[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA: the stark contrast:
Mahmoud Abbas: " come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of
Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad
(peace be upon him) and the birthplace of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him)"
- no mention of a Jewish connection to the land (ok - he mentions Jesus,
but the PA propagandists somehow manage to skirt around that he was a Jew -
just as they deny that the Second Temple existed on the Temple Mount]
Benjamin Netanyahu: "We are both the sons of Abraham. My people call him
Avraham. Your people call him Ibrahim. We share the same patriarch."
Remarks by PM Netanyahu to the UN General Assembly
23 September 2011 - MFA
"The truth is that Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the
Palestinians want a state without peace. And the truth is you shouldn't let
PM Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the U.N. General Assembly (UN Photo/Marco
Ladies and gentlemen, Israel has extended its hand in peace from the moment
it was established 63 years ago. On behalf of Israel and the Jewish people,
I extend that hand again today. I extend it to the people of Egypt and
Jordan, with renewed friendship for neighbors with whom we have made peace.
I extend it to the people of Turkey, with respect and good will. I extend it
to the people of Libya and Tunisia, with admiration for those trying to
build a democratic future. I extend it to the other peoples of North Africa
and the Arabian Peninsula, with whom we want to forge a new beginning. I
extend it to the people of Syria, Lebanon and Iran, with awe at the courage
of those fighting brutal repression.
But most especially, I extend my hand to the Palestinian people, with whom
we seek a just and lasting peace.
Ladies and gentlemen, in Israel our hope for peace never wanes. Our
scientists, doctors, and innovators apply their genius to improve the world
of tomorrow. Our artists, our writers, enrich the heritage of humanity. Now,
I know that this is not exactly the image of Israel that is often portrayed
in this hall. After all, it was here in 1975 that the age-old yearning of my
people to restore our national life in our ancient biblical homeland - it
was then that this was branded shamefully, as racism. And it was here in
1980, right here, that the historic peace agreement between Israel and Egypt
wasn't praised; it was denounced! And it's here, year after year that
Israel is unjustly singled out for condemnation. It's singled out for
condemnation more often than all the nations of the world combined.
Twenty-one out of the 27 General Assembly resolutions condemn Israel - the
one true democracy in the Middle East.
Well, this is an unfortunate part of the UN institution. It's the theater of
the absurd. It doesn't only cast Israel as the villain; it often casts real
villains in leading roles: Gadhafi's Libya chaired the UN Commission on
Human Rights; Saddam's Iraq headed the UN Committee on Disarmament. You
might say: That's the past. Well, here's what's happening now - right now,
today, Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon now presides over the UN Security
Council. This means, in effect, that a terror organization presides over the
body entrusted with guaranteeing the world's security.
You couldn't make this thing up.
So here in the UN, automatic majorities can decide anything. They can decide
that the sun rises in the west. But they can also decide - they have
decided - that the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Judaism's holiest place, is
occupied Palestinian territory.
And yet even here in the General Assembly, the truth can sometimes break
through. In 1984 when I was appointed Israel's ambassador to the United
Nations, I visited the great rabbi of Lubavich. He said to me - and ladies
and gentlemen, I don't want any of you to be offended because from personal
experience of serving here, I know there are many honorable men and women,
many capable and decent people, serving their nations here - But here's what
the rebbe said to me. He said to me, you'll be serving in a house of many
lies. And then he said, remember that even in the darkest place, the light
of a single candle can be seen far and wide.
Today I hope that the light of truth will shine, if only for a few minutes,
in a hall that for too long has been a place of darkness for my country. So
as Israel's prime minister, I didn't come here to win applause. I came here
to speak the truth. The truth is that Israel wants peace. The truth is that
I want peace. The truth is that in the Middle East at all times, but
especially during these turbulent days, peace must be anchored in security.
The truth is that we cannot achieve peace through UN resolutions, but only
through direct negotiations between the parties. The truth is that so far
the Palestinians have refused to negotiate. The truth is that Israel wants
peace with a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want a state without
peace. And the truth is you shouldn't let that happen.
