President Rivlin and the Indonesian delegation. (Mark Neiman/GPO) (Mark Neiman/GPO)
President Rivlin & Indonesian Muslim leaders

Meeting with a delegation of Indonesian leaders visiting Israel, Rivlin stressed his hope for better relations between the Jewish state and the Muslim world. 

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday welcomed a delegation of Indonesian Muslim leaders to his Jerusalem residence. The delegation was visiting Israel on the initiative of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC).

Rivlin recounted his family history to the group, telling them how his family had returned to live in Israel two centuries ago and of their lives in Jerusalem throughout the years.

“Throughout the years, we all lived in Jerusalem together in harmony – Muslims, Christians, and Jews.” He said.

“We are not doomed to live together, we are destined to live together,” he stressed. “My forefathers believed, as do I, that we can all live here together. We believe in Israel as a democratic and Jewish state – not democracy only for Jews. There is democracy for everyone.”

Rivlin’s father, Yosef Yoel Rivlin, completed the translation of the Quran into Hebrew in 1936, a translation which has become a classic and has been used by Israelis for decades.

Rivlin underscored that Israel has “no war with Islam. Unfortunately, there are people who are rejecting the very idea of the State of Israel, like Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas, who say loud and clear there is no way to recognize Israel – from a pan-Islamic point of view.”

“I assure you, in Jerusalem, the city of God, everyone can worship according to his belief, and Israel will continue to defend this right – it doesn’t matter what the anti-Israel propaganda may say. The propaganda only comes to try and provoke the Islamic world against Israel`,”Rivlin told the Muslim delegation

The president expressed his hope for greater cooperation and interaction between Israel and Indonesia, saying that the connection was crucial for the future of all involved.

Speaking on behalf of the delegation, Professor Istibsjarob said, “It is an honor to be here, as President of the Institute for Higher Education, as a chairperson on the Islamic Council Board, and as a former senator of the Republic of Indonesia.”

The group continued to discuss the importance of dialogue among different faiths and cultures.

Israel-Indonesia Relations?

Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, maintains no official diplomatic relations with Israel, and at times has exhibited hostility towards the Jewish State.

In March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with a visiting delegation of Indonesian journalists, stating that “the time has come for official relations between Indonesia and Israel.”

“We have many opportunities to cooperate in the fields of water and technology. Israel has excellent relations with several countries in Asia, particularly China, Japan, India, and Vietnam,” he said.

Yet Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said the country regrets “that such activities are politicized by Israel” and rejected Netanyahu’s overture.

However, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely revealed earlier that month that Israel and Indonesia share secret, unofficial diplomatic ties.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel

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