Speeches from AISS School opening in Lahore, 2007 published online for the first time!
Dr. Kazmir Remarks Video
Speech by Mr. Shafiq Saddiqui
Hello Respected ladies & Gentleman
I always have a dream to do something for my birth land and to do such thing to make my birthplace the most successful nation in the world.
The Nation where each and every child is educated are the most successful nations in the world
Keeping this vision, I started this Mission to Open the American International School System in Pakistan
When I announced this project in USA, I have received so many offers from different countries to open such a school their, specially from our neighbor country, who offered me $1 piece of land to open school but I refused to do that and bought 2 Million dollar worth of land from my own, just to put my motherland on top of the world.
In my perspective, the only way to change the world is through education, education & education.
This institution is the gift from American Children to Pakistani Children, it’s not any body’s individual school, it’s our school, it’s the school of our children & it’s the school of this great nation of Pakistan.
Today also is the night that we are celebrating the national heroes of 2009. I am very honored to congratulate these heroes for their great commitments to this nation on behalf of American International School System.
We have among us the greatest hero of this time, whose heroic act didn’t just save so many human lives but also the image of this nation. He proved to the world that each and every Pakistanis are ready to fight the terrorism, even if we have to put our own life in danger. Salute to this hero, yes! I am talking about this Bus Driver who saved lives of our guest cricket team from Sri Lanka Mr.Meer.
We also have a successful doctor who left her successful and fruitful career from USA and came back to her birthday in order to serve her nation. She left everything behind just to be part of the success of this great nation. Thanks Dr. Amna Butter for your commitment to this nation and patriotism.
The Media always play a great role for the nation success and among us we have a fine young & true journalist a real hero, who unfolds the stories of human crises. His effort improved the health and education in Pakistan. His visionary mission for the betterment of health and education in Pakistan makes him the true fighter of the nation. He proved that still the power of pen is more than the gun. Thanks you Mr. MoM Ahmed for your great work.
Talking about young generation, we also have a great young leader among us, Mr. Hamza Shebaz. He is the voice of the youngster, the Future hope of educated Pakistan.
I Salute all of you, I hope everybody in the nation should follow your foot steps to make this nation the most successful in the world.
Thank you very much for your time. Let’s make this School the Best place for our Kids. American International School System
Speech by Dr. Munr Kazmir
I am taking this opportunity to welcome you our brand new Lahore Campus on behalf of the American International School System and to express the fact that this is a historic moment.
AISS embodies the American and Pakistani spirit at one of the most crucial times in the history of both our nations. I truly believe that education has the power to influence and shape future generations and consequently the world. We are now embarking on what will be a most challenging and rewarding experience. What we are doing has never been attempted in this region –a modern, state-of-the art facility designed to deliver a world-class education.
I welcome you and thank you in advance for your support of the children of Pakistan. AISS is committed to the global cause of building multi-national bridges across generations through education. Make no mistake: we have many challenges to face, but we will succeed because of the strength of our mission and the resolve of our teachers who understand that education is the great equalizer and liberator of all. We are building bridges between children, the children of America and the children of Pakistan. We are on a mission to close the gap and end the disparity between American children and those who are less fortunate educationally. Through this endeavor, we can bring a world-class system of education and build the true greatness of both our countries. We believe we can contribute to paving the way to a safer, more peaceful future for children all over the world, by bringing cultural understanding through education.
Without the support of the Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr. Chaudhry Pervez Elahi and the Ministry of Education we could not have accomplished our goal of building a world-class facility in 9 months. They are helping to make a difference. I commend them and the staff of AISS for accepting the challenge to serve the children of Pakistan and promise you boundless support and eternal friendship.
I must thank the Chief Minister Punjab and his unselfish help to the educational system. Initially, this high standard educational facility was supposed to be setup/established in New Delhi. After my trip to New Delhi I visited Pakistan and arrived at Lahore and discussed my trip to New Delhi and also my plans to setup a school there with the Chief Minister in a meeting. It was almost finalized but your Chief Minister convinced me and I decided to build this facility in Lahore, Pakistan. Buying the land here cost me more money than New Delhi but my love for Pakistan and convinced by Chief Minister and the government we overcame all hurdles. I worked very hard to build up this building and to provided every help that was needed to make this institution possible. This is a landmark between the two nations to built up a long-term relationship with the help of the children as it is believed that children can develop a long-term, healthy relationship. This idea was generated and strengthened by your Chief Minister. Your Chief Minister asked to setup a branch of AISS to help the Palestinian children, therefore, we decided to setup a school in Jordan to help the Palestinian refugee children.
