iranian nuclear program. He is doing this today as well.

The goal of the Iranian ayatollahs’ regime, which is hiding behind Rouhani’s smiles, is to ease sanctions without conceding on their program to produce nuclear weapons.

Therefore, the international community must not go astray after this deception, and it must prevent Iran from attaining the ability to produce nuclear weapons.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief December 31, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Addresses the 7th Galilee Conference on the Prospects for Peace

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PM Netanyahu Addresses the 7th Galilee Conference

Source: PMO, 12-31-13
יום שלישי כ”ח טבת תשע”ד

Photo by GPO

Following is an excerpt from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks, this morning to the 7th Galilee Conference in Tiberias:

“The essence of the difference between us and our neighbors may be seen in one picture. While we are prepared to take very painful steps in an effort to try and reach an agreement that would put an end to the conflict, they, along with their highest leadership, are celebrating. Murderers are not heroes. This is not how one educates for peace. Peace can exist only when the education toward incitement and the destruction of Israel stops. There will be peace only if our security interests and our communities are assured. Peace will be established only when we can defend ourselves by ourselves against any threat.”

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

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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 8, 2013: Netanyahu warns against ‘historic mistake’ in Iran nuclear talks

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Netanyahu warns against ‘historic mistake’ in Iran nuclear talks

By Bonnie K. Goodman

As the P5+1 nations meet with Iran in effort to dismantle the country’s nuclear program on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland, they are considering lifting some economic sanctions placed on Iran in exchange for Iran…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 7, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Conference on Joint Strategic Dialogue between the Government of Israel and World Jewish Communities

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Conference on Joint Strategic Dialogue between the Government of Israel and World Jewish Communities

Source: PMO, 11-7-13

יום חמישי ד’ כסלו תשע”ד

Photo by GPO

Thank you, my good friend, Natan Sharansky. You speak of leaders? You’re a leader – a leader of the Jewish people. And there is a fire that burns inside you and that flame spreads, and I think it’s consumed everyone here and it has made that partnership between us, I think, has made the launching of this program natural, real and ultimately successful. But we need every one of you, and so many who are not here to support it – and you do. I include among that you, Duvdev, my good friend: you’re committed to this, as is my Director General, Harel Locker, who spoke to you about spirit. We need – how do you say this? Kemach and Torah.

[Recording cut off]

Dvir Kahana and Alan Hoffman again. We have here our new ambassador – Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer. He was instrumental in launching this. And many of the representatives of the government ministries who are charged with our side of this, and you representing so many Jewish communities throughout the world.
I understand, Moritzia, that you speak about our collective genius. We’re definitely sure about the collective – we’ll have to live up to the other part of that. But the Jewish people have shown a remarkable genius in many fields, and the most important one is to continue the thread of our existence through thousands of years, through extraordinary challenges, maintaining our identity; not always able to secure our existence. We’ve lost tragically not only in the last century. But we’ve been able to rise up, reestablish our national life in our ancestral homeland, build a state, build an army, build an economy, build technology, build culture.

And now we’re charged with the task of securing the Jewish future, which to me always means, first and foremost, the Jewish state, but the Jewish state for the Jewish people – all of the Jewish people. Now there are two challenges, great challenges that face the Jewish state and the Jewish people. And we have to address and meet both challenges.

The first one is the challenge posed by Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons. Israel understands that there are proposals on the table in Geneva today that would ease the pressure on Iran, ease the pressure on Iran for concessions that are not concessions at all. This proposal would allow Iran to retain the capabilities to make nuclear weapons. Israel totally opposes these proposals. I believe that adopting them would be a mistake of historic proportions. They must be rejected outright. The sanctions regime has brought the Iranian economy to the edge of the abyss and the P5+1 can compel Iran to fully dismantle its nuclear weapons program. This means ending all enrichment and stopping all work on the heavy water plutonium reactor. Anything less will make a peaceful solution less likely. And Israel always reserves the right to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.

