Prime Minister Olmert On Iran: I'll Do Everything in My Power That The Jewish People Will Never Again Be Exposed To The Threat of Annihilation


November 17, 2006

Prime Minister Olmert On Iran: I'll Do Everything in My Power That The Jewish People Will Never Again Be Exposed To The Threat of Annihilation

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert paid an historic visit to the Simon Wiesenthal Center and toured the Museum of Tolerance on November 15, 2006. The Prime Minister was accompanied by both Israel's new Ambassador to the United States, Sallai Meridor and UN Ambassador, Dan Gillerman, along with Chief of Staff, Yoran Turbowitz and Consul General to Los Angeles, Ehud Danoch.

In welcoming the Prime Minister, SWC Dean & Founder, Rabbi Marvin Hier (at podium next to PM Olmert) noted, "I  couldn't help but note that it was on this same date, in 1938, that Jewish children were barred from attending German schools, one of the many ominous signs of what was about to occur. If only there had only been a State of Israel where those children could have gone to then. But there wasn't. That is why today, Jews and friends of Israel all over the world walk taller, feel more secure, when they see the blue and white flag flying proudly amongst the community of nations."

In his remarks Prime Minister Olmert stated, in part: "I am excited honored and privileged that I have this opportunity to visit the Simon Wiesenthal Center as Prime Minister of the State of Israel. We started the day with another severe attack of Kassam rockets in Sderot and Ashqelon. This time they killed an elderly lady and they severely wounded at least two, and many were saved by miracles. I recall that I had a long talk with President Bush and Secretary Rice the other day in Washington about these attacks, and about the response that Israel has to make and about sometimes the unfortunate outcome of these responses by Israel and the reaction of the world. The President decided to cast a veto [at the  UN Security Council] to prevent any condemnation of the State of Israel because of the response in Beit Hanoun. And I remember talking to them [President Bush and Secretary of State Rice] and I said it's just a miracle, it could have happened the other way around and one of the Kassam rockets could have fallen on the heads of Israeli kids in Sderot or in Ashqelon -- with one big difference though. Had it fallen on their heads, trust me, there would have been no motion in the Security Council of the United Nations condemning those who did it. It's only when it's done from our side that it can be criticized and we know it.

This is the story of our lives; this is the story of the State of Israel... While we pulled out entirely from Gaza -- they still shoot at us, rockets on a daily basis. Now, where is the difference between them and us? When an event like the one happening in Beit Hanoun occurs, we don't need anyone to remind us of the moral dimension of such an event. We feel that we failed. We didn't want it. We didn't plan it. We had no desire to kill innocent civilians and when Mr. Gillerman, the distinguished Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations speaks in the Security Council and the General Assembly, he has no problems expressing the regret of the State of Israel for these unfortunate events. Because when we kill Palestinians, innocent civilians, it's always a tragedy for us. When they kill Israelis, they feel that they have accomplished their real purpose. This is the big difference.

It's sad because it tells us not just something about our surroundings, but about the larger dimensions  in the context of the world relations and maybe in a certain strange way this is why the establishment of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Tolerance, for Human Dignity is so significant, particularly in a city like Jerusalem. 

And that is what I was confident about from day one. I knew that what we really need in this part of the world is a concerted effort by a major organization that will  be dedicated to one thing: to educate for tolerance; to educate for human dignity, to educate for some kind of cooperation and understanding and compassion amongst all of us who are destined to share - good, bad, right, wrong, easy, difficult, it doesn't matter, we are destined to share the Middle East. And the Simon Wiesenthal Center can make a major  contribution to the creation of a new environment of cooperation and tolerance in a city which needs tolerance perhaps more than any other city in the world.

There's nothing that can stop the creation of the building and construction of this magnificent building and I am impatiently looking forward for the inauguration of the completion of this world-class project of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in the city of Jerusalem due largely to your [Larry Mizel, SWC Chairman, Board of Trustees] leadership, and of course needless to say, to the inspiration and push and endless energies of our Rabbi, Rabbi Marvin Hier...

Whenever I see my friend Frank Gehry I am very excited…I just want to say one thing publicly which I’ve said to you many times privately. I think you are the greatest architect of the world. I truly, genuinely believe that everything you have done in your life, all these fantastic buildings and extraordinary constructions in this city are only the preliminary preparation for the peak of your life – and the peak of your life is building in Jerusalem. Because I tell you what, your buildings will be remembered many years; they will be part of the archives and presentations of the most precious designs of the last century and of this century. But there’s one place that has memory longer and deeper than any other place on earth and therefore whatever you build there, will be remembered and left there forever, and we are very proud to have now as part of the city of Jerusalem...

These are not easy days for people with the kind of memories that you can collect from a place like this museum. For time and again we hear the voices that we  thought disappeared from the world -- talking about liquidation, talking about countries, particularly the State of Israel -- talking with hatred, with viciousness, with a total lack of any tolerance, as the President of Iran is doing these days. I think that the fact that a person like Ahmadinejad can speak out publicly and remain the leader of his country is only a reminder of how important the role of this Center  is, but at the same time, I think it indicates how significant is the responsibility that lies on the shoulders of people that have to take decisions and make sure that they use the power bestowed upon them by their peoples, in order to prevent from any such person, the circumstances in which he can accomplish his dreadful dreams.

I promise you that I'll do everything in my power in my capacity as the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, as someone who holds the responsibility for the existence of the Jewish people, that no matter what, the Jewish people will never be exposed again to the kinds of dangers and threats that they were  exposed to in the past.


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