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PM Netanyahu addresses the Knesset in honor of Jerusalem Day

​Since our very beginning as a people, our existence was tied to Jerusalem, and the awareness of this privilege is the cornerstone of our national experience and our Zionist faith.

The 49th anniversary of the reunification of Israel's capital finds Jerusalem in a clear trend of development, prosperity and accomplishments that inspire pride. There are many issues and challenges that we must address, and we are and will continue to do so.

However, one thing is clear: Jerusalem, the beating heart of our nation, our united capital, is advancing by leaps and bounds. We see this in the construction, the cranes, the roads, the institutions located here, in the factories. I refer to software factories, because out of Zion shall come forth software and it is. It is coming forth in completely new and unexpected places, for example in the automotive industry, as a global player, and so on and so forth.

Numerous crowns have been placed on Jerusalem's head, from Biblical times through the present day. There is a reason it creates a unifying experience between generations. We, the adults, remember the Jerusalem that was divided until the Six Day War. We remember what was on the other side, when Israel did not have security control beyond the barbed wire fences, in the minefields, the no-man's land. The younger people here were born into a different era. They visit the battlegrounds, especially Ammunition Hill. They read about the heroism of our fighters who fought the most justified of defensive wars and achieved a glorious victory. They hear the stories of divided Jerusalem, which for 19 years was the front line and a frontier town. That is what it was.

Older Jerusalemites, children like me, remember them firing, always firing from east to west. We did not fire eastward. The enemy was literally a stone's throw from us, and that is what happens when we do not have security control in the field. Of course, we do not want to return to that reality. I do not think that there is room for any apologetics. We do not need to make excuses for our being in Jerusalem.

Since our very beginning as a people, our existence was tied to Jerusalem, and the awareness of this privilege is the cornerstone of our national experience and our Zionist faith. Moreover, the vast majority of the public understands that only democratic Israel can safeguard Jerusalem's existence as an open city, one that has freedom for all religions. Freedom of religion is conditional on tolerance and tolerance only exists if there is genuine willingness to respect the holy places of the other side and the sanctity of religion first and foremost.

Unfortunately, this does not happen in our region nowadays. The Middle East is rife with extremism and under sway to a dangerous atmosphere – who will expel whom, who will banish whom, who will destroy whom, who will destroy the cultural treasures of the other side. Of course, influenced by these trends, we have, over the past year, witnessed incidents of incitement and extremism in relation to the Temple Mount. Claims were made against us that we allegedly sought to harm the al-Aqsa Mosque, something which was not and will never be true.

This old lie has been revived. It was applied to my grandfather's generation several short years after he immigrated to Israel in 1920. The same lie has been revived, and this severe incitement is of course also at the core of the current wave of terror, which has led to the injury of innocent people. Apparently this lie has legs because it has travelled as far as the UN headquarters at UNESCO. The organization charged by the UN to preserve the world's heritage recently determined that the Temple Mount has no connection to the Jewish people. We have no connection with the Temple Mount. This claim is so absurd and so outrageous that I cannot get over it. Not only is it ridiculous, but this absurdity and this lie are making the rounds the world over – we have no connection with the Temple Mount.

Our forefathers visited the Temple Mount 3,800 years ago. The two temples of the Jewish people stood on the Temple Mount for one thousand years. King David built his palace in the City of David adjacent to the Temple Mount and made Jerusalem our capital 3,000 years ago, and ever since, the Jewish people have prayed in the direction of the Temple Mount and its image has decorated their homes – and we have no connection with the Temple Mount. The Jews' ongoing affinity with the Temple Mount is a basic fact of history that only ignorant people, either by force or willingly, deny.

I must say here: These distortions of history are only reserved for the Jews. Does anyone claim that the pyramids in Giza have no connection to the Egyptians? That the Acropolis in Athens has no connection to the Greeks? That the Coliseum in Rome has no connection to the Italians? It is ridiculous to try and sever the connection between the Temple Mount and the Jewish people.

Of course, the truth is the complete opposite. We, the people of Israel, have a primal claim on Jerusalem. Our roots here are deeper than any other peoples, and the same is true about the Temple Mount. Jerusalem was ours and it will be ours.

I believe that the Six Day War made it clear to our enemies that we are here to stay. The same spirit of the liberators of Jerusalem beats in our hearts. Over the past year, we have stood firm against bloodthirsty terrorists. We took determined action against them – in any place, at any time, without limits. We can see that we succeeded in sharply reducing the number of terrorist attacks. I cannot say that we have "yet come to the resting place or to the heritage". We are doing everything we can to ensure that quiet will prevail in the capital and anywhere else in Israel. However, with regard to the capital, I wish to say – and especially with regard to the Temple Mount before Ramadan begins – that we made efforts, and I would say massive efforts, during Passover so that this spark would not be reignited.

The incitement and provocations concerning the Temple Mount played an important role in igniting the phenomenon of the individual terrorists, as we call them, seven months ago – and their numbers have gradually decreased. We spoke with neighboring Arab countries; we spoke with various publics; we spoke with the media; our representatives appeared in the Arab-language media; and we told the truth, the truth I am telling you now, regarding our intention to preserve the status quo. We succeeded in reducing the tension and in preventing its reoccurrence during Passover. Now Ramadan is about to begin and we are making that same effort, I hope with the full cooperation of all the members of Knesset and of all our neighbors.

Clearly, the violence will not overcome us and it will not weaken our hold on Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a mixed city. There is a complex web of relations between Jews and non-Jews here, and of course there is tension between the populations. By the way, this characterizes other mixed cities around the world, almost all of them. However, coexistence continues even if it is occasionally undermined. I believe that most of the residents of East Jerusalem want quiet, and I think we should not allow anyone to ignite a conflagration, to inflame the extremists. When they tried to do so, we acted decisively. If they try doing it again, we will act similarly in the future.

In the meanwhile, Mr. Mayor, we are contributing a measure of security, in full cooperation with each other under your leadership, but with the full support of the Government, and I believe also of the majority of members of Knesset – a measure of security and also of beauty. Herzl visited Jerusalem 118 years ago, and he found a rather neglected city. He wrote that it was filled with nests of filth that had to be removed. However, despite this, he emphasized, "Even in its current state of destruction, it is still a beautiful city and it could, if we come here, be one of the most beautiful cities in the world again."

I think that Herzl would appreciate that he was right in this prediction as well, because the act of building Jerusalem, its establishment, rehabilitation and development have made it into such a city, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, certainly the most beautiful city for our people and for our children. It is the largest of Israel's cities and a vibrant metropolis. It has been resurrected and it is flourishing.

The best way to describe Jerusalem is as an extremely old city, as it is thousands of years old, but one that is renewing its adolescence, and it still has a great many steps before all its problems can be resolved. However, I believe that something new is developing here. There are new energies here, and we are not only rehabilitating its spectacular ruins, we are advancing capabilities for innovation and opportunities that we never dreamed would be found in this city just years ago.

