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The following are excerpts from a speech given by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington, DC during a visit earlier this year.
I bring you greetings from Jerusalem, the eternal, undivided capital of Israel and the Jewish people. I want to thank all of you for working so tirelessly to strengthen the alliance between Israel and America. American support for Israel and for that alliance is at an all-time high. And I can tell you that there is no country on earth that is more pro-American than Israel. My friends, I’ve come here to draw a clear line. You know that I like to draw lines—especially red ones. But the line I want to draw today is the line between life and death, between right and wrong, between the blessings of a brilliant future and the curses of a dark past.
I stood very close to that dividing line two weeks ago. I visited an Israeli army field hospital in the Golan Heights. Now, that field hospital wasn’t set up for Israelis. It was set up for Syrians. Israelis treated nearly a thousand wounded Syrians—men, women and a lot of children. They come to our border fence bleeding and desperate. Often they’re near death. And on my visit I met two such Syrians, a shell-shocked father and his badly wounded 5-year-old boy. A few days earlier the man’s wife and baby daughter were blown to bits by Iranian bombs dropped by Assad’s air force. Now the grieving father was holding his little boy in his arms, and Israeli doctors were struggling to save the boy’s life.
I heard from them and from the other patients there what all the Syrians who’ve come to be treated in Israel are saying. They all tell the same story. They say, all these years, Assad lied to us. He told us that Iran was our friend and Israel was our enemy. But Iran is killing us, and Israel is saving us. Those Syrians discovered what you’ve always known to be true: In the Middle East, bludgeoned by butchery and barbarism, Israel is humane; Israel is compassionate; Israel is a force for good. That border that runs a hundred yards east of that field hospital, is the dividing line between decency and depravity, between compassion and cruelty.
On the one side stands Israel, animated by the values we cherish, values that move us to treat sick Palestinians, thousands of them, from Gaza. They come to our hospitals. We treat them despite the fact that terrorists from Gaza hurl thousands of rockets at our cities. It’s those same values that inspire Israeli medics and rescuers to rush to the victims of natural disasters across the world, to Haiti, to Turkey, to Japan, and many other stricken lands. On the other side of that moral divide, steeped in blood and savagery, stand the forces of terror—Iran, Assad, Hezbollah, al-Qaida and many others. Have you heard of Syria sending a field hospital anywhere? Or Iran sending a humanitarian delegation overseas? No?
You know why? You know why you haven’t heard anything about that? Because the only thing that Iran sends abroad are rockets, terrorists and missiles to murder, maim and menace the innocent. What the Iranian regime does abroad is similar to what they do to their own people. They execute hundreds of political prisoners, they throw thousands more into their jails, and they repress millions in a brutal theocracy. If you want to understand the moral divide that separates Israel from its enemies, just listen to Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, Iran’s terror proxy in Lebanon. He said: Iran and Hezbollah love death and Israel loves life. And that’s why, he said, Iran and Hezbollah will win and Israel will lose.
Well, he’s right about the first point. They do glorify death, and we do sanctify life. But he’s dead wrong on the second point. It’s precisely because we love life that Israel shall win. In the past year Iran’s radical regime has tried to blur this moral divide. It wields out its smiling president and its smooth- talking foreign minister. But if you listen to their soothing words they don’t square with Iran’s aggressive actions. Iran says it only wants a peaceful nuclear program. So why is it building a heavy water reactor, which has no purpose in a peaceful nuclear program? So why does it ban inspectors from its secret military sites? Why doesn’t it divulge its military nuclear secret—the secrets of its military nuclear activities?
They absolutely refuse to say a word about that. Iran says it’s not building nuclear weapons. So why does it continue to build intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), whose only purpose is to carry nuclear warheads? See, unlike Scud missiles, that are limited to a range of a few hundred miles, ICBMs can cross vast oceans. And they can strike, right now or very soon, the eastern seaboard of the United States—Washington—and very soon after that, everywhere else in the United States, up to Los Angeles. And the important point to make is this: Iran’s missiles can already reach Israel, so those ICBMs that they’re building, they’re not intended for us.
