President Reuven Rivlin warned participants at an Iftar meal (Ramadan fast breaking feast) Monday in the northern Israeli city of Sakhnin to beware those trying to undermine ‘the remnants of trust… between two peoples.’
The event was attended by municipal and faith community leaders from Muslim and Druze communities.
“Yesterday we were all shocked by the massacre in Orlando, and I want to send my condolences to the families, and to the American nation, following this cowardly and criminal act of terrorism,” the president said.
“We too are still in the shadow of the terror attack against us just last week, terrorism which is unrelenting toward us.”
Rivlin stressed the need to stand united against terrorists. “It is hard not to see that the terrorists are acting in every way possible to undermine the remnants of trust and the fragmented remaining bridges between the two peoples,” he said.
“We must stand together, Jews, Christians and Muslims, against evil which sometimes claims to speak in God’s name. And we must insist on fighting for the message of religion as one of ‘choosing life.’”
Rivlin said Israelis must insist that murder and violence are the result of intellectual distortion which has nothing to do with a healthy religion.
“We cannot be silent,” he said. “We cannot let those violating religion by committing atrocities in its name, to cast a stain on those of faith, or to destroy the fabric of our lives here together.
“As believers, we must not let our children, Jews and Arabs, grow up with a distorted understanding that religion equals terror and death, that religion means extremism.”
The president concluded by thanking his hosts, and expressed his hope for coexistence between the different communities of Israel.
“Our lives and your lives here in this country are intertwined,” he reminded his hosts.
Mayor of Sakhnin Mazen Ghanaim thanked the president, saying, “You are a sensitive and caring person. We all condemn in the strongest terms all acts of violence. The distance from Ramallah to Jerusalem is just 15 minutes.” He made clear, “We are working to promote employment, equal education, and peace.”
The mayor took the opportunity to note, “Today in the Knesset it was announced by the Finance Minister that the five-year economic plan for the Arab community has been held up.
“We ask of you Mr. President to continue to work to see the program come into being.”
Rivlin assured Ghanaim that he would speak with Kahlon about the matter.