One of the biggest conversations in the Jewish world today is the interaction between the Diaspora and Israel. Or, if you are sitting on this side of the ocean, between Israel and the Diaspora.
Therefore, with JAFI Board Members beginning to congregate in Jerusalem for their upcoming meetings, it was no surprise that a closed-door session at the Prime Minister’s Office late Wednesday, was leaked to the press last night in time to be THE headline splashed across the Israeli press this morning (this one from JPost)…
Olmert’s task force aims to revolutionize Israeli-Diaspora ties;
“U.S. Jewry is in crisis, and we can help”
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has established an unprecedented high-level government task force charged with fundamentally altering the Israel-Diaspora relationship.
The new task force heralds a revolutionary change, officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said, in that it will seek ways in which Israel can begin to invest in the Diaspora, rather than remaining merely the recipient of Diaspora aid.
“This prime minister knows Diaspora Jewry well,” said a Prime Minister’s Office official familiar with the meeting, which was kept secret until now. “Olmert understands that Israel has a problem in its relationship with the Diaspora: it’s mainly one-way, and Israel campaigns as the poor, weak party. But now US Jewry is in a crisis of identity, of intermarriage. We see it and we feel it, if nowhere else, in the cash flow.”
According to the official, Olmert believes…
“Israel doesn’t really need the [Diaspora] money. Israel can defend itself on its own, can fortify itself without help, can build community centers on its own.“
Asked why no Diaspora Jews were present in the meeting, one official said, “This was on purpose. We’re still figuring out what Israel wants. We can’t begin a dialogue until we know what we want ourselves… But everyone agreed there is a need for a new direction, which is no small thing with organizations like the WJC and WZO. Once we have a concrete plan, we plan on opening a dialogue with Diaspora Jewry. This is all meant to be done together.”
So, with the JAFI Board preparing to officially convene on Sunday morning, besides discussing budget shortfalls and a cash crunch, Diaspora leaders can ponder Olmert’s most recent move. All this I’m certain behind closed doors and not in the ‘public’ forums.
Shabbat Shalom form Jerusalem.