We are partners with many prestigious universities and colleges in the United States. One of the most prestigious university in my country called the George Washington university established by the founder of my great nation is affiliated with AISS.
Mr. Chief Minister, I thank you for all your help and support to make this project possible. The construction for AISS provided economic opportunity to more than 300 people who worked real hard to complete this project in the record period of nine months. I must thank Mr. Mohammad Ali Naqvi, our VP Operations, for his sincere efforts and hard work, Miss Lisa Rizvi, our Director of Resources and Mr. Saleem Kiani, Director Admin who remained consistent. I also, thank Seema Development, USA. This is their first project outside USA. They did a great job by completing this project in record time. I extend my thanks to security guards, teachers, teachers aid, admin staff, housing keeping staff, gardeners, our architect and his team and everyone who is a part of AISS. Last but not the least, my good friend, Mr. Ahsan Baig who is our Honorary Chairman and has just returned after a successful bypass operation that happened in George Washington University. We wish him a speedy recovery. He’s here today with us.
I am pleased to thank Khateeb of Badshahi Mosque, Arch Bishop of Lahore and all the diplomats for gracing the occasion. I want to thank the ambassador Croquer and the Council General, Brain Hyeth and our current Ambassador, Annie Patrison. Their support cannot be ignored. I thank all the staff of the US Constellate.
Special thanks to my wife and children who have been with me through all the hardships. Unfortunately, there not here today as the children had to attend their school and college.
Thank you everybody for supporting us by your presence here on a Sunday morning. God bless you all and our two Nations.
Dr. Munr Kazmir, President and Chief Executive of AISS, Dr James F. Bonnell, Director of School, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. I am deeply honored to have been invited to the inauguration ceremony of the Lahore campus of American International School System. It is indeed a proud moment for me to be part of the project which will surely add great value to elementary education in Punjab. Ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Bonnell referred to Punjab’s vision of economic and social judgment, in his speech he spoke of the efforts of my government to improve the social environment by promoting education in the province. It is my belief that Punjab’s progress revolves around our human resource development in which the education sector must remain the center piece of public policy. May I add that in my vision, I see Punjab developing as a tolerant in a moderate society, this may appear to be a huge challenge given the current state of global politics, however, we must live in hope and continue to work for our ideas. I believe that education based on tolerance, moderation and the pursuit of excellence would be a major bonding block between the peoples of the world. To me AISS is one step forward in creating such human bonding. I am deeply touched at the gestures of the parents which choose to send their 3 year old child to the Lahore campus of AISS. Ladies and gentlemen it is this courage which will help the world in combating extremism and world to world the creation of a harmonious world. I am also happy to note that AISS plans to open its branches in four other countries, as it turns out, countries two of these are predominantly Muslim countries. It is a joined challenge of enlightened people to bring the diverse cultures and religions together so that the world of tomorrow becomes the world of peace; I therefore congratulate AISS on their missionary spirit. Dear guests, we are aware that creating public – private partnerships is an important milestone in my view of governance. We all know of times when government would keep the private sector at an arms length, to me this attitude was unacceptable given the potential of the private sector to partner with the government in progress and development. Ladies and gentlemen, I may add that our approach in this respect is holistic. We have created a partnership with the private sector in the development of industrial zones and the delivery of education and health services and the development of the services sector and in attracting foreign direct investment. The point is that there is no avenue in which my government is not willing to partner with the private sector. To fulfill our joint mission of development, therefore supporting AISS, was just a natural step for my government. As I stand in your midst today I pledge to continue my support to AISS in my official and personal capacity. Ladies and gentlemen allow me to appreciate the hard work put in by all of you to make AISS Lahore campus a reality in a very short period of time, my appreciation to the parents who had the vision to send their children to AISS. We can now look towards the teachers of AISS to educate and groom our children to face the future as natural leaders in their respective fields. May the Lord continue to shower his blessings on all of us; ladies and gentlemen I thank you.
Speech by Chairman of AISS
November 4, 2007
Thank you for this nice introduction, Dr. Affour. Your Excellency Ch. Pervez Elahi Chief Minister of Punjab, diplomats, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. I welcome you all to the inaugural ceremony of this unique institution in Pakistan.
Mr. Pervez Elahi you are a man of vision. I believe your initiatives will lead this country to have the best educational environment, economic development and further opportunities for foreign investment. My family, my community and my friends salute your efforts.
Of course this building would not be standing here without the great support of Punjab Government and the Chief Minister of Punjab, who encouraged us to build this campus in this beautiful part of the City, Hurbunspura.
I would like to thank Malik Muhammad Bakhsh EDOR and his colleagues, Members of the Board of Revenue, DCO and the SSP (operations) for assisting me in getting this piece of land on payment of market price. I will be failing in my duty if I don’t mention Mr. G. M. Sikander who helped me selflessly.
As you stand here today and look at this beautiful campus, on which the construction started nine months ago, I would like to remind you that all of this would not be possible without the hard work and commitment of our young staff. I appreciate all of their hard work. I especially would like to thank our V.P. Operations Ali Naqvi and his staff: Saleem Kiyani, Lisa Rizvi and Farah Batool. I also thank the Town Nazim for his support.
I admire the efforts of the staff of SIMA Development Corporation in the USA to build a state of the art campus in the heart of Punjab.
I appreciate the efforts and hard work of the faculty of this school. I ask you to applaud all of the people who made this project possible. (Claps) Thank you for what you do for this institution, which will make a difference in Pakistan.
My Special thanks go to Dr. Bonnell, Director of the school, Dr. Affour, Lead Teacher, and all the teachers who are from the USA and Pakistan.
Lastly, I would like to thank the parents of our students who have confidence in us and have given us the opportunity to prepare future leaders from this institution.
My dear friends it may only be a beautiful building to you. But for me, this is a new beginning between our two great nations. The children of our two nations will develop friendships that start from the age of 3 but will last for a lifetime. This is the foundation upon which this school is built: to create better understanding and mutual respect.
As an example, we have a 3-year old American child who left his grandparents, his brothers, and his home to study alongside the children of this great nation. Mark would you stand up please.
And we have a Pakistani- American mother who brought her son all the way from Virginia to Lahore to be a part of this institution. Afsheen please stand up.
These are our young Ambassadors to Pakistan. And that is the beginning Mr. Chief Minister under your leadership.
I am pleased to inform you that in 2008 and 2009 we intend to open four more branches of AISS. Our next school will be in JORDON, and will provide education to Palestinian children. We wilt also open schools in Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria. Mr. Chief Minister you can claim credit for this initiative.
However, the campus here in Pakistan will be our flagship and it will serve as an example for all other campuses. In this way, we will bring this educational vision to these nations.
I thank my wife, my children and especially my love for Pakistan, which will always encourage me to do more for this nation.
This institution belongs to everyone; the children, the parents, the staff, and the people of Pakistan.
Thank you all for joining me here and God-bless you and God-bless our two great nations.
Dinner Speech Dr. Munr Kazmir
I welcome you all this evening, joining me to celebrate ground breaking ceremony dinner of first branch of American International School System in the historical city, Lahore.
Lahore is my birth place and it’s my honor to participate in the ground breaking dinner ceremony of the School this afternoon. This is a direct foreign investment.
I am grateful for the tremendous support from the Chief Minister of Punjab Ch. Pervaiz Elahi and his passion for providing better educational opportunities and no child left behind.
His support in this project clearly shows that his vision is to promote education and welcome foreign investment.
My friend this is only beginning of educational investment from the US private sector in Pakistan.
I was also invited by Indian Prime Minster and his Minister of Education to establish similar school system in New Delhi and they offered allotment of land for the School against one dollar. Although this has cost me millions but I have selected Pakistan to open first branch in South Asia due to great policies of the President of Pakistan.
The road was very bumpy but journey is great because this is the future of children of our two nations to share the knowledge and ideas.
We plan to give 20 scholarships to the deserving children of the government employees and others.
The students will have opportunity to share experience with their age group in American Schools. Which will create a better understanding among the people of two countries.
I am sorry our Senior Director Miss Ansar and president John Allison will not be able to join us this evening but they are sending there best regards along with the board of directors of American School System.
My special thanks for G.M. Skindar Sb; without his help this project would have not been possible. My sincere thanks to Mr. Tar.,.Liqifsivaf,..1 Mr. Muhammaciljaz, Mr. Muhammad Buksh, Mr. Mushtaq Anjum, Mr. Mudassar, Rana Shaukat Ali , Mr. Khusi Nazir and all their staff who have worked so hard to take this start for the great institution.
Also my special thanks to Mr. Amir Zulfiqar and his staff.
My friends I will always remember all of you who did magic during this difficult time. Things move along for children of Lahore, you all have special place in my heart. History will remember you.
I thank my good friends Mr. Ahsan Baig and Ikram Baig who I know for last so many years and who have been convincing me to come to Pakistan and contribute in the development of Pakistan.
