2 Tevet, 5762
At Herzliya Conference, Jewish Agency Working Group Warns: Demography, Estrangement Threatens Jewish Strength
Neo-Anti-Semitism is on the Rise
Aliyah and Jewish Zionism Essential
A working group designated by the Jewish Agency investigating the status of the Jewish People as a strategic asset, warned that demography and estrangement constitute threats to the strength of the Jewish People.
The group, headed by Prof. Arthur Naparstek, Senior Vice President of the United Jewish Communities of North America and Director its Israel and Overseas Pillar, and comprised of academic experts, and Jewish leaders, noted that Jewish People is close to zero population growth. In the Diaspora the growth is negative. A growing number of people of Jewish ancestry are disassociating themselves from Jewish identity. Intermarriage, which is 50% in the Diaspora, constitutes another danger in the Diaspora since only a small percentage of the issue of such marriages identify with Judaism. In Israel, however, the growth is positive. By 2010 Israel will eclipse the United States to become the country with the largest Jewish population, and at a point between 2030 and 2050 most Jews in the World will reside in Israel. However Israel faces demographic challenges. It is imperative for the strength of the Jewish People and for Israel that immigration to Israel be increased. Additional sources of immigration should be encouraged from Western countries, especially from Argentina, France and South Africa, which at the present time present immediate sources of aliyah. Jewish Agency Chairman Sallai Meridor vehemently opposed making any changes to the Law of Return. Changing the Law of Return would adversely affect aliyah, not only from the Former Soviet Union but also from Western countries.
Improving and increasing Jewish education is essential for maintaining Jewish identity and, in the long range, Jewish existence. However particularly worrisome is the less than 50% figure of Jewish children in countries with large Jewish populations who receive some degree of Jewish education. The Government of Israel should assist the Jewish communities in furthering Jewish education in the Diaspora. Fundraising is especially important for Diaspora communities, which gain tangible and intangible benefits of community building. The new generation of leaders must be educated to strengthen their own communities and Israel. If there has been a reduction in fundraising for Israel, there has been an increase in personal and community partnerships between the Diaspora and Israel in the Project 2000 program.
The members of the working group warned of an increase in anti-Semitism. Particularly hard-hit is France. The neo-anti-Semitism blurs the distinction between Israeli and Jew, as was the case in Durban. Since it is not befitting for enlightened countries to condone anti-Semitism, neo anti-Semites profess to be against the policies of Israel rather than being anti-Jewish. Israel is experienced in fighting terrorism and can share its experience with Western countries. Jewish communities should cooperate among themselves by sharing information. The Jewish Agency has been assisting Jewish communities in monitoring anti-Semitic events and taking appropriate measures.
For additional information contact Yehuda Weinraub, 055-284805. For further information:
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