Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara visited Ariel earlier this month, to show support for the Nachman family
on the anniversary of his passing and change the name of Ariel’s main road in his honor.
The Netanyahus, Dorith Nachman, and Mayor Eliyahu Shaviro together renamed Jerusalem Road to ‘Ron Nachman Way,’ before enjoying a quiet walkthrough of the Ron Nachman Legacy Center and Ariel Pioneers Museum.
That afternoon, the Prime Minister was the headline speaker at the memorial ceremony for Ron, with dignitaries, members of Knesset (MKs), and locals in attendance.
Netanyahu expressed strong support for the “blossoming” city of Ariel, stating firmly that “in no circumstance will Ariel not be
part of Israel” and vowing to allow building in the city to thrive. (The full text of Netanyahu’s speech is at the end of this article.)
After moving speeches from Dorith and Mayor Shaviro, the Netanyahus then attended a Likud luncheon at the mayor’s residence.
For more photos from the event, click here.
The full Prime Minister’s speech is as follows:
This is a very emotional ceremony, in a very emotional place, for a very emotional man, and Sara and I are happy to be here with you. As far as I am concerned, this visit is a milestone of great personal importance, which I would not miss for any reason, even with the many preparations and meetings I have to conduct over the next few days.
Before I speak about Ron and Ariel, I will say a few words about these meetings. In another two weeks I will meet with President Trump in Washington, D.C., for a very important meeting for the State of Israel. I am very careful about using the word ‘historic,’ but I will tell you – this is a very important meeting for the State of Israel, for our
land, for our nation. I heard the words of the National Security Advisor for the United States, General Flynn, on the need to be strong in the face of Iranian aggression. These statements follow statements President Trump made during our phone conversation two weeks ago and earlier, in our meeting in New York before his election.
Next week, I will meet in London with the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, and I will speak about the changing realities in the region and the need to adopt new and cooperative approaches against the great threats in our region – the topmost of which is the threat of Iran. These are the items which are well-understood for most of us, and when we stand here in Ariel, where you can see the Coastal Plane and Tel Aviv, at the heart of our land, and understand the policies which would have established another Iranian terror enclave here which would have threatened our country.
Ron understood this well; we talked about it often. He understood the threats, but he also realized the great opportunity and great privilege to be here, to restore our national life in the Land of Israel here.
(Vladimir) Jabotinsky once said: “The pioneer doesn’t live for himself, but for those who will come after him. He who is a pioneer has his eye always on realizing his ideas, and from this desire – all his actions flow from it.” Our dear Ron Nachman, our beloved Ron, the unforgettable – he was a true pioneer.
He dedicated himself to Zionism, and his core values were to build the land, to settle it, and to make the desert bloom. What was this hill we’re standing on called? The “hill of Death”? Well, there’s a lot of life here – and it’s a shame that we’re standing in a tent. I love this event, but I would happier if the need for security wasn’t so great and we could be [standing out in the open air and] seeing the life around us – a life full of sunshine, a life full of action. It would be sufficient to look around; and when you leave this tent, you’d be impressed by the level of his success, and how vision became reality.
It’s already been four years when Ron hasn’t been with us, but the city of Ariel – the focus of his life – is built-up, has developed, and is prosperous. 20,000 people live here today, and I assure you there will be many more. My government recently approved another 1,000 housing units – meaning an additional 5,000 people [for Ariel]; it’s a significant increase. In no circumstance will Ariel not be part of Israel. She will always be part of Israel.
At Ron’s funeral, I spoke about my first encounter with him. I was then the Ambassador to the UN, and Ron came to meet me in sandals, of course, with a twinkle in his eye – a bright glimmer in his eyes and an amazing smile, you couldn’t remain apathetic when you saw it – he was just…he went straight to the point, like an arrow from a bow. He said, “I’m going to set up a college town in Samaria. I’m here in the US to obtain support.” And I sent him where I sent him for that, but he would have gotten there without me anyway.