My special thanks to Muhammad Ali Naqvi who worked so hard and came to USA learnt about American School System to create better opportunity for the Pakistani youngsters. Ali you always amazed me. Thank you.
I thank you Mr. Khurshid Kighi who is working as administrator and provided a great suppott.
I think Miss Farah Batool will, continue to add value to this project with her knowledge.
I appreciate the support by Mr. Zeshan Architect for designing a beautiful building.
In the heart of the Punjab, an ancient Pakistan province that takes pride in a history of Mogul lords and ancient traditions, and whose culture defines what most Westerners know as “Pakistan,” only twelve percent of citizens have a favorable impression of the United States. The U.S. is viewed as an adversary of Islam, a belief often based on ideologies that have alienated youth not just from the West, but also from their own country and the citizens of Pakistan.
In the U.S., almost daily, cable news reports another bomb exploding in Peshawar — a drone attack along the Tribal Area border — or, a possible terrorist in Europe or the U.S., trained in a camp in Pakistan. Rarely do Americans hear of the struggles, frustrations, and fears of Pakistan’s youth. And equally rare is the opportunity for Pakistani citizens to learn about people in the U.S..
One man, a Pakistan-American, refuses to accept the status quo. “We must try to understand each other. It is essential to recognize our common interests and celebrate our separate traditions.” He has created a school in the capital of the Punjab that flies an American flag. The American International School System, AISS, a school filled with eager Pakistani students who are taught by young Pakistani and American teachers, learning about American freedom and democracy — expanding their vision of themselves in the world, and their commitment to Pakistan.
Historically, a primary role of education has been to transmit culture from one generation to another through a deliberate and planned process, passing forward the values, traditions, and knowledge necessary for the preservation of society. At AISS, teachers instill insights into both Pakistani and U.S. cultures. American values such as equality, individualism, and competitiveness are embedded in the curriculum, while preserving the traditional Pakistani values such as Burkhurdari (respect), Sabar (patience), Ilyhaaz (preserving others’ sentiments), and Ghairat (honor).
The challenge for faculty and families is to preserve these values and recognize the power of continuity in the preservation of society, while simultaneously inspiring youth to become agents of change.
But, Pakistan presents a dilemma — which Pakistan is to be preserved, and what should change? Pakistan has a multitude of political groups, and militant groups, each with its own agenda. Society is fragmented and many Pakistan youth in rural and urban areas are isolated, living a life of chaos, without sufficient skills to enter the workplace or the incentive to prosper, or to voice their concerns.
“Prosperity and freedom and peace are not just American hopes,” I said. “They are universal human hopes. And even in the violence and turmoil of Central Asia, we believe education provides opportunities and hope for the future, and the transformation of lives and nations.”
Founded in 2007, the American International School System is providing an American-based education to Muslim children. Through education, AISS hopes to help Pakistan become more prosperous, secure, democratic and better able to stand up against violence and extremism while transforming the American and Pakistani relationship, even if it’s only one student at a time.
Many of the country’s youth are isolated from others of their age, and have little contact with the larger world outside Pakistan. Such challenges require a long-term commitment to youth. If structural change in society is to transform Pakistan, and allow it to be at peace with its neighbors, it must emulate AISS, and begin by reaching out to the youth.
Fifty percent of the population is not yet twenty, and with more than two-thirds not yet 30 years old, they have few opportunities to engage in the community and fewer mentors to guide their development. Only 30 percent of the school children ever make it to high school. Only one-third can read a short story while half cannot even write a complete sentence. UNESCO tells us by 2015 that Pakistan will have the highest number of unemployed youth in the world, and by the year 2050, the world’s third highest population.
Within the challenge lies opportunity; Pakistan can redefine its future and the role of education in people’s lives. In order to do so, youth must be convinced of their own potential and that of each other, to not only survive but to adapt and learn. There is a growing awareness among provincial youth of the power of education, and, a growing momentum for change that lies with the elite young leaders of Pakistan.
I had said: “We’re taking our cause to the chalkboard… to foster a sense of critical thinking and confidence that’s required to develop leaders that consider multiple perspectives, value diversity and promote cultural understanding.”
Youth want to be educated, to have job skills and be competitive in the global marketplace. “We feel that through education we can get a lot done,” says the school’s principal Mark Rozic, who is originally from the state of Pennsylvania. “We’re demonstrating that the United States is a partner in their efforts to create positive changes in their country. And, we want to show that the American people are good people, hard working and that we are here to help in anyway that we can.”
