I have decided to convey these twin messages of direct negotiations for peace and the quest for peace through the quest for the truth to the United Nations General Assembly when I speak there next week.
Petr, it’s very good to welcome you and your colleagues, the Czech delegation here in Jerusalem. We’re now marking 20 years of our official relations. Our unofficial relations go back thousands of years – at least a thousand years in the history of the Jewish community in Prague, which is a glorious one, with the great Rabbi of Prague, the Maharal, with great luminaries and writers like Kafka.
… We’ve always thought of the Czech Republic and the Czech people as a great friend, but this friendship has now blossomed into an extraordinary relationship. We’re cooperating in every way. We’re cooperating in the field of trade. Our trade is growing up steadily. It’s grown by 30% in the last year. We’re cooperating in the field of education, R&D, security. We cooperate mainly in the field of values. I think this is the deepest thing. We have almost a common DNA, perhaps because of a common historical experience of a small, feisty democracy, often surrounded by undemocratic foes, that has to fight both for its freedom and for the truth. And we’ve seen that the battle for truth and the story of the former Czechoslovakia in the 1930’s is connected with the quest for peace.
You cannot build peace on a foundation of lies. Any peace that is built on a foundation of lies ultimately collapses on the rocks of truth. That was true in Europe and it is true today. We have to speak the truth. The first truth is that to have peace, we must have mutual respect for other peoples. This is what we seek with our Palestinian neighbors. This is what we seek with all our neighbors. I was deeply concerned when, yesterday, a Palestinian official, the Palestinian Authority, said that he envisions a Palestine which is free of Jews – Judenrein. I think this is a disgrace and I expect this to be condemned by the Palestinian Authority because we want this mutual respect. We want two peoples living side by side, in dignity, respect and peace. We also believe that the way to achieve this peace is through direct negotiations. There is no way to impose peace by dictat. If anyone knows that, certainly the people of the Czech Republic knows that from their own memory, and this remains true today.
I have decided to convey these twin messages of direct negotiations for peace and the quest for peace through the quest for the truth. I’ve decided to take this message the United Nations General Assembly when I speak there next week. Now I know that the General Assembly is not a place where Israel gets a fair hearing. I know that the automatic majorities there always rush to condemn Israel and twist truth beyond recognition. But I’ve decided to go there anyway – not to win applause, but to speak the truth to every nation that wants to hear the truth.
And I know that one nation that knows the truth and speaks the truth is the Czech Republic. So I take, again, extra pleasure in welcoming you and your colleagues here in Jerusalem. Welcome.