PM’s Speech to the US United Jewish Communities Leaders

18/07/2004 First, shalom to all of you. I have to apologize I will not spend all the evening together with you. It is the Memorial Day of Ze’ev Jabotinsky. So, there is a ceremony on Mount Herzl. Dear Friends, Welcome to Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people. Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people. Now, I have to be really accurate – for 3007 years. And the united and undivided capital of the State of Israel forever. Or as we say, I do not know how your Hebrew is by now.

Last week I had the opportunity to welcome a group of 400 Olim from North America as they arrived to Ben-Gurion Airport. An additional 1100 Jews from North America will also be making Aliyah this summer, thanks to Nefesh B’ Nefesh and the Jewish Agency. I know that these major projects would not be possible without the cooperation of the American Jewish Communities. I would like to thank you for this cooperation and I call upon you to continue this support in the future. Aliyah is the primary goal of my government. Only through Aliyah will Israel maintain its character as a Jewish State. Only in Israel is it possible to lead a fully Jewish existence. Only here can you be sure that your children and grandchildren will remain Jews. In the past year, approximately 25,000 Jews were lost to us in Diaspora due to negative demographic trends, while 70,000 Jews were added to Israel through natural growth and Aliyah. Therefore, Aliyah does not just guarantee Israel’s future, but it guarantees the future of the Jewish people. Every day in Israel, citizens go about their daily lives with strength and conviction. In doing so, we are standing up to those who want to destroy us. In the past four years, the Palestinian terror organizations have tried to break our spirit. They did not succeed, and they will not succeed. I think that I do not even have to emphasize that – I’m sure you know that – but Israel is a peace seeking nation. I myself have said many times that for genuine, durable, real peace, Israel will be ready to make painful compromises, though I do not know any other country in the world, a country that won all its wars – any country – that would make any compromises whatsoever for peace. But the Jews are different. And said it, and I say that they are painful compromises, because we speak about the cradle of the Jewish people. But we were ready to do it. One thing I have been emphasizing for all these years that Israel will not compromise on its security. When it comes to our security, Israel will not make any compromises whatsoever. Not now, and not in the future. Israel is a tiny, small country. On the map of America, it would hardly be found. But this is the only place in the world where Jews have the right and the capability to defend themselves by themselves. Myself, first of all, I am a Jew, and for me, the most important thing. I feel that that is my responsibility, an historic responsibility- to take all the necessary measures to defend the Jewish people. That is what we have said. That is what we are doing now, and it will not change in the future. In addition to war that we are fighting on the ground, we also find ourselves in the midst of a major hasbara conflict. We are actively fighting against anti-Semitism and against the anti-Israel waves all over the world. As leaders in your communities, you can help us win these battles. Fighting these battles is no simple task, as you know, the Jewish people are not a simple people. I have experienced this, firsthand, in the past week as I have sought to bring about unity in my Government by bringing in different factions to sit across from one another. I must tell you, I participated in all the wars in this country. And I never had any doubt that I would succeed. But when it comes, I would say, to ourselves, it is a bit harder. As you know, it is impossible to defeat Jews. You can maneuver them, and be maneuvered by them. But, I believe that unity at the present time is the most the important thing, when we are facing those major problems in so many issues. So, I am in the middle of the struggle, but today, we start the coalition talks between us and some other parties in order to have a majority to our Plan, the Disengagement Plan, which I regard to be a very important achievement. So not having a majority in my own Government, I had to invite the Government and bring some other parties to join the coalition. So today, we got help. We started this effort, and I believe that we will succeed. You have to know, this is not an easy thing. In any case, I know that we will realize all our goals if we stand together. We will achieve unity and do what is right for Israel. That is what I am planning to do, that is what I am going to do. And, altogether, I think that with all the problems we have here, we can look forward with optimism. One thing that we need more than any other thing, is more Jews here. Even though I do not expect that all of you will be rushing to pack your suitcases and come over here, we regard it as the most important thing. The future of Israel depends, first of all, on Aliyah to Israel. First of all. It affects our security, it affects our political situation in the world, it will affect our economy. Besides that, I think that it will strengthen Israel, and strength in Israel is strength in the Jewish people. You have to remember that it is also your responsibility. If Israel – G-d forbid – will be weakened, the Jews around the world will not be able to live the lives that they are living now. That you have to remember. And when we see the spread of anti-Semitism around the world, and we see what happens, when we see the hatred. That we have to remember. Therefore I call upon you. Not all of you will be coming, but, in any case, you have to help, you have to support, you have to send your children to study here, to learn here, to spend a year here, to send them to birthright, to send them to our universities, and they are coming. And they become, when they go back, those that are fighting against anti-Semitism, that fight in order to support and back Israel and that is the most important thing. Remember that we expect you to come over here as early as possible and to send your relations and contacts. I know quite a number of you here. I would like, of course, to thank you for everything that you are doing. Many thanks for everything that you are doing, and remember that we have always needed you, and now we need you more than ever. That is what I would like you to remember: we need you now more than ever. Thank you.