The President of Israel, Shimon Peres in addressing the opening session of Limmud FSU in Jerusalem last night said “Anyone involved in the delegitimization of Israel is, to all intents and purposes, legitimizing terror and murder.”

Peres went on to say that Sweden cannot be the mentor of the Jewish people. “Our people had never been able to enjoy the privilege of remaining neutral. We have always been a minority and a victim of non-ethical people.” He said that it is not true that the whole world is against us. India, with well over a billion people has no background of anti-Semitism. China, with a population approaching a billion, believes that a race that produced Karl Marx, Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud, must be one of amazing strength and character. We have heard that some 30 Nobel prizewinners were of Jewish descent; what is perhaps less well-known is that 52 percent of all world chess champions were also Jews.

“The reason that we occupy such a prominent position in the world is that we are never satisfied. A Jew that is satisfied ceases to be a Jew. We are a people that constantly strives and for that we have paid a heavy price – and I am proud of it. I once met Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his dacha near Moscow, and I knew that he was said to be anti-Semitic. However, all I can tell you is that was not the impression I got. He told me that what the Jewish people and the Russian people have in common is an admiration and love for intelligence. The intelligentsia of the world has caused us enormous harm but has also raised us to the highest of intellectual plateaus.”

Asked by the MCs, actress Evgenya Dodina and political commentator, Yaron Deckel, how he visualised the State of Israel in the year 2020, Peres replied, “In ten years time, it will not be possible to recognize the world of today because of the speed of scientific advances, for example, nanotechnology – and Israel will be in the forefront of this.”

Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency, noted that Limmud is a remarkable success. Although Limmud FSU was formally launched in 2006, he and his colleagues practiced a form of Limmud of their own in secret after the Six-Day War. It was at that time that they rediscovered their people and their culture.

Yuli Edelstein, Minister of Information and Diaspora affairs, pointed out that the way to counteract negative attitudes in the world is to remind them of the overwhelming contribution of the Jewish genius to world civilization. He noted with satisfaction that among the young Limmud participans in the audience were over 100 young soldiers who came to Israel as immigrants from the Former Soviet Union, under his ministry’s Nativ program, together with the Jewish Agency. Tsipi Livni, leader of the opposition, emphasized the incalculable contribution made to the state in science, medicine and culture by the twenty years of mass Russian immigration.

Seen at Limmud:

Masha Altschuler arrived in Israel eighteen years ago from Moscow, aged nine. She is presently working on her second degree at Tel Aviv University in business management.

Leonid Ptashka, aged 48, is an internationally known musician, composer and jazz pianist and host of “Night Bird” a popular television show. He came to Israel in 1990 from Baku.

Chaim Chesler, the founder of Limmud FSU, together with co-founder Sandy Cahn of New York.