President Reuven Rivlin called for 2017 to be a year of “mutual respect, between people and between nations.”
Rivlin issued the nearly 3-minute recorded message on Thursday in advance of the secular new year and days after meeting with Christian leaders in Israel to deliver a similar message.
“There is no ignoring the fact that 2016 was a very difficult year. Bloodshed and terror, in the name of politics and religion, have led to much misery, and loss. We also have said goodbye to some great leaders,” Rivlin said, singling out his predecessor Shimon Peres, and Elie Wiesel.
He expressed his pride in the Israeli Olympic and Paralympic teams, marveled at the Israeli innovation he saw on his trip to India, and reflected on the world leaders and others that he welcomed to the president’s residence during the year.
“After a year of so many highs and lows, let’s make 2017 a year of mutual respect, between people, and between nations,” Rivlin said. “I wish all of you; to the Christian community in Israel and around the world, season’s greetings, and a very happy, healthy New Year; and to all our Jewish brothers and sisters, I wish you all, a very happy Hanukkah. God bless, and Shalom from Jerusalem.”
On Tuesday, Rivlin called for the international community to take action to protect Syrian civilians, during a meeting with Christian leaders ahead of the new year.
Hosting the leaders of communities who have seen their coreligionists slaughtered by extremists in Syria and Iraq, Rivlin said “silence is not an option.”
“I believe the international community — the whole free world — must act to help the innocent, the civilians, men, women, and the children,” Rivlin said. “We must work to help those who have stayed, and those who are refugees. And we must stand up and support the countries who do so much to help the wave after wave of refugees who arrive at their gates.”