Well, when you see Iran building ICBMs, just remember, America, that Scud’s for you. Now, it’s not only that. It’s not only that Iran doesn’t walk the walk. In the last few weeks, they don’t even bother to talk the talk. Iran’s leaders say they won’t dismantle a single centrifuge, they won’t discuss their ballistic missile program. And guess what tune they’re singing in Tehran? It’s not “God Bless America,” it’s “death to America.” And they chant this as brazenly as ever. Some charm offensive. And here’s my point. Iran continues to stand unabashedly on the wrong side of the moral divide. And that’s why we must continue to stand unequivocally on the right side of that divide. We must oppose Iran and stand up for what is right.
My friends, yesterday I met with President Obama, with Vice President Biden, with Secretary Kerry and with the leaders of the U.S. Congress. We had very good meetings. I thanked them for their strong support for Israel—for our security, including in the vital area of missile defence. I said that the greatest threat to our common security is that of a nuclear-armed Iran. We must prevent Iran from having the capability to produce nuclear weapons. And I want to reiterate that point. Not just to prevent them from having the weapon, but to prevent them from having the capacity to make the weapon.
That means we must dismantle Iran’s heavy water reactor and its underground enrichment facilities. We must get rid of Iran’s centrifuges and its stockpiles of enriched uranium and we must insist that Iran fully divulge the military dimensions of its nuclear program. Now 17 countries around the world have peaceful nuclear energy programs. They’re doing this without spending on centrifuges, without enriching uranium, without operating heavy water facilities and without conducting military nuclear research. You know why Iran insists on doing all these things that the other peaceful countries don’t do? It’s because Iran doesn’t want a peaceful nuclear program, Iran wants a military nuclear program.
MESSIANIC JEWS AND ARAB CHRISTIANS PRAY TOGETHER AMID VIOLENCE IN ISRAEL
“Dancing together with Arabs? Laughing together with them? These are the people I hated my whole life,” says Chava, a Messianic Jewish girl who grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Israel. Chava was part of a three-day gathering where she met with an estimated 1,000 Messianic Jewish and Arab Christian youth and young adults in Haifa. At a time when murderous kidnappings, violent riots and a developing war in Gaza are bringing racial tensions to boiling point, these young Messianic Jews and Arab Christians arrived at the conference still reeling with all the raw emotions of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
“These young people came carrying a lot of hurt because of all the recent violence here in Israel,” says Rick Ridings, organizer of the annual Elav conference. “Many of them thought that they had dealt with these feelings, but because of the kidnappings and killings they are in pain.” For Chava, who grew up in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish ghetto, it was the first time to be in such close quarters with Arabs. “I used to walk with my family to the Wailing Wall and pray that bad things would happen to the Arabs,” she recalls. ” But when I saw them praying to God, and heard them worshipping in Hebrew and then Arabic, God touched my heart. These are the brothers and sisters I have been looking for all my life,” she says.
Ridings, who has been organizing these gatherings since 2007, was not sure that any of the young Arabs or Jews would even want to be together during such difficult times. “I didn’t know if any of the Palestinian Arabs would even be able, or want to come,” he says. “Yet almost miraculously, given the heightened security, about 50 Palestinian Believers were able to come.” “These were some of the most meaningful times I have seen at the conference,” Ridings said. “Perhaps the situation forced these young people to get over the things that normally cause problems. This was real, not just some canned program.”
For many of the young Believers this was the first time they had ever had a meaningful encounter with the other side. When an Arab Believer who grew up in Gaza and a young Messianic Israeli shared their testimonies, it helped others to open up and talk honestly about how they really feel, and about what had happened in the army, or with friends killed by terrorists. “As I washed the feet of my Arab sister, I was able to ask forgiveness for the way my family, and my people, look at Arabs,” says Chava. “To hear her say that she forgives me and loves me was so healing. It was the love from Yeshua, nothing else. I never had an Arab friend. Now I have daily contact with my sisters in Ramallah, Jordan and Lebanon,” she smiles.
