"Time Outs" are Bad for the Jews

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's recent call for Israel to suspend (or take a "time out" from) building settlements on disputed land in Judea-Samaria was given short shrift by Israel's Communications Minister, LIMOR LIVNAT, when she addressed the 18th annual Christian celebration during the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, on October 16, 1997.

YOU know, everyone likes to offer Israel advice. It is a real growth industry. And one of the tidbits we have been hearing lately is that Israel should "take time out in the matter of Jewish settlements". I don't play much soccer, but one thing I can assure you: "Time outs" on issue of vital concern to us are unacceptable. We reject them out of hand. Would you agree to take a "time out" on the work that God has instructed you to do? Would you tell the prophets of 2500 years ago: "Sorry friends, how about next month because we're taking a little time out"?

I regret to say it, but we tried a "time out" approach once. It began with our exile from this land nearly 2000 years ago. It tore us from our homeland. It uprooted hundred of Jewish communities -- some of them founded by Abraham himself -- and drove hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes. For many centuries, we took a serious time out. And do you know what? It was bad for the Jews and it was worse for the rest of the world. And so when good friends like Mrs Albright make suggestions for a time out, there is only one clear answer we can possibly give: "No".

This is not a soccer game, my friends. Everything we exist for, everything we believe in tells us to keep building, to keep building, to keep growing, to keep returning to this Promised Land. If we were to say "yes" to Mrs Albright, we would be saying "no" to a much higher force. I would rather risk America's passing displeasure than Heaven's. Wouldn't you?

Isn't it ironic that one side, ours, is expected to freeze its life? Do our ears deceive us, or are we hearing it right: they stop killing our children, and we stop building new homes? This is immoral. This is a disgrace. This is nothing less than an affront to humanity. Territories are not terrorists. Bulldozers are not bombs. And anyone who tells you otherwise has the wrong values -- or no values at all.

The real question facing us is: What do we want to achieve, and how can we do it? What will bring the blessing of peace to this one small country and to each of you who cares about us around the world?

Some people have always said that peace can come from surrender. All we have to do I give away the cradle of the idea of the One living God, the eternal Creator, give away the heart of our homeland and peace will magically "appear". Other people suggest giving up or dividing Jerusalem, the city of David, the city that connects heaven and earth. Make no mistake: what these people are really saying is that there should be a sovereign independent Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Thanks, but no thanks.

My government, under Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu--a government I am very proud to be a part of -- believes in a different approach. To reduce Israel to an indefensible nine-mile wide nation alongside "Palestine" is not peace. It is precisely the opposite. We want, desire, cherish and pray for genuine peace. A state called Palestine will not fulfill those prayers. Look around. There are no real democracies in our region, other than Israel. Where else do human respect, government by law and human rights rule? Only here. Does Israel really need does the Middle East really need does the world need another Libya, Algeria, Iraq, Syria or Iran?

Do we need a state headed by Hamas, Hizb'Allah and Yasser Arafat? Can we live with another state that embraces and salutes terrorists, a state that looks to the Assads and Saddam Husseins of the world for inspiration?

Not only Israel would feel the lash of this threat. So would Jordan, which would be destabilised or even dismantled as a result of a Palestinian state. So would the Christians of Lebanon. So would Egypt. Does it make one iota of sense to pour the oil of violence and radicalism onto the flames of Arab intransigence?

The answer of my government to all these questions is "no".

I know that our view is not the fashionable or easy route to go. But it is the true path to pursue. It is the moral path to follow. It is the eternal road to travel. If history has taught us only one lesson, it is that the righteous of the world must carry the burden, must fight the battle, must hoist the flag of what is true and eternal.

As I see it, we are both honoured and obligated to pursue one programme that links the past and future, that unites heaven and earth, that rejoins the Creator with His creation.

Isn't it ironic that one side, ours, is expected to freeze its life? Do our ears deceive us, or are we hearing it right: they stop killing our children, and we stop building new homes? This is immoral. It is a disgrace and nothing less than an affront to humanity. Territories are not terrorists. Bulldozers are not bombs. Anyone who tells you otherwise has the wrong values--or no values at all.


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