Rivlin sworn in as president, July 23.
(photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESMAN'S OFFICE)
President Reuven Rivlin will make his first state visit abroad at the end of October when he flies to Poland where he will participate in the official opening of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews and will also address the Polish Parliament – the Sejm.
The invitation to visit Poland was issued to him last week by Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, whom Rivlin got to know personally when both were speakers of the parliaments of their respective countries.
Komorowski told Rivlin that he will put a presidential plane at his disposal to bring Rivlin and his delegation to Poland.
An invitation to the October 28 opening was previously issued to Rivlin’s predecessor, Shimon Peres, who is currently in the United States to speak at the annual conference of the Clinton Global Initiative and to receive a leadership award from the Anti-Defamation League.
At a meeting on Sunday to familiarize himself with the presidential press corps, Rivlin spoke of his upcoming visit to Poland, and regarded the offer of a presidential plane as a sign of the high esteem in which Israel is held in Poland.
When asked whether it bothered him that Peres continues to remain in the public eye through meetings with international dignitaries and well-publicized speaking engagements abroad, Rivlin replied that it doesn’t bother him at all. On the contrary, any contribution by Peres on behalf of the State of Israel is welcome, said Rivlin, who wished Peres at least another 30 years of intensive activity.
Rivlin further stated that he and Peres are good friends and that he telephones his predecessor from time to time to seek his advice.
Unlike Peres, Rivlin does not plan to be a frequent flier and wants to focus more on domestic issues, and to turn the President’s Residence into a platform for reconciliation.
The numerous schisms within Israeli society cause him great concern.
Everyone should be free to follow his own path, said Rivlin, but not in an atmosphere of hatred, intolerance, incitement and violence. Rivlin wants to find a formula for mutual understanding, tolerance and harmony.
For almost a thousand years Jews contributed significantly to Polish culture.
After the Holocaust and during the Communist era, their absence in Poland was sorely felt, and the Poles themselves began resurrecting Jewish traditions, most notably the annual Krakow festival, which spawned similar events elsewhere in Poland.
The concept of a museum of the history of Polish Jews was initiated in 1995 by the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland, and land was allocated for this purpose by then-mayor of Warsaw Lech Kaczynski, who both as mayor and president came to Israel and spoke warmly of his vision for the museum, which sits on the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto.