President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday evening hosted a traditional Iftar meal, marking the breaking of the day's Ramadan fast, attended by leading members of the Muslim community in Israel.
Attendees included members of the diplomatic community, religious leaders, and senior Israeli officials. Also attending were the Ambassadors to Israel of Jordan, Egypt, Uzbekistan, and the Turkish Charge d'Affaires.
The President began by speaking in Arabic and welcomed his guests, "Salem Alaykum, it is a great honor for me to welcome you here today."
"Ramadan is the month of patience and tolerance, a month of sensitivity to others, to the plights of the poor and the weak. It is a month of good neighborliness. You sitting here today, portray every day through your actions and words the values of this month," Rivlin continued in Hebrew, before speaking of the current climate and challenges.
"I know well that the public spirit and at times the political discourse can leave a feeling of despair, of alienation and distance, of a rift, but on the ground we see things differently," he said, added that "on the ground the first signs of blossoms have appeared in the form, with the implementation of the economic development plan for the Arab sector, and the Arab mayors who have been brave and determined partners in leading the process."
"On the ground,” continued Rivlin, “the heads of the academic institutions are working to create a diverse academic environment, adapted to all sectors. On the ground, teams of teachers from different sectors are meeting together to build lessons for their students. On the ground leading, companies in industry understand that diversity, in all roles improves work output, and are working to promote it. On the ground, groups of football players and fans are acting decisively to keep healthy competition in sport, without violence and racism. On the ground, leaders of Arab and Jewish local authorities are promoting regional projects together for the general welfare of all their residents. On the ground we meet, throughout the year, together with you, leaders united in responsibility and activity, who operate in different arenas but toward the same goal."
The President urged those attending, "Your joint and clear voice should be heard at every opportunity. The stronger it is, the more courageous, and clearer, the more and more vital forces will join it, from the mainstream of the two societies. On all our shoulders rests the task of continuing to building – every day – the trust and bridges between us."
Rivlin also spoke of the recent terror attacks and of the need for the Palestinian leadership to speak out and act against the terrorists.
"I have just returned from the home of Hallel Yaffa, a beloved girl, just 13 years old, murdered in cold blood in her room, in her bed, and my heart breaks,” he said. “Early today, I took part in the funeral for Michael Mark. It is not possible that the Palestinian leadership and society can encourage or stand by idly in the face of such brutal and criminal terrorism.”
“The Palestinian leadership and society have a responsibility to stop the next murderer,” continued Rivlin. “In these blood soaked days, not only have we not heard the voices of the Palestinian leadership in any form, worse still, we have heard voices who give succour and support to the murderers and their families. One who does not stop the terror which attacks us today, will find it at their own door."
He concluded, "We must not as leaders, ignore the vitriolic and murderous incitement, not one of us can remain silent or fail to speak unequivocally. Dear friends, even in hard times – precisely in difficult times – we must stand side by side. We must continue to courageously pave a joint path, to lay each tile for us, for our children, for the sake of their children. We have no other option. We do not want and are not prepared to give up our future; a future of partnership, of understanding, of mutual respect, of living in peace."