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Duncan Smith: Israel has the right to defend itself against terrorists

"When I accepted this invitation to speak to Conservative Friends of Israel, I had hoped it would be a rather different occasion.

I had hoped that despite events of September 11, we would be definitively winning the war against global terror.

I was optimistic that the State of Israel, a lighthouse of democracy in a troubled region, would feel a little safer and a little more secure.

I wanted very much to celebrate with you the first day of Chanucah, the festival of lights, but I also want to reaffirm the dignity of life.

Tragically, the events of the last few days in Israel remind us that we still have a long way to go before the scourge of terrorism is eradicated.

Fifteen people killed in Israel by terrorism a week ago last Saturday. Twenty-five dead because of terrorism the day after. Over 230 Israelis killed by suicide bombers and other means since 1994. Hundreds more injured.

After September 11 many in the West have had to come to terms with terrorists whose utter disregard for human life has led to suicide bombers and the use of anthrax. This is something Israeli citizens contend with every day and every night.

What we were forced to accept on September 11, is something that Israel learnt a long time ago. You cannot appease terror.

Make no mistake, the individuals who perpetrated the latest atrocity in Israel have no wish to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the Israelis. The recent murders took place just as the American Envoy Anthony Zinni was trying to negotiate a cease-fire.

They have no desire to improve the life of their fellow citizens.

Their sole objective is to destroy Israel and everything she represents - liberal values, pride in the nation state, economic achievement. This truth was so passionately expressed by Binyamin Netanyahu in my talks with him a few weeks ago.

Similarly, those who attacked America did not care to change American Foreign Policy towards the Arab world. They did not want to improve the plight of Afghan citizens. They wanted to destroy everything America stands for. The bombing of the World Trade Centre was not an attack on America's policy towards Islam. It was an assault on scientific, technological and economic achievement - it was an attempt to destroy democracy, capitalism and the rule of law.

It is this fanatic hatred of the West and its values that give us a warning that Al Quaeda, Hamas and others will stop at nothing to achieve their aims. Who knows what biological, chemical or nuclear weapons terrorists would unleash if given the opportunity?

That is why my party has given backing to President Bush's plans for an effective ballistic missile defence shield - for the United States and her allies. Far from holding back on missile defence, the events of September 11 have made it all the more important to press ahead.

Our fight against terror must not stop in Afghanistan. The days of safe havens for terrorists are over. No longer can we appease or turn a blind eye to regimes that support terrorism. As the Chief Rabbi said only recently, 'terror is evil, whoever is responsible and whatever is the reason'.

Last week, I visited the United States and met with President Bush and other members of his Administration.

I agree with the President when he said after the events in Israel that it was the moment for those who want peace to 'rise up and fight terror'. I am glad that the US Administration has taken action to target the finances of terrorist organisations like Hamas.

Against this background, surely it is time that our national broadcasters, not just, but including the BBC, stopped describing Hamas and jihad with such euphemisms as radical and militant?

Let us call things what they are: They are terrorist organisations.

Such fudging of what Hamas or Islamic Jihad are confers some sort of legitimacy on people who are terrorists. Such misappropriation is absurd when even Palestinian moderates in Jerusalem describe the suicide bombers as terrorists.

I join President Bush in calling on Chairman Arafat to do everything in his power to ensure that those responsible for the murder of innocent Israelis are brought to justice.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad are not interested in peace. They demand nothing less than the destruction of Israel and all that it stands for. The violence and terror they use have become ends in themselves. Israel has the right to defend herself accordingly.

It is now up to the Palestinian Authority to show that it will no longer tolerate terrorism. More than that, it must never again allow terrorists to justify their monstrous acts in the name of the Palestinian cause.

One of our historians Sir Martin Gilbert, made an astute observation. He said: 'Israel is often the centre of world attention. This is seldom for her achievements, which are considerable, or for the quality of life which she has created, and which is the envy of many nations'.

I agree. This is a sad reflection on the world as it is, not on the world as it should be.

This is not just because of fifty-four years of achievement - against all the odds. Nor because of the contribution that Israel has made to science, agriculture, technology, and many other spheres, across the world.

For me, it is Israel's contribution towards civil society that is the most important.

A country, which was founded upon the work of volunteers and philanthropic activity - and has today over 28,000 voluntary and charitable organisations - has much to teach us about public service, responsibility, compassion and duty towards others.

