Will Israel face diplomatic crises over Europe's rising far-right?

Rivlin will not meet with ultra right-wing European presidents, he tells WJC leaders.

September 12, 2016 16:34
1 minute read.

A member of Hungary's far-right Jobbik party, delivers a speech to hundreds of far-right supporters during a rally against the World Jewish Congress Plenary Assembly in Budapest May 4, 2013. . (photo credit: REUTERS)

Israel faces crucial diplomatic challenges if the current European trend of extreme right-wing candidates being elected as president or prime minister persists.

At a meeting on Monday with World Jewish Congress leaders, President Reuven Rivlin was asked whether he would meet with such leaders if they engaged in past anti-Semitic activities and now purport to be friends of Israel.

“Fascism is against our values,” he said. “We cannot tolerate or ignore anti-Semitism. I would reject any such invitation and would say please stay away. We can’t give away our values.”

When asked about rifts between Israel and the Diaspora on issues such as religious pluralism, Rivlin said: “We are all one big family. We have to remember that. We are brothers, sisters and cousins who are bound to each other, and we need each other.”

He enunciated three challenges facing Jewish leaders: helping Jewish communities in need; getting young Jewish adults to relate to the State of Israel; and keeping Israel an open, prosperous society.

On the first, Rivlin recalled a visit to Bulgaria in which he saw the WJC working day and night to care for people in need.

Regarding the second, he said young Jews face daily challenges on college campuses where they are called on to stand up for Israel.

“This is a challenge not just for you, but for Israel,” he said. “They don’t remember a world without Israel, and some of them take Israel for granted.”

As for the third, Rivlin said bridges need to be built between what he has called the four tribes of Israel: secular, ultra-Orthodox, national- religious and Arab.

“They live separately from each other, go to different schools, read different books and have different hopes and dreams,” he said. “We have to bring them together for a shared future.”

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