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explains the '3 Ds' of anti-Semitism
This week, 20 Questions hosts Haviv Rettig Gur, Director of
Communications at The Jewish Agency for Israel.
The Jewish Agency was
heavily criticized for recently closing down three of its major
departments – namely, education, aliya, and Diaspora.
Rettig Gur defends the move by claiming that it was necessary in
bridging the gaps between the departments’ sometimes conflicting goals:
“You had one third of the Jewish Agency trying to empty the Diaspora out
and into Israel, and one third trying to fill the Diaspora back up by
sending [over] teachers and shlichim,” Rettig Gur said, referring to the
Israeli emissaries that leave the country temporarily in order to join
educational programs in Jewish communities around the world.
Rettig Gur credits “the Israel experience” as being the most powerful
engine for combating assimilation and promoting Jewish identity.
Regarding the Ethiopian aliya, Rettig Gur states that there are
approximately 8700 Jews left in Ethiopia and that every month the Agency
coordinates the immigration of several hundred of them.
At the government’s behest, the Agency has set up a program in the
country’s northern city of Gondar that will equip future Ethiopian
immigrants with skills to facilitate a smoother absorption into Israeli
society. Several million dollars have already been fundraised towards
the goal of improving both Hebrew and technical education.
The Agency is not at liberty to discuss the situation regarding the
20,000 plus Jews that still live in hostile states including Yemen,
Syria and Iran.
Rettig Gur claims that the primary goal of the Agency’s new strategy is
in determining what motivates people to make aliya – particularly for
those who have comfortable lifestyles in the Diaspora. The Agency
further maintains that the reason that people choose to make aliya is
the same one that drives people to undertake leadership roles within
their Jewish community. This provides another insight into the Agency’s
choice to combine its departments.
So what then is the chief motivating factor?
Rettig Gur claims that it is the individual’s need to feel connected to
an authentic and “powerful story” that is far older and greater than
themselves. Moreover, he emphasizes the importance of the right to be
free within that story.
The Agency strives not to promote the use of negative factors—such as
increased anti-Semitism or delegitimization of Israel—as a reason to
make aliya. It also steers clear of political agendas or affiliations.
According to Rettig Gur, in the eyes of the Agency a successful aliya
story can come in the form of an immigrant who arrives in Israel with
the goal of “fighting the occupation,” or by the same token an immigrant
with dreams of growing settlements beyond the Green Line.To
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