During an event held at the Knesset as part of the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly., Speaker of the  Knesset MK Yuli-Yoel Edelstein (Likud) said “greater efforts should be made to implement the Kotel Agreement, which would make our holiest  sites a symbol of true Jewish unity.”

Addressing the recent laws passed by the Knesset,Speaker Edelstein said “Unfortunately, you have heard that some legislation is ruining  Israeli democracy. 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.”

Yuli Edelstein speaking to American Jewish leaders at the Knesset on October 23, 2018.
Tzipi Edelstein speaking to American Jewish leaders at the Knesset on October 23, 2018. (GPO)

During the event, attended by some 700 Jewish leaders from North America, Speaker Edelstein added: “We have seen a renaissance of Jewish  learning, likely unprecedented in both extent and diversity, and fostered new connections to our ancient traditions. The Jewish Federations  of North America have been there throughout, to support, to help, to guide—and to challenge, as well. As we look to our shared future, I know  we have strong foundations on which to build.

“Today, however, there is a sense that the strong ties that once bound us have frayed. That the things we once took for granted about the  other no longer hold true. That Jews in Israel and the Diaspora feel alienated from each other. That the very topics that once brought us  together now divide us.”

“It saddens me greatly that discussions of Israel and Zionism have become so painful as to be nearly taboo. Sometimes, this feels paradoxical  to me. We hear that Jewish students on campus distance themselves or become very critical of Israel because of the country`s policies towards  its neighbors or certain religious denominations. But somehow, you bring those same students to Israel on a birthright trip, and suddenly
they completely change their mind. I don`t believe one single cause can explain this rift. But we must not respond by searching for scapegoats.

Tzipi Edelstein speaking to American Jewish leaders at the Knesset on October 23, 2018. (GPO)
Tzipi Edelstein speaking to American Jewish leaders at the Knesset on October 23, 2018. (GPO)

“It is true, as the title of this conference suggests, that we need to talk. But even more so, we need to hear each other—to listen with our  hearts, not only our ears,” Speaker Edelstein stated.

Opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) said during the event that Israel will remain democratic, but there is no doubt that this  has become challenging. She said that “unfortunately,” the Knesset passed the Jewish Nation-State Law, adding that she intends to initiate a law which will transform the Declaration of Independence into the constitution of the state.”

“This is something that could unify the Jewish people,” MK Livni told the Jewish leaders. She further stressed that Israel must recognize the different streams of Judaism, otherwise, she said “we will lose Diaspora Jewry.”

MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi), who took part in a panel discussion with MKs Itzik Shmuli and Yehuda Glick (Likud), announced that he  was advancing a bill according to which any Jewish person who stays in Israel at least two weeks a year will be able to vote in the Israeli  general elections.

Source Knesset Press Office