MK Danny Danon 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A battle between Likud MK Danny Danon and Independence faction head Einat Wilf
over the chairmanship of the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora
Affairs Committee was resolved last week with a creative
According to the coalition agreement, Wilf was supposed to
chair the committee for the second third of the coalition’s tenure, and Danon
for the third.
Danon: Make Nov. 29 ‘National Zionism Day’
After Danon received the committee chairmanship early
because Wilf was on maternity leave, he thought it would be embarrassing to give
it up for five months.
So Danon will continue to chair the committee and
Wilf will head a new subcommittee on Diaspora relations for the rest of the
tenure of the current Knesset.
The mission of the subcommittee, which
will meet for the first time after Hanukka, will be to explore the relationship
between Israel and the Jewish people.
Wilf’s associates said that for
some 60 years, the Israel- Diaspora relationship was based on Israel being a
small, needy state and Jews abroad contributing money but not being directly
involved. They said the advent of globalization made that paradigm
“When Israel’s economy is doing so well, it’s no longer
the case that Israel is needy,” Wilf said. “It’s time to reexamine the contract
between Israel and the Jewish people, modernize it, and make it more effective
in a way that reconnects world Jewry to Israel.”
Wilf wants to draw “a
new contract between Israel and the Jewish people” in which Israel will give up
the attitude that Jews abroad must either “make aliya and become a good Jew,” or
“give money and feel guilty about not living in Israel.”
contract is that rather than saying Israel must be the home of all Jewish
people, we will say that Israel should be the first or second home of all Jews,”
“That doesn’t mean buying expensive real estate in Jerusalem
but a lifelong relationship with the country.”
She wants the committee to
become a safe space for discussion about Israel, in which world Jewry can
criticize Israel but “remain inside the tent.” The committee will use the
Internet for video discussions with Jews abroad.
The committee will
discuss not only “Jewish issues” but also “Israeli issues” that worldwide Jewry
has a strong opinion on, such as the role of women in Israel. Wilf will also try
to change the relationship with Israelis abroad, especially after a
controversial Immigrant Absorption Ministry advertising campaign that she
Wilf wants Israel to organize an annual scientific
conference in which Israelis abroad could present their work. She also would
like to create a new kind of intensive language course that would be very
different from current ulpans and more like a French course she once took at a
spa on the Riviera.
“When I took that course, I thought, why can’t Hebrew
be taught in the same way?” she said. “There should be Hebrew courses for two to
four weeks on the beaches of Tel Aviv or the Galilee.”