"At times like this, the role of leaders is not to divide or exclude those from different parts of society. Their role is to show how, and it is certainly possible, to preserve the social contract, which is the essential soul of the Zionist state: a Jewish and democratic, democratic and Jewish state, both at the same time.
In the Jewish State, everyone is equal before the law – Jews and Arabs, men and women, rich and poor. A reality where we decide for ourselves, on our own, for our own good, is an immense and rare treasure."
Attached photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom (GPO)
Israel President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin Yesterday, Wednesday 30 October / 1 Cheshvan, at the first Herzl Conference on Contemporary Zionism held by the World Zionist Organization. The conference, this evening and tomorrow, is being held at the Herzl Center and examines how Herzl’s vision has become reality in Israeli society, under the title of ‘From Vision to Reality’. The conference considers the achievements, the activity and the strategy of Zionism in the 21st century. Chair of the WZO Executive, Avraham Duvdevani, also spoke at the event.
At the beginning of his remarks, the president said, “The title of this conference, ‘From Vision to Reality’, sums up better than anything else the passage of history since Herzl published ‘Der Judenstaat’ and ‘Altneuland’. It was an incomparably grand but sober vision, which the Zionist movement turned into reality. It is in that reality that we live and work, and it is that reality that we are required to refashion for future generations of the Jewish people.”
The president spoke about Herzl’s concept of the status of the State of Israel as a sovereign state: “The emancipation of the Jews of Europe gave them individual rights, if they were willing to sacrifice their collective identity. But this promise was breached, and even as citizens of equal rights the Jews were discriminated against at every turn, culminating in the ugliness of the Dreyfuss trial. It is no coincidence that Herzl wrote time and time again about the supremacy of justice. In some deep way, the rule of law and the sovereignty of the Jewish people were, for Herzl, synonymous. The principle of equality before the law is the full and complete realization of the sovereignty of the Jewish people.”
The president added, “In the Jewish State, everyone is equal before the law – Jews and Arabs, men and women, rich and poor. A reality where we decide for ourselves, on our own, for our own good, according to ‘the principles of liberty, justice and peace, according to the visions of the prophets of Israel’, is an immense and rare treasure that few Jews have been fortunate to receive over the generations. The establishment of the State of Israel was a just act, a response to continued injustice against us, and we bear the responsibility to guard it.”
The president also spoke about Herzl’s vision for religion and state, saying, “Herzl himself was, as we know, completely secular in his way of life. And yet, Herzl recognized the importance of the religious longing for the Land of Israel for the future of Zionism. The new national home for the Jewish people was established on Herzl’s vision of a liberal and secular entity along modern lines, and at the same time Herzl imagined a significant and central public presence for Jewish tradition and belief. In the elections that have just happened, we heard particularly polarizing messages on the issue of religion and state. We could learn much from Herzl, balancing respect for tradition with the ways of a modern state. At times like this, the role of leaders is not to divide or exclude those from different parts of society. Their role is to show how, and it is certainly possible, to preserve the social contract, which is the essential soul of the Zionist state: a Jewish and democratic, democratic and Jewish state, both at the same time,” concluded the president, with his best wishes for a successful and fruitful conference.