Earlier today, Israeli President Shimon Peres addressed the United Nations General Assembly General Debate. At the end of the speech Mr. Peres stopped, proudly placed a Yarmulka on his head and delivered a short Tefillah composed by Rav Nachman of Breslov – first in English and then in Hebrew.
[Additionally, Mr Peres had some tough words for the Iranian President. See the video links located at the bottom.]
Following is the full text of the speech delivered by Mr. Peres:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Over Sixty years have passed since the United Nations General Assembly voted on the historic resolution that would have put an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Resolution 181 called for the establishment of a Jewish state and an Arab state. Its title was: “Plan of Partition with Economic Union”. It envisioned two states for two peoples, each fulfilling a distinct national aspiration.
The Jewish people adopted the resolution and established the State of Israel. The Arabs rejected it and led to war.
What happened in the ensuing years is much different from what the resolution’s original intent had been. While much has changed, the ironies of history summon similar circumstances today.
Today, again, we are the middle of the lake. There is no sense in rowing back. Continuing forward will show how near we are to achieve the initial goal.
A year prior to the Israeli declaration of statehood, its first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, called me, a young man from a Kibbutz, to serve in our national defense.
Since then, I participated in Israel’s dynamic realities: the building of security, the striving for peace. So, I need no books to learn the history. I witnessed its miraculous unfolding.
We went through seven wars. All have paid heavily. Tears still flow down the faces of bereaved mothers.
Remembrance Days fill the air with silent prayers of widowed families who lost young boys and girls in battle. They are, today, at the same age, but lifeless.
Israel turned military victories into peace processes, knowing that the cost of life renders imperfect peace which is superior to perfect victories.
We have also achieved two peace agreements. The first with the largest Arab country, Egypt. The second with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
All the land, all the water, all the natural resources that fell in our hands through war, were repatriated completely after peace was signed.
But for peace, the call in our region is to repair the damaged environment and wounded land leading to poverty.
If we shall not overcome the desert, the pollution – they will overcome us.
Joint ventures can meet this call. Nature does not carry a national passport.
With the Palestinians, we negotiate full peace. Both parties agreed to building a Palestinian State side by side with Israel, living in peace, security and respect.
We tried to conclude the negotiations in this year. It will take apparently a longer period of time. But, I believe it can be accomplished within the next year.
I know that our prime minister is more than ready to conclude an agreement. And since I know President Abbas, as well, he will not miss this opportunity.
We agreed to progress in spite of possible changes that may take place in the leadership.
Gaps have been narrowed through negotiations. Particularly and hopefully the territorial one. But, peace is not just a matter of territorial compromise.
Rogue politics reject peace even where and when territorial dispute was resolved.
In Lebanon, we implemented the resolutions of the United Nations. Yet Hezbollah paralyzed the country and cut the road to peace.
From Gaza, we withdrew completely and dismantled all of our settlements. I know there are many complaints of settlements. In Gaza we dismantled 30 settlements at the orders of the government. Hamas responded with a bloody takeover and turned the strip into a basis of rocket fire.
These militants carry no positive alternative – but the agonies of Jobe.
They added kidnapping to bombings, bringing strife for innocent families. From this important stage, I call for the immediate release of Gilad Shalit. The son of Aviva and Noam, a most peaceful, loving family.
This honored assembly should make the release of the prisoner top on its agenda. Holding a hostage in Gaza determines its isolation and may further deterioration.
At the center of this violence and fanaticism stands Iran.
It built a danger to the entire world. Its quest for religious hegemony and regional dominance divides the Middle East and holds back chances for peace, among the Arabs as well, while undermining human rights.
Iranian support for Hezbollah divides Lebanon. Its support for Hamas splits the Palestinians and it postpones the establishment of the Palestinian State.
Yesterday, on this very stage, the Iranian leader renewed the darkest anti-Semitic libel – the protocols of the elders of Zion. Bringing to life one of the ugliest plots against the Jewish people.
Their despicable denial of the Holocaust is a mockery of indisputable evidence, a cynical offense to the survivors of the Holocaust. Contradictory to the resolutions adopted by this assembly.
Iran continues to develop enriched uranium and long range missiles.
They introduce a religion of fear, opposing the call of the Lord to respect human life, all human, all life.
The Iranian people are not our enemies. Their fanatic leadership is their problem and the world’s worry.
