'Rumors of the death of Israeli democracy are exaggerated'

Knesset Speaker addresses 700 North America Jewish Federation heads on complex relationship between people of Israel and Diaspora.

Mordechai Sones ,

Flash 90

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein spoke at an event held at the Knesset in honor of 700 Jewish Federation state heads in North America who attended a conference in Israel and called to implement the Western Wall layout plan.

"The efforts to implement the Wall's outline should be stepped up. Implementing the plan will make one of the holiest places to the Jewish People a symbol of the unity of the people," said Edelstein.

"There's a feeling that the strong ties with the Jewish Federations in North America are crumbling, and what once was taken for granted is no longer in place," he said in a speech to the guests. "Jews in Israel and the Diaspora feel alienated from each other. Issues that united us once, divide us today."

In this context, Edelstein referred to Knesset legislation that is sometimes perceived as a "threat to democracy" and paraphrasing American writer Mark Twain, said "Rumors of the death of Israeli democracy are highly exaggerated. Israeli democracy is strong and will continue to be strong. No legislation will create second-class citizens or any similar thing.

"It's very unfortunate that discussions about Israel and Zionism have become so sensitive and painful that they're a taboo," Edelstein added, "We have important, even frightening, challenges to deal with. We need to talk, but more than that, we have to listen to each other. We're one family and we have a common mission."