[IMRA: The rationale provided by Prime Minster Ariel Sharon for retreating
from the Gaza Strip - the so-called demographic argument (that rejects the
until recent consensus view that the Palestinian right to self rule could be
met by autonomy) fails to explain why the so-called demographic "bomb" had
to be "defused" no later than the summer of 2005. Previously Mr. Sharon
offered other justifications for retreat that could be related to time
(foreign pressure, etc.). Does the current speech indicate that Mr. Sharon
has now abandoned the previous explanations?]
Speech by PM Sharon to Jewish Agency Assembly Jerusalem, 28 June 2005
Prime Ministers' Office
Welcome to Jerusalem, the eternal and united capital of the Jewish people
and the State of Israel forever.
I take this opportunity to thank Sallai Meridor at the end of his tenure.
Sallai, over the past 6 years, you have made a significant contribution to
the future of the Jewish people. I am certain that a great many more
successful activities on behalf of the Jewish people and the State of Israel
await you. I also congratulate Mr. Ze'ev Bielsky on his election as Chairman
of the Zionist Federation. There is great importance in the fact that, at
this time, the position is filled by a man of action, with vast experience,
and one who is wholeheartedly dedicated to the subject. I look forward to
working with you over the next few years. And I wish you success.
Sallai, as a graduate of the Revisionist Movement, you are certainly very
familiar with the way its founder, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, defined the purpose of
Zionism in his article "Majority". And I quote, "The creation of a Jewish
majority was, is and always will be the primary goal of Zionism; of all
Zionism." End of quote.
Since the publication of the article in 1923, we have succeeded in the
mission to create a Jewish majority in the State of Israel. However, the
existence of this majority is still not assured. Today, the goal of Zionism
is to actively and determinedly ensure the Jewish majority in the State of
The first step to ensuring a Jewish majority is Aliyah - widespread and
broad Aliyah from the entire Jewish Diaspora, and particularly from North
America. Aliyah ensures not only the future of the State of Israel, but also
the future of the Jewish people. Israel is the Jewish community in which the
number of Jews has grown at the highest rate, constantly and ceaselessly,
since its establishment, while in the Diaspora there is an unfortunate
constant decrease in the number of Jews. Therefore, Aliyah is the central
goal of my Government.
Parallel with Aliyah is a need to ensure the Jewish continuity of the Jewish
communities in the Diaspora. The central means to ensure this continuity is
through Zionist-Jewish education, together with general, advanced
education - Jewish schools, youth movements and community centers; imparting
Jewish values to the young generation and strengthening their ties to the
Jewish people and the State of Israel. This is the role of the Jewish
communities overseas, however, in my opinion, it is also the responsibility
of the State of Israel. We have mobilized for this important mission by
choosing to lead and fund, with you, the Birthright/Taglit and Masa
This year, we face an especially daunting challenge in the field of aliyah.
The government of Israel has decided to bring thousands of Falash Mura from
Ethiopia to Israel. We have been bringing 300 per month, and I presented a
suggested resolution to the government to double the number to 600 per
month. In the camps in Ethiopia, there are still approximately 17,000 Falash
Mura, and we plan to bring them to Israel within three years. Then, the
camps can be closed, and the activities of the Ethiopian Jews will be
concentrated solely in Israel. How we absorb them is our greatest test, and
demands tremendous efforts on our part. We must stand together before this
challenge to the Jewish people, in order to assure our success.
Another essential step in ensuring the Jewish majority of the State of
Israel is determining the borders of the state which will assure it an
established Jewish majority, while also assuring the security of its
citizens. I do not want to rehash the statistical argument between
demographers as to the size of the national communities in the Land of
Israel. It is obvious that we do not have the ability to ensure a Jewish
majority in every area, and that we have no desire to rule over millions of
Palestinians - to provide sanitation in Rafah, medical services in Gaza and
veterinary services in Khan Yunis. We had the dream of a Jewish state in all
the territories of the Land of Israel, but, unfortunately, we do not have
the ability to realize the entire dream.
What we do have is the ability to realize considerable and important parts
of the dream, and we must concentrate our efforts on this.
Out of this rationale, I also initiated the Disengagement Plan, which was
approved by the government and the Knesset. We are withdrawing from the Gaza
Strip - an area in which there is no chance of establishing a Jewish
majority, and which is clear to us all, will never be part of the State of
Israel in any final agreement. At the same time, we are directing the
majority of our efforts to the most important areas to ensure our
existence - the Galilee, the Negev, greater Jerusalem, the settlement blocs
and the security zones.
The immediate future will not be an easy period for us. Withdrawing from
Gaza is a difficult and painful step for all of us. That is why it is
especially important to get through this period united. I am very wary of
attempts by a small minority of law breakers, as we saw a few days ago on
the seashore at Gush Katif, who wish to use force against the IDF and other
security forces. This minority does not represent all the settlers. We must
all remember that the call to disobedience and the attempts to disrupt the
lives of Israelis endangers the existence of Israel as a Jewish and
democratic nation. We must all, no matter our personal opinion, oppose this,
and I am certain that the legal authorities will take all the necessary
measures to stop this wild behavior.
Political disagreements exist and they are an inseparable part of Israeli
democracy - however, we cannot allow these disagreements to allow us to
forget what we have in common and what unites us. Your contribution today to
the unity of the Jewish people is more essential than ever.
At the end of the article, "Majority", Ze'ev Jabotinsky wrote: "The term
Jewish State is certainly clear: it means a Jewish majority. Zionism began
in this and in this is the basis of its existence, in this it will continue
to act until its realization or it will be lost."
These words are as true today as they were the day they were written. We are
obligated to continue striving for the establishment of a Jewish majority in
the Land of Israel. If we do this together, united, if we can focus our
efforts on the most important things, we can not only save Zionism from
being lost, as Jabotinsky wrote, but we can also assure its prosperity and
I am certain that, with God's help, we will succeed.