'I'm every Israeli's president,' says Rivlin, defending appearance at 'Haaretz' conference

President Reuven Rivlin explained to students at the University of Haifa on Sunday why he participated in the Haaretz conference this month that came under fire for controversies that erupted over the national flag being removed from the podium and government officials’ differences with the Breaking the Silence group.
“I was invited to the Haaretz conference and I agreed to participate in it because I think that anyone who is part of Israeli society can come and say what he thinks, even when such viewpoints are piercing,” Rivlin said.
“I made it unequivocally clear at the conference that we are all part of the State of Israel. The soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces are our sons and daughters, our grandsons and granddaughters, and while they defend us, we must defend them,” the president said.
Rivlin said he had remarked at how there was no Israeli flag on the stage, and that it was untenable for a president of Israel to speak on any platform without a national flag alongside or behind him.
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