Our job is to bring the facts to the heart of the international debate – not as an excuse, but in order to provide a complete picture of the complexity of the situation that Israel must deal with and the threats we are facing.
Each and every one of us is fighting simultaneously on three fronts:
First – we are fighting for Israel’s existence. This is a war against terrorism, as well as a struggle for Israel’s existence as a national home for the Jewish people, against the ongoing process of delegitimization.
Second – we are fighting antisemitism, which is rearing its ugly head.
And third – the war of the free world against the extremists. This front is here as well as on the campuses.
You on the campuses are fighting on an additional front – the front of Israeli hasbara – explaining Israel’s positions. I know it’s not easy to defend our values when the discrepancy between who we are and how we are represented in many places in the world is so great.
The international community often makes decisions based on images rather than history, justice or facts. There are leaders who know exactly what must be done, but are swayed by public opinion in their countries and allow their decisions to be compromised. These compromises harm our values, but, more importantly, they harm their own values. We are prepared to be criticized and judged on the steps Israel takes – as long as we are judged according to the scale of values and principles that the international community follows itself.
The hasbara front must be based on facts. The world as recently been asking, and sometimes criticizing, Israel about construction in the settlements. How many people in the world are aware that two Israelis were murdered over the weekend by men connected to the Palestinian security services? Our job is to bring the facts to the heart of the international debate – not as an excuse, but in order to provide a complete picture of the complexity of the situation that Israel must deal with and the threats we are facing, when failure to take action against terrorism means a painful toll in human lives.
The struggle we are engaged in is a struggle of moderates versus extremists. Most of the challenges confronting Israel are challenges faced by the entire free world. The regional conflict is not the source of this dichotomy, nor the values for which Israel is fighting and which are shared by the free world. The fight against terror, against dangerous regimes that strive to acquire weapons of mass destruction, such as Iran, the fight against the spread of hatred and incitement – Israel stands on the frontlines of this fight. The international community must uphold the principles and values for which we are fighting, in the face of those who would exploit them in order to hurt all of us.
This is not a story of David and Goliath. Our values teach us not to use all of the power at our disposal. Civilians are hurt on both sides, but the chasmal difference between us is that the Israeli soldier would never deliberately harm an innocent civilian and would never receive an order to do so. Terrorism, in contrast, looks for the queue at a discotheque, or a pizzeria or a bus stop in order to harm as many civilians as possible. Talking in one breath about victims on both sides implies an equation, as it were, between them which does not exist. We expect world leaders to acknowledge the facts and to judge Israel as they would judge themselves.
We are willing to accept legitimate criticism, but not antisemitism disguised as legitimate criticism, arising from a double standard applied to Israel compared to what is done in other countries.
We entered a diplomatic process for the sake of Israel’s supreme goal – to preserve itself as a democratic Jewish state, the national home of the Jewish people living securely in the land of Israel. In order to maintain that supreme goal, we recognize the need to provide a response to Palestinian national aspirations – in an independent state of their own that will provide a complete answer to the national aspirations of all Palestinians.
This process exists only if it is premised on the understanding that Israel’s security is as much a Palestinian interest as it is an Israeli one, inasmuch as this issue will have consequences for every future arrangement between us on the road to establishing a Palestinian state. We will insist that another terrorist state does not arise here – and this is a clear international interest. We expect the international community to back Israel as it combats terrorism and incitement while moving forward in the diplomatic process.