Bibi Netanyahu walked on the stage at the closing of the President’s Conference (Tomorrow 2013) and I knew he’d be a great speaker – he always is. When he is addressing an international audience, as he knew he would be, his words are strong and resonate with the meaning of Israel. When he speaks to Israelis, that’s when I have more problems because that’s when he is fighting for his political future and in doing so, sometimes forgets to fight for the land and country itself.
He has to play politics, and he does it very well. He has to compromise, to walk a fine line between Lieberman, Bennet, Shas, the Ultra-Orthodox parties, the secular, the opposition. In short, he’s so busy dancing, he forgets to think.
But I knew, I just knew, that at the President’s Conference, he’s shine in a way that few others can. He’s quick-thinking, very intelligent, and dynamic. What follows below is as near to transcription as I could get – almost word for word. If someone prints a transcript later, you are likely to find a few mistakes and some missing sentences, but if no one does- this will do as a decent transcription.
Minutes after he took the stage, two hecklers stood and began calling out, shouting about the economic situation. While security moved in to remove them – non-violently – Bibi correctly pointed out that this is part of democracy and I quickly tweeted – listen up, Turkey, this is how you deal with demonstrators – not with tear gas and violence. Had these same people stood outside with signs, they would have had a chance to have their say. Once removed from the hall, they will not be beaten, though they may be detained and questioned. For the “sin” of speaking out, they probably won’t even be arrested. He spoke of three goals: security, prosperity, and peace.
Anyway – Bibi’s speech…
There is an earthquake – it is changing the face of the world. It is turmoil and it is unclear. It is not yet clear who will have the upper hand. The jury is out. Now I’m convinced that the forces of freedom, education will ultimately win out; but ultimately that is not good enough for the Jewish people. Ultimately, the forces of goodness overtook the forces of evil but our people paid a terrible price. I will not let that happen again. Israel will not let that happen.
And the danger we face is that the most dangerous weapons will fall into the hands of the most dangerous nations – specifically one nation. Iran’s dictator denies them their rights and prevents them from materializing that future.
The first thing that the new president of Iran said was that Iran must be guaranteed their rights. He didn’t say the Iranian people must be guaranteed their rights. He said IRAN must be. And they think that means nuclear weapons.
We may be seeing a change in style but not in content. The “new” way is that you smile, you talk, and you move forward to nuclear Iran. The second in command in Iran criticizes the last president for not engaging in this tactic. We cannot allow the Iranian regime to play this game. Now there is a critical test.
They must stop ALL enrichment; remove what has been enriched; and shut down the nuclear plants. I say to the international community, you must keep up the pressure.
This is fundamental for international security and fundamental to Israeli security.
You know the old joke – to make a small fortune in Israel, you need to come here with a big one. Well, that isn’t true anymore. There are ways to make big fortunes and in Israel – we’ve shot ahead. Ten years ago, our GPA was 2/3 of European, today, we have passed some and are right there with others.
We once had the economy of a developing company – we’ve emerged. We are one of the most advanced economies in the world. We lead the OECD by opening up our economy… to the genius of our people.
We have to sustain such growth. It gets harder but we are going to do it. We are going to modernize our ports. Just about everything you see – this land, this piece of wood…well, not everything – but just about everything you see goes through our ports and we will make it cheaper and more available.
Second, we are going to open up more markets – we just need a tiny sliver of a huge market. In China, in Latin America. I was recently in China.
What interested the Chinese was three things – Israeli technology, Israeli technology and Israeli technology. And in Poland, he was interested in 3 things – Israeli technology, Israeli technology and Israeli technology.
What we need is to push forward into new markets.
Third – GAS!
Who would have thought Israel would be an energy power. We were lucky not to have discovered it in the first 65 years and so we developed other resources.
We’re not going to make the same mistake of not exporting our gas as other countries have done. We are going to fill the coffers of the State with export for the benefit of all.
We’re going to open up transportation so that you can commute all over the country and live anywhere and be close to work.
And information technology – we’re going to open up the information highway. I want every child – every young boy, every young girl – every Arab kid in a small village – every child – to be connected to this fast highway. It will give EVERYONE an opportunity to participate.
Prosperity is within reach. We have outstripped so many of the developed companies – and we’re not stopping.
And the third goal – beyond security and prosperity – is peace. I want peace! Now the only way to negotiate is to begin and we are ready to begin now – without preconditions.
We’re only 15 minutes apart - well, with a police escort, even less.
The reason there is no peace has to be addressed. I put no conditions on entering the negotiations but in order to end them successfully we must address the issue of why we have been unsuccessful in getting peace. Why have successive governments – 6 since Oslo - have failed. This conflict predates 1967 by half a century; it predates the settlements.
What were the 1920 attacks on Jews in the land? It was an attempt to prevent the state. That was the reason. And then we vacated settlements – and still the attacks continued.
Why are you still doing this? And they answered to liberate Palestine. And we asked Judea and Shomron? And they answered – Beersheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod.
We need a Palestinian leadership that will accept the Jewish state – that was and remains the underlying problem. I don’t ask for these questions – of recognition and 20 other issues – there are 21 that need to be negotiated but that’s for after.
Sometimes there’s a lot of discussion, a lot of debates that don’t get to the heart of the matter. THIS is the heart of the matter – the willingness of our neighbors to accept us as we accept them.
That’s the tomorrow I wish for; that’s the tomorrow I know you wish for.
May we succeed.
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