Benjamin Netanyahu has told the Jewish Agency that Israel “has responsibility for Jewish communities around the world” and that he intends to allocate financial resources to help protect the Jewish Diaspora.
In an address to the organisation’s Board of Governors, as the Agency unveiled its new ten-year strategic plan, the embattled prime minister said: “I intend to pass budget to protect Jewish communities from the violent scourge of antisemitism.”
Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog said “any government of the State of Israel must be inclusive and respective of the Jewish people worldwide” as he spoke extensively of “rifts” between the Diaspora and Israel.
Netanyahu’s speech in Jerusalem, made in his capacity as Minister of Diaspora Affairs, will raise eyebrows in Jewish communities around the world that do not feel Israel has responsibility for them.
He said: “If we want to secure the Jewish future, we must secure the future of the Jewish state. The Jewish state has responsibility for Jewish communities around the world.”
Herzog said the biggest challenges today concerned “questions about Jewish identity and questions relating to intergenerational changes” as well as “antisemitism and the connection to Israel”.
He added: “We are not involving ourselves in politics…But any [Israeli] government must be inclusive and respective of the Jewish people worldwide and deal with the questions of Jewish future together, as the nation state of the Jewish people”.
The Jewish Agency, which was established in 1929 to help bring Jews to Israel, said this week that one of its “key goals for the next decade” was to “increase unity among the Jewish people”.
Herzog said this was “in light of the rifts and dividing issues, including pluralism, such as the Western Wall and conversion issues, and the variety of Jewish lifestyles in Israel and around the world”.