DANIEL ATAR: The Jewish link to the environment goes back to the holy roots of the Torah.
(photo credit: KKL)
Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael–Jewish National Fund chairman Daniel Atar has warned of “catastrophe” for the Jewish people due to intermarriage and rising antisemitism in the Jewish Diaspora.
Speaking to journalists at a Nefesh B’Nefesh “mega-event” for potential immigrants in New Jersey on Sunday, Atar said that high rates of intermarriage in North America represented a severe threat to the Jewish people and that combined with rising antisemitism, particularly in the US, he was increasingly worried.
“Antisemitism and intermarriage are a catastrophe for the Jewish people,” said Atar.
“Sixty-five percent of Jews in the Diaspora are choosing to disconnect themselves from the Jewish people,” he stated.
The 2013 Pew Report on Jewish Americans found an overall intermarriage rate of 58%.
Atar said that KKL-JNF was working on efforts to bolster Jewish identity in the Diaspora, but also said that Israel was not doing enough to encourage aliyah, especially in Europe, where he noted that many French Jews were immigrating not to the Jewish state, but to Canada.
Atar and KKL-JNF took the opportunity at the Nefesh B’Nefesh event to launch its “2040” initiative, designed to bring one-and-a-half million Israeli citizens to the country’s so-called periphery in the north and south regions, including new immigrants.
“In recent years, KKL-JNF has placed developing the Negev and Galil as its main goal in order to bring Israel’s periphery closer to its center,” said Atar. “This will help strengthen the country’s social and security sectors, leading to a more balanced and secure Israel. I believe that the Jewish Diaspora should, and can, play an important role in realizing this goal, first through aliyah and then [by] populating those areas.”
He said that KKL-JNF is seeking to create hi-tech hubs in the Negev and Galilee regions to attract greater numbers of citizens to relocate to these areas.
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