This is one of the central lessons we have learned in our history when we were powerless to defend ourselves, by ourselves and against any threat. We don’t forget our history. We use it to chart our path to the future. And we have done so with remarkable success. Every time you come to Israel, I’m sure that you see the tremendous development that takes place, the rise of our economic prowess, the tremendous initiative and enterprise that you see in this country. Can you imagine? A Jewish state with Jewish businesses? You’re not laughing. This was a different state. I mean, we had a tremendous investment in infrastructure and in state-building, but we didn’t have the tremendous genius – I use that word genius – of our people come to full fruition until we opened up our economy and now Israel is widely recognized as a global power in technology. We contribute to medicine; we contribute to communication; we contribute to anything from genetic research to food, unusual foods, crop yields, irrigation. We have cows that produce – well, which country has cows that produce the most milk per cow? Well, you think it’s France or Holland? No, it’s Israel. Number one country in recycling by far of water? Israel. And so on and so on and so on. It’s endless.

But we always recognize that what we have to do in developing our country and defending our country is not only for us. We’re a link in the chain of generations of Jews who have dreamt about resuscitating the Jewish collective life by reestablishing our sovereignty in the Land of Israel but also by ingathering the exiles and by creating a human bridge to Jewish communities around the world. And I feel that deeply. I am aware of our history. I think I’m intimately familiar with it. And I know that what has kept the thread of our life through the generations was the ability of successive generations of Jews to maintain our culture, our history, our values, our identity.

The Jewish were unique in this because we were one of the few if not the only broadly literate people in antiquity, and we were literate when nobody else was, in ancient times and throughout the Middle Ages. This is a remarkable thing in the age of knowledge. Today we’re in a century of knowledge. The Jews were for centuries in centuries of knowledge. Fathers taught their sons to read and write. That was part of our inherent faith and traditions. And this created a potent power and a potent tradition. Reading, writing, arguing – truth wasn’t fixed, narrow. It evolved through discourse, through debate. Our whole Talmudic system was based on this idea of this expanding fruit of knowledge.
But throughout that, we carried our traditions forward. And this is what made our success possible. This is what made the dream of returning to Zion and reestablishing the Jewish people possible.

I think that this collective identity is under threat today. It’s under threat because we live in an age of fragmentation, fragmentation and in many ways – ridud [Hebrew]? My English! Ron, help me out. Shallowness? We’re not that deep in this modern age. Knowledge is theoretically available to all, but it doesn’t mean that all sees it. It’s there but it can be paper thin. Even though it’s instantly available, even though there are libraries today that are unimaginable and you can get them at your fingertips. You can get any piece of information. That is not knowledge and that is not identity. That is information; it’s available but it doesn’t necessarily form the foundation of identity, of culture and of conviction. It can have the opposite effect. That is unstoppable, mind you. We’re investing in fast fiber; we’re investing in digital education; we’re investing in all those things that are part of the modern world. But we have to invest in something else. We have to use these instruments, but also create a firm base of identity and conviction. That’s a big challenge. It’s not easy.

I’ve always thought that we have to use the instruments of tomorrow today to shape tomorrow. And therefore I thought it’s particularly important to embrace this initiative and work together to get this partnership with the Jewish world to secure the Jewish future. It’s something that you have been involved in. You’ve been thinking about it. You’ve been talking about programs. You’ve been talking about spirit. And you’ve been talking about the flour. We’ll put more flour. Did you tell them, Harel? Yeah, more flour. But you’ve got to get some flour too. I mean this is, in all things, this is a joint cooperative action.

And I think that’s what underlies my belief in how we succeed. We work together. And I always thought that. In my first term… this is my third term as Prime Minister. I want you to know [applause]… Well, I’m not that old, you know? But I want you to know that when I was considerably younger and you reminded me, Natan, how we met with Michael Steinhardt and Charles Bronfman. I thought at that time already that Israel was no longer crawling, already walking and in some ways already beginning, well at least to trot if not to run. And I thought that we were able to begin to put back to the Jewish world. We’d been the recipient of aid and I thought that the proportion of aid as part of our GDP was shrinking anyway, but that the larger resource and the more important resource was not the assistance we were getting from the Diaspora, but the assistance that we could give to the Diaspora to maintain our common identity. And therefore we put some flour in this and Taglit was the first program and I think we dealt with it in ’97, as you say. It changed; it pivoted the idea that basically Israel was the recipient, the Diaspora were the donors and that was it. That changed economically in many ways, but it was a cultural change in which we said, no, we’re going for a partnership to strengthen Jewish identity. How? By getting young people to come here.

