Shira’s note: This new entry echoes my sentiment from a previous blog on tolerance and education. The target of this piece is ignorance. The less ignorant we are when it comes to facts in the Israeli/Palestinian struggle, and the less anti-Semitism as a whole, the better we are as a society. It’s lengthy (as most of the articles in this blog) but if one were to put away inconveniences towards their bias, they would be more than willing to learn something new. As with all, I apply this to myself as well for I try to aspire to not being a hypocrite.

Following are excerpts from Education Minister Gideon Saar’s 4.4.11 remarks to the European Council of Jewish Communities European Jewish Education and Youth General Assembly, which was held in Paris.

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“I thank you for the privilege and the honor of inviting me to address such an important assembly.  With your permission, I would like to begin my remarks by referring to the article by one of our people, Judge Richard Goldstone, in the 1.4.11 edition of The Washington Post. Actually, more than refer to the author of the article, the mendacious report by the commission he headed and the change in his position, I would like to refer to the broader context of the affair. And the context is this: Israel’s right to self-defense, the attempts to either deny this right or to actively undermine it so deeply, and our obligation to uphold it in full. For eight years, missiles were fired at Israel, at its cities and communities, at its citizens and children in Sderot, in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip and in Ashkelon. Even after Israel completely left the Gaza Strip in 2005, uprooted all of its communities and its citizens, and withdrew all of its military forces from there, the firing of rockets at Israel continued and even increased. The international community did not rise to the occasion and say: This is intolerable aggression that no country would countenance; these are real crimes.

The UN Human Rights Council, half of the decisions of which deal with Israel, woke up only after the Government of Israel sought to remove the threat, and allow normal life for its citizens and protect them. We saw the exact same phenomenon after limited military operations such as the seizure of the Mavi Marmara and the terrorists that were onboard. And who sought to investigate these “crimes”?  The esteemed members of the UN Human Rights Council such as Libya, Saudi Arabia and Cuba, countries that repress the human rights of their citizens, deny their basic rights and even shed their blood.  The fact is that anti-Semitism is not gone from the world. The new anti-Semitism has converted the de-legitimization of the Jewish People into the de-legitimization of the Jewish state. It is the obsessive preoccupation with Israel, a democratic state that seeks to defend itself in the heart of a region full of dictatorships, which trample the rights of their citizens. But what is happening on the streets of Syria does not bother the UN Human Rights Council.  And I would like to announce here, unequivocally: We will uphold Israel’s right to self-defense in full. We will not allow it to be attacked and we will not agree that the world apply to us rules that are different from those which apply to all other countries. We will uphold the one thing that no one gave us as a gift. And we will never, never relinquish that right, without which we would not exist. And I ask you – to stand with us, to stand together with us in this struggle! The key to our future is education, Jewish education. Jewish education – recognizing our roots – is the real source of our strength in coping with all of the problems and difficult challenges that we have yet to face. It is what safeguards our common values. Education is also the bulwark against assimilation in the Diaspora. We have two bulwarks that safeguard our existence and the future of our people: The State of Israel and Jewish education.

Knowledge of the history of the Jewish People, our great cultural heritage, the Bible and the Jewish library, the history of the Land of Israel and our Hebrew language – all of these are the real, time-tested foundations of our national strength, the strength which is demanded of us, and will continue to be demanded of us, in order to prevail against the great challenges before us.  Permit me to conclude with the sentence that we will say in another two weeks, at the Passover table: “Next year in the rebuilt Jerusalem!” I announce here my intentions to hold a conference of educators from throughout the Jewish world on the issue of Jewish education – in Jerusalem.”