NEW YORK (JTA) — Israeli President Reuven Rivlin defended Islam in a U.N. address and said that “neither the West, nor the Christians nor the Jews are at war with Islam.”
Rivlin made his remarks Wednesday at a General Assembly ceremony for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was the day before.
“Right now, Islam encompasses, under its enormous wings, victims of persecution and of terrorism, while at the same time it also serves as the banner of the attackers,” he said.
Rivlin noted that his father, Yosef Yoel, who created the first Hebrew translation of the Koran, believed “in the importance of dialogue and the cultural significance of the Koran for all the children of Abraham.”
Rivlin also accused the U.N. of not taking enough action to counter recent genocides.
“[I]s our struggle, the struggle of this Assembly, against genocide, effective enough?” Rivlin said. “Was it effective enough then in Bosnia? Was it effective in preventing the killing in Khojaly? Of Afghans by the Taliban? Is it effective enough today in Syria? Or in the face of the atrocities of Boko Haram in Nigeria? Are we shedding too many tears and taking too little action?
“I am afraid that the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide that came into force as long as 64 years ago has remained a merely symbolic document.”
Rivlin cut his U.S. itinerary short on Wednesday, announcing that he will fly back to Israel as soon as possible following a missile attack by Hezbollah on the Israel-Lebanon border that killed two Israeli soldiers and injured seven.
He was to meet with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a staunch pro-Israel advocate and potential Republican candidate for president in 2016.