That developed into Masa, which I later had the opportunity to assist, both as Finance Minister and of course as Prime Minister, and other programs like Hefzibah. But now what we’re dealing with is broadening it, broadening this to a variety of programs that will create a critical mass of understanding and knowledge and identity and conviction to carry us through our journey and to the next few decades. And I think it’s very exciting and very important.

I don’t say that we don’t have immediate problems; we do. I’ve always adopted the policy from my first term as Prime Minister of partnership. I always viewed the Prime Minister of Israel, a post that I occupy with great reverence, to my responsibilities for all Jews. I thought that we have to make sure that we work as much together and avoid the pitfalls that could break us apart.

One of these issues that we’ve dealt with lately; actually in the last government we began to address it with Avichai Mandelblit. Avichai, stand up so they see you. I charged him with this now, but we began on the question of the Kotel, making sure that it’s the Kotel for all the Jewish people. I began that project and Avichai took it with Natan. I asked Natan and the new Cabinet Secretary, who by the way was a JAG, is that what it is? JAG? What is that? Judge Advocate General.

But he comes at it not with a legalistic mind, but with a very warm Jewish mind, heart, which is what I think has guided Natan with the proposal that you presented to me which I adopt with enthusiasm. I think it serves to illustrate a point: we are trying to solve problems, not for you but with you. We’re not standing there on a hilltop – it happens to be a hill – but you’re standing there with us. And I encourage this partnership, this exchange, this dialogue, this process. And I find it expressed in this process. I want to expand it to something that will give us the critical core of partnership for the Jewish people, between the Jewish people and the Jewish state, for the coming generations.

We’re about to celebrate Chanukah and Chanukah was both a physical and a moral struggle. We were nearly overwhelmed and perhaps it was at that point that the thread of Jewish existence, which had been around for about 1,500 years, could have been snapped. It could have been snapped not only by the physical submission of the Jews to a foreign power, but the cultural submission of the Jews to the Hellenistic culture that could have erased our traditions and severed our future. And this was resisted mightily by a few people who inflamed, if you will, the rest and produced what appears to be a miraculous victory against one of the greatest forces of the day – the Seleucid Empire was a great force at the time. We emerged victorious there but we also emerged victorious in securing the Jewish traditions and the Jewish faith, and without that victory, I’m not sure that the Jewish people would be here more than 2,000 years later.

Well, we’re faced with equal challenges today. We’re armed with our knowledge of the past and our hope for the future with the examples of the Maccabees and with our sense of being responsible for each other. Kol Israel arevim ze l’ze. That’s exactly how I feel. I know that’s exactly how you feel and that’s the most important thing to make sure that we have a secure, common future for the Jewish people.

Thank you very much.

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

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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

Full Text Israel Political Brief June 19, 2013: Shimon Peres’s Speech at 90th Birthday Celebration — Transcript

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Full text of Shimon Peres’s speech

President delivers keynote address at 90th birthday celebration calling on Palestinians, Israelis to offer ‘our children a ray of hope’

Source: Times of Israel, 6-19-13

Barbra Streisand, former US president Bill Clinton, President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laugh during a celebration event in honor of Peres' 90th birthday, in Jerusalem on June 18, 2013 (Photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

Barbra Streisand, former US president Bill Clinton, President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laugh during a celebration event in honor of Peres’ 90th birthday, in Jerusalem on June 18, 2013 (Photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

Israel Political Brief May 28, 2013: Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism Conference 2013 Videos Opening Session

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GFCA Conference 2013 videos 

Opening Session 28 May 2013

Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism

Source: MFA, 5-28-13

 

Full Text Israel Political Brief May 28, 2013: Deputy FM Zeev Elkin’s Speech Addressing Opening of Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism Conference

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DepFM Elkin addresses opening GFCA Conference

Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism

Source: MFA, 5-28-13

I believe that the fact that we are all here today – not only representatives of Israeli society, but also representatives from all over the world, to fight antisemitism – can make a difference.

