During Tuesday`s meeting of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, representatives of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) warned that liberal Jewish teenagers across the Diaspora are becoming more and more alienated from Israel and Jewish identity.
Committee Chairman MK Avraham Neguise (Likud) called on the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs to lead all the Jewish organizations that work to strengthen the Jewish and Zionist identity of youths abroad, and he urged the government to increase the budget for such activities.
(Committee Chairman MK Avraham Neguise)
Gusti Yehoshua-Braverman, head of the WZO`s Department for Diaspora Activities, noted that the word ”Zionism” carries a negative connotation with liberal Jewish teenagers abroad, who are ashamed of their Jewish origin and are careful not to identify with Israel to avoid being labeled as ”unpatriotic.”
According to Yehoshua-Braverman, Israelis do not understand what it feels like to live as a minority and are not aware of the significance of the decision to immigrate to Israel. Each year, she said, the alienation from Israel increases, as does the support for boycotts of Israel. Jews abroad also have a distorted understanding of the Mideast conflict, Yehoshua-Braverman asserted.
Yaniv Nahmias briefed the committee on WZO`s activity to strengthen Jewish and Zionist identity, teach Hebrew and cultivate leadership among Jewish youth abroad. The activity includes visits to small Jewish communities and marking Jerusalem Day with various events. In the past six months this program has reached some 70 small Jewish communities abroad, and the organization also plans to promote the program in Latin America with the assistance of Israeli travelers.
According to Margarita Spichko, manager of the Public Diplomacy Office at Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, Jewish teens abroad are not interested in the history of the Jewish people, including the Holocaust, the expulsion of Jews from Spain and Israel`s wars. They also do not believe it is important to marry within the Jewish faith.
Devora Greenberg, director of the Masorti Movement`s ”Rav Siach” program to strengthen and deepen the relationship between conservative communities in the Diaspora, Masorti communities in Israel and the State of Israel, discussed the activity aimed at building connections between Israelis and Jews in the Diaspora through social networks. She complained about the government`s attitude towards diaspora Jews.
The WZO is an organization that is ”committed to promoting Zionism and the Zionist idea and the Zionist enterprise through Israel Education as vital and positive elements of contemporary Jewish life.”