Several weeks ago, we placed a cornerstone nearby for the new location of the National Library. The Jerusalem of the spirit marches hand-in-hand with the Jerusalem of daily life – on the streets, in the markets, in the shopping centers, in the hi-tech factories. The road to Jerusalem is changing, with added lanes and train tracks. This week, the first part of the new Moza Bridge was connected, and the second part will open soon as well. Every Jerusalemite and anyone who has travelled up to Jerusalem welcomes this wonderful change. The dangerous curve near Moza is in the past.

We are entering the jubilee year of the unification of Jerusalem. We still have a great many plans up our sleeves and many initiatives to advance the capital from end to end. We will continue to ensure that Jerusalem, our united capital, will be open and prosperous, with its face to the future, to coexistence and to peace.

"Judah will exist forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation…"
"For he has strengthened the bars of your gates, and blessed your children in your midst."
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Israeli Leaders Honor 100 Years of American Jewry’s Contributions to the State of Israel at First-Ever Knesset Ceremony

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu among Israeli leaders who spoke at ceremony honoring American Jewry’s steadfast and historic contribution to Israel, which is accompanied by a photo exhibition from the Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies

Jerusalem, Top Israeli public officials and leaders gathered this afternoon at the Knesset to honor 100 years of American Jewry's contribution to the State of Israel. Attendees included Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Leader of the Opposition Isaac Herzog, Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky and US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.

The ceremony, the first of its kind, which was initiated by the Ruderman Family Foundation and put together by MK Dr. Nachman Shai and Speaker of the Knesset MK Yuli Edelstein, honored the critical role American Jewry has made over the past 100 years in the establishment of the State of Israel and the Yishuv.

"I believe it is difficult to overstate the importance of the American Jewish people to the State of Israel. American Jewry's contribution to the State has been enormous and it will continue to be important to the future of the Israeli people," said PM Netanyahu. "We must be more familiar with American Jewry and we must know more about them, and I’m convinced we will continue to see many young Americans making Aliyah."

This landmark ceremony was accompanied by a special photographic exhibition, "Stripes, Stars and Megan David" marking American Jewry’s deep involvement with the Yishuv and the State of Israel, bringing to life the many years of unrelenting activity and support by American Jews through chronological illustrations in the fields of education, health, welfare, security and much more. The exhibition, erected by the Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies at the University of Haifa, will be on display at the Knesset for two weeks before traveling to Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People and Ben Gurion Airport.

“For the past 10 years, May has marked Jewish American Heritage month in the US and we thought it was time that Israeli society also acknowledged American Jewry and recognize the contribution the community has made to the State of Israel throughout the years,” said Shira Ruderman, Director of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “The first step in Israel is knowledge. Most Israelis are not familiar with the fact that the American Jewish community has played such a significant role in the creation of the Zionist undertaking in building and developing the Jewish state. I'd like to personally thank MK Dr. Nachman Shai and Speaker of the Knesset MK Yuli Edelstein, who were imperative to the ceremony and have recognized it as a formal Knesset event."

The Ruderman Family Foundation works to strengthen the relationship between Israel and the American Jewish community, including the Ruderman MK Mission, a 5-day program that brings Israeli Members of Parliament to the US to foster a better understanding of the American Jewish community.

"I want to thank the Ruderman Family Foundation for this wonderful initiative and all the work they do to educate our delegates on a better understanding the American Jewish community. It's been a difficult few days between myself and PM Netanyahu but one thing we have in common is our roots to the American Jewish people," said Herzog. "We must do all we can to keep this golden bridge standing forever."
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PM Netanyahu addresses the 'Unto Every Person There is a Name' ceremony at the Knesset

​Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu maintained his annual tradition of reading a poem written by his father-in-law Shmuel Ben-Artzi in 1941, after losing touch with his family in Europe but before he knew of their fate.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day today, at the Knesset, made the following remarks at the 'Unto Every Person There is a Name' ceremony:

"My beloved late father-in-law, Shmuel Ben-Artzi, who won the Ka-Tzenik Prize for Holocaust Literature, was the only member of his family who survived the Holocaust. He was saved because in 1933, at the age of 18, he came here despite the pleadings of his father Moshe. He had studied at the Novardok Yeshiva, was a Hebrew pioneer who worked in orchards and built up the land. He was in both the Etzel and the Haganah. He was also a great Hebrew educator, major Tanakh scholar, an author and a poet.

He wrote a moving, heartfelt poem about the Holocaust, 'To the Land of Moriah' in 1941, two years after he lost contact with his family but before he knew what happened to them.

'To the Land of Moriah

My father –
I did not know what had befallen him.
Was he still alive? In what place
there did he wander, pursued and threatened?

I am here alone going up Mt. Moriah.

Many generations are laid upon my back:
Broken pieces of burnt wood dripping anguish,
And in my eyes lightning-fire of thousands of ovens,
Into which thousands of murderers were not thrown;
a blade dripping blood and anguish in my heart.

G-d, give me a sign!

Do not send an angel and ram,
let no shofar sound my name!
The binding of thousands has not assuaged your wrath,
Even my coming up is for naught –
G-d, give me a sign!'

The sign never came.

I will now read the names of some of the relatives of my father-in-law, Shmuel Ben-Artzi from Bilgoraj, Poland, who perished in the Holocaust:

The father to whom he wrote the poem, my wife's grandfather, Moshe Hahn, his father's wife Ita, his twin sister Yehudit, who was 24.

His brothers Meir Hahn .(18), Shimon Tzvi (16) and Aryeh Leib (13), and his little sister Feizele (10).

His uncle Avraham Tauber, his wife and their son and daughter.

His aunt Rachel Tauber .and her three sons – Avraham, Yaakov and Shlomo, and their wives and children.
His aunt Hinda and her husband Yehezkel.

His aunt Hendel, her husband and their children.

His aunt Paula and her two daughters.

His aunt Ma'tel Koenigstein, her son Hillel and her eldest daughter.

His uncle Mendel Hahn, his wife and their two children.

May their memories be blessed."
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PM Netanyahu attends launch of Knesset caucus for Israel-Africa relations

Both as Prime Minister and as Foreign Minister, we are making a deliberate African strategy, and I've received an invitation from the President of Kenya and from others to come and visit Africa.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning (Monday, 29 February 2016), at the Knesset, attended the launch of the Knesset Caucus for Israel-Africa Relations, which was initiated by MK Dr. Avraham Naguisa. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, MKs and African ambassadors were also in attendance. The Prime Minister spoke with the ambassadors, all of whom invited him to visit their countries.

Prime Minister Netanyahu: "Israel is coming back to Africa; Africa is coming back to Israel. It's happening in a big way. It's happening now, but it should have happened a long time ago. It's happening now because it's so clear that this is good for Africa and it's good for Israel. We face a multitude of challenges and opportunities. Both as Prime Minister and as Foreign Minister, we are making a deliberate, what I call African strategy, and I've received an invitation from the President of Kenya and from others to come and visit Africa.

I intend to do so around the 40th anniversary of the raid at Entebbe that was for us a very dramatic national experience. For me, obviously, one of great personal consequence, but we view that as an opportunity to give practical meaning to what I said before: Israel is coming back to Africa; Africa is coming back to Israel.

