Moshe Arens’ Keynote Address at CIJR’s 23rd Annual Gala



Sabrina Mezzacappa


On June 15, 2011 Moshe Arens, Israel’s former defense and foreign affairs minister, and ambassador to the U.S., gave the Keynote Address at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research’s 23rd annual Gala Anniversary celebration. In his remarks, Arens placed specific emphasis on the necessity of support for Israel, expressing gratitude for CIJR’s untiring efforts to convey an unbiased view of the democratic Jewish state to the public. His speech touched on topics resonating with his audience, including the warm relationship between Canada and Israel, Israel’s continuing battle for independence, and the need for effective responses to terrorism.


Noting an earlier, cooler Israel-Canada relationship, Arens looked ahead to a closer association with the Canadian government, praising the recent statement by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper taking exception to President Barack Obama’s suggestion that Israel accept the pre-1967 Six Days War “borders” (really untenable armistice lines) as part of reviving the peace process. Harper’s support on this issue, Arens explained, “is a great thing for Israel”.


Once again stressing the importance of support, Arens noted that the Sate of Israel did not come into existence through a United Nations resolution, but through the coming together of several thousand men and women who fought in a successful War of Independence against Arab aggression. Although it ended in victory, had more people come to support the new state, the war might have been more decisive, and Israel’s final armistice borders more secure. 


In the decades following 1948, Israel had had to deter repeated attacks by its enemies. But its continued victories demonstrated to the Arab world that there was no chance of a military victory over the Israel Defense Forces.


Yet today Israel has to face a new form of attack, a weapon not directed at the Israeli Army but at civilians—terrorism. The indiscriminate use of violence against civilians has introduced a new form of fear directed at the very structure of society. When people are afraid to go to school, or ride the bus, or visit friends, the solidarity which holds society together is threatened.  When civilians’ sense of communal safety is threatened, the state must act. And under such circumstances, negotiation with the enemy is not an option. Terrorism can be dealt with successfully only by force.


It is time, Arens concluded, for the Jewish people to stand together to fight the many threats Israel continues to face, whether on the battlefield, through terrorism, or by political and ideological attack. Such strong support for democratic, Jewish Israel remains fundamental, and necessary.


(Sabrina Mezzacappa is a CIJR Baruch & Sonia Cohen Israel Research Intern)