PMO: Israel still needs Diaspora financial support

Issues "clarification" of official's statement that the country does not need help of donors.

olmert smiles 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
olmert smiles 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Following a story in Friday's Jerusalem Post regarding a new Israeli government initiative to redefine Israel's relationship with the Diaspora, the Prime Minister's Office issued a "clarification" of a PMO official's statement which seemed to make light of donations coming from Diaspora Jewry. The official was quoted as saying "Israel doesn't really need [Diaspora donors'] money" but can "defend itself on its own, can fortify itself without help, can build community centers on its own." The statement this week from the PMO said "the prime minister wishes to stress the utmost importance he attaches to the generous contributions that the communities in the Diaspora raise on behalf of Israel since its establishment that assist to build and strengthen the country and its society." The Friday article concerned the establishment last week of an unprecedented new task force in the Israeli government that would review and recommend ways of changing Israel-Diaspora relations. The statement released early this week was the first official notice regarding the establishment of the task force, which had been kept secret until the Post report. "In light of worrying trends occurring in Jewish communities in recent years, and the complex challenges which the communities and the state of Israel are facing together, the prime minister decided to take action to further strengthen the partnership between Israel and the Jews in the Diaspora," read the statement, "and in so doing increase the involvement of the government of Israel in this existential issue. Last week the cabinet secretary began to promote this initiative on behalf of the prime minister." The statement noted: "The prime minister and his staff view the unique partnership with the Jews in the Diaspora as one of the most essential components in the existence of the state of Israel and the Jewish people." Apparently responding to concerns that the Wednesday meeting at the PMO establishing the task force was attended only by Israelis - a PMO official had said that "we're still figuring out what Israel wants" - the statement added: "The next steps will involve representatives from Jewish communities worldwide, the Jewish Agency and others."