Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed 350 new immigrants from the United States and Canada Tuesday morning telling them, “The truth is you all come from one place – Israel.”
Flanked by two bodyguards, the Prime Minister said in English, “I was given a list of the places you come from – California, New Jersey, Ohio – from two dozen states across America and Alberta and Quebec [in Canada]. The truth is you all come from …Israel, the land we all come from. This is the land where our ancestors lived, and this is the place where our identity is. This is the country where the Jewish people are building the Jewish future.”
The Nefesh B’Nefesh and Friends of the IDF flight brought 350 olim, 127 of them -- including twins -- who are joining the IDF in the special program for immigrants.
Prime Minister Netanyahu saluted the new soldiers for taking it upon themselves to help defend the country. “You have a privilege not afforded to previous generations of Jews," he said. “For 2,000 years, the Jewish people could not defend themselves.”
He also pointed out that despite the re-establishment of Israel as a Jewish state, anti-Semitism is on the rise. “The founders of modern Zionism did not think that anti-Semitism would disappear,” he said. "They thought we could defend ourselves against anti-Semitism. As the Jewish state progresses and rises, so does anti-Semitism.”
He invited all of the new immigrant soldiers to the stage at the reception hall in Ben Gurion airport, where he met every one of them.
Preceding the speech by Prime Minister Netanyahu was Immigration Minister Sofa Landver, who spoke in Hebrew in a thick Russian accent to the English-speakers, some of whom are fluent in Hebrew and some of whom are just beginning to learn the language.
Tony Gelbart and Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, co-founders of Nefesh B’Nefesh, which reinvigorated the aliyah movement in 2001 and has brought thousands of North Americans and Britons to Israel to live, also welcomed the newcomers.
Jewish Agency chairman and former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky told the new olim, "Open your Bibles. They are your tourist guide."