 

Dear Global Forum Guests, Vice Minister Germanans, Deputy Minister Karagounis, Secretary of State Retvari, International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Chair Dr. Silva, Ambassadors and  diplomats (Members and leaders and members of Jewish organizations, Members of Parliaments, Members of Knesset, representatives of government , universities and think-tanks, fellow Muslim, Christian and Druze, Ahmadis and Baha’i leaders, concerned members of the Israeli society –
Dear participants of the 4th International Conference of the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism,

As Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel, I thank you for gathering here tonight in Jerusalem from more than 40 countries, to send a strong message against antisemitism.

I am encouraged by the holding of the Global Forum. I believe that the fact that we are all here today – not only representatives of Israeli society, but also representatives from all over the world, to fight antisemitism – can make a difference.

Israel, as the homeland of the Jewish people, has of course a special connection to the issue of antisemitism. But antisemitism is not only an Israeli problem or just a Jewish problem. It is foremost the problem of every society in which it is allowed to manifest itself.  History has taught us that for evil to prevail over good, it is enough that decent people stay silent and complacent while the immoral and hateful few gain power.

That is why it is so important that governments, parliaments, international organizations and civil society around the world adopt a zero-tolerance approach towards antisemitism.

Israel is of course part of this battle, but the international community needs to work together in order to change the current reality.

In recent years we see the rise of political parties who no longer shy from promoting racist and extremist policies. Neo-Nazis are again marching the streets of European capitals; synagogues and other communal Jewish buildings need to add more and more security measures, and in certain neighborhoods it is not safe to walk around wearing a yarmulke. 2012 saw the culmination of this with the terrible massacre at a Jewish school in Toulouse. This can no longer be characterized as sporadic or rare events. It is time we look this problem in the eye and call by its name – rise in blatant antisemitism.

The classic old malady of antisemitism has metamorphosed into “modern antisemitsm” and has spread to new audiences. Some leaders of Muslim countries, Iran in the lead, and some heads of Muslim communities in Europe, are now exploiting this twisted old hate to deflect criticism from internal problems to “blaming the collective Jew for all that is wrong”. New media is used to spread ancient venom. This is especially tragic when occurring in Muslim society, where Jews and Muslims used to live for centuries in relative harmony.

Anti-Israeli rhetoric and propaganda in the Arab world is all too often nothing but age old antisemitism without even a new veneer. And in our immediate environment the thinking of more than a generation of Palestinian schoolchildren is being poisoned by the hateful and malicious educational and media brainwashing against Israel and Jews.

In addition we see growing sophistication of some antisemites, who hide their hatred behind extreme anti-Israeli rhetoric. They hide behind proclamations of anti-Zionism, opposition to Israeli policies and so called “legitimate criticism” and claim vocally that they are not antisemitic.

We should perhaps fear the “closet racists” more than the skinheads marching with their swastika flags.
Of course Israel is willing to accept criticism of its acts, decisions and policies, but criticism is only legitimate as long it does not single out Israel for different treatment and does not delegitimize our existence and right to exist.

This is what is happening, for example, today in Tunisia where the draft constitution includes a clause equating Zionism with racism and in effect criminalizing any contacts or cooperation with Israel. Of course there is no such clause relating to any other country.

And in Iran the situation is of course much worse. Its leaders openly deny the Holocaust, brainwash their youth with hatred. They do not only call for the destruction of the Jewish state but they go to great lengths to develop a military nuclear apparatus which would be a danger to the region and to the world but clearly would be specifically dangerous for Israel.

Such a situation is clearly unacceptable and intolerable, yet despite various rounds of sanctions and pressures, the international community has not risen to the challenge of an Iran with a nuclear vision and a program of implementation. And all too often we see an uninterested or even a forgiving attitude towards Iranian Holocaust denial and antisemitic statements by its leaders, including its president who feels at home in too many countries around the world.

But it is not just in the Arab and Moslem world where Israel suffers from official and institutionalized discrimination. We face such singling out also in the Human Rights Council in Geneva where, despite the lofty notions of universality and equitable treatment, Israel is not a member of any regional grouping and it is the only country which has an agenda item, the infamous item 7, specifically to condemn its so called violations of human rights.

While all along countries such as North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Yemen and others, not known for their protection of minorities, freedom of the press and other political and civil rights, are never or are only rarely condemned. But numbers speak louder than words – 46 of 103 country related resolutions and 6 of the 19 Special Sessions, since the establishment of the Human Rights Council, were against Israel. Can such a miserable record be defined as anything other than antisemitism in the guise of anti-Israelism?

