(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) charged on Tuesday that various leaders of the American Jewish community feel that they "were slapped in the face" this week by a pair of Israeli government decisions on the Western Wall and the country's conversion policies.
"Over the past 24 hours we have held a marathon of meetings with the heads of US Jewish communities currently in Israel, and the picture is troubling," Bennett said. "The representatives of US Jewry feel they were slapped in the face by the Israel government and that they are apparently no longer welcome here."
While Bennett criticized the government "regarding timing and the way things were done," he attempted to assure Diaspora Jewry that they "are welcomed and loved" in Israel.
The minister added that the government was planning to hold a series of meetings in the coming days with representatives from Diaspora communities to diffuse tensions.
On Sunday, the government made two controversial decisions: one that essentially froze an agreed upon plan to create an egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall and another to grant the Chief Rabbinate a monopoly on conversion.
The moves sparked a firestorm of condemnation by Jewish leaders in Israel and the Diaspora, particularly those from non-Orthodox denominations.