NEW YORK, May 7 (JTA) â€” Excerpts of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharonï¿½s speech Monday in Washington to the Anti Defamation Leagueï¿½s National Leadership Conference.For the past 19 months, Israel has been facing a brutal campaign of terrorism, instigated and encouraged by the Palestinian Authority and its leader. Israel is now at war, and we are fighting for our home. We have been fighting terrorism for the past 120 years.
I believe that today, in the aftermath of the September 11th attack, the United States and the free world have a better understanding of the strategic threat of terrorism to the life and liberty of the people in the free world and the survival of the civilized liberal society.
We applaud and support President Bush for his courageous leadership in the worldwide campaign to defeat terrorism. Israel will continue to lend its support in the ongoing campaign to achieve victory over terrorism, and Iï¿½m sure that all of us will win this battle. We must win this battle. (Applause.)
. . . The fight against terrorism is morally and strategically justified anywhere in the world, whether in Afghanistan, Jenin, Shechem, or as you call it, Nablus, the streets of Washington or Jerusalem.
There is a moral equivalency and direct connection between Americaï¿½s continuous operations against al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Operation Defensive Shield and any other Israeli Defense Forces operation to defeat terrorism. There are acts of self-defense against the same forces of evil and darkness, bent on destroying civilized society. However, there is no moral equivalency between Israelï¿½s self-defense measures and indiscriminate, intentional mass murder of innocent civilians at the hands of suicide bombers. (Applause.)
Being a soldier for many years, I know that in wars and battles, sometimes civilians are killed. And every casualty is a tragedy, and we expressed our sorrow for that. But that happened â€” itï¿½s happened in every war. But here itï¿½s a different situation. Here the targets are civilians. That is the problem. The targets and the victims, most of them are civilians.
Israel is a peace-seeking nation. We all remain committed to peace. But only through our struggle against terrorism, an effort to create a terror-free environment, can we achieve durable peace with security.
In order to be able to implement our peace plan, two things must happen. A, major institutional structural reforms in the Palestinian Authority with regard to the structure, operation and unification of its security forces and restructuring of government institutes with full transparency and accountability. A responsible Palestinian Authority that can advance the cause of peace should not be dependent on the will of one man. And B, complete cessation of
violence, terrorism and incitement. (Applause.)
Furthermore, the regional peace conference I proposed can establish the necessary atmosphere to advance the peace process in the region. Ladies and gentlemen, Israel has rightfully earned a place as a leading nation among western democracies.
Despite the fact that for 54 years the state of Israel held and still is forced to hold the sword in one hand, we have made remarkable achievements. Israel is among the 25 leading nations in gross national product per capita, before some members of the European Union, and a leader in the fields of health services, medicine, biotechnology. We have built a magnificent economic, scientific and technological infrastructure and absorbed millions of
Not least among our achievements is that Hebrew, the language of the Bible, has become the common spoken language of Jews coming from over 100 countries around the world.
Israel has always attracted tourists from all over the world. Unfortunately, one of the first victims of the war imposed upon us was our tourism industry. In this difficult time, more than ever, you can show your support by coming to visit Israel. You can show your support and your solidarity. We need them both.
I wish to express my gratitude toward our brave and courageous Israel Defense Forces soldiers, Israeli police. And I think that the inspector general of our police, Shlomo Aharonisky, is here. Are you here, by any chance? He is there in the corner. Thank you so much for everything that you have been doing in these, the crucial hours, the security forces and the thousands of reservists who voluntarily reported to duty, even though they did not
receive a notice.
I would like here to say something, and I would like to say it as a soldier that served many years in the military. I think that the Israeli armed forces, among nations or among other armed forces
in the world, got very high moral values.
We have been paying heavy casualties, not only in the last war that we are involved now, but during the years, in order to avoid casualties among civilian population. And it was always one of our main considerations. And I donï¿½t know any other army in the world that would have taken or would have been ready to suffer those
casualties just in order to avoid casualties among innocent people. (Applause.)
I know that we were blamed. I know that we were blood libeled. But I can assure you, in this operation, though, as I mentioned, we have been blood libeled, there was no massacres â€” there were no massacres. And it took us several days, I would say, to stand and fight against this blood libel?
And I was very strong in my position that the state of Israel, the Israeli citizens, should not be tried by the world. I donï¿½t think that any nation in the world has the right to bring the Israeli citizens and the state of Israel to court â€” no one. (Applause.)
And I would like to thank the American administration, its leadership, that helped us and understood us and supported us to get out of this trap, where we could have been trapped in a very complicated situation. So I would like to thank the president, the secretary of State and everyone that was acting, helping us to get out from this complicated situation. I decided that will not happen. (Applause.)
And with all the dangers, all the pressures, I stood firm in order not to allow that Israeli soldiers will be interrogated. And we succeeded, and thatï¿½s important. And I donï¿½t think that from every aspect, from, say â€” knowing, I would say, the moral high values of our forces, our armed forces, and police, and all of our services, I think it was the right decision not to let the United Nations to make any inquiry that was called as a result of
Palestinian blood libel. (Applause.)
Support in Israel in its struggle is the same as defending life, liberty and democracy here in the United States. A strong Israel that also enjoys the backing of a friendly United States administration and Congress is the only assurance the Jewish people worldwide, and particularly in the United States, will be able to continue to lead their lives as they do today.
We need your support and solidarity. We need you to stand up for Israel and for your birthright, fighting the new threat of anti-Semitism in Europe and elsewhere.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the Anti-Defamation League for your tireless efforts to fight anti-Semitism and the forces of darkness and incitement around the world. We can fight alone and defeat our enemies on the ground, but only united can we win the ultimate battle for peace with security. Together we can
look optimistically toward a new horizon for the Jewish people and the entire peoples of the region.
I would like again to thank you all. And we always needed you, but I would like to tell you that we need you now more than ever. We are in a crucial time ahead of us. On one hand, there are great hopes. On the other hand, there are very, very dangerous situations . . .
I believe that I understand, after participating and seeing all those horrors and fears of wars, I would say when I had the chance and the possibility to see my friends being killed in battles and being badly injured twice, I felt those terrible pains in hospitals . . . we had to take decisions of life and death for others and of ourselves.
Therefore, I may say that I understand the importance of peace maybe better than many of the politicians that speak about peace but never had that experience. I saw it.
Therefore, I am committed to peace. But for me, peace must provide security. And I think that all of us should remember that the Jews are having one tiny, small country, a country with many talents, but itï¿½s a tiny, small country. And that is the only place where our people have the right and the capability to defend themselves by themselves. And for that we have to thank God every day.
Itï¿½s not only that we have â€” (applause) â€” and itï¿½s not that weï¿½re having, say, the right and the capability. That is our duty, the duty of all of us, to preserve this capability. And we have many friends. No doubt the most friendly country is the United States for â€” now one can say already for generations, for so many years, a real friendship.
But when it comes to our lives, when it comes to our security, when it comes to our future, first of all, we have to depend upon ourselves, and that all of us should remember. And if weï¿½ll do that, I am truly convinced that weï¿½ll be able to accomplish all our hopes and all our dreams in . . . Israel, in the land of Israel.
Thank you so much. (Applause.)