Rivlin speaks before the JFNA General Assembly
Rivlin speaks before the JFNA General Assembly Mark Nayman/GPO

President Reuven Rivlin on Monday evening addressed the Jewish Federations of North America's (JFNA) General Assembly, which is meeting in Los Angeles.

In his speech, the Israeli president stressed the importance of the connection between the state of Israel and the Jews in the Diaspora.

“The State of Israel was, and will always be, the home of every Jew; Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, secular, traditional, Ashkenazi, Sephardi. Jews. We are all one people, and Israel is dear to all of us,” he said.

“The Jewish people must be based on one simple demand: mutual responsibility. A commitment to the security and the well-being of all our people. This commitment must be stronger than any disagreements," added Rivlin.

He spoke about the recent controversy over the Western Wall in Jerusalem and expressed regret that “the symbol of unity, the Wall of our tears and joy, has become a symbol of division and disagreement.”

“I hope that in the future we can return to the table together, and reach an understanding on this important issue. It is our mutual responsibility,” stressed Rivlin. “We must all respect Israel’s democratic process, the decision-making process. Whether we like it or not, in the only Jewish democratic state, ‘religion and state’ is a political issue – maybe the most explosive one.”

“We shall continue to fight together against anti-Semitism in all its forms; from the vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, to terror attacks against our brothers and sisters around the world, from BDS on campuses, to attacking Israel’s legitimacy in the United Nations,” he said.

Rivlin also stressed the importance of Israel's relations with the United States, saying, “I always say that there are three principles in Israel’s foreign policy. First, the relations with the United States. Second, the relations with the United States. And third, the relations with the United States.”

He warned of the dangers of a nuclear Iran, saying, “Iran is the number one exporter of international terrorism, whose leaders call openly for Israel's destruction. We cannot allow Iran to have nuclear capability. That is madness. The current agreement puts both Israel and the U.S. in danger and shakes the stability of the region.”

“The Jewish People, the State of Israel, has never been at war with Islam,” stressed Rivlin. “The lives of Arabs and Jews are bound together. There will be no peace until we all understand that we are not doomed to live together, it is our destiny to live together.”

Israel “is the Jewish and democratic state we all dreamed of for 2,000 years. A state that does not compromise on its Jewish identity or its vision of Jewish peoplehood, while also having a vision of a shared Israeli-identity for all its citizens: Jews and non-Jews alike.”

The president concluded by praising the humanitarian work of Israel and Jewish communities around the world, from disaster recovery, to the deployment of new technologies to provide water, and the provision of aid for communities in need. The President noted the greater impact that could be achieved by closer cooperation and said, “We should select shared missions, the Jewish People and the State of Israel, for Tikun Olam (making the world a better place). Just imagine the change we can do together. I would be happy to plan, together with you, a conference at the President’s House in Jerusalem, so that we can work together on our shared goals.”

He ended by saying, “Let’s put the arguments aside, and work together. Let’s develop our mutual commitment as a value and as action. For the good of the Jewish People, for the good of the State of Israel, for the good of the whole world.”