Their leader is a danger to his people, the region and the world.
He is a disgrace to the ancient Iranian people and tradition.
He is a disgrace to the values of Islam and all religions.
He is a disgrace to this house, the United Nations, its basic principles and values.
His appearance here is already a shame.
The Jewish People have known, throughout history, to stand firm and face evil.
With enlightened humanity we shall enable all of freedom and respect to prevail.
Tehran combines long range missiles and short range minds. It is pregnant with tragedies.
The General assembly and the Security Council bear responsibility to prevent agonies before they take place.
Israel has shown that democracies can defend themselves. We are able to defend ourselves. We do not intend to change. This capacity to defend ourselves will not change.
Terrorism did not solve a single problem. It never has, and never will.
They will make the world ungovernable. When groups of killers are allowed to threaten innocent masses, the world will be without order and security if it will be continued. A hopeless battleground.
The free world must unite to stop it, combat it.
Israel, on its part, shall continue to seek peace sincerely and fully. We suggest immediate peace with Lebanon.
Israeli prime ministers indicated to Syria that for peace, we are ready to explore a comprehensive compromise.
To gain trust, to save time, we have suggested face-to-face meetings with President Assad. And I say to the President, “Follow the successful example set by President Sa’dat and King Hussein”.
We shall await an answer.
I know there is a growing concern that peace is far away. My life-long experience provides me with a different judgement.
True, I have seen stagnation and regression and failure in our journey. But, today, I can identify a road leading to the right direction.
In addition to the peace agreements, serious summits took place – Madrid, Oslo, Wye, Camp David, Sharem and Annapolis. In fact, Israelis and Arabs are marching towards peace.
After a long internal debate, Israel accepted the two state solution.
I must say, on the other hand, in Beirut, in 2002, the Arab League replaced the three NAYS of Khartoum (which was no peace, no negotiation, no recognition) with an initiative inaugurated by King Abdullah Abdul Azziz Al Saud.
I call upon the king to further his initiative; It may become an invitation for a comprehensive peace, one to convert a battleground into a common ground.
I invite, respectfully, all leaders to come and discuss peace in Jerusalem, which is holy all of us.
Where all of us pray to the same Lord, as offspring of the same father.
Israel shall gladly accept an Arab invitation to a designated venue where meaningful dialogue may take place upon their choice.
We are facing a serious economic crisis. Maybe it has happened because we are rich and light with funds and poor and heavy with ideas. While we live in an era where science, not land, is the basis of successful economy.
Science does not stop at borders. Is not disturbed by distance.
Wisdom is not conquerable by armies. Knowledge dismisses discrimination because it operates through good will and transcends race, nationality, color, and gender.
The global danger unites and divides us at the same time.
The dangers are clear.
The dangers are the deterioration of environment. The shortage of water. The lack of renewable energy. The spread of terrorism and alas the increased poverty of millions and millions of people.
Divisions of the free world will increase them.
Unity offers alternatives. It will direct global investments to new areas and demanding challenges like health, security, education and environment.
The future is not in the hand of oil or gold. Intellectual assets, new inventions, superior education hold the key to the future, to the future of all of us, of each of us.
In our region, border areas can become open economic zones. Enabling free movement of people, commodities and ideas. They may encourage tourism and build High Tech incubators. They may cultivate advanced agriculture.
Economic zones will provide a million jobs and produce billions of cubic meters of desalinated water for the Arabs, for the Palestinians, for the Jordanians, for the Israelis, for all of us. We started to do so. The first steps are promising.
The Jewish people are celebrating a new year. I would like to end with a quote from Rabbi Nachman of Breslav:
“May it be thy will to remove war and bloodshed from the world and perpetuate the wonders and greatness of peace.
All the inhabitants of the world shall recognize and know the truth: that we have not been placed on this earth to wage war and not for hatred or bloodshed. ”
“יהי רצון מלפניך ה’ אלו-הינו וה’ אבותינו, שתבטל מלחמות ושפיכות דמים מן העולם, ותמשיך שלום גדול ונפלא בעולם.
רק יכירו וידעו כל יושבי תבל את האמת לאמיתה אשר לא באנו לזה העולם בשביל ריב ומחלוקת ולא בשביל שנאה ושפיכות דמים. ”
Amen. Shana Tova.
Thank you, Mr. President
(Yehuda Drudgestein – YWN)