Rivlin to French Jews: Antisemites aren't our friends

“No one can be recognized as a friend of Israel if he is an antisemite,” Rivlin declared.

June 5, 2018 00:56
2 minute read.
PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN hosts a delegation from the Consistoire representing Jewish communities in F

PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN hosts a delegation from the Consistoire representing Jewish communities in France, at the President’s Residence, June 5, 2018.. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Israel will not negotiate with any neo-Fascist group that purports to admire the State of Israel, but which engages in antisemitic activities, President Reuven Rivlin said on Monday to a Consistoire delegation representing the various Jewish communities of France, particularly those from the Aix en Provence area.

“No one can be recognized as a friend of Israel if he is an antisemite,” Rivlin declared.

The Consistoire is the umbrella organization established in 1808 by Napoleon to take care of the religious needs of the Jewish communities of France.

The delegation was headed by its president, Zvi Amar, and Rabbi Reuven Ohana.

Commenting on the deep connection that has long existed between French Jewry and Israel, Rivlin said that there are other Jewish communities whose connection is not as deep or as strong. Some, he said, have distanced themselves because of cultural differences – particularly Reform Jews who cannot reach an accommodation with the Orthodox authorities in Israel, he said. Some do not want to be accused of divided loyalties between their countries of citizenship and sentiments they feel towards Israel, but the wave of antisemitism and anti-Israel feelings currently pervading the world is prompting many such Jews to rethink their attitudes, Rivlin said.

Today, when there is anger against Israel, he continued, it is taken out on individual Jews or on Jewish communities. Therefore, antisemitism today is an expression of opposition to Israel and being anti-Israel is a form of antisemitism.

Rivlin, whose personal mission has been to unify what he calls the four tribes of Israel – the secular, ultra orthodox, national religious and Arab components of the population, said that there are now five tribes, including Diaspora Jewry, a large percentage of which feels alienated.

Not so long ago, he said, 80% of Israel’s population could be characterized as Zionist, and 20% as ultra-Orthodox and Arab. But now, each of the four tribes represent roughly 25% of the population, which means that half of the Israeli population (consisting of haredim and Arabs) does not serve in the army.

Yet, despite the differences, he said, there is no culture war in Israel, because the vast majority of Jews, including those who define themselves as secular, practice traditions such as brit mila (circumcision), bar mitzva, Jewish marriage and burial.

Despite the distancing of some Diaspora communities, he said, anything that is a problem or a source of pride to the State of Israel is treated in much the same manner in the Jewish Diaspora – and vice versa.

“We are one people and must do all that we can to make Israel stronger. And Israel must concern itself with Jews from all over the world,” said Rivlin.

The delegation wanted to know about the challenges currently confronting Israel, and Rivlin would have gladly told them, but for the fact that members of his staff kept reminding him that he had an important defense meeting waiting for him elsewhere in the building.

However he did manage to talk about the need to get Iran out of Syria, as well as for Israel to eradicate Hamas in order to pave the path for the rehabilitation of Gaza.

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