Discrimination Against the Jewish State
Remarks by Ambassador Sallai Meridor
Israel's Ambassador to the United States
To the Anti-Defamation League
National Leadership Conference
Washington, DC, April 20, 2009
Posted: April 20, 2009
Very, very good friends, future leadership of ADL, as always, I am very happy to be here with you.
But as always, I kind of wish you did not have to be here today, because I assume that everybody in this room would have preferred that ADL could go out of business. But in a morning where, in Europe, they start the Durban II conference, where the guest of honor is the denier of the Holocaust, on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day for the Jewish people, it tells you and tells everybody in the world why you cannot go out of business.
Because when hypocrisy is alive and, unfortunately, kicking, and discrimination against the Jewish state and demonization of the Jewish state and double standards applied against the Jewish state are alive and kicking, it's important that the world knows that as long as anti- Semitism is not going out of business, ADL is staying in business, alive and thriving.
And in the name of the state of Israel, I would like to say to all of you leaders of ADL, thank you very, very much.
I want to use the opportunity to express our appreciation to President Obama and the American people, to other countries in the world -- and I'll name them -- to Canada, which was the first, to Italy, to Holland, to Australia, to Germany and to New Zealand and whoever may join during the day for deciding to make the right choice and not go to Durban II and maybe open a chance for a real conference to fight racism and address discrimination in this world.
As I said, tonight is the beginning, a few hours from now, of Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel. This is, for all of us, the saddest day in the year, where we remember the six million who were murdered, in days where the tears of parents and the cries of babies did not matter, in times where we did not have Israel, and Jews had nowhere to go, in years when the world chose to be indifferent, after years when the world refused to read the writings on the wall.
But this very day cannot be only a day for remembrance. It must be a day for taking lessons or soul-searching or future-looking. What will we do? What will I do? When I see racism, will I ignore it? Or will I act?
What will I do when I see genocide taking place in another continent? Will I suffice by expressing sympathy, or will it be important enough for me to take action? And when again a fanatic regime is at the same time threatening world peace and world order and threatens to destroy the Jewish people, will I -- will we -- will the world act, or will we again act too late?
And that takes me to one of the two issues I wanted to share some thoughts with you about today, which is the growing threat from Iran. This is, by the way, another issue I wish we did not have to discuss today. Why it is a threat to Israel I'd say is self-explanatory. You have a regime that is denying the Holocaust, threatening to pursue another one, and busy developing the capabilities to make it possible for it to at least threaten with another one.
You can see why it is a threat to Israel.
It is not only a threat to Israel; it is a threat to the entire region and world interests in the region. And for that, you don't need me here. You should just read Arab press, listen to Arab leaders, more of whom today are going public on these issues.
And it's a threat to world peace, as President Obama said, that Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is contrary to U.S. interests and to international peace. And there is nothing more serious coming at us in the 21st century than the nightmare of the merger between nuclear and terror.
And there is no time. And while we are talking … they continue spinning. And they would like to talk and spin at the same time, or, as somebody told me yesterday, they would like to at the same time both spin the talks and the centrifuges.
And the time is running out, and the time for the world to act is now. And there may be a possibility to still stop them without the need to take actions that none of us prefers. But it takes determination, that they understand that the world is serious about not allowing them to get those capabilities. It takes seriousness in applying the current sanctions. Maybe it could be a good advice to the U.N. to divert some attention from Durban II to implementing their own decisions that are being clearly, openly violated by Iran.
More pressure needs to be built on areas of interest for Iran. It is now too much time that there is talk, important talk, on Iran's vulnerability and dependence on importing gasoline; it is time for action. Because while we are talking, they are driving to the nuclear facilities on imported gasoline.
If there is engagement with Iran, it should be with clear goals, time-sensitive and with clear consequences.
And the other options should be well-prepared on the table, for the Iranians to understand that the world is not playing with them, that this is for real.
This is maybe the most defining threat for the 21st century. And if the world fails to act now, we may end up, 10 years from now, 20 years from now, 30 years from now -- still -- in our lives, our children's lives, our grandchildren's lives, with -- God forbid -- a potential nuclear September 11th.
And as I told you last year, it's true for old people like me; it's true for the young people here. Our children will look back at us and challenge us or judge us or praise us for what we've done in 2009, with regard to this extremely dangerous threat.
