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Speech of the President of the Czech Republic at the "4th Annual Algemeiner Jewish 100 Gala"


Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen - Shalom!

Thank you for your kind invitation. I’m very glad to be here.

Two years ago, at the congress of AIPAC, I paraphrased the famous slogan of J. F. Kennedy: “Ich bin ein Berliner.” And I said: “I am a Jew.” A mi Jehudi. Anyway, this is not enough because we face the risk of the present world and only the verbal form of solidarity is not sufficient.

What are the risks of the present world as for Jewish community and the State of Israel? At first, of course, it is the Islamic terrorism. This is the topic I will speak about tomorrow at the General Assembly of the United Nations. And because I am not polite, I will speak not about international terrorism, but about Islamic terrorism. But the topic which is important for our discussion – a discussion among friends - is something different.

You know, let us speak about the lack of courage. Let us speak about the cowardice, about hesitation, about hypocrisy, about solidarity which is conditioned. I call it “solidarity BUT”. Let me give a few examples only. Of course we support the State of Israel BUT it is not the Jewish State of Israel; yes, we support the fact that every country is to have its capital, BUT we are against Jerusalem as a capital; yes, we fully respect the right of Israel to have safe borders BUT Golan Heights cannot be a part of the territory of Israel, and so on, and so on. Every killer from Palestine is a fighter for freedom, and if you send missiles from the Gaza Strip to Israel, it is bad, of course, BUT you cannot respond by bombarding the Gaza Strip. Do you understand me? This is Solidarity BUT – but, but. And these BUTs completely neglect the full time of solidarity. What we need is solidarity without BUTs. In other words, we need unconditioned solidarity for Jewish people and for the State of Israel.

What are we to do in the present time? We need a new candle against the darkness. We need a concrete action and not only the words, words, words. And such a candle might be the removals of the embassies of democratic states from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I proposed this removal of the Czech embassy four years ago during my visit to Israel. And Prime Minister Netanyahu told me: “If so, I will give you my own house.” I hope his promise is still valid. Anyway, now after the same promise of Donald Trump in the election campaign, I think it might be a good hint and this hint might be followed by some courageous countries, not all countries, but courageous countries. So, this is a concrete solution, a concrete gesture, a concrete step towards real solidarity, and not solidarity by words only.  Therefore, dear friends, let me conclude by the last sentence of an old Jewish prayer – Next year in Jerusalem!


Miloš Zeman, President of the Czech Republic, New York, USA, 18th September 2017