Photo Credit: Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)
Pres. Rivlin at Italy's National Day celebrations in Ramat Gan

President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday evening addressed a reception hosted by Italian Ambassador Francesco Maria Talo honoring Italy’s Festival of the Republic, and stressed that “it is time for our friends, including Italy, to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

“We might have some disagreement over the borders of Israel’s capital,” Rivlin conceded, “But we all agree that Jerusalem is and will remain Israel’s capital. It is time to translate this truth into a fact.”

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Of course, it was a Roman government that replaced Jerusalem’s name with Aelia Capitolina, dedicated to Jupiter Capitolinus, to whom a temple was built on the site of the ruined (by Romans) Jewish temple… following the Bar Kokhba revolt, Emperor Hadrian combined Iudea Province with neighboring provinces under the new name of Syria Palaestina, dispensing with the name of Judea. Jews were prohibited from entering the city on pain of death, except for one day each year, during the holiday of Tisha B’Av. was in place until the 7th century. The Israeli government, in collaboration with the Jordanian Wakf, have renewed the ban, but limited it only to the Jupiter temple area, now replaced by a Muslim mosque.

President Rivlin began his address by expressing his condolences to the British people following the terror attacks which had taken place the night before. “Seventy-one years have passed since Italians realized the dream to live in a democratic republic. And to this day, it is a dream worth celebrating,” the President said. “Democracy is not always easy; sometimes it is extremely difficult. I know you all join me, in sending my condolences, to the people of London, and all the UK. The wave of terror that has struck your streets is all too familiar to us, and we stand together, for our values, and for our freedom; across Europe, and around the world.”

Speaking of the historic ties between Israel and Italy, the President said, “The lines between Rome and Jerusalem go back many centuries. This connection has shaped both sides, and both cultures, in many ways. Back then, the connection was one of tragedy and violence. In recent years, however, the relationship between Israel and Italy has become very close.”

He noted, “Only recently, we were proud and honored that the Chamber of Deputies acknowledged the role of the Jewish Brigade in the liberation of Italy,” and added, “In addition, exactly one month ago, on May 2, Italy showed that its friendship is not only expressed in words, but also in action. We deeply appreciate your vote against the shameful decision by UNESCO, which treats Israel as foreigners in its own capital.”

Well, the practically owed us that one after the things Emperor Hadrian had done to the place…

The President ended by praising the work of Italy’s Ambassador to Israel for his strong stand against boycotts and for his dedication to strengthening relations between the two countries. He concluded, “Viva Israel, Viva Italia!”

Ambassador Talo thanked the President for attending the reception and said, “Mr. President, your presence is a great honor. It’s the proof of a profound friendship between our two countries.” He stressed, “Culture can repair our world. We can all be protagonists of this action of Tikkun Olam combining politics and culture. We can do this in Israel and Italy, lands with ancient, strong common roots and therefore a great common future.”

Talo added, “Italy acts in order to keep culture free from political fights. In Israel we worked hard to use the strength of our cultures to build a better future in our common region.”

The Ambassador said in relation to the attacks in London, “The barbarians attack Britain as well as Israel, other European countries, and the US, because they hate our common way of living as free persons, but they will not prevail. Together we stand.”

Naturally, in Emperor Hadrian’s day, the role of Barbarians was assigned to our great grandparents.

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