And in fact, what I'd like to see, given this new reality, given the confluence of interests - that means the meeting of the minds, the meeting of the minds and the meeting of hearts. Now we understand that we have these two great things before us: overcoming the dark forces of militant Islamic terrorism and seizing the opportunities of the future with technology and everything else we can bring to bear. What I'd like to see is the closeness of our relationship reflected also in the voting pattern of the African Union.

I would like to eventually get to that point with the African Union, because you should vote for the interests of your own countries and you should vote for the interests of Africa. And I have no doubt whatsoever that today the interests of Africa and the interests of Israel cohere. They're almost identical, and in some respects and in many respects they are identical. So, I want to see that reflected in our bilateral relationship and also in our multilateral relationship. And as I said, Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel, and I intend to make good at it by literally coming to Africa. For too long you have come here and we have not come there, and we are going to change that.

The greatest challenge we face together - the entire world faces - is the surge of militant Islamist extremism and the terrorism that it espouses. It threatens every land in Africa. In my opinion, it threatens the entire globe. Its nexus is in the Middle East, but it is rapidly spreading.

It can be defeated. It can only be defeated if the nations that are attacked by it, make common cause. We understand the dangers of Al-Shabab. We understand the dangers of the other militancies that threaten your countries in Africa, and we are prepared to work with you to defeat them. And it is possible to do so.

I think that many countries from Africa, and may I say not only from Africa, are coming to Israel because of a demonstrated capacity to stand up to the forces of militant Islam, do battle with them, roll them back. And we are prepared to put our expertise at your disposal. That's the first reason that there has been such a marked change in the appreciation of Africa and Israel to one another.

Israel is ready to help in every way - in agriculture, in health care, in water, in irrigation, in science, in technology, in investment, tourism, cyber. Every country can be brought to its knees today if it doesn't have adequate cyber protection, just the basic services that you have - communications, banking, airlines and so on. And Israel is now a world power in cyber security and my policy is to make some of our experience available to our friends. We consider you great friends. So we want to be able to cooperate with you in these two fields: fighting the forces of terror and seizing the opportunities of tomorrow. And they go hand in hand."

Cameroonian Ambassador Henri Etoundi Essomba, the dean of the African Diplomatic Corps in Israel, noted that Netanyahu ”is one of the first Israeli leaders to open, with full force, a small window between Africa and Israel.”

Kenya's ambassador to Israel, Augostino S.K. Njoroge, said President Uhuru Kenyatta's recent visit to Israel was his most successful official visit to a foreign country, adding that Kenya was looking forward to strengthening its relations with Israel.

Ruben Marial Benjamin, South Sudan’s first ambassador to Israel, urged PM Netanyahu to visit his country, saying such a visit ”could unite the torn tribes, bring peace and end the bloodshed.” The South Sudanese people ”love Israel,” he stated.

Jean-Baptiste Gomis, the Ivory Coast's ambassador to Israel, also invited PM Netanyahu to visit his country.
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Knesset commemorates historic UN speech denouncing “Zionism is racism” resolution

PM Netanyahu: Resolution 3379 marks an unprecedented moral nadir for the UN, which provided a platform for the libel of racism, turning into an organization that perpetuates the lines of division between states.

The Knesset commemorated the historic speech given by then ambassador to the United Nations Chaim Herzog on November 10, 1975, in which he denounced General Assembly Resolution 3379 that declared Zionism a form of racism.

That day coincided with the 37th anniversary Kristallnacht, or the Night of Shattered Glass, in Germany. The resolution was adopted by a 72-35 vote with 32 abstentions and remained in place until it was revoked in 1991, by which time Herzog was Israel’s sixth president.

Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein opened the special plenary session by saying that even after all the time that has passed, ”the UN is once again proving its deep detachment from what is happening in our region [and presents] its biased approach to the conflict here.”

”Today, 24 years after the UN annulled the miserable resolution which compared Zionism to racism, the UN is leading, in practice, a clear anti-Israel approach, which at times is no less severe than that decision regarding Zionism. In many ways, nothing has changed after 40 years. Israel is still slandered and boycotted all across the world, and nonsense and incitement indirectly or directly encourage the hatred and the attacks against [Israel],” Edelstein told the plenum.

”Today, as in the past, we do not plan on remaining silent about the dissemination of lies which slander the Jewish nation and the State of Israel. If we are destined to remain in the minority position, we will never stop fighting for our justice, our rights and our morality, in the spirit of the determination and courage that were displayed by Chaim Herzog on the UN stage.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in his speech that Resolution 3379 marked an ”unprecedented moral nadir” for the UN, which ”provided a platform for the libel of racism, turning into an organization that perpetuates the lines of division between states.”

”Not only does it not help in finding solutions, it has deepened the conflicts and stood on the side of tyranny against democracy,” he said.

The prime minister said the Zionism is racism resolution was a ”watershed moment” in the history of anti-Semitism, in that previously, hatred of Jews arose in one country or another, but this was the first time an international body was used to that end.”

In the 40 years since Herzog’s speech, Netanyahu stated, ”the impression of deep polarity that was inherent in that day has not been dulled” The PM argued that, though the resolution was canceled in 1991, ”the trend of hostility to Israel in UN institutions continues to this day. The pattern of automatic votes against Israel continues. There are factors in the UN who seek to condemn us at every opportunity.”

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Camp) told the plenum that his father’s speech defended Israel’s values as a democracy.

”Forty years later,” he said, ”the State of Israel is fighting for its existence and international standing. To this day, there are still some around the world who seek to destroy us and our spectacular project…To this day, our enemies doubt the justice of our existence and our natural and historic right to self-determination.”

”They didn’t know what BDS was then, but it was the same,” Herzog remarked. ”Israel is dealing with terrorism and orchestrated international delegitimization.”

He stated that the efforts to fight terrorism cannot allow Israel to change its character and its Jewish and democratic values.

”There are values that cannot be disputed, no matter what attack we are under. We must remember each day what are the values on which the State of Israel was established and by which it acts,” Herzog said, and read from the Declaration of Independence, calling it ”not only our founding document, but our defensive shield.”

Herzog spoke out against a populist and violent discourse, saying it is ”making us sometimes forget that left and right, religious and secular, we are all Israelis. We all love this country the same amount, we all defend it together and are willing to give our lives for it.

”As my father, may he rest in peace, said in that speech 40 years ago, words that are reinforced today: ‘We will stand as a united front against those who seek to destroy us, and remind all those who seek to boycott us, isolate us and destroy us, that we will not stand idly by in the face of those heinous attempts`.”

At the end of his speech, Chaim Herzog tore up the resolution on the podium before the UN General Assembly.

”For us, the Jewish people, this is no more than a piece of paper and we shall treat it as such,” he said.

The decision, he told the gathering, was ”conceived in the desire to deflect the Middle East from its moves toward peace and born of a deep pervading feeling of anti-Semitism”

”It is sobering to consider to what level this body has been dragged down if we are obliged today to contemplate an attack on Zionism. For this attack constitutes not only an anti-Israeli attack of the foulest type, but also an assault in the United Nations on Judaism,” Herzog stated.

