Dear President of the University of Jilin,
Dear President of the University of Ben-Gurion,
I’m so glad about this merging, between the Center of Innovation ofyour university and our university.
For me, it’s a personal event, I want to tell you two shortstories. I visited Beijing University, not yours, in 1993, and then they openeda faculty at the University of Beijing, named after David Ben-Gurion. DavidBen-Gurion was our first Prime Minister. He was really like a founder ofIsrael. I was invited to speak before the students of the university, which Idid. To my pleasant surprise, 30 or 40 percent of the students already knewHebrew. I couldn’t believe my ears. But that was to the best of my knowledge,the first academic contact between China and Israel.
Then there is a second story. In 1957, I was the Director Generalof the Ministry of Defense and we had some problems with Germany, and our PrimeMinister Ben-Gurion gave me a letter to deliver to Dr. Adenauer, who was thefirst Chancellor of Germany. After a few sentences about Israel, Ben-Gurionwrote the following to Dr. Adenauer. He said: Look, in 40 or 50 years, Chinamay become the largest economy in the world. They have the talent, they havethe will, they have their destiny and I highly recommend that Western Europewill start to develop a relationship with China. So Ben-Gurion was maybe reallythe first great politician, great leader, that brought to the attention ofEurope the potential of China.
Those are two moving stories for me, and I think for all of Israel,because wherever you will move around here, and clearly in Beer-Sheva and theNegev, you will find love and love for China.
Now what is the secret of Israel? How come? We are such a smallcountry; you know I’m not sure that you’ll find a point on the Chinese map tomark the size of our land. Just one per mile, one-thousandth part of the MiddleEast. We didn’t have much land, and the land was not that nice to us. Therewere swamps in the North, deserts in the South. When we discovered that we havereally nothing, that we cannot make a living, and that we cannot produce bread,we discovered the most important option, and that is the human capital. Thewealth of each the boys and the girls, the men and the women, have inside themselves,with enthusiasm, with devotion, with courage, with producing something new. Andso from nothing we became all of a sudden a wealthy country, not with foreignmoney, not with donations, but the talent and devotion of the Israeli people.
The same happens in China, nobody came to save China. You weren’tsent American dollars or Russian roubles, BUT you and your leaders were able tomobilize the tremendous treasure which is hidden, in the heart and theintellect and the devotion of every Chinese. It’s a great miracle. And sincethen, we became deep friends. China, like us, who became great economically andotherwise, is not because all of a sudden you discovered a lot of material, butyou were wise enough to bring in science and technology. These days we arecelebrating in Israel our 68th year of our independence. China is celebratingher 67th year, we are a little bit older than you by a year.
We started from nothing. We wound up by creating new horizons. Iunderstand that the joint center that you are building at the universities, andI know that the two of them are great universities, is by trying to make theuniversity not just a place of learning, but an occasion for entrepreneurship.What does it mean? Ben-Gurion said you know that all experts are experts forthings that did happen. You don’t have experts for things that should happen ormay happen. So you have really to orient yourself, not upon precedents but upondreams.
We started to work together and we are not the same size, but weare the same age. We are not the same story, but we have the same history, anold people that have developed a beautiful culture, created a young republicthat creates a new future.
You have the leadership, you have the will, you have the capacityto do what we want to do to build a better man, to build a better world, tobuild justice and hope for all. It’s a great occasion, a great marriage, mybest wishes to you two. Thank you.