The Israel-American Jewish Community Knesset Caucus for strengthening relations with the American Jewish Community convened Monday for a special session with guest speaker Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League. Established by MK Ronit Tirosh following her participation in the first Ruderman Fellowship Program in the US, the caucus promotes awareness and engagement among MK’s on issues affecting relations between Israel and the American Jewish Diaspora.
Foxman addressed MK’s on issues of anti-Semitism in America, the Jewish vote and Israel-American Jewish relations. He told participants that “Israel is not an overwhelming concern to the majority of America Jews,” and also explained that American Jews perceive Israeli policy and legislation through the prism of their value system and their liberal and democratic sensibilities.
Urging Israeli legislators to consider beforehand how their remarks and actions will play out abroad, Foxman pointed out that “Jews all over the world identify with Israel, but Israelis do not always see themselves as an integral part of world Jewry.”
On the upcoming presidential elections, Foxman noted that, contrary to what Israelis may think, Jewish voters are mainly focused on the economy, and not Israel. “Israel is not the central issue of these elections and we shouldn’t make it so,” he added.
Foxman also alluded to the demographic changes in America, and predicted that the Hispanic community would soon be the largest caucus in Congress and would determine, to a great extent, allocations of foreign aid to Israel.
MK Ronit Tirosh said that the caucus plays an important role in facilitating dialogue between Israeli legislators and American Jewish leaders, and contributes to greater understanding. “At the end of the day we need each other to ensure the future existence of the State of Israel,” she added.
Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation said,” I founded the Ruderman Program because of the disturbing lack of knowledge among Israeli elected officials of the complexities and challenges facing American Jews today. The program raises awareness of the impact that Israeli policy decisions and legislation can have on ties with the Diaspora.”
Vice PM and Minister for Regional Development Silvan Shalom, who also attended the caucus session, remarked that American support for Israel is long-standing and bipartisan. Minister Shalom commended the activities of the ADL and the Ruderman Foundation which contribute to strengthening ties between Israel and the US.