Note: This speech was actually written by MK Yaakov Katz (“Ketsaleh”), head of the National Union party, given to Prime Minister Netanyahu and sent to INN for translation and posting, in the hope that Prime Minister Netanyahu will stand firm and present its message to the government of the United States.
Dear Friends, Senators and Congressmen, Representatives of the American people who are the best friend the Jewish people have had in all of history,
The Jewish people and the state of Israel are honored that the Prime Minister of Israel is invited to stand here before both houses of the American Congress.
I wish, in the name of the Israel’s citizens, to thank you for this opportunity to talk to you.
In 1492, two events of great historical significance occurred.
An evil decree of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain brought about the expulsion of the 150,000 Jews of Spain from the country where they had once lived tranquilly and had had a semblance of civil rights.
Yet an act of deliverance preceded this debacle, when, in the same year, Christopher Columbus discovered America. This was the start of the American nation, the nation whose very existence is an act of grace for the entire world and for the Jewish people in particular.
America was fated one day to become a place of refuge and support for the Jewish people.
Our people feel great affection for the American nation, which became a safe harbor for us towards the end of our exile. We thank the Almighty for choosing the American people to be the best and most helpful friend in our efforts to establish a national homeland for the Jewish people.
From the very start, there has been a covenant of love and friendship between the American people and the Jewish people and its state. The United States of America has stood by Israel in the past, in the present and will, please G-d, stand by her forever.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Senators and Congressmen,
At the close of a forced, long and cruel exile, we returned to our land. During all the 1900 years of exile, we never forgot our land, the land of Israel, our birthplace, the land promised to us and our descendants by the Creator of the world, the land of the Bible. Generations of Jewish children, young and old, studied and memorized the words of the Bible and our daily prayers, day and night, in hunger and thirst, cold and poverty, in secret and in the open, longing for a return to Jerusalem and the cities of Judea. Jerusalem is mentioned 21 times in a Jews’ daily prayers.
The Passover Haggadah that is recited at the yearly Seder, the very same one we have said through the ages, in Casblanca, Paris, Fez, London, Tsana,Barcelona, Addis Ababa, St. Petersburg, Alexandria, G’erba, Munich, Rome, and New York—whatever place we were exiled to—ends with the song “Next year in Jerusalem”.
The pioneering spirits among our people attempted to found a Third Commonwealth, but the nations of the world prevented them from succeeding. A small number managed to actually reach the land of the Bible. They started an awakening. They were followed by successive waves of tens, then hundreds, thousands and tens of thousands who founded villages, communities, cultural institutions and spread throughout the holy land, but the land remained desolate looking as It had been since its destruction thousands of years earlier.
After 18 centuries of exile, bubbles of longing began coming to the surface of Jewish life, and in the last 300 years, a large number of Jews left their places of residence to return to Israel. Today, at the state of Israel’s 63rd birthday celebration, we can state with confidence that our land was glad to see us back. Israel is a beautiful country, has one of the most stable economies in the world, is blessed with investments, research and development—it is a beacon to the entire world—and this is in addition to the rennaisance of Jewish culture and scholarship in the Jewish state.
In his book, “The Innocents Abroad”, Mark Twain describes journeying to the holy land with a group of pilgrims in the 1860’s. He describes a barren and desolate land, that contains nothing but deserts, wastelands, swamps, full of neglect and contagious diseases. All this was before the Jews returned. Once they began coming, Arab tribes followed in their footsteps, so that Arab claims to being in the land from time immemorial are put to the lie even by Twain.
In the Passover Haggadah I mentioned earlier, we also say each year: “In every generation they rise to destroy us, but the Lord rescues us from their hands.” No one, not even today, has a rational explanation for the continued existence of anti-Semitism. We only know that it is there, kicking and screaming. It began with our becoming a nation, in Egypt, and continued all through the years of exile during which period most of our nation was systematically murdered. That is how we find ourselves, after 1900 years and after the Holocaust, approximately the same population size as we were when the long exile began.
Possibly, anti-Semitism is a product of Israel’s G-d-given task of being “a light unto the nations," commanding the Jews to set a moral example and to spread monotheism in the ancient world of paganism and cruel idol worship. That may have caused jealousy and hatred, mixed with admiration. Jewish tradition had it that the world was round 1200 years before Galileo was hounded by the Church for saying so. In Jewish law, women were called “daughters of kings” long before the world realized the basic rights of women. The Jewish people served as an island of culture, purity, charity and lovingkindness, all found in the 613 commandments, those between man and his fellowman, those between man and his God. Although most of the world has abandoned idol worship by now, that hatred did not cease in the bitter exile with which we were subjected, but in which we never bowed. We remained stalwart spiritually and it is that strength that gave us the foundations for our national steadfastness.
