Herzog's parting speech: Be careful how you talk

Chairman of opposition leaves Knesset to head Jewish Agency. 'Understand that every word here can ignite a fire among our people in vain.'

Hezki Baruch ,

Yitzhak Herzog
Yitzhak Herzog
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog, who will finish in his current capacity at the end of the month, will leave the Knesset and take over as chairman of the Jewish Agency.

At the end of his speech during the special session marking “Jabotinsky Day,” which honors the life of Zionist leader Zeev Jabotinsky, Herzog said: "There may, of course, be other stormy discussions until my retirement at the end of the month from the Knesset, but this is my last official speech on this stage for the time being. For fifteen years, I have worked in this plenum and in the Knesset for my people, my homeland and my movement. Out of these, for five years I have served as the head of the opposition in the Knesset - a very important role in our democracy, in providing a different voice in the internal arguments within us.”

“I enjoyed every moment. I now turn to the service of the people and the state in an important, challenging and fascinating arena at a crucial crossroads in the history of the Jewish people. It was Jabotinsky who wrote constantly about the danger of losing Jewish identity, the danger of losing the continuity of our people and the danger of division that threatens our people. And just as then, so now, the challenges are similar but different. I will enter my new position as chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel out of a deep sense of mission. "

Herzog concluded, "I appeal to you, members of the Knesset, to understand and appreciate both the size of the Jewish people in the Diaspora and the relative smallness of the Jewish people among the nations. Appreciate and understand what Jabotinsky wrote about the Jewish people and its ways. Appreciate and understand the existence of ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘Babylon’ and the need for dialogue between the two great communities, Israel and North America. Understand and internalize that every word uttered here is liable to ignite a fire among our people in vain.”

“Honor the immigrants. Be careful of your language, respect all Jews no matter who they are. They are all sons and daughters of our people. We do not have this privilege and let us not forget the magnitude of the disasters that have afflicted our people. Thousands of years of exile we hoped for political independence. Jabotinsky hoped for it but did not get to see it. We have been privileged to live in the nation-state of the Jewish people in independence and security - a great deal thanks to the Jewish people dispersed in all its colonies. It is a tremendous responsibility. "