Speech at our pro-Israel rally, by Ulf Cahn, Secretary General of Förenade Israelinsamlingen/Keren Hayesod, English version:
First, a big thanks to the organizers – Anna, Kim, Hanna, Amnon and all the others who helped. It is so important that we have gathered here today. That we won’t stay silent. The fact that we make our voices heard. That we stand up for what is right. I am pleased and proud to speak here today.
Thanks also to everyone here – especially to Israel’s Christian and other non-Jewish friends. You are truly needed in the fight against anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, and in your support of Israel.
The vast majority of us gathered here today have grown up during a time where the State of Israel has been a matter of course. Where Israel is a reality. We do not know any other reality, can not see or remember anything else. We do not know a world without Israel, and maybe we can not really, in depth, understand Israel’s true significance.
I myself am one of them. Israel has been around as long as I lived. I know nothing else.
But this is not the case for everyone. For my parents, and other elderly Jews – I see some of you here today – it’s different. For you, Israel’s importance as a Jewish homeland is truly understood, because you remember another time, before 1948. You know what a world without Israel is capable of. You have lived with insecurity, persecution and perhaps worse than that, and know in your heart what the Jewish people are without a Jewish homeland.
It is a people that can be discriminated against, stalked, threatened and hated without a place where they can feel secure. It is a people without a home. Without Israel, before Israel, we were at the mercy of those friends who chose to stand up for us. And as a minority in various countries, we hoped that the leaders were positive toward us, because then we would live well. If not, then it was time to pack up and leave.
But not anymore. Not since 1948. Now Israel, our historic and spiritual homeland exists, and there’s nothing that means more to our confidence, our self esteem, our ability to straighten our backs and be proud Jews, than that.
Therefore I would argue that we live in an amazing time! Actually in a unique, very special time.
Only three years after we Jews had been persecuted and murdered only because we were Jews, and were forced to wear the Star of David on our clothing to single us out as unworthy, the Jewish people in Israel used the same Star of David on the new Israeli flag.
From a symbol of death and destruction, to a symbol of life, strength, rebirth and optimism – in three short years.
For me, it’s symbolic of Israel and Israel’s importance.
It says so much about the strength of Israel. And an Israel like this will always survive!
Do you recognize the words ”We are one”?
That was the slogan they used at the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö a few weeks ago. We are one, we all belong together. Isn’t that a nice message? That sounds good – but did they really mean it? No, for Malmö’s leading politicians, and many others, it is really ”We are two”. It’s all the countries of Europe, including countries like Belarus, Ukraine and Azerbaijan on the one hand – and Israel on the other.
Israel is singled out. Israel should be boycotted. Israel is not welcome here. Israel is not a country like others. Israel should not be measured by the same standards as other countries.
My friends. Israel, is then the Jew, the country you distinguish from others and treat differently.
And my friends, this is nothing less than anti-Semitism.
Anti-Semitism is growing worldwide, even in Sweden. Some do not understand what it is – for them the word is connected to Nazis. They do not understand that anti-Semitism is not about World War II anymore. That anti-Semitism is not history, but very much alive and growing. That it’s not a Right / Left issue, but can be found everywhere in the political spectrum. It exists in Islam, which we can see clearly both in the Middle East, in Europe and in Sweden. And historically anti-Semitism derives from the first Christians and the early church.
They do not realize, they do not understand that when they deal with the Jewish state differently than other states – then it is anti-Semitism. And it is not just me saying this, it is the EU’s official definition of what anti-Semitism is. This is something Ilmar Reepalu, Adrian Kaba, Abdirizak Waberi, Daniel Sejstrovcic, Peter Weiderud and many others will never understand.
I’m focusing on talking about Israel here today, so my short comment for this is as follows. It is one of my favorite quotes in regards to anti-Semitism in Sweden and what my friend Kim Milrell often says: A country that can not protect its Jewish population has no right to tell the Jewish homeland how it should act.*
Israel has its problems like any other country. But I, and we, should not have to apologize because we love Israel and not have to balance this love by saying negative things about the country. Like starting to talk of occupation, settlements and ”the conflict”. Because Israel is a wonderful country, a country we can be very proud of.
Israel does not poison their children’s minds with vile messages from politicians, the media and synagogues.
Israel does not oppress its population, but is a fantastic vibrant democracy. And remember, many of those who built Israel, and the first immigrants after 1948, did not come from democratic countries.
Israel does not paint out their neighbors as monsters. Hateful messages come from Israel’s surrounding neighbors.
