Today, November 20, marks a very historic date for the State of Israel. Forty years ago on this day in 1977 an Egyptian airplane touched down in Tel Aviv and from it stepped out the President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat.
The bravest Arab in the world had come to Israel to make peace after suffering from three staggering wars in which Egypt was defeated.
Addressing our Knesset President Sadat declared that it was time for wars to end and for peace to flourish. He declared that it was essential for Israel to coordinate efforts with the Palestinian leadership based on justice for the inhabitants of Palestine.
One can still hear the raucous applause and shouts of welcome by most of the members of the Knesset and by the entire leadership of our nation under the wise guidance of our beloved Prime Minister, Menachem Begin.
Sadat’s historic visit paved the way for the signing of a peace agreement between our two countries on the lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, where the famous photo of Begin, Sadat, and President Jimmy Carter, jointly holding hands and with broad smiles, was flashed around the world.
Sadat was the bravest and most courageous of all Arab leaders. And for his goodwill he paid with his life to an assassin’s bullet in a Cairo parade.
The peace with Egypt has held, albeit, a cold peace, not one that is enamoured by the people of Egypt. Israeli tourists travel to Sinai resorts and to Cairo regularly but no Egyptian tourists have come to Israel.
Still, the years of Egyptian-Israeli warfare have thankfully ended. Anwar Sadat was a hero.
The peace he wished for between Israelis and Palestinians is still far away. While Israeli leaders in the past have been willing to make compromises, the Palestinian leaders have backed away from all compromise.
Palestinian leaders know only too well that if they sign an agreement with Israel upholding the status quo, they will pay a heavy price…loss of their lives.
They have made three initial demands on us…demands which we can never accept.
The first demand is to return to the 1967 borders. The second demand is to allow the return of millions of 1948 Arab refugees. And the third demand is to divide Jerusalem, giving the eastern half of the city to the Palestinians as the capital of their proposed State.
Were Israel to agree to these demands it would result in the end of our Jewish State in our ancient Homeland.
Hitler’s “Final Solution” would become a reality, God forbid.
No Israeli leader can agree to the three Palestinian demands. And no Palestinian leader is as brave and courageous as Egypt’s Anwar Sadat.
Today we celebrate 40 years since his historic visit and his address to our Knesset. Let us remember and cherish the memories of the bravest Arab.