Edelstein tells Jewish leaders Israeli democracy not dead

Edelstein lamented that the strong ties that once bound Israel and Diaspora leaders have frayed.

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October 23, 2018 21:57
1 minute read.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein speaking at the Knesset, October 23, 2018

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein speaking at the Knesset, October 23, 2018. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein issued thinly veiled criticism of US Jewish leaders on Tuesday night, when they came to the Knesset as part of the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly.

Specifically, he singled out their criticism of the controversial Jewish Nation- State Law and other policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

“Unfortunately, you have heard that some legislation is ruining Israeli democracy,” he said. “To paraphrase Mark Twain: the rumors of the death of Israeli democracy are greatly exaggerated.

As speaker of the Knesset, I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. The Knesset is – and will remain – a beacon of democracy, and the commitment to these values is shared across the political spectrum.”

Edelstein lamented that the strong ties that once bound Israel and Diaspora leaders have frayed, causing Jews in Israel and the Diaspora to feel alienated from one another. “The very topics that once brought us together now divide us,” he said. “It saddens me greatly that discussions of Israel and Zionism have become so painful as to be nearly taboo.”

He acknowledged that Jewish students on campuses have distanced themselves or become very critical of Israel, but did not believe that is solely due to the Jewish State’s policies.

“Somehow, you bring those same students to Israel on a Birthright trip, and suddenly they completely change their mind,” he said. “I don’t believe one single cause can explain this rift.

But we must not respond by searching for scapegoats.”

Outgoing JFNA board of trustees chairman Richard Sandler also spoke about the need for Jewish unity.“We have to end the divisive news between us,” he said. “We are a small people with a lot of enemies. We should not help them by fighting amongst ourselves.

We have to realize that not everyone we disagree with is evil.”



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