Rivlin: Israel needs to have 'honest' conversation with Diaspora

Israeli president meets with American Jewish leaders, says greatest threat to Jewish people is infighting.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Rivlin at Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly
Rivlin at Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly
Mark Neiman (GPO)

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin spoke at the General Assembly (GA) of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) at the Exhibition Grounds (Ganei HaTa’arucha) in Tel Aviv Monday. Over 1,200 members of Jewish federations from across North America are participating in the conference.

The president added, “The title of this GA is ‘We Need To Talk’, and I cannot agree more. We need to talk, we have to talk, and we need to listen. We are not ‘strategic allies’; we are family. We do not have ‘shared interests’; we have a shared fate, a shared history, and a shared future - a very bright one. It may not be easy to have a truly honest conversation, But this is, I believe, what needs to happen.”

“Just a week ago, in the opening session of the Knesset, I said that our biggest threat is our inner war,” he continued. “I said that victory in the battle between us means losing the war of existence. This is true for Israeli society, and this is true for the Jewish people. We must establish the importance of our relationship as a value that is above debate.”

“We cannot escape from returning to the table and re-discussing our disputes. It is our shared responsibility for our children, for the future of the Jewish people. The Blaustein-Ben Gurion agreement of 1950 defined the relationship between Israel and American Jewry. This document cleverly captured the delicate balance between deep mutual responsibility and non-interference. We must cherish this principle out of respect to our peoplehood on the one hand, and to our two democracies, on the other. On the same note, it is time to update or formulate a new ‘Blaustein-Ben-Gurion- agreement. An agreement that meets the current realities and challenges.”

The president added, “Dear friends, we need to create wider circles of awareness here in Israel. For many young Israeli Jews, being a Jew means being Israeli. We must increase their exposure to your schools, camps and communities. They need to realize and feel that they have a family, a family they must take into account. I support the idea of creating a “Reverse Taglit” trip for young Israelis to get to know Jewish communities worldwide. Many such delegations targeted for Israeli opinion leaders are already making a change. My staff at the President’s Residence, together with the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, is developing an active community for graduates of these delegations in order to increase their impact, and to start exploring finding out the important things we can do together - Israel and Jewish communities worldwide. Dear friends, we must take upon ourselves joint new missions in order to inspire our relationship. I have been promoting cooperation between the State of Israel and the Jewish people in investing and creating partnerships in the developing world. The Zionist vision has always strived for Israel to be an essential and inspiring member in the family of nations, rooted in the Jewish notion of ‘Tikun Olam’,” he continued.