This is the Farewell Speech delivered by President Shimon Peres at the Knesset, Thursday 24 July, 2014, published at The Times of Israel in a translation provided by the President’s Residence.
I came to thank you for the privilege you granted me to serve our country and its people for the past seven years. There is no greater privilege. Thank you.
Israel, this small country, became a truly great state.
I know of no other country on the face of the earth or throughout history, which amazed and surprised so much.
Gathering in its people. Making its wilderness bloom. Resurrected from the ruins, surviving a terrible Holocaust. Fighting back in seven wars. Bringing a language back to life. Respecting its traditions and adopting modernity.
And at the same time building a country which continues to develop.
A country which possesses values and practices democracy.
A country without natural resources, which utilized instead the resourcefulness of its people. Our human resource is far more precious than wells of oil or mines of gold.
A country which was established upon a historical core and became an outstanding state in the new scientific world.
A country of song. A country of literature. A country which seeks peace day and night.
I leave the presidency without parting from my faith. I will continue to serve my country as a deep believer that Israel is an exemplary state.
We are a people that experienced unimaginable agony. And we are a people that reached the lofty heights of human achievement. We made great efforts. We paid a heavy price.
We will never forget our brothers and sisters who perished in the Holocaust. We will remember those who fell in battle, who brought new life to a redeemed people.
It is a great privilege to be a citizen among citizens who know toil and struggle. Who made a supreme effort and held on to determined hope until the first dew of our dawn.
We returned. We built. We fought. We prayed. Until we began to see contours that even surprised us. We are an ancient people who are getting older. We are a people, first and foremost, that rebuilds itself time and again.
Israel was born as a precedent and created precedents. Despite being small in number among the nations, our people carried a faith as great as any. The first to rebel against prejudice was Moses.
A nation that rebelled against Pharaoh. That smashed idols. That shattered illusions. A nation that walked through the desert to reach its home, its destiny.
We climbed the mountains and came down with the tablets, with the Ten Commandments which became the foundations upon which our nation was built and which were adopted by Western civilization.
We continue and will continue with this great legacy. There are still idols to be smashed, slaves to free, lives to save and justice to uphold. There is still a world to fix.
Even if we remain the minority among the nations. Even if we serve as a target for evil – we will not deviate from our moral heritage.
Challenges are not invited. They occur spontaneously. That is how the current challenge occurred. I did not imagine that in the last days of my presidency I would be called upon, once more, to comfort bereaved families. Tears in their eyes. And faith in their hearts.
I did not imagine that it would happen again, after we were hit with rockets which were intended to harm innocent civilians. And after we uncovered tunnels meant to kill, intended to penetrate into the heart of civilian communities and fire at mothers and children. We must alert the world to the madness of the terrorist threat.
Terrorism aims to spill our blood. And leads to blood being spilled among its people. Never has such a minority torn apart the fabric of whole societies. So cruelly sent children to serve as shields for its crimes.