The school’s target demographic is both the lower-income class and lower-middle income class. While it is a private tuition-based school, more than eighty-seven percent of students receive financial aid through the school’s foundation, The American International School System Foundation. Without this critical help, AISS could not reach and help the children in Pakistan expand their vision of themselves in the world.
“As Americans, we feel that we know the value of education, and sometimes we think it’s obvious to everyone else. But it’s not,” I stated. “We are doing our part not only to educate children at our school, but to educate as many as we can reach including parents, grand-parents and brothers and sisters, even if the only thing we are giving them is knowledge about the real value of education.”
The American Education model at AISS offers learning opportunities for both faculty and families that foster sustainable growth through out the AISS school system, while respecting and honoring cultures and traditions. The curriculum is structured just as it would be at a high-quality school in the United States. “We use an American curriculum and textbooks and teach in English,” said Principal Rozic. “We will give our kids a U.S. high school diploma, and enable them to go to colleges and universities around the world.”
“It’s our fervent belief that the work we are doing will strengthen ties between our two countries, not just today, but in the future,” I had said.
The American International School System was launched with just seven preschool and kindergarten students. Today there are two hundred students from preschool through eighth grade with enrollment expected to expand to a thousand students over the next five years. Education Specialist, Dr. Judith Findlay, collaborates with AISS to support the expansion of the AISS model of excellence in education. “This is an experiment in education, she states, that is unique in the Muslim World. AISS integrates community life into the life of each of its schools, and empowers students to become leaders and life-long learners. This is a worthy and obtainable goal.”
“Right now we are pre-school through eighth grade. Soon, we will be adding a high school,” said Rozic.
With a $10 million investment, AISS constructed one of the most modern state-of-the-art campuses in Pakistan. It is the first educational institution to be fully handicapped accessible. The expansive eleven-and-a-half acre campus provides resources for environmental science, agricultural research, sports, and a setting for study of the arts. The campus contains an amphitheater, swimming pool, cafeteria, a hi-tech auditorium, libraries, a main computer lab and computers in all classrooms.
In addition to regular classroom activities, the facilities are used for other advanced educational and civic activities sponsored by the school. These include on-going basic and advanced Professional Development for staff and teachers from the Pakistani school system as well as mentoring programs for children and adults. But, it’s what happens in the classroom that’s most important to the man who envisioned the American flag, flying each day in the heart of the Punjab.
“I want my students to believe that if they work hard enough, they can become anything and do anything,” I noted. “I want to challenge our students, ‘If your father is a gardener, then so what? You can still become an engineer, a doctor, a military officer or the leader of your country… That’s the American virtue we want to share. It’s a truly democratic way of thinking and it’s always at the forefront of our minds when we walk into school each morning.”
It was a great honor to listen to Prime Minister of the State of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, address the Joint Meeting of Congress yesterday. I have known the Prime Minister personally since 1996 and was seated near him in the visitor’s gallery of the 112th Congress. I would like to share with you his magnificent speech.
Full Text Of Speech By PM Netanyahu To A Joint Meeting Of The U.S. Congress
(Tuesday, May 24th, 2011)
I am deeply honored by your warm welcome. And I am deeply honored that you have given me the opportunity to address Congress a second time.
Mr. Vice President, do you remember the time we were the new kids in town?
And I do see a lot of old friends here. And I do see a lot of new friends of Israel here. Democrats and Republicans alike.
Israel has no better friend than America . And America has no better friend than Israel . We stand together to defend democracy. We stand together to advance peace. We stand together to fight terrorism. Congratulations America , Congratulations, Mr. President. You got bin Laden. Good riddance!
In an unstable Middle East , Israel is the one anchor of stability. In a region of shifting alliances, Israel is America ’s unwavering ally. Israel has always been pro-American. Israel will always be pro-American.
My friends, you don’t need to do nation building in Israel . We’re already built. You don’t need to export democracy to Israel . We’ve already got it. You don’t need to send American troops to defend Israel . We defend ourselves. You’ve been very generous in giving us tools to do the job of defending Israel on our own. Thank you all, and thank you President Obama, for your steadfast commitment to Israel ’s security. I know economic times are tough. I deeply appreciate this.
Support for Israel ’s security is a wise investment in our common future. For an epic battle is now unfolding in the Middle East , between tyranny and freedom. A great convulsion is shaking the earth from the Khyber Pass to the Straits of Gibraltar. The tremors have shattered states and toppled governments. And we can all see that the ground is still shifting. Now this historic moment holds the promise of a new dawn of freedom and opportunity. Millions of young people are determined to change their future. We all look at them. They muster courage. They risk their lives. They demand dignity. They desire liberty.
