I am what I am. I have a country. I have a language. I have a people. I have a framework. I have a reality, like the Norwegian, like the Danish. I cannot be Danish, I cannot be Norwegian, as you cannot be Argentinean.
You are what you are, and I am what I am, and the fact that people speak here about the possibility of being others never occurred to my heart, to my mind.
I have a clear identity. I don't see the other, who is the other that I have to be like him? It's no problem, it is my problem. And I have to say to you another thing: there is a joy in discovering, and I'm afraid that I will have to spoil it a bit.
We speak about 100 years of the American Jewish Committee that started in 1906. If you regard this past of 100 years, it is a great failure of every institution, not only in America, but everywhere... a great failure of the Jewish people.
A people that lost - in the middle of this century - a third of its mothers, for nothing. Not for territory, not for religion, not for money, not for ideology. And that this Jewish people did not see what was going to be... they misunderstood it.
They misunderstood opportunity when it was offered to them, through let's say, the Balfour Declaration, the possibility before the Jewish people to create a state. So when you look backwards, don't count only the Nobel prizes, this is not important.
We must, first of all, look honestly at our failure. Of course it is also the failure of European and the German civilization, but this is also our failure. We didn't know how to defend our children. So from this failure, we have to start to think if we want to think honestly of the future.
This is one thing. The second thing is, of course, why did we fail? Why could we not regard properly... all of the red lights were flashing during history about the conflict between us and our environment.
All of the red lights were indicating this will not finish well. On the contrary, the Holocaust could have happened in the Middle Ages. [There was also] the possibility of the British offering the Jews a homeland in 1917, when the number of Jews in the world was 18 million, and the Jews were in a great wave of immigration from East to West - only 13,000 Jews came to Eretz Yisrael... four years after the Balfour Declaration.
If this tiny percentage had not managed to create the state, we could come after the Holocaust, even without the state... totally gloomy with a lot of museums of Holocaust everywhere. This we could do, but only with Holocaust museums.
So when we regard the future, let us first of all admit it clearly, that we are coming also from a very big failure. Then we have to think why. If this is the subject of this symposium: the past into the future."
- From remarks delivered by A.B. Yehoshua at the opening panel of the American Jewish Committee's centennial celebration in Washington, May 1. Transcribed by Ilana Goldberg.