Israel coalition partners’ positions, statements 'create risk for Jewish communities' - JFNA head

Julie Platt: The public discussions on posts and statements of some potential ministers is creating a "moment of risk for Israel."

 Likud leader and Israeli opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu seen after coalition talks at a hotel in Jerusalem on November 6, 2022.  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Likud leader and Israeli opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu seen after coalition talks at a hotel in Jerusalem on November 6, 2022.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

A senior Jewish American lay leader has said behind closed doors that she is concerned about statements and positions by people who might be part of the next Israeli government. Chairwoman of the board of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) Julie Platt spoke this week to a closed meeting of the Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors in Tel Aviv.

“We look forward to working with the new Israeli government as we have with every single government in the 74 year history of the Jewish state, and prime minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, with whom we have a long and mutually respectful relationship,” she said to the members of the agency’s board. She stressed that “the extensive public discussion about the positions and statements of some of the potential coalition partners is creating a very significant moment of risk for Israel both in our Jewish communities and in the broader society.”

Platt said that “Federations serve Jews of all backgrounds and viewpoints and are deeply engaged in the work of community relations and government relations. It is critical that we be able to speak to the common values that we hold dear, especially the values of equality, pluralism, and an inclusive society.”

“Federations serve Jews of all backgrounds and viewpoints and are deeply engaged in the work of community relations and government relations. It is critical that we be able to speak to the common values that we hold dear, especially the values of equality, pluralism, and an inclusive society.”

Julie Platt

“An important role of the Jewish Agency is to help Israeli leaders understand the impact of their actions on Jews around the world,” Platt said and added that she and the American Jewish leaders, “urge you to help us communicate the seriousness of this issue in the context of the coalition negotiations that are just beginning, and to take a leading role in navigating and building the relationship between this government and the Diaspora.”

 Julie Platt (credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Netflix) Julie Platt (credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Netflix)

JFNA and Israel

On Wednesday, Platt met personally with President Isaac Herzog as a senior leader of the Jewish American community. Sources in JFNA said that “Julie shared the concerns she's heard from our community in light of the elections,” and that she found Herzog “quite reassuring.”

Platt is the second woman in the history of the Jewish Federations to serve as board chair.

The JFNA, the largest umbrella organization of American Jewry, was probably the organization that responded to the elections in Israel most generally, without any criticism or fear for the future: “The JFNA respect and salute Israel’s vibrant democratic process, which allows all Israelis a voice and vote in forming their government. We look forward to working with the government selected by the Israeli people, as we always have.”

During the Board of Governors meeting, Platt reminded the participants that at July’s meeting she asked, on behalf of JFNA, that the Jewish Agency focus on “the disturbing and unacceptable events that took place in Ezrat Israel, the pluralist space at the Kotel, and ensure that people who pray in that space are protected and treated with dignity.”

She said that “we were pleased that the Board of Governors passed a strong resolution on the issue.” She thanked the senior management of the agency “for their prompt and thorough response to this resolution thus far, and emphasized that this issue remains a high priority for our Federations and that we look forward to encouraging and supporting the continued efforts of the Jewish Agency team.”