Ezra Cohen, Executive Director of "Shevet Ahim", Panama, Looks at Israel

"Looking at Zion” is an online project that aims to present a comprehensive look into the Israel- Diaspora relationship. In order to reach this goal we present a series of questions to members of Jewish communities around the world, asking them to articulate their thoughts and feelings towards Israel.
The interviewee - Ezra Cohen, born in Panama in 1960, parents from Israel, my father fought in the independence war in 1948. Serves as Executive Director of Shevet Ahim Congregation in Panama.
In your opinion, what importance, if any, does the existence of a Jewish state has to you personally and to Jewish people in general?
“Israel has become the home base for all Jews living in the diaspora. It’s a great peace of mind to know if anything happen we have where to go.”
Do you feel committed in some way to defend the future existence of Israel?
“By all means, our community strongly supports Israel, the Yeshivot and IDF.”
Do you feel morally responsible for Israel’s actions (such as its management of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict)?
“Yes, we are watching the news, asking for seminars from professionals who will educate us into what is going on, how to respond to media attacks etc.”
In your opinion, what is the main thing Israelis fail to understand about the reality of being Jewish outside of Israel?
“That we are Jews same as them and that even though we live outside Israel we feel all what happens, as if we were Israelis.”
How would you describe Israel’s policy (formally and in practice) regarding its relationship with the Diaspora?
“Not so good. In our case we had various issues in which we wanted more support from the Israeli government.”
In your opinion, does Israel have an obligation to defend and help Jewish communities in need?
“Yes, by all means."
Have you ever been to Israel?
“I try to go at least every year.”
If an Israeli tourist should ever come across your hometown, which experience should he/she not miss?
“Our synagogues, our community and a meeting with members of the community to understand what we have created here.”
Anything you would like to add?
“Israel and the Jews are one nation and the diaspora and Israel should see it in the same view at all times.”
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