Full Transcript: Israeli President Peres Speech to European Parliament 2013

March 12, 2013 8:50 am 0 comments

Israeli President Shimon Peres. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Below is the full text of the speech delivered by Israeli President Shimon Peres to the European Parliament on March 12th 2013. The Algemeiner’s report on the speech can be read here.

I stand here before you, burning memories in my heart, great hopes in my soul.

I carry profound pain concerning the past. And look with confident eyes to the future.

I immigrated to Israel in 1934, at the age of 11. In 1942, most of the inhabitants of my town were burned alive. Had my family delayed their emigration by 8 years, we would have been exterminated.

A year before the creation of Israel, in 1947, I was recruited to the Haganah headquarters.

Since then, Israel has been attacked seven times in its 65 years of existence. We were outmanned and outgunned. The choice was to win or to die. I participated as well in confronting another enemy – the desert.

We won. We made it bloom. No other people experienced anything similar.

I have my memories, but I carry my dreams. I did not come to reminisce, but to continue to dream.

People age. Dreams are ageless. We changed. Europe changed. I came to express our admiration for the changed Europe. Europe picked itself up in the wake of the worst of world wars.

It divorced its past, it created a new Europe. You converted the divided Europe of the last thousand years, to the united Europe of today. You replaced military camps with scientific campuses.  Europe which knew racism now considers it a crime. I know that you are facing an economic crisis, but your skies are without clouds of war. A European country introduced the Nobel Prize. And now a united Europe won it rightly.

Europe corrected its mistakes and is building a better world.

For us, the Europe of the Shoah is becoming a Europe supporting our renaissance.

Friends,

The idea of the rebirth of Israel was born on European soil.

In the past thousand years, more Jews lived in Europe than in any other continent.

Alas, more Jews were murdered in Europe in the last hundred years than in the preceding two thousand years.

We experienced here the worst tragedy of our history. Here we dreamed an impossible rebirth.

Six million, a third of our people, were murdered here by starvation, gas, rifles and fire. What remains from them is ashes. We shall not forget that the righteous among the nations carried candles of light in the darkness.

They were small in number but great in heroism.

Israel was born from the ashes at the end of the Second World War. If someone had stood up then and said that within three years a Jewish state would be created – he would have been considered a delirious visionary.

But the dream became a reality.

And if somebody would have stood up on that very day, and said that in six short years a new united Europe would be born, with borders erased, barriers lowered, he would have been considered an author of fiction.

And another miracle occurred.

Six countries signed the Treaty of Paris and became a community of 27 nations across Europe.

Our relations here and now are a dialogue between two miracles.

Israel enjoys an Association Agreement with Europe, and close ties with the European Union in nearly all fields. I have come to thank you for your friendship, based on common values, geographic proximity and a long history. Politically – Israel is a Western democracy with a Mediterranean experience.

Religiously – Israel is the cradle of the three great monotheistic religions.

Scientifically – Israel is advanced, even by European standards.

Israel is small: One pro mil of the Middle Eastern area.

Its soil is barren rather than fertile. A typically Middle Eastern soil.

Water is sparse. We have two lakes, one is dead, the other is dying. We have a single river – the Jordan – rich in history, poor in water. The land is rich in archeology and poor in natural resources.

The only natural resource we discovered is the human potential.

Israel is an example where the people enriched the land more than the land enriched the people.

It is an example where the devotion of people and merits of hi-tech forced deserts to surrender. To flourish.

We went through seven wars. We won them. But when peace became possible, we returned all the land and assets which we won at war to Egypt and Jordan. We started a peace process with the Palestinians which enabled to build a Palestinian Authority. Then, we evacuated the Gaza Strip. We dismantled 22 settlements and brought back home all the settlers. The Palestinians could have used the Strip to build an independent entity. Unfortunately, they turned it into a terrorist base instead.

It became a setback to the peace process.

Israel is an island in a stormy ocean. We have to defend our island. And we are interested in the tranquilization of the sea. Some people claim it will take generations. Europe has proved that great events can be achieved in six years. We live in a new era where events are moving at the speed of a plane and no longer at the speed of a carriage. For that reason, I believe that peace can be achieved in a short while.

The peace process with the Palestinians already has an agreed beginning and an agreed solution.

Two states for two nations.

An Arab state – Palestine.  A Jewish state – Israel – living in peace, security and economic cooperation.

The remaining disputed issues can and should be negotiated.

