A Likud MK with a conscience

Once again Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, a member of Israel’s ruling Likud party, has distinguished himself as a man of the Decent Right.

Ynet reports that he visited the hospitalized Arab teenager who was nearly lynched by Jewish teens in Jerusalem’s Zion Square last Thursday.

Rivlin apologized to the teen and told him that it was clear that his was not an isolated incident of racism towards Arabs; rather it is a worrying phenomenon in Israeli society.

Up until now, we believed that this was an isolated case, marginal, but it isn’t,” Rivlin said. “This is a micro cosmos of a national problem that could endanger Israeli democracy.”
Rivlin explained that the purpose of his visit was to apologize for the events of last Thursday: “We are not just sorry, we are also angry. You are a son of Jerusalem, we are all citizens of Jerusalem, and we need to care for each other. It is hard to see you in hospital because of something so inconceivable.

“The time has come for us to stop covering up. It isn’t possible that any man be abandoned, even if that person is someone I disagree with. This is a shared responsibility, of every leader and every publicly elected official.”

Rivlin added that with the coming of the new school year, the education system needs tp put the issue at the front page of the school curriculum.

In 2010 Rivlin spoke out against a proposed amendment supported by Prime Minister Netanyahu requiring non-Jews seeking citizenship to pledge allegiance to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state.”

“The students of Jabotinsky see no need for such bill. I am a fervent Zionist, and I need no strengthening of my belief. The establishment of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel was an ethical act that the world recognized, and it gained great respect when we described our country as Jewish and democratic. This description is also anchored specifically in the Declaration of Independence and the Law on Elections, and any additions of this type can only be harmful.”

Earlier this year Rivlin criticized two other Likud MKs for inciting a crowd in Tel Aviv against African migrants. One of them called the migrants a “cancer.”

“When the masses are raging, leaders must curb the rage instead of spreading it,” [Rivlin] said during a meeting with the US ambassador.

“It’s OK to protest and demand a solution from the government but once cannot be dragged into incitement and use words the anti-Semites use against us,” he said.