President Reuven Rivlin compared Israeli Jews' fears of their Arab enemies to the unfounded fear people have of bees. While bees sting, he explained, they ultimately produce honey.
Rivlin and his wife Nehama hosted the Honey Commission and the beekeepers for a festive Rosh Hashana gathering Sunday.
Beekeepers wearing white overalls presented the president with taste samples from the different kinds of honey produced in Israel and told him about the crisis that has hit the branch worldwide, and their inability to produce more than 3,000 tons of honey annually, despite higher demand.
The president saw the occasion as an opportunity to preach the gospel of peace.
"Many see the bee as an enemy,” he said, in a metaphor to Jewish suspicion of Arabs. “The sting, the hum, are threatening and frightening. But the bee is a loyal partner in making the wilderness flourish, and settling the land.
"The bee is like a metaphor to our life in this land,” he went on. “As great as the fear of the bee, so is the sweetness that it produces.
"If we are able to overcome the fear of the stranger, we will recognize his qualities,” the president explained. “In the rhythm of life in the western world, it seems we have forgotten the balance in which every living creature has a role. The bee, small as it is, is a partner to our fabric of life here. The responsibility for pollination of so many agricultural crops rests upon its tiny shoulders.”
Rivlin has aroused the ire of Jewish nationalists in a long series of highly controversial statements and has lately even turned to the police after enduring threats, when he pointed the finger at Jewish nationalists immediately after a deadly case of arson in the Arab village of Duma. In another problematic statement after that event, Rivlin said: “Members of my people have chosen terrorism,” but the phrasing could also have meant “My people have chosen terrorism.”
While Hebrew graffiti left at the scene of the attack points to Jewish perpetrators, the case is still wide open and at least one MK has said that there are grounds to suspect that Arabs set the fire.