President Rivlin Calls for a “Shared Israeli Identity”

Last week, at a conference jointly organized by Givat Haviva – the Centre for a Shared Society – and NIF’s action-arm SHATIL, President Rivlin spoke movingly about the need for Jews and Arabs and other groups inside Israel to come together.

“The vision of living together, so needed in Israeli society, is one that deals with the shaping of a civil language, with the building of a joint economy, and with the forging of a shared Israeli identity,” he said. “This is a vision, and an Israeli hope, of which we are in need.”

The President said that the era of zero-sum identities constructed in opposition to one another, must end. “My independence is your catastrophe,” he said. “You build your identity, which negates mine, and I build my identity, which negates yours.” We must “reach out to the other’s culture and story,” he said.

Both Rivlin and Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List party, which includes most of the Arab-Israeli Knesset members, called for Arabic instruction in all Israeli schools starting from a young age and the building of a new Arab city in Israel.

The conference’s attendees came from across the political spectrum — left, right, and centre — in order to support the idea of a shared society in Israel.

June 2015