Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90
President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin (C) with Minister of Education Naftali Bennet (L) and Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat during a meeting with school students in Jerusalem.

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.

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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.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.

14 COMMENTS

  1. There cannot be Arab citizens of Israel, because Israel is a Jewish state, so that only Jews can be citizens in Israel. Therefore, the state of Israel must revoke the Israeli citizenship of all non-Jews. This is not racism, because any person, of any race or ethnicity, can convert to Judaism. Moreover, the Arabs are making war against Israel, and are killing the Jews and are trying to steal the land of the Jewish people, so that to give Israeli citizenship to Arabs is a complete absurdity.

  2. Ask the students how the Jews feel in 57 Muslim countries when they all bow down at the call of the Muezin? What? They were all killed or expelled? Well that explains why we haven't heard complaints from them! Well what about all those crosses in the British Commonwealth flags including Switzerland and others? Harumph to you, bub. End of discussion.

    So you don't feel comfortable feeling as a Jew has in the rest of the world for the last 2000 years? Then by golly just get up from your seat and excercize your Israeli right to make 'Aliyah' to the PA next door and enjoy listening to their rants all day about how bad the Jews are…. if that's what'll make you feel better about your fate of having been born an Arab.

  3. President Reuven Rivlin and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Do you NOT know anything about the formation of Israel as an Independent State in 1948, recognized by the UN?? (at that time, the UN was respectible) It is the Homeland of the Jews! All Jews are welcomed! Jews paid a dear price in the Holocaust and throughout History. Jews & Christians live peacefully, comfortably together. Christians accept and respect the Hatikvah! Arabs don't have to sing it. However, they MUST RESPECT Israel's History! Arabs are accepted by Jews. Unfortunately, NOT visa versa! Don't allow Israel to become governed by Arabs! Arab Israelis have been known to kill many Jews through many means, ie: manufacturing parts for Missles, aiding Terrorist Organizations, stabbing unexpecting innocents, rock throwing, abducting innocent people, the list goes on.
    If an Arab is born in Israel, they are fortunate to have the opportunities offered ALL citizens, a good education, Universities, medical, freedom (Muslim women don't have to wear those visual limiting pesky burkas and nobody has to worry about having body parts chopped off in the name of Islam), etc. Enjoy & focus on all the opportunities not the Hatvah! Before you know it, Obama & Kerry, while still in office, will want an Executive Order to change "IN GOD WE TRUST" to include IN GOD and Allah WE TRUST! Oye!

  4. The Canadian Anthem mention the cross the French Anthem mention blood of the ancestors the Haitian Anthem mention that to die for the country is beautiful so it does not apply to everybody but everybody is respectful.Same applies for the Hatikvah anybody belonging for our very particular country has to be respectful for the anthem and the flag .

  5. Thank you for adding some much needed perspective to the discussion. You remind me, in fact, that the US anthem has always been somewhat controversial as it recalls a military battle. Over the years many wanted to change it to something more "peaceful". So maybe those who don't like Israel's will have to do the same. We'll never find one we all like and agree on, so leave it alone and let's spend our time and resources on really important matters. And another thing – democracy is a failed misleading concept which doesn't guarantee freedom. Can we just say we live in a state which respects individual freedom? If israel truly practiced "democracy", we wouldn't be a Jewish state.

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