President Rivlin: "The labelling of Israeli products will be a further obstacle to peace. Europe must remember that the dream of different peoples living side by side was not achieved by creating barriers to trade and cooperation, but by finding a common dialogue."
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with European Council President Donald Tusk (8 September 2015) and told him at the start of their meeting:
"We welcome you, Donald. It’s a great pleasure to welcome you back to Jerusalem. I’ve known you for many years. You’ve been a great friend of Israel, of the Jewish people, and may I say of me personally, and it’s a pleasure always to see you. I have a belief that your visit here as President of the European Council can do a lot of good for our relationship.
We have great opportunities. We live in a world that is being revolutionized by innovation. Israel is one of the great centers of innovation in the world, everything from information to energy to cyber security to medical devices to biotechnology and everything else, big data, 3D printing, everything.
Israel is a tremendous hub of intellectual energy which has turned into intellectual products which means products of the mind that become vastly valuable in the modern marketplace. I think that the future belongs to those who innovate. We innovate. Europe can be, and in some cases is, our partners for innovation, and this is something that seizes the future and I believe should form a great partnership.
Equally, we’re challenged. We’re challenged by the opposite of modernity, which is a barbaric medievalism, early medievalism, primitive, savage, murderous, that comes from the two sources of militant Islam – the militant Sunnis led by Daesh and the militant Shiites led by Iran. Daesh uses swords to decapitate people.
Iran wishes to develop atomic bombs to threaten millions, and we believe that both of them are moving into the ruins of shattered states in the Middle East and from here they want to establish each their own Islamic empire. They fight each other who will be the king of this empire, but make no mistake about it. Whom they target is first us, other Muslims too of course and Christians and so on, but then you. Iran is building ICBMs for Europe, not for us. We’re on the same continent. They can reach us already. They’re building inter-continental missiles for Europe and for the United States, and we believe that this is a common problem.
Equally, because of the onslaught of militant Islam in the Middle East and in Africa, Europe is facing the waves, a tsunami of people tragically fleeing from the worst crimes that humanity has seen since the Holocaust, and we believe that there’s much we can together. I’ve discussed with Prime Minister Renzi of Italy the possibility of cooperating in sub-Saharan Africa with Italy but with other European countries to deal with the problem at the source, to strengthen African governments in agriculture, in the economy, in communications, in security, in energy, to prevent the collapse of those societies and the suffering that accompanies the people who are seeking to flee for their lives to Europe.
So I think that there is much common challenges that we face, and this regard I find it perplexing that some in Europe are still possessed by the anti-Israeli obsession. Nothing is happening, hundreds of thousands are being slaughtered in the Middle East, millions are being displaced, but some in Europe believe the only thing they have to do is to press, boycott and vilify the Middle East’s only true democracy, Israel, the only vanguard of liberty, the only country where human rights are respected, where there is a free press and where the values that we share with Europe serve as our map and our compass and our way of life. I find this inexplicable but I find it also to the detriment of Europe.
We are the guardians of civilization here in the heart of the Middle East against this new barbarism, and I want to discuss with you, as I’ve discussed with other European leaders and will discuss with them, how Europe and Israel can cooperate to assure the progress of modernity for all the peoples of the Middle East, for peace with all our neighbors, but also for the sake of our common future, and to see if we can steer Europe into a more productive course rather than the one that seeks to unilaterally press Israel into agreements that will endanger our very existence and therefore your very defense.
This is a small order for our conversation, which I look forward to. I want to welcome you again in the spirit of great friendship that has always characterized our relationship when you were leading Poland, and now you’re in the important position of being one of the leaders of Europe, and I believe we can extend that friendship even further.
So welcome to Jerusalem, my friend."