These extraordinary scenes in Tunis and Cairo , evoke those of Berlin and Prague in 1989. Yet as we share their hopes, but we also must also remember that those hopes could be snuffed out as they were in Tehran in 1979. You remember what happened then. The brief democratic spring in Iran was cut short by a ferocious and unforgiving tyranny. This same tyranny smothered Lebanon ’s democratic Cedar Revolution, and inflicted on that long-suffering country, the medieval rule of Hezbollah.
So today, the Middle East stands at a fateful crossroads. Like all of you, I pray that the peoples of the region choose the path less travelled, the path of liberty. No one knows what this path consists of better than you. This path is not paved by elections alone. It is paved when governments permit protests in town squares, when limits are placed on the powers of rulers, when judges are beholden to laws and not men, and when human rights cannot be crushed by tribal loyalties or mob rule.
Israel has always embraced this path, in the Middle East has long rejected it. In a region where women are stoned, gays are hanged, Christians are persecuted, Israel stands out. It is different.
As the great English writer George Eliot predicted over a century ago, that once established, the Jewish state will “shine like a bright star of freedom amid the despotisms of the East.” Well, she was right. We have a free press, independent courts, an open economy, rambunctious parliamentary debates. You think you guys are tough on one another in Congress? Come spend a day in the Knesset. Be my guest.
Courageous Arab protesters, are now struggling to secure these very same rights for their peoples, for their societies. We’re proud that over one million Arab citizens of Israel have been enjoying these rights for decades. Of the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, only Israel ’s Arab citizens enjoy real democratic rights. I want you to stop for a second and think about that. Of those 300 million Arabs, less than one-half of one-percent are truly free, and they’re all citizens of Israel!
This startling fact reveals a basic truth: Israel is not what is wrong about the Middle East . Israel is what is right about the Middle East.
Israel fully supports the desire of Arab peoples in our region to live freely. We long for the day when Israel will be one of many real democracies in the Middle East.
Fifteen years ago, I stood at this very podium, and said that democracy must start to take root in the Arab World. Well, it’s begun to take root. This beginning holds the promise of a brilliant future of peace and prosperity. For I believe that a Middle East that is genuinely democratic will be a Middle East truly at peace.
But while we hope and work for the best, we must also recognize that powerful forces oppose this future. They oppose modernity. They oppose democracy. They oppose peace.
Foremost among these forces is Iran . The tyranny in Tehran brutalizes its own people. It supports attacks against American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq . It subjugates Lebanon and Gaza . It sponsors terror worldwide.
When I last stood here, I spoke of the dire consequences of Iran developing nuclear weapons. Now time is running out, and the hinge of history may soon turn. For the greatest danger facing humanity could soon be upon us: A militant Islamic regime armed with nuclear weapons.
Militant Islam threatens the world. It threatens Islam. I have no doubt that it will ultimately be defeated. It will eventually succumb to the forces of freedom and progress. But like other fanaticisms that were doomed to fail, militant Islam could exact a horrific price from all of us before its inevitable demise.
A nuclear-armed Iran would ignite a nuclear arms race in the Middle East . It would give terrorists a nuclear umbrella. It would make the nightmare of nuclear terrorism a clear and present danger throughout the world. I want you to understand what this means. They could put the bomb anywhere. They could put it on a missile. It could be on a container ship in a port, or in a suitcase on a subway.
Now the threat to my country cannot be overstated. Those who dismiss it are sticking their heads in the sand. Less than seven decades after six million Jews were murdered, Iran ’s leaders deny the Holocaust of the Jewish people, while calling for the annihilation of the Jewish state.
Leaders who spew such venom, should be banned from every respectable forum on the planet. But there is something that makes the outrage even greater: The lack of outrage. In much of the international community, the calls for our destruction are met with utter silence. It is even worse because there are many who rush to condemn Israel for defending itself against Iran ’s terror proxies.
But not you. Not America . You have acted differently. You’ve condemned the Iranian regime for its genocidal aims. You’ve passed tough sanctions against Iran . History will salute you America.
President Obama has said that the United States is determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. He successfully led the Security Council to adopt sanctions against Iran . You in Congress passed even tougher sanctions. These words and deeds are vitally important.
Yet the Ayatollah regime briefly suspended its nuclear program only once, in 2003, when it feared the possibility of military action. That same year, Muammar Qadaffi gave up his nuclear weapons program, and for the same reason. The more Iran believes that all options are on the table, the less the chance of confrontation. This is why I ask you to continue to send an unequivocal message: That America will never permit Iran to develop nuclear weapons.
