Citizens of Israel: A wake-up call

August 2, 2015 Agencies
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Israel’s president Reuven Rivlin has addressed a  rally in Jerusalem which  promoted tolerance protested against violence. In his address at the city’s Zion Square, President Rivlin said:

Reuven Rivlin     Photo: Henry Benjamin

Reuven Rivlin Photo: Henry Benjamin

“The flames are spreading in our land, flames of violence, flames of hatred, flames of false, distorted and twisted beliefs. Flames which permit the shedding of blood, in the name of the Torah, in the name of the law, in the name of morality, in the name of a love for the land of Israel.

On the eve of the 15th of the month of Av (30 July, 2015), the Jewish festival of love, six Israeli citizens were cruelly stabbed, in the heart of Jerusalem. One of the injured, only fifteen years of age, a school student, is still in critical condition. During these days of summer vacation, she finds herself in the balance, between life and death, fighting for her life. However, to my great horror and shame, the letting of blood, the path of hatred and murder, did not stop there.

Over the course of the same night, Jewish terrorists burned down the house of the Dawabsha family in the village of Duma, killing their baby son Ali, and seriously injuring his four-year old brother, and his father. His mother is still fighting for her life.

On Friday, I visited the family in Tel Hashomer hospital, I visited, silently, ashamed, ridden with dread for the power of hatred. Ashamed that in a country which has known the murder of Shalhevet Pass, of the Fogel family, of Adele Biton, of Eyal, Gil-ad, Naftali and Muhammad Abu Khdeir, there are still those who do not hesitate to ignite the flames, to burn the flesh of a baby, to increase the hatred and terror.

‘Even though you make many prayers,’ cried out the prophet Isaiah, ‘I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.’

We cannot continue to dismiss these flames, which are consuming the public in Israel, as an unfortunate set of coincidences. These flames, which are consuming all of us, cannot be extinguished with weak condemnations. These flames cannot be extinguished with solidarity rallies. Not even with this rally.

“These flames cannot be extinguished with posts on Facebook and statements in the media.

These flames cannot be extinguished with repression, denial and disregard. Incitement, ridicule, frivolity, laxity and arrogance of the heart, cannot extinguish the fire, but only allow it to burn stronger, with fervor, to spread in all directions, and permeate all walks of life. A blatant disregard for the rule of law, for human dignity, for a love of mankind, for a love of Israel, and freedom of opinion, has spread within us and is wreaking havoc. An atmosphere has been created here that has allowed leniency toward what is naively called ‘weeds’.

Every society has extremist fringes, but today we have to ask: what is it in the public atmosphere which allows extremism and extremists to walk in confidence, in broad daylight? What is it that has enabled these ‘weeds’ to threaten the safety of the entire garden of flowers?

These flames cannot be extinguished through repression. In order to put out the flames, we need be a much more determined and decisive. We must be thorough and clear; from the educational system, to those who enforce the law, through to the leadership of the people and the country. We must put out the flames, the incitement, before they destroy us all.

Citizens of Israel, a Jewish and democratic Israel, democratic and Jewish Israel, needs a wake-up call today. The Israel of the Declaration of Independence, the Israel of the vision of the Prophets, of compassion and mercy, today needs a wake-up call. We will not be zealots. We will not be bullies. We will not become a state of anarchy.

“The State of Israel was and will continue to be a state of the rule of law. The State of Israel was and will continue to be a state of liberty, tolerance, and justice. The State of Israel was and will continue to be our home. The home of us all.

‘After which’ said the Prophet Isaiah. ‘You shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city.'”

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