Rivlin calls ambassadors serving in Europe 'frontline heroes'

Ambassadors gather in Jerusalem for conference, Rivlin praises their commitment and dedication to promoting Israel's cause.

January 5, 2015 18:50
3 minute read.
President Reuven Rivlin.

President Reuven Rivlin addresses Israeli ambassadors serving in Europe. . (photo credit: PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON OFFICE)


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Israeli ambassadors come in for a lot of criticism from the host countries in which they serve, as well as from various sources in Israel.

But on Monday they glowed with pride when President Reuven Rivlin said that they were frontline heroes, who have to contend with boycotts, attacks on Israeli policy and surging anti-Semitism.

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Foreign Ministry Director- General Nissim Ben-Shitrit introduced Rivlin to the 43 ambassadors who are serving in Europe and are on home leave for an ambassadors’ conference in Jerusalem.

“It’s time for the president to meet the ambassadors,” he said, hinting that Rivlin’s predecessor Shimon Peres gave priority to foreign relations whereas Rivlin does not.

“The place of the president is among his people,” Rivlin shot back, but the remark was made with humor and greeted with laughter.

In praising Israel’s diplomats, Rivlin addressed his military aide-de-camp Hasson Hasson, saying that together they had met people every day who represent the ethos of Israel’s security, “but every person sitting in this room is a hero in the truest sense of the word.”

Rivlin noted that those sitting before him were not always in the company of comrades, but often had to work alone in putting forward Israel’s case and defending her interests.

They had come to Jerusalem he said, when Israel was in the throes of an upcoming election and was simultaneously fighting the threat of terrorism.

Rivlin emphasized that Israel has no quarrel with Islam, but only with terrorist organizations which tend to radicalize Islam and use this to influence others.

Rivlin referred to charges that Israel had committed war crimes during Operation Protective Edge and said that Israel was conducting in-depth investigations into the activities of commanders and soldiers during this period, when the IDF did all that was possible to protect Israeli citizens, while simultaneously adhering to international law under the most difficult of conditions.

The IDF knows how to conduct investigations into its own activities, and does so with integrity, he said.

“Both the investigated and the investigators are our soldiers.

There is no external body which is probing the IDF, and it is wrong to paint a picture as if the soldiers are being investigated by a hostile element which has set itself the target to harm our commanders and our soldiers and the spirit of our fighting,” Rivlin declared as he stressed the need for unity.

Rivlin said that he understood how difficult it was for the ambassadors to answer all the questions that were put to them by people who purport to be Israel’s friends and voice a desire to comprehend what Israel does and why.

He instanced the attitude by many foreign dignitaries who cannot understand why Israel is acting as a super power in the face of terrorism when so few of the thousands of rockets launched from Gaza actually killed people.

“It’s very hard to explain,” he said. “They don’t understand that a terrorist organization can hold a whole nation to ransom.”

Rivlin noted that he knew how hard it was for ambassadors to get foreigners to understand the concept that Israel is simultaneously a Jewish and, a democratic state.

Ben-Shitrit noted that the task of the ambassadors is made all the more difficult by the fact that no two countries in Europe are the same and have to be treated differently.

Of the 43 ambassadors, only some dozen were women, a sign that diplomacy continues to be a male dominated profession, in which there has been a crack in the glass ceiling, but has yet to be broken.

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