Monday, February 28, 2011

The former refusnik Yuli Edelstein comes to Paris this week

At the end of this week the embassy will welcome the visit of Yuli Edelstein, Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora affairs, in Paris. During his visit Edelstein will meet with the Minister of Justice Michel Mercier, with the heads of the Jewish community of France and with the French media.
What is particularly interesting about Yuli Edelstein is his personal story. Yuli Edelstein was not born in Israel, he immigrated to Israel in 1987, after spending 3 years in Soviet Gulag. Why? Because he was a Zionist - a person who believes in the right of the Jewish people to live in their state in the Land of Israel.

In 1978, as a fourth year student of foreign languages in Moscow, he applied for an exit visa. His request was denied. Mr. Edelstein joined the Refuseniks’ movement and became involved in Zionist activities - teaching Hebrew. He was arrested by the KGB on trumped up charges of illegal possession of drugs. After spending three years in the notorious Soviet Gulag, Yuli Edelstein was finally freed and, together with his family, immigrated to Israel.

In 1995 together with Nathan Sharansky, Yuli Edelstein was one of the founders and leaders of Yisrael ba-Aliya, a new political party representing the new immigrants, mainly form Soviet Union and Ethiopia. In the 1996 elections and won an unprecedented success, becoming part of the government coalition. Between 1996 and 1999 Mr. Edelstein served as Minister of Immigrant Absorption, and from 1999 to 2001 MK Yuli Edelstein served as Deputy Speaker of the Knesset. After the elections of 2008 Edelstein was appointed to his present position - Minister of Public Diplomacy.
Edelstein will also brief the diplomats on the current issues of the Public Diplomacy for Israel. Welcome to Paris!

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