- Posted January 16, 2014 by
Israel's Ariel Sharon in 2000: 'Presidents Come and Presidents Go'
Sharon, who died Jan. 11 after a stroke he suffered eight years ago left him in a comatose state, served as Israel's Prime Minister. He was 85.
For much of the last week, Israelis have been recalling -- and vigorously debating -- Sharon's legacy as a military leader and as both a builder and dismantler of Israeli settlements.
At the time he delivered these remarks, Sharon served as head of Israel's opposition Likud party. His warning, that he regards "the present situation as a very dangerous one," was uttered eight months before the outbreak of the second Palestinian Intifada.
In his remarks, Sharon asserts his Jewish pride and Israel's exclusive right to defend itself-- recurrent themes in his speeches to international audiences.
What may be particularly noteworthy today -- as U.S. efforts to broker a comprehensive accord between Israelis and Palestinians came under withering criticism, this week, from Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon -- is Sharon's own prescription for peace.
"As one who participated in all the wars of Israel, believe me, I understand the importance of peace, I believe, much better than many of the politicians that speak about peace," said Sharon. "But peace should be a secure peace. And peace should be a peace that will last, if one can use this term, forever.
"Presidents come and presidents go," added Sharon. "We have to conduct our behavior because everything depends upon us. Everything is still in our hands. It depends on us. Presidents come, presidents go. The State of Israel must survive and develop forever. "
(Audio of Sharon recorded by journalist Mordechai I. Twersky.)
"I would like to welcome you in Jerusalem, the Capital of the Jewish People for the last 3,000 years, and the Capital of Israel, as undivided town, forever.
I think I’ve said that to you many times. I talk to you as a Jew. I am first of all [I’m] a Jew. For me, to be a Jew is the most important thing to his fellow brothers, the Jews.
I would like to emphasize one thing: the Jewish People have one, tiny, small country. And that is the only place in the world where Jews have the right and the power to defend themselves.
That is our responsibility, and I think that we have to make every effort not to involve anybody else and not to share that responsibility with nobody else. Of course, we are very thankful for friendship with other countries, no doubt, the United States, but we can rely only upon ourselves. We have learned that in the past.
And I think that it’s your responsibility, not less than ours. Don’t expect even for one minute, that you, or the rest of the Jewish world, will be able to live and conduct the way of life Jews are enjoying all around the world now, if Israel will be weakened or God-forbid will disappear. It will be an entirely different thing.
I personally regard the present situation as a very dangerous one. I would say, on one hand, great hopes, the other hand, many, many great dangers. And all that depends upon us.
We would like to have, all of us, peace. This country cannot be divided between those that like peace and those that are against peace.
As one who participated in all the wars of Israel, believe me, I understand the importance of peace, I believe, much better than many of the politicians that speak about peace.
But peace should be a secure peace. And peace should be a peace that will last, if one can use this term, forever.
Presidents come and presidents go. We have to conduct our behavior because everything depends upon us. Everything is still in our hands. It depends on us. Presidents come, presidents go. The State of Israel must survive and develop forever."