As for Israel , if history has taught the Jewish people anything, it is that we must take calls for our destruction seriously. We are a nation that rose from the ashes of the Holocaust. When we say never again, we mean never again. Israel always reserves the right to defend itself.
My friends, while Israel will be ever vigilant in its defense, we will never give up on our quest for peace. I guess we’ll give it up when we achieve it. Israel wants peace. Israel needs peace. We’ve achieved historic peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan that have held up for decades.
I remember what it was like before we had peace. I was nearly killed in a firefight inside the Suez Canal . I mean that literally. I battled terrorists along both banks of the Jordan River . Too many Israelis have lost loved ones. I know their grief. I lost my brother.
So no one in Israel wants a return to those terrible days. The peace with Egypt and Jordan has long served as an anchor of stability and peace in the heart of the Middle East.
This peace should be bolstered by economic and political support to all those who remain committed to peace.
The peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan are vital. But they’re not enough. We must also find a way to forge a lasting peace with the Palestinians. Two years ago, I publicly committed to a solution of two states for two peoples: A Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state.
I am willing to make painful compromises to achieve this historic peace. As the leader of Israel , it is my responsibility to lead my people to peace.
This is not easy for me. I recognize that in a genuine peace, we will be required to give up parts of the Jewish homeland. In Judea and Samaria , the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers. We are not the British in India . We are not the Belgians in the Congo.
This is the land of our forefathers, the Land of Israel , to which Abraham brought the idea of one God, where David set out to confront Goliath, and where Isaiah saw a vision of eternal peace. No distortion of history can deny the four thousand year old bond, between the Jewish people and the Jewish land.
But there is another truth: The Palestinians share this small land with us. We seek a peace in which they will be neither Israel ’s subjects nor its citizens. They should enjoy a national life of dignity as a free, viable and independent people in their own state. They should enjoy a prosperous economy, where their creativity and initiative can flourish.
We’ve already seen the beginnings of what is possible. In the last two years, the Palestinians have begun to build a better life for themselves. Prime Minister Fayad has led this effort. I wish him a speedy recovery from his recent operation.
We’ve helped the Palestinian economy by removing hundreds of barriers and roadblocks to the free flow of goods and people. The results have been nothing short of remarkable. The Palestinian economy is booming. It’s growing by more than 10% a year.
Palestinian cities look very different today than they did just a few years ago. They have shopping malls, movie theaters, restaurants, banks. They even have e-businesses. This is all happening without peace. Imagine what could happen with peace. Peace would herald a new day for both peoples. It would make the dream of a broader Arab-Israeli peace a realistic possibility.
So now here is the question. You have to ask it. If the benefits of peace with the Palestinians are so clear, why has peace eluded us? Because all six Israeli Prime Ministers since the signing of Oslo accords agreed to establish a Palestinian state. Myself included. So why has peace not been achieved? Because so far, the Palestinians have been unwilling to accept a Palestinian state, if it meant accepting a Jewish state alongside it.
You see, our conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state. It has always been about the existence of the Jewish state. This is what this conflict is about. In 1947, the United Nations voted to partition the land into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jews said yes. The Palestinians said no. In recent years, the Palestinians twice refused generous offers by Israeli Prime Ministers, to establish a Palestinian state on virtually all the territory won by Israel in the Six Day War.
They were simply unwilling to end the conflict. And I regret to say this: They continue to educate their children to hate. They continue to name public squares after terrorists. And worst of all, they continue to perpetuate the fantasy that Israel will one day be flooded by the descendants of Palestinian refugees.
My friends, this must come to an end. President Abbas must do what I have done. I stood before my people, and I told you it wasn’t easy for me, and I said… “I will accept a Palestinian state.” It is time for President Abbas to stand before his people and say… “I will accept a Jewish state.”
Those six words will change history. They will make clear to the Palestinians that this conflict must come to an end. That they are not building a state to continue the conflict with Israel , but to end it. They will convince the people of Israel that they have a true partner for peace. With such a partner, the people of Israel will be prepared to make a far reaching compromise. I will be prepared to make a far reaching compromise.
This compromise must reflect the dramatic demographic changes that have occurred since 1967. The vast majority of the 650,000 Israelis who live beyond the 1967 lines, reside in neighborhoods and suburbs of Jerusalem and Greater Tel Aviv.
These areas are densely populated but geographically quite small. Under any realistic peace agreement, these areas, as well as other places of critical strategic and national importance, will be incorporated into the final borders of Israel.
