As you know, we are having hard days. And normally I also have some worries, but when I came in and saw you, your friendship – all my worries were gone.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Friends of Israel,
Coming here, I heard many people say - “We love you, we love Israel”. I tell you now – we love you! We love all of you!
I would like to welcome you to Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people for the past 3000 (and more accurately, 3005 years), and the united and undivided capital of the State of Israel forever.
You did not come here as normal tourists – you came here because your souls and your hearts brought you here.
And when you come here you don’t need a “guide book”. You have a “guide book”, you have the Bible in your hands! Here, in our country, in the Land of Israel, old names have been kept for thousands of years. Jerusalem is Jerusalem, and Hevron is Hevrom, Beit Lehem is Beit Lehem, the Jordan River is the Jordan “Hayarden”, Kever Rachel and Shilo and Beit El – we have used all of these names for thousands of years. And Mount Carmel is Har Carmel, Mount Tabor is Har Tabor, Mount Gilboa is Har Gilboa, and Nazareth is Nazareth – all those places have kept their old names. And you can walk here holding the Bible in your hands.
About three years ago, when I served as a Minister of Foreign Affairs, I went to Rome to officially invite the Pope to come to visit Israel. (It was a very interesting talk.)
We discussed many things, and then the Pope said the following. He said: “The Land of Israel and Jerusalem are holy to Judaism, Christianity and Islam”. But, he said, it has only been promised to the Jews.
For the past two years we have been facing a war that has been imposed upon us by the Palestinians – a heavy war. That war did not start two years ago and has nothing to do with our presence in Jerusalem or Hevron (– Jews have always lived in Jerusalem, Jews have always lived in Hevron, Jews have lived in Gaza for hundreds of years – Jews have lived everywhere here). That is an old struggle that started over 120 years ago – and became worse, although in the past we have known more difficult times than the past two years. But, those two years were hard for us.
Terror – Palestinian terror – targeted many places in the country. Mainly Jerusalem, the City of Peace, was a target for attacks against civilians – children, babies, old people and women.
We know that in wars, and I say it as one who has been a soldier for many years, sometimes civilians are killed, but not intentionally. Palestinian terror, led by the Palestinian Authority, is targeting civilians.
They believe that they can break our nation, but in fact… (I can just repeat what you have said just now: Never!) Never and never and never!
Israel is a peace-seeking country. The first word that pupils or kindergarten children learn is “Shalom” – peace. That is the first word that they are taught – Shalom. On the other side there is terrible incitement and a new generation has already been poisoned by that terrible incitement.
Israel is a peace-seeking country. We are committed to peace. And I have said many times (and sometimes I get letters from you blaming me for being too moderate.) that because we want peace, and we would like to live in peace, we are ready to make painful compromises. But, we will never make any compromise when it comes to the security of our citizens and the security of the State of Israel.
We remember that though we have many friends, and you have shown that, the Jews have one tiny country – a country with many talents, but a tiny country, and that is Israel. This is the only place in the world where Jews have the right and the capability to defend themselves by themselves. It is our duty to preserve this capability, and that is what we are going to do.
I said we are ready to do many things, to take many steps, to make many compromises (although we have never lost a war. I don’t know of any other country in the world that won all its wars, and is still ready to make compromises). in areas which are a part of the cradle of the Jewish people. There is one thing we will never do: we will never make any compromise when it comes to our security and the very existence of the State of Israel, and for that we need you and we need your support.
Just a few days ago, on the Memorial Day of September 11th, we held painful ceremonies. I think that the victims are in all of our hearts, and we know that there is no good terror or bad terror. Terror is terror. Terror is terror, and there is no compromise with terror, and terror should be fought. If we want to continue and preserve our way of life, our democracies, our culture, our values, all of us should be united fighting against terror.
In our region, we can see a connection between countries which support terrorism such as Iran, Lybia, Syria and Iraq, and the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction.
Palestinian Authority leadership connected with terror, brings destruction to its own people, like Saddam Hussein in Iraq. It is the same. Arafat causes all that suffering not only to us, but he also causes terrible suffering to his own people.
I would like to express my deep appreciation of President Bush and of the leaders of your countries, who are joining together against international terrorism and the forces of evil.
At the present time, due to the fact that there is so much terror, there is so much struggle, there is so much bloodshed, the “real Israel” is not shown. You know that we are good soldiers, but there are many many other things here in this country.
You have to know that Israel, during these years, while holding the sword in one hand (not because we wanted to, but because this terror and war were imposed upon us.) has had tremendous achievements.
We managed to bring here millions of “olim”, coming from 102 countries, speaking 82 languages, and now all of them speak Hebrew, the language of the Bible.
We managed to develop sophisticated industries, and become an important center of Hi-Tech – Israel is one of the four leading countries in the field of Hi-Tech.
We have wonderful centers of research and science.
We have wonderful music here.
We have very interesting farming (and I say that as a farmer – I was born on a farm and my mother was born on a farm).
I think that Israel is leading in many fields: in bio-technology, in medicine, in science and I hope the day will come when we will be able to live in security and peace, and then we will be able to show the “real” Israel.
I would like to thank you again for everything – for your friendship and for your solidarity, which are so important to us. I also have a message that I would like you to take home: send more people like you to visit Israel.
United, with God’s help and your solidarity, we will win! We will win!