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(Read Libby Pataki's Full Remarks Below)

New York, N.Y., May 13, 2002 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) New York Regional Women’s Division today honored Libby Pataki, New York’s First Lady, for her longtime commitment, leadership and advocacy on behalf of women, children and families, as its 2002 Woman of Achievement.

In accepting the award, Mrs. Pataki offered the League a memorable description of her first trip to Israel, where, as a Christian, she found that violence prevented her from traveling to many of the sites revered by members of her faith worldwide, including Bethlehem, the birth place of Jesus, and Jericho, the oldest city in recorded history. Despite this, Mrs. Pataki fondly recalls her trip to Israel, saying, "my time in Israel was beautiful. It was an amazing experience that I will always treasure – the light in Jerusalem cannot be compared to anywhere else, it is a gold without equal."

After discussing September 11 and her own reaction to the destruction of the World Trade Center, Mrs. Pataki spoke of the importance of recognizing that Palestinian terrorists who attack innocent Israelis and the Al Qaeda terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center, are one in the same.

"In our fight against terror, the world must understand that the terrorists that attacked the World Trade Center came from the same groups of terrorists that now seek the destruction of the State of Israel," said Mrs. Pataki. "As we stand with Israel, and as we make our voices heard around the world that anti-Semitism will not be tolerated, I am grateful to have ADL to help lead our cause."

In presenting the award to Mrs. Pataki, Martin E. Karlinsky, ADL New York Regional Board Chairman and Joel J. Levy, ADL New York Regional Director, said: "We are honored to have Mrs. Pataki stand with ADL in support of the State of Israel and to recognize her tremendous presence as an advocate for women and children and in the fight against anti-Semitism and intolerance. For the First Lady of New York State to recognize the value of America’s historic relationship with Israel is important and precedent setting."

2002 Anti-Defamation League Women of Achievement Luncheon

Remarks by Mrs. Libby Pataki, First Lady of the State of New York


New York City

May 13, 2002

Good Afternoon. It is a pleasure to be here today with the Anti-Defamation League, as it marks its 88th year of fighting hatred and bigotry. As noted on the ADL’s Web site, the French proverb tells us, "The more things change, the more they remain the same." This could not be more true today. And how ironic that a French proverb should perfectly illustrate the social condition in its own land, as anti-Semitism rises in France to levels not seen since the Holocaust.

This past year has been a difficult time for New Yorkers, all Americans and our great friend, Israel. On September 11th, the world to terror arrived on our own shores, and awoke America to a fight that Israel has been engaged in since its birth. For the past 19 months, Israel has been on the front lines of this battle on a daily basis, as its citizens are attacked almost so often, the media considers it routine. It is exactly this type of routinization of hate and murder that the ADL combats.

Two years ago I visited Israel for the first time. As a Christian, I had always wanted to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. When the UJA and the JCRC asked if I would like to go on a mission and represent George, I jumped at the chance. I was excited but apprehensive. The media was very discouraging. The State Department issued warnings. The State Police were concerned. But it turned out to be one of the most meaningful and enriching experiences of my life.

I toured Gilo, a town that has been the scene of numerous attacks against Israeli citizens. I looked from the hills of Gilo into Bethlehem. Even at the time I could not visit nor even enter. Sadly today, the situation is far worse. That terrorists should use the Church of Nativity as refuge in their efforts to escape justice is morally reprehensible and an indication of their total lack of respect for human decency. Thankfully, many of those gunmen have been exiled from the land of Israel.

My last two days I traveled throughout the country. I traveled north to the Sea of Galilee, the River Jordan and the Beatitudes. I traveled south to the Dead Sea. In those travels I missed Jericho, the oldest city on record. That too was closed to me because of Palestinian control. Jericho is now home to six terrorists held under US and British supervision as part of Israel’s deal to withdraw from Ramallah.

My time in Israel was beautiful. It was an amazing experience that I will always treasure. The light in Jerusalem can not be compared to anywhere else; it is a gold without equal. Unequaled also was the sight of the full moon rising over the Western Wall and the opportunity to tour the tunnels underneath, walking on the streets that Jesus himself walked on. Who could forget such experiences? Before 1967, such an experience would have been impossible. George and I understand that only under Israel’s control is the full beauty and spirituality of Israel available to all people of all religions.

