As Israel began celebrating its 71st Independence Day Wednesday evening, President Reuven Rivlin released a message to the public, wishing the state at least 71 more years of existence and adding: “This year may we all try harder to not cause pain.”
“Dear friends at home here in Israel and around the world. Happy Independence Day! Chag Sameach!” Rivlin said in an English-language video published on his social media accounts. “Israel is 71 years old. Who would have believed 71 years ago that we would build cities from the swamps? That roads and railways would cross the sands? Who could have imagined then the wonder that is the State of Israel?
“My dear friends, when I was a boy we were not allowed to fly our flag. But I dreamed that one day I would see it flying in Jerusalem. Today, the Israeli flag flies everywhere, and even visited space recently,” Rivlin continued, referring to the Beresheet spacecraft that an Israeli company sent to the moon but which crashed during the landing attempt.
He added a quote from veteran author Amos Oz, who died last year at the age of 79.
“Amos Oz, my school friend from Jerusalem who recently left us, reduced all the commandments to one: ‘Do not cause pain.’ This year may we all try harder to not cause pain. Israeli society needs it. We all need it,” he said.
“Let me finish with a prayer and a wish for our country to go with it for at least another seventy-one years: ‘May He who makes peace above, bring peace on us and on all the people of Israel!'” Rivlin concluded, quoting from the Jewish prayer book.
“Happy Independence Day, Israel!”