Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein was a ‘Prisoner of Zion’ in the Former Soviet Union. He now became the first Israeli politician to address the Russian parliament – partially in Hebrew.
On Wednesday, Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein became the first Israeli politician to deliver a speech in the Russian upper chamber of parliament. The historic address came 30 years after the former refusenik was released from the Soviet camps, where he had been punished with forced labor for clandestine Zionist activity.
The former “Prisoner of Zion” was obviously moved. “Even in my best dreams, I didn’t believe I would reach this moment,” he said.
Indeed, the 15-minute speech was divided between Hebrew and Russian. In 1984, he was given a three-year forced labor sentence for teaching Hebrew.
“Shalom Aleichem!” Edelstein greeted the Russian lawmakers, who responded with applause.
In the address, Edelstein defined Islamist terrorism as the “Nazism of the 21st century…the absolute evil,” stressing the need to defeat it. Russia had joined the Allied in defeating the Nazis.
The Knesset speaker refrained from reprimanding Russia over its Communist past and current ties with the terror-sponsoring Iranian regime, instead discussing a future of cooperation and outlining Israel’s position of strength.
“Even today, Jerusalem is leading the fight against terrorism, and we will not rest until we win this war and peace is achieved,” he declared.
Edelstein mentioned the threats Israel faces from Hezbollah and Hamas and linked the Islamist groups to Iran, describing them as a force that “spreads its ideologies of hatred of mankind, which threaten all the nations of the world,”
Russia is currently fighting together with Iran in order to keep Syrian leader Bashar Assad in power.
With regard to the recent 50th anniversary of the Six Day War, Edelstein reminded the audience of the Soviet support given to the Arab states fighting against Israel. However, he quickly switched the focus to the dramatically improved Russian-Israeli relations.
“Luckily and to the benefit of both of our nations, these days are in the past,” he affirmed. “Over 25 years have passed since the renewal of diplomatic ties, and I am certain this time did not pass in vain.”
By: United With Israel Staff
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