President Isaac Herzog on Thursday addressed the Jerusalem Post and the Museum of Tolerance's "Faces of Israel" conference, celebrating Israel's 75th Independence Day.
The President began his address with his family's connection to the foundations of the state. "My father, Chaim Herzog who was Israel's sixth president at the moment that the state was declared, he was in a heavy battle at the King David Hotel. There was a heavy battle with the Jordanian army, and he writes in his memoirs that when evening fell, it was like a ghost town, there was no light anywhere there was a heavy battle, wounded and killed in the King David, and he described the hotel with the windows open and the curtains flapping," said Herzog, "Not knowing the name of the state that was just declared. And then, there was a cease-fire carved out by the French consul, whose office and building are still there right near the King David, and as the French's style, the consul general insisted that the two commanders meet. And then he said, let's raise a toast, and my dad said, 'I'd like to raise a toast to the new state that was formed', but he didn't know what its name was. So they raised a glass to 'A state'. Now we celebrate a state."
The President continued to talk about the state of Israel, "We get caught up in the daily events and lose sight of the larger picture. We must never lose sight of the fact that at 75 years old, our Jewish and democratic national home is truly a modern-day miracle. Ours is a remarkable tale in human history, the tale of a people who survived 2000 years of dispersion, expulsions, persecutions, and violence. And on the ashes of the greatest tragedy of humanity and our people, returned to our ancient homeland and reestablished a sovereign state."
Herzog stated that Israel's deep aspiration for the might of morality over the might of military strength has continued to serve as a guiding light for the country for 75 years. "Thankfully, the vision of regional cooperation with our neighbors has gradually become a great reality the winds of peace blowing through our region in the wake of the Abraham Accords have created the opportunity for Israel and its neighbors not only to cooperate but to transform the entire region into a global model of interfaith tolerance and dialogue and a global hub of sustainable development. I just described to Governor Desantis the vision that 10 or 20 years down the line, we will be able, as a region through Israel, to supply solar power energy to Europe, Asia, and Africa. But friends, this continued regional transformation will not happen on its own it will require hard work, investment, and sensitivity from all sides, especially as the pull of the tide of extremism in our region has remained strong," the President added.
The President also discussed Israel's security issues, "During Ramadan, a time of sacredness and compassion for so many, a time of tolerance, they stained our beautiful landscape with destruction and violence and robbed the lives of innocent Israelis and tourists. We made clear that we will always take every measure to protect our people and that we will fight to maintain stability while keeping our hand extended in peace to all nations in the region, including to our neighbors, the Palestinians. But we know that our true strength comes from the values and spirit which have inspired the Jewish people for generations - the belief that every human being is created in the image of G-d, the core values of unity and mutual responsibility among the entire Jewish people, and the embrace of respectful debate, we call it 'Leshem Shamayim,' for the sake of G-d, meaning a decent discussion that comes out positive at the end."
Regarding Israel's current internal strife, the President stated: "You all know that we are in the midst of a difficult but very important public debate over the judicial system and the relationship of checks and balances in our democracy, and I believe it's actually a moment of great opportunity. My goal in hosting the negotiations is to ensure that all of the faces, voices, and viewpoints that make up our nation are heard and respected. While still staunchly defending the core pillars of our democracy and the independence of the legal system. I will do everything in my power to help us reach a broad consensus and to emerge from this crisis stronger than ever."
Herzog concluded by discussing the importance of unity among Jews worldwide. "Just as we must work together to strengthen democracy and equality in Israel," said Herzog, "We must all work together here in Israel and across the Jewish world to strengthen unity and mutual responsibility among the entire Jewish people. Here too, I am committed to bringing the full force of my presidency to realizing this goal."