Shimon Peres, Vice Premier; Former Prime Minister
A well-known architect Richard Meier is currently visiting our region. Meier
very much loves the color white. This color is characteristic of his
buildings. Meier invented a white foam that is dust-repellent, and believes
that Tel Aviv is a beautiful white city. The timing of his visit is apt
because Israel has a lot of "architects" that like the color black and
seeing black. They like to blacken our lives. Perhaps we have a tendency
toward black. There is a saying that "a true Jew is never happy unless he is
miserable." And I say that perhaps it is worthwhile to look a bit at
I don't believe that the situation in Israel is black, thanks to two
people - Nasrallah, and Ahmadinejad. Nasrallah eulogized the State of Israel
two days ago. During this speech, Nasrallah said, "What country, having lost
one soldier, ceaselessly searches for him. Even if he was killed, it won't
stop searching for his corpse."
The second thing Nasrallah said is that Israel is a nation that knows how to
"learn a lesson." In his opinion, a disaster befell us in Lebanon. He
prefers a dictatorship to a democracy. In a democracy, it is permissible to
make mistakes, but it is obligatory to correct them. In a dictatorship, it
is permissible to make mistakes, but it is forbidden to admit to them.
Ahmadinejad also did a wonderful job. Without him the West wouldn't have
unified to set an anti-Persian agenda. His extreme speeches caused the West
to gradually prepare. I am full of hope that he won't stop his
exaggerations, his extremism, and his disregard of the Iranian situation.
Through his exaggerations, Ahmadinejad not only incites the whole world
against him, he also causes Iranian public opinion to turn away from him.
They say that Iran has become an empire. What empire?! That is a poor
country with high unemployment, widespread hunger, and enormous corruption.
This is an inflated claim that stands on shaky ground. Even if they had
enriched uranium, it would be very difficult for them to provide for the
needs of the children of Tehran, even if they needed to receive enriched for
uranium for breakfast. You need more than this. You need an economy, you
need a society. The weakness and emptiness of the Iranian regime have made
it unsustainable. Before we go and bomb them, we need to try the
Economic and political sanctions will bring Iran down to its real
proportions. Most leaders that if Iran truly has nuclear weapons, this is a
disaster, even for the Russians. I recommend not taking this lightly, but we
still aren't in 1938, and Hitler can't come along. There is a Jewish state,
and we won't stand by as someone who doesn't care. However, with this, we
don't need to be arrogant.
I am also reading all the predictions regarding Syria. The makeup of war and
peace with Syria is a triangle - Israel, the United States, and Syria. Syria
doesn't have an economy, doesn't have territory, and its army is nothing to
rave about. Syria wants to correct the mistakes made by the father of the
The United States thinks that Siniora needs to lead in Lebanon, and not
Hezbollah. Siniora represents the desire of the majority of the Lebanese
people, and the fact that the Middle East won't fall under a Persian
Syria can't move towards peace as long as it is providing shelter for
Mash'aal and as long as it is training terrorist forces that are targeting
Americans in Iraq. And if they turn toward war, they will encounter the
triangle, and not just Israel.
The last war revealed weaknesses, some of them human error and some of the
incorrect perceptions of reality. The IDF is designed to fight armies, and
not terror groups, which is like fighting crime. A criminal, another
criminal, and another criminal. However, there were still deficiencies in
IDF functions, and therefore, lessons must be learned. New equipment and
strategies must be developed. I am convinced that Israel has the capability
to reinstate its deterrent power, especially through new technologies such
I am accused of being optimistic. This isn't such a terrible thing to be
accused of. People ask me why I look so good. My secret is that I am
optimistic - if you don't feel bad, you don't look bad. I see threats in
different parameters and under a dynamic light.
I, more than others, have experienced the 60 years of Israel's history from
the inside. There have been more difficult times. I remember the night that
the Merkavas with the wheels didn't cross the Suez. They thought this would
be the end of the country. I remember when the Arab countries attacked us
and we didn't have any weapons or guns. I learned never to despair. Israel
won't be the one who will fall; Ahmadinejad will fall. He has nothing to
give to the world. Israel does!
I thought I was the biggest dreamer in the State of Israel until I met Uriel
Reichman. I wanted to establish a university in the Galilee. We found a
donor who donated 100 million dollars, and Reichman also got involved. Two
or three days later, Reichman said, "What is 100 million dollars? We need
500 million! In the meantime, other donors were found. Before I knew it, a
very large vision of the Galilee developed in larger proportions. Tsfat is a
sleeping beauty. The town is first the center of Kabala, then as center for
artists, and is now reawakening on the path to developing the Galilee.
The first time Israel achieved economic independence was a great
achievement. This was the first time that exports exceeded imports. I had
the privilege of decreasing inflation from 400% to 16%. Israel is
economically stable with 5% yearly growth, along with 40% increase in the
GDP, and per capita income, which increased from 16,000 to 19,600. I won't
say that this is because we have a wonderful government, even though the
government had no small part.
