Is it misunderstanding; lack of concern; negligence; or outright obfuscation?
Contradictory messages exuding from the State of Israel to Diaspora Jewry
This week, two reports were published in the media, which directly contradicted Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs and Education Naftali Bennett's words just last month: "The State of Israel belongs to all the Jews of the world.
Uri Regev 21/08/2016 16:50
Orthodox Jewish men studying at a yeshiva in Israel, courtesy: Wikipedia
Whenever we're confronted with the contradictory messages exuding from the State of Israel, directed at world Jewry, we're dumbfounded. We're left wondering whether these contradictions are the result of misunderstanding; lack of concern; negligence; or outright obfuscation designed to paint Israel with a brush of tolerance and pluralism, even as it implements a policy of soliciting Diaspora Jewry's political and financial support, while demeaning its Jewishness.
This week, two reports were published in the media, which directly contradicted Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs and Education (and head of the Jewish Home party) Naftali Bennett's words just last month: "The State of Israel belongs to all the Jews of the world. World Jewry deserves credit for the founding and prosperity of the State of Israel, and the connection of Jews around the world to their Jewish identities and to the State of Israel is of strategic importance."
The first report [Link] was on Minister Bennett's own Diaspora Affairs Ministry, which is investing 250 million NIS of Israeli taxpayers' money in strengthening international college students' Jewish identities and ties to Israel. The funds will be provided as matching grants to three organizations: Chabad, Olami (an international network of organizations that aim to bring more Jews into the fold of Orthodox Judaism), and Hillel. Does Israel's Government truly believe that the solution to the challenges of the next generation of Diapora Jewry's Jewish identities lies primarily in the hands of evangelical Orthodox organizations and Chabad (which together are receiving 2/3 of the grant monies)?
It's clear that Rabbi Lau is nothing more than a saboteur of the first order insofar as Israel / Diaspora relations are concerned!
There is no doubt that the worldview behind this odd decision was also reflected in the second article [Hebrew link] published this week; namely, an interview with Chief Rabbi David Lau, in which he attacked Conservative and Reform Judaism, blaming them for assimilation throughout the Jewish world (and in the USA in particular), accusing the Solomon Schechter school network of destroying Jewish education, and implying that if only the leadership of Diaspora Jewry were in the hands of rabbis and educators like himself - in America there would now be 45 million Jews, rather than 6 million. The Chief Rabbi added that he was a key player in preventing the implementation of the Kotel compromise that was painstakingly negotiated over three years between the Israeli Government and the Conservative / Reform movements and Women of the Wall. It's clear that Rabbi Lau is nothing more than a saboteur of the first order insofar as Israel / Diaspora relations are concerned!
When one considers the government funded and empowered monopolistic institution of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, which takes every opportunity to attack the religious movements that represent most of Diaspora Jewry... when one considers the absolute lack of response from the Prime Minister and his Government's lack of interest in ensuring religious freedom and equality for all... when one considers the Israeli Government using millions of Israeli tax shekels to fund evangelical Orthodox Jewish organizations, denying the validity of non-Orthodox Judaism and strengthening only one Jewish stream...
One must wonder what Minister Bennett meant when he announced last month that "The State of Israel belongs to all the Jews of the world;" or what Prime Minister Netanyahu meant when he announced at the 2015 General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America that he would "ensure that all Jews can feel at home in Israel — Reform Jews, Conservative Jews, Orthodox Jews."
This must not be allowed to continue; but, sadly, the changes we need are almost certainly not going to come from the Diaspora Affairs Ministry or the Prime Minister's Office. For those of you who love Israel, now is the time to stand behind organizations and activists who are fighting for meaningful, necessary change for the Jewish people and the Jewish, democratic state. Your support of Hiddush makes a tremendous difference.