Yet, all of this must be tempered with the knowledge of what goes on in Israel everyday. While I was there a young man dismantled a phone bomb he found in a brown paper bag. At one point we drove past a Sbarro. That Sbarro no longer exists.

In our fight against terror the world must understand that the terrorists that attacked the World Trade Center came from the same groups of terrorists that now seek the destruction of the State of Israel. Remember, on 9/11 it was the Palestinians that danced in the streets. This is a truth that we must burn into our collective memory because this is the face of terrorism.

The creation of a Palestinian state may be the only long-term solution to the crisis. However, no political discussions can be held until all security concerns are met. Israel must not make any unilateral concessions in the face of terror. To do so would threaten the United States and all free, peace-loving nations. This point could not have been made more clear when terrorists blew up a club in Rishon le Zion shortly after Israel implemented a general withdrawal from the West Bank. The Palestinians continue to meet Israeli concessions with violence. We appeased Hitler and he was still not satisfied. He too wanted to blame everything on the Jews. But history and the facts did not support Hitler, nor do they support Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda network. Only when terror ends can any framework for a Palestinian state be discussed.

It is clear to me and George that we not only have a right to strike back against those that would harm us but that we have a duty to strike back. This has been an argument understood for many years by Israelis. The fact is, you cannot let things go. I am a Christian and I know the bible says to turn the other cheek, but I believe that when you turn the other cheek, you also turn your back. George and I will not turn our backs on the 3,000 people who died on September 11th nor will we turn our backs on Israel.

Israel has stood with us. We must stand with them. We cannot negotiate with terrorists. We cannot negotiate a peace at the expense of Israel’s safety. We cannot build a Palestinian state on a foundation laid by the bodies of nearly 3,000 New Yorkers and 500 Israelis. These scenarios are unacceptable.

Where does that leave us? It leaves us at war with an enemy that has no conscience. They do not deal in reality with statistics and facts. They deal in rhetoric filled with hatred and founded in ignorance. They praise murderers as martyrs. The speak peace and buy illegal weapons. They accept payments from Iran and Iraq for every homicide bomber. They TARGET women and children for death. There is no moral equivalence between targeting families at a pizza parlor and defending one’s citizens. And as anti-Semitism rises once again in Europe, we must make our voices heard to fight the lies and to defend the truth.

The fight is not just about Israel. It is about all people that hate terror and love peace. It is about freedom and the right to live one’s life without fear. Under the Taliban in Afghanistan, women were forbidden to hold jobs, drive cars, own land, be educated, and for that matter, show their face. They were forbidden from doing things by the Koran, which ironically they are not even allowed to read. If their husband dies they have no way to feed their children. Sometimes, the women beg for enough money to buy stale bread, which they mix with water and feed to their children. In other families the women were forced into prostitution and then charged and executed for the same offense. If any of you have seen Saira Shaw’s "Beneath the Veil," you know what I am talking about.

As frightening as the terrorist attacks are, just as horrifying is the anti-Semitic fervor that is sweeping across Europe and other parts of the world. The French Government is either unwilling or unable to protect Jewish citizens or institutions. The German police tell their Jewish citizens not to expose themselves by wearing kippot. Synagogues are bombed and rabbis are beaten. Has Europe forgotten so quickly? Rather than defending their own citizens, they criticize Israel.

It is under these circumstances that organizations such as ADL become even more important. Originally founded in 1913 to "stop the defamation of the Jewish people," ADL has emerged as one of the world’s largest institutions in the fight against all forms of bigotry.

As a premier civil rights and human relations agency, ADL combats anti-Semitism and racism against all peoples, regardless of background. ADL defends those very ideals of democracy, freedom and liberty that we all hold so dear. Through its development of educational materials, programs and services, ADL builds bridges between our diverse communities to develop communication, understanding and respect.

As Americans, as fathers and mothers, as friends of Israel, we must do everything possible to defend against anti-Semitism and hatred of all forms. We cannot allow silence to overwhelm truth and bigotry to overcome freedom. As we stand with Israel, and as we make our voices heard around the world that anti-Semitism will not be tolerated, I am grateful to have the ADL to help lead our cause.

Thank you.



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