Reuven Rivlin at a multicultural dialogue in Acre on October 18, 2016.
(photo credit: ROI BERKOVITCH)
One would imagine that on Succot, especially on the day of the UNESCO vote on Jerusalem, that Israel’s No.1 Jerusalemite would not venture from the city of his birth.
But upon becoming president, Reuven Rivlin decided that, if not all Israelis could come to Jerusalem, then he would bring Jerusalem to different communities in Israel on Succot.
Accordingly, on Tuesday morning he and his wife, Nechama, were in Acre, where the president said that he feels at home, because Acre, like Jerusalem, has a demographic mix of Jews and Arabs and people of all stripes from both sectors.
The only advantage that Acre has over Jerusalem, said Rivlin, is the sea.
In cooperative, multicultural communities, there are extraordinary possibilities for coexistence, he said. “The potential is enormous.” Such communities, he continued, are a microcosm of the potential ability of Jews and Arabs, whether they are secular, religious or ultra-Orthodox, to live together in harmony in a future Israel. “Acre, more than any other place in Israel, is an example of this togetherness on a day-by-day basis,” Rivlin said.
Rivlin proposed that the national leadership spend time in Acre to learn from the mayor how to manage a multicultural society. To simply pay lip service to the concept of a multicultural society is no more than finding a way out of an obligation, said Rivlin. A genuine multicultural society needs leadership with the strength of character to meet many challenges, he said.
“A multicultural society does not reject the culture of the other, but is prepared to listen, to see, to dialogue and, in the final analysis, to possibly accept the other’s culture without compromising its own,” declared Rivlin, who also acknowledged that many tensions can surface in a multicultural society.
Such tensions can be quelled by strong leadership, he reiterated.
Rivlin participated in a multicultural dialogue after visiting the Acre Festival of Alternative Israeli Theater.
Acre Mayor Shimon Lancry said that his city is a fusion of old and new, of rich history and vibrant modernity.
It is a city with an assured future in which education, industry, commerce and tourism all have integral roles, he said, “but most important of all is the demographic integration.” He characterized this demographic blend as the secret of Acre’s success.