Peace for Israel is not just a strategic choice. It is a moral call which stems from the depth of our heritage.

Since the Exodus, our heritage condemns slavery and rejects mastery, as all persons were born equal.

Our legacy calls upon us to pursue peace.

Together with my partner Yitzhak Rabin, we laid down the foundations for peace with the Palestinians.

Now it is time to continue. To renew the peace process. We must continue to work with the Palestinian Authority. Support its economy. Achieve peace. A Palestinian security force was formed. You and the Americans trained it. And now we work together to prevent terror and crime.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our hand remains stretched out in peace to all the countries in the Middle East.

In a short while, a new Israeli government will be formed. It is an occasion to resume peace negotiations. To realize the two-state solution. There is no other solution.

It is not only our preference but the call of the present reality.

Jordan, Israel and Palestine, find themselves in a similar situation. Terror endangers each of them separately and the three of them collectively. Collective dangers call for collective security. I have the highest regard for the King of Jordan. Like his father, he has proved to be courageously committed to peace.

I have known the president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmud Abbas for many years. He condemns terror and is a real partner for peace.

Europe has been and continues to be a major partner for peace and against terror.

Next week, we will be hosting President Obama in Israel as a welcome and esteemed guest. His support for our security is extraordinary and his devotion to peace is unshakeable.

We are glad that the United States and Europe are now working together, supporting peace and rejecting terror.

The greatest danger to peace in the world is the present Iranian Regime. It became a dictatorship cloaked in a religious mantle.

It developed an imperial appetite.

Nobody threatens Iran. Iran threatens others.

It endangers the independence of Arab countries. It menaces the mere existence of Israel.

It smuggles arms into many countries in order to undermine their stability.

They deny the Holocaust. They call for another Holocaust.

They are aiming to build a nuclear weapon and they deny it. A nuclear bomb in the hands of an irresponsible regime is an imminent danger to the world.

The European Union and the United States drew the conclusions and together created a policy to stop this danger. To this end, you rightly decided to impose economic sanctions. You made it clear that if the Iranians will not respond, other options are on the table.

In addition to the nuclear bomb, Iran is constructing long-range missiles equipped with nuclear warheads. It can reach the far corners of the world, including Europe.

I believe that in addition to controlling the production of highly enriched uranium – there is a need to control the means of delivery. To control the production of missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Khamenei declared that religion prohibits the production and use of nuclear arms. Why then does he build missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads?

During the Helsinki conference which took place in 1975, the U.S.A. placed the issue of human rights in the Soviet Union at the top of the world’s agenda.

It was surprising and effective.

It shows that the moral voice is no less important than a diplomatic demarche.

Today, this call should apply to Iran.

A clear voice must be raised against the violation of human rights by the Iranian regime.

A clear voice must be raised against a regime that hangs people without bringing them to court, that throws journalists into prison without trial.

That fires live bullets at civilian demonstrators, without respect for their lives.

A clear voice must be raised against a regime that discriminates against women.

And instead of sharing the oil-generated profits with their own people, they spend them on terror and arms to endanger people all over the world.

Enriched uranium impoverishes hungry children.

A moral voice will encourage the Iranian people in their fight for freedom, in their struggle against misery.

Very soon, elections will take place in Iran. The Ayatollahs should not be allowed to falsify the results. To frustrate the right of the people to make their own free choice.

Your voice will show the Iranian people that the world has not turned its back on them.

The present leaders of Iran are violating the charter of the United Nations which condemns the violation of human rights and aggression against other nations. Yet they are given the opportunity in the United Nations to abuse its platforms.

Iran supports terrorism throughout the world. Its main proxy, Hezbollah, carries out terror attacks and threatens the stability of the entire region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The historic Sykes–Picot agreement between France and England, gave birth to modern Lebanon to be a multi-cultural country where Muslims, Christians and Druze live together in peace.

Today, Hezbollah, supported by Iran, is destroying Lebanon.

Hezbollah is a terror organization. Not a political movement.

They collect missiles. They are trigger-happy. They hide missiles in peaceful towns and villages. By doing so, they turn them into a war target.

Hezbollah divided Lebanon politically, religiously and ethnically. It turned the land of the cedar tree into a scorched and barren land.

Hezbollah is a state within a state. A private army apart from the national army. It sends soldiers to support the massacre of a bloody dictator in Syria. With no authorization of the government of which it is a member.