On November 2, 1917, Lord Arthur James Balfour, Foreign Secretary and past Prime Minister of Great Britain, issued the famous Balfour Declaration, that posits the founding of a national home for the Jewish people in the land of Israel. Its authors were referring to the Biblical borders of Israel, with whose boundaries the English people were familiar from studying the Holy Book, that land which lay on both sides of the Jordan River, extending from the northernmost Golan Heights to Aqaba in the south, close to 116 thousand square kilometers.
In 1920, the San Remo International Conference confirmed the Balfour Declaration and gave Britain the mandate over both sides of the Jordan River. King Feisal of Iraq, in the name of the Arab delegation to the 1919 peace conference after WWI, wrote: “Our delegation here in Paris are fully aware of the suggestions the Zionist Federation made to the peace conference. In our eyes they are modest and fitting, and we will do our best to have them accepted. We will welcome the Jews warmly when they come home.
Two years later, the eastern bank of the Jordan, an area of about 90,000 square kilometers, was separated and closed to Jewish immigration. What remained for the Jews was the west bank of the Jordan, an area of only 26,000 square kilometers. The decision to hand over the land east of the Jordan to the head of the Saudi royal family, was decided on by Great Britain for political ends.
The plan to partition the land of Israel west of the Jordan River, as suggested by the Peel Committee in 1936, was called “a midget-sized Jewish country”, by revisionist leader Zeev Jabotinsky, in his 1937 speech before Parliament. The heads of Jewish settlement in Israel declared that even if the Jews are forced to accept the partition against their will, they see it as a temporary solution. Chaim Weizmann, later Israel’s first president, said: “This is an arrangement that can last 25-30 years”, and David Ben Gurion, later to be Israel’s first Prime Minister, reacted: “I see our future as cancelling the partition, once we have become secure in our state”.
In 1947, the United Nations Assembly ratified the Partition Plan, a decision that led to the declaration of the state of Israel on the tiny bit of land left for the Jewish homeland. Our capital,Jerusalem, was divided in two, and her heart, the site of our Holy Temples, was outside our borders. All the parts of Israel that had been clearly promised to us by God were also outside these borders.
The Arabs never accepted the Partition Plan and, led by Amin El Huseini, continued their terror attacks against the Jewish people. Huseini met with Hitler in Bernlin at the height of WWII in order to plan the extermination of the Jews in Israel and the east.
Immediately after the declaration of Israel’s independence on May 15, 1948, the armies of 7 Arab states invaded the fledgling country to attempt to murder all its Jewish residents. For the next 19 years, we lived while paying for our existence in unending bloodshed. In the War of Independence alone, 6000 soldiers and civilians were killed, that was 1% of the population at the time. God helped us defeat our enemies and we succeeded in building a wonderful country despite its narrow borders and their limitations.
Then began the infamous announcements of President Nasser of Egypt in 1967, who, together with Syria’s ruler Hafez el Assad, and Jordan’s King Hussein, decided to invade tiny Israel and wipe it off the map. Israel’s boundaries were the indefensible Green Line, called “Auschwitz Borders” by then-Foreign Minister Abba Eban. In the June 1967 war that ensued, the state of Israel and its heroic soldiers, defeated Egypt in six days and freed the remaining sections of Israel on the west of the Jordan River.
From the beginning, the Arab countries have engaged in anti-Israel incitement. Israel, for its part, has always yearned for peace with its enemies, but was always given the cold shoulder—and worse, unceasing terror attacks and bloodshed.
In 1993, a minority Israeli government signed the Oslo Accords with the PLO terrorist leader Yasser Arafat. The US government had reservations about the agreement limits at various stages of its development. The immediate result of these agreements was the terrorist murders of over 1500 Israelis, most of them civilians: the elderly, women, men, children - in the city centers, on buses, at restaurants and shopping centers. The PLO broke the Oslo Accords and forced Israel to engage in a military operation to reestablish full security control in PA cities, an act that was taken to prevent terror in Israel today.
It is no secret that of the 120 members of the United Nations General Assembly, 57 are Islamic, and that they vote automatically against Israel no matter what the issue. The United States of America, along with several other countries, have led the fight against anti-Israel activities in the UN for the 63 years since Israel’s establishment.
We are immeasurably grateful to the Presidents, Cabinet Members, Senators and Congressman who kept the hate and anti-Semitism in check, not allowing them to win another war waged against the Jewish people who have come home after thousands of years in exile.
In recent years, another enemy of the Jewish people has arisen, one who reminds us of Adolf Hitler, an enemy who does not hesitate to declare that he wishes to complete the genocide that Hitler planned. Israel, the entire world and especially the United States must make the battle to eliminate this ruler, who is developing non-conventional weapons of destruction and preparing his army to destroy Israel, a top priority. We must act towards Ahmadenijad as the United States did successfully and so bravely against arch- terrorist Osama Bin Laden.
Six years ago, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided on a “Disengagement Plan” and expelled 10,000 Jews from the Katif Bloc. Although I was in the coalition when this was decided, I realized my mistake and left the government. Today, in retrospect, almost everyone admits that this plan was an egregious error and that Israel should have remained in that part of the Gaza Strip instead of leaving it for Iran’s puppet, Hamas.
