Israel’s president has a message of friendship for Bronxites and Latinos.
Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin held an dialogue event at the Bronx Museum of the Arts on the Grand Concourse on Wednesday, January 28, with a goal of developing stronger relations between the Latino and Jewish communities both in the Bronx and United States, and abroad.
After speaking at the United Nations, Rivlin headed to the Bronx to spread a message of goodwill among minority groups, and specifically between Latino and Jews.
The president said in his remarks that combining all minorities together is in the ‘DNA’ of Israel, and that work needs to be done to bridge gaps between different minority groups. He seemed to see the Latino community as emblematic of America’s future.
“The Latinos in the Bronx are going to become the majority, not as Latinos, but as Americans,” said Rivlin at the event. “And we would like that both friends, American and Israeli, be together because we symbolized the way of how to fulfill and act according to the rules of democrats.”
During his remarks, the Israeli president spoke of the great diversity of Israel, where Jews from all over the world, including South and Latin American countries, moved after the formation of the nation in 1948.
The visit by Rivlin comes on the heals of a state visit by a group of prominent Latinos to Israel.
Borough President Diaz shared his experiences of the country. Diaz said this was his second trip to Israel, with the first being in 2008.
“I am honored to welcome Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, as well as Latino and Jewish leaders from all over the city and the tri-state area, to the Bronx to kick off this important conversation, which builds on my recent trip to Israel with a citywide delegation of Latino leaders,” said Diaz.
The Latino and Jewish communities of this city have demonstrated a deep commitment to one another for decades, and this event will help strengthen and expand on those connections,” he added.
The day was truly historic, said Diaz, who spoke about visiting the Golan Heights, a location of great strategic interest to the Jewish State of Israel. He also said that the Latino Evangelical religious community is a staunch supporter of Israel spiritually.
Diaz’s recent visit with Latino business and civic leaders from around the New York region was hosted in coordination with the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. It included meetings with Israeli political leaders, and tours of tactical and religious sites.
As part of the discussion and a brief question and answer session, Diaz and Rivlin spoke about Israel’s formation and its ongoing fight against terrorism, and also of the plethora of Jewish history and life in the borough.
At the end of the program, Diaz presented President Rivlin with the gift of an afghan depicting sites of importance around the borough, and made him an honorary Bronxite. Diaz also said that children from a Bronx school will be pen pals with children at a primary school in Israel.
“It was very good of the borough president to bring a world leader to the borough to recognize our many attributes,” said attendee, Ken Kearns, district manager of Community Board 10.