Ladies and gentlemen, when I first came here 27 years ago, the world was
divided between East and West. Since then the Cold War ended, great
civilizations have risen from centuries of slumber, hundreds of millions
have been lifted out of poverty, countless more are poised to follow, and
the remarkable thing is that so far this monumental historic shift has
largely occurred peacefully. Yet a malignancy is now growing between East
and West that threatens the peace of all. It seeks not to liberate, but to
enslave, not to build, but to destroy.
That malignancy is militant Islam. It cloaks itself in the mantle of a great
faith, yet it murders Jews, Christians and Muslims alike with unforgiving
impartiality. On September 11th it killed thousands of Americans, and it
left the twin towers in smoldering ruins. Last night I laid a wreath on the
9/11 memorial. It was deeply moving. But as I was going there, one thing
echoed in my mind: the outrageous words of the president of Iran on this
podium yesterday. He implied that 9/11 was an American conspiracy. Some of
you left this hall. All of you should have.
Since 9/11, militant Islamists slaughtered countless other innocents - in
London and Madrid, in Baghdad and Mumbai, in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, in
every part of Israel. I believe that the greatest danger facing our world is
that this fanaticism will arm itself with nuclear weapons. And this is
precisely what Iran is trying to do.
Can you imagine that man who ranted here yesterday - can you imagine him
armed with nuclear weapons? The international community must stop Iran
before it's too late. If Iran is not stopped, we will all face the specter
of nuclear terrorism, and the Arab Spring could soon become an Iranian
That would be a tragedy. Millions of Arabs have taken to the streets to
replace tyranny with liberty, and no one would benefit more than Israel if
those committed to freedom and peace would prevail.
This is my fervent hope. But as the prime minister of Israel, I cannot risk
the future of the Jewish state on wishful thinking. Leaders must see reality
as it is, not as it ought to be. We must do our best to shape the future,
but we cannot wish away the dangers of the present.
And the world around Israel is definitely becoming more dangerous. Militant
Islam has already taken over Lebanon and Gaza. It's determined to tear apart
the peace treaties between Israel and Egypt and between Israel and Jordan.
It's poisoned many Arab minds against Jews and Israel, against America and
the West. It opposes not the policies of Israel but the existence of Israel.
Now, some argue that the spread of militant Islam, especially in these
turbulent times - if you want to slow it down, they argue, Israel must hurry
to make concessions, to make territorial compromises. And this theory sounds
simple. Basically it goes like this: Leave the territory, and peace will be
advanced. The moderates will be strengthened, the radicals will be kept at
bay. And don't worry about the pesky details of how Israel will actually
defend itself; international troops will do the job.
These people say to me constantly: Just make a sweeping offer, and
everything will work out. You know, there's only one problem with that
theory. We've tried it and it hasn't worked. In 2000 Israel made a sweeping
peace offer that met virtually all of the Palestinian demands. Arafat
rejected it. The Palestinians then launched a terror attack that claimed a
thousand Israeli lives.
Prime Minister Olmert afterwards made an even more sweeping offer, in 2008.
President Abbas didn't even respond to it.
But Israel did more than just make sweeping offers. We actually left
territory. We withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 and from every square inch of
Gaza in 2005. That didn't calm the Islamic storm, the militant Islamic storm
that threatens us. It only brought the storm closer and made it stronger.
Hezbollah and Hamas fired thousands of rockets against our cities from the
very territories we vacated. See, when Israel left Lebanon and Gaza, the
moderates didn't defeat the radicals, the moderates were devoured by the
radicals. And I regret to say that international troops like UNIFIL in
Lebanon and EUBAM in Gaza didn't stop the radicals from attacking Israel.
We left Gaza hoping for peace.
