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Monday, May 4, 2009

Peres Speech to AIPAC - Transcript

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/05/peres-speech-to-aipac-transcript.html

A speech that offers peace and looks forward to it.
 
Monday, May 04, 2009
 
President Shimon Peres's Remarks to the Annual AIPAC Conference
Washington, DC
 
Source: Spokesman for the Israel President:
Rehov HaNasi 3, Jerusalem 92188   Tel. +972.2.670.7256   Fax. +972.2.670.7295   Email: Spokesperson@president.gov.il 
 
This morning, President Shimon Peres delivered the keynote address at the annual AIPAC conference in Washington, DC. The text of President Peres's remarks is below.
 

Dear Friends,
 
What an honor and a privilege to address AIPAC in these exciting and challenging times.
 
I may not be the youngest in the room this morning, but being here with you makes me feel young again
 
In my life, I have seen so much – more than I expected.
 
I have witnessed our nation coerced into seven wars and two bloody terrorist campaigns. I have seen Israel and its neighbors bearing the deadly toll of war and belligerency.
 
Yet throughout this exceptional violence and adversity – we held true to our commitment to the values of democracy and freedom.
 
I have witnessed the marvel of peace unfold. I saw the Jewish state taking brave and historic decisions that paved the way to reconciliation.
 
I witnessed the miracle of science re-inventing Israel, Generation after generation. I believe it enables us to live up to the value of Tikkun Olam in providing people with life-saving medical solutions, innovative water technologies, solar energy and scientific agricultural advances, new to the world.
 
Yes, it's true; we have had a difficult journey in our young life as a state. But our national endeavor of 2,000 years in Diaspora was no different.
 
Yet, since the re-birth of Israel, one commitment remains firm, profound and unshaken – the alliance between Israel and the United States of America.  It has provided us with moral and strategic strength.
 
For 60 years, America has been and still is more than just an ally – it is an unusual partner and a brave friend.  I have heard it said, and I have heard it sung – today, more than ever -
 
GOD BLESS AMERICA
 
Ladies and gentlemen of AIPAC,
 
I came today from Jerusalem, which I know is an important part of your soul. I came here this morning to reiterate what you already know – that brothers we are. And we need you. Want you. And appreciate you.
 
I want to thank you for your essential role in strengthening the shared values and policy between the United States and Israel.  My people are grateful to the thousands of AIPAC supporters – from students and lay-leaders to the leadership and professional teams on Capitol Hill.
 
For all that you have done and all that you will do, the people of Israel salute you.
 
Through your hard work, the bond between the greatest democracy in the world and the first democracy in the Middle East continues to strengthen and deepen.  
 
Each and everyone of you helped build this house and can claim a brick in it. Both the United States and Israel can look at our construction with pride. It is a testimony to our joint commitment to a moral, strong and prosperous Jewish state.
 

Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
A tsunami of hope is rolling across the globe, its center is right here in America. Six months ago you elected a new president of the United States. President Barack Obama assumed his duties in a period of deep crises in the world.
 
I am convinced he has the capacity to turn the crises into opportunity. May I say to president Obama – you are young enough to offer hope to the world and great enough to bring it to life.
 
On behalf of the state of Israel, and in my name, I want to wish you success.
 
  יברכך השם וישמרך;  God speed Mr. President
 
In his inaugural address, President Obama elegantly articulated what is needed, when he called for an outstretched hand instead of a clenched fist. In the future, our time may be considered as the age of outstretched hands.
 
Israel stands with her arms outstretched, and her hands held open to peace with all nations, with all Arab states, with all Arab people.
 
To those still holding a clenched fist I have just one word to say: ENOUGH!
 
Enough war.  Enough destruction.  Enough hatred.
Now is the time for change.
 
Israel's definition of success is not by the military campaigns we have been forced to wage and win, but by the peace we have achieved together with some of our neighbors.
 
Israel's strength and capacity to take risks for peace are determined by the strength of the Israel Defense Forces and its uncompromising technological advantage. Ours is an army for defense if necessary … and for peace when possible.
 
Israel's strength also relies on the allies, partners and friends here with us today – ensuring that our military and technological edge will always remain.
 
I shall be meeting President Obama tomorrow to deliver a message of a country which is yearning for peace. Later on, the president will meet Prime Minister Netanyahu.
 
Binyamin Netanyahu was at one time my political opponent. Today, he is my Prime Minister. He knows history and wants to make history. In our tradition, making history is making peace, and I am sure that peace is his priority.
 

The journey isn't over.  In some ways, we are still at genesis. We still seek to build a home, to plant a tree. To celebrate spring
 
Yet at the same time there's a dark and growing cloud. A reminder that threats to human life are real.
 
This cloud is the product of militant extremists. It's lightening are made of rockets, the thunder made of bombs.
 
It has spread over Israel, as well as over the Arab neighborhood. It may be looming over the global community at large.
 
This year, again, we are encountering the clenched fist in our region. We admittedly hoped that the time of tough talk was over. We made meaningful sacrifices hoping that a real peace is at hand.
 
