5759 – 1999
Greetings from Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Ariel Sharon to the Jewish Communities in the Diaspora on the occasion of Israel’s 51st Independence Day I am honored and proud to send you this special letter on the eve of Israel’s 51st anniversary. My message comes to you from Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people for the last 3000 years, the capital of Israel for the past 51 years – indeed, for all times. I speak to you today first and foremost as a Jew, and I bring to you a message of great hopes, but also of challenges which must be overcome.
I believe that only today, fifty-one years after the creation of the State of Israel, with its unprecedented achievements, can we truly appreciate the historical turning point: the establishment of an independent Jewish state created for Jews. Without a strong Jewish state, Jews around the world would not have been able to achieve the security and stability, as well as maintain the way of life, they enjoy today.
Israel today is also a leading country in pursuing peace: It is the only known country that has voluntarily given up territory which is part of its historical homeland — the cradle of the Jewish people — in order to achieve peace with its Arab and Palestinian neighbors.
I strongly believe that Israel does not need to prove its quest for peace. Israel has demonstrated time and again its willingness to make painful compromises on behalf of peace, and move the peace process forward. But one thing we will not do — we will not initiate action that will compromise in any way the security and survival of Jews in their homeland or elsewhere around the world. Security for our people is our prime responsibility — without it, true peace will never materialize.
In the rapidly changing, sometimes confusing world of the coming decade, our common future and destiny depends on fostering broad Jewish consensus and unity. Such unity is required to achieve our long-term national goals. First, and most urgent, is to bring to Israel at least one million new immigrants from Russia, the Ukraine, and other former Republics of the Soviet Union, as well as from France, and North and South America. This will make Israel a totally different country, growing and developing to become the home of seven to eight million Jews. For the first time, the majority of the Jewish people will be living in their homeland, Israel.
In fifty-one years, we have come a long way together, but our task is not yet complete. We in Israel are only the custodians of this project. The challenges still facing us can be overcome only with your participation and partnership. Only together can we realize all our dreams and hopes.
On the fifty-first anniversary of the State of Israel, I want to wish you all a joyous Independence Day. It is my sincere hope that you will continue to display the strength, determination and courage to bring our Zionist vision to its final destination: peace with security for Israel, for our Arab neighbors in the region, and for the Jewish people around the world.
We did it in the past. I am sure that we can do it today, as well as in the future.
From Jerusalem, shalom,
Minister of Foreign Affairs