UN Webcast (see minute 52:00)
Thank you, Mr. President - and allow me to extend Israel's appreciation to
you for your able stewardship of the Security Council this month.
18 years ago, a bomb
ripped through the Argentinian Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires. 85
people were killed. Hundreds were injured. The Islamic Republic of Iran - a
Member State of this organization - was responsible for this act, along with its
Last week, a suicide
bomber exploded on a bus carrying Israeli tourists in Burgos, Bulgaria. Six
were killed, including a pregnant woman. More than 30 were injured. The victims
were mostly young people on vacation. Again, Iran and Hezbollah were
In recent months, Israelis were targeted in terrorist attacks and attempted
attacks in India, Azerbaijan, Thailand, Kenya, Turkey and, most recently, in
Cyprus. Iran and Hezbollah were responsible for each and every one of these
acts. This is just one part of a bigger picture. Iran and Hezbollah's most
recent terrorist plots span five continents and at least 24 countries.
It should be clear to everyone in this hall that these horrific events are
not isolated. A clear line of terror runs from the bombing in Argentina to the
attack in Bulgaria. It begins and ends in Iran.
The Iranian campaign of terrorism is a plague that threatens not only
Israelis and Jews, but innocent people all over the globe. The time has come for
the world to put an end to this campaign of terror, once and for all.
One cannot underestimate the significance of the present moment. The Middle
East is perhaps at the most important crossroads since the end of World War I.
There are two main roads that the region can take.
One is the road of fundamentalism. Today the Iranian regime is trying the
move region down this road. Their ideology does not empower people to build a
brighter future. It enslaves them in a medieval past. Instead of opening minds
with honest discourse, it clouds them with conspiracy and hate. Last month,
Iran's Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi spoke in the presence of UN officials
at an event in Tehran. He said that the teachings of the Talmud - one of the
holiest books in Judaism - are responsible (and I quote) "for inciting global
drug trade and addiction in a bid to annihilate non-Jewish communities." He
added that "gynecologists around the world kill 'black babies' on the orders of
It was another example of the vile antisemitism that is part of the core
ideology of the Iranian leadership. But they don't just spread their hate with
words. They advance it with actions.
Hezbollah and Iran are an integral part of Assad's killing machine. Just a
few days ago, Hezbollah's leader gave a speech praising the Assad regime,
calling it (quote) "a real military partner." Hezbollah and Iran provide
weapons, ammunition, training, intelligence, logistical equipment, and more to
Assad. They offer their unique expertise in the business of terrorism,
monitoring people on the Internet, and bypassing international sanctions. Iran
and Hezbollah - Assad's allies in this "trio of brutality" - will cross any line
to keep the Assad regime in power - and to make sure that the Syrian people's
quest for freedom is suppressed.
And as we watch these events unfold, Iran
continues to advance its military nuclear program.
The international community should ask itself a very simple question: if this
is the way that Iran behaves without nuclear weapons, how will it behave when it
possesses the most dangerous weapons of all?
Israel continues to monitor the events in Syria closely. We are horrified by
the humanitarian disaster taking place - and greatly concerned about the wider
implications for regional stability and security. Last week, Syrian soldiers
crossed into the area of separation pursuant to the Separation of Forces
Agreement between Israel and Syria, in blatant violation of this agreement. This
week, Syrian officials acknowledged their stockpiles of chemical weapons - and
clearly stated that they are ready to use them.
This vast stockpile of
chemical weapons is a potential disaster. The international community cannot
stand idle. Assad must know that he will be held accountable for using these
weapons. He must understand that transferring chemical weapons to Hezbollah or
other terrorist organizations is a red line that he cannot cross.
Iran represents one road - a road of hate.
But there is another road that the Middle East can take - a road of peace,
progress, and prosperity. Moving down this road will require the region to push
back against the fundamentalists and deal with the fundamental problems facing
Yet, in this debate and, indeed, across the UN, one hears very
little about these fundamental issues. I'm sure that today's debate will be no
exception. I'm sure that we will hear the same old criticisms of Israeli
policies, but very little about the core challenges facing the Middle East.
The United Nations Development Program has sponsored five "Arab Human
Development Reports" since 2002. These reports reveal the crippling deficits of
freedom, educational opportunities, and the empowerment of women that have long
afflicted the Arab world.
I ask you: is Israel responsible for the fact that gays are hunted down and
hung in Iran; or that bloggers in the West Bank are jailed by the Palestinian
authority; or that artists in Lebanon are ruthlessly censored by their
government; or that women in Gaza are arrested and tortured for daring to leave
the house without a headscarf? Are we responsible for the Christians and other
minorities that are fleeing the Middle East in droves because Islamic extremists
attack their communities? Is Israel responsible for the fact that 25 percent of
Arab youth are unemployed and many others are desperate to find a decent job?
Maybe it's time to stop using Israel in this debate to sweep these important
issues under the carpet. It is certainly time to finally deal openly and
honestly with the basic deficits that cripple the Middle East.
A lot is said during these debates about Gaza. Much of it is disingenuous.
Some in this hall claim that the situation in Gaza is deteriorating; however,
the IMF reports a 20 percent GDP per capita growth in Gaza in 2011. Some here
speak about a so-called Israeli blockade, although there is not a single
civilian good that cannot enter Gaza today.
Let me be clear. There is a crisis in Gaza - for both Israelis and
Palestinians - and it's called Hamas. The crisis in Gaza is that Hamas attacks
the crossings used to transfer humanitarian aid - and then complains about
shortages and delays. The crisis in Gaza is that global terrorists have found
fertile ground from where they can operate and destabilize other parts of our
region, including the Sinai Peninsula. The crisis in Gaza is that Hamas uses
Palestinian schools as a launching pad to fire rockets at Israeli schools - and
uses Palestinian hospitals to fire rockets at Israeli hospitals.
Over 200 rockets were fired into Southern Israel in the past two months
alone. Just yesterday, a rocket was fired into the major City of Ashkelon. Yet,
even as rockets fly out of Gaza, Israel continues to work with the international
community to make sure that humanitarian aid, medicine, and goods reach in the
inhabitants of Gaza. How many other governments provide essential assistance to
the same areas from which there citizens are being attacked?
As we stand at this critical crossroads, the leaders in our region should
look in the mirror and finally take the road less traveled in the Middle East; a
road of tolerance, of compromise, and moderation; a road that condemns terrorism
and promotes understanding of the other; the road of peace. The Palestinian
leadership should do the same. They can start by dropping their preconditions
and rejoining Israel in direct negotiations that deal with all final status
issues. They can take this road by ending incitement in their schools, mosques,
and media - and by naming their town squares after peacemakers, not suicide
bombers. They can take this road by finally acknowledging that the Jewish people
have a historic connection to the Land of Israel.
The Government of Israel is prepared to work hard to achieve lasting peace
with the Palestinians through direct negotiations. The People of Israel are
prepared to make painful compromises to reach this noble goal. Yet, as we wait
for them to return to the negotiating table, the Palestinians continue to take
unilateral steps that will not bring us one inch closer to peace.
The moment is critical. It is time for the leaders of the Middle East to make
the right choices. The people of our region have already sacrificed so much.
They deserve nothing less.
Thank you, Mr. President.