Unfortunately, the Middle East finds itself in the shadow of a nuclear threat. We shall refuse to give up.  We refuse to surrender.
 
Let me be clear.  The fanatic rulers of Iran are on the wrong side of history. Actually, they are outside of history.
We have respect for the Iranian people and its tradition. Historically, Iran sought to enrich mankind. Today, alas, Iran's rulers enrich uranium.
 
The aggressiveness of the Iranian government is not limited to Israel. Indeed, they seek regional hegemony and want to control Arab states using terror and coercion.
 
They develop a nuclear option. They invest huge capital in long-range missiles. Iran is not threatened by anyone. Iran funds and arms Hizbullah and Hamas to spread division and terror, trying to impose a foreign and violent ideology. Their agents target Americans, Europeans and Arabs alike.
 
Historically, the concern was to separate religion from state. Today, however, the challenge is to disconnect religion from terror.
 
In the name of God there should be no wars. No dead. No victims. No bloodshed.
 
It is clear, in our eyes, that peace may require compromises and concessions.
 
Compromises require two conditions:
 
First, peace must be real, lasting and mutually respected.
We have to guarantee that our children, ALL children, will be free from war, and breathe the fresh air of peace. 
 
Secondly, peace should enable Israel to protect its people …. to realize the fundamental responsibility of free governments …. to defend its people from harm and to enable them to meet opportunity.
 
The same is true for future of the Palestinian people.  I say it loudly because I believe it strongly.  The Palestinian people have the right to govern themselves, to invest their resources and direct their aid to civil high-tech, not military rockets… books, not bombs – so their people can be free of fear and hunger.
 
I have a simple question. Why wait?  Israel is prepared TODAY to bring peace closer. TODAY.
 
We shall negotiate with any partner ready to negotiate the peace that has eluded us since 1947. Israel, under David Ben Gurion, accepted the United Nations resolution to partition the land between a Jewish State and an Arab State.
 
Today there is a chance for real peace. History is on our side.
 
The Saudis gave birth to a peace initiative. The Arab league, which In 1967, adopted the policy of three nays – no to peace with Israel, no to recognition and no to negotiations declared in 2002 a policy of readiness to negotiate with and recognize Israel.
 
It reflects a U-turn.
 
Israel wasn't a partner to the wording of this initiative. Therefore it doesn't have to agree to every word. Nevertheless, Israel respects the profound change, and hopes it will be translated into action. I trust that the leadership of President Obama will pave the way to both to a regional agreement and meaningful bilateral negotiations.
 
In pursuing peace, the present government of Israel shall respect commitments made by the previous one.
 
My experiences have taught me that peace is not necessarily the result of detailed negotiations or map-design. Peace bursts from the soil like a geyser. It is beautiful to behold and impossible to contain.
 
If Anwar Sadat had not courageously taken one-hour flight between Cairo and Jerusalem, it is doubtful that peace would be achieved.
 
Something similar happened with the hand-shake between Mandela and de Klerc, Even a small ping-pong ball facilitated a dialogue between the United States and China. Those events transformed the world and can happen again. It's no photo opportunity, it CREATED opportunity
 
Dear AIPAC supporters,
 
A day will come, it's not far away, in which the Jewish people will live on their land, in peace.
 
After two thousand years of exile, after Shoa, pogroms, transports, struggles, endless suffering, hatred, wars and bloodshed – The Jewish home will become a model country. A beacon of light among nations.
 
   A nation living the prophecy of Isaiah, beating swords into plowshares, where nations will not take up sword against other nations.
 
So let us all ask ourselves: What must we do today to make a better tomorrow for our children and grandchildren?
 
I was told there are STUDENTS in the room.
Would you please stand up?
 
I thank you for being here. But more importantly, we celebrate your future.
 
I invite you to come to my home. To come to Israel. To come to Jerusalem to celebrate your heritage.
 
If your moms shall object, tell them it is a presidential invitation.
 
Thank you, you may sit down.
 
To the parents, to everyone else in the room, let's make this generation the last to know conflict. The first to enjoy redemption. This will make our heritage our destiny.
 
Well, I have been young and have now grown older as the psalm says. I feel I have the right to remain an optimist.
 
My generation experienced serious trials and tribulations. We triumphed over them all. You and us gained the license to be optimists.
 
When I look ahead – I see a world that knows no limits, no boundaries -- a world of progress.
 
My children surpass their parents. My grand-children surpass my sons and daughter.
I am blessed with two great grand children – Ella and Ari. They are wonderful. When we sit on the carpet and they climb on my shoulders, I suspect that they don't respect the president. Yet, I feel respected, even reassured that our future is in safe in their tiny and strong hands.
 
Ladies and gentlemen,
 
To know the future, we have to remember our history.
 
Calling history is listening to the past.
 
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai he called upon our people – Listen Israel! – Shma Israel.
 
He asked us to listen so we shall hear the prophetic message and the mountainous music of peace and justice.
 
But, as you know, we are pragmatic. So our people replied – We shall do and listen.  Na'ase Venishma
 
My friends, there is much to do!  The time is now.  Let's go to work.
 
 


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