Public Diplomacy Minister Galit Distel Atbaryan spoke at the Israel National News-Arutz Sheva Israel Heritage Foundation Yom Yerushalayim celebration dinner held in Manhattan.
"My grandmother grew up in Iran," she began. "For her, being Jewish meant maintaining her Jewish identity at any cost - and she did." "If you were to ask a founder of an Israeli kibbutz [the same question], he would probably say, 'Zionism and socialism...he would probably talk about Marx and social values," she continued. "If you asked a progressive student in Europe, he would probably tell you that it's oppression and Apartheid, and a whole number of things which [anti-Israel] propaganda has taught him."
"No matter whom you ask or what they think, there's no parallel to our people's heritage," she continued. "Israel has become the main pillar of Western heritage. We're the founders of Western civilization."
"I'm not here to convince [those Israelis] who hate Israel and their Jewish identity. I'm turning to my brothers on the Left who are Jewish and Zionist but [are not observant] and...trying to unite the people of Israel," she said later. "That's my main goal - not to be right but to unite the Jewish people."
"The danger of people not knowing about the history of the Holocaust is when some members of the Left [compare] it to the Palestinian narrative," she pointed out. "For them the lesson of the Holocaust is that we cannot behave like the Nazis...The problem is how the Holocaust is being dismissed these days. They call anyone they don't agree with a Nazi now. They even call me a Nazi. If you express any Zionistic, patriotic, Jewish values, you are labeled a 'Nazi.' I'm speaking about a small but very loud group of people in Israel."
When a member of the audience asked Atbaryan why no Israeli Prime Minister has had the courage to stand up for Jewish values, she told a story about Netanyahu inviting her to his office following the Likud's election victory and asking her to establish an office that would support Israeli PR - and tell the world the real story behind the Jewish people - not "talk about artificial, shallow things" and "not sell Israel short."
"I think that Benjamin Netanyahu has that courage," she stated.