”The resolution against Zionism was originally one condemning racism and colonialism, a subject on which we could have achieved consensus,” he added. ”However, instead of permitting this to happen, a group of countries, drunk with the feeling of power inherent in the automatic majority and without regard to the importance of achieving a consensus on this issue, railroaded the UN in a contemptuous maneuver by the use of the automatic majority into bracketing Zionism with the subject under discussion.”
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German Bundestag President Lammert visits the Knesset


A special plenary session marked 50 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany. Bundestag President Lammert: "Antisemitism, wherever it occurs, is unacceptable, and in Germany, it is unbearable. The intensity of the friendly relations between our two countries is indeed one of history's miracles." Knesset Speaker Edelstein: "Germany must be at the forefront of the fight against BDS."

During special plenary session marking 50 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein said the countries "share many common positions, and the good relations [between them] are exceptional and unique."

Turning to Bundestag President Norbert Lammert, Speaker Edelstein said, "Personally, I wish to express to you my appreciation and the appreciation of the Knesset and its members, for being a friend to Israel in heart and soul. You have never hesitated to stand by us and speak in support of Israel. I recall that in the past you even stated that the hand the Jewish people and the State of Israel extended to Germany was a gesture that allowed Germany to become what it is today. 'You gave us back our humanity. You gave us a new opportunity, and we are grateful for it', you said."

"You have mentioned more than once the special importance you attach to establishing parliamentary relations between our countries, and your open approach - which calls to bring the members of Israel's and Germany's younger generation closer together - is significant," Edelstein told the visiting Bundestag President.

He added: "Germany is a true friend of Israel. [The fact that you are] standing by us and by the Jewish nation is important as ever, particularly during this time; a time of a difficult global struggle against anti-Semitism in its new form - anti-Israelism. Despite the very difficult history between the nations, we must add to and contribute to the effort to build during this era trust between the countries, based on deep cooperation. This is even our duty: To prove that it is possible to build totally different relations. Not to deny, not to ignore, not to forget and not to sweep anything. On the contrary: To remember the past well in order to deal with it, to make certain that such a thing will never happen again - not to the Jewish people or to any other human beings.

It is important to stress this, since - also in Germany itself - voices are being heard, particularly among the young generation, claiming that despite its commitment to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, this [does not constitute an obligation] to support Israel, the nation state of the Jewish people. Therefore, sir, the fact that you are standing here today, and the address you will deliver to us, is of added significance to the public in Israel and also to the citizens of Germany and even outside of it. The lessons of the Holocaust are not only universal, they are also particular and pertain directly to Israel and the Jewish people."

Speaker Edelstein called the increasing calls to impose economic, academic and cultural boycotts on Israel "detached from reality" and "somewhat hypocritical" because they are "directed at the most attacked country in the world, which is making a supreme effort to maintain its morality at all times. This activity is driven by hate, prejudice and sometimes blind anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism," Edelstein posited. "It is blind to what is happening in many countries in our region, including in Syria - right here on our border - and to the massacres and mass expulsions, cruel and daily, by extremist elements such as ISIS, al-Qaeda and others, who threaten the stability of the entire Western world.

The boycotters and detractors are also blind to the fact that the real conflict has long since not been a local one between Israel and the Palestinians, and its cause is not alleged occupation or banishment; the real struggle is much broader - it is a 'clash of civilizations', and it is a religious and cultural clash between the extremist Islamic world and the free and tolerant world."
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Knesset, WJC Reps Meet with Polish Leaders to Mobilize Support for Israel

WARSAW, An Israeli delegation from the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus (KCAC) and the World Jewish Congress (WJC) was in Warsaw to mark the launch of the Polish Parliamentary Israel Allies Caucus at the Polish parliament, the Sejm. KCAC and WJC representatives met with senior Christian parliamentarians in order to garner further support for the State of Israel through their shared Judeo-Christian values.

"As anti-Semitism continues to rise in Europe and around the world, I was moved to witness this historic initiative by members of the Polish parliament to publicly support the Jewish State,” said Shai Hermesh, a former member of the Knesset and current chairman of the World Jewish Congress-Israel.

Josh Reinstein, Director of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, added: “This is an important day for faith-based diplomacy. Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we must turn the bulk of our efforts toward mobilizing support for Israel. Israel is the only guarantor of the Jewish people's survival."

In Warsaw, the delegation met with high-ranking Polish lawmakers including Jan Dziedziczak, who is one of the initiators of the newly established Polish Israel Allies Caucus. Sejm members from both the opposition and coalition parties joined Dziedziczak to further the relationship between Poland and the State of Israel.

Polish MP Michal Szczerba, who also chairs Polish-Israeli parliamentary group and is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee from the governing Civic Platform, welcomed the Israeli delegation and stressed the importance of this initiative in further fostering Polish-Israeli relations.

Witold Waszczykowski, a former Polish ambassador to Iran and former deputy director of Poland’s National Security Bureau, expressed his enthusiastic support of the establishment of the caucus.

The Israeli delegation included Andras Patkai, Israel Allies Foundation european director; representatives from the World Jewish Congress, including Shai Hermesh, chairman of WJC-Israel; Sam Grundwerg, director-general of WJC-Israel; Col. (res.) Moshe Leshem; Laurence Weinbaum, director of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, which operates under the auspices of the World Jewish Congress; Anna Azari, Israel’s ambassador to Poland; and Josh Reinstein, KCAC director.

The Knesset Christian Allies Caucus was established in 2004 and consists of 17 members of Knesset from six political parties. The caucus aims to open formal and direct lines of communication between Knesset members and Christian leaders, organizations and political representatives around the world.

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20th Knesset to be sworn in March 31, 2015

Forty new MKs will serve in the incoming Knesset. Of the 120 Knesset members, 29 will be women. This marks a new record in the number of female lawmakers, two more than the 19th Knesset.

The festive opening ceremony of the 20th Knesset will take place on March 31, with the participation of President Reuven Rivlin. Forty new MKs will serve in the incoming Knesset. Likud will have the most new MKs with 11, followed by the Zionist Union (9 new MKs), Kulanu (9), the Joint (Arab) List (6), HaBayit HaYehudi (2), Yisrael Beitenu (2) and Yesh Atid (1).

A number of new MKs served as parliamentarians in the past (but not in the 19th Knesset). They are: Benny Begin, Moshe Kahlon, Avi Dichter, Ayoub Kara and Yoel Hasson.

Of the 120 Knesset members, 29 will be women. This marks a new record in the number of female lawmakers. The previous record was 27, in the 19th Knesset.

