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Op-Ed: Rivlin for President: The Whys and Wherefores

An open letter to Israel's Legislators as the election date for President approaches.
Published: Saturday, May 24, 2014 11:35 PM


To My Friends, The Members of the Knesset of Israel:

At this week's annual meeting of IDF Shaked Commando Unit veterans at the Likud's Tel Aviv headquarters, dedicated to the memory of the unit's fallen soldiers, I hoped to meet my longtime friend MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Fuad)  – a former commander of the unit.

I intended to tell him that despite our longstanding friendship, affection and the ties of blood that connect us as fighters, I would – if I could – recommend MK Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin, rather than he, as most suitable to be the next president of Israel.

There are several reasons for this choice:

The will of the Israeli people: Polls taken in recent months in which people were asked which candidate is most suitable to be president, show that most of Israel's citizens see the former chairman of the Knesset, Reuven Rivlin, as most worthy of the post.

A man who connects with the people: Rivlin's interest in the welfare of all sectors of society and his love for them have been outstanding. This includes the 750,000 Jews living over the "Green Line" (according to the Interior Ministry's data, about 400,000 Israelis live in Judea and Samaria, with another 325,000 in post 1967 Jerusalem neighborhoods, and 25,000 in the Golan Heights). These people have parents, brothers, children, grandparents, cousins and friends all over the country, adding up to at least 2.5 million Jews. Ruby is "connected" to all of them.

A man of the people: Seasoned MK Reuven Rivlin, former chairman of the Knesset, in contrast to so many other politicians who hold high positions, is not enamored of himself, has never allowed the pleasures of power to corrupt his soul. He has remained his unaffected self, a man of the street, not a celebrity, not a tycoon and not a representative of the rich and powerful – but a man of deep integrity.

That explains the "why".

Now, for the wherefore:  For what reason do we need a former chairman of he Knesset as president for the next seven years?

With G-d's help, Ruby, as president, will be able to direct his efforts to three main topics, ones that have, unfortunately, been neglected by the governments of the past two decades, but that interest him greatly.

Most important of all is aliyah to Israel. The next president must sound a call for the 50% of our people that remain in the Diaspora to move to Israel. In addition to efforts to absorb our fellow Jews endangered in Ukraine, France, Belgium , Iran and Arabic countries, our president must focus on Jews living in well-off countries – all of them, including the USA, Canada, South America and Australia, telling them that only here in the Land of Israel, in the State of Israel, is there a future for their Jewishness and for their families.

Another issue that needs urgent attention is settlement. When Israeli governments freeze construction for Jews, only Jews, in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights, that government has no right to call to build new settlements in the Negev and the Galilee.  No one listens to the calls anyway and anything that does happen is either a result of private investments or idealistic groups (who would go there anyway). The president, whose role puts him above the people, must be pro-active in starting new communities all over Israel, just as first PM David Ben Gurion and other Zionistic leaders did in the past.  

The third cause, and the most basic, is uniting the people.  The Movement to Return to Zion (Shivat Tzion), at the vanguard of the Jewish people's activity for the last 150 years, brought waves of immigration - with the help of G-d -  from all parts of the world, with varied cultures, customs, viewpoints and ambitions. The president must do as much as he can to find the common ground that will unite all those immigrants. On the basis of this he can unify the nation to face the great challenges that lie ahead in the years and generations to come.

I close with the hope that MK Reuven Rivlin will be chosen as our next President.

Yaakov Katz ("Ketsale"), Former Chairman National Union Party