President Rivlin answers questions on Israel’s foreign policy, future, and food in first Twitter Q&A session #AskRivlin
(Communicated by the President’s Spokesperson)
President Reuven Rivlin this morning (Sunday) hosted a Twitter question and answer session on both his Hebrew (@rubirivlin) and English (@PresidentRuvi) Twitter accounts under the hashtag #AskRivlin – which trended as the number one hashtag throughout the morning in Israel. He answered the questions using both video and text.
The President began by saying, “I am very happy to be with you this morning. You are the voice of the people and we can learn a lot from the voice of the people. I am looking forward to taking your questions.”
Asked about the possibility Israel faced isolation, and the importance of relations with Israel’s Arab neighbors, the President said, “Jews and Arabs are living in this tiny space of earth for many years, and we are sharing a tragedy between us for the last 150 years, we are not building confidence. Confidence in the idea that they recognize Israel, and we have to understand that they are here. We are not doomed to live together, we have never been doomed to live together, our destiny is to live together.”
In response to a question about immigration into Europe, President Rivlin said, “I am a Jew and according to the values I learned, refugees are not a problem, they are a challenge to every country that has refugees coming to them. According to our values we have to find a way in order to help them.”
With the US elections nearing, the President was asked from which candidate he would prefer to receive a medal of honor. The President said, “Israel and USA share common values. The USA is Israel’s greatest friend and ally, and any American president will carry this torch forward.”
Staying on issues of foreign policy, the President was asked about the importance of the relationship with India. “The relationship between Israel and India is very important to both sides, it is especially important to Israel,” the President answered. “We gained our independence at the same time when the British left us, they left us with a lot of values although a lot of problems. We were brought up on Gandhi and they were brought up on the idea of the return of the Jewish people to their homeland, and we share a lot of interests.” He stressed, “India is the future of the world, and I am looking forward to visiting India, and the President and Prime Minister.”
On the issue of the future of Israel, and the President’s presentation of Israel’s society as divided into four tribes, the President was asked if the country could be united, he said, “I am very optimistic. We have no choice - we are joined and separate. We look forward to building the shared Israeli hope for all the people.”
The President was asked about the legacy of the Holocaust, and if the world had learned the lessons of the past. He answered by saying that, “We still face antisemitism - sometimes as anti-Zionism. The world knows the danger of racism and hatred, and must still stand up against it.”
On a lighter note, when asked what foods were served at Rosh Hashanah in his home, the President said “I grew up Ashkenazi with gefilte fish. Now with 9 grandchildren, Moroccan, Yemenite, Ashkenazi, we have all the tastes of the Jewish people.” While talking about food, the President was asked if he preferred the chocolate or mocha version of Israel’s popular treat Krembo, to which he answered, “Sadly my diet means I can’t have either but to tell a secret… both!”
The President was also asked about the upcoming festival of Sukkoth during which there is a traditional Open Sukkah at the President’s Residence. “This year, like every year, we're opening the President’s Sukkah to all the citizens of Israel, and you are all invited,” the President said.
The President concluded by thanking all those who participated, and apologized for not being able to answer every question. He finished by wishing all his Twitter followers “Shana Tova, happy New Year”.
After the session, President Rivlin became the first international head of state to create a ‘Twitter Moment’, collating all the President’s responses in English and then in Hebrew. The ‘Moment’ can be embedded by news sites and shared on social media.