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(photo credit: AP [file])
Representatives of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (JPPPI) briefed the cabinet at its weekly meeting Sunday on their 2008 assessment, presenting a particularly bleak forecast.
According to the assessment, Israel and the Jewish people are facing a wide array of challenges and threats, including a new US administration, a continuing erosion in the US's global position, the strengthening of Iran, the use of Israel as a pretext for the dissemination of a new anti-Semitism, and the economic crisis and consequent blow to Jews' economic status.
The report pointed to the overall decline in the United States' status during 2008 as impacting worldwide Jewry.
The simultaneous strengthening of an axis advocating the annihilation of Israel, led by Iran, is threatening the image of the Jewish state as a haven for the Jewish people, the report said.
"Israel is becoming a mainstay for the proliferation of 'new Anti-Semitism,'" it stated. "This harms Israel's 'soft power' and the image of the Jewish people as a whole."
Additionally, the report said the global economic crisis may challenge the political power of Jews in the West.
"The assessment is not particularly encouraging from the socioeconomic point of view," the report went on to explain. It noted that "the economic crisis has dealt a serious blow to Jewish wealth and, along with the Madoff fraud, has severely damaged philanthropist activity and has exacerbated the danger of rising traditional anti-Semitism. Budgetary problems could adversely affect the ability to manage community life and education systems in various locations abroad, given intensified competition over allocations and the channeling of donations outside the community."
Among the JPPPI's recommendations are enhanced ties between Jewish communities and the Hispanic and Afro-American communities in the US, increased cooperation between Israel and the Diaspora in dealing with the challenges of the new anti-Semitism, and Israeli government involvement in considering ways to lower the cost of Jewish education in the Diaspora.
During the discussion, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that despite Israel's efforts to arrive at a political solution with the Palestinians, it was perceived abroad as an occupier and that was impacting the way the country was being viewed. Cabinet sources denied reports, however, that Olmert said the growing anti-Semitism around the world was a "result of the occupation."