Before I start, I want to wish a quick recovery to the ninth president of the state of Israel, Mr. Shimon Peres. We all pray for his recovery.
I have arrived here from the place that is the only national home of the Jewish people: the State of Israel.
The Land of Israel is our home. This is the reason why my political party is called "the Jewish Home".
But I am happy to admit that while I am standing here with you today – I feel at home. Thank you for that.
I feel at home not only because of your warm welcome,
And not only because this is the city with the largest number of Jews in the world,
I feel at home because you who are sitting here today, are full and active partners in the building, establishment and preservation of the Jewish people's home.
Our feet stand on different countries but on identical ideological ground.
We stand on the values of freedom, democracy and justice.
Israel and the United States together share a close friendship.
Your generosity, support and steadfast stance alongside the State of Israel makes you part of this home. Our home is your home.
Ladies and gentlemen, aside from the greetings, it is also my duty to speak openly about the new dangers lying in wait to ensnare us.
Exactly one week ago the United States and Israel marked with sorrow 15 years since the September 11 attacks. We will never forget that day.
While I am standing before you now, my JNF friends in New York, I cannot help but think of one simple fact:
There are JNF staff who set injured birds free to a new life in the forests and the Israeli skies, and there are schemers who have launched evil iron birds into the skies in order to harm freedom and take life.
During the past 15 years the circle of terrorism has expanded and crossed borders and continents.
Jerusalem, New York, Paris, Tel Aviv, London, Brussels, Istanbul, and the list goes on and on.
The terrorism there is the terrorism here. It is the same terrorism.
Thus, we should also face it together.
But during the past 15 years terrorism has not only expanded. It has also transformed.
In Tehran and Gaza they openly and publicly declare their desire to wipe Israel off the map.
Sometimes it is easier to deal with these dangers because the threat is clear and explicit. The enemy has a name and a face.
In the modern age it is sometimes more difficult to identify the enemy.
Sometimes it wears suits and ties, sometimes it hides behind so-called liberal claims, sometimes the terrorists even employ people to handle their public relations.
The battlefield in which we fight terrorism has changed.
It is not only physical and in a defined place. Today the battlefield is also legal, communication-based, and we must also be victorious in these new fields.
We are not fighting against tanks but against lawsuits in the courts.
The battlefield is not only close to the border, but is also on Facebook and in college campuses.
But even if the battlefield has changed I am convinced of one simple thing:
It is only possible to beat the enemy if we know who the enemy is.
Therefore, I am not afraid to state its name out loud.
We are fighting against extreme Islamic terrorism.
It is important to clarify and state explicitly: we are not at war with Islam.
On the contrary, we share common values and a belief in one god and in a common father. About twenty percent of Israeli citizens are Muslims.
We are at war with the dangerous extremists, who in the name of radical Islam become terrorists who threaten the values of the free world.
Yes, we must state in a simple and clear manner: we are at war with extreme Islamic terrorism.
Unfortunately, the tools of freedom, communications and technology developed by the Western world in order to march us forward, are now being taken over by the terrorists who use them to send us back in time.
They take advantage of our values of liberty and equality in order to harm our liberty and equality.
The terrorists use the freedom and rights that we grant citizens, our values as a democracy, in order to harm democracy, freedom and rights.
The enemy has turned freedom of speech into freedom of incitement. Freedom of movement turned into freedom of infiltration.
Here is another battlefield:
While tunnels are being dug from Gaza – the BDS Movement is digging tunnels under the foundations of the State of Israel and its values.
The BDS supporters are trying to undermine the very fact of our right to exist. They refuse to acknowledge the most natural, basic and simple right – the existence of the State of Israel.
We must thwart these tunnels as well.
The BDS Movement has the same aim as the terrorists, even if it conceals it. The aim is: to wipe Israel off the map.
Sometimes the BDS Movement's funding sources are identical to those funding the terrorist organizations.
This is the new face of terrorism.
