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October 29, 2019 3:28 pm
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In Appeals to Diaspora, Gantz Emphasizes Jewish Unity, Netanyahu Pledges to Fight Rising Global Antisemitism

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Benny Gantz, head of Blue and White Party (left) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, head of the Likud party. Photo: Gili Yaari / Flash90 and Noam Revkin Fenton / Flash90.

Blue and White party leader and former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, who is currently tasked with forming Israel’s next government, vowed on Tuesday to “embrace all streams of Judaism” and enact a plan for the establishment of an egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall.

“We are part of an inspiringly colorful mosaic of cultures and traditions,” Gantz said at a meeting of the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Board of Governors in Jerusalem. “I will nurture this pluralism.”

“I will promote the implementation of the Western Wall agreement,” he pledged. “Every time I go to the Western Wall, I look at the sea of stones — the different sizes and shapes — like the streams we have in Judaism. I’m telling you today, the Western Wall is long enough for all.”

The Western Wall deal was finalized several years ago, but strong opposition from the ultra-Orthodox parties in current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition has kept it on ice.

On Monday, Netanyahu also addressed the same Jewish Agency gathering, emphasizing the issue of rising antisemitism around the world.

Noting that he had now taken on the Diaspora Minister’s portfolio for himself, Netanyahu promised, “I intend to pass money from that office to the purpose of protecting Jewish communities from the rising scourge of violent antisemitism, and therefore that money will pass and it’s overdue.”

“But we have obviously other challenges: to battle the spirit — if that’s what it could be called — the evil spirit of antisemitism, to encourage and to demand from governments worldwide to fight it; to cooperate with them in fighting it,” he said.

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