- Nov 18 2016
Statement by the President of Israel, HE Reuven Rivlin
More than one hundred years ego, the great Yoga Master, Swami Vivekananda began his most famous speech, in Chicago, with the everlasting words:
“Sisters and brothers of America.” I would like to use his words and say to you:
“Sisters and brothers of India!”
God bless India! Thank you for your hospitality and welcome!
Dear Sisters and brothers, about four thousands years ego, our father Jacob, met a few men, on his journey from the land of Israel, he didn’t know these shepherds, but he called them “brothers”. This is the power of two ancient nations, that have pride in their identity, but know that all human beings are sisters and brothers. I have been here only a few days, but I can already say, that it has been a special experience. I have been amazed and inspired by the power, strength, and energy, of this great nation. I am deeply impressed by your great development, your “booming economy,” and the way millions of people, are taking a greater share in your nation’s prosperity. Just today we exchanged academic agreements that will carry the cooperation between our two countries to a new stage. We also took part in a business forum, aimed at expanding and developing even more, trade and cooperation between our countries.
Sisters and brothers, during the historic visit by President Mukherjee to Israel last year, he said that our two countries, India and Israel, are young — but also ancient. I was born in Jerusalem, during the British Mandate. We used to dream that one day our own national, blue and white flag will wave over our country. But we knew that the struggle would be long and difficult. My generation grew up with the story of the siege of Massada. Two thousand years ago on Massada, Jewish soldiers were fighting a hopeless battle against the armies of the great Roman Empire. Those Jewish fighters, refused to surrender. They preferred to die as free men, and not to be slaves. The story of Massada is well known. What is less well known is that those Jewish fighters on Massada took the people of India as their role model. They saw in the people of India a nation that cherished liberty more than anything else. Can you imagine!? Two thousand years ago Jews in the Land of Israel recognised that the yearning for liberty and freedom was shared by the people of Israel, the people of India [and indeed by all humanity]. Two thousand years later, it was again the liberation of India, in 1947, that paved the way for our independence, a year later, in 1948, both India and Israel were liberated from British rule, becoming strong and stable democratic states, with freedom of expression, equality, liberty, and the rule of law.
Ladies and gentlemen, next year we will be marking the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between India and Israel. I have come here together with some of our best minds of Israeli academia, business leaders, Israeli industries, and defence industries. We are here to reaffirm our deep commitment to our shared future.
We already cooperate in areas of economics, technology, and security, and this cooperation continues to grow. Israel wants to play a part in the Four-Colours Revolution that Prime Minister Modi has set as India’s national goal, that brings together the colours of the Indian flag: saffron for solar power, green for agriculture, white for dairy produce, and blue for water. In all these issues, Israel — little Israel — is a giant of knowledge and experience, as we have already had to overcome our own challenges. Our advanced solar power systems, irrigation systems, water treatment projects, and the average milk production per cow, are just a few examples. Today’s innovations are almost unimaginable — and we now have companies working to make water out of air. We want to gather all these technologies, all the power of our Israeli innovations as our motivation today: To make in India!! To make with India! To be your partners!
Sisters and brothers, This event is not just ‘another dinner.’ It is a ground breaking gathering. I would like to thank the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for hosting us tonight together with ORF (Observer Research Foundation), at this special gala event. We are honoured to have here, as our partners and hosts, India’s leading men and women, in all fields. Thank you all for your friendship. Thank you for having us here today! On behalf of your guests, let me take a few moments to introduce our delegation.
I am proud to introduce to you the heads of Israel’s industry and defence industry. Their products are well known for their top quality and excellence. Friends, we did not seek to become experts in the field of defence, but through the struggle for our independence and our liberty, we learned how important it is to be able to defend ourselves, to fight our enemies, to fight terrorism. Today the battlefield is changing. Cyber warfare is no longer science fiction it is a strategic challenge. In all these areas, Israel, and Israeli industry is ready and committed to strengthening this cooperation to make a safer world. Of course we are very grateful to our Indian partners, for the way they work together with us in order to ensure a safe and secure world.
There is positive and growing cooperation between our countries in many areas of defence and security. We also face a common challenge in fighting terrorism and radicalism. I am here today to affirm our commitment to the fight against global terrorism. We are here today, to carry the great potential of this partnership into reality. From security, let us continue to food security. Mahatma Gandhi said that: “God comes to the hungry, in the form of food”. I want to introduce to you a very special group of people, (“prophets”, in the spirit of Gandhi’s saying), our agricultural, water treatment, food and environment experts. They are literally planting the seeds of tomorrow. We already have Israeli and Indian experts, working together with local farmers, to improve Indian produce, and the lives of local families. We are very proud of all they are doing. Tomorrow, I will visit Karnal where Indians and Israelis are developing new kinds of cherry tomatoes (which is an Israeli invention). They are already making in India’ a future together.
Finally, I also have the honour to introduce the presidents of Israel’s largest and most important universities. Leaders of academic institutions ranked among the best in the world — where we invest in our most precious asset: our “human capital.” In my opening remarks I spoke about how great ideas have been able to cross national borders. Today, our academic cooperation proves that great ideas can still ignore borders, and it bring together Israel and India’s best scholars. To this future, of joint education, joint commerce, security, and food security, I want to raise a toast. Our two nations have changed the world before; it is time to do it again, together. Thank you all, let’s do business.