Looking backward with pride, looking forward with optimism
By Ariel Sharon, Minister of Foreign Affairs and National Infrastructure,
Jerusalem Post, 14 May 1999
A tense election campaign is often strewn with harsh personal attacks. In
all the turmoil, the really important national issues get shoved to the
sidelines, or are ignored entirely.
Unfortunately, the Israeli Left – every minute, every hour, day after day –
persists in focusing on the negative, on our alleged failures, and is
infusing the atmosphere with doom and pessimism, regardless of the harm
done to the country as a result.
I am reminded of something from my childhood in Kfar Malal. I was working
out in the field with my father on an intensely hot day, as thirst plagued
us and thousands of flies and gnats buzzed around us, getting into our eyes
We, hoes in hand, continued to work. When my father, Shmuel, of
blessed memory, who was an agronomist, agricultural scientist and also an
outstanding farmer, saw I was getting tired, he would stop a minute, point
towards the ground we had covered and say “Look how much we have already
And with renewed strength, we would continue our work.
This has always been my way – to appreciate what we have already
accomplished and to look forward, optimistically. I am pleased that this is also
the way of the Likud and of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – not to sow
despair and confusion, but to infuse us with confidence in Israel’s future. This
is how our way differs from that of the Left.
So, what have we accomplished?
Zionism has emerged as one of history’s amazing revolutions. When we look
at other revolutions that have occurred in the past 100 years, we see that
it is the only one that has lasted.
Millions of Jews from 102 countries speaking 82 languages have come here,
and, with great effort, have forged themselves into one nation. Some 1,400
cities and towns have been built. Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish
people, is now Israel’s largest city.
Education networks, universities, scientific and research institutes,
hospitals and one of the world’s most advanced health systems are thriving.
Israel is at the cutting edge of industrial developments, particularly in
the world of hi-tech.
Israel’s agricultural development is so advanced that nations the world
over send their experts to learn from us. We have paved roads, built seaports
and airports. We have everything, from industry and science, to wonderful
music; our orchestras that perform abroad are perhaps Israel’s best
We have developed one of the world’s best armies. We have established a
democratic regime of which we can be proud. And all this was done with one
hand – since the other hand had to hold the sword. We did not ask for war,
but the Arabs have been battling us for more than 120 years.
If we have managed to achieve all this, then it is clear that if we only
will it, we can make all our hopes and dreams come true.
In this great web of accomplishment we must note the last three years under
Netanyahu’s leadership; during these years some revolutionary things have
On the security front, there has been a sharp decrease in incidents of
Palestinian terror. The Palestinians understood that, in contrast to the
leftist, concessionist government that preceded it, Netanyahu’s government
would not make any concessions unless they fought terror, and reacted
swiftly to attacks on Israelis.
We must remember that Israel is not an easy place to live, but it is the
only place in the world where Jews have the right and the might to defend
themselves, which is no small matter.
With regard to the peace process, the Netanyahu government set new
It was made clear that the Palestinians must also honor agreements. The
Oslo Accords signed by the leftist government are extremely dangerous, but we
are prepared to implement them. Proof is that the Wye Memorandum, an
outgrowth of Oslo, was signed by us.
But we insisted on reciprocity, which means that there will be no
additional withdrawals until the Palestinians fulfill all their parts of
the agreement, and they have not fully done so. Only a government that
stands tough, the way Netanyahu has, will be able to achieve peace with
And without security, peace has no value.
The Netanyahu government has worked to strengthen Israel’s position in
Jerusalem. The previous, leftist government had begun to undermine Israel’s
position in its capital, Jerusalem. We will not allow that to happen.
After years of a Bolshevik economy our government in the past three years
has brought about a real change to a free and open economy, something that
can be directly attributed to Netanyahu.
True, there are difficulties; there is unemployment resulting from
efficiency measures, and from the transition from labor-intensive
industries, like textiles, to hi-tech industries, like electronics and
software. It took much courage to make the necessary decisions and
Netanyahu made them.
Our government’s policy is, naturally, to maintain good relations and
cooperation with the United States – but at the same time to develop close
ties with Russia. We take these ties very seriously, and we will maintain
them. In our eyes, Russia is a world power; it is having its problems, but
it will overcome them.
We have also strengthened and expanded Israel’s ties with many other
Thus, we can look backward with pride at our accomplishments, while looking
forward with optimism. This is our way.
There is still much to be done: absorbing immigrants, promoting unity among
Jews, maintaining Israel’s security, achieving a secure peace, and assuring
that Jerusalem remains Israel’s eternal capital.
We have worked towards these goals till now, and we will continue to do so in