Video Message of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities

Washington D.C., 11 November 2001

Good evening,

I am pleased to send you greetings from Jerusalem, the eternal undivided capital of the Jewish people. I had planned to be with you at this very important gathering of the United Jewish Communities, but I am sure you understand that security considerations and the pressing national economic issues require my presence at home.

We live in the most trying of times. After September 11th the world, as we knew it, changed forever. The attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania were direct assaults on freedom and democracy everywhere.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – which the free world has almost taken for granted – are under attack by the forces of darkness. But they will fail to break the spirit of liberty worldwide.

The people of Israel share in the grief of the families who lost their loved ones. We stand as one with America. I salute the bravery of the firemen, the policemen and the rescue teams – who, in the face of death, continued to fight to save lives.

On behalf of the State of Israel, I applaud the President of the United States, George W. Bush. His leadership, courage and determination in this campaign against terror are an inspiration to us all. I also wish to recognize the outgoing Mayor of New York City, my friend Rudolph Giuliani, who has proven that the values of freedom and democracy are not for sale. Best wishes also to newly elected Mayor of New York, Mr. Michael Bloomberg. I can appreciate the vast challenges that lie ahead, and let me assure you of my unwavering support.

The struggle against terrorism is also Israel’s struggle. As President Bush told Congress: "Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make, either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

Mr. President, Israel is your ally. Israel has been fighting Arab terrorism for a hundred and twenty years. Now, for more than a year, we have been facing a deliberate campaign of terror and incitement launched by the Palestinian Authority. Despite all this look at what we have accomplished, a vibrant democracy, the absorption of millions of immigrants, first-class technological, educational and scientific infrastructures. All this while holding a sword in one hand and building the country with the other.

Looking ahead to the future we must work together – Jews in Israel and Jews in North America – to continue building our homeland. Our ongoing partnership continues to ensure the future of the Jewish people.

Today, our most vital mission is to bring one million more Jews to Israel over the next decade. As a part of this effort, we announced the commitment of our government’s resources to the National Ethiopian Project, a program that will integrate these immigrants into Israeli society. We took this step knowing that we can rely on you.

We need your help. But more importantly, we need you now. If you can’t live in Israel right now, then visit Israel. Come on a mission. Send your children to study. Take a vacation here. It strengthens your bond with Israel and our bond with you.

Israel is a peace-seeking nation. I have fought in all of Israel’s battles and seen the horrors of war. For this reason, I can truly appreciate the value of peace.

For true peace, I am ready to make painful compromises – but it must be genuine peace that will last for generations. I will not make compromises on the survival and security of the State of Israel and its citizens. The Jewish people have only one small country – the only place in the world where they have the right and the capability to defend themselves by themselves. We must preserve this for the sake of every Jew around the world and for future generations. This is not just our right, it is our duty.

Our common heritage and destiny have fostered our partnership. Mutual responsibility has sustained us throughout the ages. Through your support – moral, financial and emotional – we made Israel the source of strength to the Jewish people. The projects you support help bring life to our people and to our land. Your solidarity missions and visits are a source of confidence and strength. It helps us and it helps you.

We have seen wonderful results from the Birthright program. Thousands of young Jewish people visit Israel for the first time and return to their communities inspired.

For many generations an independent strong democratic Jewish State was considered by many an impossible dream. Yet, united in our belief in the spirit and destiny of the Jewish people, we turned this vision into a reality. I believe that with the same spirit, the same Jewish heritage and wisdom of four thousand years, and most importantly with our unity we can realize what Herzl said: "If you will it, it is no dream" – and bring peace security and prosperity to the Jewish people.

Thank you and Shalom from Israel.