Who is Reuven Rivlin?
Reuven Rivlin is the 10th and current President of Israel holding the position since June 2014. From 2001 to 2003, he served as the ‘Minister of Communication’ during the tenure of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He held the office of the Speaker of the ‘Knesset’ (Parliament of Israel), during the 16th Knesset from 2003 to 2006 and thereafter during the 18th Knesset from 2009 to 2013. As a ‘Member of the ‘Knesset’, he served on several committees including ‘Foreign Affairs and Defense’, ‘Finance’ and ‘Education and Culture’ among others. He was a part of ‘Parliamentary Inquiry Committee’ related to ‘Violence in Sports’ and that of ‘Continuing Financial Crisis of the Local Governments’. A lawyer by profession, he is an alumni of the ‘Hebrew University’ of Jerusalem. He served the ‘Betar Jerusalem Sports Association’ as its Chairman, Legal Advisor and Team Manager. He held memberships in different organisations including ‘El Al Executive Council’ and ‘Jerusalem Municipal Council’. Other prominent positions held by him include ‘Board of Trustees’ member at the ‘Israel Museum’ and the ‘Khan Theater’ in Jerusalem. He is a ‘Likud’ party member. He staunchly advocates for rights of minority especially for the Arab-Israelis. The ‘two-state solution’ addressing the ‘Israeli-Palestinian conflict’ is known to be ardently disapproved by Reuven Rivlin who advocates for a ‘one-state solution’.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born on September 9, 1939 in ‘Mandatory Palestine’ in the family of Yosef Yoel Rivlin and Rachel "Ray" Rivlin. The extended Rivlin family that settled in Jerusalem from 1809 were decedents of the pupils of Vilna Gaon.
His father, a scholar of Semitic languages created the Hebrew version of the ‘Koran’ and also ‘One Thousand and One Nights’, a compilation of South Asian and Middle Eastern stories. Yosef Yoel Rivlin was also a presidential candidate for election of the third President of Israel.
He attended the ‘Gymnasia Rehavia High School’. In 1957 he joined the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and served as an intelligence officer holding the rank of a major.
He studied law at the ‘Hebrew University’ of Jerusalem and earned a L.L.B. degree and worked as a legal professional. Reuven Rivlin is a supporter of the ‘Beitar Jerusalem Football Club’ since his childhood and during the 1960s he joined the club as its Legal Advisor. At a later stage he became the Chairman of the club and also served as its Team Manager.
From 1978 to 1983 he remained a member of the ‘Jerusalem Municipal Council’.
He was a member of the ‘El Al Executive Council’ from 1981 to 1986.
From 1986 to 1993 he chaired the Jerusalem Branch of the Herut Movement.
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He served the ‘Likud Party’ as the Chairman from 1988 to 1993. He became an elected member of the ‘Knesset’, that is parliament of Israel located at Jerusalem, for the first time in 1988 representing the ‘Likud’ party.
While he faced a setback in the 1992 elections, he made a comeback to the ‘Knesset’ in the 1996 elections. He was re-elected to the ‘Knesset’ in 1999.
From March 7, 2001 he served as the ‘Minister of Communication’ during the tenure of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He held the position till February 28, 2003 following which he became the ‘Speaker of the Knesset’. His term as the Speaker ended on March 28, 2006.
He faced criticism for not keeping up with political neutrality as a Speaker when he censured Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on issues of ‘disengagement plan’. He had a public altercation with the then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel, Aharon Barak on jurisdiction of the court to pronounce legislation unlawful.
He won elections in 2006 and 2009 and represented the ‘Likud’ party as its presidential candidate in 2007 but pulled out after voting of first round when ample support for Kadima ‘Member of the ‘Knesset’ Shimon Peres became evident.
He was elected as ‘Speaker of the Knesset’ for the second time on March 30, 2009 and held the position till February 22, 2013. He staunchly advocates for rights of minority especially for the Arab-Israelis. As a Speaker he visited the Umm el-Fahm, the Arab-Israel city which is time and again marked as the centre point of anti-state views and agitation favouring Palestinian sentiments.
He was criticised by the Israeli right-wing and several members of the ‘Knesset’ when on June 2010 he disregarded the recommendation of a committee to remove Haneen Zoabi, a Balad ‘Mk’ for Zoabi’s participation in the Gaza flotilla. However Reuven Rivlin received acclamation from Israeli and other international liberals for upholding Haneen Zoabi’s parliamentary rights thus securing democracy of Israel.
The ‘two-state solution’ addressing the ‘Israeli-Palestinian conflict’ is known to be ardently disapproved by Reuven Rivlin. He voiced his opinion on April 29, 2010, advocating a ‘one-state solution’, wherein he would rather accept the Palestinians as citizens of Israel settled in the occupied West Bank than division of Israel and the West Bank.
He is a strong opponent of racism and showed disgust in 2013 when anti-Muslim and anti-Arab slogans were made by fans following induction of two Muslim players in the ‘Beitar’ team.
On June 10, 2014, he was elected the 10th president of Israel after defeating Meir Sheetrit in a runoff vote and was sworn in on July 24, 2014. After becoming the president he withdrew himself from the Parliament of Israel.
In another incident in November 2014, he called off the scheduled program of renowned Israeli singer Amir Benayoun following the release of an anti-Arab song by the singer.
He received death threats in July 2015 after he showed dissent on firebombing attack to a Palestinian home that was suspected to be conducted by Jewish extremists. The heinous attack claimed the life of a Palestinian toddler.
Personal Life & Legacy
He is married to Nechama Shulman and the couple has four children.