Menahem Begin

November 20, 1977

Before Israeli Knesset

Mr. President of Egypt, ladies, and gentlemen, members of the Knesset. Our blessing is sent to the President and to all members of the Islamic faith, in our land and everywhere, on the occasion of this special holiday of the sacrifice.

This holiday reminds us of the sacrifice. This was the first test that the Lord, the Lord of the Lord, placed our father, our joint father, in his faith and Abraham passed this test.

From the point of view of the advancement of mankind, this was forbidden to sacrifice a human being. Our ancient tradition had taught this forbidden practice and to the nations around us, who were in the habit of sacrificing human beings to their gods, and so the nation of Israel and the nation of the Arabs contributed to the advancement of mankind and so do we continue to contribute to human culture until this day.

I bless the President of Egypt and his coming to our country and to his participation in this meeting of the Knesset.

The time of the flight between Cairo and Jerusalem is short. But the distance between them was, until yesterday, quite large.

President Sadat passed this great distance with courage, heartfelt courage. We, the Jews, know how to appreciate this courage of heart and to know how to assess it with our guests. For with a courageous heart we were created and with a courageous heart, we will live.

Mr. Chairman, this small nation, the remnants of the destruction of the Jewish nation that has returned to our historical homeland, always wanted peace.

And when we thought of our redemption, and independence arose, on the 15th of May, 1948, with the proclamation of independence and our state of independence, said Mr. Ben-Gurion:

“We stretch out a hand of peace to our neighbors and to all the nations that are our neighbors and to the English, and call upon them to cooperate in joint mutual cooperation with the independent Jewish nation in our land.

“A year before that, in the days of the underground, when we stood in the battle for the redemption of the country and of the nation, we showed our neighbors and made clear to them in this tone of language: In this land, we shall live together and we shall progress together. For lives of freedom and wealth, our Arab neighbors, don’t turn down this hand that is stretched to you in peace.”

But it is my obligation, Mr. Chairman, not only my privilege, to decide today and to declare today, according to the truth, our hand that was stretched out for peace was not accepted.

And one day after the arrival of our independence, according to our rights that cannot be denied or cannot be discussed, we were attacked on three fronts.

Understand, almost without reference, a few against the many, weak against the strong, that we stood in this test, one day after the proclamation of independence, to choke and destroy the birth and to call an end to the last hope of the Jewish nation in the century of destruction and of redemption.

No, we do not believe in might and we never based our relationship for the Arab nation on strength. The opposite, the strength worked against us.

In all the days of this generation, we did not stop in order to stand against the strength that was stretched out to destroy us and destroy our independence in order to destroy our rights.

We defended ourselves — correct. We fought and protected our rights, our honor, our women and children against a repeated test to bring against us the strength, not only on one front but two.

With the help of the Lord, we succeeded in overcoming the attacking forces and we guaranteed the independence of our nation not only for this generation but also for coming generations.

We do not believe in might. We believe in right –only in right. And, therefore, our hope from the depths of our heart, from then and always, and to this very day, it is for peace.

Mr. President. Mr. President of Egypt, in this democratic house, sit the commanders of all of the Jewish underground that fought, and they were required to fight against a worldwide power. And sit here, the electors of ours, despite the fact that forces were raised against them.

They belong to various parties, they have different viewpoints. But I am sure, Mr. President, that I will express the viewpoint of all of them, without any exceptions, that we have one hope belonging in our heart, one will in our spirit — in our soul.

And all of us are united in this one hope and longing to have peace– peace for our nation that has not known peace even one day from the time we started to come back to Zion.

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