Now, Iran's influence in the region goes beyond the nuclear. Together with the nuclear, they are building terror bases in the region. Israel is covered today with 40,000 rockets, from the north and from the south.
Just think about it. Think about living, wherever you live, in every town, in every city, with 40,000 rockets targeted at your children every day.
The same IEDs we find next to our borders, the U.S. and its allies find in Iraq and in Afghanistan -- no surprise -- same manufacturer; same distribution channel. They're terrorizing the neighbors. Just listen. You don't need anymore to listen too carefully.
And if they are not stopped, peacemaking in the region will become that much more difficult, which leads me to the second and last point I want to make this morning, which is about peacemaking. You know Israel. You know Israelis. You know that there is nothing we want more, there is nothing we pray for more, there is nothing we wish more for our children than peace.
Our parents had to participate in wars. We served in the army. I can say that myself. My children already served in the army. And I already have four grandchildren. And you may guess that what I wish for them is nothing but peace.
It is for Israel a core value. It's in every page of our prayer books. It's in our educational textbooks, and it's a vital national interest.
And this is why, with all the frustrations, we've kept and will continue to keep efforts, hard efforts, to advance towards peace.
This is why we continued after the frustrations following Oslo. This is why, after Ehud Barak's very unprecedented generous offers in Camp David II were rejected, we continued. This is why, after four years of bloody -- of the bloodiest terror attack on civilian population, in the second intifada, we tried the disengagement to see if this could move things in a more positive direction. And after we were answered with thousands of rockets on our civilians, with an election of a terrorist organization by the Palestinians, with a coup d'etat in Gaza, we did not look for an excuse; that could have been easy.
We were saying, let's try even more. And we started the process which had a positive element to it which I don't want us to overlook. Positive things happened in the West Bank over the last year, and the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank should be commended for it.
And at the same time, we were trying again to make the extra mile -- I'd say the very extra, extra mile -- in order to try and reach an agreement. And I won't get into details, but you can read indirectly how far Prime Minister Olmert went in his discussions with -- with President Abbas -- unfortunately, not to be met with -- with readiness to reach an agreement.
And today, too, as we review our policies, our government is looking for ways to advance us and our neighbors towards peace, but it takes more than one to this tango, and the Palestinians need to be willing and capable for a compromise.
They have to educate their children against terror and for peace and for recognition of the right of the Jewish people to have a state of their own living next to them. They should be ready for a very difficult compromise, for us and for them, but the only -- the only -- good solution for their children and for our children.
We have tried the same with the Syrians. And not everybody was enthusiastic about it. But we've tried to explore, against many odds, whether we can convince the Syrians to change strategically their positioning, from being in a camp of radicalism and hate and terror to a camp of moderation and peace.
And the Syrians again need to make a choice: whether they want to stay in this camp, whether they prefer terror or whether they chose peace, whether they want to continue with hate or whether they want to give their people hope.
And I deeply hope that the moderate Arab states will join us in an effort for peace.
There's a lot at stake for them and for us. It's clear that we share the same threat coming from the Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons and ambitions in the region, which are against hope and against peace. Let's share in effort not only to stop Iran, but to promote peace, to advance peace. And there is a lot the Arabs can contribute to that in supporting the Palestinian moderate leadership, in supporting a spirit of compromise and in supporting an environment of peace by moving towards normalization with Israel.
It is not a time to sit on the fence. Too much is at stake. It is time to make a choice, a choice against those who want to destroy our future and a choice for peace and hope for our children.
Let me close, my very dear friends, with a personal comment. As I assume all of you have heard in the news, I'm on the way back home, after having had the privilege of serving our country, little Israel, in the great country of the United States of America.
And this has been an unbelievable experience of finding so much -- so much care and love and outpouring support by the American people to the tiny state of Israel. And you cannot even start to understand how important that is for us in Israel and how deeply we appreciate it.
So it was an out-of-this-world experience, but there is nothing like going home. And it took us 2,000 years, that a Jew can say -- or when a Jew says, "I am going home," he is not just going to a physical place where he lives, but the home is the Jewish homeland.
So before I go home, I want to again express my deep appreciation to all of you for your friendship, care and love for the state of Israel.
Thank you very much.