Edelstein WIZO 311.
(photo credit: Kfir Sivan)
Israel has changed its attitude toward the Diaspora and is more interested in a
relationship of equals than it was before, Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs
Minister of Yuli Edelstein said on Monday.
Speaking at the Women’s
International Zionist Organization’s Enlarged General Meeting in Tel Aviv, the
Likud politician boasted that the government not only accepts donations from
Jews living abroad but also invests in them.
“Things have changed,” he
said. “Israel is now willing to invest in bringing what people once called ‘rich
kids from America’ to Israel on Birthright.
I don’t know if 20, 30 years
ago that would happen.”
Edelstein shared a secret with the audience,
revealing that the word “Diaspora” was dropped from the name of a Succot
festival in Netanya last year because organizers were worried it would make it
seem boring to Israelis and deter them from coming. The festival drew thousands
of people, offering them a glimpse into the lives of member of Jewish
communities around the world, he said. “Thousands learned about communities
Other speakers at the panel included journalist Shmuel
“I’d like you to know I have no intention to sing,” Avital
quipped during her remarks, referring to the controversy over the role of women
in Israeli society.
Honorary WIZO president Sommer lambasted left-leaning
Jewish organizations J Street and its European counterpart, JCall, for seeking
to influence the Israeli government.
“Those are organizations who want to
dictate, or at least influence, policy,” she said. “I don’t know what the future
of those organizations would be.”
At the same time, Sommer cited several
areas she thought it legitimate that Diaspora Jews try to influence Israeli
policy, such as the definition of who is a Jew, and supporting aliya and Taglit-
Birthright, which offers Diaspora Jews aged 18-26 free trips to
“Israel needs to take [Birthright] much more seriously and use
state resources to fund it,” she said, drawing a round of
Rosner said he welcomed “meddling” from Jews abroad.
the Diaspora I would say come, criticize, intervene and meddle on one condition:
Make sure you know what you’re talking about,” the journalist
Avital said influence from the Diaspora on Israel exists on many
levels, either through lobby organizations such as the American Israel Public
Affairs Committee or donations to partisan group such as settlers in the West
Bank. Such influence was inevitable, she said. What mattered was that lines are
drawn relating to how Diaspora Jews should relate to Israel.
is not to work against an elected Israeli government,” she said.