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Israel Now Event

from Temple B'nai Sholom

http://www.knology.net/~tbsholom/text3.html

"ISRAEL NOW: OUR SEARCH FOR PEACE"

SPEECH GIVEN BY STEVEN A. BRICKMAN, SAMFORD UNIVERSITY, LESLIE WRIGHT AUDITORIUM, APRIL 23, 2002

As long as we live, I want us to always remember tonight - a night we stand shoulder to shoulder, people of different faiths and backgrounds, in unity, as one people with one destiny, to proudly proclaim to our Community and to our State and to our Nation and to the World - Am Yisrael Chai - Israel Lives - Now and Forever.

Israel Lives because it is the fulfillment of G-d's everlasting covenant with the Jewish people. Israel Lives because of the G-d given faith and strength and resilience of its people who have justly and proportionately responded, just like America does, to the evil face and madness of terrorism.

Israel Lives because of its deep and irrevocable friendship with the United States, rooted in the rich soil of democracy, and our shared values of freedom and justice and the rule of law, and our shared principles of eliminating groups which fund, support or harbor terrorists; Israel Lives because of its 54-year-old Search for Peace with the Arab world, so evident to anyone willing to open their eyes and free their minds; Israel Lives, because, while the world has no memory, Israel remembers the past and speaks the Truth, which sets it free.

1947 PARTITION
The Truth that, in 1947, the United Nations voted to partition Palestine and to create two states between the Jordan and the Mediterranean - one, a state for Palestinian Arabs, and the other, the modern State of Israel, with a majority Jewish population established on less than one percent of the land in the Middle East. Israel affirmed its desire to live in peace, side by side with a Palestinian State. But the answer of the Arab world was for the armies of nine Arab States to come pouring over the borders of Israel to drive the Jews into the sea and extinguish the new Jewish State.

The Truth that, in the aftermath of its creation, Israel absorbed and settled millions of refugees, many who fled from the Arab world, while the Arab world, with its vast wealth, refused to absorb the Palestinians who left at the request of their leaders in the face of their invasion of Israel, and left them to live, as political pawns, in the squalid refugee camps, festering in hatred and rage;

The Truth that, from 1948 through 1967 when Jordan controlled the West Bank and Jerusalem and Egypt held Gaza, the Arab world engaged in acts of terror against the Israeli people, desecrated and closed off the Western Wall and other Jewish holy sites and never once offered to create a Palestinian Arab State on land they controlled;

The Truth that Israel gained control of the disputed territories of the West Bank and Gaza, as well as the Golan Heights and Sinai in the Six-Day War in June, 1967, not because they sought to occupy the Palestinians, but because the Arab world once again massed their armies on Israel's borders in yet another attempt to destroy its existence;

The Truth that Resolution 242 of the United Nations, passed in the immediate aftermath of the Six-Day War in 1967, reaffirms Israel's right to sovereignty within secure and recognized borders to be negotiated face-to-face with the Arab world and intentionally does not require Israel to withdraw to its pre-Six-Day War borders; The Truth that Israel has been willing to swap land for peace with Egypt, returning the entire Sinai with its oil fields and settlements, which comprised over 90% of the territory absorbed in the Six-Day War and to sign a peace treaty with Jordan when it was clear that these countries, and their leaders, sincerely sought to live in peace, warm or cold, with Israel;

The Truth that Israel has desperately searched for peace with the Palestinians and the Arab world, both before and after signing the Oslo Accords in 1993, offering at Camp David in the year 2000 and again at Taba, Egypt, the return of all of Gaza, and 97% of the West Bank, retaining 3%, as permitted by Resolution 242, to insure secure borders, and an equitable resolution of the refugee situation, and all other issues, solely in exchange for a complete cessation of the conflict so that the Palestinians could establish a contiguous and viable independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side, in peace, with the Jewish State of Israel;

The Truth is that Arafat rejected this generous offer proposed by both the United States and Israel, which would have given the Palestinians an independent state they would be governing tonight and then rejected his clear and unequivocal written obligations under the Oslo Accords to renounce terror and negotiate peace, making it crystal clear to Israelis of every political stripe, who want an end to the conflict and true peace, that Arafat does not want a state to live beside Israel, but a state in the place of Israel.

A WAR OF TERROR
Instead of negotiating peace, Arafat and his leadership have embarked on a deliberate and systematic war of terror, seeking to kill as many innocent Israelis as possible, using as his primary weapon of death the suicide murderer, young Palestinian boys and girls, inculcated with the Anti-Semitic hate taught in their schools and published in their state media, and mobilized and rewarded by Arafat and his minions.

