...the great danger to the world is not from Jews building in our ancestral
capital in Jerusalem. Itís from nuclear weapons in Iran, those weapons that
are built in Iran. Itís chemical weapons in Syria falling into the wrong
hands. Thatís the danger we have to focus on.
PM Netanyahu's Remarks to the Taglit-Birthright Israel 'Mega Event'
(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
Following is a transcription of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks
today (Monday, 7 January 2013), to the Taglit-Birthright Israel 'Mega Event'
"Toda Raba, thank you all, welcome to Jerusalem.
You come from many, many countries [inaudible]
Anyone from Canada? Germany? Uruguay? Argentina? How about Russia? No
Russia? How about the United States?
You know thereís only one way to resolve this. Itís a soccer match for
everyone except the United States, thatís a football match.
You come from different countries; you speak different languages; you have
different cultures. But you all have one thing in common: Israel is your
birthright; Israel is your common homeland.
Now today, Birthright is celebrating its Bar-Mitzvah, its 13th year. I
remember a few years ago, 13 years ago, when a few visionaries came to see
me in my first term as Prime Minister. And they had a wild idea. Two of them
are here, Michael and Judy Steinhardt. Very good to see you both.
Now they had a wild idea, actually two wild ideas. The wanted to bring, they
said, hundreds of thousands of young Jews to Israel. Thatís one pretty crazy
idea, but you want to hear what really was meshigene? They wanted the
Israeli government to help pay for it. Now we all heard about the Jewish
community around the world investing in Israel. We never heard about Israel
investing in the Jewish communities around the world. And in fact, I
figured, they may be crazy, but if theyíre crazy, Iím crazy too. And we
began that partnership. Thatís how it began.
And I believe that Birthright has indeed changed the Jewish future. Weíve
had, I believe, 330,000 young Jews from around the world come to Israel
since then, and weíre getting another 44,000 this year, with you
But my goal is even more ambitious, my goal and I know Michael itís your
goal, and itís also the goal of Minister Yuli Edelstein, in our government
who deals with the Diaspora. Our goal is that any young Jewish man or woman
who wants to come to Israel will be able to come to Israel. Weíll make that
possible, and I know many thousands will come.
I believe itís important not only for us, but itís also important for
presenting our case to the world. Because anybody who comes here sees the
true Israel. Israel is the place where Jewish history comes alive. Here you
tread in the footsteps of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Sarah, Rebecca and
Rachel and Leah. You stand exactly where King David stood. Not very far from
here. And you also can see how we turned the hopes and dreams of thousands
of years into a reality. You see this marvelous hi-tech city of Tel Aviv;
you see this flowering city of Jerusalem. You have come home. And I want you
to tell the world about what you see here.
Because Israel is not merely about the Jewish past, itís about the Jewish
future. You know when the State began a little over 60 years ago, you know
what percentage of world Jewry lived in Israel? Anybody want to guess? Hereís
the answer: 5%. Very soon itís going to be over 50%. This is what we havenít
seen here for thousands of years. The majority of the Jewish people living
in the Jewish State, and I hope many of you will come and join us,
Now there are many changes that weíre bringing about in technology, in
culture. Have you ever seen so many cell phones used by so many people? This
is the most advanced society on earth in many ways. But itís also one that
is changing the fate of the Jewish people, because for 2,000 years we were
absolutely powerless to defend ourselves. And the greatest change, the
greatest transformation that took place in the life of the Jewish people
with the establishment of the Jewish state, was in restoring the capacity of
Jews to defend themselves. This is a tremendous change. And mind you, thatís
been possible because of Jewish unity, because when we stand united, we can
deal with anything, with any challenge. And I see this meeting as an
expression of Jewish unity and solidarity in the face of great challenges.
And make no mistake about it. There are great challenges before us. There
are challenges that weíre focused on, absolutely focused on. But I also say
that itís our job to wake up the world. Itís time for many who donít see
these dangers to wake up to this.
Now, weíve dealt with some of them recently, in the Pillar of Fire Operation
in which we dealt with rockets from Hamas. We very much appreciate the help
of the United States of America Ė the Iron Dome help, the political help
against the one sided move of the Palestinians in the United Nations.
But I believe that itís time for the rest of the world to wake up. The great
challenges that we face, the great danger to the world is not from Jews
building in our ancestral capital in Jerusalem. Itís from nuclear weapons in
Iran, those weapons that are built in Iran. Itís chemical weapons in Syria
falling into the wrong hands. Thatís the danger we have to focus on.
Israel understands these dangers. Israel is focused on dealing with them. We
will deal with them. But we call on responsible leaders of the international
community to come join us and address the real challenges to all of mankind.
Weíve always had the ability to send a message from this city to change the
lives of so many people. This has been true throughout history. Weíre
changing the world today.
You know that Israeli technology is powering the worldís computers, feeding
the worldís poor. Israeli medicine is prolonging life and helping cure
disease. Israeli science is pushing the boundaries of knowledge. This is the
The real Israel is a very different place from the Israel you see on
television, or read about in the newspaper. The real Israel is a country
that yearns for peace, works for peace, and is prepared to make compromises
for peace. But we want a real peace. We want a peace where the Jewish state
is recognized and secure for all time.
The real Israel is a place where people are free to speak their minds, and
boy do they speak their minds in this country. The real Israel is a place
where men and women and minorities are free to pursue any dream they have.
I was just in the Air Forceís cadetsí closing ceremony. We have new pilots
in the Israeli Air Force. Five women pilots! Thatís the real Israel.
So when you go out and people tell you things about Israel, tell them about
what you saw. Make sure when you go back home tell them about the real
Israel. Tell them the truth about this remarkable and dynamic country. And
now go enjoy what is your birthright.
Enjoy Israel. Enjoy your past; enjoy you future in the one and only Jewish
Thank you very much."