Criticism of Israel is legitimate. Criticism that attempts to undermine Israel's right to exist is illegitimate. The BDS is illegitimate.
I define it thus: BDS is another branch of terrorism in the modern age.
Unfortunately, I know that there are also some young Jewish liberals who get confused and are led astray by this movement.
They fight the only democracy in the Middle East, their national home, under the guise of protecting human rights. They swallow the lies that the Palestinian propaganda disseminates.
They have fallen into this web and are not even aware of the fact that the mechanisms pulling the strings are terrorists from radical Islam.
I know that American Jewry is fighting the BDS movement on college campuses all over the country and I am certain that we will win this battle.
One of the fields in which I am leading the fight for our homeland is the field of legal terrorism.
This is a new and modern aspect of the same terrorism that we have been fighting for decades, and that draws from ancient anti-Semitic roots.
Lawsuits abroad, allegations against Israel that it is acting illegally, organizations claiming alleged crimes, attempts to arrest Israeli leaders, approaches to international tribunals.
These are examples of the struggle being waged against us in the legal battlefield.
When terrorism changes, we must change our methods of fighting it accordingly.
Many countries worldwide understand the danger of the boycott and the legal dangers and are preparing themselves to face the threat.
Those countries know that the weapon of boycott that is presently targeting Israel is also liable to target them in the future.
I would like to congratulate the states in the United States on the legislation they adopted against BDS: New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Illinois, Florida, Colorado, Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey. I am confident that additional States will soon adopt similar legislation.
I am calling upon you here to join the efforts of many people all over the United States to declare the boycott movements illegal in the states where this has not yet occurred.
The state of the Jewish people respects and shall continue to respect the rights of the various religious minorities who live within its borders.
In Israel everyone is equal before the law.
The legal system in Israel is a worldwide role model and justly earns the appreciation of jurists from countries all over the world.
The legal system in Israel comprises of Jewish and Arab judges and whoever stands before them is treated equally.
I am happy to be the first Minister of Justice who has decided upon the establishment of the first court in the Arab city of Tayibe.
I am hoping to and working on becoming the first minister to appoint a woman to the position of Qadi in the Shari'a courts.
Under my direction, the Ministry of Justice insists upon the right and independence of the Muslims' religious courts system in precisely the same manner as the separate Druze and Jewish religious courts.
In law, education, economics, even in the JNF forests – day in, day out and without blazing headlines in the press and on television – Israeli Arabs benefit from being citizens with equal rights in the democratic state, the State of Israel.
The hypocrisy of whoever attacks Israel is clear.
At the recent Olympics in Brazil we and the whole world saw the Israeli Judo medalist's hand extended in peace to his Muslim opponent.
His hand remained in the air. Also a few days ago when Prime Minister Netanyahu visited Europe he extended his hand out for a handshake to a Muslim member of Parliament but his hand was left hanging in the air.
This is hypocrisy. There is not a single other country in the Middle East that ensures human rights like the State of Israel does.
There are those who claim that the world is worse off because of the State of Israel – and I reply: the opposite is the case – Israel is making the world a better place for all of us. Israel is or lagoyim (a light unto the nations, an expression in the book of Isaiah).
We shall continue to fight with an iron fist against terrorism, BDS and the attempts to delegitimize Israel, but we are not engaging only in defense and in a response to our enemies and the existential struggle.
As far back as when the Jewish National Fund was established 114 years ago, and when the Zionist Movement began, we did this according to the principle of: sword and sickle.
Also in the spirit of the Bible passage from the Book of Nehemiah, which describes the work of those building Jerusalem thousands of years ago: "every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other held his weapon". This is still the case today – sword and sickle.
We shall continue the whole time to build and plant. To plant hope and build our home and our future.
The hand performing the work is no less important than the fighting hand.
We are entering a very significant year.
We are entering the 50th year since Jerusalem was re-united and Gush Etzion – the Etzion Bloc, the southern gate of Jerusalem, returned to the Jewish people.
