The Campaign Speech That We Need to Hear
By Israel Zwick, CN Publications, January 26, 2007
The State of Israel is again in the middle of an election campaign. This time, the Israeli Knesset has to vote to elect a new president to replace Moshe Katsav who resigned in disgrace. The reverberations from the resignations of IDF Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz and President Katsav will be felt for some time. After a long and distinguished military career, Lt. General Halutz was best known for doing a great job at evicting Jews form the Gaza Strip, but not doing such a good job at evicting Hizbullah from southern Lebanon. While General Halutz may be faulted for excessive military restraint in the recent Lebanon war, Katsav’s downfall resulted from a lack of self-restraint in both his behavior and language.
Now there are many Israeli citizens who are calling for the resignation of other top government officials. It is widely believed in Israel that the current government has veered off the derekh, gone astray from the original ideals, goals, and aspirations of the founding fathers of the State: Chami Weizmman, David Ben-Gurion, Abba Eban, Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, and Menachem Begin. The people want leaders who will be more assertive, who will affirm the legitimate the rights of the Jewish people to develop communities in our ancient, historical homeland and live there in peace and security – free from discrimination. They want leaders who will assert that Jews have at least as much right to dwell in the vicinity of their ancient homeland as other people do. If the Muslims can live anywhere in the Middle East, then why shouldn’t Jews enjoy the same rights? If Muslims can develop communities all over Europe and North America, then certainly Jews should have the right to live in areas where they have strong historical, religious, and cultural associations. After many years of persecution and expulsions from European and Islamic countries, Israeli leaders must assert the rights of the Jewish people to live in their ancient homelands in peace, freedom and dignity.
Perhaps in the coming elections we may see an Israeli candidate who will be outspoken about Jewish pride, dignity, and values. He, or she, will get up in front of the Knesset and make a speech such as this:
My Dear Friends and Colleagues:
Our tiny, beloved State of Israel is entering a critical period in its short, but turbulent history. Our surrounding enemies continue to amass more sophisticated weaponry with the stated goal of destroying our state and annihilating its citizens. Yet, the rest of the world continues to ask us to make concessions to them and endanger our security in the mistaken belief that if we placate their grievances, then the violence will end.
Soon, you will be electing a new leader who will have to learn to navigate the turbulent waters. Though most all the candidates were raised after our country achieved its independence, they must be mindful of the lessons of the past so they don’t repeat them in the future.
In May, 1967, our tiny nation of only 22,000 sq. km. was threatened with annihilation by our much larger and more populous Arab neighbors. So in June, 1967, our military forces were compelled to launch a pre-emptive strike to ensure our survival. In the ensuing battles, we not only defeated our enemies, but we liberated our historic lands that were illegally occupied by Jordan and Egypt from 1948 to 1967. During that time, Jews were evicted from lands where they lived for thousands of years. Jewish cemeteries, synagogues, and historic sites in Judea and Samaria were intentionally desecrated and destroyed by the Arab occupiers. Jews were denied access to our holiest sites in the environs of Jerusalem and Hebron. During that period, while Jewish rights were so blatantly violated, there was not one word of protest from the international organizations that today express so much concern for the rights of Arabs living in Judea and Samaria.
After our victory in June, 1967, we proclaimed liberty throughout the land for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The liberation of the land also gave us control over a population of about 2 million Arab Muslims and Christians. We gave the Christians and Muslims control of their respective houses of worship and holy sites. At the same time, people of all faiths were able to visit all the religious and historic sites found throughout Judea and Samaria. Outdoor concerts in Bethlehem were attended by large numbers of people of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds. In contrast to the oppressive occupation by Jordan and Egypt, the lands of Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and Sinai, were now open to tourism, settlement, and economic development to people of all faiths. Religious freedom for all was guaranteed and welcome.
