In the last three or four years, things have gotten a bit worse, as you know, so there has been even more pressure on everybody to try and find a way out of this. Some people have decided, it seems, that perhaps the only way out is to exert additional pressure, at the level of the civil society, and in particular the academic community.

In our opinion, and this is actually expressed in the statement, it is precisely the civil community where bridges should be maintained and relations should be intensified. It is precisely in the academic sector and the scholarly sector of the two communities that leadership should be provided in order to make sure that we are able, as societies, to return to the path of peace.

Therefore, as you heard from the statement, whether in the role of educators, as a moral duty, or in the role of people whose responsibility it is, as the avant-garde in their own societies—however you look at it—our role should be to try and convey the message to the rest of society that cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians is the way forward, and that it is necessary and that it is commendable. It is nothing to be ashamed of. It is nothing to look upon as a negative future. On the contrary, it is a positive future, since it is a future that will allow us to work toward the creation of the peace that we all, in fact, crave. Therefore we have come up with this statement.

One of the very sensitive and important areas of cooperation the universities have been engaged in is to set up a virtual library on Jerusalem—you know how sensitive Jerusalem is. Nonetheless, people from the Hebrew University and our university, for three years, have been talking, negotiating, fighting, agreeing—they have actually managed to put together this wonderful project on the most sensitive issue we have, which is Jerusalem, and it was done jointly. I believe it is an example, a model of how, even in the most sensitive areas, with good intentions on both sides and scholarship, if properly used, we can push ahead to create a better world for the people of the region.

That is why we have signed this statement, and we have come to sign it in front of you because we believe that this, as a context, is the right place to have it signed. Thank you.

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