H.E MR. SHIMON PERES
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS STATE OF ISRAEL
AT THE GENERAL DEBATE
OF THE 56th GENERAL ASSEMBLY
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
15 NOVEMBER 2001
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
His Excellency the President of the General Assembly
Mr. Secretary General, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate,
His Excellency Mr. Kofi Anan
My Colleagues, Foreign Ministers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
There is hidden light and needed hope in this gathering to overturn the darkness that has descended upon us. There is enough strength and resolve in the midst of civilized nations to deflect evil.
Humanity woke up happy to welcome the twenty-first century. We turned and looked around and there was brightness and freshness in the air. We had eliminated the traditional history that was written with red ink -- wars, and skirmishes, and conflicts -- many of them arising because human existence was dependent upon land and natural resources. Each of us had to protect our own land.
Science emerged to supersede land, opening new horizons of limitless opportunities.
Borders became marginal, old prejudices and distances began to disappear from our mind. Technology created a new interdependence. No longer were our connections dependent upon land or sea, namely, upon their distances.
Air became the new means of communication for nations, peoples, businesses, and development. High technology introduced both new promises and recalled old values.
The promise was that every person, no matter his location, his race, his religion, or his sex, can reach new heights. And then we learned that high technology is not just a technical matter because we cannot separate technology from values.
You cannot combine lies with science. You cannot lie scientifically. Science requires an open society, it demands constant dialogue.
And if you want to have a science-based economy, you have to pursue peace uncompromisingly and openness uninterruptedly.
You cannot have new innovations without free research. You cannot have free research without being a free society.
You cannot develop a scientific economy without making education available and accessible to all people.
You cannot attract investments unless you have transparency.
You can only keep young scientists in a competitive world if your land and water is without pollution, your financial system free from corruption, your government without arbitrariness.
Truth and freedom became a condition for science and high technology and, consequently, for the advancement of humanity.
It is true that this has not stopped the world from being divided between haves and have-nots. But, for the have-nots, there is the new option of becoming connected to the new age and the more developed part of the world.
This was a new beginning, but like many beginnings, it is mixed with promise and revolt.
The promise was not dependent upon the guns of war, and the revolt was not expressed by the terror of knives.
And again, we felt like one promised world, like one assembly. The economy stopped being national and became global - open to every nation.
And since we could not form a global government, the national governments agreed that the economy would be managed by private enterprises. In other words, privatization.
Globalization decreased the importance of nations and increased the importance of worldwide connections. And as those connections permeated the farthest reaches of our planet, the path of progress appeared clear and limitless.
And then, came the cloudy side of globalization.
The horrific events of September 11, and the savage attack on innocent American people, signaled a new phase in world history.
On September 11th, we learned that the very same technology, openness, frontier-less, connected world, can also spread viciousness.
This attack was brutal because it was directed at everything we have worked for, against everything nations, and the United Nations, has toiled for.
The emerging terror, like the economy, is no longer national. It is borderless and it contains a limitless, awesome potential. It can begin with knives, and it may wind up with germs.
Terror doesn't have a marked land, or a merciful lord in heaven, or a court, or an elected government. Neither does it need the approval of the many. It is built on the fanaticism of a small group of murderers, without the checks and balances of an accountable society.
It may arrive unexpectedly, uninvited, frightening every corner of the globe, paralyzing work and home, grounding flights, impeding movement, disrupting commerce and production. Eventually, it can endanger the freshness of the air, the purity of the waters.
As the global economy came as a surprise, so did global terrorism arrive without prior warning.
But whereas a solution was found to handle the global economy -- through privatization -- there is no private answer to meet global terrorism.
Many nations have armies, without having necessary enemies. Yet global dangers are left, for the time being, without global answers.
The United States played the pivotal role in introducing the new economy. Now again, it falls upon the United States, as the first target of global terrorism, to offer a strategy, to take the lead, and again bring freedom and security to the many.
We pay tribute to the United States, a nation that had the capacity to welcome new modes of creativity, planning, producing, and innovating, at home and abroad. And while becoming mighty, it never stopped caring for the rest of the world.
The United States has helped nations in Europe and Asia and elsewhere regain freedom and security in times of danger. American boys fought, and many of them lost their lives, in European wars and Asian wars.
They won wars, they gained land, but they didn't keep those assets for themselves. They returned to Japan an improved Japan. They returned to Germany an improved Germany.
The Marshall Plan rebuilt Europe. Needy countries were offered food and assistance, industries were restored, economies were rehabilitated. There was generosity in victory. Indeed, America has emerged as the "indispensable nation."
Now, America has become a target for reasons, which are not necessarily her own.
Terrorism was directed at America to frustrate her democracy, to weaken her respect for human rights, to reduce her enterprise and threaten her individualism.
This was an assault on liberty on freedom, on the very existence of humanity.
The Bin Laden group is afraid of progress. They are proponents of backwardness.
They represent the darkest ages in the annals of human history. They are self-appointed killers of any person who thinks differently.
They are not just evil. They are agents of death.
America is not just a new world. It is a great constitution, the shining city on the hill. It is not just a concrete structure; it is a solid idea. You can attack America, hurt and injure America, but America is indestructible.
America's war on terrorism is the war of all of us. By "us", I mean every country in this Assembly and every human being on this planet.
Bin Laden claims that he fights the crusaders. He is a living in a world that no longer exists.
Bin Laden claims that he wants to help the Palestinians in their conflict, but he is an obstacle to a resolution, not an aid. Israel made peace with Egypt and returned all the land and water without Bin Laden. We did likewise with the Jordanians. Not because of terror, but because of the end of terror.
We offered the Palestinians practically all the land at Camp David in July of 2000 without Bin Laden. And even if there remained a difference of one or two percent, this does not justify the killing of thousands of men and women in America. Political differences don't justify murdering children.