We didn't freeze the settlements in Gaza, we uprooted them. We did exactly
what the theory says: Get out, go back to the 1967 borders, dismantle the
And I don't think people remember how far we went to achieve this. We
uprooted thousands of people from their homes. We pulled children out of
their schools and their kindergartens. We bulldozed synagogues. We even
moved loved ones from their graves. And then, having done all that, we gave
the keys of Gaza to President Abbas.
Now the theory says it should all work out, and President Abbas and the
Palestinian Authority now could build a peaceful state in Gaza. You can
remember that the entire world applauded. They applauded our withdrawal as
an act of great statesmanship. It was a bold act of peace.
But ladies and gentlemen, we didn't get peace. We got war. We got Iran,
which through its proxy Hamas promptly kicked out the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinian Authority collapsed in a day - in one day.
President Abbas just said on this podium that the Palestinians are armed
only with their hopes and dreams. Yeah, hopes, dreams and 10,000 missiles
and Grad rockets supplied by Iran, not to mention the river of lethal
weapons now flowing into Gaza from the Sinai, from Libya, and from
Thousands of missiles have already rained down on our cities. So you might
understand that, given all this, Israelis rightly ask: What's to prevent
this from happening again in the West Bank? See, most of our major cities in
the south of the country are within a few dozen kilometers from Gaza. But in
the center of the country, opposite the West Bank, our cities are a few
hundred meters or at most a few kilometers away from the edge of the West
So I want to ask you. Would any of you bring danger so close to your cities,
to your families? Would you act so recklessly with the lives of your
citizens? Israelis are prepared to have a Palestinian state in the West
Bank, but we're not prepared to have another Gaza there. And that's why we
need to have real security arrangements, which the Palestinians simply
refuse to negotiate with us.
Israelis remember the bitter lessons of Gaza. Many of Israel's critics
ignore them. They irresponsibly advise Israel to go down this same perilous
path again. You read what these people say and it's as if nothing happened -
just repeating the same advice, the same formulas as though none of this
And these critics continue to press Israel to make far-reaching concessions
without first assuring Israel's security. They praise those who unwittingly
feed the insatiable crocodile of militant Islam as bold statesmen. They cast
as enemies of peace those of us who insist that we must first erect a sturdy
barrier to keep the crocodile out, or at the very least jam an iron bar
between its gaping jaws.
So in the face of the labels and the libels, Israel must heed better advice.
Better a bad press than a good eulogy, and better still would be a fair
press whose sense of history extends beyond breakfast, and which recognizes
Israel's legitimate security concerns.
I believe that in serious peace negotiations, these needs and concerns can
be properly addressed, but they will not be addressed without negotiations.
And the needs are many, because Israel is such a tiny country. Without Judea
and Samaria, the West Bank, Israel is all of 9 miles wide.
I want to put it for you in perspective, because you're all in the city.
That's about two-thirds the length of Manhattan. It's the distance between
Battery Park and Columbia University. And don't forget that the people who
live in Brooklyn and New Jersey are considerably nicer than some of Israel's
So how do you protect such a tiny country, surrounded by people sworn to its
destruction and armed to the teeth by Iran? Obviously you can't defend it
from within that narrow space alone. Israel needs greater strategic depth,
and that's exactly why Security Council Resolution 242 didn't require Israel
to leave all the territories it captured in the Six-Day War. It talked about
withdrawal from territories, to secure and defensible boundaries. And to
defend itself, Israel must therefore maintain a long-term Israeli military
presence in critical strategic areas in the West Bank.
I explained this to President Abbas. He answered that if a Palestinian state
was to be a sovereign country, it could never accept such arrangements. Why
not? America has had troops in Japan, Germany and South Korea for more than
a half a century. Britain has had an air base in Cyprus. France has forces
in three independent African nations. None of these states claim that
they're not sovereign countries.
And there are many other vital security issues that also must be addressed.
Take the issue of air space. Again, Israel's small dimensions create huge
security problems. America can be crossed by jet airplane in six hours. To
fly across Israel, it takes three minutes. So is Israel's tiny airspace to
be chopped in half and given to a Palestinian state not at peace with
Our major international airport is a few kilometers away from the West Bank.
