Rivlin Urges National Reconciliation Before it´s Too Late

Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin, urges Israelis to renew their covenant with the Land of Israel and reconcile their differences, before one brother turns against the other. Excerpts from his speech:

, | updated: 14:41

"To my brothers and sisters in Israel: Happy Independence Day!

As we do every year, during the twilight, between mourning and celebration, we return to stand here on the mountain of remembrance, the mountain of Israel’s revival.

We are standing here, yes here, opposite the grave of Herzl, framer of the State, on a hill surrounded by graves of the heroes of Israel’s wars, in order to renew the covenant between us and this land, and our oath to be faithful to the 'first flowering of our redemption.'

There is no moment more Israeli than this one, the moment between remembrance and waving the flag. The change that’s so sudden, so difficult, and so appropriate, like the short distance between the rows of graves and the place of this ceremony. This transformation that expresses the whole story.

Here, the ceremonial area, brightly lit for a celebration; and there [the rows of graves of the military cemetery], a short distance away, the shadows of loss. Here, it’s just before Independence Day; and there, it’s still - like the rest of the year - Memorial Day. Here, freedom and independence; and there, right beside us, the price in blood. And the price: it doesn’t distinguish between this kind of blood or that, between brothers. And there is no greater expression of that than the young people standing here beside me…

Here we stand, year after year, in times of blessing, and in times of hardship and difficulty. We stand here as victors, after the miracle of the victory of the Six Day War, but also in the year that preceded it, the time of waiting, of worry, and concern.

We stood here, after that terrible Yom Kippur. We bit our lips and returned here, unfurled our flags, in spite of it all. We took hold again of the covenant of the land and the oath of redemption, more determined than ever.

And we are standing here again today, in the 57th year of our freedom. And with the help of the Rock of Israel and its Redeemer, we will come here again, next year.

This year, a year of division, controversy, and confusion, we are here with a heavy heart, and with concern over what might be approaching.

For more than a generation a difficult, deep controversy regarding the purpose of the State of Israel and the overall goals of Zionism has been raging. I believe that at its foundation, this is a legitimate dispute, one for the 'sake of heaven.'

I believe that those on both sides are patriots. Those on both sides believe in Zionism. Those on both sides want the best for their nation and land. But this year, perhaps in coming months, this dispute may reach the boiling point, and in the eyes of many, it may reach a historic conclusion.

Many feel that awaiting us in the coming months are expulsion, uprooting, destruction, and a real danger to the continuing existence of the Zionist enterprise. Others worry that what’s before us is a difficult amputation, one that is dangerous but necessary to save the Zionist enterprise.

My personal, ideological opinion [against the disengagement] is known to the public, and I don’t want to stand here before you and express it at this national event. On the other hand, I would betray my position, betray the truth, and betray this moment, if I don’t shout out the following things, even if there are those who see this as a slight violation of today’s celebrations:

I’m worried about a rupture that might bring calamity upon all of us, one that’s much greater than the planned evacuation of the communities of Gush Katif and northern Samaria.

This year, I stand before you, gripped by a great fear…

Most of all, I’m afraid this will turn into a dispute between brothers. How will we stand here on the 58th Independence Day if, Heaven forbid, one brother will spill the blood of another…

I believe that it’s still possible to stem the tide; I believe that it is within our power to withstand the difficulties that are before us…

I believe that each and every one of us, here and at home, in Tel Aviv or in N'vei Dekalim, in Afula, in Netzarim, and in Homesh - can do it, and is obligated to it.

If so, we can return here next year and look out at the graves that are on the slopes, at the flag, and the view. This year, maybe more than any other year, we can turn in supplication to the Rock of Israel and its Redeemer and say:

“Bless the State of Israel, the first flowering of our redemption. Defend her with Your grace, extend over her Your canopy of peace, send Your light and Your truth to her leaders, officers, and counselors, and advise them with Your good counsel. Grant peace to the land, and everlasting joy to its inhabitants.”

Happy Independence Day!"

In another Independence Day speech, Rivlin warned that even those who have long sworn allegiance to Jerusalem could not necessarily be trusted to maintain it as a united city under Israeli sovereignty.