In his opening remarks to US Vice President Mike Pence, President Reuven Rivlin, who does not actually speak Yiddish, used one of the most complimentary Yiddish words that can be bestowed on another person, calling the vice president “a mensch” – meaning “a person of integrity.”
He used this epithet when the two sat down on Tuesday to make statements in the presence of their respective entourages and the media.
And the president didn’t stop there. Rivlin also called Pence “a dear friend of the Jewish people and the State of Israel” and told Pence that, as a seventh generation Jerusalemite, he had deeply appreciated the vice president’s reaffirmation of America’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Rivlin also said that he had no doubt that Pence’s declaration, that the US Embassy would be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of 2019, was essentially a done deal. Pence has always been a person who stood by his word, said Rivlin.
Rivlin saw this move as a gift for Israel’s 70th anniversary.
Pence said that US President Donald Trump’s decision regarding Jerusalem was “the clearest sign yet of the unwavering commitment of the United States of America to Israel” and that “under President Trump’s leadership we are committed to make it stronger still.”
As for moving the embassy, Pence said that the State Department is already working with US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman to complete the transition from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The US looks forward to having this “as a tangible sign of our enduring commitment and alliance to the State of Israel and the people of this great nation,” he said.
Aside from the common commitments to freedom and shared values, Pence also stressed the impressive trade ties between the US and Israel as well as the countries’ security collaboration, which he said has never been more robust. He added that America stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel in the battle against radical Islamic terrorism.
“We also stand together against the threat of the leader of state-sponsored terror, Iran,” said Pence. “We are sending a signal to our European allies that the time has come for changes in the Iran nuclear deal that will ensure that the sunset provisions in the deal are completely eliminated, and that punitive sanctions will be available for many years to come, to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
Pence hoped that in the months ahead America would be able to contribute to strengthening the security of the region. He said he had been sent to the region by Trump in order to reiterate America’s deep commitment to peace, adding that Trump believes that recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel “will set the table for the opportunity to move forward in meaningful negotiations to achieve a lasting peace and end the decades-long conflict.”
“We have to continue in order to find a way to build confidence between the two peoples,” said Rivlin. “Unfortunately, there is no confidence [in each other]. The less confidence that we have is pulling us to live as we live, without the ability to find a way in order to get to any kind of understanding that we are not doomed to live together – [rather] it is our destiny.”
Rivlin said the Palestinians “have to understand that the Jewish people have returned back to their homeland, not as compensation because of the Holocaust, but we have returned back to our land only because it was our fathers’ land. That was the reason why my family came here 200 years ago.”