Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday addressed the Jewish Federations of North America in New York.
“I bring with me a new spirit from Jerusalem, the eternal capital. It’s a spirit of goodwill. This government was an accident which turned into a purpose. I hadn’t planned in a million years of being in a government with the folks I’m in and I never thought it would work, let alone be the Prime Minister,” he said.
Bennett recalled a sense of helplessness and despair among Israelis following four rounds of elections and remembered gathering his family in the kitchen on a Shabbat morning and informing them of his plans to form the current government.
“I told them I’m doing it because I care for our country and if we don’t do this, if we don’t sit together, people with profoundly different ideas on everything, if we don’t sit together, this thing is going to tear apart.”
The Prime Minister noted that the Jewish people historically have a “bug” of division and being torn apart due to internal strife.
“The Jewish people have never exceeded 80 years in the land of Israel as a sovereign united state. We’re now 73 years old and this time we’re not going to let it fall apart,” he stated. “That’s why I took this step.”
“The right does not have a monopoly on patriotism, the left does not have a monopoly on human rights or the desire for peace. We all love Israel. We all share a deep passion to build a better future, and when you have goodwill, it can work and it is working.”
“This is, indeed, the most diverse government in Israel’s history and I think it’s beautiful and I’m determined to make it work,” declared Bennett.
Israel, he pointed out, was formed in order to provide a safe shelter to Jews around the world.
“If there’s one thing I want to import from American Jewry to Israel, it’s the ability to listen. It’s the ability to not define people and put them in a box,” said Bennett.
“Here [in the US], you’re just a Jew and you’re welcome. Whether you’re haredi, Reform, Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, you are welcome and that’s something that we need to import – the fact that we embrace everyone. And that’s the dialogue that we’re opening up. It doesn’t mean that we’re going to agree on everything, but we’re going to talk to each other and we’re going to listen to each other.”
The Prime Minister noted how Israel is located in the toughest neighborhood in the world, with terrorist organizations surrounding it, “and that’s why we need to remain strong.”
“Some people are talking about Iran is a done deal. No. It’s not a done deal. We’re not going to give up and we will prevent them from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” he declared. “We’re working hard with our great friend, the United States of America, but we still have a very clear compass that we were taught long ago. At the end of the day, while we invite and are bringing in more and more partners in the region, we will not outsource our security to anyone, even to our best friends. It’s up to us. No one’s going to stop us. We need to do what we need to do.”
Bennett praised Congress for its overwhelming vote in favor of the funding for the Iron Dome anti-missile system.
“When President Biden says that if there weren’t an Israel we ought to have invented one, that’s right on. We are 9 million boots on the ground. We are fighting. We are day in and day out in touch with those terrorists. We’re gaining intelligence, and we’re fending them without ever asking America to send in even one troop. We are not the problem, we’re the solution. We’re not going anywhere. We’re here to stay.”
“The very essence of us here means that terror is at bay, to a degree. So the very essence of Israel acting where it is defends people across the world.”
He concluded by saying, “I want to thank you on behalf of the people of Israel. Todah Rabah!”
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Simchat Torah and Shmini Atzeret in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)