“After hearing my story,” continues Chava, “an Arab girl came up to tell me that she hated religious Jews whenever she saw them. This was her first time meeting with someone who came from an Orthodox religious background. She ran to me and asked for forgiveness and asked me to pray for her that she would have more love for my people.” Ridings says that the vision for these gatherings is “to provide a safe environment for Jewish, Arab and Palestinian youth and young adults to have personal encounters with the Lord, to wait on Him through worship and prayer, to grow in unity, and to be challenged to minister the Kingdom of God into every area of society.”
ISRAELI CHRISTIANS DEMONSTRATE TO STOP CHRISTIAN ETHNIC CLEANSING IN ARAB COUNTRIES
Some 150 Israeli Arabic-speaking Christians have demonstrated outside the European Union mission in Tel Aviv, demanding that the international community stop nit-picking against Israel and start combatting the severe persecution of Christians everywhere else in the Middle East. “Nations, organizations and international missions are quick to raise an accusing finger against Israel at every opportunity,” said Father Gabriel Nadaf, spiritual father of the Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum, which organized the rally. Those same nations and organizations “don’t lift a finger against the ethnic cleansing of Christians in the Middle East,” the priest continued.
Father Nadaf went on to explain that from Syria to Egypt to Iraq to the Palestinian Authority, Christians on a daily basis suffer intimidation, harassment, coercion, torture, rape, physical abuse and murder. “According to the statistics, a Christian is murdered every five minutes in the Middle East, and the Western world is silent about this,” he lamented. He insisted that “there is no place but Israel that is safe for Christians in the Middle East!” While the rally was largely ignored by the mainstream Western media, the Israeli press took great interest, and forum spokesman Shadi Khalloul, a veteran of the Israel Defence Force (IDF), was interviewed by various television and print media outlets.
Khalloul has spoken numerous times regarding the Christian awakening within Israel, and the bonds of brotherhood than bind local Christians to the Jewish people and the Jewish state. Recently, Israel’s Knesset took the first important step toward recognizing local Christians as an independent minority separate from the Arab Muslims. Both Nadaf and Khalloul say this is necessary, since local Christians were here before the Arab Muslim conquest around 600 AD. A growing number of Israelis, including lawmakers and opinion shapers, are likewise waking up to the strong Christian minority in their midst, a minority that has been long neglected, but which is now beginning to boldly take its place alongside the Jews.
European Union foreign ministers have echoed Jerusalem’s demand that Hamas and its allies be disarmed as an outcome of the current war. “The EU calls on Hamas to immediately put an end to these acts and renounce violence. All terrorist groups in Gaza must disarm,” read the joint statement issued in Brussels. Israel’s Foreign Ministry issued its own statement praising “the European Union’s call for the disarmament of the terror organizations in the Gaza Strip and the demilitarization of Gaza. These EU statements are in line with the perception that guides Israel in the fight against terrorism and they open the door for cooperation in implementing common principles for restoring peace and security.”
Indeed, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier in the week told CNN that the international community must “undertake a program to demilitarize Gaza,” explaining that Israel could not tolerate a war with Hamas every couple of years. A week earlier, Netanyahu explicitly told visiting Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini that the disarmament of Gaza had become a major goal of the current war and for Israel in the long-term. Prior to that, former Israeli Defence Minister Shaul proposed offering $50 billion investment in Gaza in return for Hamas handing over its missile stockpiles.
The EU statement agreed with the Israeli leaders that the status quo in and around Gaza cannot continue, and that more should and could be done to open up that territory and return it to economic stability. Israel has long maintained that it desires a Gaza Strip that is prosperous and self-sustaining. In fact, Israel withdrew from the coastal enclave in 2005 with that goal in mind, having left behind a wealth of Israeli agricultural businesses for the use of local Palestinian residents. However, Israel is also adamant that this end goal cannot come at the expense of security for the citizens of the Jewish state. Of course, were the EU’s condition regarding disarmament met, that obstacle would be removed