President Rivlin at the ceremony
President Rivlin at the ceremonyHaim Zach (GPO)

Israeli President of Israel Reuven Rivlin on Monday delivered remarks at the official memorial ceremony for the Ethiopian Jews who lost their lives on their way to Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Immigrant Absorption Pnina Tamano-Shata (Blue and White), also spoke at the ceremony, which was held at Har Herzl.

At the beginning of his remarks, the President spoke about the heavy clashes happening on the Temple Mount now, saying, “I support and thank the men and women of the Israel Police and Border Police for their efforts to keep the peace and ensure security on the streets of Jerusalem. Today, even more so.”

“The State of Israel respects freedom of worship and will continue to do so, but will not stand by in the face of public order disturbances, acts of sabotage and support for terrorism. Jerusalem is dear to us all, it is a city of holiness, a city of peace, a city whose name is peace. This is the time to ensure that the sanctity of Jerusalem is respected by all those who love the city. As a city of belief, a city of prayer. The State of Israel will continue to protect and cherish Jerusalem by through respecting the various beliefs, ‘for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all people (Isaiah 56:7).’”

He added: “Today, we remember the men and women, Ethiopian Jews who dreamed of Jerusalem, who wondered at her, who took the dangerous path, long and hard, for her, but like Moses were not to see her.”

“We pay our respects to all those men and women, boys and girls, dreamers, who wished to build their home and shape their future in this house, in this city, together with all parts of this people. Israeli society is in an ongoing process of building and shaping, for more than 70 years.

“That process involves knowing and mixing together the diversity of communities and tribes, a complex process that is not easy, sometimes demanding special solutions in order to deal with complicated issues. But it seems to me that, in the long term, our ability to continue developing and establishing our model Israeli society, while preserving the integrity of our shared home, is stagnating.”

President Rivlin emphasized that, “there is no doubt that each tribe, each community and each group has different needs and wants. At times, we do not agree with each other. Sometimes, we do not see reality in the same way. But we all have the understanding that we are brothers and sisters, and that we can overcome our differences and unite in times of trouble.”

“That is why it is at times like this, when we are called upon to deal with ourselves, with the threat from home, that we must carry the testament of those who lost their lives in our hearts, and our commitment to them here in Jerusalem, in Israel. Establishing and building Israeli society is a long and ongoing task, but we have earned it. That is what allowed us to establish homes and families, to make the desert flourish, to dream dreams and to turn Israel into the leading country that it is today.”

Concluding his remarks, Rivlin said: “I would like to recall the commitment of the State of Israel to the return of Avera Mengistu, together with the others who are missing and being held captive.”

“Avera has been held hostage by Hamas for nearly seven years, and his fate is unknown. Our hearts are with him and his family. May he return soon, so we can say the words of the prophet Isaiah about Jerusalem: ‘Lift up your eyes and look around; all your children gather and come to you.‘ (Isaiah 49:18)”