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December 28, 2015 10:59 am

It’s Time to Rein in Israel’s President

avatar by Lazer Cohen

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U.S. President Barack Obama looks on as Israeli President Reuven Rivlin lights the Hanukkah menorah at the White House. Photo: Reuven Rivlin via Twitter.

U.S. President Barack Obama looks on as Israeli President Reuven Rivlin lights the Hanukkah menorah at the White House. Photo: Reuven Rivlin via Twitter.

Since assuming the presidency, Reuven Rivlin has raised the ire of many in Israel with a constant flow of negative statements about the Israeli public. Take these two Rivlin gems quoted by the New Yorker in an Israel-bashing article: “It is time to honestly admit that Israel is sick, and it is our duty to treat this illness,” as well as, “I’m not asking if we’ve forgotten how to be Jewish, but if we’ve forgotten how to be human.”

Many Israelis are deeply upset over Rivlin’s comments, and have passionately criticized the president. In response, there has been a concerted effort by the left to stifle any criticism of President Rivlin, declaring it “incitement” and drawing parallels with the assassination of Rabin. The message to the politically right and center politicians is clear: say anything negative about Rivlin and you are inciting to his murder, as you did Rabin’s.

But let us be clear.

Rivlin serves in a non-elected, ceremonial position. His activities should be limited to promoting Israel, greeting foreign dignitaries, meeting with the public, and promoting non-political humanitarian causes. In other words, he should act exactly as the royal family in England does.

Instead, on his recent trip to America and throughout the past year, he has made one divisive statement after another, many of which stand in contrast to the positions held by the vast majority of Israelis, and many of which a large percentage of Israelis believe malign the country and its citizens. These are the very citizens who pay 60 million shekels per year to support the office of the presidency.

As an owner of a PR firm, people pay me to promote them and their organizations. Were I to tell an interviewer, “Well client X is a swell guy but he’s a lousy tipper and slurps his soup,” I would rightfully be fired, even if those statements were true.

I understand that Israel is far from a perfect country and I do believe that introspection is valuable. But we have enough people around the world judging and criticizing our every move. There already is a vastly disproportionate response from the world media to every mistake we make and every flaw we reveal. The last thing we need is for the guy who is literally being paid to promote us to pile on us as well, over every (perceived) fault!

In recent days, Rivlin has posted on Facebook that while some may strongly disagree with his positions, we should debate them civilly. I’m sorry, Mr. President, you are wrong. As president, you should not be expressing positions that the majority of the country strongly disagree with. Rather, you should be focusing your efforts on strictly promoting Israel. And when violently anti-Israel blogs like Richard Silverstein’s Tikun Olam and Mondoweiss are thrilled by your comments, you must not be doing your job very well.

We, the citizens for whom he speaks, should have the right — and our elected representatives should have the obligation — to loudly and strongly criticize Rivlin and the statements he is making in our name. Rivlin is entitled to say whatever he wants as a private citizen — and if he feels his message is so important, he should do so as one.

This article was originally published by The Times of Israel. 

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  • Reform School

    Christian Lebanon learned the price of empowering enemies. Is Jewish Israel insane, stubborn or garden-variety stupid?

  • George Forrai

    Israel is a Parliamentary democracy. As such, it does not need a Queen or a President. Especially an self-flagellating, lefty attention- seeking anti- Zionist like this guy.

  • b. grafstein

    Rivlin was one of the first to run to the Arab mourning tents and yell “Jewish terrorism” before any proof was produced. How is it possible he does not put the Jewish population first? He needs to be disengaged from his rich position.

  • Carol

    Yup! Rivlin needs to be replaced.

    This article reminded me of something my Mom told me many years ago. A person was spewing anti-Semitic comments from a soap box, and I was but six yrs. at the time, and curiosity got a hold. She said the worst anti remarks sometimes come from the Jew. I learned to judge, and be aware, of the source.

    Mom’s comment was 78yrs. ago.

  • Wendy Gardner

    We know how you feel. We’ve been going through the same thing with our President, and for us Roman Catholics, to some extent with our Pope.
    Stay strong, children of the Maccabees. Don’t let him do the damage Obama has been doing to us.
    We love you guys, admire your grit, and hope you all stay safe over there.

  • I don’t agree with Rivlin, but if we curtail free speech, we curtail democracy.

    • Carol

      Sometimes freedom cannot be free. There are consequences for shooting off your mouth. Unfortunately the consequences at present time, are not hurting him. He is just as evil, perhaps more than?

  • Sam Goldman

    As a Jew living in the diaspora I have no right to tell Israel how to handle its wars of survival nor advise on its survival tactics.
    In the same way President Rivlin has no right to criticise Israel’s survival tactics, nor its public behaviour, outside Israel. It is a disgrace the way he undermines Israel, at every opportunity, whilst overseas. He should be stood down immediately.
    I cringe when I hear this man speak. He belittles the position he holds.

  • Michael Dar

    For many years I have been advocating the pure and simple abolition of the presidency in Israel. No more “Presidents”! I suggested that the country would instead maintain the some 100-150 million “Presidential yearly budget” but allocate it specifically to research. This is by far more important…No more ego trips in Israel!

  • Atilla

    Israel needs a president as much a a dog needs fleas.

    And you eliminate fleas from a dog.

    The answer is obvious.