Bin Laden and his abhorrent ideas will never contribute to peace. They offer no solution, nor hope for any nation, religion, or individual. They spread hatred, disseminate fear and plant mines. They are just a catastrophe.
The new world economy enabled two of the most populous countries -- China and India -- to move forward and offer new life and opportunity to hundreds of millions of people. It has changed the face of Europe. It has reversed the fortunes of Latin America. It has extended an open invitation to every country to acquire computers, widen its education, open its gates without giving up old values and join a new age.
It called for an assembly of responsible nations to build a dam against terror, knowing perfectly well that the fight against terror cannot be postponed, cannot be forgiven, and cannot be compromised. It is a matter of life and death for humanity in a new chapter of its existence.
Either all of us, nations and individuals, will introduce safety and freedom or we shall become targets of death and darkness.
Every country must choose its place in the new globe, either in the realm of science and technology, or in the wastebasket of the old land economy, dependent on the whims of nature and condemned to poverty and hopelessness.
It is the responsibility of the affluent nations to share the wealth of knowledge so that others will join. They should become a locomotive for the deprived and the luxury liner for the privileged.
I pray that, like in the early days of Genesis, we shall know how to distinguish between good and evil, between the old past and the new tomorrow.
Our region gave birth to the greatest prophets, their moral dictums setting the moral fabric of our society. They have guided us to trust and follow reason and realism.
But we were forced to follow funerals more than reason. It has exacted a heavy price, from Jews, Muslims and Christians and Druze. It is time that we rediscovered the Ten Commandments.
Right now it looks like we are again sinking into the past. The emotional conflict is greater than the territorial gap. And it's more difficult to muster the strength and summon the spirit than to divide the land.
In spite of these difficulties, I dare say there is a hidden opportunity in the vast divide. I feel strongly that while we cannot recover lost time, we can introduce a new vista in the Middle East.
Our neighbors - Palestinians and Arabs - know that Israel is committed to contribute whatever she can to renew a real peace process. Not by force, not by imposition, not by unilateral action, but through a negotiated agreement.
Peace is not an escape from disputes, but a voluntary consent between disputing parties.
There is no peace but an agreed peace. Just as you cannot applaud with one hand, you cannot have a one-handed peace.
Problems have a date of birth. Solutions, therefore, must reach their maturity.
Yesterday, you would hardly find, for example, support for a Palestinian state. Today, there is broad agreement that the creation of an independent Palestinian state -- non-military and economically viable -- is the best bet.
A Palestinian state - which enables the Palestinians to breathe freedom, to initiate a new economy, to maintain their traditions, and enjoy the highest level of education - will also provide for real security.
As far as Israel is concerned, we are convinced that good neighbors are better than good guns.
In modern times, you cannot have real security dependent only on fences, walls, fortifications or trenches. Not even on tanks and guns and missiles. All these measures have already become anti-measures, making them incomplete and temporary.
The only strategy that cannot be ignored is neighborly relations, like the common market in Europe, the Rio Group in Latin America, NAFTA in North America, ASEAN in Asia, and the New Partnership for African Development in Africa.
All these frameworks have shown that the answer to old historical, military and political conflicts resides in the economic domain.
What endangers the new solution is terror. Terror realigns the world. There is no longer a division between east and west, or north and south, but between the union to stop terror and those who refuse to recognize its menace. The assembly against terror comprises most of humanity - the United States, Europe, China, Russia, India, South America, and some Moslem countries.
Every democracy must have a non-democratic institution to defend itself. Armies are non-democratic, but without them, democracy would not prevail. You may have many views in a democratic country, but only one authority that controls the military.
Armies are subordinate to the elected political echelon. But if you have one political authority and several armed partners, you can have neither democracy nor security.
The Palestinian Authority, which is a state in the making, must establish one authority over all arms, all armies, and all use of arms. Not for the sake of Israel, but for the sake of peace and their own destiny, so that bullets will not negate ballots.
As long as terror persists, Israel has no choice but to defend its people. The word "terror" doesn't describe an abstract dilemma for us. It refers to a reality of between thirty to forty violent incidents every day - shooting, bombing, ambushing, and killing. It is perpetrated by suicide bombers that have no respect for life, their own and others. The only place they can be intercepted is at the point from which they depart.
Israel is, by definition, an experienced member of the anti-terror camp. We know that terror can never win if people protect and preserve their fundamental security.
Terror is strong as long as anti-terror is weak. And terror is frightening as long as people are afraid of it. Terror represents cowardliness and does not serve a real purpose. Terror follows neither justice nor serves goals. It is not a remedy, it is a malady.
We are at a juncture. The world is pursuing new opportunities and frontiers.
No longer will it be a world divided between developed and underdeveloped
nations, or between black and white, men and women. It will become a world
every person will have access to knowledge and opportunity to participate in a new genesis.
States became weaker economically and strategically because economy and strategy have themselves become global. Yet we don't have organized world institutions to secure the globe and distribute wealth more justly.
Two courses are open to every State - either join the new economy or submit to the terror. The creation of wealth or the threat of terror.
Each must make its own choice between the promise of economy or the protest of terror.
The Global Compact, initiated by the Secretary-General, offers us a roadmap to the former. It defines the functions and contributions of the United Nations and imposes responsibilities on all of us - nation states, the private sector, and civil society.
It provides us with hope that even as crises exist, obscuring the opportunities awaiting in the corner of our eyes, the path to progress is clear to all with the courage to embrace it.
We woke up to the twenty-first century with such optimism.
We must overcome the dangers so that our children will be raised in a world of almost limitless opportunities.
It can be done.
We can make a promised land into a land of promise.