JERUSALEM (Sep. 3)
The “centrality of Israel and Jerusalem” to Jews all over the world and the “very positive results” achieved by Israel’s national unity government, were stressed by President Chaim Herzog in his Rosh Hashanah message to world Jewry for the Hebrew calendar year 5746.
He also referred to “an alarming tendency on the fringes of our society to indulge in racist incitement which defies our tradition and history.” And he spoke of the “basic problems” of “identity and assimilation” and the “the transmission of Jewish education and tradition to younger generations.” On the solution of those problems “depends nothing less than survival,” he said.
The President noted “the numerous international scientific, professional and communal gatherings of utmost distinction which have converged on our country” during the past summer. Among them he enumerated the World Congress of Jewish Studies which “brought many hundreds of scholars from many lands to the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University. Thousands of young Jewish athletes came to participate in the Maccabiah Games. The 850th Anniversary of the Birth of Maimonides was celebrated in an international gathering which discussed Maimonides as a Jurist. The 50th anniversary of the passing of the revered Chief Rabbi Avraham Hacohen Kook has been the occasion for an international gathering devoted to his teachings and philosophy.”
The President observed that “These vivid manifestations of the role of Israel in Jewish life … may well serve as a corrective for the concern induced by so many negative factors in these troubled days and notably in Israel, beset by a difficult economic struggle, political uncertainties, the sporadic occurrences of terrorist attack and the dilemmas posed by counter-violence.”
POSITIVE RESULTS OF THE UNITY GOVERNMENT
He cautioned against ignoring “the very positive results of the activity” of the national unity government. “The very existence of the government has tended to blunt the sharpness of the political debate in Israel and to create a greater measure of political tolerance than we have known in the past. Moreover, the government has succeeded in completing the withdrawal of the Israel Defense Force from Lebanon, while taking measures necessary to guarantee the security of the towns and villages in the Galilee.”
Herzog further commended the government for taking “the necessary drastic steps to embark on an austerity program designed to extricate the country from the crisis affecting it.” He expressed confidence that “Israel has the necessary industrial and agricultural infrastructure and the economic strength and resilience to overcome the current difficulties.”
He was also confident that world Jewry will “rally behind the vast majority of our society in its struggle to maintain the democratic values on which the State of Israel is based. Without absolute deference to the rule of law and the rule of the courts, anarchy will prevail, morally threatening our open democratic society, our spirit and our future.”
Finally, Herzog observed, “5746 is a year to be met with determination and intelligence and with gratitude for what has been achieved in the forty years since the post-Nazi chapter of world Jewish history opened… In the light of the overpowering contrast between the devastation of forty years ago and the energies of today, we place our trust in the Rock of Israel and face 5746 with faith and hope.”