Diaspora Affairs and Combating Antisemitism Minister Amichai Chikli held an intimate conversation with heads of large US Jewish organizations about the government’s judicial overhaul, promising to convey their concerns to the government.
The conversation took place on Zoom Wednesday night. Chikli laid out his opinion that the reforms are positive and good for Israel. Most of the hour-long, off-record conversation was an opportunity for the American Jewish leaders to express their own opinions, cautions and fears.
According to several individuals who participated in the meeting, there was no substantial outcome, but both sides felt that this conversation was part of a positive and respectful dialogue.
Though Chikli’s office chose the meeting’s participants, it was convened by the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations (COP) and its CEO William Daroff.
The meeting included Eric Goldstein, CEO of the UJA New York Jewish Federation, Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and National Director of the Anti Defamation League, Rabbi Moshe Hauer, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, Malcolm Hoenlein, vice chair of the COP, Jason Isaacson, chief policy and political affairs officer of the American Jewish Committee, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Harold Kravitz, president of the Rabbinic Assembly, Adam Lehman, president and CEO of Hillel International, Dianne Lob, chairwoman of the COP, Dan Mariaschin, CEO of B’nai B’rith International, Halie Soifer, The Jewish Democratic Council of America and Jacob Solomon of the Miami Jewish Federation. Others who were invited couldn’t attend due to technical reasons.
Chikli enlightened the listeners on what is going on behind the scenes toward a compromise. “It’s very important to try and reach a wider consensus if possible, with the political parties, or at least with professional leaders,” Chikli said.
He emphasized that he – and the government – are “open to listening,” and “are seeking to have a wider consensus.”
He thanked those who joined him and added that “this conversation is even more important for me as a representative of the government than it is for you.”
He added that he is “learning” from them about many issues facing the Jewish community. “Some of you are far more experienced than I am in politics and leadership. I really want to thank you for your very wise remarks,” he concluded.
After the meeting, Daroff told The Jerusalem Post that this was a very “positive and engaging discussion between American Jewish leaders” and the minister. He said that Chikli discussed the “issues... in an open and honest manner.”
He added, “For most of us this wasn’t the first meeting with Chikli and we address this as continuation of the conversation we already began with him in recent months.”
Both Daroff and sources in the Diaspora Affairs Ministry told the Post that this meeting was the first of many in a series of consultations that the minister will hold with this small group of American Jewish leaders.
“We will have additional meetings in the upcoming months,” Daroff said. “This was an important dialogue; ongoing and consistent between us. Chikli is the obvious and best address for this type of dialogue.”