These suicide murderers revel in the martyrdom of killing innocent Jews - men, women, children, families, grandparents - who are sitting down for the Passover Seder in Netanya, or eating pizza for lunch at Sbarro in Jerusalem, or having fun with their friends at a club in Tel Aviv - none of which seems to trouble the rest of the world or invokes the wrathful censure of the United Nations, or other international organizations, or bothers the diplomatic salons of Europe and the Arab world, where the rising stench of Anti-Semitism grows more rotten every day;

The Truth that Israel today seeks peace, but is engaged, after much restraint, in a war against terrorism, which can never again be appeased. Israel is not waging a war against the Palestinian people or a war to capture land but a war for peace and its survival, supported by all segments of a very diverse Israeli society, that is its second War of Independence, brought to its homes and doorsteps by the leadership of the Palestinian Authority who sign checks of death to pay the suicide murderers, and to purchase boatloads of weapons, expressly banned under the Oslo Accords, from the Axis of Evil.

Israel does not seek or want this war of self-defense, which it is forced to fight to defend its citizens, and which it has fought justly and humanely and proportionately against terror networks, which prepare their homicide bombs and explosive belts and operate their bomb factories in camps like Jenin, administered by the United Nations relief agencies, hiding behind civilian shields, in booby-trapped buildings, alleyways and casbahs.

The Truth is that there is no cycle of violence or moral equivalence between the tyranny of a totalitarian regime which sings songs of worship and praise to their children who deliberately murder innocent, men, women and children who are simply trying to live their daily lives and the acts of self-defense engaged in by the Israeli government to defend its children and their dreams by rooting out and destroying the terror networks birthed and nurtured by these terrorist leaders.

A SEARCH FOR SURVIVAL
The Truth is that one day, as Golda Meir once said, the Arab world will decide that they love their children more than they hate the existence of a Jewish State, and on that day, swords will be turned into plowshares and peace will come to Israel. We hope and pray that day will soon come. But, until that day arrives, we must look deep inside ourselves and ask what we can do for the people of Israel in its search for peace and survival.

We must pray in our own traditions for the peace of Jerusalem; We must continue our advocacy by writing letters to newspapers and petitioning our government leaders; We must continue to educate the public at large about Israel by telling the truth to our friends and co-workers and neighbors. We must join with the Birmingham Jewish Federation, the glue that holds this effort together, to continue to mobilize understanding and support for the State of Israel.

If we can, we must help financially by participating in the Israel Now campaign to help Israel in its response to terror just like we helped our fellow citizens who were victims of terrorism after September 11.

We must help Israel rebuild its struggling economy with the highest unemployment rate in the Western World, caused in large measure by businesses which are afraid to do business in and with companies in Israel. The streets and hotels are empty, the cafes close early, the tourists are gone, and families stay home.

We must help rebuild the lives of so many families, particularly new immigrants who have been hardest hit and have the most difficulty coping, whose lives have been shattered by the loss of their children or parents or wives or husbands or grandparents who innocently left their homes to go shopping or have lunch or meet their friends and were killed or maimed by malicious acts of terrorism. We must help them emotionally, psychologically, and financially as they cope with this senseless loss.

We must provide hope for the victims of terror through the Koby Mandell Foundation, which responds to death with life and the promise of a better tomorrow. And we must do all that we can to insure Israel remains strong and secure so that it can continue to be the Jewish Statue of Liberty, providing a homeland for Jews throughout the world, who arrive each day, like the new immigrants from Argentina, and who breathe life into its hallowed soil.

'THE WORLD ENTIRE'
Tonight, as we join together in support and solidarity for Israel and reflect on what we can do as a community, I am reminded by a scene at the end of the film Schindler's List.

The war has ended and Oskar Schindler, a Righteous Gentile, prepares to leave the Jews he has saved during the Nazi Holocaust. One of the Jewish survivors, presents him a gift from all of the survivors - a gold ring - inscribed with the words of the Talmud: "He who saves a Life Saves the World Entire." Schindler takes the ring and looks in the faces of all those whose lives he saved and plaintively cries out with despair "I could have done so much more."

Tonight is our moment to do so much more. We have done much by simply being here tonight to show our support for the State of Israel. But, like Schindler, there is so much more we can do to aid Israel in its search for peace.

Join me in Declaring and Decreeing - Israel Lives Now and Forever!

SAY IT LOUD so that our government leaders in Washington continue to understand that Israel's war against terrorism is America's war against terrorism.

SAY IT LOUD so that the Government of Israel knows that we understand the justice in their search for survival and peace.

SAY IT LOUD so that the courageous people of Israel feel our warm and loving embrace and see us tonight, standing with them, shoulder to shoulder, to insure that their State will continue to be blessed with victory and peace and that the "Star of David will forever wave in triumph over a Land of Freedom and a Home of the Brave."

AM YISRAEL CHAI!

ISRAEL LIVES - NOW AND FOREVER!

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