Ambassador Prosor addressed the UN Security Council on "War, its lessons,
and the search for a permanent peace." In his speech, Israel's Ambassador
to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, said that war is preventable only if
the international community stands together to denounce indifference and defend
Read his full speech below:
Thank you, Mr. President.
I stand before you as a man who has seen
and experienced war - as a soldier, as a diplomat, and as the father of
children who themselves have been sent to war.
I speak to you today, drawing from these experiences and as the son of a
man who fled Nazi Germany to escape the annihilation of his people.
Two days ago, the United Nations
recognized its International Holocaust Day commemorating the six million Jews,
including one and a half million children, who were murdered by the Nazis.
The Holocaust may have reached its
barbaric climax in Auschwitz and Treblinka, but signs of the impending
catastrophe where evident years earlier.
Jews were systematically demonized - robbed of their dignity, then
robbed of their possessions, and finally, robbed of their lives.
In the last century, this pattern of
defamation, degradation, and bloodshed has been the hallmark of an impending
atrocity. Despite the pledges – even in
this chamber – of “Never Again,” we have seen the pattern repeat itself over
and over again.
War doesn’t begin with the firing of
weapons or the deployment of troops. War begins when the seeds of hatred and
intolerance are sown in the hearts of ordinary men and women.
This April will mark 20 years since the
Rwandan genocide – a genocide characterized not only by unspeakable brutality,
but by the fact that it was entirely preventable. In the months leading up to the genocide,
General Roméo Dallaire, commander of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Rwanda,
warned that Hutu extremists were planning a campaign to exterminate Tutsis.
He knew what was coming because the
warning signs were evident. The radio waves filled with ugly messages
demonizing and dehumanizing the Tutsis.
Vulnerable members of society became targets – children were conscripted
and women were assaulted. And a list was
drawn up detailing the names of people to be killed. General Dallaire tried to warn the world, but
his warnings fell on deaf ears.
As photos and stories of the genocide
emerged, the world was haunted by the atrocities it failed to prevent and once
more pledged “Never Again.” Just a few
years later, it ignored the lessons of history and the cycle of defamation,
degradation, and bloodshed was repeated in Darfur.
From Cambodia to Bosnia to Somalia, the
international community has failed and failed again to prevent the killing of
innocent people. Each of us has a role
to play in the struggle for human rights and human dignity. We cannot tolerate governments brutalizing
their people. We cannot rest while
barrel bombs are falling on Syrian citizens, executions are on the rise in
Iran, and sexual violence is rampant in the Central African Republic.
We must break down the wall
of silence. We must overcome
indifference. We must know what we stand for and then stand up for what we
believe in - never indulge racism; never ignore
incitement; never be silent when confronted with the warning signs or war.
In schools, mosques and media across the
Middle East, people are being taught to hate, vilify and dehumanize Israelis
As we speak, a generation of Palestinian
children is being taught that murder is moral, racism is righteous and terror
is tolerable. The Palestinian Authority's media quotes Hitler, describes Jews
as less than human, and displays maps that erase Israel’s existence.
Today, we are witnessing state-sanctioned
incitement in Iran where Ayatollah Khamenei corrupts the English language by
describing Israel as a "cancerous tumor" and demanding our eradication
“from the face of the earth."
This is a regime that has stood in this
very institution and threatened Israel with annihilation. For all those who say “that was in the past,”
– I answer that just two months ago, tens of thousands of people took to the
streets of Tehran and chanted, “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”
Even in Egypt, after 35 years of peace,
the government has failed to educate against incitement. In 1979 President Sadat
stood courageously in the Knesset to forge an historic peace agreement between
our two nations. But today, from the corners of Cairo to the archways of
Alexandria hatred is systemic: Official Media outlets advertise anti-Semitism;
Movie theatres frame Israel as the "enemy;" and Maps eliminate Israel.
It is not enough to have peace between
governments. We need genuine reconciliation between people. It is the
Government's responsibility to educate their citizens towards tolerance,
justice and mutual respect.
It is not enough to claim that war is
intolerable. It is not enough to pledge
“Never Again.” We must heed the warning
signs and take action – beginning by uprooting incitement and hatred.
The horrors of history are too often met
with silence. Many members of this
institution called the United Nations have failed to speak out in a united
fashion and collectively condemn those who call for the annihilation of other
From this chamber I want to warn the
world – do not close your eyes to the atrocities around you; do not turn away
from the animosity that ensues. It is
your responsibility to speak out against hatred clearly and unequivocally.
Equip the next generation with words and
not weapons. Arm them with ideas and not
radical ideologies. Teach them tolerance
and not terrorism.
War is not inevitable. It is not a force
of nature nor is it part of human nature. It can be prevented. But only if we
stand together to denounce indifference and defend peace.
Thank you, Mr. President.