An Israeli minister who leads the religious nationalist party Jewish Home has publicly disagreed with an American Jewish leader’s assertion that Israeli policy is a factor in the assimilation of American Jews.

Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett hit back at claims made by cosmetics family billionaire Ronald Lauder, who heads the US-based World Jewish Congress, in an article published in the New York Times.

“The assimilation in America is not a result of Israel’s policy, it is a result of prosperity in America,” said Bennett. He added that Jewish assimilation in the US “predates the Six Day War… It predates the Intifada, and it’s an ongoing trend that we all have to fight back [against]”.

Bennett also challenged Lauder’s comparison of Israeli policies in the West Bank with the indoctrination of Palestinians towards violence, saying: “I don’t see moral equivalence of settlement building – what I call building communities in our homeland – and Palestinian incitement… It is not the same thing.”