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President Of Israel Says Israel Is A ‘Sick Society’

Reuven Rivlin 2011 crop.jpg

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin

After this summer’s gruesome military campaign in Gaza few in the international community would claim Israel is not in need of some serious self-reflection. By the end of the slaughter even Israel’s most steadfast ally, the United States, was condemning Israel for its savage behavior against a trapped civilian population. The killing of innocents to promote ethnocratic goals under the all encompassing guise of “self-defense” is a charade only those on the extreme right in Israel and the US are still willing to accept.

But one voice echoing popular global sentiment is surprising – the President of Israel. Israel President Reuven Rivlin says Israel has become a “sick society” that lacks human decency and is unable to engage in dialogue with Arabs due to racial animosity and prejudice – a rather stunning indictment by a head of state of his own country.

President Rivlin’s comments come after Operation Protective Edge which included Israeli strikes on civilian targets such as UN buildings and shelters. In all over 2,100 Palestinians were killed with over 11,000 wounded – over 70% of the casualties were civilians. Prior to the conflict a group of Israelis had tortured and killed a Palestinian teen. Israel also suffered casualties primarily as a result of a military invasion of Gaza.

The time has come to admit that Israel is a sick society, with an illness that demands treatment, President Reuven Rivlin said at the opening session on Sunday of a conference on From Hatred of the Stranger to Acceptance of the Other…

Rivlin wondered aloud whether Jews and Arabs had abandoned the secret of dialogue. With regard to Jews he said: “I’m not asking if they’ve forgotten how to be Jews, but if they’ve forgotten how to be decent human beings. Have they forgotten how to converse?” In Rivlin’s eyes, the academy has a vital task to reduce violence in Israeli society by encouraging dialogue and the study of different cultures and languages with the aim of promoting mutual understanding, so that there can be civilized meetings between the sectors of society.

President Rivlin said he was looking to academia to help Israel deal with its problems of racial incitement and the inability for Jews to have positive dialogue with Arabs. Israeli scholars are set to explore both the causes of racial incitement and how it is possible to balance the policing of incitement with guarantees of free speech in Israel.

The president in the Israeli system, as in many other countries, is just the head of state not the head of government. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu still runs the show and can freely disregard anything President Rivlin says about Israeli society no matter how poignant and popular. And Prime Minister Netanyahu appears more than willing to accept a sick society regardless of the critiques and potential pitfalls of not making changes.

After all, that sick society put him in power.

CommunityThe Bullpen

President Of Israel Says Israel Is A ‘Sick Society’

Reuven Rivlin 2011 crop.jpg

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin

After this summer’s gruesome military campaign in Gaza few in the international community would claim Israel is not in need of some serious self-reflection. By the end of the slaughter even Israel’s most steadfast ally, the United States, was condemning Israel for its savage behavior against a trapped civilian population. The killing of innocents to promote ethnocratic goals under the all encompassing guise of “self-defense” is a charade only those on the extreme right in Israel and the US are still willing to accept.

But one voice echoing popular global sentiment is surprising – the President of Israel. Israel President Reuven Rivlin says Israel has become a “sick society” that lacks human decency and is unable to engage in dialogue with Arabs due to racial animosity and prejudice – a rather stunning indictment by a head of state of his own country.

President Rivlin’s comments come after Operation Protective Edge which included Israeli strikes on civilian targets such as UN buildings and shelters. In all over 2,100 Palestinians were killed with over 11,000 wounded – over 70% of the casualties were civilians. Prior to the conflict a group of Israelis had tortured and killed a Palestinian teen. Israel also suffered casualties primarily as a result of a military invasion of Gaza.

The time has come to admit that Israel is a sick society, with an illness that demands treatment, President Reuven Rivlin said at the opening session on Sunday of a conference on From Hatred of the Stranger to Acceptance of the Other…

Rivlin wondered aloud whether Jews and Arabs had abandoned the secret of dialogue.  With regard to Jews he said: “I’m not asking if they’ve forgotten how to be Jews, but if they’ve forgotten how to be decent human beings. Have they forgotten how to converse?” In Rivlin’s eyes, the academy has a vital task to reduce violence in Israeli society by encouraging dialogue and the study of different cultures and languages with the aim of promoting mutual understanding, so that there can be civilized meetings between the sectors of society.

President Rivlin said he was looking to academia to help Israel deal with its problems of racial incitement and the inability for Jews to have positive dialogue with Arabs. Israeli scholars are set to explore both the causes of racial incitement and how it is possible to balance the policing of incitement with guarantees of free speech in Israel.

The president in the Israeli system, as in many other countries, is just the head of state not the head of government. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu still runs the show and can freely disregard anything President Rivlin says about Israeli society no matter how poignant and popular. And Prime Minister Netanyahu appears more than willing to accept a sick society regardless of the critiques and potential pitfalls of not making changes.

After all, that sick society put him in power.

Photo by Itzike under Creative Commons license.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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