The following is a list of the new Knesset members:

Likud: David Bitan, Jackie Levy, Yoav Kish, David Amsalem, Nurit Koren, Miki Zohar, Anat Berko, Nava Boker, Avraham Nagosa, Yaron Mazuz, Oren Hazan

Zionist Union: Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, Revital Swid, Danny Attar, Zuhair Bahloul, Eitan Broshi, Ksenia Svetlova, Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin, Prof. Yossi Yona, Eyal Ben-Reuven

Kulanu: Yoav Galant, Eli Alalouf, Michael Oren, Rachel Azaria, Tali Ploskov, Yifat Shasha-Biton, Eli Cohen, Roy Folkman, Merav Ben Ari

Joint (Arab) List: Aiman Uda, Aida Touma-Sliman, Abd al-Hakim Hajj Yahya, Yosef Jabareen, Osama Sa`adi, Abdullah Abu Maaruf

HaBayit HaYehudi: Yinon Magal and Bezalel Smotrich

Yisrael Beitenu: Ilan Shohat and Sharon Gal

Yesh Atid: Haim Yalin
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Several Israeli lawmakers walk out of Knesset chamber during EU leader's speech

Several Israeli ministers have accused Martin Schulz, the German president of the European Parliament, of spreading lies about Israel in his speech before the Knesset on Wednesday. Industry, Trade, Labor and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett and other members of Bennett's Jewish Home faction walked out of the Israeli parliament chamber during Schulz' address, which he gave in German.
WJC, "The Palestinians want to live in peace and unrestricted freedom of movement," Schulz told the Knesset just before Bennett and other MKswalked out. "A Palestinian youth asked me why an Israeli can use 70 cubic liters of water and a Palestinian just 17," Schulz said. "I haven't checked the data. I'm asking you if this is correct."
Bennett later told the 'Jerusalem Post': "When he said Palestinians get 17 liters of water for every 70 Israelis get, it was a total lie. It's preposterous... All the ministers were perplexed. I stayed quiet at first, but then he criticized the Israeli blockade on Gaza and said it caused pain to the Gazans. Did he forget that we expelled 8,000 Jews from Gaza? This week I worked on helping the evacuees. Did he forget that [Gazans] shoot thousands of missiles at us? And then he criticizes us about the very place we vacated?" The Israeli minister demanded that Schulz "take back his lies," and called for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make the same demand.
"Our national honor as the State of Israel isn't mine or the ministers'. It belongs to all of the people of Israel," he stated. "I won't sit in the Knesset and hear a European, certainly not a German, saying such things," Bennett added.
Israeli ministers: "Schulz told lies"
Immediately after Schulz departed from the Knesset, Culture Minister Limor Livnat of Netanyahu's Likud Party also took a strong stand, saying Schulz' words had been "a vulgar lie."
Pensioners' Affairs Minister Uri Orbach (Jewish Home) chimed in: "Schulz told lies in German, and it's unfortunate someone can speak German in this house, but it is our responsibility to stand up against it. The generation of Schulz's parents and the generation of the Arab MKs' parents collaborated to destroy the Jews."
Schulz said it was an "honor" for him to speak the Knesset, which he called the "heart of Israeli democracy" and a "symbol of hope for the Jewish people." He said that, although he had been born in 1955, years after the Holocaust, "I bear responsibility which stems from the mass murder perpetrated in the name of my nation, each German bears it."
"We all know the [Gaza] blockade is a reaction to attacks on your civilian population, but it led to a difficult situation. The results of the blockade are exploited by extremists, so perhaps it is counterproductive to security," he said.
The speaker of the European Parliament, which is directly elected by the citizens of the 28 EU member states, took the interruptions of his speech with good humor, saying to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein that theKnesset was quiet compared to the European Parliament and that he would have been disappointed if there hadn't been any reaction to his speech.
"We all know the blockade is a reaction to attacks on your civilian population, but it led to a difficult situation. The results of the blockade are exploited by extremists, so perhaps it is counterproductive to security," he said.

Still, Schulz took the Bayit Yehudi's interruptions with good humor, saying to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelsteinthat the Knesset is quiet compared to the European Parliament and that he would have been disappointed if there wasn't a reaction to his speech.
Opposition leader: 'Walkout embarrassing'
Lawmakers of the opposition reacted angrily to the walkout. “The behavior of the Jewish Home MKs was shameful and scandalous,” said opposition leader Isaac Herzog of the Labor Party said. “I think some of the them didn’t even hear the speech. My colleagues and I were embarrassed. We know Martin Schulz. He defends Israel’s position, including in the European Parliament.”
Schulz’s speech had contained “deep, historic words about the justice of Israel, about the Shoah and its lessons, about the battle against anti-Semitism and against evil; it was very impressive. And then he talked about our relationship with the Palestinians and the founding of a Palestinian state alongside Israel as part of the two-state solution. We have to get used to the fact that even our friends around the world are sometimes critical of us, and they’re going to say it. In the Knesset itself far worse things are said,” Herzog added.

