Remarks from the 5th Annual Rays of Light in the Darkness Dinner

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This years Rays of Light Dinner was an amazing success, the most successful event in EMET’s history.  We are going from strength to strength with the EMET about Israel’s proud struggle to survive!

This past winter, the Arab and Muslim worlds have been rocked by a confluence of events, by what some people have dubbed “The Arab Spring”, but which I prefer to refer to as “The Arab Hurricane”.

What began as a routine harassment by a government bureaucrat to a Tunisian vegetable vendor (and ended in his self-immolation), resulted in the fall of the governments in Tunis and in Egypt, and has stirred up a virtual tornado of protest stretching from Fez to Damascus.

This hurricane emanated from a deeply pent up human desire for freedom, for basic human rights and dignity.

Over these last five years, ever since EMET’s inception, we have celebrated and worked together with those courageous and rare people from the Muslim and Arab world who have risked everything—-from exclusion of family and friends–to their very lives- in order to tell the truth about the Muslim and Arab worlds from which they hail.

These are amazingly brave people such as Nonie Darwish, Wafa Sultan, Brigitte Gabriel, Ali Alyami, Mosab Hassan Yousef, Fahrid Ghadry,  Walid Phares, Amil Imani ,Zhudi Jasser, Zeyno Baran and Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Manda Ervin, whom you will be hearing tonight.

These are people who have penetrated through our superficial differences and have reached down into the core of what unites us and makes us all truly human. They, and our honorees tonight are our heroes in the struggle to preserve Western civilization from the threat of radical Islam. And tonight we are here to say thank you to each and every one of them.

But we are also here for another reason: As the Muslim and Arab worlds are being rocked by this tsunami of the desire for freedom; their struggle is being increasingly hijacked by an Islamist agenda.

And we have but one precious tiny, little country, Israel, who is the Eastern outpost of Western democratic values of pluralism, of tolerance, of freedom of religion, of a free and independent judiciary and a free and independent press that we here have to protect and to defend.

Because Israel is the Eastern outpost of Western democratic values, that is why it is resented and despised by the Islamists, and because of where Israel sits, exactly on the seam lines in the Clash of Civilizations, it is protecting every of us in the room here today.

The Facebook generation might have Initiated the struggle for human rights and freedoms in Egypt,  but the Islamists have wide and deep inroads into the mosques and a well established political infrastructure that has penetrated into the army and the political establishment.

Every Egyptian politician running for office scores political points by saying it is time to re-evaluate the Peace Treaty with Israel, leaving that long border that Israel shares with Egypt, or with Hamas- controlled- Gaza, vulnerable to the infiltration of weapons and vulnerable to the outbreak of new hostilities.

When the Shah of Iran was about to fall during the 1979 Iranian Revolution, folks here in Washington argued that we have to support the Shah and continue to send military aid and equipment to Iran because the army is the most Western o Institutions.. (Sound familiar?)Then, as soon as the Khomeini Revolution occurred, the very first thing that the Islamists did was declare war   United States and Israel by seizing the American Embassy and taking 50 US officials hostage…and people in the Department of Defense were scrambling to stop the shipments.

I am sure you are all familiar with George Santayna’s adage of those who do not study history are condemned to repeat its mistakes.

That is why EMET, unlike any other organization in Washington, has been on the Hill since the eruption of the Arab spring, arguing that it is way past time to stop the military aid shipments to Egypt.

On May 5, in Cairo, Abu Mazen of the Palestinian Authority and Khalid Mishal of Hamas of Hamas shook hands and formed a unity government. The PA has crossed a line in the sand, and the wolf that most of us in this room knew Fatah has been all along, has finally emerged from outside of the sheep’s clothing for all of the world to see. It is against American Law to give money to a terrorist organization.

The Last Time I checked, Hamas was still listed in our State Department as a Terrorist Organization. yet our tax payers’ dollars are still going out to the PA as we speak, and our CIA is still training their (quote unquote) police force in the West Bank, (or Judea and Samaria if you will), under the illusion that these rifles will never be turned against Israeli soldiers or civilians.

As the old saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you, Fool me twice. Shame on me. We demand an end now to our American taxpayers’ dollars going to the P.A. No more conditions. Now. Period. End of Story.

In Syria, over 1400 people have lost their lives for demonstrating in the streets. The government has used attack helicopters to wantonly and arbitrarily shoot at protestors.  Thousands of anonymous people have been detained and brutally tortured.  Still more are fleeing over the border to Turkey, creating a REAL refugee crisis. President Bashir Assad is guilty of committing crimes against humanity, and has GOT to step aside.

