"I did not call and it would never cross my mind to call on Israel's citizens to join specific protests," the president said.
Speaking at the Dov Lautman Conference on Education for Democracy at the Open University on Tuesday, Rivlin had said that "we have excellent proof of the influence over the last few years of the internet on our reality,” emphasizing the importance of protesting on Israel’s streets, rather than simply behind a computer screen.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response to Rivlin's comments Tuesday, "We are witnessing a political effort here, through protests and other means, to topple the national government we are leading, which is fighting for the Land of Israel."
Rivlin said in his clarification Wednesday, "Yesterday, I was the guest of a conference on democracy and education in a session dealing with social media. I spoke about the power and importance of social media in democracy, but added that they could never serve as an alternative to active civil participation, through action. I provided different examples from recent years of how Israelis have proved they are not staying behind the keyboard and are not abandoning the city squares.
"For the record, and I am saying this in the clearest manner, I did not call and it would never cross my mind to call on Israel's citizens to join specific protests. That is unthinkable. It is unfortunate that at this sensitive time my words have been taken out of context to add fuel to the fire."
"These are sensitive times. At this time, all of us, especially public leaders, must carefully consider our words so that they are not misused or cause damage, God forbid. For this reason, I have decided to clarify my comments and regret the wrong impression they have created."
Rivlin said in his speech Tuesday, “The summer protests and the for-and-against protests, that spread from Petah Tikva to Tel Aviv and to other street squares, and the MeToo campaign which is so important." He listed the examples of demonstrations which he said had had such a profound impact on society.
“Notice that all these examples went from words to actions and gathered traction in real life as well. There is no alternative to the physical city squares. We must raise a generation that will be mindful that true democracy can begin online, but it can never replace the need and obligation to participate in significant debate and action."