Today, JNF is collaborating with Gush Etzion in two major projects: "The Gush Etzion Visitor Center" and "The Promenade in memory of the Three Boys".
You, the friends of the Jewish National Fund, are supporting us with both hands.
With the one that holds the sickle and with the one that holds the sword..
With your support, we are making significant strides for the sake of the Israeli nation, for the sake of a better world.
Allow me to briefly share with you what my colleagues and I are doing in the Government.
What the hand working to build and plant is doing with your support.
As the Minister of Justice I, among other things, am also in charge of the Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
I am mentioning this because I am familiar with your important work in this field and I cherish it. I visited youth village ALEH Negev, which assists the population that cannot assist itself, for this I thank you in the name of Israel’s citizens for your support in this amazing place.
Your donations and generous support, the Jewish National Fund people, ensures that nobody is left behind.
With your help, the various JNF sites have been adapted for the disabled and those with special needs. This is our Jewish and human duty.
I believe that the law is the cornerstone of the values of equality and justice.
Therefore, I regard the Ministry of Justice as a ministry that is social in nature.
As the Minister of Justice I am proud of the Israeli legal system where everybody is equal before the law, and I am also proud of the fact that we have succeeded in reaching a situation where presently there are more women then men in my ministry.
Equality between people and sectors is not enough. There is also a need for equality between different places and regions.
It is true that Israel is such a small country in relation to the United States, that it is almost difficult to speak about a center and periphery. After all, you can cross the entire country from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean in an hour's drive…nevertheless, there are significant social gaps in Israel that must be bridged.
I am well acquainted with your important activity in the North and South.
The enormous investment in the periphery. In education, in the environment, in employment, in the community, in transportation and tourism. Carry on doing so.
This is the way to ensure Israel's security, prosperity and future.
When I took up the post of the Minister of Justice, I determined a clear policy: the government symbols and the government services shall be accessible to everyone and everywhere.
Therefore, last month we chose precisely Be'er Sheva in the South as the city where we are now launching the online revolution in the Land Registry services.
In the North, I am working for the continued existence of the court in the city of Katzrin in the Golan Heights.
The location of the court and the symbols of Israel's sovereignty there send a social message and a clear and important political message about the future of the Israeli Golan. The Golan will always be part of our home.
I shall not go into detail about the many activities that we are performing in order to promote equality and bring the Negev and the Galilee closer to the center – but let me promise you just one thing:
The Ministry of Justice under my direction shall continue to be a full partner and assist in all the significant measures that you are taking to reduce the social and geographical gaps in Israel.
The Minister of Education is also working in the periphery: the Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett, has set a goal of providing equal opportunity to children from Israel's periphery – in the Negev and the Galilee.
His focus is on science and math for all.
Unfortunately today, the chances a child will take high-level math are ten times higher in Tel Aviv than in Hatzor Haglilit or Ofakim, in the Galilee and the Negev.
Yes, ten times!
Sending better teachers, higher investment, hi tech volunteers and much more.
His particular focus is on haredi and Arab students.
For example, for the first time ever, Arab children are learning Hebrew in kindergarten, instead of starting in 3rd grade.
After a year and a half, we can say the tide is turning.
Finally, we're seeing a positive trend.
I am proud of all this activity. I am proud of the IDF, where Druze, Bedouin, women, men, Christians, Muslims, the disabled, religious and secular people all serve together, en bloc, to defend our homeland. I am proud of my homeland, and I am proud of you – for the assistance that you are bestowing upon Israel.
On behalf of the Government of Israel and the Israeli nation, I thank you for your diligence and persistence.
For over a hundred years, you, our friends in the Jewish National fund, have been working to build and plant.
To build education, to build a future for the children in Israel.
To plant hope, to instill security and preserve liberty and equality.
In this vein I would like to end my words by simply saying: thank you.
Shana Tova and Shalom Shalom.