President Obama in his May 19th address regarding the Middle East said that America has a historic opportunity and responsibility for people clamoring for basic freedoms and dignity.  He called upon President Assad to lead his people to democracy or get out of the way. Yet we have done nothing in the last month to help the Syrians in their bloody struggle to overcome the brutal dictatorship of Bashar Assad

Syria is part of the Iranian constellation, and the only nation that has been empowered by all of this has been the Islamic Republic of Iran.

There is a story in today’s Ha’aretz that Israeli intelligence has found that Iranian Republican Guards are on the ground in Syria, working together with Hezbollah to brutally crush the demonstrators.  They also instigated and paid people to come out for the notorious Al Nakba and Al Naksa days of demonstrations against the state of Israel.

In June of 2009, after the fraudulent election results were announce in Iran, true lovers of democracy were calling out for our help and their calls were summarily ignored, as skulls were being crushed..

Iran has one of the most egregious human rights records in history. More people have been executed and more women stoned to death on trumped up charges of adultery in Iran than anywhere else in the world

Ahmadinajad, and his mullahs, who are the true Hitlers of our generation, have exploited this period of Arab instability to dig their tentacles, deeper and deeper into the region. They are doing this, as they relentlessly pursue nuclear weapons capabilities and are growing closer to their goal of wiping Israel off the map by passing the day. .

There is a rising tide of radical Islamism throughout the region and we have got to be sure that in this Arab hurricane that is recklessly rocking the Middle East, we do not sacrifice our one proven, true stable democratic, ally in the region, Israel, in order to buy the good will of other fair weathered friends in the international community.

That is why, contrary to what President Obama might have said in his Middle East Speech last month, Israel needs defensible borders. As Ambassador Dore Gold recently pointed out in a recent article.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the signer of the Oslo Accords, made clear in his last Knesset address in October 1995 that Israel could never withdraw to the 1967 lines. He stressed that Israel would have to retain control of the Jordan Valley, the great eastern, geographic barrier which provided for its security for decades since the Six Day War.

Prime Minister Rabin didn’t say a word about land swaps. For neither Resolution 242 nor any subsequent signed agreements with the Palestinians stipulated that Israel would have to pay for any West Bank land it would retain by handing over its own , pre-1967 sovereign land in exchange.

We are not going to make our tiny Jewish state, only nine miles wide at its narrowest waist, the sacrificial lamb for America to win a popularity contest in the Arab world.

The West Bank is within easy striking distance of every single Israeli city. And just one Kassam rocket missile launched at Ben Gurion airport from Kalkilya, which is only 6 few miles away, will cut off all air transit and isolate the Jewish state.

Now is not the time for people to urge Israel to take risks for peace.

The forces of radical Islam are rampant throughout the region, and it is incredibly naive to believe that the Palestinians are immune from Islamist and Iranian influences. Israel needs a topographical buffer zone to defend her own population. There is no substitute for a geographical line of defense, especially in the age of missiles.

Israel has given the land…Now where is the peace? This land for peace formulation has produced a paradoxical relationship and has only empowered Iran and other Islamist groups who despise both Israel and the United States, equally. Every piece of land Israel has ceded has become an Iranian puppet state controlled by either by Hezbollah of Hamas.

If I were a scientist, I would have said a long time ago that it is time to go back to the null hypothesis. Or as it says in the philosophy of holes: When you are in a hole, stop digging

Yet people in our Foreign Policy Establishment go back to the same old failed foreign policy paradigm because of three factors:1.) a desire to claim their place history, 2.)  a true failure of imagination in our foreign policy establishment and 3.) cognitive dissonance: Which, in layman’s terms means:: “Don’t bother me with the facts. I have my mind made up.”. Or as the novelist Saul Bellow put it, “A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.”

We at EMET are here because we do not think American foreign policy should be based upon illusion and wishful thinking, but upon reality. And the reality in the Middle East is not always so pleasant. We at EMET are different because we will not sweep the truth about the harsh realities of life in the Middle East under the rug to score popularity contests with everyone across the map.

We do that for one simple reason: because we need Israel to survive. Our people have gone through far too much in our history simply to have our little, tiny strip of land sacrificed on the alter of political correctness.

And we know that when our enemies talk about wiping us off the face of the map, they mean business.

We in this room all know that Israel is the canary in the coal mine. And we need America, as we love and know it, the last great hope of Western civilization and the democratic values we all cherish, to survive.

And that is why we honor people like Senator Daniel Inouye and Congressmen Trent Franks who has long been champions of Israel’s survival, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali who has spoken bravely about the difficulties of life under Islam, Manda Ervin from the Alliance of Iranian Women, and Itamar Marcus from Palestinian Media Watch whose excellent institute has been documenting for years and years the Palestinian Authority’s systematic program of incitement to hate and to kill and its failure to teach all of its people, and especially its children, that all of Israel will not one day become Palestine, from the river to the sea.

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About the Author

Sarah Stern
Sarah Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

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