Follow the link to read a transcript of the AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE, 102ND ANNUAL DINNER (Thursday May 1 2008) PRESENTATION OF DIPLOMATIC EXCELLENCE AWARD TO FORMER AUSTRALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ALEXANDER DOWNER
Very brief excerpt:
...The Australian and American Jewish communities have a lot in common. In both cases Jews have found in our countries the peace and tolerance which was denied them over the centuries in Europe and the Middle East: but they have not only found freedom and tolerance in Australia and America, they have contributed mightily to our two societies.
...In many ways, Australians and Americans are the most natural of allies. Our countries were settled by peoples fleeing persecution and discrimination and who sought the opportunity to achieve prosperity away from the class based elitism of the old world. We grew to love a life of individual freedom and to place equal value on every person.
We confronted and still confront three great adversaries over the last 100 years. We fought the bloody and heartless totalitarianism of fascism and we won. We fought the intolerance, cruelty and incompetence of communism and we won. And today we fight the fanaticism and ideological insanity of Islamic extremism - and we must win that fight as well....
...These people are haters and many of them are killers. ...
...Our great countries stand in their way.
This is a tough fight because we are confronting people who have no concern for human life. No act of barbarism is beyond these people.
To win we need to be clear eyed. This war is not popular with everyone, it's expensive and it's costing the lives of our young men and women.
But please, I implore you, contemplate the alternative: Victory for Al Qaeda in Sunni Iraq, the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Hamas in total control of both Gaza and the West Bank, a Hezbollah-dominated government in Lebanon and what then? ....
...And let's think about democratic, freedom-loving Israel. For those of us who live in Australia or America it is hard to conceive of life in a tiny country a fraction the size of our own, living cheek by jowl with people who want to destroy you....
....Hamas and Hezbollah believe in the destruction of the Israeli State. That is bad enough. But behind them lies the power, the finance and the weapons of Iran. When President Ahmadinejad says he wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, he means it. He believes there should be no Jewish State of Israel.
Demands that Israel negotiate with those who wish to destroy it are unreasonable and worse: those demands weaken Israel's diplomatic strength and help to undermine community support for Israel in Western countries.
Indeed I will go further: there has been a constant stream of criticism of Israel particularly from Europe and elements of the United Nations for each and every one of the defensive measures it takes. Building a security barrier is wrong, destroying terrorist bases is wrong, attacking terrorist leaders and planners is wrong, trying to stop missile attacks on villages in Northern and Southern Israel is wrong! It doesn't leave Israel with too many options!
These criticisms have been particularly vehement in much of the Western media. That has had an effect on public opinion which has become increasingly hostile to Israel.
But Israel is a democracy. No Israeli leader can turn his or her back on the struggle against those who wish to destroy Israel. The world needs to respect that.
We also need to send out again and again a simple and clear message to the international community that peace in the Middle East can never come until Israelis are allowed to sleep in peace.
That message needs to be transmitted not just in Europe and America. Asia needs to hear and understand that message as well.
...Ladies and Gentlemen, these are tough times.We have to prevail over Islamic extremism. Liberal democracy has, once more, to triumph. But it won't happen by wishing and hoping: it will only happen through courage and action.
....make no mistake, we stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Israel in its struggle to secure peace and freedom.