The ardour with which Israel rehabilitated and revitalized a [[language several millenia old]] also deserves all our admiration. As [[Shimon Peres]] says with humour, Israel is today the only place in the world where children play in the language of the [[prophets]], the only country where the children teach their mother tongue to their parents. Land of the prophets, Israel has known how to become a land of promises and richness for all those who came to seek refuge. Blacks and White, patients and people in good health, of Russia, of India or Ethiopia, Vietnamese "[[boat people]]" or Muslims of [[Bosnia]]: all could discover the meaning of the word "solidarity" by stepping on the soil of this country.
At the official invitation of the State of Israel, I had the privilege to carry out a mission in this country, a mission rich in teachings, but also a dense and intense mission in the field of the emotions. No word will be able to translate the emotion felt at the time of the visit of Yad Vashem and the memorial devoted to the martyr of 1,5 million children. Speaking about the condition survivors, the great thinker and poet Aaron Zeitlin address somewhere all those who left him, his dead father, his dead brother, his dead friends: "You abandonned me, he says to them, you are together without me. Me, I am alone here and I make words".
I admit to feel today the same feeling, this inexpressible feeling to translate but also to betray with my words this unsoundable suffering of the Jewish people, this experiment of absolute madness. Israel is on this matter the spokesperson or rather "silenceperson" not to say the absenceperson" of 6 million victims whose dreams were brutally strangled and of which Israel bares the invaluable and holy burden of their memory.
Plantation of cypress with edge of Jerusalem... Although any comparison is perilous, force is to note that, between Quebec and Israel, analogies are legion. I will quote only some of them. The famous historian Arnold Toynbee one day wrote: "After a nuclear catastrophe, two peoples will survive, the Chinese by their number, the French Canadians by their obstinacy." Isn't this fierce will to cross centuries common to both our two people? One finds, here and there, this indescribable need to be an actor and no longer a spectator of one's own destiny.
Much like for Quebec, the cultural future of Israel, where more than 500 000 people have a command of Molière's language, remains tied to Europe, to its French and French-speaking component. The Czech novelist Milan Kundera, recipient of the Prix de Jérusalem, summarized this very special attachment in the first words of his short speech pronounced in French: "The Jews, even after being tragically disappointed by Europe, remained faithful to this European cosmopolitanism, and Israel, their dear found again homeland, appears to my eyes as the true heart of Europe".
At the symbolic level, our flags have the same color, and the flower of lily was for a long time one of the most used Jewish symbols. This identification of the people of Israel to the lily flower is attested over a period of at least one millenium, that is to say up until the destruction of the second temple (70 of our era). The lily appeared on the first coins struck under Jewish sovereignty, that is to say in 4th century BC, and was a symbol of the political autonomy of Judaea in relation to the great empires. Today, the one shekel Israeli coin (40 cents) shows exactly this symbol. Immigration also deeply transformed the face of our two societies, and the Francization efforts of Quebec can be compared to the Israeli [[oulpanim]]s where Hebrew is taught to new comers. Another example, with comparable populations numerically speaking, an about equivalent GNP, our two States differentiate themselves on their continent by the importance they give the knowledge economy.
Dear friends, the friendship I feel for Israel authorizes me not to dissimulate my concerns. In the region, again, history stutters. Israelis and
Palestinians asist in impotente to the course of a topicality which escapes the influence of wisdom and their interests. However, these two peoples, so similary beaten by history, must in spite of everything take the road of dialogue. These peace negotiations have made more blood than ink run. The Israelis obtained what they did not want, attacks, and the Palestinians did not have what they wanted, a State.
The Israelis, by their tenacity, have known how to preserve the existence of Israel. They must today defend the essence of it. The greatness of a country is not a function of its surface. The greatness of a people is not measured by its demography. I always believed that Zionism cannot be calculated in square kilometres. Rather I continue to believe in the formula of former Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin: "It is necessary to make war to war by never giving peace to the enemies of peace". Pessimism is neither a solution nor an ambition. This peace of the braves should not become a fool's bargain. I remain convinced that Israelis and Palestinians will be able to draw from their resources so that peace wins, a peace which will allow them to live side by side without one necessarily taking the place of the other.
Mesdames et Messieurs, faithful to the topic of my short speech, I wish to say a few words on the relations which unites the Jewish and non-Jewish Quebecers. I will
doit without concealing either the need that I feel to say a word on my interrogations concerning your apprehensions vis-a-vis to the society project put forward by my political formation. Between the compartmentalized solitudes of the Canadian mosaic and the standardization of the American melting pot, the conditions are set today to initate the construction of a model unique to us.
Sur le plan institutionnel, dans le secteur de la santé, l’Hôpital général juif, en plus de sa réputation d’excellence tout à fait justifiée, est aujourd’hui le porte-avions amiral du rapprochement entre Québécois juifs et non juifs. 40 % des médecins et 60 % des patients sont non juifs. L’Hôpital est sans doute l’exemple le plus concluant de la contribution de la communauté au bien-être de l’ensemble de la collectivité. Cette institution incarne, en ce siècle qui débute, les valeurs d’accueil, de partage et de solidarité qui animent votre communauté. Le nouveau campus communautaire juif traduit également votre profond désir d’inscrire la communauté juive québécoise dans la pérennité. Il symbolise pour l’ensemble des Québécois un lieu commun d’échange et de partage avec tous les Juifs du Québec, une terre perçue à juste titre par vos ancêtres comme un espace de liberté et de convivialité. Les conclusions du Rapport des incidents antisémites 2000 de la Ligue des droits de la personne du B’nai Brith confirment cette perception: « Les formes les moins reluisantes de racisme qu’a connu le Canada sont imputables aux néo-nazis, aux tenants de la suprématie blanche ou aux révisionnistes de l’extérieur de la province. La plupart des groupes haineux présents au Québec ne sont pas francophones. »