Delivered to the Security Council by Ambassador Ron Prosor on 21 August 2014
I speak to you today as a man who has seen and experienced war – both on the battlefield and on the diplomatic field. My experiences have taught me that war does not begin when the first shot is fired. War begins when hatred and intolerance go unopposed.
This idea was expressed by Martin Niemöller, a German pastor who bravely spoke out against the Nazis. He wrote:
“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”
When we see the forces of tyranny grow stronger, we must have the courage to take action. We must abide by our commitment to speak out and fight until freedom triumphs over oppression.
When my father fled Berlin in 1936, the writing was already on the wall. Boycotts against Jewish-owned businesses were common; graffiti was being scrawled on synagogues; Jews were called untermenschen - sub-humans - and being beaten and harassed on the streets.
Seventy years after the Holocaust, Jewish communities from Cuba to Casablanca are being threatened and on the streets of Europe, cries of “Death to the Jews” can once again be heard.
And yet the world seems to have learned nothing.
When synagogues and Jewish-owned shops are burnt and looted - is it enough to claim that anti-Semitism is wrong?
When mobs beat Jews as they walk the streets - is it enough to only express disgust?
When heads of state and ambassadors in this institution compare Israel to Hitler and the Nazis - is it enough to issue a condemnation? Did you even make the effort to issue a condemnation?
This institution was born from the ashes of World War Two to confront tyranny, but it is failing. Radical extremism has touched every part of the world from Buenos Aires to Burgas and from Bangkok to Burkina Faso.
Oppression and extremism are not bound by borders. Nowhere is this threat more obvious than in the Middle East.
In 2004, there were 21 Islamic terrorist groups spread out in 18 countries. Today, there are 41 Islamic terrorist groups operating in 24 countries. These groups have crippled communities and brought entire nations to their knees.
And still the international community remains largely silent. It is silent as Hezbollah amasses and smuggles thousands of weapons, as al-Qaeda abuses and persecutes women, as ISIS slaughters Christian and Yazidi communities, and as Hamas intentionally places Gaza’s men, women, and children in harm’s way.
Hamas - like ISIS and Boko Haram and Al-Qaeda – share a disdain for democracies, a contempt for modernity and a determination to destroy our way of life.
In Gaza, Hamas sees no problem with abusing international humanitarian centers and religious institutions for terrorist purposes. It stores weapons in UN facilities, transports terrorists in ambulances and fires rockets indiscriminately from mosques, schools and hospitals deep into the heart of civilian centers.
Few nations have the courage to admit that Hamas is committing a double war crime – targeting Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians.
Every nation must ask itself whether it wishes to see a Middle East that is free, open, and tolerant or whether it wishes to see a Middle East in which a violent and radical minority suppresses the rights, beliefs and aspirations of millions of people.
This is not a problem that is hundreds of miles and decades away. Radical extremism affects us all - right here and right now. Make no mistake: We are locked in a battle for our shared security.
From this Chamber I issue a warning to the world – do not close your eyes to the threats around you.
War is not inevitable - it is not a force of nature nor is it a part of human nature. It can and must be avoided. We all want to live in peace and see our children grown up in peace, but in the face of the threats that we are seeing every day, we cannot stand idle.
To prevent the next war, we must go to war against radical ideology.
We must declare a war on incitement, a war on bigotry, and a war on hypocrisy. Armed with our commitment to freedom, tolerance, and peace, I have no doubt that - working together - we will emerge victorious.
This is a battle that we can win and we must win.
Thank you, Mr. President.