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Speech presented by President Shimon Peres at Ariel’s 30th Anniversary Celebration

June 4, 2008

Mr. Mayor,
Members of Knesset,
The Honorable City Rabbi and City Council Members,
Honored guests,
Dear friends, visitors and residents of Ariel,

Shimon Peres & Ron Nachman

I came to congratulate and congratulations are in order.

In this place with its breath-taking views, the Samaria heights, overlooking to the west and the east across the Land of Israel, the hands of hard-workers built a gem of a city, with forethought and planning. A city that excels in absorbing new immigrants, with half of its population from the Former Soviet Union and the other half a blend of all ethnic groups in Israel. A city that provides its residents with an impressive education system, including a praiseworthy academic college with university aspirations; a city that that rests upon a cultural infrastructure with quality services and the highest level of community and social institutions.

Putting aside legitimate political differences from left and right, where at this time, as President, I am entitled not to make a public stand about them, there is no need to deny that a magnificent community has grown here with impressive momentum. One may agree or disagree, support or oppose – but one cannot overlook the industrious action.

I wish to say to you, Ron Nachman: we are old friends, and if you look into your archives you will find that right at the beginning of the road, you received a greeting letter from me for the first residents of Ariel. I must admit that although we have not always shared the same views – you have something to be proud of. You carried the flag of living in this land with everlasting perseverance, with stubbornness and no fatigue, with a limitless relationship to this place. You identified a goal you are realizing its achievement, and you are still in full swing. All this you did not accomplish single-handedly. Credit is due to many others on your team, but you were first and you are still the living spirit behind it all.

Our sages have said: “I was never beaten, except by a man of one craft” meaning: there is great power in directing and concentrating all of a person’s energy and consciousness on one goal. And you, Nachman, have focused on this craft. You moved hills and mountains to lay the cornerstone of Ariel.

Dear People of Ariel,

Your city is celebrating the completion of its third decade since its establishment. Its humble beginning did not reveal its future, yet you built a city and populated it. You created a diversified and bustling community that enjoys high standards of living. Ariel is not at a standstill. It expands its shades of beauty, it broadens its industry, and it serves as home to an advanced Research and Development Technological Incubator. Hundreds of students, who study here, among them many from the Arab sector, add young grace to the young city. Ariel has an environmental awareness. You breathe clear air here and nurture a clean city, accented by greenery and flowers. I know you strive for good relations with your Arab neighbors, and this is a good thing in and of itself.

Your access to the center of Israel is easy and swift through the Trans-Samaria Highway, and from there on Highway 6 both to the north and the south. It is obvious that life flows here the way it should.

I wish you all, the people of Ariel, that the future will be bright for you and your city; that you will continue to maintain a happy and healthy community that merges new immigrants from all over the world with Israel born “Sabras” from different traditions; may you continue to have good relations with your neighbors. May your light never fade.

A day will come, I am sure, when there will be no more need for fences and barriers, our hand outstretched towards peace will be accepted, and both peoples who have been living in protracted dispute will reach an understanding that the advantages of peace over war are like the advantages of light over darkness. Both peoples will live here as neighbors, each one under their vine and fig tress, each one as a citizen of his country.

This beautiful stretch of land, the heart of Samaria, saturated with feelings of suspicion and intimidation, could become, at a time of peace, a flowering meadow for all its inhabitants. And even if today this seems a distant dream, this is a dream that will bring about a new reality, to us, to the people of Israel, to the state of Israel and to its neighbors. The dream for peace must not cease, within us and with all our neighbors.

Congratulations Ariel for your founding members, congratulations for your residents, congratulations for your accomplishments!