PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN observes a moment of silence during a ceremony at Mount Herzl yesterday commemorating the outbreak of the 1973 Yom Kippur War..
(photo credit: MARC NEYMAN/GPO)
What do 130 Christian broadcasters from 30 countries on five continents who collectively broadcast to more than a billion homes around the world do when seated in the reception hall while waiting for President Reuven Rivlin to make an appearance?
They sing, and the song they sing in Hebrew is “Oseh Shalom Bimromav” (“He who makes peace in His high places”).
It’s not the usual prelude to a meeting with the president of Israel. But then these are somewhat unusual friends of Israel, basing their friendship not on sharing Israel’s technology and other areas of know-how, but in their belief in the Bible.
When Rivlin entered the hall at the President’s Residence on Wednesday, there was a deafening, stand-up ovation.
The four-day event, the first annual Christian Media Summit, which culminated with the address of the president, gave participants the opportunity to view Israel beyond the conflict, and, most important, to experience all the diversity and excitement of Jerusalem.
For Rivlin, it was a chance to once again play his dynasty card with his favorite monologue. “I am a son of Jerusalem; the son of a son of Jerusalem; the son of a son of a son... a seventh generation Jerusalemite.”
He explained that his forebears left Lithuania for Jerusalem in 1809 because all the signs indicated that this was the year (according to the Hebrew calendar) that the Messiah would come, “and it was impossible for the Messiah to come to Jerusalem if the Rivlin family was not there to welcome him. We’re still waiting for the Messiah, but while we were waiting we achieved a lot in Jerusalem and all over Israel.”
Rivlin said that since 1850 there had been a Jewish majority in Jerusalem living side by side with Christians and Muslims. In 1967, he emphasized, the city was reunited, and it now represents modern innovation and ancient inspiration.
“We are seeing the words of the prophets of Israel come true before our eyes,” he declared, adding that there is still more to do.
Characterizing Jerusalem as a microcosm, Rivlin said: “If Jews, Muslims and Christians can live together in Jerusalem, we can do it all over the Middle East.”
As a Jewish, democratic state, Israel is proud to stand for freedom of religion for people of all faiths, he continued, and promised that Israel will keep the holy sites of all faiths “safe and secure.”
He also referred briefly to the war in Syria and the dangers posed by Hezbollah, Hamas and other extremist elements. Despite all this, Israel is working to bring food security, fresh water and new drugs and treatments for all kinds of diseases to Asia, Africa and South America, and together with countries around the globe is fighting terrorism and extremism.
In this vein of helping to make the world a better place, Rivlin said that Israel would never stop trying to achieve peace with the Palestinians, but stressed that both sides have to understand that the other is here to stay.
While many people think that Israel was created as compensation for the outrages of the Holocaust, said Rivlin, this was not the case. That his own family and many others came to the Land of Israel well over a century before the Holocaust is proof of that, he said. He also cited the Balfour Declaration a century ago, as a great example of the friendship between Christians and Jews, and in referring to the November 29, 1947, United Nations resolution on the partition of Palestine stated: ‘There is no more moral decision of the family of nations than when it decided that the Jewish people has to return to the homeland.”
Throughout his address, Rivlin repeated the return to the homeland mantra. “We didn’t get compensation; we returned home,” he said.
Then, speaking about “propaganda against the very existence of Israel, he said that the country’s population is approaching 9 million of which almost 7 million are Jews.
“It’s a fact. We have returned,” the president said.
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