Fresh back from meeting President Barack Obama and speaking at the United Nations about Iran, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will address the nation on Sunday night at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He is to speak on “Israel’s Challenges” with a vision of the future. Here is the speech I would like to hear him deliver:
My fellow citizens: As I look towards the future, I am filled with confidence
about the fortunes of our re-born Jewish state. Despite the invective sometimes
thrown at Israel, despite the Islamic earthquakes shaking the ground in the
region around us, despite our occasionally deep internal disagreements, despite
all the challenges – Israel is strong and advancing in the right
Israel is a vibrant democracy with a robust economy and a
multi-faceted, creative and highly patriotic citizenry. We are the demographic
and spiritual center of the Jewish world. We are producing and exporting
exciting scientific technologies and breathtaking works of art and scholarship
to the world. The IDF is the most capable military in the region with the
motivation, equipment, intelligence and training necessary to overmatch the
capabilities of any challenger. Our adversaries are weak, and their societies
are sadly in terrible crisis.
Israel is thus a very resilient state.
Israelis possess tremendous personal fortitude. We believe in the justness of
our historic national journey, and this gives us great strength.
that in recent years there has emerged a burgeoning literature that highlights
Israel’s real and imagined flaws, emphasizes our “increasing isolation,” and
questions the even legitimacy and staying power of the Zionist dream. I reject
this doom and gloom.
Yes, we are a small state with significant
dependency on the great powers and on great allies. But a detailed and
dispassionate assessment of the balance of power between Israel and its
detractors, and an assessment of Israel’s international standing, validates my
assertion that Israeli is in stalwart position.
We are not alone! We are
not isolated. Our ties with the United States are sturdy and institutionalized,
and our support among the American people is broad and deep. Legions of
Christian friends around the world pray and advocate for Israel every
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We also enjoy warm and growing relationships with the emerging
powers in China and India, and with Muslim countries outside the Middle
I am aware, of course, that the unresolved conflict with the
Palestinians saps support for Israel in some places in the
Reaching agreements with the Palestinians and ameliorating the
conflict is important for its own sake, and for our international standing.
Consequently, I am committed to a best effort at achieving peace with the
Palestinians, if and when the Palestinian leadership is truly willing to
compromise for peace and to educate its public towards lasting peace with
Yet I specifically want to reject the notion, voiced by Ehud
Olmert and others, and hinted at by John Kerry, that “Israel is finished,” or
that “the Zionist dream of a Jewish and democratic state is over,” or that
“US-Israel relations will crumble” – unless a Palestinians state is “rapidly”
Such apocalyptic talk is rubbish and irresponsible. It is
rubbish because Israel’s future and its relations with the world do not depend
on the Palestinians or on catering to every Palestinian dream and demand. It is
irresponsible because attempts to rashly ramrod Israel into “urgent,” ramshackle
and unsustainable agreements with a partner that is not ready for real peace –
is a dereliction of duty.
It is my job to preserve Israel’s rights and
interests for the long term. I am charged with averting over-zealous, frantic,
faulty diplomacy that will not bring peace to Israel. Risks for peace – yes.
Ridiculous and break-neck risks for peace – no. A window of opportunity for
peace – yes. The “irrevocably last opportunity for peace following which comes
catastrophe” – no.
The Oslo agreements demonstrated our willingness to
partition the Land of Israel with the Palestinians, albeit with a heavy
But it also taught us the dangers of too-hasty and
ill-thoughtthrough concessions, and the gargantuan mistake of ignoring the
undemocratic nature of our negotiating partner. Israeli society paid dearly for
This time around, we need to approach the negotiations
with the conviction that time is on our side, and that perseverance will bring
Israel great benefit. This time, we cannot overlook anti- Semitism and human
rights abuses in the Palestinian Authority, nor disregard the dictates of
defensible borders for Israel.
It is not always politically correct to
speak one’s mind on foreign affairs. But tonight I feel it opportune to do so. I
sense and I believe that intellectual honesty has to inform the diplomatic
processes we are entering.
Being intellectually honest means laying out
the moral asymmetries between Israel and the Palestinians. The fact is that we
recognize them, but they’re not willing yet to recognize our legitimate,
historical rights in the Land of Israel. The fact is that Israel protects
religious rights and minority rights in Israel for religions and peoples of the
world, while the nascent Palestinian state already in place does not, and could
very well be on its way to becoming yet another failed Arab state. The fact is
that Israel proudly hosts 1.5 million Arab citizens, while the Palestinians
demand a Judenrein, ethnically cleansed state in historic Judea and
All this cannot be left unsaid, nor can it be papered over with
festive handshakes on the White House lawn celebrating Israeli territorial
I believe that you, the People of Israel, support my
approach, and are willing, if G-d forbid necessary, to withstand friction and
conflict in order to hold firm on our moral, diplomatic and security redlines.
We have the stamina to endure a long and difficult negotiation, to achieve
durable results. And similarly, we have the grit and the guns to outlast and
overpower more distant adversaries, such as the radical mullahs in
But I did not come here tonight to speak primarily about the
Palestinian conundrum, because, as I say, Israel’s rosy future emphatically does
not depend on peace with the Palestinians, however desirable and important that
may be. Israel will flourish even if the Palestinians refuse to make peace with
us on reasonable terms, and even if we have to manage the conflict with the
Palestinians, and conflicts with other radical neighbors, for many decades to
Israel’s future rests completely with us, the People of Israel. We
have the powers within us for even greater achievements, in clean-tech, bio-tech
and music, in Torah scholarship and bioethics, in compassionate care for our
elderly and social justice.
We can make this an even better country to
live in, especially for our magnificent youth who toil so hard in their 20s and
30s, and we can contribute even more to the world though agricultural and
medical assistance and more. We can truly advance Israel towards the biblical
model of a people that is a moral beacon unto the nations.
I know that
you stand with me, all together, in making this vision for Israel a
reality.The writer is director of public affairs at the Begin-Sadat
Center for Strategic Studies, which marks its 20th anniversary next week with an
international conference at Bar-Ilan University (open to the public) on “Israel
Towards 2020: Perils and Prospects.” www.besacenter.org
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