Rivlin addresses African-American leaders in New York visit

Ben Sales

(JTA) — Israeli President Reuven Rivlin began his first visit to the United States as president with a speech to leaders of the African-American community.

Speaking at the Christian Cultural Center in New York, Rivlin compared the establishment of Israel to the civil rights movement, and recalled the friendship of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. He said the proximity of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day last week and International Holocaust Remembrance Day this week is “no coincidence.”

“I also have a dream, that we will once more hear God knocking on the door,” said Rivlin. “I dream, and believe, that Jerusalem, which is a microcosm of the whole world, will serve as an example of coexistence between different religions and communities. Jews and Arabs are not doomed to live together, we are destined to live together.”

Rivlin also met with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on the trip. He will not be meeting with President Obama, citing conflicting schedules.