As I was going through my daily tasks in my Jerusalem office, I noticed something of concern and I will even say, disturbing. As I was browsing through some international news sources, I couldn't help but notice the lack of coverage or attempts to link and explain the connection and history of the Jewish people and Jerusalem. It even went to the extreme of completely denying this connection, such as the UNESCO vote, just to name one example.
My friends, I turn to you from Jerusalem with great conviction and say JERUSALEM WAS, JERUSALEM IS, AND WILL FOREVER BE, THE UNDIVIDED CAPITAL OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE, just as it was for the past 3000 years, and just as it is the capital of Israel today. Anything else would be equivalent to erasing our identity, erasing who and what we are as the Jewish people.
My friends, Israel is a country of great beauty, amazing people, a place of bright minds and a positive contribution to the world, not to mention a great breeding ground for the advancement of science, technology and innovation.
Sadly, the situation is quite different in the rest of the Middle East today. I often ask myself, can this be real? Is this the world we live in today? Can this really be happening in our backyard?
As Shimon Peres predicted it the 1990s, it is a whole "new Middle East."
He was right, but unfortunately in a negative sense of the word "new," as we can now see that it is a much, much worse Middle East.
What we originally thought was an Arab Spring, has now become a dark and stormy winter.
My friends, the time has come to stand united against evil around the world and in particular the Middle East. Whether it is the Islamic republic of Iran, the Islamic state in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic "state within a state" of Hezbollah in Lebanon, or the Islamic Hamas in Gaza, we must stand united.
Unfortunately, and I say this with great disappointment and sadness, Israel's repeated attempts to convey such dangers and concerns with previous administrations were not sufficiently heard.
Let me say this once again in a clear manner: the forces of evil in the Middle East are not only a threat to Israel, but a threat to all people who uphold the value of life and democracy.
Israel is proud to stand with the United States of America and all life and freedom loving people.
In the spirit of democracy, Israel looks forward to be welcoming President Trump and his delegation to Israel this month.
President Trump has shown himself to be a true friend of Israel, we continue to see eye-to-eye on many of the current issues I mentioned, as well as the similar values we share.
I believe the President will keep his promise to recognize a united Jerusalem as the only capital of Israel, not just because it is the current reality, but more so because it is RIGHT historically.
I am also looking forward to meeting the new U.S ambassador to Israel, Ambassador Friedman, IN HIS NEW EMBASSY IN JERUSALEM.
My friends, I would like to bring to your attention a growing problem which Israel is facing, the lies and attempts to re-write history.
Most, if not all of these lies come from terror-supporting states, terror backed organizations, BDS organizations, Left wing NGO's and anti-Israel Student Organizations.
But when we hear these lies about the Jewish People and Israel, what should our response be?
WE MUST TELL THEM THE TRUTH.
I already mentioned one of the lies earlier, and its sole purpose is to make people believe that the Jewish people have no ties to the city of Jerusalem. And by the way, if anyone in the world has any doubt, I suggest they go visit many of our amazing museums where they will find ancient Jewish artifacts. I have yet to hear about any "Palestinian" findings.
Another of the lies that is well spread is that the Palestinians are ruled by Israel.
My friends, the truth of the matter is that the PALESTINIANS RULE THEMSELVES and this is the case for 23 years already. They run their own educational system, healthcare, security, financial, justice and media. All under the Palestinian Authority.
Sadly, almost in every instance, they use their influence to glorify violence and death.
In schools their text books are filled with hatred toward Jews and Israel. Their year-end ceremony includes a kidnapping of Israel soldier or worse.
In their court system they give a death sentence to those who sell their private land to Jews.
Their financial system have budgets for families and individuals who commit terror and to those who murder Israelis.
They use their health systems and facilities to hide and transport weapons and terrorists (most notably in Gaza).
They use their media to incite the youth to violence and publish "how to kill Israelis" videos.
And all of this, with the full support, encouragement and approval and at times even at the direction of the Palestinian Authority.
My friends, are we speaking the same language here? Or maybe I should say, are we on the same page here?
I ask myself, what prevents the Palestinian Authority from engaging Israel without any preconditions and making peace? Well, we all know the answer.
And we all know that Israel, on the other hand, is ready and willing for peace.
But each time we reach out to the other side, the terrorists spill more of our blood, and there is more mourning, more death.
This must stop.
Israel is not the obstacle to peace. Israel continues to extend its hand in the efforts of peace, but the choice to end this war lays with the Palestinians themselves.
People always ask me why am I against the idea of the establishment of a Palestinian state. To that I answer:
1. Jews have always had a connection to the land of Israel since the beginning of our time and before anyone else was walking on this land. Our entire identity and "who we are" evolves around this land and its history. Our nation was born on the hills of Judea and Samaria.
2. Israel need stable and defensible boarders in order to survive in the Middle East; a Palestinian state will place a direct security threat upon all of the citizen of Israel.
3. I want my children to grow up with peaceful neighbors, not generations of children that call for our death and destruction.
My friends, I'm happy to see that the Trump administration says what I've been saying all along, the settlements in Judea and Samaria are not the obstacle towards peace!
It is the Palestinians' leaders who are the obstacle to Peace.
So for as long as I am elected to serve my country, I will ensure that a Palestinian state will not be created.
My friends, before I go I would like to tell you this, ISRAEL IS A LIGHTHOUSE OF DEMOCRACY IN THE MIDDLE EAST. It doesn't matter if you are a man or woman, black or white, left or right, gay or straight, and there is really no difference if you are Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. We are life loving people, our strength is our freedom and values. All citizens of Israel live together in peace. Now my friends, how many other countries in the Middle East hold and live by these values? Instead of fighting with Israel, they should view Israel as a role model and stop preaching us to make peace.
And for this my friends, I am so proud to call myself an Israeli. Proud of our democracy, economy and our achievements. I'm proud of our advances in science and technology.
My friends, Israel and the United States have always been close allies. I am happy with our current accomplishments but I am even more excited about what we can and will accomplish in the future.
In the coming years, America and Israel must stand shoulder to shoulder in matters relating to the Middle East. We must stand united when they burn our flags. We must stand together when they attack nightclubs and cafes.
ISRAEL HAS NO BETTER FRIEND THAN THE UNITED STATES, AND THE UNITED STATES HAS NO BETTER ALLY THAN ISRAEL.
And so, I look forward to continue working with the United States in making true peace in the Middle East while building stronger connections in the field of science and technology.
Thank you again for the warm welcome and for allowing me to address you all today. I'm sure you will enjoy the rest of the conference. Until next time, shalom and toda raba!
Sent to Arutz Sheva by the MK, this is an excerpt from Minister of Science and Technology Ofir Akunis's speech to the JPost Conference in New York, May 7, 2017.