Prepared text of the speech of Martin Schulz to the Knesset, 12 February 2014
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Edelstein,
Members, dear colleagues,
I stand before you today as the German President of a multinational European Parliament. I am well aware that it is by no means self-evident that the German language should be heard in this House, and I should like to express to you my gratitude for allowing me to address you in my mother tongue.
It is a great honor for me to be in Jerusalem as a guest of the Knesset, the body which is the heartbeat of Israeli democracy, the body which symbolizes the realization of the hope cherished for so long by the Jewish people for a homeland of their own; following centuries in which the Jewish people were betrayed and persecuted throughout the world; following the unprecedented break with all civilized values which the Shoahrepresented; and following the barbaric murder of six million Jews.
I was born in 1955. I am a German who did not experience at first hand the atrocities of National Socialism, but the crimes committed by the Nazis were the reason I became involved in politics and their repercussions have influenced political thinking from the start. I bear the same responsibility as every other German for the mass murder perpetrated in the name of my nation. In the name of my nation, the Jewish people were forced to endure suffering for which no reparation can ever be made. I bow down before the memory of all those who were murdered.
As a German who holds political office, and international political office at that, I regard it as my first duty to honor the following pledge: Never again. Never forget.
We must make sure that the act of commemorating past disasters which have befallen humanity engenders a sense of responsibility for the present and the future, and that we let this sense of responsibility guide our actions.
Letting this sense of responsibility guide our actions means standing up for freedom, for democracy and for human dignity every day.
We are all witnessing with dismay a return to ways of thinking which we thought had long been consigned to history, in the form of anti-Semitism, ultra-nationalism and populism. This merely strengthens me in my conviction that we must stand firm together - every one of us - against all those who stir up hatred. I believe that what the philosopher Edmund Burke said still holds true: ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’.
We have no choice, therefore, but to act responsibly. Acting responsibly means observing the principle enshrined in Germany’s Basic Law that ‘human dignity is sacrosanct’.
Acting responsibly means, for us, nurturing the European unification process, because integration between our States and our peoples was the response we Europeans found to the wars, destruction and murders which disfigured the first half of the 20th century. Unification and integration have helped us to banish the old demons and have immunized Europe against the threat of war.
Acting responsibly means, for us, openly acknowledging Israel’s right to exist and the right of the Jewish people to live in security and peace. The European Union will always stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel.
Dear Members of the Knesset,
For the sake of our children and our children’s children we must remember. For the sake of future generations, who will never have the opportunity to talk with survivors of the Shoah, we need events and places which help us remember.
Yesterday I had a deeply moving experience. Together with Judge Gabriel Bach I visited the Yad Vashemmemorial. I had the honor of meeting Judge Bach for the first time two years ago, on International Holocaust Memorial Day, which we celebrated at the European Parliament for the third time only a few weeks ago, together with members of the European Jewish Congress and survivors of the Shoah. I find Judge Bach’s life story very inspiring, and meeting him has restored my faith in justice. The fact that a 10-year-old boy who was driven from his homeland by a Nazi criminal in 1938 should later, as Deputy State Prosecutor of a democratic Israel, put that criminal, Adolf Eichmann, on trial, shows that there is such a thing as justice in this world. And that justice is something worth fighting for every day!
Ladies and gentlemen,
Israel embodies the hope cherished by a people of being able to live a life of freedom in a homeland of their own. As a result of the actions of brave men and women, Israel represents the realisation of that very human dream. Throwing off the shackles of prejudice and persecution, in order to live in freedom and dignity – this is a desire shared by many people throughout the world.
Today, Israel is a robust democracy, a vibrant, open society with all the conflicts that implies, and a modern economy. The kibbutzim which once made the desert bloom have been replaced by hundreds of start-ups and high-tech research centers in which work is being done which will lead to the inventions of the future; minute microchips and robots, computer tomography and ultrasound scanners. Israeli researchers are world leaders in many areas. Israel has only eight million inhabitants, but it can boast seven major research universities, including the Technion in Haifa and the Weizmann Institute in Revlion, and 12 Nobel Prize winners!
Israel has built a society founded on the values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. Israel and the European Union share these values. They are the ties which hold our partnership, our friendship, together. They are the basis for the answers we are seeking together to the challenges of the 21st century: climate change and water scarcity, refugee problems, peace and security. They are the basis for our scientific and economic cooperation.
If you will allow me, I will deal first with security and peace.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Arab Spring has brought with it revolutions and upheavals in the region which are presenting Israel and the EU with new challenges. Together, we can exert a positive influence on developments in our neighborhood. This is a responsibility we cannot ignore.
The changes and upheavals I referred to a moment ago are leaving many people uneasy, and with good reason. Syria is experiencing an ever more brutal escalation of violence. The Assad regime would rather massacre its own population than give up power! Even children are being tortured and killed. The opposition is also guilty of perpetrating appalling massacres and recruiting child soldiers. We condemn the savage violence in the strongest possible terms. The killing must stop!
Two days ago in Jordan I visited the Al Zaatari camp, which houses 90 000 of the 2.2 million Syrian refugees. I was deeply shocked by the human suffering I witnessed there, but I was also deeply moved by the generosity which has led the States in this region to open their borders to refugees from the civil war and do whatever they can to provide them with food and a roof over their heads. Israel, too, is saving many lives by giving medical care to people damaged physically and mentally by the Syrian war. Sometimes I wish we in Europe would show the same kind of commitment.
But there are also grounds for hope: Tunisia's new constitution is a document to gladden the hearts of all democrats. The EU will always support those who commit themselves to upholding democracy and universal human rights. This sense of hope is creating a new opportunity to establish peace in the region.
I understand that bitter experience may make some people reluctant to extend the hand of peace. People in this chamber know much more about the Holocaust than I do. There are people in this chamber who risked their lives in wars waged to secure Israel's survival. For years on end, Israel's neighbors challenged its very right to exist.
No one has forgotten the open threats made against Israel by the last Iranian President, or the fact that not so long ago political gatherings in Tehran ended with the words 'Death to Israel'.
For that reason I can readily understand why Israel regards an Iran which has the capability to launch nuclear missiles as a threat to its existence. That is a threat not just to Israel, but to world peace in general.
This is why the EU is monitoring the implementation of the preliminary agreement very closely. Let me assure you that there is one thing on which the EU and Israel agree: Iran must never acquire nuclear weapons. In our eyes, diplomacy and dialogue are the best way of ensuring that, since it is in all our interests that this issue should be resolved peacefully and that everything should be done to prevent another war in the Middle East.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Security is a very abstract concept, but it has an immediate impact on people’s lives.
We in Europe have little understanding of the physical and emotional scars which terrorism leaves behind, what it means for parents in Sderot and Ashkelon to live every day with the fear that their children may die in a rocket attack on their way to school. I was the father of children who could go to school without fear. For that reason, Israel has the right and the government the duty to protect its people. We condemn the rocket attacks on innocent people in the strongest possible terms. Terrorist attacks are crimes for which there is no justification.
It is only the peoples directly involved who can make peace in the Middle East. It is only the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves who can make peace between their two peoples. We Europeans support them on that difficult road, which will require both sides to make painful concessions.
We know that the Israeli people want peace. Courageous men such as Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin andShimon Peres held out the hand of peace and signed agreements in Madrid and Oslo. The hopes embodied in those agreements have not always been fulfilled, and this has made some people pessimistic about the prospects for peace in the future. Others, only a small minority to be sure, are even actively working to scupper any peace agreement which might be signed.
In the Palestinian side as well, courageous men and women are working for peace. In recent years, building on their impressive ‘no violence’ policy, Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad have developed modern institutions and done much to establish law and order.
Two days ago I spoke with young people in Ramallah. Like young people everywhere in the world, their dream is to train, study and travel, to find work and to start a family. But they have another dream as well, one which concerns something most young people take for granted: they want to be able to live freely in their own country, with no threat of violence, with no restrictions on their freedom of movement. The Palestinian people, like the Israeli people, have the right to fulfill their dream of creating their own viable democratic state. The Palestinians, just like the Israelis, have the right to self-determination and justice.
One of the questions these young people asked me which I found most moving – although I could not check the exact figures – was this: how can it be that an Israeli is allowed to use 70 liters of water per day, but a Palestinian only 17?
I haven't checked the data. I'm asking you if this is correct.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today, the upheavals in the Middle East are creating a new opportunity for peace.
The future of young Palestinians, but also the future of young Israelis, hinges on the way Israel responds to these changes.
For without peace there can be no security. Military power can quell disorder, but it cannot create peace.
Ariel Sharon, may he rest in peace, said something for which I admire him: 'It is impossible to have a Jewish democratic state, and at the same time to control all of Eretz Israel. If we insist on fulfilling the dream in its entirety, we are liable to lose it all.'
From the outset, the whole rationale behind the two-State solution proposal was to make it possible for the Palestinian people to live in dignity, and on the basis of self-determination, and to safeguard peace and security for all Israelis. Despite all the obstacles in the way of its achievement, we must remain true to the objective, born out of a desire to build a better future, which the two-State solution represents. Even if this objective is achieved, the security of the Israeli state will remain an issue of major importance.
For that reason, we support the US commitment to mediation and the tireless work being done by Secretary of State John Kerry.
ne of the main bones of contention is Israel's settlement policy. As you are no doubt aware, both the European Parliament and the United Nations have adopted numerous resolutions which criticize the ongoing process of building and expanding settlements and call for it to be halted. In the eyes of the EU and the entire international community, the fact that East Jerusalem is cut off from the West Bank is certainly an obstacle on the road to a peaceful settlement.
The blockade of the Gaza Strip is your response to attacks on Israeli civilians and I can understand that. But it is stifling all economic development and driving people to despair - despair which in turn is being exploited by extremists. The blockade may in fact undermine, rather than strengthen, Israel's security.
How can we break the vicious circle of violence?
This was the question which lent the initial impetus to the European unification process, and the founding fathers of the European Union came up with the answer. My grandparents' generation would have regarded reconciliation with the arch enemy France as impossible. But the impossible came to pass, through a simple acknowledgement of the fact that if Europe was not to continue tearing itself apart on the battlefield we Europeans had no choice but to make peace and work together. I believe that if we want to grant people a life in dignity there is no alternative to peace for the Israelis and Palestinians today.
It was because our neighbors were prepared to hold out the hand of reconciliation to Germany, which had started the war in the first place, that Germany was able to find its place in the international community once again and become a stable democracy. As Yitzhak Rabin put it so aptly, 'peace is something you make with your enemies, not with your friends'.
Yes, we achieved reconciliation. Then, through the efforts of courageous men and women, who planned for and organized peace, the idea took root in people's hearts and trust grew.
I firmly believe that a negotiated settlement, the outcome of which is an Israeli State and a Palestinian State living side by side in peace, is realistic. The European Union believes this as well, which is why, once a definitive peace agreement has been signed, we have pledged to provide unprecedented support, in the form of funding and human resources, under a special privileged partnership. The agreement reached by the Foreign Ministers in December will also afford Israel and a future State of Palestine easier access to the European market, will facilitate trade and investment, will enhance cultural and scientific exchanges and will lead to closer cooperation in the area of security. Let me seize this opportunity to make a clarification: the EU has no intention to boycott Israel. I am of the conviction that what we need is more cooperation, not division.
All too often issues of security and peace overshadow other aspects of our relations which are hugely important for people in Israel and Europe – social justice and equal opportunities are cases in point.
The financial and economic crisis has brought with it increased levels of poverty and unemployment in Europe. Huge numbers of young people are jobless, and as a result more and more of them are losing faith in politics. This is hardly surprising if we consider that the most open-minded and best educated generation which Europe has ever had is watching as its prospects are destroyed by a crisis for which it was in no way to blame.
Everywhere, even in countries whose economies are performing well, poverty and despair are spreading to the middle classes and the weakest members of society are being marginalised more and more. The marches of the indignados which reached our capitals in spring 2011 were repeated a few months later in the heart of Tel Aviv.
Giving young people fresh hope in a better future is certainly our most important task as politicians. To do this, we must also safeguard the competitiveness of our economies in the globalized 21st century. Only in this way will jobs – good jobs – be created.
Our economic ties are already close. The EU is Israel’s most important trading partner and our cooperation in the area of research, science and technology is the basis for our future economic strength. Our competitiveness in a globalized world will hinge on two things – innovation and education.
The Israeli-European research community is already into its third generation and its members are forging ever closer links. Israel’s formal involvement in the EU’s Horizon 2020 program, which will start soon, will take our cooperation to a new level. Horizon 2020 is the largest research and innovation program there has ever been. It promises to yield more breakthroughs and discoveries because it will provide backing for every stage in the process of turning ideas tested in the laboratory into marketable products. Scientific cooperation is already the most successful aspect of our partnership. I am convinced that as a result of our cooperation under Horizon 2020 new records will be set. I am also particularly delighted that more and more Israeli students are taking part in the Erasmus Mundus exchange program.
You and I are the heirs of the founding generation of the State of Israel and of the European Union. We must safeguard that heritage.
Parents all over the world are prepared to make sacrifices for their children, to do everything they can to give them a good future. It is not up to us, the heirs, to show the same boldness, drive and vision in safeguarding the State of Israel and the European Union for future generations. The words which should guide us in that endeavor are those spoken by the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Willy Brandt, a man who fought against Nazi Germany and knelt before the memorial to the Jews murdered in the Holocaust. ‘Peace is not everything, but without peace there is nothing.’

