The mixed bag of president Rivlin
President Reuven Rivlin angered the bereaved family of Danny Gonen instead of comforting them when he visited them on their shiva – the seven-day mourning period – and new details have emerged on just how badly the president has apparently handled the situation.I'll have to agree with the Gonens. Rivlin's comments were incredibly dumb, and any IDF officials who went the same path as he did screwed up too. They owe an apology, and will have to do some soul searching, not to mention they'll have to recognize why it's wrong to blame the victim.
As reported by Arutz Sheva Friday, Assaf Golan, an editor at Makor Rishon, who visited the family, posted on Facebook Thursday night that the bereaved mother, Dvora Gonen, was in a furious emotional state during the shiva, after public officials and senior IDF officers who came to visit her told her that her son is to blame for his death. “Worst of all” was President Rivlin, who said that if Danny Gonen had been carrying a gun, the terror attack would never have happened.
Ynet now reports that while members of the family did not answer the president, Danny's friend, Netanel Hadad, who was also wounded in the terror attack, did. Hadad reportedly told President Rivlin that Danny hy”d had been angry with the president for his “limpness” on national issues.
“Danny wrote an angry post when a Jewish kindergarten was set on fire in Lod and you were silent and did not issue a denunciation,” Hadad reportedly told Rivlin. Rivlin then angrily replied to Hadad that “for everyone who thinks like him there are 300 who think like me,” according to the report.
Following this angry exchange, Ynet says, Rivlin left the home. On Friday, he reportedly tried to speak with Dvora Gonen on the telephone, but she refused to talk to him.
Hadad told Arutz Sheva Sunday that while there were some inaccuracies in Ynet's report, he "does not have the strength to get into the details" again.
Gonen's family reportedly told the news site: “We strongly denounce the president's statement about our son's not carrying a gun, and we call on the president to come with us to the spring on Friday, as part of a hike without guns – based on our right to the Land of Israel.”
The President's Residence said in response: “We partake in the bereaved family's grief and will not enter into a confrontation with it.”
While Arutz Sheva was not able to find Gonen's alleged post against Rivlin, we did find a post from a few days before the fire in Lod, in which Gonen shared an article by Moshe Ifargan that had appeared in Mida magazine.
Ifargan's article blasted Rivlin for his statement that Israel's society is “sick” and riddled with violence. “By any international comparison, Israeli society is not violent,” he wrote. “So why did Rivlin say this? The answer is simple: a tendency to pompousness, and the supreme goal – to serve Rivlin's image as a great humanist.”
Rivlin said last October, at a pro-"coexistence" event, that "The time has come to admit that Israel is a sick society, with an illness that demands treatment." With regard to Jews he reportedly said: “I’m not asking if they’ve forgotten how to be Jews, but if they’ve forgotten how to be decent human beings. Have they forgotten how to converse?”
"I felt as if they were explaining why they are OK and I am to blame, and they did so although I did not blame them at all,” Dvora Gonen said after Rivlin and other senior officials visited her. “I blame only the terrorist. He murdered on his own. But the politicians and the senior IDF officers seem to have lost something on the way to their positions.”
If we're to point to a better example Rivlin set, he told Gen. Martin Dempsey he was born in Israel, in allusion to the Supreme Court decision that Israelis could not have the state marked on their US passports. But he's still got a lot to learn about the seriousness of his statements when it comes to terror victims and why the causes of terrorism lead to these tragedies.