Israel expelled Jews, destroyed their homes and brought about the burning of their synagogues by rioting Arabs. Immediately afterwards, Israel became a target for missiles raining from Gaza.
Over 10,000 rockets and missiles have been launched at Israeli cities as a result of this immoral and irresponsible decision. Our strategic, existential and security status have all become more vulnerable. We were forced to initiate the Cast Lead Operation to try to change the situation, but at great cost.
Israel yearns for peace, it is capable of overcoming past grievances. It has diplomatic, economic and even security relations with countries that took part in the destruction of the Jews only 70 years ago.
Israel gives equal rights to all her citizens, even those who once fought against her, and even to those who work against her even at present - and announce publicly that they do so.
There is no Arab or Muslim country in the world whose citizens have the freedom that Israel’s Arabs have. They vote, are members of the Knesset, serve as judges on the Supreme Court and in any capacity they wish.
Our right to the land of Israel is inalienable. It is an historical right and is stated clearly in the Book of Books. God’s command is that the Jewish people be connected to the holy land forever and ever. We must do our best to rebuild its ruins and settle its desolate areas.
My grandfather, the gifted speaker and well known Zionist, Rabbi Natan Milikovsky-Netanyahu, may he rest in peace, was a good friend of the first Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Avraham Kook. He traveled round the world at his behest, most especially to American Jewish congregations, during the 1920’s, to convince Jews to move to Israel and live their Zionism. Speaking in Rochester, New York in 1927, he said: “ We will not abandon our people to die. We must live. We have proven our integrity and just cause for two thousand years. We have our old weapons with us—justice and integrity—we will return to our homeland, our birthplace, our past and independence. The land awaits us.”
Dear Senators and Congressmen,
I wish to tell you that of some 7.5 million residents of the state of Israel, 6 million are Jews. 650,000 of them live in what is called “East” Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria – Israel’s heartland, the dwelling place of our forefathers, liberated in the Six Day War.
A good many places in the United States are named for Jewish holy cities: Beit El, Bethlehem, Shiloh and more.
The anti-Semitism always unleashed against the Jewish people, is now aimed at the Jewish state. It is inconceivable that 500 years after the Jews were expelled from Spain and suffered so many expulsions from the countries of Europe through the centuries, that Israel will be expected to expel 650,000 Jews from their ancestral homes, the cities of ancient Israel that have come back to life: Beit El, Hevron, Shechem, Elon Moreh, Kiryat Arba, Susiya, and above all, Jerusalem.
There is no doubt that the American people, who enjoy American’s freedom, who love and know the uniqueness of the Bible, will come to the aid of the millions of Jews who have renewed their lives in all parts of the holy land. You are the representatives of this wonderful nation and there is no doubt in our hearts that you will stand at our side and help defend our rights to live everywhere in biblical Israel.
At the present time, the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria are being led astray by leaders who are eaten up by hatred. Anti-Semitic caricatures in the PA press are an everyday occurrence. PA media, official textbooks, do not accept the existence of Israel and the Jewish people’s rights for a state in the holy land. Children are taught to be shahids from an early age, taught to kill as many Jews as possible. As long as this goes on, there is no way of talking to the PA. The treaty they signed with Hamas only makes this more obvious.
In exactly the same way we offered full citizenship to Israel’s Arab citizens decades ago, we are willing today to extend that gift to the Arabs of Judea and Samaria. Accept Israeli citizenship and become loyal to the state.
We are a peace loving nation. We will always be one. We never tried to undermine the countries in which we lived during our centuries of exile and always wanted peace. But peace is not derived from the destruction of another. Peace is the ability to live together.
Our integrity is reflected in our policies. I am the head of the Likud party, voted in on a platform that vowed to keep all of Israel in the hands of the Jewish people. I must tell you that in the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, not counting “East” Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, 26.5% of the voters chose me. They have not authorized me to destroy their homes, even had I wished to do so.
In the name of the Israeli nation that has sent me here, I ask you to help bring a painful isue that puts a pall on the quality of our relationship to an end. I am referring to Jonathan Pollard, and it seems to me that we must decide together, in the name of rationality as well as morality, to free him. He has paid a much higher price than anyone who has committed a comparable crime.
I turn to you to also help us gain freedom for our soldier Gilad Schalit from the hands of Hamas terrorists, the ones who expressed outrage and grief at the elimination of Ben Laden.
We in Israel have to learn from the United States, not to negotiate with terrorists. Gilad has not been visited by the Red Cross, has not seen a lawyer. Hamas ignores international principles of the freedom of mankind and commits crimes against humanity. We ask the world to raise its voice against this.
To close, I wish to pray that one day the world realize that the shared longing of the Jewish and American peoples for peace and liberty, is one that the entire world should share. May we pray together for world peace.
Thank you once again for the opportunity to address you. All of you are invited to visit the holy land, the land of the Bible, to enjoy her beauty, her rebuilding and progress.