Israel Fights Back Against Critics

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The Obama administration's unprecedented condemnations of Israel recently over settlements are reminiscent of repeated criticisms levied against the Jewish State by the United Nations.

During the past 65 years, the UN has issued more declarations against Israel than all other member nations combined.

The latest is known as the Goldstone Report, which accuses the Israeli army of committing war crimes during last year's operation in Gaza against the terrorist group Hamas.

Israeli officials, who conducted their own investigation, say the report is little more than a kangaroo court.

Rising Violence against Jews

"No one ever committed war crimes," Israeli cabinet minister Yuli Edelstein told CBN News. "There was no use of excessive force."

Edelstein serves as Minister of Public Diplomacy in the Netanyahu government. It is an increasingly important position: studies show that violence against Jews is on the rise around the world, including in democracies like France and Great Britain.

Edelstein is taking the lead in helping Israel fight back against those detractors. He sat down with CBN News recently for a wide-ranging interview.

"We are there, not because we were persecuted during the Holocaust," he said. "We are there because for 3,000 years, Jews knew that that was their homeland."

Edelstein was born in the former Soviet Union, where Jews were often denied the right to emigrate to Israel.

"For me, it became obvious that my destination was the State of Israel," he explained. "Easy to say, but we're talking about the Soviet Union of the 70's and many of us young Jews asking for an exit visa would be turned down."

He was eventually thrown in prison for teaching Hebrew language and Jewish culture -- both illegal under Soviet rule.

Paying the Price for Israel

"I said to the judges there was nothing much to talk about," he recounted. "I said that, 'I know the sentence is severe, I know that it's unjust. But I'm sure that my God and my people will help me to get to the state of Israel.'"

Edelstein paid a heavy price to get there: three years of torture and solitary confinement in a Soviet prison camp in Siberia.

Throughout that experience, he stayed committed to his principles. He says it was all worth it.

"For me, a meaningful life was learning by myself about the Jewish roots, about Jewish tradition, Judaism, the Hebrew language and then teaching the others, those who didn't know the little things I already knew," said Edelstein.

Call to Represent

Now he's trying to teach the world by calling on all Israelis to serve as ambassadors and state Israel's case while traveling abroad. Because the Israelis, he says, aren't going anywhere.

"We did come back," Edelstein said. "We are there to stay. It doesn't mean that we won't be able to become good neighbors with the Arabs."

"It just means that we love the land of our forefathers," he explained. "And that my children and their children and God willing, my great-grandchildren, will still be living in wonderful Jewish communities in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, hopefully side by side with their Arab neighbors in peace."

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Erick Stakelbeck

Erick Stakelbeck

CBN News Correspondent

Erick Stakelbeck is a sought after authority on terrorism and national security issues with extensive experience in television, radio, and print media. Stakelbeck is a correspondent and terrorism analyst for CBN News.  Follow Erick on Twitter @Staks33.