The truth is that the there are perhaps 20,000 young people in Israel that
entered hi-tech and started making capital, thus bringing new hope.
Parenthetically, globalization brought with it individualization. A single
person can erect an economic empire. When Henry Ford was at the start of his
business career, he needed to fight the entire world, to slander, to bribe,
etc. Bill Gates, with his talents and organization, and without the
difficulties faced by Henry Ford, started a massive economic organization
whose capital exceeds that of many countries. Likewise, along came two young
people from Russia and established Google, didn't hurt anyone, and their
monetary value is four times that of Egypt.
This type of thing is happening in Israel as well, perhaps not on such a
large scale, but there are many dedicated people with imagination and daring
of whom I am very proud. This scientific capability will provide us with the
advanced technology that will reinstate our deterrent power. Our young
people are excellent. I am happy to see young people returning to the
kibbutzim and moshavim, which were once on the decline. I see private
enterprise, hi-tech factories that are willing to start moving to the Negev
and the Galilee.
By the way, people tell me, "Lower taxes and we will move to the periphery."
I am not positive that the main point is lowering taxes. I believe that
developing the economy is dependent on the mobility real estate, of
territory. The value of land increases exponentially, and not linearly. If
you take the Negev as an example, the largest asset is that the value of
land will increase.
What are we afraid of?
I have a lot of critics. I am not against criticism and am not asking for
any breaks from the critics. I am only asking those reading the criticism
not to see it as absolute truth. Israel is not corrupt. I know it from the
The final word has yet to be said on Iran - not economically, not
politically, and certainly not militarily. If Ahmadinejad continues to go
wild, he will pay the price.
On the Palestinian front, there are three problems: borders, Jerusalem, and
refugees. In terms of borders, we are very close to a solution. We are
prepared to give 90% of the West Bank, agree to give territorial continuity,
and that the territory won't be segmented into small pieces. We are prepared
for territorial exchange, and also to make an arrangement for the
settlements to remain in three main blocs. The Palestinians agreed to this
at Camp David. Of course, they have a problem of factionalism, in which I
recommend not to get involved. We don't need to become the ones who get
involved in internal issues.
On the issue of refugees, Israel has said to the Arab world: there is
nothing to discuss here. Once, there were two non-Muslim countries in the
Middle East - Christian Lebanon and Jewish Israel. Lebanon made a lot of
mistakes and has paid the price demographically. We, as a Jewish state, won't
cease to be the only Jewish state in the world, and, therefore the Right of
Return won't be granted. Whoever reads the small print can find in the Arab
League and Saudi Peace Plan that these are efforts to find a just solution,
and that the Right of Return is no longer mentioned as a pre-condition.
In terms of Jerusalem, at least in regards to the various quarters in the
city - the quarters that have a Palestinian majority will
be in the Palestinian state, and the Jewish quarters will remain in Israeli
territory. However, I don't believe a problem in the world today can be
solved through only strategic means, nor only diplomatic means.
Every important event since WWII happened due to economic engines. Europe
was unified by a new economic system. What changed China? Communism there is
one of a kind - 9000 millionaires, and workers don't have pension
arrangements. Communism there has undergone an economic revolution. What
motivated all of this were economic factors.
Policy deals with borders, economics deals with relations. Europe didn't
change its borders, but changed its relations. China didn't change the way
it's organized, it changed its economy. People say that the only way to
solve the conflict between the two sides is to bring a third party. This
way, it is possible to be with one out of two, and not one out of one.
The agreement of our time with King Hussein was an attempt to create a
Jordanian-Palestinian-Israeli free trade triangle. Today, there is no chance
of returning to such a confederation unless it is an economic, rather than
political, confederation. The plan is to take the border from Eilat to
Yarmuch and turn it into a joint economic area between us, the Jordanians,
and the Palestinians. Infrastructure, airports, and roads will be built. We
will manage the water reservoirs effectively. This will achieve a number of
things including raising the standard of living and bringing global support.
Governments don't have funds, they have a budget. The budget is eaten up by
ministerial interests. Global capital doesn't have ministries, it has money.
Its capital comes from the unknown and is not built on the accepted and the
known. I see global capital as a means of developing this region. The cost
of the regional development plan I mentioned reaches 10 billion dollars. I
believe that it is possible to raise this money from global and private
capital. Global capital is prepared to take a chance because it there are
opportunities that just don't get passed up.
I would define this policy as a policy of a double path. On one hand, there
is the political aspect; on the other hand is the economic aspect. On the
political side there is a couple, us and the Palestinians. I am sure that
there will soon be a meeting with Abu Mazen to advance these issues and move
toward a final solution. The economic aspect is for the good of the
Israelis, the good of the Jordanians, and the good of the Palestinians.
In summary, there is no being halfhearted. Losing the bigger picture that
drives our world is a mistake.
I suggest letting Meier use the white foam. Let's not paint our houses
black. We can embark upon a large and cautious campaign - to give Israel the
dynamics, the daring, to become to the model state once again for its
citizens and for the region.
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