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On eve of Tisha B’Av, Israel’s president speaks of both animosity and unity

“We must imagine our common lives here together, in 40, 50 and 100 years, and how each action will impact our children and grandchildren, and the bridges between us,” wrote Isaac Herzog.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog speaks at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem as Israel marks Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 17, 2023. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog speaks at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem as Israel marks Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 17, 2023. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.

As Israel prepared for the start of Tisha B’Av, a 25-hour fast day that commemorates the destruction of the Jewish temples and other historical calamities that have impacted the Jewish people, Israeli President Isaac Herzog took to social media to urge understanding, cooperation and kinship in the face of deep divisions in the country over judicial reform.

“As we stand on the eve of Tisha B’Av—when we remember our national destruction—I want to appeal to you from the bottom of my heart,” Herzog wrote. “I see many Israelis, who care so deeply, who are so dedicated, who are filled with immense pain, frustration and deep and real anxiety over what is happening—and what is yet to happen. I see clearly and listen closely, and those heartfelt feelings are truly heartrending.”

“I, too, have woken up with a deep feeling of frustration and a heavy sense of crisis,” he wrote. “I am also in a turmoil of emotions. I am also hurting and I am also angry.”

Acknowledging that he was “very disappointed” that a compromise has not been reached by both sides, the president said: “These are indeed difficult moments, but with all the pain, frustration, and the maelstrom of emotions, I am more determined than ever, and not ready to give up and lose hope.” 

“There is no more important task, and no higher mission for me—as president and as a citizen—than healing and reuniting the people, and safeguarding the State of Israel and our democracy,” he continued.

Herzog made a plea to “elected representatives and officials, leaders of public opinion, the media and the entire Israeli public in all its beautiful diversity and with its multitude of beliefs and opinions” that at this “moment of heightened pain, we must maintain the boundaries of debate and avoid violence and irreparable steps.

“We must imagine our common lives here together, in 40, 50 and 100 years, and how each action will impact our children and grandchildren, and the bridges between us,” he wrote.

Israel’s president also addressed threats by reservists and volunteers with the Israel Defense Forces to not respond if called to serve.

“I am anxious the security of Israel would be harmed by the very threat not to volunteer or report for service, and even more so by their implementation,” Herzog wrote. “Please consider every move again and again. I trust you to keep the State of Israel stable and safe.”

“… the echoes of history are crying out: it is the time for restraint, it is the time for responsibility, it is the time to vigilantly guard the supreme commandment there can be no civil war,” he wrote. “I believe in us.”

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