Exactly because of this built in discrimination, Israel decided last year to freeze its contacts and cooperation with the Human Rights Council. Since then many countries have asked us to change our policy. And I ask myself: Is Israel expected to agree to being discriminated against or should a change in our policy come about only through the ending of discrimination? The answer is clear and after much deliberation I have recently agreed to diplomatic engagement with the Council and major actors in the international community to see if we can arrive at understandings and guarantees that will enable our return to the Council while ensuring that fair play and international standards are applied towards Israel.

I have outlined some, but not all, of the problems Israel faces. Yet we must not despair. Not all is bleak. The Jewish people have today many courageous friends of all religions. Religious and political leaders have come out with strong condemnations to antisemitic incidents and more societies are admitting publicly the existence of antisemitism with this being the first crucial step in countering it.

And Israel also needs the assistance of all who stand up against antisemitism in combating the new antisemitism – the pathological hatred and opposition towards the very existence and legitimacy of Israel,  which is becoming the most dangerous form of antisemitism.

So I thank you again for gathering for this Global Forum in hope of making a difference. antisemites throughout history tried to isolate the Jews, to make them feel alone. Your coming here this evening sends them a strong message: Jews, Jewish communities and Israel, the one and only homeland of the Jewish people, are not alone and shall never be alone again.

Thank you.

Full Text Israel Political Brief May 28, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Message to the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu message to GFCA Conference 2013

Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism

Source: MFA, 5-28-13

Three vilifications – that Israel is guilty of war crimes, that it doesn’t want peace, and that we are guilty of violating human rights – are the antisemitic campaign that is leveled against the Jewish people and their state.
[Transcript]

I commend all the delegates attending the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism.

There were two myths about antisemitism. The first was that after the Holocaust antisemitism would disappear. And the second was that with the creation of the Jewish state, antisemitism would disappear. That didn’t happen. Neither one of them. In fact, the antisemites took a respite after the Holocaust, but that’s all it was. It was a brief intermission.

And what was unfashionable is now becoming fashionable again. After the rise of Israel, what is fashionable today is to say, “Well, I don’t hate Jews, I just don’t think they should have a state.” Or, effectively, that their state is an illegitimate one that doesn’t have the right to exist.

To further this attack on the Jewish state, three arguments are put forward by the antisemites all the time, and they are false all the time.

The first is that Israel is guilty of war crimes. We, who fight war criminals with measured means, whose cities are attacked by terrorists who fire from built-up areas and try to pinpoint the rocketeers – we are accused of war crimes by the war criminals. That is one facet of the vilification that we experience.

The second is that we are expansionists, we don’t want peace, we never agree to compromise. That’s patently false. The State of Israel repeatedly has offered concessions, has made concessions for peace that no other people, no other state has made in history. I don’t know of any other case in which the victor made concessions in order to achieve peace, but we’ve done it again and again.

We are prepared to compromise for peace – for a genuine peace. This is our most reverent hope, to live in peace with our neighbors. It is not reciprocated as much as we want, and recently it is not reciprocated at all. We can only hope that it will change.

The third argument is that we are violators of human rights. Did you hear that? Israel, the one country in the vast expanse that recognizes the rights of everyone – women, minorities, every individual – who have access to the best court system in the world. Israel has a free press and a vibrant democracy, and Israel is accused of violating human rights. This is when in our neighborhood hundreds of people are killed daily, massacred daily in neighboring regimes.

These three vilifications – that Israel is guilty of war crimes, that it doesn’t want peace, it wants to continue expansionist policies, and that we are guilty of violating human rights – are part and parcel of the antisemitic campaign that is leveled against the Jewish people and their state.

That’s by way of saying: You have a lot of tasks before you and I hope you’re up to it. I’m sure that you believe there is only one remedy for the slander, and that’s the truth. And I encourage you to fight and win the battle of truth.

Thank you.

Israel Political Brief May 28, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu at Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism: Prepared to compromise for peace, but not reciprocated

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM: Prepared to compromise for peace, but not reciprocated

Source: Jerusalem Post, 5-28-13

At Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem, Netanyahu says anti-Semitism has “come back in fashion” in the form of criticism against Israel; Elkin: Jews are “not alone and shall never be alone again….READ MORE

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