Bennett to 'Post': Diaspora cannot give up on Israel

Mistakes have been made, but we cannot give up on one another. For Israel, American Jews are not just another community of our people, but are a strategic pillar for the State of Israel.

June 30, 2017 06:36
2 minute read.
Naftali Bennett

Naftali Bennett. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)


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I know that the feeling right now among American Jews is that they are not wanted in Israel. This is not true. We not only want you, we need you.

Mistakes have been made, but we cannot give up on one another. For Israel, American Jews are not just another community of our people, but are a strategic pillar for the State of Israel. The State of Israel would not be what it is today without the Diaspora, and the Diaspora would not be what it is without the State of Israel. This partnership needs to continue.

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I understand your pain. I saw it 40 years ago, when one of my parents’ good friends decided to leave Israel and return to the United States after he was yelled at for showing up in synagogue on Shabbat without a kippa. It had been caught in a bush, but people didn’t care. They yelled and insulted him to the point where he felt unwanted in his own homeland.

The feeling among American Jews today is that they, too, are not wanted. That is not true. You are wanted in Israel and now is the time for us to work together to solve the current crisis. We need to renew the dialogue between our sides, demonstrate responsibility, moderation and openness, and work quickly to resolve our differences.

In 2013, I established the open plaza at Robinson’s Arch called Azarat Yisrael with this goal in mind. I viewed it as a historic step since it was the first time since the liberation of the Kotel 50 years ago that all Jews could pray freely and respectably at our religion’s holiest of sites.

It was an opportunity then and remains an opportunity now for us to open a new page in the Israeli-Diaspora relationship. I call on you to join me as we work to settle our differences, put them behind us and move forward as a unified people.

We are working on a plan to upgrade Azarat Yisrael, and while our work is set out for us, if we remain united we will overcome our differences.

This is ultimately what the Kotel is supposed to represent.

A remnant of the Temple Mount, it belongs to all Jews, from every walk of life, no matter what they believe or what they might practice.

It is a place where we can all come together to celebrate what unites us, not what divides us.

What happened to the Jewish Temple 2,000 years ago serves as a warning for us today. We are one people. We should never forget that.

The author is minister of Diaspora affairs and chairman of Bayit Yehudi.

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