Most students have thoughts about emigrating to Israel. A significant number go on aliyah. We are proud of our Israel programs, which come at a considerable cost to the university.
We have built cities, developed industry and cultivated agriculture – we have transformed the State of Israel into an example and symbol for many other countries in the world.
Most Israelis have a sense, ‘We just don’t want to live in the Middle East anymore. We don’t want it to be the Middle East. Were going to just build a wall or operate unilaterally’ – not try to even use force as used to be the case to convince Arabs to accept Israel by convincing them that Israel is here to stay and then negotiating.
To our Palestinian neighbours, I assure you that we have a genuine intention to respect your right to live independently and in dignity. I have already said that Israel has no desire to continue to govern over you and control your fate.
When people today say ‘racism,’ they mean it’s a nationalism they don’t like. Racialism used to be a good thing, a looking-out for what was best for one group… Israel comes out of that 19th-century idea of nationalism. Many Arab states also have preferences. It’s fundamentally unfair to decide that one is racism and the others aren’t.
And Israel, being a tiny, small country, of course has interest to strengthen – we have interest to strengthen our relations with other countries, mostly countries that were hostile for many, many years.
Several countries – among them Austria, Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland, India, Israel and Sweden – ban or severely restrict the use of wild animals in circuses. In Brazil, a movement to ban wild animals from circuses started after hungry lions managed to grab and devour a small boy.
To the extent that Israel does face threats, like from say Hamas or Hezbollah, those are threats that do not jeopardise Israel’s existence.
A challenge to the right of Israel to exist can be construed as a challenge to the existence of the Jewish people only if one believes that Israel alone keeps the Jewish people alive or that all Jews invest their sense of perpetuity in the state of Israel in its current or traditional forms.
It is impossible to have a Jewish, democratic state and at the same time to control all of Eretz Israel. If we insist on fulfilling the dream in its entirety, we are liable to lose it all. Everything. That is where the extremist path takes us.