Israel President Reuven Rivlin began his U.S. trip as guest of honor at the Christian Cultural Center (CCC) in Brooklyn. He was welcomed by its founder and Senior Pastor Reverend Dr. A.R. Bernard, together with leaders of the African-American community, at an event attended by thousands of people from the local community.
Rev. Bernard introduced the President as an uncompromising fighter for civil rights, a Jerusalemite, who understood that, “Only a nation that has survived the Holocaust will know the importance of friends to move forward.”
The President referred to the words of Rev. Bernard, and said, “Just a week ago, we marked Martin Luther King Day. This week, we are marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This is no coincidence. It is beholden upon us to remember, to educate, in order for history to have meaning for us, this is the secret to liberation. Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King marched side by side with Rabbi Heschel, in the Selma to Montgomery march for civil rights. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed before he could join in a Passover Seder with Rabbi Heschel, when we celebrate the Exodus of our people to freedom. The question must be asked, why was it so important for Martin Luther King to attend a Seder night, and the answer is that he understood that a person cannot fight for their own liberties, without fighting for the freedoms of others.”
The President stressed the difficulties of the challenges the world faces today. “Today, we are faced with the need to combat terror. We must remember, that Islam is not an enemy, and we have no war with Islam. Our enemy, is hatred, the hatred inherent in fundamentalism. The victims of this hatred are the religious minorities – Christians, Yazidis, and Kurds – and lest we forget, that first and foremost, there have been hundreds of thousands of Muslims slaughtered. In Israel, we are today caring for injured children coming from Syria, regardless that their country does not recognize us.”
The President concluded by expressing hope for the future saying, “Friends, I also have a dream, that we will once more hear God knocking on the door. I dream, and believe, that Jerusalem, which is a microcosm of the whole world, will serve as an example of coexistence between different religions and communities. Jews and Arabs are not doomed to live together, we are destined to live together. All of us, the children of Abraham.”