Israel is instead focusing on educating their young people for a future in which it continues to positively build their country.
This is the dividing line. When Hamas in Gaza or Hezbollah in Lebanon send rockets and missiles at Israeli civilian children and the elderly – Israel makes every effort to avoid hurting civilians when responding to these acts of war.
When Israel’s enemies use homes, schools and mosques to cultivate hatred and send bombs against Jews – Israel instead uses homes, schools and synagogues to develop their country.
When the enemies of Israel are bombing Israeli schools – Israel builds schools.
Despite all the resources – human and financial – that Israel must use to protect its own people, Israel is booming in many ways. The research is world class and so far it has received ten Nobel Prizes. And last week the Stockholm International Water Institute announced that this year’s International Award goes to the Israeli company Netafim. The Netafim invented drip irrigation in 1965, and now helps 110 countries and millions of people around the world to grow more with less water.
There are endless examples of Israel’s success story, of how Israel is not only a secure home for the Jews of the world, but also helps to aid vulnerable people around the world. Innovations in agriculture and irrigation has helped, and will help, millions of poor people across the world to a decent existence. We see similar Israeli successes in areas such as medical technology, IT, culture and many other areas.
We will see more international prices of various kinds, for we Jews and Israel believe in education, research and innovation.
We believe in cooperation, in contrast to our neighbors, where Arabs and Muslims of different faiths and backgrounds are at war with each other.
We believe that we can make the world better – and we are not ashamed to stand up for Israel’s natural rights.
Israel has nothing to apologize for. Israel has no one to thank for being where they are today. No one gave the Jews their homeland back. Not the UN, not the British or anyone else. The Israelis have themselves to thank, for their fighting spirit, their will to survive, their sacrifices and optimism. And many of you who are here today, have in various ways helped Israel – by standing up for our country in debates, by traveling there and buying Israeli products, and providing support with gifts of various kinds, to for instance Keren Hayesod’s various projects for immigrants, vulnerable children and the elderly. We will continue with this!
Some here today were there at the beginning, in 1948, and fought to establish our Jewish homeland. You are worthy of all our respect for what you have done for us all!
Israeli youths do their military service for two to three years. Not only to protect Israel, but for all Jews sake. This we should be thankful for!
The world can rest easy. In spite of all the hatred and intimidation, discrimination and boycotts or threats of boycott, Israel will continue to thrive. It will continue to build up the country for the future. It will continue to welcome all Jews around the world who want to move there. It will continue to invest in its young people, in education and in research. It will continue to let the world take part of its research, the innovations and inventions that Israelis develop. It will continue to be an open welcoming country. And it will not hesitate to defend itself.
Israel will continue to exist and thrive no matter what is said in the UN, by EU’s politicians and some Swedish ones and no matter what is said in our Swedish newspapers and by some Muslim and Christian representatives.
Stephen Hawking can relax. Although he advocates a boycott of Israel, Israel will not take back the technical equipment he has – developed and produced in Israel – and needs.
Peter Weiderud and Tro och Broderskap can relax as well. You can continue to use your computers, packed with Israeli technology, for advocating a boycott of Israel. Israel will not take it from you.
Daniel Sejstrovcic, who wants to stop Israelis from singing outside of their homeland can relax as well. Use your mobile phone with Israeli technology – I can almost promise you that Israel will not come and take that back either.
The BDS movement against Israel have a lot they should start thinking about. Why are they only pointing their finger at the only Jewish state in the world? Is is really the state of Israel they want to boycott, including its Arab and other non-Jewish population? No, for me this is a classic Jewish boycott – it’s the Jews in Israel they want to boycott.
If they are serious about this, then millions, even billions of people around the world will have to take a few steps back in their development – and this will affect mainly the poor people in already hard-hit countries worldwide.
This is not about oranges and avocados, not about the music – it’s about every single mobile phone, USB flash drive, Intel Pentium processors and other technology, poverty alleviation etc.
Israel will continue to help countries around the world affected by disasters, as they have previously helped countries like Thailand, Turkey and Haiti. They will continue to help people in Africa with agricultural and irrigation issues and continue to be a unique phenomenon in the world.
Just as the Jewish people will be the light among people, the Jewish country will be a light among countries. It is today, in very many different ways. And it will continue to be so.
Thank you for being here today and for standing up for Israel!
Am Yisrael Chai v’Eretz Yisrael Chai – the people of Israel lives, and the Land of Israel lives!Facebook. Follow me on Twitter.