Ahead of elections, Rivlin ‘very afraid’ of polarizing political discourse
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Ahead of elections, Rivlin ‘very afraid’ of polarizing political discourse

President urges teachers at annual awards ceremony to instruct pupils on ‘how to join, not how to separate’

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

President Reuven Rivlin speaks at the 11th annual National Teachers’ Award ceremony, held at Tel Aviv University, June 13, 2019. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
President Reuven Rivlin speaks at the 11th annual National Teachers’ Award ceremony, held at Tel Aviv University, June 13, 2019. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday voiced his concerns over what he said is inciting and polarizing language being used in the political arena ahead of the coming Knesset elections.

“Unfortunately, we have another election campaign, and I am very afraid of the discourse that characterizes the political arena today,” Rivlin said at the 11th annual National Teachers’ Awards ceremony for outstanding educators, which was held at Tel Aviv University. “I am afraid of attempts at polarization, incitement and division.”

“Teach them how to join, not how to separate,” he urged the educators. “Teach them that the clenched fist hides an open hand and fingers that can reach out to the other.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who failed to form a majority government after winning April elections, dissolved parliament at the end of May and called fresh elections for September 17.

Rivlin also publicly thanked all those who offered condolences on the death of his wife, Nechama, earlier this month, including many who visited him at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, and thousands who paid their respects by filing past her body as it lay in state.

“I and my family are still in the first, difficult stage of the loss — and the waves of love that flow from you to us strengthen us greatly,” Rivlin said.

Prizes and certificates of excellence were presented to six teachers from around the country for their work and dedication to educating children and young people.

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