Without peace, will our planes become targets for antiaircraft missiles
placed in the adjacent Palestinian state? And how will we stop the smuggling
into the West Bank? It's not merely the West Bank, it's the West Bank
mountains. It just dominates the coastal plain where most of Israel's
population sits below. How could we prevent the smuggling into these
mountains of those missiles that could be fired on our cities?
I bring up these problems because they're not theoretical problems. They're
very real. And for Israelis, they're life-and-death matters. All these
potential cracks in Israel's security have to be sealed in a peace agreement
before a Palestinian state is declared, not afterwards, because if you leave
it afterwards, they won't be sealed. And these problems will explode in our
face and explode the peace.
The Palestinians should first make peace with Israel and then get their
state. But I also want to tell you this. After such a peace agreement is
signed, Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state
as a new member of the United Nations. We will be the first.
And there's one more thing. Hamas has been violating international law by
holding our soldier Gilad Shalit captive for five years.
They haven't given even one Red Cross visit. He's held in a dungeon, in
darkness, against all international norms. Gilad Shalit is the son of Aviva
and Noam Shalit. He is the grandson of Zvi Shalit, who escaped the Holocaust
by coming in the 1930ís as a boy to the land of Israel. Gilad Shalit is the
son of every Israeli family. Every nation represented here should demand his
immediate release. If you want to pass a resolution about the Middle East
today, that's the resolution you should pass.
Ladies and gentlemen, last year in Israel in Bar-Ilan University, this year
in the Knesset and in the U.S. Congress, I laid out my vision for peace in
which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state. Yes,
the Jewish state. After all, this is the body that recognized the Jewish
state 64 years ago. Now, don't you think it's about time that Palestinians
did the same?
The Jewish state of Israel will always protect the rights of all its
minorities, including the more than 1million Arab citizens of Israel. I wish
I could say the same thing about a future Palestinian state, for as
Palestinian officials made clear the other day - in fact, I think they made
it right here in New York - they said the Palestinian state won't allow any
Jews in it. They'll be Jew-free - Judenrein. That's ethnic cleansing. There
are laws today in Ramallah that make the selling of land to Jews punishable
by death. That's racism. And you know which laws this evokes.
Israel has no intention whatsoever to change the democratic character of our
state. We just don't want the Palestinians to try to change the Jewish
character of our state. We want to give up the fantasy of flooding Israel
with millions of Palestinians.
President Abbas just stood here, and he said that the core of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the settlements. Well, that's odd. Our
conflict was raging for nearly half a century before there was a single
Israeli settlement in the West Bank. So if what President Abbas is saying
was true, then the - I guess that the settlements he's talking about are Tel
Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa, Be'er Sheva. Maybe that's what he meant the other day
when he said that Israel has been occupying Palestinian land for 63 years.
He didn't say from 1967; he said from1948. I hope somebody will bother to
ask him this question because it illustrates a simple truth: The core of the
conflict is not the settlements. The settlements are a result of the
The settlements have to be - it's an issue that has to be addressed and
resolved in the course of negotiations. But the core of the conflict has
always been and unfortunately remains the refusal of the Palestinians to
recognize a Jewish state in any border.
I think it's time that the Palestinian leadership recognizes what every
serious international leader has recognized, from Lord Balfour and Lloyd
George in 1917, to President Truman in1948, to President Obama just two days
ago right here: Israel is the Jewish state.
President Abbas, stop walking around this issue. Recognize the Jewish state,
and make peace with us. In such a genuine peace, Israel is prepared to make
painful compromises. We believe that the Palestinians should be neither the
citizens of Israel nor its subjects. They should live in a free state of
their own. But they should be ready, like us, for compromise. And we will
know that they're ready for compromise and for peace when they start taking
Israel's security requirements seriously and when they stop denying our
historical connection to our ancient homeland.
