Yuli Edelstein was the first non-head of state to address the Russian Parliament in an official visit to Moscow. He said that he would have never dreamed he would speak in the Russian Parliament 33 years after sitting in Soviet prison. This moment closes 2 circles at once; a personal one and for the Jewish Nation.
He spoke both in Russian and in Hebrew. The venue, as we said, is usually reserved for heads of state and this is the first time a parliament head spoke. 33 years ago Yuli Edelstein was imprisoned by the Soviet authorities for teaching Hebrew. “I was imprisoned because I taught the language that proclaimed the rejection of tyranny to the world, the rule of justice and the love of man and hope for peace, the language used for prophecy by the prophets of Israel. “One nation will not bear the sword against another nation, go out from your land and your birthplace.”
Edelstein recounted before the Russian parliament how he was refused the right of aliya to Israel for 9 years spending 3 of them in the Gulag in forced hard labor. 30 years ago after 9 long years he was permitted to immigrate to Israel. Edelstein explained that Israel is the land that the Jews re-established a Jewish state where the miraculous rebirth of the Jewish nation took place and the holy Hebrew language was revived. “The language for which I was imprisoned,” Yuli said, “I will bless you in our ancient Hebrew blessing, “Shalom Aleichem” peace be upon you.”
The speech was part of a visit to Moscow, payback for the Russian Federation Head Valentina Matvienko’s Knesset visit last year. In that visit The Russian Parliament and the Knesset signed an agreement of cooperation. Edelstein continued to speak about the threats to Israel: Hezbollah in the north, a quasi -government type of organization that is well armed with up to date armaments that wants to “free Jerusalem” from Israel’s rule, the Hamas in the south, which maintains a war of terror against Israeli citizens. And Iran that wants to expand its control in the region by establishing outposts in Syria and Lebanon to spread its ideology of hate of mankind. Edelstein says people talk of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza but Israel still assists with food, fuel and building supplies even though it knows that not all of it will go to the people who need it and it will be used to dig tunnels and build missiles.
After speaking Yuli Edelstein is touring Russia in the places that have a lot of meaning to his life: the central synagogue where he was active, the apartment where the Soviet police searched and ended up imprisoning him the court that tried and sentenced him and the Moscow prison that he spent 3 years in as a prisoner of Zion.