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 Monday (March 7) by quoting John F. 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 told a gathering of more than 180 people crowded into a Kennedy School auditorium that while communism has been defeated, “the challenge to freedom has not passed.” He said that leaders today 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.” He called on all countries to take steps that include denying terrorist organizations the ability to raise money; holding states such as 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 student’s question about Israel’s disengagement plans in Gaza. 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.”