I often hear them accuse Israel of Judaizing Jerusalem. That's like accusing
America of Americanizing Washington, or the British of Anglicizing London.
You know why we're called "Jews"? Because we come from Judea.
In my office in Jerusalem, there's an ancient seal. It's a signet ring of a
Jewish official from the time of the Bible. The seal was found right next to
the Western Wall, and it dates back 2,700 years, to the time of King
Hezekiah. Now, there's a name of the Jewish official inscribed on the ring
in Hebrew. His name was Netanyahu. That's my last name. My first name,
Benjamin, dates back a thousand years earlier to Benjamin - Binyamin - the
son of Jacob, who was also known as Israel. Jacob and his 12 sons roamed
these same hills of Judea and Samaria 4,000 years ago, and there's been a
continuous Jewish presence in the land ever since.
And for those Jews who were exiled from our land, they never stopped
dreaming of coming back: Jews in Spain, on the eve of their expulsion; Jews
in the Ukraine, fleeing the pogroms; Jews fighting the Warsaw Ghetto, as the
Nazis were circling around it. They never stopped praying, they never
stopped yearning. They whispered: Next year in Jerusalem. Next year in the
As the prime minister of Israel, I speak for a hundred generations of Jews
who were dispersed throughout the lands, who suffered every evil under the
sun, but who never gave up hope of restoring their national life in the one
and only Jewish state.
Ladies and gentlemen, I continue to hope that President Abbas will be my
partner in peace. I've worked hard to advance that peace. The day I came
into office, I called for direct negotiations without preconditions.
President Abbas didn't respond. I outlined a vision of peace of two states
for two peoples. He still didn't respond. I removed hundreds of roadblocks
and checkpoints, to ease freedom of movement in the Palestinian areas; this
facilitated a fantastic growth in the Palestinian economy. But again - no
response. I took the unprecedented step of freezing new buildings in the
settlements for 10 months. No prime minister did that before, ever. Once
again - you applaud, but there was no response. No response.
In the last few weeks, American officials have put forward ideas to restart
peace talks. There were things in those ideas about borders that I didn't
like. There were things thereabout the Jewish state that I'm sure the
Palestinians didn't like.
But with all my reservations, I was willing to move forward on these
President Abbas, why don't you join me? We have to stop negotiating about
the negotiations. Let's just get on with it. Let's negotiate peace.
I spent years defending Israel on the battlefield. I spent decades defending
Israel in the court of public opinion. President Abbas, you've dedicated
your life to advancing the Palestinian cause. Must this conflict continue
for generations, or will we be able our children and our grandchildren to
speak in years ahead of how we found a way to end it? That's what we should
aim for, and that's what I believe we can achieve.
In two and a half years, we met in Jerusalem only once, even though my door
always been open to you. If you wish, I'll come to Ramallah. Actually, I
have a better suggestion. We've both just flown thousands of miles to New
York. Now we're in the same city. We're in the same building. So let's meet
here today in the United Nations. Who's there to stop us? What is there to
stop us? If we genuinely want peace, what is there to stop us from meeting
today and beginning peace negotiations?
And I suggest we talk openly and honestly. Let's listen to one another.
Let's do as we say in the Middle East: Let's talk "doogri". That means
straightforward. I'll tell you my needs and concerns. You'll tell me yours.
And with God's help, we'll find the common ground of peace.
There's an old Arab saying that you cannot applaud with one hand. Well, the
same is true of peace. I can not make peace alone. I cannot make peace
without you. President Abbas, I extend my hand - the hand of Israel - in
peace. I hope that you will grasp that hand. We are both the sons of
Abraham. My people call him Avraham. Your people call him Ibrahim. We share
the same patriarch. We dwell in the same land. Our destinies are
intertwined. Let us realize the vision of Isaiah - [Isaiah 9:1 in Hebrew] -
"The people who walk in darkness will see a great light." Let that light be
the light of peace.