Israeli right-wingers launch campaign of incitement against Rivlin
A doctored image of President Reuven Rivlin wearing a keffiyeh
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In his remarks to the Knesset at the start of the parliamentary winter session, Rivlin urged lawmakers to vigilantly condemn xenophobic rhetoric.
Israeli right-wingers on social media have launched an online campaign of incitement against President Reuven Rivlin in reaction to the newly installed head of state’s conciliatory gestures toward the Arab community.A picture of Rivlin in Arab headdress known as a keffiyeh was making the rounds and going viral on social media, where extremists angry at the president denounced him in terms eerily similar to the rhetoric used against Yitzhak Rabin just prior to his assassination in 1995.“As a member of the Jewish nation, I heap scorn upon you,” wrote one Facebook user. “It’s a disgrace that you represent us. In any event, it’s sickening to think that a man like you is occupying the presidency. You’re a complete zero. It’s a disgrace that you became president.”“Thanks to the Arab fascists who elected you,” wrote another. “This bastard is condemning Jews who moved into homes in Jerusalem. It reminds me a bit of the race laws, but when it comes to Jews, everything goes.” In the early stages of his presidency, Rivlin has been quite vocal about the rising tide of racism and extremism in everyday Israeli discourse.At a tolerance conference earlier this month, the president said that “the time has come to admit that Israel is a sick society, with an illness that demands treatment.” In his remarks to the Knesset at the start of the parliamentary winter session, Rivlin urged lawmakers to vigilantly condemn xenophobic rhetoric.“I’ve been called a ‘lying kike’ by my critics,” Rivlin said. “’May you die, Arab agents,’ ‘Go be president in Gaza,’ ‘Smelly Arab sycophant,’ ‘traitor,’ ‘the president of Hezbollah’.”“These are just a few of the things that have been said to me in the wake of events and speeches that I made,” the president said. “I must say that I was astonished and shocked from this thuggishness that has permeated the national dialogue.”Rivlin aides who saw the photograph of the president in a keffiyeh were outraged. They vowed that the image would not deter the president from continuing to sound his opinion on matters like equal rights for all citizens and condemnation of all acts of violence committed by both Arabs and Jews.