Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom
at conclusion of meeting of the Joint Israeli-Palestinian Committee on the Prevention of Incitement
Jerusalem, 7 July 2003
FM Silvan Shalom and Palestinian Information Minister Nabil Amr
We have just completed a constructive and productive first meeting of the Joint Israeli-Palestinian Committee on the Prevention of Incitement.
I am pleased to welcome here in Jerusalem my colleague, Palestinian Minister of Information, Nabil Amr. Your presence here today illustrates to both peoples the changes currently taking place in our region and the interest we share in addressing this important and painful issue.
We stand today before an opportunity which must not be missed to change the discourse between the Palestinian and Israeli people and to give hope to our children and to future generations.
The decision to establish this joint Israeli-Palestinian steering committee on the Prevention of Incitement is based on the lessons of the past.
We have learned, through bitter experience, that the public discourse between us – that the media, and the education system and the textbooks – cannot be left in irresponsible hands which seek only to sow the seeds of destruction. We have learned that if this discourse does not change, it will be impossible to move away from terror and violence to the path of dialogue, mutual understanding and the building of a better future.
In simple words – our experience teaches us that words have power. The power to build, but also the power to destroy and to kill.
This is why the need to end incitement is explicitly included in the opening stages of the Roadmap. This is a matter of supreme importance.
Our goal in this Committee is not to lay blame for the past, but to learn its lessons and correct its faults – in order to reach a situation where our discourse will be one of peace and positive exchanges. Hard work is needed in order to realize this dream. Constant effort is needed to uproot the seeds of hate from public discourse in every forum, every day.
A strategic decision is needed to abandon the language of hate and struggle, and to educate towards understanding and coexistence.
I am pleased that in recent days we have seen a measure of positive change in the degree of anti-Israeli incitement and hatred. This change is not coincidental. It is the direct result of the decision by the new Palestinian leadership to change the behavior of the past. This proves that where there is the will, results can be achieved.
This is how things must continue, because there is still much to do. This is why we have agreed to establish a joint committee to root out incitement and to establish working groups to deal with issues like the media, the press and the educational system.
Educating our children to peace, democracy and mutual respect is an essential component of our drive for peace. We are sure that if we succeed in our joint effort to establish a culture of peace in place of the culture of hate, we will be making a profound contribution to a better future for both our peoples.
I stand here today together with my colleague to give hope to our children and to future generations.