Sallai Meridor is the Ambassador of Israel to the U.S.. He served as the Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the World Zionist Organization from 1999-2005. Prior to this, Mr. Meridor served as the Treasurer of the Jewish Agency and WZO and as the Head of the Settlement Division of the WZO. During the years of his chairmanship, the Jewish Agency underwent a major transformation. The strategy and activities of the Agency were focused on dealing with the Jewish future - the young generation of Jews. Major initiatives included the Masa national effort to bring 20,000 young adults per annum from the Diaspora for a year-long formative experience in Israel, focusing the activities of the Agency in Israel on young Israelis and young Olim, special Aliyah efforts from FSU, Ethiopia, Argentina, and France, and strategic preparations for dealing with the future challenge of Aliyah choice. In response to the war of terror against Israel, a global Jewish mobilization effort and a major emergency campaign was launched. Internally, the budget of the Jewish agency was balanced, agreements to eliminate $700M in debt (which put the agency at risk) were reached, and the Agency took a historic step by restructuring its governing bodies to include significant nonpolitical representation from Israeli society. Finally, with a view towards the Jewish future, the first ever Jewish People Policy Planning Institute was established.
Prior to his work with the Jewish agency, Mr. Meridor served as an advisor to the Minister of Defense and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel. In his governmental service, he was involved in the designing of Israel's foreign and defense policies, played a role in the peace process leading to the Madrid Peace Conference, participated in the negotiations that followed as the representative of the Ministry of Defense, and led Israel's Inter-Agency Steering Committee on Arms Control. Born and educated in Jerusalem, Mr. Meridor earned his B.A. degree at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He served as an Intelligence Officer in the IDF. He lives in Kfar Adumim with his wife No'a. They are the proud parents of three daughters.
Sallai Meridor: It is . . . It is different, and it’s more difficult to cope with. And it takes much more patience and perseverance in order to deal with. The different thing is the _______. One, you have this back wind of extremism that has not been so much before, which is religious fanaticism which is turning conflicts from being national conflicts into a situation that they are becoming, unfortunately, religious wars without resolution. So that’s one phenomenon that unfortunately joined our arena. The second one is that you see non-state ________. That’s ______ responsibility. And when you don’t take responsibility, it’s difficult to deter you. You have Hezbollah in Lebanon. They’re not a state. They are just an organization. They are not responsible for supplying electricity or food or water to the people. They can only make trouble without paying the price for the trouble they are making. The same is Hamaas in Gaza. The same are groups that the U.S. is confronting in Iraq and elsewhere. So the phenomenon of non-state _______ that are very difficult to deter is yet another element that we have to deal with. And the third one is the new phenomenon which is terrible in the deepest sense of the world terrible of suicide bombings. These are people who would like us to call them martyrs; but they’re not martyrs. These are not people who are ready to take their own lives for a cause to defend something for a cause and give their own lives. These are people who believe that they are gaining – not losing, gaining – by moving to this other world. And by . . . in doing so, only if they kill as many innocent people as one can think of. So this phenomenon of people who are looking for life after life through temporary death are indeterable. What can you deter them with? A death sentence? They want to die. So this is a complexity, and the severity of the challenge that we are facing. And I’ve given you just three factors which would indicate how more difficult this is becoming. In order to face this, we need a different set of tools. One is the completion of what we are facing. This is not a quick fix thing. In order to overcome it, it takes a lot of patience and a lot of perseverance. It takes unity of purpose. It takes _______ the spirit of America after September 11th, which is . . . unfortunately for us in Israel, this is a day in the _______ period, because we are _______ almost forever. It takes much better intelligence to find these terrorists before they . . . we meet them in the streets of Manhattan, and the capacity to attack them where they train and where they get organized before they come and hit – unfortunately with partial, because some of them are indeterable; and partial offensive capacity. A lot of emphasis should be added to defense. Defense would be sometimes fencing. Defense would be better security in one’s airports. Defense is what each and every individual in the society is doing. This is not a war that the army is fighting. This is a war that every civilian is a partner in by opening eyes; by making sure that if you see something that is strange, that is alerting the security forces; and maybe above everything, this is a war about a standing power and will. And the critical element for the terrorists to understand is that . . . Let me put it this way: That we are not going to be terrorized by terror; that we are going to continue our lives; that we are not going to just give up or give in on our values or our quality of life; that we are going to continue with our life and with our values confronting terror – sometimes unfortunately having to suffer from terror, but not acquiescing to terror, and not giving in to terror.