Brown to Knesset: ‘I am proud of Israel’s success’

"For 2,000 years, you had history — but not a home. For 2,000 years, you lifted the artistic and cultural life and the scientific and political development of every continent — but had no home. For 2,000 years, you endured pogroms — and then the horror of the Holocaust — because you had no home.

Never free of trouble, always facing adversity, yet what remarkable success Israel has achieved during these last few years. You have created modern Hebrew as the language of your daily life; eight of your citizens have been awarded Nobel prizes — and alongside Silicon Valley, you now have ‘Silicon Wadi’; you have world-famous hospitals, like Hadassah; and leading centres of learning and research, like the Weizmann Institute for Science.

With eight per cent of your national income spent on education, you have one of the highest-skilled populations on Earth.  From draining the swamps in the 20th century to pioneering electric cars in the 21st, your history of ingenuity is a lesson in the boundless capacity of mind and spirit. No nation has achieved so much in so short a period of time. And to have accomplished all this in the face of the war, the terror, the violence, the threats, the intimidation, and the insecurity is truly monumental. To paraphrase what one poet once said:

You were born against the odds; you survived against the odds; you grew against the odds; you have prevailed and flourished against all odds; you have proved that men and women of idealism, bravery and perseverance can succeed whatever the odds.

And I am proud that the British Jewish community — and the British people — have had a distinguished place and a part in your great endeavour.

Today our partnership is strong and getting stronger. So to those who question Israel’s very right to exist, and threaten the lives of its citizens through terror, we say: the people of Israel have a right to live here, to live freely and to live in security.

To those who are enemies of progress, we say: we condemn antisemitism and persecution in all its forms. And to those who believe that threatening statements fall upon indifferent ears, we say in one voice that it is totally abhorrent for the president of Iran to call for Israel to be wiped from the map of the world."

    Last updated: 12:18pm, July 24 2008