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Canadian PM Harper addresses the Knesset

"It is right to support Israel because, after generations of persecution, the Jewish people deserve their own homeland and deserve to live safely and peacefully in that homeland....Canada finds it deplorable that some in the international community still question the legitimacy of the existence of the State of Israel. Our view on Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is absolute and non-negotiable."


Shalom. And thank you for inviting me to visit this remarkable country, and especially for this opportunity to address the Knesset. It is truly a great honour.

And if I may, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my wife Laureen and the entire Canadian delegation, let me begin by thanking the government and people of Israel for the warmth of your hospitality. You have made us feel extremely welcome. We have felt immediately at home.

Ladies and gentlemen, Canada and Israel are the greatest of friends, and the most natural of allies. And, with your indulgence, I would like to offer a reflection upon what makes the relationship between Canada and Israel special and important because the relationship between us is very strong.

The friendship between us is rooted in history, nourished by shared values, and it is intentionally reinforced at the highest levels of commerce and government as an outward expression of strongly held inner convictions.

There has, for example, been a free trade agreement in place between Canada and Israel for many years an agreement that has already proved its worth. The elimination of tariffs on industrial products, and some foodstuffs, has led to a doubling in the value of trade between our countries.

But this only scratches the surface of the economic potential of this relationship and I look forward to soon deepening and broadening our mutual trade and investment goals. As well, our military establishments share information and technology. This has also been to our mutual benefit. For example, during Canada’s mission to Afghanistan, our use of Israeli-built reconnaissance equipment saved the lives of Canadian soldiers.

All such connections are important, and build strong bridges between us. However, to truly understand the special relationship between Israel and Canada, one must look beyond trade and institutions to the personal ties of friendship and kinship.

Jews have been present in Canada for more than 250 years. In generation after generation, by hard work and perseverance, Jewish immigrants, often starting with nothing, have prospered greatly. Today, there are nearly 350,000 Canadians who share with you their heritage and their faith. They are proud Canadians.

But having met literally thousands of members of this community, I can tell you this: They are also immensely proud of what the people of Israel have accomplished here of your courage in war, of your generosity in peace, and of the bloom that the desert has yielded, under your stewardship.

Laureen and I share that pride, the pride and the understanding that what has been achieved here has occurred in the shadow of the horrors of the Holocaust; the understanding that it is right to support Israel because, after generations of persecution, the Jewish people deserve their own homeland and deserve to live safely and peacefully in that homeland.

Let me repeat that: Canada supports Israel because it is right to do so. This is a very Canadian trait, to do something for no reason other than it is right even when no immediate reward for, or threat to, ourselves is evident. On many occasions, Canadians have even gone so far as to bleed and die to defend the freedom of others in far-off lands.

To be clear, we have also periodically made terrible mistakes as in the refusal of our government in the 1930s to ease the plight of Jewish refugees but, as a country, at the turning points of history, Canada has consistently chosen, often to our great cost, to stand with others who oppose injustice, and to confront the dark forces of the world. It is, thus, a Canadian tradition to stand for what is principled and just, regardless of whether it is convenient or popular.

But, I would argue, support today for the Jewish state of Israel is more than a moral imperative it is also of strategic importance, also a matter of our own, long-term interests.

Ladies and gentlemen, I said a moment ago, that the special friendship between Canada and Israel is rooted in shared values. Indeed, Israel is the only country in the Middle East, which has long anchored itself in the ideals of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

These are not mere notions. They are the things that, over time and against all odds, have proven to be the only ground in which human rights, political stability, and economic prosperity, may flourish. These values are not proprietary; they do not belong to one nation or one people.

