November 16, 2006
Text of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s speech at the 2006 UJC General Assembly
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Together with Gilad Shalit, abducted by Hamas from the Gaza strip, there is nothing more important to me than bringing our three heroes back home.
I ask everybody to keep those brave men, and their families, in your thoughts and in your prayers.
As Israel focuses its attention on our Palestinians neighbors, we owe it to the future generations of both Israelis and Palestinians to dedicate ourselves to finding a means for progress.
My friends, a choice needs to be made.
We can embrace hope, and together we will revitalize our two peoples and the entire region, providing for our children the opportunity and prosperity that only comes with security and understanding.
Or we can be gripped by fear and conflict in which we ruin not only ourselves but the future for generations to come.
Let me be clear ... Israel chooses hope! Israel chooses peace!
But Israel cannot accept a government led by an organization that denies our existence, actively pushes to destroy our society through unending terrorist attacks or refuses to even recognize former agreements signed upon by Israelis and Palestinians.
It is unacceptable for Hamas to participate in the Palestinian political system while maintaining its ability to commit terrorist actions concurrently.
The leaders of the Palestinian Authority must create hope for their own people. They must rise to the challenges of governing, and lead their people, without succumbing to the difficulties of uniting a fragmented populous or to extremists who favor a culture of hate.
We must stop the spiraling conflict, end the fight between us, and bring peace to our battered region.
Far too many people have lost their lives in this continuous struggle. Generations of both our people have been scarred with the effects of these ongoing acts of violence. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has continued far too long.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best: "We must learn to live together as brothers, or we are going to perish together as fools."
It is clear that progress can be achieved only by talking to each other. Here and again I declare, I am willing to meet Chairman Abbas immediately, without preconditions, to discuss with him means for creating progress for our two peoples and hope for a better future in our region.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We have reached the pivotal moment of truth regarding Iran.
It would be an unbearable sin to future generations to allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. What would we tell our children? How can we justify not preventing this catastrophic event? If Iran achieves the ability to produce nuclear weapons, as we know it is seeking to do, we will enter a new era of instability unlike any the world has ever seen.
We cannot afford to wait.
We must all speak with one voice.
No longer can the international community afford to hesitate, contemplate or waiver in its dealing with this defiant state. No longer can we allow Iran to defer the demands of the international community without consequence.
We cannot tolerate, we will not tolerate, those who challenge Israel's right to exist while actively seeking to develop the catastrophic weapons to fulfill their goals.
America's leadership in preventing Iran's nuclearization is indisputable and unequaled. I just met my good friend, a true friend of Israel, President George W. Bush. We discussed this issue at great length. His determination to prevent this most serious of developments is unquestionable. But America must have the support of the international community if we are to successfully defuse this mortal threat.
Our actions will be measured by results, not intentions.
Our integrity will remain intact only if we prevent Iran's devious goals, not if we try our best but fail.
Our generation will be judged by its ability to ensure peace and security not by its failure to stand up to the most challenging of threats.
We did not choose this responsibility. But the burden is ours and we cannot, we will not, we shall not shy away from confronting this challenge.
Once before, calls to wipe out the Jewish people were appeased by the community of nations. Once before, but never again!
A coalition of moderate Arab countries can and must unite their common interest in preventing Iran from undermining stability in the Middle East. This coalition must struggle against the dangers of radical Islam that manipulate the very source of Islam itself. We saw this coalition forming towards the end of the fighting in Lebanon. It is crucial for this coalition to be nurtured!
Dear friends and colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
I am an optimist. I believe in the power of hope because I've seen how it can transform an entire nation, how hope can grab people by the heart and show them how tomorrow can be better and more prosperous than today.
Throughout our history, when others expected us to cast our faith into darkness and despair, we have always been guided by the miracle of light.
Where others saw only desert and sand - we saw abundant fields and a countryside filled with life, hope and opportunity.
Israel has the highest number of scientists per capita in the world. Our advancements in high-tech sector prove our population is amongst the most innovative in the world. Superior medical research facilities demonstrate Israel's competitiveness in the most progressive of fields.
International investments in the Israeli economy tripled this year to a record high of 20 billion dollars. Israeli exports are increasing, the stock market just reached an all time high and the shekel is strengthening.
Israel is focusing on the strategic development of the Galilee, Negev and Jerusalem. Developing these strategic regions as integral parts of the country is a clear objective, necessary to ensure the long term stability of Israel and a brighter future for all Israelis.
Israel recently dedicated 650 million dollars to be invested in developing the north and parts of the south by the end of 2007. We will focus on improving the educational system, increasing jobs in the area and raising the standard of living of the population affected by the events in the north. All are projects that your generosity helps fund.
We have many more important missions to implement. In order to encourage as many Israelis as possible to live in the Galilee, we must create job opportunities and revitalize the destroyed infrastructure. With your continued assistance and support, we will create a new reality in the Galilee.