I was impressed by the enthusiasm, his dedication to his willingness to simply overcome all obstacles—because he never flinched in the face of inhibitions or obstacles or difficulties. He overcame the pitfalls on his journey with stubbornness, determination, resourcefulness, and I want you to remember how it all started – it started with a modest nucleus of the [city’s] founders, and Dorit – who was Ron’s partner with him for anything, including building their family and building the community.
That founding nucleus was you [Dorit] and a few others, remember that? I remember them, in a prefab house with a generator, settling these barren hills, building permanent homes, and building a new neighborhood. Ron had headed the Local Council for many years and later, as mayor, I was privileged to meet with him and attend a lot of events together.
I remember a lot of milestones: I remember the establishment of the city, I remember the [establishment of the] University – it was not a battle [to do that] here, it was a battle in Jerusalem, don’t ask — and I now am here today. Ron knew that Ariel would survive, both as a city and as a community – and when I say community, I mean a warm, supportive, and diverse community, and Ariel is really a model of unity and co-existence between the secular and religious, young couples, families, seniors, and veterans of the country and immigrants, and, as you know, here at the University we have both Jews and Arabs, they create a real coexistence, against all the terrible propaganda. Those who want to see what Coexistence is – come to Ariel and see what coexistence is really about.
Ron was well aware of the immense potential of immigration from the Former Soviet Union. He drafted a Russian-speaker from Ariel to come with him as his ambassador as they went to Ben-Gurion airport [to meet new immigrants] – even though he didn’t speak Russian so well he also went by himself – and he told them to come to a blossoming community with fresh air and high quality of life, and he indeed convince them and they did come, and here they became Israeli.
Ron won here on the establishment of the city in an impressive way: on the educational, cultural, health, welfare, and industrial fronts; he established synagogues, sports facilities, parks – go out later and see this beauty incarnate for yourselves. Ron’s commitment to Ariel was so great that he gave up being Member of the Knesset to be here, with no questions asked. I must also say that he made me fall in love with Ariel, both me and my wife Sara.
Ron and I were partners. The settlement are as important to me as it was important to him, so I can say – I’m sure for all of us – that yesterday and today we know tough times. [Editor’s note: during the address, the Israel Defense Forces were busy evacuating the community of Amona following a court order.] We made every effort to not reach this moment, but in the end, we had to follow the law; we are a lawful country. I – I share with all of you — I share the great pain of families who were forced to leave their homes, who actually had to uproot their lives, and we all understand the tremendous pain they are in. Therefore, we will establish a new settlement on state land. Yesterday I started a team to set the location for it and will begin setting up for it, and we will work to make it happen as soon as possible.”
I urge everyone to leave without violence, without conflict, to honor the soldiers and police, it hurts them just as much as it hurts us. It’s very difficult for them as well and I want everyone to remember that they keep all of us safe. At the same time, we will strengthen other settlements, including Ariel, of course, and other community leaders are my first line of witnesses in this.
I was here in Ariel many times during my term as prime minister. I would come here, or Ron would come to me and he would drill his way in – drilling holes one by one. He wants X, so he asked for it and asked for it and asked for it – and usually he got it – and I helped Ron make this city a smart city, with the best telecommunications and computer technology.
Seven years ago, on Tu Bishvat, we planted a tree here together. Ron was already fighting his illness – but as weak as his body became, his Soul pulled forward to pull Ariel forward. And I am grateful that we realized his dream in his lifetime to see the Ariel College made into a University. I attach great importance to it, because that is where the future is – and so the future is here. it was an extremely complex process, but in the end we were happy with the finished product.
Ariel University of Samaria is the focus of academic excellence. There are particle accelerators and the Faculty of Architecture, and now thank God for the benefit of all medical education, all residents of the area. There is a research and teaching at a high level, five thousand students, more the better. These students – Jews and non-Jews – who learn together … fifteen thousand (students)? Five thousand live here, the more the better, and again, anyone who wants to see brotherhood, coexistence, progress, the future – they should come to see Ariel.
Today we celebrate the towering successes of Ron and we also perpetuate his name through the central road running through the heart of the city. Ron Nachman Way will be, [like Ron,] a source of strength and encouragement to love the country, the fulfillment of Zionism, encourage settlement pride and momentum. We will remember Ron and walk in his shoes.
Thank you very much.