Rehavam Ze'evi (“Gandhi”)
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your important and moving words. I believe they reflect the feelings of a great many Israeli citizens.
When Israel is pressured to make concessions regarding its security, it is easiest to give in. We receive applause and attend ceremonies on lawns, but later the rockets and tunnels come.
As Prime Minister, I stand firm with regard to Israel's security. I care about the lives of each and every citizen and each and every soldier.
I have been on battlefields many times. I risked my life for this country, and I am not prepared to make concessions that will endanger it. And it must be understood, our supreme interests, first and foremost security and the unity of Jerusalem, are not the top priority of those same anonymous sources that attack us and me personally.
I am being attacked only because I am protecting the State of Israel. If I did not protect the State of Israel, if I did not stand up decisively for our national and security interests, they would not attack me. And despite the attacks I face, I will continue to protect our country; I will continue to protect the citizens of Israel.
I would also like to add that I respect and appreciate our deep connection with the United States. Since the establishment of the country, we have had disagreements with the US and we will have disagreements in the future as well. However, they are not at the expense of the close relationship between our peoples and our countries. We have seen time and again, this year as well, that support for the State of Israel is ever increasing among the American public, and this support reached an all-time high. The strategic alliance and the moral covenant between our countries continues and will continue.
Dear Ze'evi family, my colleagues, Members of Knesset,
It is the way of the world that after a person's death, as the years pass the lines of their personality fade from our memories and their presence dims in public opinion and public consciousness. This did not happen in the case of Gandhi, Rehavam Ze'evi. In the 13 years that have passed since his horrendous murder here in the heart of Jerusalem, the special figure he represented has become sharper.
Gandhi was a fighter and a man of letters.
He walked the length and breadth of the country. Nothing undermined his confidence in the justness of Zionism's path. He was consumed with a fire to complete his mission – to share his love for the Land of Israel, to contribute to the strength of the State of Israel and to ensure the well-being and security of the people of Israel.
Gandhi dedicated the best years of his life to defending the country and protecting its borders. He knew that the fight against our enemies was
- not only a security-military campaign, but also
- a fight to prove the rightness of our path and the justness of our historic rights to the Land of Israel and in the Land of Israel.
Even in the sixty-seventh year of our independence, we still have to deal with significant threats to the security of Israel in a changing Middle East, a Middle East in which radical Islam has raised it head and its proxies compete to see which of them can be the most extreme. It is enough to look at an updated map of Iraq and Syria to see the chaos that is raging there, instigated by the followers of the idea of a caliphate. The black flags are flying and the crimson blood is spilling like water.
In the face of the multitude of threats that surround us, we are determined to protect ourselves as necessary, first and foremost by defending our borders, and of course within our borders. Gandhi contributed significantly to this security doctrine. The more veteran members among us remember the years after the Six Day War. We remember the attacks that came from the Jordanian border, and we came to conclusions. Just recently we built a fence along a different border, our border with the Sinai Peninsula, a fence more than 200 kilometers long, a tremendous engineering wonder that helps us stop terror attacks from Sinai and the penetration of illegal infiltrators to the State of Israel. We are working diligently to strengthen our other borders similarly.
Gandhi was a pioneer in creating a security doctrine and implementing it. When he was Head of the Central Command, he led IDF soldiers in a joint engineering and operational campaign to prevent penetration from the Jordan River. He led IDF fighters in dozens of pursuits of terrorists who sought to break through our eastern defensive line. "In Israel, the commanders led the charge in pursuits; they adhered to their mission, charged forward, sometimes at the cost of their own lives." And indeed within a few years quiet was restored to the Jordan Valley, which was and remains the State of Israel's eastern security border.
As to the second challenge, Israel has long faced attacks on its right to exist. Some people deny the strong affinity of the people of Israel for its land, an affinity that was formed 4,000 years ago in the Land of Israel and 3,000 years ago with Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. Some people are not willing to recognize the right of our people to a nation-state of their own, who are not willing to recognize the right of the people of Israel to a nation-state for the Jewish people. This was and remains the root of the conflict.
There are also quite a few people who accuse IDF soldiers of war crimes, even when we defend ourselves – when we defend ourselves with the highest morality against rocket attacks and terror tunnels, against a blood-thirsty enemy that uses its own children as human shields and does not care that these victims pile up. Or perhaps the opposite is true – the enemy does care and wants more and more victims, and more victims from among its own people. When we defend ourselves against such an enemy, we still face unbelievable hypocrisy and disrespect and baseless accusations.
Quite a bit of this slanderous propaganda was discredited by Gandhi, using his knowledge and expertise which were matchless.
He knew very well that the light of Israel had never been extinguished in the Land of Israel, and even when we were exiled from our land we yearned to return of the land of our forefathers. Zionism led to an unbelievable change: It ingathered the exiles back to our homeland; it transformed us into a strong and independent people; and it transformed Israel into a flourishing and prosperous country.
"The IDF is the only army in history that conquered the Temple Mount and did not destroy or loot the houses of worship on it."This is a proven fact – only under Israeli sovereignty was the freedom of access to the holy places of all religions upheld. Only under Israeli sovereignty.
So at this session in memory of Minister Rehavam Ze'evi, we will honor his great contribution, a dual contribution: First, his contribution to Israel's security; and second, his contribution to deepening our national consciousness and proving our justness.
May Gandhi's memory be blessed.