We succeeded in building the democratic State of Israel and bringing the ideas of human rights and equality to the darkest places populated by tyrants and dictators.
This is the words of Natan Sharansky, who represent Jewish Agency for Israel. He explains that Israel has succeeded because we were empowered by thousands of years of dreams and prayers of «Next year in Jerusalem».
«In the years before my arrest I was in fact the unofficial spokesman of two movements – a human rights movement pressing for democratic reforms in the Soviet bloc and the Soviet Jewry movement seeking the right of Jews to become free».
«In those years I was often pressed by my comrades in arms on both sides to make a choice between these two wars. You have to decide, they said, are you the fighter for human rights for everybody or are you fighting for the rights of your own tribe?»
Do you belong to the world of universal values or to the world of nationalism?
I must say, I personally never felt that I needed to choose because I felt that they are deeply connected. The battle for freedom and the battle for identity was the same battle for me.
I was one of many assimilated Jews only because the Soviet regime put it as an aim to deprive people deliberately of any loyalties to their faith, to their nation, to their family.
As the official definition of citizenship stated clearly – all Soviet people are cogs in the communist machine. The only value left for us was our physical survival and there was no reason to risk it.
When did this situation change?
In 1967, the Six-Day War in Israel reconnected us with our people, with our country and history, and gave us pride for being Jewish. We discovered our identity and this empowered us to fight for our freedom.
If you believe in the universal values of freedom and human rights, why bother to stick to your national or ethnic identity we are asked.
Doesn’t Judaism prize tikkun olam, perfection of the world at large, as its highest value?
Why insist on staying part of a small tribe, when the great, global melting pot makes nationalities seem like nothing more than sentimental reminiscences?
This choice between freedom and identity is a false one. The Iron Curtain was brought down and hundreds of millions found their freedom only because we found the source of strength in our pride and in our identity.
Source: Natan Sharansky is a former deputy prime minister, and presently the Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel. He was speaking to the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.
Who has empowered the Jewish people?
I guess it is the God of Israel. Its easy to take credit for success, and the final restoration of the state of Israel.
But why do you not give God the credit?
Its easy to blame God, for the exile and 2.000 years in diaspora, and equal easy to take credit for the reunion and victory in 1967