Speech at Knesset in honor of the USA Bicentennial
Speech by Mr. Menachem Begin, MK, at the Knesset session in honour of the USA Bicentennial, on July 12, 1976.
Mr. Speaker, Members of the Knesset-
This month, this day we commemorate an event which has become a turning point in human history: the great revolution called The American War of Independence has affected not only all three parts of the Western Hemisphere, but all nations of the world.
This turning point challenges us to ask again: how does it come that in a war of the few against the many, of the weak against the strong, of those who uphold an idea against those who brandish the sword, the former overcome the latter?
It is a common mistake to say that those who take to arms in order to fight for freedom and justice-and there is no freedom without justice, even as there is no justice without freedom-believe in force. Not so. How can they believe in force if overwhelming force is always on the other side? The truth is that they despise force and believe in the eternal moral values in the souls of free man. If they believed in force, they could not begin their struggle and certainly not continue it. But because they believe in the supreme moral value of men born in liberty, a balance is created between the forces fighting for humanity's tomorrow, which enables the few, the weak who uphold the idea to overcome the many, the strong, who try to enforce tyranny.
The fathers of the American Revolution believed in this and expressed their belief in the famous passage of the Declaration of Independence. After stating in plain and simple words that man has natural rights which have been granted him by the Creator because he is a man, they announced, set down, and proclaimed that if a form of government arises that is destructive of those aims, it is the right and even the duty of the people to arise against it and abolish it.
In the matter of the recognition of these rights, those natural rights granted by the Creator to man as man, the Declaration of Independence preceded a no less famous declaration by thirteen whole years. This other declaration, issues in August1789 and known in human history as the Declaration of Rights and of Man of Citizen, was in effect an outcome of the American Declaration of Independence, from which it drew its inspiration.
By virtue of that faith, the American people in the thirteen colonies went forward on the long road from the fall of Philadelphia and the execution of Nathan Hale, who, before he breathed his last, was able to tell his people and the fighters for freedom of all times: I regret that I have only one life to give for my country; through Bunker Hill and the sufferings of the winter of which Tom Payne wrote on the banks of Delaware; unto the capitulation of Cormallie at Yorktown, five years after the Declaration of Independence.
In the wake of that declaration, two hundred years testify for us to the power of the impulse a people receives that has won its independence, that has freed itself from tyranny. From a few million to 215 million inhabitants,; from a narrow settled seashore to a mighty land stretching from one ocean to another; it was a land blessed by nature, but empty. Today, it is the mightiest of powers in the world.
We can also learn what freedom means for man's development. Less than 4% engage in agriculture in the United States of America, and they provide the foodstuffs not only for their own people, but for many peoples, including some that live under a totalitarian form of government.
There have, to be sure, also been crises and adversities in the history of the United States. Free as the American people are, and we wish them well for the future, they did not disregard those difficulties, those deep crises that feel to Americans share; the severest, of course, being the one connected with the Civil War that raged throughout this mighty country in the sixties of the last century. As a matter of fact, the emancipation of the slaves, which to the regret of all mankind it took a civil war to bring about, was the continuation of the War of Liberation of the 18th century. That is surely what Abraham Lincoln expressed after the military decision in the Battle of Gettysburg, in the address which he gave on that very battlefield and which he concluded with the words: "that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
This day, this earth, this year we shall voice two appeals to the American people. Jerusalem is always our chief joy. Mr. Speaker, at this festive session there is among us the accredited Ambassador of the United States to the President of the State of Israel. We wish and we propose that he shall be a permanent resident of Jerusalem. Let the American people remember that this is the most ancient of all capitals of the world, and the only one which has no permanent American Ambassador. The only one. This capital is not only older than Paris or London, but even older than Athens and Rome of yore. It did not become Israel's capital nine years ago, or twenty eight years ago; it has been the eternal capital of Israel since David's Song was written, composed, and sung: Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem; Jerusalem that is builded as a city united. And we pray, in this year of grace, that Jerusalem may unite the two great parties in the United States through which the people there elect their President, their House of Representatives, and one third of their Senate, this year, two hundred years after the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America.
Our second appeal: You have learned, sons of the great American people, that this little renascent nation is a loyal ally to you in defending the freedom of man, the peace of their region, and also the peace of all mankind.
With all respect, and in recognition of the values which we share, we appeal to you: be an ally to this people, even as it is a loyal ally to you and to all free peoples.
Well we remember, and we shall never forget, what the United States has done to oppose tyranny not only in the First World War, when the danger of German militarism threatened Europe and beyond, but also and perhaps even more in the Second World War. What blood thirsty tyranny, what darkness, what danger! True, and it must be said, there were days and nights when the British nation stood alone in opposing Nazi domination, but one doubts whether it could have held out without the aid provided from the beginning, and particularly after the enemies of humanity had declared war on America itself,-without the aid that was provided by the Unite States.
That is also true of the Soviet Union. That truth, too, must be told: with supreme valour the citizens of the Soviet Union fought against Nazidom; but I myself was one of the eyewitnesses in the USSR who can testify to the change, the decisive turn of the Soviet Union's ability to defend itself against the fangs of the Nazi beast, from the moment, in December 1941, when the mighty stream of United States' aid to the Soviet Union began. If there are those who are ungrateful enough not to acknowledge and admit this, we are not among them.
In particular we must, of course, express our admiration of that most important event, the establishment of the Jewish community of the United States. From 1880 to 1905, two and a half million Jews reached the shores of the United States, mainly from Eastern Europe. They were fleeing from the danger of pogroms, from humiliation, from oppression, from a poverty which perhaps has not had its like among other peoples in other countries; but they did not know then, when this mighty current crossed the ocean, that they were in effect saving themselves and their offspring from the gas ovens and the crematoria. That was how American Jewry came into existence, the most powerful Jewish community since that of Alexandria in the era of the Second Temple. And they, our brethren in the United States, love Israel and stand and will continue to stand with us.
Mr. Speaker, we free men expect that the United States shall do as a young President who is no longer with us once said: We shall oppose any foe, we shall help any friend. For the survival and success of liberty." For the sake of freedom, for the sake of the free world, which by now consists of no more than a few score of countries out of more than a hundred and thirty and which is attacked by stormy waves that attempt to drown it, with the rest of humanity, in the deep of serfdom; in these days, knowing that even now the strength of the United States and its loyalty to the democratic ideal prevent tyranny from overshadowing what remains of free mankind; in these days we state our belief that the time has come to change the call from the end of the first half half of the last century and to say instead: Free men of all countries, unite! And as free men, we pray today from the fullness of our heart: God bless America!