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Herzog Inaugurated As Israel’ Sixth President

May 9, 1983
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Chaim Herzog was inaugurated as Israel’s sixth President in colorful ceremonies at the Knesset last Thursday evening. In his inaugural speech, the new chief of state, who was born in Ireland and is a son of the late Chief Rabbi Isaac Halevi Herzog of Israel, warned repeatedly against intolerance. “The enemy within,” he said, is more dangerous to Israel’s survival than any external foe.

Herzog recalled the disasters of Jewish history which were caused by internal strife and urged the nation to Foster a spirit of unity, tolerance and mutual understanding.

Outgoing President Yitzhak Navon sounded the same theme in his farewell address. He said Israel’s various ethnic, religious and national groups lived “with each other but not among each other.” They are ignorant of each other’s ideas and thoughts and this ignorance breeds intolerance, Navon warned.

The incoming and outgoing Presidents, riding in separate limousines, were escorted to the Knesset by motorcycle police and mounted police on white chargers bearing blue pennants. Herzog reviewed an honor guard representing all of Israel’s armed services before entering the Knesset chamber to the sound of a shofar.

Precisely at dusk he donned a large black yarmulka, placed his hand on a Bible and took the oath of office, Knesset Speaker Menachem Savidor, who swore in the new President, called out: “Long live the President of the State of Israel. ” The Knesset members responded “Yehi (live) yehi, yehi,”

Herzog began his inaugural address by reciting the cantor’s Yom Kippur prayer, “Hineni Heani Mimaas” (Behold, I, poor in deeds, stand frightened and awe-struck before the God of Israel…”) He spoke at length of his early years in a home he said was steeped in Judaism and devoted to the ideals of service.

He recalled his late father, who had been Chief Rabbi of Ireland, his mother, the late Sarah Herzog a personality in her own right, and his late brother, Yaacov, who had been one of the most brilliant of Israel’s first generation of diplomats.

Herzog, who became Israel’s leading military affairs commentators after his retirement from the army with the rank of general, also recalled that he was one of the founders of Israel’s Defense Force. The IDF is the foundation and protector of Israel’s strength, he said. But he stressed the advance of the peace process, which he said was gradual but inexorable.

Most Arab states no longer debate whether to negotiate with Israel but how to negotiate, Herzog declared, and this was the measure of the Jewish State’s gradual acceptance into the region.

The hour-long inaugural ceremony was followed by a lavish reception for the new President and his predecessor. Knesset members, diplomats and hundreds of invited guests gathered in the Knesset’s Chagall Hall. Among them were U.S, Secretary of State George Shultz and Jewish leaders from the U.S, and Europe who came here to attend the inauguration.

Herzog began his Presidential term Friday, meeting first with staff of the President’s residence and later in the day with the Ambassador of Ireland, Sean Ronan. The envoy told the new President that his election had generated much excitement in Ireland, the country of Herzog’s birth and early education. Herzog presented the Ambassador with a book on the Jews of Ireland.

Herzog was scheduled to meet this evening with Premier Menachem Begin. Originally, this was scheduled as a courtesy call by the Premier on the new President. But he is expected to brief Herzog on the agreement for Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon which the Cabinet accepted last Friday, the day after his inauguration.

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