Speech to Keren Hayesod: Israel's flag is the pledge of our freedom
Speech to Keren Hayesod: Israel's flag is the pledge of our freedom

Arutz Sheva and Il Foglio journalist Giulio Meotti was guest of honor and keynote speaker at Keren Hayesod's annual dinner in Milan. Arutz Sheva brings his incisive and memorable words in their entirety:

A strange report was published not long ago. It is titled “World Report of Happiness” and is drawn up every year. Among the top ten countries are Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden. Which nation do you find at the 11th place? Israel.

Israel? Yes, Israel is two positions above the US, while England is in the 23th place, France is the 32nd and my poor Italy is 50th. Last is a country bordering Israel: Syria.

How does the Jewish state manage to be so happy?

With its 20,000 square kilometers, Israel is as big as an average Italian region, while the Arab states cover an area of 13 million square kilometers, three million more than the whole of Europe. With a ratio of forces and land so disproportionate, the very fact that today the State of Israel continue to exist is, at least to me, a miracle.

If you visit Israel you can understand what I’m talking about. 1,000 kilometers of land sandwiched between the sea and without a single border that an Israeli citizen can cross. You understand how the State of Israel is a society resistant to blackmail, which focuses on itself the hatred of all decadent opinions, of all the desire to surrender of the West, of all those convinced that the State of Israel should be erased from Middle East through blood, no matter how much blood.

And I think that many Israelis are wrong when they think they can do without Western solidarity. Israel cannot exist as a perennial Masada.
Yet today Israel is strong. It is the 8th strongest country in the world according to a recent study. Its economy is rich and solid. It produces Nobel Prizes. It is the start-up nation. Its army can cope with any threat, with the exception of the Iranian nuclear bomb.

But there is an invisible danger, impalpable, indifferent to the weapons: delegitimization.

This is the war that Israel is losing. And I think that many Israelis are wrong when they think they can do without Western solidarity. Israel cannot exist as a perennial Masada.

Every day, there is news of boycotts of Israel in European universities. This boycott is based on the falsification of a great principle that animates Israel: the freedom of research. The irony is that the boycott affects Israel whose hunger for culture has made it the first country in the world in terms of per capita degrees. Israel, the most important laboratory where scientists find cures for diseases.

Every day the European banks turn their backs on Israeli affairs. Every day, we read of Jewish institutions, schools and community centers in Europe which should be protected as military targets. The skullcap, the most visible Jewish symbol, is disappearing in Europe. Every day some supermarket in Europe decides to remove goods from Israel, so that the “made in Israel” label is actually more of a stigma. A few days ago, in the London subway posters appeared against a British company present in Israel. A few days later, the same company announced that it would leave Israel.

Academic unions in the UK and Canada, from doctors to architects, have voted to support the boycott. Dozens of artists, musicians and writers have refused to perform in Israel or have canceled their performances as a result of the boycott pressures. From Günter Grass to Vargas Llosa, we cannot count the laureates who have taken a stand against Israel. The Norwegian pension fund divested from Israel. And I’ll stop here.

Every day, Israel is accused of the worst crimes in the halls of the United Nations dominated by the worst tyrants of the earth, hideous regimes that practice religious and gender apartheid on a vast scale, decapitating people in public and flogging them in the name of “virtue”.

Meanwhile, Europe gave a big step up to the enemies of Israel. November 11, 2015 will be remembered as a special date in the relations between Europe and Israel. The day after the commemoration of the Night of the Broken Glasses, at the height of the Third Intifada, the European Commission approved a special marking of Israel’s products. It had not happened since the days of Hitler when the goods of the Jews were discriminated with a special stigma, a distinctive symbol that recalls another, more sinister one.

How Israel, this small sanctuary state that collects refugees of three continents, has become a symbol of violence, aggression, colonialism? How is it that any mistake of its government is now an inexcusable fault? This representation alters moods of more or less latent anti-Semitism in European public opinion.

In an era in which all declare themselves secular, rationalist, in which devil was pronounced dead together with God, the only absolute evil of the world is Israel. Many people today think: “Israel is harmful, let’s abandon it and the terrorists will spare us”.

The old patterns of demonization against the Jews have been applied to Israel and a journalistic degeneration is rampant everywhere, filling the pages of the major European establishment newspapers.

Israeli victims are always declassified in footnotes of conflicts. It happens when there is a missile war in Gaza. It happens with the Intifada of the knives. Missiles and knives both disappear.

Meanwhile, Israel is accused of being the “new apartheid”. Anyone who has visited Israel knows that this is the most false, insulting and unjust thing that can be said of the Jewish State.

This is how Israel appears today in world opinion, like an immoral, unjust, unnatural country. It is a kind of hypnosis: destroy Israel, whatever the cost.

The land of Israel is covered with plaques with the names of thousands of victims of terrorism... a kind of Yad Vashem dispersed across the country.
What can we do? I think we should not talking not of the normality of Israel, the world does not give a damn; but of its uniqueness, the miracle that is Israel. Solidarity. This is the only weapon we have to protect Israel. We have to repeat that Israel, a state as big as my Tuscany and whose inhabitants amount to one thousandth of the world’ population, it is the only democracy in the world under a permanent terrorist siege.

The land of Israel is covered with plaques with the names of thousands of victims of terrorism. These are engraved in city streets, in the yeshivas and in parks, markets and cafes, in restaurants, gardens, schools and synagogues. It is a kind of Yad Vashem dispersed across the country.

That is what Europe can learn from Israel: how can Europe, faced with the challenge of fighting internal and external enemies, not abandon the commitment to a prosperous and healthy society? How can a liberal democracy live with the threat of terrorism and flourish? Israel is also the only country, in a crescent stretching from Morocco to Iran, where the Christian community grows. Just ask the Bahai in Haifa or the Druze in the mountains of Carmel and you will understand the uniqueness of this small sanctuary of democracy and justice.

Europe should be concerned about the fate of the tiny Israel, the most significant endangered member of our civilization. We have much to learn from that small country at war and 11th in the ranking of world’s happiness. The blue and white flag with the Star of David is the pledge of our freedom.

And the border of Israel, not recognized by the world, should become the first boundary of the civilized world.