Recently, 20 terror attempts by Hezbollah were counted all over the world, in India, Thailand, Georgia, South Africa, the U.S.A., Egypt and Greece, among others.

Last month, the government of Bulgaria, a member of this European Union, reported that it had identified that the terror attack in Burgas, was carried out by Hezbollah. Five Israeli tourists and one Bulgarian citizen lost their lives.

Cyprus recently arrested a Hezbollah terrorist planning a terror attack.

Distinguished Members of Parliament,

Your voice is highly respected. We appeal to you – call terror – terror. Save Lebanon from terrorist madness.

Save the Syrian people from Iran’s proxies. Save your citizens and ours from Hezbollah.

The international community must designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Today, terror’s extent reaches far beyond its previous limitations. Recently, terrorists attempted to take over Mali. Were they to succeed, it would have halted the impressive endeavor of the African continent to recover from its past.

One of the highest hopes for all of us is to see the brave attempt of the African people to build a new science-based economy. The free world cannot stand by as terror imposes its grip onto any part of the world, far or near.

It cannot stand by when a massacre is carried out by the Syrian president against his own people and his own children. It breaks all our hearts.

Assad secretly built a nuclear installation and an arsenal of chemical weapons.

While the nuclear installation was destroyed in time, the chemical arms remain in his hands to this very day. This terrible danger threatens the Syrian people, the entire region and even Europe.

A solution must be found to prevent the chemical weapons from falling into the wrong hands.

The best solution to put an end to the Syrian tragedy might be achieved by empowering the Arab League, of which Syria is a member, to intervene.

The intervention of Western forces would be perceived as a foreign interference.

The Arab League can and should form a provisional government in Syria to stop the massacre, to prevent Syria from falling to pieces. The United Nations should support an Arab force in blue helmets.

Dear Friends,

18 years ago I came to Brussels to sign the Association Agreement between the European Union and Israel.

I am happy that reality has surpassed my expectations.

Indeed, the association agreement became a partnership. And before long, the partnership became a friendship.

It is on these steady grounds that I propose to the European Union and Israel to cooperate for the benefit of stability and prosperity in the Middle East, and the developing world at large.

Israel is described as a Start-Up Nation. I believe that the whole Middle East can become a Start-Up region.

Hi-tech incubators can be created all over the region to escape poverty.

Israel is small. So we try to take advantage of our smallness. We discovered that small countries can become great pilot plans.

Today, we are trying to build a social model that will bridge the gap between the have and have-nots.

The social gap is a major problem for all of us, rich and poor.

We are looking for new ways to overcome this gap by democratizing health, education, communication and by reducing the cost of food and housing. This is a burning need for the young generation.

We intend to improve the human condition. To enable each person to possess the capacity of making a free choice for their way of life, by entering the secrets of our brains. The brain is the most illustrious instrument of the world. It has enabled us to build artificial brains. Yet we are still far from understanding the way it functions.

We are strangers to ourselves. Discovering the mechanism of our brain will enable us to become friendly with ourselves and our fellow men. I am glad that this effort gained a new priority and became a major topic for cooperation between our governments, non-governmental organizations, and between us as individuals.

Our global world has no global government. It has become almost ungovernable. We have to look for an alternative.I believe the future ways of governing shall rely on three pillars:

National governments will continue to be in charge of the husbandry of the national state.

Global companies will invest in research and development. And the individual will enjoy the capacity to govern themselves by knowing the way their brain functions. Science today is more telling than politics. It is universal and borderless. Armies cannot conquer wisdom. Police cannot arrest science.

I believe that scientific aid to developing countries can enable them to escape poverty. Science-based global companies can help change the world. Globalization put an end to racism.

It empowers the individual. Global companies do not impose their will upon people. On the contrary, they respect the will of their clients. They can provide scientific know-how for growth. They can assist young people to acquire high education. To create jobs befitting their skills.

This may be the best help we can offer to the young generation in the Arab world to answer the challenges of the new age. I proposed a plan for a joint venture for the European Union between national governments and global corporations in order to cope with these challenges.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I know it requires your support as the European Parliament. But allow me to count on your help.

Joining Europe’s wisdom and Israel’s experience, we can overcome tomorrow’s challenges.

Facing the lack of global governance, we can foster close cooperation between governments and global companies. Facing the dangers which threaten the values for which we stand, we shall fight terror wherever it is, relentlessly.