The status of the settlements will be decided only in negotiations. But we must also be honest. So I am saying today something that should be said publicly by anyone serious about peace. In any peace agreement that ends the conflict, some settlements will end up beyond Israel ’s borders. The precise delineation of those borders must be negotiated. We will be very generous on the size of a future Palestinian state. But as President Obama said, the border will be different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. Israel will not return to the indefensible lines of 1967.
We recognize that a Palestinian state must be big enough to be viable, independent and prosperous. President Obama rightly referred to Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, just as he referred to the future Palestinian state as the homeland of the Palestinian people. Jews from around the world have a right to immigrate to the Jewish state. Palestinians from around the world should have a right to immigrate, if they so choose, to a Palestinian state. This means that the Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside the borders of Israel.
As for Jerusalem , only a democratic Israel has protected freedom of worship for all faiths in the city. Jerusalem must never again be divided. Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel . I know that this is a difficult issue for Palestinians. But I believe with creativity and goodwill a solution can be found.
This is the peace I plan to forge with a Palestinian partner committed to peace. But you know very well, that in the Middle East , the only peace that will hold is a peace you can defend.
So peace must be anchored in security. In recent years, Israel withdrew from South Lebanon and Gaza . But we didn’t get peace. Instead, we got 12,000 thousand rockets fired from those areas on our cities, on our children, by Hezbollah and Hamas. The UN peacekeepers in Lebanon failed to prevent the smuggling of this weaponry. The European observers in Gaza evaporated overnight. So if Israel simply walked out of the territories, the flow of weapons into a future Palestinian state would be unchecked. Missiles fired from it could reach virtually every home in Israel in less than a minute. I want you to think about that too. Imagine that right now we all had less than 60 seconds to find shelter from an incoming rocket. Would you live that way? Would anyone live that way? Well, we aren’t going to live that way either.
The truth is that Israel needs unique security arrangements because of its unique size. Israel is one of the smallest countries in the world. Mr. Vice President, I’ll grant you this. It’s bigger than Delaware . It’s even bigger than Rhode Island . But that’s about it. Israel on the 1967 lines would be half the width of the Washington Beltway.
Now here’s a bit of nostalgia. I first came to Washington thirty years ago as a young diplomat. It took me a while, but I finally figured it out: There is an America beyond the Beltway. But Israel on the 1967 lines would be only nine miles wide. So much for strategic depth.
So it is therefore absolutely vital for Israel ’s security that a Palestinian state be fully demilitarized. And it is vital that Israel maintain a long-term military presence along the Jordan River . Solid security arrangements on the ground are necessary not only to protect the peace, they are necessary to protect Israel in case the peace unravels. For in our unstable region, no one can guarantee that our peace partners today will be there tomorrow.
And when I say tomorrow, I don’t mean some distant time in the future. I mean — tomorrow. Peace can be achieved only around the negotiating table. The Palestinian attempt to impose a settlement through the United Nations will not bring peace. It should be forcefully opposed by all those who want to see this conflict end.
I appreciate the President’s clear position on this issue. Peace cannot be imposed. It must be negotiated. But it can only be negotiated with partners committed to peace.
And Hamas is not a partner for peace. Hamas remains committed to Israel ’s destruction and to terrorism. They have a charter. That charter not only calls for the obliteration of Israel, but says ‘kill the Jews wherever you find them’. Hamas’ leader condemned the killing of Osama bin Laden and praised him as a holy warrior. Now again I want to make this clear. Israel is prepared to sit down today and negotiate peace with the Palestinian Authority. I believe we can fashion a brilliant future of peace for our children. But Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by the Palestinian version of Al Qaeda.
So I say to President Abbas: Tear up your pact with Hamas! Sit down and negotiate! Make peace with the Jewish state! And if you do, I promise you this. Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations. It will be the first to do so.
My friends, the momentous trials of the last century, and the unfolding events of this century, attest to the decisive role of the United States in advancing peace and defending freedom. Providence entrusted the United States to be the guardian of liberty. All peoples who cherish freedom owe a profound debt of gratitude to your great nation. Among the most grateful nations is my nation, the people of Israel , who have fought for their liberty and survival against impossible odds, in ancient and modern times alike.
I speak on behalf of the Jewish people and the Jewish state when I say to you, representatives of America , Thank you. Thank you for your unwavering support for Israel . Thank you for ensuring that the flame of freedom burns bright throughout the world. May God bless all of you. And may God forever bless the United States of America.
(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)