Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister Says World Must Empower Moderates, Weaken Extremists

March 7, 2005
Rob Meyer

Silvan Shalom, Israel’s deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, opened his address to a standing-room-only crowd at the Kennedy School tonight by quoting President Kennedy: “In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility — I welcome it.”

In a lecture hosted by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs titled “Peace in the Middle East : Challenges and Opportunities,” Shalom stated that while communism has been defeated on almost every corner of the globe, “the challenge to freedom has not passed.” Leaders today, he said, must choose between two strategies — preserving stability as a goal in itself and taking the initiative to promote positive change.

“Every effort must be made,” Shalom said, “to empower the moderates and to weaken the extremists.”

Shalom called on all countries to take steps including denying terrorist organizations the ability to raise money; holding states like Iran and Syria accountable for their support for terror; standing up in support for calls of the Lebanese people to rid themselves of Syria’s occupation; and bringing an end to Iran’s “reckless drive for nuclear weapons which will radically alter the regional and global balance of power, setting off a terrible arms race.”

In addition, Shalom said, the world must unite to help the Palestinians build democratic institutions and practices, “which will ensure that they can indeed be a true partner for peace.”

During a question and answer period following his address, Shalom responded to a question about Israel’s disengagement plans in the occupied territories. Asked whether the Israelis plan to remove settlements from the West Bank as well as Gaza , Shalom replied that Israel and the international community must first see what happens when the Palestinians have control of Gaza in order to “make progress in the future.”

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