President Reuven Rivlin.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
In a similar vein to his flagship project “Israel Hope,” which calls for the inclusion of all of Israel’s minorities into Israeli mainstream society, President Reuven Rivlin now wants to extend that ambition to “Jewish Hope” – to strengthen the bonds between Israel and Diaspora Jewry in general and American Jewry in particular.
Rivlin urged the creation of “Jewish Hope” while speaking on Monday to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations at their annual meeting in Jerusalem.
Rivlin, who has consistently made himself available to the Conference of Presidents, said that meeting the leaders of American Jewry yet again was like a family reunion.
Like most families, he pointed out, such get-togethers are in times of celebration and in times of stress.
Alluding to waning support for Israel by American Jews, Rivlin declared: “What unites us is more important than what divides us.”
In the face of rising antisemitism, including in North America, this unity is more important than ever, he insisted.
Although Israel fights all of its military battles alone, in matters of diplomacy, Israel requires the support of Diaspora Jewry, he said.
Listing some of the challenges currently confronting Israel, Rivlin mentioned Iranian aggression on Israel’s northern border, the complex reality of Syria, the continuing effort to stop Hamas from attacking Israeli citizens while simultaneously seeking solutions to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and fighting Palestinian terrorism.
“Protection of Israeli citizens is not just the right of the government, but the duty of the government,” he stated.
The president also mentioned the Iranian and Russian presence in Syria. With regard to “our Russian neighbors,” he said that Israel must explain its redlines and the Russians must explain theirs.
As he has done many times before, Rivlin singled out the United States as Israel’s greatest ally, and the American Jewish community as Israel’s most important partner.
But he was concerned about anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiments emanating from certain elected officials in America’s Democratic Party, pronouncing that “support for Israel must remain bipartisan.”
The most important task facing the pro-Israel community today is to ensure bipartisan support, he said.
In his reference to “Jewish Hope,” Rivlin emphasized the need to create new partnerships between Israel and American Jewry so that the two will develop greater understanding of each other.
He also thought it was important for Israeli youth “to meet their American Jewish brothers and sisters.”
Touching briefly on the upcoming Israeli elections in April, Rivlin acknowledged differences of opinion, “but we are all one people,” he said, citing as a common denominator a desire for equality for all the citizens of Israel. “We can do it,” he said with confidence.
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