We deserve a better leadership in Israel

The State of Israel was founded by the Zionist movement as a nation-state for the Jewish people – wherever they are and with no discrimination toward any Jew; yet many of our people chose to stay and live abroad.

Over the years, the relationship between the State of Israel and Diaspora Jews knew ups and downs, but in general the relationship was good. Even when there were disagreements about Israel’s policies, there was always a dialogue. Diaspora Jews stood by Israel’s side at times of need and always proactively helped the people living in Israel.

In the past couple of years, and for many reasons, for which both sides are responsible, the gaps are widening between the Israelis and Diaspora Jews, especially American Jews. On one side, in North America, there is a young generation (often holding progressive ideas, making it harder for them to understand what is happening in the Middle East) that is less connected to the State of Israel; while on the opposite side, there is Israel under Netanyahu’s leadership, not only blatantly confronting the last Democratic president Barak Obama but preferring Evangelist-Christians over Reform and Conservative Jews.

Among Jewish leadership has spread the feeling that the Israeli government is not interested in a dialogue and an honest connection but rather in continual monetary contributions and total support, while agreeing to any policy the government choses.

The Israeli government ignores the fact that its policies have a direct impact on American Jewry. After the election of President Trump, problems have only got worse as the new antisemitism from the radical left, supporting the BDS and its policy (“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free – not just as a title but as a policy”) is outflanking the old, classic right-wing anti-Semitism, embodied in the appearance, once again, of white supremacy. The two of them together see the Jews as pulling strings and shaping policy in Washington.

For most Israelis, it probably seems that things have never been better, but that’s a short-term illusion. Although the Republican government under Trump has embraced Netanyahu, this has strengthened a strong anti-Israeli counter-reaction and weakened the support of American Jewry for Israel, who traditionally support the Democratic Party and are among the mainstays of liberalism in the United States. The long-term damage to Israel created by distancing itself from American Jewry and from the Democratic Party is no less than a colossal strategic damage, hurting Israel’s national strength.

Even if President Trump will be re-elected (which might well happen), the president afterward will likely come from the Democratic Party and then our relations with the American administration will have reached a new low.

American Jewry and their support for the State of Israel are our backbone with any American administration, Democratic or Republican. The current Israeli government under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu has damaged our relationship with them severely and as a consequence, the relations between Israel and the Democratic Party, as well.

In order to reconstruct our relationship with American Jewry, we need to have a government in which the influence of the ultra-orthodox and the extreme hard right will be reduced. We need a government that will return to diplomatic negotiations, while working towards a solution with Gaza and the Palestinians; and will act to embrace the Reform and Conservative movements in Israel through promoting MITVE HA’KOTEL and the law for conversion (GIYUR) and will be open to a new and sincere dialogue with American Jewry. We Israelis must always remember that disagreements are legitimate, and disagreement only means each side thinks differently. It is legitimate that American Jews will disagree with Israeli policies, and these disagreements do not imply a lessening of their loyalty or love for the State of Israel.

Therefore, and for the sake of the Jewish people who live in Israel and abroad, we both need to wish for a strong, moderate coalition to be formed after April 9th!

About the Author
Yaakov (Kobi) Cohen is an Israeli-American, born in Jerusalem and now reside to New York City where he works in a Jewish Non-for-Profit. As a political activist, Cohen is most interested in the Israeli-American Jewish relationship and its impact on the future of the Jewish world and seeking to build bridges between Israelis & Jewish Americans, or at least establish a different dialogue.
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