President Schulz,

Esteemed Members of Parliament,

Jean Monnet, the father of the European Union, once said: “Everybody is ambitious. The question is whether he is ambitious to be, or ambitious to do.

The time has come to do. Let us remember that we are only ever as great as the purpose we serve.
Yes, the challenges ahead of us are daunting  But who better to defy the seemingly impossible than two miracles? Let us join forces, the European Union and Israel. To fulfill the teachings of our heritage.

In the words of my forefathers, let us fix the world – Tikkun Olam. In the words of Jean Monnet – let us do.

Let us work together for a better Middle East, for a forward-thinking Europe.

Let us fulfill our values of peace, democracy, human rights. Yielding at no obstacle. Daring the new.

We shall be servants of the future rather than rulers of the past.

As I look upon the future of the friendship which ties Israel to the European Union, I am filled with hope and determination. Hand in hand, we shall build a brighter tomorrow for tomorrow’s generation.

Thank you and Shalom.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Shining Light on Fiction During the North Korea-Sony saga, we learned two important lessons. The first is that there are two sides to this story, and neither of them are correct because ultimately we should have neither inappropriate movies nor dictators. The second is that we cannot remain entirely fixed on the religious world, but we also must see beyond the external, secular view of reality. It’s important to ground our Torah-based thoughts into real-life activism. To view our act [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    JNS.org – Hollywood has had its share of big-budget biblical flops, but until now, the Exodus narrative has not been among them. Studios have brought Moses to the big screen sparingly, but in ways that defined the image and character of Moses for each generation of audiences. The first biblical epic In 1923, director Cecil B. DeMille left it to the American public to decide the subject of his next movie for Paramount. DeMille received a letter from a mechanic [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – The story of the Exodus from Egypt is a tale as old as time itself, to borrow a turn of phrase. It’s retold every Passover, both at the seder table and whenever “The Ten Commandments” is aired on television. But the latest adaptation—Ridley Scott’s epic film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”—fails to meet expectations. Scott’s “Exodus” alters the source material to service the story and ground the tale, but the attempt to reinvent the biblical narrative becomes laughable. Moses [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Lifestyle ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    JNS.org - In December 2007, leaders of the Hazon nonprofit drafted seven-year goals for what they coined as the “Jewish Food Movement,” which has since been characterized by the increased prioritization of healthy eating, sustainable agriculture, and food-related activism in the Jewish community. What do the next seven years hold in store? “One thing I would like to see happen in the next seven years is [regarding] the issue of sugar, soda, and obesity, [seeing] what would it be like to rally the [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Education Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    JNS.org – Forget the dioramas. How about working on an Israeli Air Force drone? That’s exactly the kind of beyond-their-years access enjoyed by students at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) industrial vocational high school run by Israel Sci-Tech Schools, the largest education network in the Jewish state. More than 300 students (250 on the high school level and 68 at a two-year vocational academy) get hands-on training in the disciplines of aviation mechanics, electricity and energy control, and unmanned air [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Education Haredim and Bedouin: A Tale of Two Communities Transformed by Vocational Education

    Haredim and Bedouin: A Tale of Two Communities Transformed by Vocational Education

    JNS.org – Low enlistment rates in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). High rates of poverty. Communal resistance to traditional schooling. Difficulty finding employment or a lack of motivation to be employed. These conditions are shared by two sectors of the Israeli population that the casual observer likely wouldn’t group together: haredi Jews and Bedouin. Through its operation of schools for each population, however, the Israel Sci-Tech Schools Network seeks to give haredim and Bedouin a brighter future in the Jewish [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Theater US & Canada New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    In his new play Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, playwright Oren Safdie tackles an issue that is a cause of great concern to him: the relationship between Israelis and left-leaning Diaspora Jews with their “I know better” critical views. At the heart of the one-act play is Tony, a Jewish and gay Palestinian sympathizer who expresses strong anti-Israel sentiments when the play begins and at one point even sides with a Palestinian terrorist who holds him captive. Tony, who is [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    A Jewish comedy troupe released a parody video on Wednesday of Taylor Swift’s hit song Shake It Off in which they joke about taking extensive time off from work for Jewish holidays. “And the goyim gonna stay, stay, stay, stay, stay. And the Jews are gonna pray, pray pray, pray, pray. I’m just gonna take, take, take, take, take. I’m taking off,” goes the chorus for I’m Taking Off. Menachem Weinstein, the video’s lead singer, is the creative director at [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.