JERUSALEM (JTA) — The epidemic of violence permeates every sector of Israel, the country’s president, Reuven Rivlin, said in an address.
“It is time to honestly admit that Israeli society is ill – and it is our duty to treat this disease,” Rivlin told the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities on Sunday at a conference titled “From Xenophobia to Accepting the Other.”
“The tension between Jews and Arabs within the State of Israel has risen to record heights, and the relationship between all parties has reached a new low,” he said. “We have all witnessed the shocking sequence of incidents and violence taking place by both sides. The epidemic of violence is not limited to one sector or another, it permeates every area and doesn’t skip any arena. There is violence in soccer stadiums as well as in the academia. There is violence in the social media and in everyday discourse, in hospitals and in schools.”
The president added that he has been verbally abused, including on his Facebook page.
Rivlin said that Israeli academia can play a “crucial role” in reducing violence in Israeli society.
“The academic sphere, in which cultures and languages are taught from a desire to get to know them deeper, where there is a ‘you and I’ affinity, there is a place which generates not only learning but also a real encounter,” he said.
Rivlin called on the academy to be “a space which prepares a new generation of Israeli citizens to talk to each other, and especially to learn how to listen to each other.”