From the lions of Trafalgar Square all the way to the Lions Gate in Jerusalem – shalom London!
What a magnificent march across this great city of London. You can tell it’s a Jewish march because there’s been a lot more talking than walking!
But in a way 2000 years of Jewish history have been one long march – the march of a people coming home to its land. And today we celebrate 65 years of that march reaching its destination in the modern State of Israel.
We sometimes lose sight of that miracle. But to get a sense of it, we only need to imagine ourselves seeing Israel, for just a moment, through the eyes of some of those who have walked before us in the long march of Jewish history.
Through the eyes of those who fled persecution, who had to start again in new countries, we see a country which has absorbed more immigrants per capita than any nation in the world.
Through the eyes of the parents throughout the generations who gave everything to give their children an education, we see a country with world class universities and with more degrees per capita, more scientific papers, more medical patents, and more doctors, – yes think of the nachas, more doctors! – than any country in the world.
Through the eyes of thegrandparents and great-grandparents whose most treasured possession was a chumash, or a prayerbook, or a book of psalms, we see a land where the road signs, the graffiti and the parking tickets, as well as nobel-prize winning literature are all written in the language of the Bible.
Think of Tevye the milkman, on his long march leaving Anatevke. Through his eyes we would see a country where the cows, and this is true, give the most milk in the world, a country exporting agriculturaltechnology and fighting desertification in the developing world, not just creating a light for the nations, but doing it with renewable energy.
We only need to glimpse Israel through their eyes and we see the miracle of a country in which every day exceeds the most fantastic dreams of our great-grandparents.
It’s a remarkable achievement. But we haven’t done it alone. And today is a chance to pay tribute to all those here in Britain who have helped us along the way. Thank you! Thank you for believing in Israel, for visiting Israel, for speaking up for Israel, for investing in Israel, for praying for Israel and for marching and being with Israel today.
So today is a moment great celebration. But it’s also an invitation – to take a step closer to Israel, not just on one day but throughout this year. That’s what this year’s project, ‘Closer to Israel’ is all about. And I urge you to join with us and find the project that speaks to you, and to deepen your relationship with Israel in a way that will inspire and energize not just you, but your children and all those around you.
Thisis especiallyimportant because we know there are those who are trying to drive a wedge between Britain and Israel. And the best response to those who seek toweaken the relationship between the UK and Israel, is to strengthen it.
– To those who try to boycott academicconferences, the response must be to deepen academic cooperation between Britain and Israel, as we did just last week signing a new agreement to expand our join scientific research.
– To those who want to boycott trade with Israel, the best response is to do what we’ve done and double bilateral trade between the UK and Israel in the past decade.
– And to those who have nothing to offer but hatred and hostility and willful misrepresentations of Israel, the best response is to show the reality of Israel, and more than this: to bring thousands of people together here in Trafalgarsquare, with their heads and their flags held high, saying”Israel we are with you, Israel we stand by you, Israel we believe in you”.
Thank you so much for being with us, in body and in spirit. Thank you and shalom!