Rivlin commends Jewish student leaders for fighting campus antisemitism
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin talks during a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus February 12, 2019.
(photo credit: YIANNIS KOURTOGLOU/REUTERS)
Addressing a delegation of students from around the world at his official residence, Rivlin told the students that he deeply appreciated their dedication to their Jewish identity.
President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday commended Jewish student leaders from around the world for fighting antisemitism and other forms of racism on campus.He was speaking at his official residence to a large multicultural, multiethnic and multinational delegation representing the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS), which is the oldest global organization of Jewish students. It was founded in 1924 by Hersch Lauterpacht, who was born in Austria, raised in Ukraine and Poland and who later lived out his life as a lawyer in England, where he was knighted for his contribution to the British justice system. He was also a judge in the International Court of Justice. He founded WUJS when he was 27 years old. His purpose was to foster Jewish student unity worldwide, so as to ensure their participation in the fulfillment of the aspirations for the continuity and development of the spiritual, cultural and social heritage of the Jewish People.Anyone who thinks that today’s diaspora Jewish youth are drifting away from their Jewish identities, is simply giving in to a generalization which is only partially true. The young men and women gathered in the main hall of the President’s Residence may have been born and raised in different countries, and ranged from the black velvet kippah variety to totally secular, but they were all proud to identify Jewishly, and sat with shining eyes and rapt expressions on their faces as Rivlin spoke to them. Afterward, they rose to give him a standing ovation.Rivlin told them he deeply appreciated their dedication to Jewish identity. He also stressed the importance of preserving Holocaust memory now that the number of Holocaust survivors is declining, and said that new, innovative ways must be found to convey the message of the Holocaust.Noting that Jewish students are on the front line confronting antisemitism, Rivlin declared that it must be clearly and uncompromisingly stated that one cannot hate Jews and love Israel, or love Jews and hate Israel.To love one and hate the other is, nonetheless, antisemitism.Rivlin said that he was aware of how difficult it was for students in some places to wear a kippa or a Star of David, but nonetheless, those Jewish students who do, as well as those who don’t, are fighting in a campaign against those who seek to harm Jews.Thanking them for what they do, Rivlin said that there is an urgent need to strengthen relations between Israel and the global Jewish community. “We must engage in open dialogue on all the issues between us,” he said. “We are all one family.” Looking out at the young faces, he told his visitors that they are not only the leaders of the future, but the leaders of the present.