President Reuven Rivlin is seeking a way to find the “shvil hazahav” – the golden mean – wherein everyone can find something to agree upon in Israel’s national symbols and anthem.
On Sunday, Rivlin acknowledged that the national anthem, ‘HaTikva,” stirs the hearts of the nations Jews but as such does not do the same for those in the country who were not born Jewish — and this issue must be addressed.
The president acknowledged while speaking with Jewish and Arab students at Jerusalem’s Himmelfarb High School that one “can’t expect loyal Israeli citizens who are not Jewish to say that they have ‘a Jewish spirit yearning deep in the heart’ (quoting from the lyrics on the anthem) because they are not Jews. Maybe their spirit is yearning for their country, but not as part of the Jewish People because they are not part of the Jewish People,” he acknowledged. But the dilemma is not one that is easily remedied, Rivlin said.
Rivlin made the remark in response to a question by an Arab student who asked if it was possible to change or add anything to the symbols of the state, so that Arab citizens can identify with it, and feel a part of the country.
The president deferred to Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who had accompanied him to the school along with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. “This dilemma must be solved by Israeli leaders, one of whom is sitting right next to me,” he said. “The question you are asking needs to be on the national agenda in the next generation or two. This is a dilemma we cannot ignore. It needs to be addressed by leaders, by members of Knesset who were chosen by the people,” Rivlin said.
“At this point, where we have to base the existence of the State of Israel on a Jewish State, and a democratic one, we have to hold on to and strengthen the Zionist dream which comes with and often causes friction with those citizens who are not Zionist,” he went on.
“I await the day that every Israeli citizen can identify with the State of Israel and not just the deep, important idea of the 2,000-year-old quest of the Jewish people to return to their homeland.”