Address by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom
to the International Conference on Fighting Terrorism for Humanity

New York, September 22, 2003

Prime Minister Bondevik,
Distinguished Presidents, Foreign Ministers and other dignitaries,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The world has undergone dramatic changes in recent years. In the past, many claimed that terrorism was a local problem. This is no longer possible.

Terror has declared war on us all.

The targeting of civilians to advance a political goal is now a worldwide phenomenon. And it is a blight on humanity. Whether on a bus returning from prayers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, in a hotel in Mombasa, a nightclub in Bali or an office tower in New York – terrorism is ready to strike anywhere. Even the United Nations, that for so many is a symbol of peace and goodwill, is not immune to the terrorists’ rage.

Each of these attacks brings terrible tragedy to ordinary people – people who look to us, their leaders, to protect them.

  • Tragedies such as the story of David Appelbaum and his daughter Nava – a celebrated doctor and a young bride-to-be who were killed together by a suicide bomber exactly two weeks ago today.
  • Tragedies such as the loss of the highly respected UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio De Mello.
  • Tragedies such as the story of Yuval Arad, who has spent her entire life not knowing the fate of her father Ron Arad, who was captured in 1986 by the terrorists of Hizbullah and never heard of since.

    This is a war that none of us seek.

    But if our way of life is to survive – if we are to preserve the values of freedom and of human life – this is a war we must fight with the full force of our conviction. The family of nations must rise as one to the challenge of terrorism. Today’s conference shows that this message is being understood.

    Israel is proud to join all those around this table in their pledge to conduct this war on terror until we prevail.

    How can this be done? I believe that there are four key areas of action:

  • First, terrorists must be denied access to the money which helps them fund their activities.

    In this context I praise the recent decisions by the United States, the European Union and others – including Norway – to prevent the flow of money to Hamas, the source of so much of the recent terrorism against Israelis. International cooperation in the field of law enforcement is critical to the success of this effort. Such cooperation must become universal if it is to be fully successful.

  • Second, terrorists must be denied the space from which they plan and carry out their wanton crimes.

    Standing here in New York just two short years after 9/11, it is clear that there can be no neutrality in the war on terrorism. States which harbor terrorists and give them shelter from the will of the international community are accomplices in the acts of terror themselves. They must be held to account for their crimes.

  • Third, terrorists must be denied the moral legitimacy with which they use to justify their actions.

    Too often, empathy for the Palestinian people – for example – has been translated into empathy for suicide bombers and those who encourage them. This is wrong. This must end.

    Central to any solution is the simple, moral recognition that terrorism – no matter what its declared objective – is the enemy of peace, reconciliation and justice. It seeks not to build but to destroy. It is the enemy of the values which unite us as human beings.

  • Fourthly, I believe that it is not enough to challenge the infrastructure of terror. We must also build an infrastructure of peace. And we must reaffirm the value of each and every human life. Political and economic answers to hardship and suffering must be found. It is imperative that we show humanity where the terrorists show none.

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Ten years ago Yasser Arafat committed himself to resolving all issues between Israel and the Palestinians through peaceful means.

    Since that time, 1,126 Israelis have been killed and murdered in more than 19,000 terrorist attacks, 102 suicide bomb attacks. In relative numbers, this would be the same as 56,000 Americans dying from terrorism in the same period of time. This carnage must stop.

    The time has come for the Palestinians to join the global war on terror – for their sake as well as for ours. For this to happen, they need the help of the international community. They need to be guided away from the destructive ways of the past towards a more constructive future.

    This requires tough choices. Yasser Arafat, for example, may be seen by some as the symbol of the Palestinian struggle, but he is also one of the world’s icons of terror.

    Support for him is counter-productive to all peace efforts in the region and to the global war on terror. Instead of rallying around Arafat, the international community must rally around the genuine interest of the Palestinian people to abandon terror and to work with Israel to build a better future.

    Friends,

    The rabbis of ancient times taught that "He who saves a single human life, has saved a whole world."

    In the global struggle against terror, it is our commitment to life which is the answer to the moral and physical devastation the terrorists seek. Nothing is more potent than our determination to do everything in our power to prevent the suffering of the individual.

    In this context, I call on the countries gathered here to redouble their efforts to work together:

  • not only to apprehend the killers of Bali and Mombasa and to prevent the next suicide bomber from Jenin from receiving his funding and training,
  • but also to bring word of life from Ron Arad and to help carry on the legacy of Sergio De Mello and Dr. David Appelbaum as we seek to build a better, safer future for our children.

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