Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon came to the defense of President Reuven Rivlin on Friday, denouncing critics who “unleashed a barrage of epithets and curses” in response to Rivlin’s conciliatory messages to the non-Jewish minority in Israel.
“The president described to me the harsh language and cursing which he has absorbed because of his choice to be everyone’s president, a true democrat, a model individual who looks at everyone as equals irrespective of religion, race, and gender,” Ya’alon wrote on his Facebook page.
“When I heard Rivlin’s descriptions of these reactions, I was ashamed,” the defense minister wrote. “I was ashamed that we have within our midst those who permit themselves to express themselves in such a manner toward the president and to any other human being.”
Since taking office three months ago, Rivlin has made it a point to further a conciliatory agenda with Israel’s minorities. The most symbolic expression of the new president’s policy was his visit this past Sunday to Kafr Kasim, the village in the Triangle region. Rivlin was the first sitting president to acknowledge the massacre of 47 Arab civilians there by Border Police at the start of the 1956 Sinai campaign.
The reaction from many Israelis on social media was scorn for the president.
“Now is the time to strengthen and support President Rivlin,” Ya’alon wrote. “All of us, the citizens of Israel, from both the right and the left, men and women, Jews and non-Jews – all of us must continue to support President Rivlin, who has made it his goal to bring the various ethnic groups and sectors closer together and to fight that violent and belligerent minority that is eating away at us from the inside.”