Now, I’ve asked you to think today about what happens if this fails. And I’ve asked you to think about what happens if this succeeds. The third thing I want to ask you to think about today is probably the most important. I want you to do more than just consider the consequences. I ask you to recognize that you have a part to play in choosing which future will become our own. You should also know that you’re not going to be alone. The Arab League came here to Washington, and they’ve just shown that they are ready to take steps forward, because they reaffirmed the Arab Peace Initiative, but they did so differently than ever before. They added that it will have land swaps for the first time.
In fact, everywhere I go – literally, China, Japan – foreign ministers, presidents raise this issue. Young people ask me about this conflict and what they can do to help end it. In the last couple of weeks I had visits here from the Foreign Minister of Brazil and the Foreign Minister of New Zealand, and the first thing out of their mouth was, “How can we help on the Middle East peace process?” Now, I asked them, “Where’s that coming from? You’re over in New Zealand and this is the first thing on your mind?” They said yes because it affects all of the recruitment and all of the arguments and radicalism that we face, and they see the prospects and possibilities. Everyone is invested in a resolution and everyone has a role to play.
My many conversations have led me to believe that both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas can be partners in peace. And I know Minister Tzipi Livni, who is here, believes in peace, and she is working hard to help move this process forward. And she is a friend and a valued colleague in this effort to move forward, and I know you will hear from her later. And I thank her for her genuine efforts to try to think differently and act differently at this moment. She shares the vision of an Israel that is made stronger through a peace agreement that ensures its security. And she is committed to working to make that a reality. All of these leaders are committed. We’re all committed.
So no one has a stronger voice in this than the American Jewish community. You can play a critical part in ensuring Israel’s long-term security. And as President Obama said in Jerusalem, leaders will take bold steps only if their people push them to. You can help shape the future of this process. And in the end, you can help Israel direct its destiny and be masters of its own fate, just as Prime Minister Meir dreamed that it would be.
So I ask you today, send the message that you are behind this hopeful vision of what can be. Let your leaders and your neighbors alike know that you understand this will be a tough process with tough decisions, but that you’re ready to back the leaders who make them. For your children, do this; for your grandchildren, do this; for Israeli children and Palestinian children and for Israel, let them know that you stand behind negotiations that will lead to two states for two peoples living side-by-side in peace and security, and that you are part of the great constituency for peace.
Let the world know that when the next generation of soldiers stand on Masada’s mountaintop, when they yell that ancient oath across that chasm, the vast expanses of their homeland – “Am Yisrael Chai” – when they say that, that they too will hear the echoes of past generations just as I heard them, and that they will know that as the echoes ring in their ears, the oath rings truer than ever.
With the commitment of the AJC that you have shown for more than a century, you can help ensure that the State of Israel will indeed live long in peace and security, not in spite of its place alongside a Palestinian state but because of it. You can help make sure the people of Israel and the State of Israel will continue to thrive, continue to lead, continue to keep faith with its ancestors as it keeps faith with its future. That’s what lies in front of us, and I hope together we will seize this moment and make the most of it.