“No movie can describe the politics in Israel,” President Reuven Rivlin – a veteran politician long before his election to the presidency – told a group of television producers and directors visiting the country.He was responding to a question put to him on Sunday by a member of the group who asked about the prime minister’s ability to control the coalition. Rivlin was introduced to the group by Keshet CEO Avi Nir, who without mincing words declared: “We are fortunate at this stage to have a president that we can look up to.”Nir commended Rivlin for recognizing the role and importance of media in society, for embracing dialogue and for being “the embodiment of a humanistic and pluralistic patriot of Israel and Jerusalem.”Members of the group then introduced themselves. The overwhelming majority came from America, specifically from Los Angeles, though most migrated there from New York, one from Boston and one from Australia.Rivlin then introduced himself by saying he was born before the advent of television in Israel. The first time he watched television was in 1967, he said, although TV didn’t actually come to Israel until 1968, and was for many years in black and white and on one channel only.Although he’s been abroad many times in his various capacities since 1970, Rivlin had never left country until then, and once overseas, he spent a lot of time going to the movies.Even today, he likes to watch old movies on television.
Comparing Israel’s film and television industries from when the state was in its infancy to the present time, Rivlin said: “Now, with God’s help, we have Wonder Woman.”Rivlin also expressed pride in the popularity at home and abroad of the prize winning television series Fauda, and emphasized the significance of freedom of speech “and not just the interpretation” of freedom of speech. He said he considers it essential to depict “everything that is going on in Israel,” so that television can help “show the world what are our problems and what are our challenges.”“What are the biggest challenges and where are we failing?” asked Nir.This was the trigger for Rivlin to launch into his three favorite topics: The first that Israelis and Palestinians are not doomed to live together, but destined to live together; the second that there is no contradiction in Israel being both a Jewish and a democratic state; and the third on finding a way to unite what Rivlin calls the four separate tribes of Israel.In relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Rivlin said Palestinians and the world must learn to accept that Jews have returned to their homeland. He rejected the 12 million figure that some Palestinians say is the number of people who have the right of return, when just a little more than half a million Arabs fled their homes in 1948. It is inconceivable, Rivlin said, for the numbers to have swelled to the extent claimed.When presenting possible scenarios for future co-existence, Rivlin – without stating his own preference – listed three options: a one-state solution, a two-state solution and a federation with Jordan.He said there are many Israelis who favor separation from the Palestinians for fear that a demographic increase would deprive Israel of its Jewish character.On the other hand, he cited Jerusalem as proof that coexistence is possible, saying that Jews, Palestinian Arabs and Christians live together in Israel’s capital.
President Rivlin Meets Gal Gadot at Justice League afterparty, November 13, 2017. (GPO:Roei Avraham:Ben Peretz)