It seems to me that these values are steeped in the Jewish tradition. All across the world Jewish organisations and others work hard to support Israel, whether it is through philanthropy or by actively sending volunteers to help in Kibbutzim, hospitals or schools. Other organisations like the Conservative Friends of Israel do so much to ensure that Israel's voice is heard in Westminster and Whitehall. This matters because Britain's diplomatic tradition ensures that that message is carried beyond Britain shores.

We in Britain face a major challenge. Even with growing prosperity our social problems seem ever greater.

Even with vast and growing state resources devoted to our public sector, our health, transport and education infrastructure are failing. They need drastic reform, yet this Government is wedded to the system - a state monopoly which has crowded out other types of care.

Yet despite the work of so many in this room like David Garrard, Michael Heller and the Jewish community as a whole, we have a desperate need to renew and replenish values of service to others, compassion and responsibility to those in need.

Our mission must be to find ways of providing public services that actually work for the public. So that every school is good enough for your child; so that you get to choose the doctor and the hospital you want and trust; so that your train runs on time.

That is why, I and my Shadow Cabinet are visiting public services across Europe, where health and education systems put Britain to shame. Countries like Germany where healthcare is a successful mix of care provided by the voluntary and faith communities as well as by the public and the private sectors.

There is one precondition for making this happen in Britain: a new spirit of public service.

Divisiveness damages our communities. Our civil life has been badly hurt at every level, whether it is by narrow interest groups in public policy, or hooliganism on our streets.

Working for the common good, and demanding that others do so too, with respect for everyone and respect for their liberty, is the basic principle on which we can deliver improvements.

Our party is dedicated to public service. Its whole ethos is based on voluntarism. So many of our activists dedicate themselves to community endeavour through charitable and voluntary activities.

Yet none of this is being recognised. We have allowed our opponents to characterise us as greedy and selfish. We have let ourselves be unfairly caricatured as the party which knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

As leader I will make it my priority to visit examples of community endeavour across the country. I want to see at first hand how faith inspired organisations, charities and voluntary groups are changing people's lives. How a well-run residents group can rejuvenate a run-down council estate. How volunteers can equip the young and unemployed with crucial skills to succeed in life.

Just as we unleashed business entrepreneurs in the eighties, I want to unleash the social entrepreneurs. I hope many more will be young entrepreneurs.

Where would we be without the social entrepreneurship that established the Dixons City Technology College in Bradford, one of the best schools in the country?

Where would we be without the social entrepreneurship of those who have done so much to set up successful Jewish schools like the Joy and Stanley Cohen Primary School in Hertsmere?

Where would we be without the social entrepreneurship of those behind organisations like Jewish Care that do so much to assist the vulnerable, or like the Jewish Marriage Council, which helps keep families together?

Many other social entrepreneurs - faith inspired organisations and voluntary groups - full of compassion and dedicated to public service - are already operating in their thousands up and down the country to help individuals in need. Some are here today. We need to support them and learn from them.

I am told that David Ben Gurion once said: 'In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles'.

As the leader of the Conservative Party, I think I know what he meant.

Our party must once again be disciplined and determined to return to Government. We must inspire people to believe that we are on their side - our policy must be about helping people to achieve.

That is why I have set in train the biggest review of our policies for twenty-five years. Too often, we have been defined by what we are against, not what we are for. I am determined that over the next few years we will set out an imaginative and inspiring agenda. This will be an agenda which will give people dignity, self-respect and a better life for themselves and their families.

I said at the beginning that I had wanted to celebrate with you. I believe we still can. The modern miracle that is Israel should be celebrated and encouraged.

I am proud that the majority of my Parliamentary party are members of CFI. The level of support which CFI has, shows all too clearly the depths of warmth and feeling that Conservatives have to Israel and all she stands for. CFI has an enviable record of achieving worthy objectives and I congratulate Director Stuart Polak for over ten years of exceptional work.

I am delighted that Gillian Shepherd who does so much for CFI is now our Party Vice Chairman and is now responsible for selecting our next generation of Parliamentary Candidates.

When I was in the United States, I was reminded of the words of one of America's greatest Presidents, George Washington: 'May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of other inhabitants - while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid'.

We who cherish freedom know how much it has cost us. It has been paid for in the lives of countless generations.

Burke said: 'All that is required for the triumph of evil is that the good should do nothing'.

Now for the sake of future generations of Palestinians and Israelis it is time for the good to act to defeat the men of evil and find powerful accommodation."

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