Nor are they a finite resource; on the contrary, the wider they are spread, the stronger they grow. Likewise, when they are threatened anywhere, they are threatened everywhere. And what threatens them, or more precisely, what today threatens the societies that embrace such values and the progress they nurture?

Those who scorn modernity, who loathe the liberty of others, and who hold the differences of peoples and cultures in contempt. Those who, often begin by hating the Jews, but, history shows us, end up hating anyone who is not them. Those forces, which have threatened the state of Israel every single day of its existence, and which, today, as 9/11 graphically showed us, threaten us all.

And so, either we stand up for our values and our interests, here, in Israel, stand up for the existence of a free, democratic and distinctively Jewish state or the retreat of our values and our interests in the world will begin.

Ladies and gentlemen, just as we refuse to retreat from our values, so we must also uphold the duty to advance them. And our commitment as Canadians to what is right, fair and just is a universal one. It applies no less to the Palestinian people, than it does to the people of Israel.

Just as we unequivocally support Israel’s right of self-defence, so too Canada has long-supported a just and secure future for the Palestinian people. And, I believe, we share with Israel a sincere hope that the Palestinian people and their leaders… will choose a viable, democratic, Palestinian state, committed to living peacefully alongside the Jewish state of Israel.

As you, Prime Minister [Netanyahu], have said, when Palestinians make peace with Israel, Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations - it will be the first.

Sadly, we have yet to reach that point. But, when that day comes, and come it must, I can tell you that Israel may be the first to welcome a sovereign Palestinian state, but Canada will be right behind you.

Ladies and gentlemen, support – even firm support – doesn’t mean that allies and friends will agree on all issues all of the time. No state is beyond legitimate questioning or criticism. But our support does mean at least three things.

First, Canada finds it deplorable that some in the international community still question the legitimacy of the existence of the State of Israel. Our view on Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is absolute and non-negotiable.

Second, Canada believes that Israel should be able to exercise its full rights as a UN member-state and to enjoy the full measure of its sovereignty. For this reason, Canada has spoken on numerous occasions in support of Israel’s engagement and equal treatment in multilateral fora. And, in this regard, I should mention that we welcome Israel’s induction this month into the western, democratic group of states at the United Nations.

Third, we refuse to single out Israel for criticism on the international stage.

Now I understand, in the world of diplomacy, with one, solitary, Jewish state and scores of others, it is all too easy “to go along to get along” and single out Israel. But such “going along to get along,” is not a “balanced” approach, nor a “sophisticated” one; it is, quite simply, weak and wrong.

Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, we live in a world where that kind of moral relativism runs rampant. And in the garden of such moral relativism, the seeds of much more sinister notions can be easily planted. And so we have witnessed, in recent years, the mutation of the old disease of anti-Semitism and the emergence of a new strain.

We all know about the old anti-Semitism. It was crude and ignorant, and it led to the horrors of the death camps. Of course, in many dark corners, it is still with us. But, in much of the western world, the old hatred has been translated into more sophisticated language for use in polite society. People who would never say they hate and blame the Jews for their own failings or the problems of the world, instead declare their hatred of Israel and blame the only Jewish state for the problems of the Middle East.

As once Jewish businesses were boycotted, some civil-society leaders today call for a boycott of Israel. On some campuses, intellectualized arguments against Israeli policies thinly mask the underlying realities, such as the shunning of Israeli academics and the harassment of Jewish students. Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state.

Think about that. Think about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that: a state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded so Jews can flourish, as Jews, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history, that is condemned, and that condemnation is masked in the language of anti-racism. It is nothing short of sickening.

But this is the face of the new anti-Semitism. It targets the Jewish people by targeting Israel and attempts to make the old bigotry acceptable for a new generation.

Of course, criticism of Israeli government policy is not in and of itself necessarily anti-Semitic. But what else can we call criticism that selectively condemns only the Jewish state and effectively denies its right to defend itself while systematically ignoring – or excusing – the violence and oppression all around it? What else can we call it when, Israel is routinely targeted at the United Nations, and when Israel remains the only country to be the subject of a permanent agenda item at the regular sessions of its Human Rights Council?

Ladies and gentlemen, any assessment – any judgment – of Israel’s actions must start with this understanding: In the sixty-five years that modern Israel has been a nation, Israelis have endured attacks and slanders beyond counting and have never known a day of true peace.

And we understand that Israelis live with this, impossible calculus: If you act to defend yourselves, you will suffer widespread condemnation, over and over again. But, should you fail to act, you alone will suffer the consequence of your inaction, and that consequence will be final, your destruction.

The truth, that Canada understands, is that many of the hostile forces Israel faces, are faced by all Western nations. And Israel faces them for many of the same reasons we face them. You just happen to be a lot closer to them.

Of course, no nation is perfect. But neither Israel’s existence nor its policies are responsible for the instability in the Middle East today.

One must look beyond Israel’s borders to find the causes of the relentless oppression, poverty and violence in much of the region, of the heartbreaking suffering of syrian refugees, of sectarian violence and the fears of religious minorities, especially Christians, and of the current domestic turmoil in so many states.

So what are we to do? Most importantly, we must deal with the world as we find it. The threats in this region are real, deeply rooted, and deadly and the forces of progress, often anaemically weak. For too many nations, it is still easier to scapegoat Israel than to emulate your success. It is easier to foster resentment and hatred of Israel’s democracy than it is to provide the same rights and freedoms to their own people.

I believe that a Palestinian state will come, and one thing that will make it come is when the regimes that bankroll terrorism realise that the path to peace is accommodation, not violence.

Which brings me to the government of Iran. Late last year, the world announced a new approach to diplomacy with the government in Tehran. Canada has long held the view that every diplomatic measure should be taken to ensure that regime never obtains a nuclear weapon. We therefore appreciate the earnest efforts of the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany. Canada will evaluate the success of this approach not on the merits of its words, but on the implementation and verification of its promised actions.

We truly hope that it is possible to walk the Iranian government back from taking the irreversible step of manufacturing nuclear weapons. But, for now, Canada’s own sanctions will remain fully in place. And should our hopes not be realized, should the present agreement prove ephemeral Canada will be a strong voice for renewed sanctions.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude with this thought.

Je crois que l’histoire d’israël est UN très bel exemple pour le monde entier.
I believe the story of Israel is a great example to the world.

It is a story, essentially, of a people whose response to suffering has been to move beyond resentment and build a most extraordinary society a vibrant democracy a freedom-loving country… with an independent and rights-affirming judiciary, an innovative, world-leading “start-up” nation.

You have taken the collective memory of death and persecution to build an optimistic, forward-looking land one that so values life, you will sometimes release a thousand criminals and terrorists, to save one of your own.

In the democratic family of nations, Israel represents values which our government takes as articles of faith, and principles to drive our national life. And therefore, through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.

My friends, you have been generous with your time and attention. Once more, Laureen and I and our entire delegation thank you for your generous hospitality, and look forward to continuing our visit to your country. Merci beaucoup. Thank you for having us, and may peace be upon Israel.

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