Sunday, October 25, 2009

Begin Recalled in the Remarks of Susan Rice in Jerusalem

At the end of her remarks addressed to the participants of the Israeli Presidential Conference 2009, Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and of U.S. Mission to the United Nations made in Jerusalem on October 21, 2009, Ms. Rice recalled Menachem Begin:

We need cooperation among great powers and constructive contributions from all powers. We need alliances that work and partners that shoulder their share of the common burden. We need to work together to isolate spoilers. We need to join together to counter states that defy their international responsibilities even as we ensure that they have off-ramps should they choose a more responsible course. We need stronger mechanisms for conflict prevention and conflict resolution. And finally, we need more durable vehicles to promote economic development, democracy, and good governance. We need strong institutions, not strong men, to help lay a lasting foundation for global stability and sustainable growth.

To say the least, this is an ambitious agenda. But surely the State of Israel is one country that believes that human beings can and must do great things together—a country that has seen its extraordinary democratic institutions rise with miraculous speed—a country that knows that the trampled fields of war can shelter seeds of peace—a country that believes t in Herzl’s words, if you will it, it is no dream.

These responsibilities do not rest with leaders alone. Ordinary citizens must do their vital part—and heed the call to service and sacrifice. No climate pact will make the difference if consumers do not change the cars they drive or the way they insulate their homes. No peace will truly last if leaders are not held accountable for faithful implementation of their obligations and if citizens lose heart in the promise of a brighter future. Shared security rests on public resolve, common understanding, and united will.

Some will always scoff. Some will choose not to choose. Some will prefer drift to action. But history is made by those on the playing field, not those sitting in the cheap seats.

Decades from now, students sitting in classrooms from Jerusalem to Jakarta will learn about the life of Shimon Peres—and everyone will have forgotten those who grumble today from the sidelines or who are too caught up in short-term political interests to stand up for the interests of generations to come.

Decades from now, people in Egypt, Jordan, and Israel will still praise Anwar al-Sadat, Menachem Begin, King Hussein, Yitzhak Rabin, and other Arab and Israeli leaders who knew that peace is always possible.

And decades from now, people will remember the leaders from this historic moment who took responsibility for our shared destiny and they will remember the citizens who refused to allow differences to define them.

We can be remembered as a generation that evaded the hard choices, that looked away, and that left its children less safe and less secure. Or we can come together to advance our interests, to stand up for our values, and to strengthen our common security by investing in our common humanity.

The stakes are high. The choice is urgent. But America believes that, together, we can and we must rise to history’s call.
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