PM: Future of Jewish people depends on Israel’s security

Peres: To survive, Israel needs US friendship

Netanyahu Headshot 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Netanyahu Headshot 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Israel’s security is essential to the future of the Jewish people, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told a crowd at the closing ceremony of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute’s annual conference at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on Friday afternoon.
“After 2,000 years the Jewish people have the strength to defend themselves,” he declared. “Thus, defending the future of the Jewish people means ensuring Israeli security.”
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At the same time, Netanyahu said he was willing to reach a peace deal with Israel’s enemies that would involve painful compromises so long as it upheld the rights of Israeli citizens’ to live without fear of harm.
Addressing the delegitimization of Israel, an issue heavily debated at the gathering, the prime minister said attacks on Israel were actually veiled attacks on Judaism.
“Anti-Israeli sentiment is the new anti-Semitism,” he said.
Netanyahu urged the world to respond to the perceived threat of Islamic fundamentalism.
He warned that Iran had “spread its tentacles throughout the Middle East including Lebanon, Gaza, and Iraq – where the US continues to remain active.”
Chess was also on the agenda at the ceremony which marked the end of the threeday conference.
Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky congratulated Israeli grandmaster Alik Gershon for breaking a record previously held by an Iranian for the most simultaneous games played. “We defeated Iran in the Guinness Book [of World Records] and that’s our first step,” Sharansky, himself a big chess aficionado, said in jest.
Sharansky also commented on his organization’s upcoming board meeting, that opens on Sunday, which is set to approve its suggested shift in focus from aliya to Jewish education.
“There used to be a division between the Zionist notion that all Jews need to move to Israel and the non-Zionist notion that they can also stay and develop,” he said.
“Today we still encourage aliya but we recognize the Diaspora isn’t going anywhere nor should it.”
The Jewish People Policy Planning Institute is a thinktank founded in 2003 which holds its annual meeting in Jerusalem, inviting academics, diplomats and journalists to discuss issues affecting the Jewish people in Israel and around the world.
On Thursday, President Shimon Peres told the forum that Israel cannot survive without the help of the United States.
Peres said that, “for our existence, we need the friendship of the United States of America.”
On how Israel can give back to the US, he said that just “as the US is trying to understand the security needs of Israel, we Israelis ourselves must understand the security needs of the US... We cannot give back to the United States what the US is giving us, but in our own small way, we can be of help.”
The president said Israel could be of help to the US by enabling an “anti-Iran coalition in the Middle East, and the contribution will not be by declaration, but if we stop the secondary conflict between us and the Palestinians,” in order to allow the US to focus on the Iranian threat.
Peres also spoke of the former US president’s foreign policy in the Middle East, saying that he appreciates George W. Bush’s “attempt to expose them [Arab states] to democracy, but is that possible?” The president added that it was “very difficult to come to a king and tell him to go to elections,” saying that “it would be like inviting a turkey to a Thanksgiving feast.”
Peres also said that he believed “Muslims should be able to choose their own path.”