Unfortunately, the halcyon days were short-lived. Though the Arab population in the territories received health, economic, and social benefits from their association with the State of Israel, they refused to live under the flag of Israel. They proclaimed that they were “victims of Israeli aggression’’ and perpetrated numerous, barbaric terrorist attacks against the Jewish population in the guise of “waging a battle of liberation from the harsh, Israeli military occupation.” The other Arab and Muslim countries supported their “struggle for liberation” and the international community refused to recognize Israeli control of the territories. Even our sovereignty in our capital city of Jerusalem was questioned. Despite all efforts by the State of Israel to live in peace with our Arab neighbors and accommodate their demands, they continued to wage a relentless war of virulent hatred and horrific terrorism against our people.
Today, as we approach another election in our free and democratic society, we again are facing an existential dilemma. We would like to maintain the identity and character of a small, Jewish state without controlling the lives of over 3 million Arabs. It would be nice if we could separate from the Arab population, but that is not a viable option. It is impossible to effect a complete separation in such a small territory. Any land that we relinquish would be prohibited for Jewish settlement and would be used for hostile actions that would jeopardize our existence.
It should not be necessary to carve up our historic lands into inaccessible parcels in order to achieve peaceful coexistence with the Arab population. The State of Israel should maintain control of Judea and Samaria as well as regain control of Gaza. To the Arab population, we make the following offer: “We extend our hand to you and say ‘Sholem Aleichem.’ We invite you to share in the peace and prosperity of the State of Israel. Let us put down our weapons and combine our efforts to build a land of freedom, equality, security, and economic opportunities. We offer you a program of ‘peace-for-peace’, which will allow you take advantage of our commerce, technology, agricultural science, and health facilities. You can benefit from a commonwealth government modeled after Puerto Rico, or another form of non-sovereign governmental arrangement. We can build joint institutions of peace that would promote tourism, develop commercial enterprises, develop natural resources, explore alternative energy sources, and improve health care for all. Together, we can build a free, and prosperous nation that would benefit all of its inhabitants, of all faiths and ethnic identification.
In addition to having your own semi-autonomous civil government, we will give you opportunities to express your nationalistic identity. This may include symbols such as your own flag and anthem. However, if you still refuse to live under the blue and white flag of the State of Israel, we will still try to accommodate your nationalistic aspirations and preferences. That does not mean that we will tolerate your violence or allow you to threaten the existence of the Jewish state. Instead, we will assist you in your decision to live under another flag of your choice. We will provide your family with compensation for your property, transportation to a country of your choice, and a financial stipend to help your family get started in your new home in another country. Under no circumstances will we tolerate incitement and violence against the peaceful inhabitants of the State of Israel and its commonwealth territories.”
My dear friends in the Knesset, we will not achieve peace and security by abandoning, relinquishing, and retreating from our historic and religious homelands. Of what value is peace, if it costs us our pride? How can our hearts be at peace if our ancestral lands must become Judenrein, prohibited to Jews but open to people of other faiths? Of what value is security if it costs us our dignity? Security doesn’t mean traveling in bulletproof vehicles on special roads that are lined with tall concrete barriers. Security means that our children will be free to follow in the footsteps of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, without fear of reprisal. We must maintain the goals, values, ideals, and aspirations of the Jewish people, while accommodating the legitimate needs of our Arab neighbors.
So my friends, when you cast your ballot, don’t vote for an illusion of peace that will only lead to more violence and bloodshed in the future. Vote instead for true peace with Jewish pride that will bring us security with dignity. Cast your ballot for retaining the YESHA territories, establishing an Arab commonwealth government in the territories, and encouraging emigration of Arabs who refuse to accept peaceful coexistence.
If you vote for me, I will pledge not to use my office to attain power and fortune for my own benefit, but to devote my tireless efforts to building the strength and prosperity that the State of Israel will need to confront the daunting challenges of the future. I look forward to serving the Jewish people as the new President of the proud and mighty State of Israel. Thank you.