Rivlin: No minorities among 13 torchbearers

Knesset Speaker says Druse, Beduin, Israeli-Arab contributions to Israel should be recognized on Independence Day.

Beduin man in al-Arakib tent 311 (photo credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
Beduin man in al-Arakib tent 311
(photo credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin spoke out on Thursday against the list of torchlighters at this year’s Independence Day ceremony, because, unlike in previous years, it does not include any minorities.
Although the Public Diplomacy Ministry released the names of the 13 torchbearers on Wednesday evening, Rivlin demanded that the “distortion” be fixed, so that Arabs, Druse, Beduin and other minorities be included in the ceremony.
The torchbearers are meant to represent “Water: A source of life,” the theme of this year’s Independence Day ceremony, which is set to take place on April 25 on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.
The group of 13 includes a hydrotherapist; the winner of a young scientists’ competition who developed a solar-powered water-purifying system; a civil engineer instrumental in building 240 reservoirs around Israel; and the president of Mekorot, the national water and sewage corporation.
“In Israel, there are groups that tied their fate and their lives to Israeli society and are full partners in Zionism and in protecting the State of Israel’s existence,” Rivlin explained. “It cannot be that this is not expressed in the central, government-sponsored ceremony in which we celebrate our independence.”
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According to Rivlin, the issue is not symbolic; rather, he is demanding an accurate portrayal of Israeli society.
MK Majallie Whbee (Kadima), who is Druse, said that the Independence Day ceremony is not for Jews alone.
According to Whbee, the current government claims to accept minorities as partners in Israeli society only when it is convenient for them.
“The government has closed its eyes and excluded those of other religions who risked their lives to build the state,” he stated.
“There are enough members of minorities that are worthy of taking part in this ceremony.”