Yuli Edelstein
Yuli Edelstein Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein delivered on Wednesday evening a historic speech in Hebrew at the Bundestag, before hundreds of lawmakers who convened for a special session of German parliament to mark 50 years of relations with Israel.  

”Some 30 hours ago, for the first time in my life, I set foot on German soil. For me, this visit is unlike any other visit, and this speech is unlike any other speech,” Edelstein said. ”I was convinced that I would never visit Germany in light of the heavy significance of its history to me and my people in the new era." 

"As the son of Holocaust survivors, I decided that I would not come unless my position would require me to do so. In the meantime I was elected for a second term as Speaker of the Knesset, and I feel that this is an opportunity to change that decision." 

"We are marking 50 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany, but I feel as though only today I am reestablishing my relations with your people and your country."

Addressing the ”global cultural and religious war” with radical Islam, Edelstein told the German lawmakers that ”the ground is shaking beneath our feet, time is not on our side, and we no longer have the privilege of remaining indifferent.”

This ”comprehensive, uncompromising and borderless” war, he said, ”will determine, to a large extent, the fate of human society for the next generations. The series of murderous terror attacks in Europe carried out by Islamic State have awoken, I hope, even the skeptics.” 

”It is easy to claim that the conflict in the Middle East is local and that perhaps we, the Israelis, are to blame for it, but the reality is completely different. The time has come to recognize the fact that we are facing a global struggle between the west and democracy, and murderous radical Islam,” Edelstein stated. 

Addressing incitement against the Jewish state, Edelstein noted that "Europe has become fertile ground for BDS organizations that employ improper methods such as economic and academic boycotts against Israel." 

”These organizations disparage Israel, supposedly in the name of humanitarian principles, but they are actually working according to a double standard and out of blind hatred." 

"The European Commission has recently decided to label goods [made in Judea-Samaria], and I wish to thank you for your opposition to this outrageous measure," he continued. "'Where they burn books, they will also ultimately burn people,' Heine wrote, and I fear that where goods are labeled according to the place in which they were manufactured, people will be labeled according to their ethnicity.”

Edelstein further argued that Israeli factories, which employ thousands of Israelis and Palestinians in industrial zones in Judea and Samaria, strengthen the connection between the two nations, and labeling would only adversely affect the Palestinian population.

The Knesset Speaker also addressed incitement against Israel by the Palestinian Authority, noting that the body's religious and political leaders often compare Israel's treatment of the Palestinians to Nazi Germany and the horrors of the Holocaust. 

”I wish to express my deep disgust with any such baseless comparisons, which are part of the insolent industry of lies radical Islamic elements are conducting against Israel everywhere...The Israeli-Arab conflict is unlike any other conflict, mainly because it is one-sided. Judaism has nothing against Islam, but unfortunately, [the reverse cannot be said]. We wish to create hope while others take pride in sowing fear. We have no interest in sanctifying the bloody struggle; rather, to lead the region and human society to a better place.” 

"Today, Germany is a close ally of Israel," Edelstein said in gratitude. "The fact that you are standing by us is remarkable, particularly because you remain firm in your position even when it is the position of the minority, such as on the issue of the boycott against Israel." 

"I am certain that Israel and Germany will continue to join hands in light of the major challenges they face, for the sake of tikkun (repairing) of the world and the prosperity of all of human society.”