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Minister Naftali Bennett on Why Diaspora Jews Matter to Israel

Writing in response to an article by Rogel Alpher, Israel's diaspora affairs minister says the connection between Israel and Diaspora Jewry is a strategic asset for both parties.

Haaretz columnist Rogel Alpher resented the campaign launched by the Diaspora Affairs Ministry – which represents the Israeli government and Israeli citizens in order to strengthen the ties between Diaspora Jewry and Israel, and between Israelis and their brothers in the Diaspora. The aim of the campaign is to familiarize the Israeli public with the everyday life of Jews in the Diaspora and their ties to Israel.
In his angry tirade, Alpher reveals that he disagrees with the basic Zionist premise underlying the Israeli Declaration of Independence. The formative document of the State of Israel begins with the sentence: “The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people.” The declaration outlines the relationship between the Jewish people and their land over thousands of years, and leads to the following conclusion:
“Accordingly, we, members of the People’s Council, representatives of the Jewish community of Eretz-Israel and of the Zionist Movement, are here assembled on the day of the termination of the British Mandate over Eretz-Israel and, by virtue of our natural and historic right and on the basis of the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.”
The story in the Declaration of Independence is the story of the entire Jewish people, which leads to the establishment of the Jewish state, the State of Israel. Without the Jewish people, there is no story and no state.
The State of Israel is the state of the Jewish people. The Jewish people existed before it, thousands of years earlier. The nation is the starting point, and securing its future is the goal and the means. It is, therefore, no wonder that Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion considered the Law of Return the most important law on our statute books (along with the State Education Law), because it enshrines the fact that the State of Israel is the state of the Jewish people.
All Zionist parties in Israel – from Meretz to Habayit Hayehudi – declare in their party manifestos that the State of Israel belongs to all of world Jewry. In the 2015 election campaign, the Zionist Union platform asserted that: “The relations of the State of Israel with Diaspora Jewry must be based on respect, dialogue and mutual responsibility … The State of Israel will continue to work to pursue the vision of the Ingathering of the Exiles, recognizing the importance and value of Jewish communities throughout the world.”
Meretz’s platform, meanwhile, says, “Israel is the state of the Jewish people and all its citizens. Relations between Israel and Diaspora Jewry must be based on honest and respectful dialogue.” And, of course, the Habayit Hayehudi platform states: “We will work to strengthen the Jewish identity of Diaspora Jewry and strengthen relations with them, with the understanding that even those who have not chosen to live in Israel are part of our people.”
The indifference demonstrated by Alpher regarding the destiny and opinions of Diaspora Jews undermines the foundations of the Zionist enterprise, and the message conveyed by such a viewpoint is that the State of Israel is not the state of the Jewish people, but only the state of its citizens. The Israeli government sees the connection between Israel and the Diaspora as a strategic asset, both for the Jewish people and the State of Israel.
Alpher’s belief – that he is simply an Israeli who doesn’t identify as Jewish but only lives here by chance, the same way he just happens to write and speak Hebrew, the ancient language of the Jewish people – is not only a complete denial of any historical, cultural and national connection, but a blatant subversion of the foundations of our existence here and the future of the Jewish people.
And perhaps the really painful point is that, actually, we are not normal. We are both a country that grants equal rights to all its citizens – like any country – but also a country that belongs to the Jewish people. Indeed, a people that returns to its homeland, its language and its culture after thousands of years is not really normal. But that’s the reality, and those are the facts. And no theory, even a nice, enlightened and convincing one, will change that.
Renee from Brazil, Gabi from the United States and Dafna from Madrid are part of our extended family, our people, and we will never give up our connection with them. We have a fascinating and shared history, a common destiny and, most importantly, a shared and prosperous Jewish future.
The writer is chairman of Habayit Hayehudi and the minister for education and diaspora affairs.

Naftali Bennett
Haaretz Contributor

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.730231Schermata 2016 07 12 alle 09.30.48

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The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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