Israel Report

October 2001         

Address By Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
To The Christian Celebration Of The Feast Of Tabernacles

October 2, 2001
Thank you very much for that warm and friendly reception.

I wanted to spend all the evening with you today, but as you know we are in the middle of a wave of acts of terror. And tonight, on my way here, [there] was another terrible act of terror for a Jewish settlement, community; civilians were attacked. We know by now we have two casualties dead, 7 injured, some of them in a critical situation. That's really what happened. And therefore I will apologize that I will not be able to spend the whole evening with you. I really wanted so much to be today with you. We know your friendship. We appreciate your friendship. We need your friendship.

I would like to welcome you in Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people for more than three thousand years, since King David that was crowned in Hebron and ruled Israel for seven and a half years. From there [he] moved his capital to Jerusalem. Jerusalem - the capital of the Jewish people and the united and undivided capital of the state of Israel forever.

Talking to you, I know that I even don't have to say that Jerusalem and the Land of Israel are holy to the Jews, to the Christians and to the Muslims, but promised only to the Jews. Jerusalem - it's easy to talk to you, you know the Bible - Jerusalem is mentioned in the Bible as Jerusalem 676 times, and as Zion 143 times. And King David is mentioned in the Bible 1,023 times.

The Temple Mount already [was] mentioned and was called the Temple Mount - Har Habayit - by the prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah. And the Christian world has been using this term of "Temple Mount" for almost 2,000 years now. The Temple Mount that is the heart of the Jewish people. And they have also to remember that only since we liberated east Jerusalem, there is freedom of access and freedom of worship to every nation, to every religion.

I know I don't have to tell you that. You know that because you are walking in the Land of Israel while holding the Bible in your hand, and the one who holds the Bible does not need a guidebook.

Here in the Land of Israel, the biblical names are used today. Jerusalem is Jerusalem. Jordan River is HaYarden, and Bethlehem is Beit Lechem. Hebron is Hevron. And Shiloh and Bethel and Rachel's Tomb - are using the same names, the same biblical names. Jericho and so on. And then Mt. Tabor is Har Tabor, and Mt. Gilboa is Har Gilboa, and Mt. Carmel is Har Carmel. The Sea of Galilee is the Sea of Galilee. And Nazareth. All the places kept their biblical names.

Altogether I would like to admit that all of us, and I include myself, I think we made a mistake that we were talking about Samaria and Judea in security terms. No doubt strategically they are very, very important to Israel. But we had to mention more. We had to talk more about the right, the historical right of the Jewish people, because Samaria and Judea were the cradle of the Jewish people. And the historical right, I think, is more important and provides more security with this feeling - feeling the right, the birthright of the Jewish people over these places. That is maybe the best security, because once you know that that's yours, that maybe makes you much stronger in understanding the importance of these areas.

But I have to say that Israel was ready to give up part of its historical land for genuine, durable, true peace and that I'll say maybe I don't know of any other country in the world that was willing to do so, mostly when you take into consideration that we won all the wars that were forced on us for more than 50 years now. But we did it. For true peace, peace for generations, and we said it very clearly, that we are ready for painful compromises. I would like to emphasize that it would be no compromise whatsoever when it comes to the security and the very existence of the state of Israel.

We are, in the last year, we are facing a war. We are in a war here. We are facing very heavy war and struggle, and we are facing Arab Palestinian attacks. You have to know that we have been facing those raids and Arab terror for over 120 years. We already had hard times here. My grandfather was already facing Arab terror here. My parents, myself, my sons. And I know that we have been facing now Arab Palestinian terror for five, six generations, but though we have been facing this terror, [we] have managed amazing achievements while holding the sword in one hand, though we never wanted that.

As I said, we are in a heavy battle now. The free world, led by United States, is also in a very heavy struggle against fundamentalist Muslim terror. We have seen what this terror could do just a few weeks ago. And no doubt we know the pain. We have felt this terrible pain of terror. All our condolences to the American people, to the American president, to the American leadership. The struggle is the struggle of all of us. The struggle is in order that we will be able to preserve our democratic values and our freedom. That's what we are fighting for. We are not fighting against Arabs. We are not fighting against Muslims. We are fighting and defending our right and our values to live in freedom as we are used to, as we would like to live. That is our right.

We offered any help which is needed, and we are already giving help. And everything that we will have to do in order to help the free world facing this terrible terror, we will do. But you have to understand one thing - terror is terror. There is no good terror and bad terror. Terror is like murder. Murder is murder and terror is terror. And terror is evil; a terrible evil. There are no degrees of terror. No degrees of terror. Terror is terror.

Therefore, we demand from the free world to declare the Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and the Hizb'Allah as terrorist organizations. And we demand that the free world will implement all the steps that are needed not only against them, but also against those that help them, that support them, that finance them, those that give them shelter.

Maybe that, maybe only that, will bring Yasser Arafat - who established a coalition of terror, whose strategy is terror; but if they will be declared as terrorist organizations - he will be again under pressure. He's not under pressure now. The world, everyone is happy. Arafat declared a ceasefire, but the fire did not stop for one minute, not for one minute.

The world demanded, they said it would be important if our minister of foreign affairs, Mr. Shimon Peres, would meet with Arafat. You know, they said it's very, very important for them in order to build or to form this coalition that they speak about, and I think it's important because the world should fight terror. So everyone was happy and the pressure stopped. They met. The reaction to that was terror, and again terror, and again terror.

Yesterday, we had a terror act in Jerusalem. Thank God we didn't have casualties, but two wounded. But it could have caused heavy casualties in Jerusalem, in the center of town. The Islamic Jihad announced that they are responsible for that. Arafat knows that. They know who the people were who did that. They were not arrested and no steps were taken. Real steps. We don't speak about declarations; we don't speak about words; we speak about peace. No serious steps have been taken.

The Jews are having the right to live [a] secure life, and one must understand that we [have] offered any help that is needed. We are going to provide any help to the struggle against this terrible terror around the world. We will do that. But one must understand that we will not be able to pay in our lives for the appeasement of Arab countries because they demand it. They are not going to do it. One must understand that. We cannot have it. We will not accept it.

I would like to tell you that we need your solidarity. We know that we have it. But we need more of it, and I would like to thank you for coming. Showing your solidarity in these hard times. We would like that many more of you would be coming over here. Your support is very important for us. We need your help. We need your backing, and I'm sure that we will get it. Thank you for that.

Again, I would like to apologize for not being able to spend the evening here with you. I know that there are so many songs that I would like to hear, but I'm busy with all those terrible events that have to [be] concluded yet there, and therefore I would like to apologize again. So thank you again for your friendship, which is so needed. Thank you for your understanding. And I would like to wish you Shana Tovah, which is happy new year to all of you; to you our friends; to the Jewish people around the world, and to our, I would say, [to] all the human beings that would like to live peacefully, in peaceful lives, normal lives which all of us would like to have. Thank you so much again. Thank you.

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