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May 25, 2022 10:40 am
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Reconnecting Israel and Diaspora Jewry

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avatar by Fleur Hassan-Nahoum / JNS.org

Opinion

Israeli and American flags displayed at Ben Gurion Airport in March 2013. Photo: Moshe Milner / GPO

JNS.org – In our age of connectivity, Diaspora Jewry and Israel have almost never seemed more disconnected. Throughout history, Jews have been scattered to the winds and isolated from each other. However, despite their differences, these Jews had similar struggles and difficulties. Regardless of where they were, Jewish people were in the same boat and shared an understanding of the world they lived in. It is precisely this that Israel and the Diaspora lack today.

I believe that all Jews are one people, one nation and one family. It is true that we are a vibrant and diverse family, each with our own challenges and mindsets. But at the end of the day, we are still a family. In recent years, there has been the development of an “us vs. them” mentality on the subject of the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora. I refuse to subscribe to this belief. Our disagreements should not divide us as a people. Instead, the dialogue they spark should make us stronger.

In order to bridge the divide, we need to take a page out of the book of our ancestors. To reconnect with each other, we need to understand each other. Israel needs to understand the struggles of our brothers and sisters abroad. We need to try and understand life as a minority and the threat that rising antisemitism poses. So, too, Diaspora Jews need to empathize with Israelis who have security concerns that affect their daily lives. They need to look at the pluralism, richness and harmony that also exists within Israeli society.

As an olah, I’ve lived on both sides of the aisle. I know what it is like to be a Jew abroad and I know what it is like to be an Israeli. It is with that experience that I call for meaningful conversation and empathy. The growing divide between Israel and the Diaspora is alarming. It is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that our conversations bring us to a place of mutual understanding, not tear us apart.

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Our destinies are intertwined. The actions of Israel deeply affect Diaspora Jewry and the actions of those in the Diaspora deeply affect Israel. I am confident that together we can mend that which has been broken and restore our connection to each other. On Thursday, I will participate in a panel on the relationship between Diaspora Jewry and Israel at the Israeli Conservatism Conference. There, I will share these beliefs and we will continue this much needed conversation.

Fleur Hassan-Nahoum is Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem. She will be speaking on the subject of “Can we save Israel’s relationship with the Jewish Diaspora?” at the Israeli Conservatism conference on Thursday, May 26. For more information, click here.

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