President Isaac Herzog released his latest message of hope and unity to Jewish communities around the world last Sunday. With news of a potential hostage deal, the message followed his address broadcast live to 300,000 participants in the March for Israel demonstration in Washington DC last week. It also came against a background of rising antisemitic attacks around the world.
“The Hamas massacre in southern Israel has forced us to confront a kind of evil that was not supposed to exist in the modern world,” he said. “We must be very clear, this is not only a war between Israel and Hamas. Israel may be fighting on the ground, but it is fighting the battle of the entire civilized world. We are determined to stand up to this evil.”
Herzog said that while Israel was thriving and IDF soldiers were fighting on the frontlines, he was aware of support for the State globally. “Israelis of every background are showing up for each other in remarkable ways,” he observed. “Jewish communities across the world are mobilizing with unprecedented energy. I receive offers of support and solidarity from every corner of the globe. Israel is here for you, and you are here for Israel.”
Acknowledging global antisemitism, he noted: “In the wake of the massacres, we have seen a terrifying surge throughout the world. Stars of David painted on homes in France, families in London removing mezuzas for fear of attack, hateful demonstrations and an elderly Jewish protester killed in Los Angeles. This fact has exposed the close link between antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment. This is the time to hold fast to our values and to our truth. It takes courage and moral clarity to stand up to it. We will emerge stronger. Am Yisrael Chai.”
Herzog, meantime, continues to meet world leaders including Latvia President Edgars Rinkevics in Jerusalem this week. Israel’s president stressed the importance of efforts to release the hostages held by Hamas. Rinkevics met with a number of families.
Herzog told the Latvian leader he was grateful to his nation for being supportive in “dire moments” in our history. Noting the role of Hamas, he said: “We are fighting to uproot one of the worst, atrocious, murderous organizations in the world, an empire of evil that shows no mercy to anybody who’s different from them.”
Regarding Iran, he commented: “We are dealing with an empire of hate, which emanates from Tehran. The world must understand it and challenge it with no mercy.” As for efforts to release the hostages, he added: “Most importantly, we are pleading and working tirelessly to bring the hostages back home. I’m grateful to you that you met families. This is a grave humanitarian tragedy, we want them back now, as soon as possible.”
Rinkevics noted: “This is a visit of solidarity and support. We had a very moving, very emotional meeting with families of hostages being held by Hamas terrorists. It was heartbreaking to hear those stories. We feel this attack also personally because one of our citizens, who was also a citizen of Israel, was killed during the attack of 7 October. So let me just say, We support the right of Israel to fight, we also try to do our best to secure the release of all hostages, working with the international community, applying pressure. We also believe the situation Israel is facing is really dangerous, not only for your country, for the region, but also for the globe. I hope all hostages will be released very soon and we will see more support and solidarity by the international community.”