Many ignore the growing crisis between the State of Israel and US Jewry. A source familiar with the goings-on told Ynet that the situation “is like a ship heading towards and iceberg.” It is in this context that Jewish leaders warn against incurring damage to Israel’s security.
Avigdor Lieberman and Eli Yishai have recently brought the age-old question of who is a Jew to public consciousness once again, plotting what seems to be a legislative deal that includes Yisrael Beiteinu’s civil marriage bill in exchange for granting exclusive control over conversion to Shas and Orthodox rabbis.
An article written by Rabbi Schonfeld in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, which was published in nearly every Jewish newspaper throughout the US, has caused quite a stir. She wrote that Israel is being conquered by small, extremist ultra-Orthodox parties, but American Jewry has kept quiet on the assumption that “silence on religious coercion equals unity and thus also equals Israel’s security.” Now, Schonfeld warned, “The young generation sees Israel as a society with growing religious zealotry and oppression. We must change the growing alienation of young Jews in the Diaspora, who are unwilling to accept a society that allows a religious minority to contemptibly threaten their religious values.”
The Jewish Federation in the US sent letters to Netanyahu and Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky warning that passing the conversion law will push them away and will affect conversion. Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren received more emails in the past few days than all letters received at the embassy in the past decade on any issue.
Rabbi Yoffie spent his time in the Knesset speaking with 15 Knesset members who he says had no idea what he was talking about. For US Jewry, Yoffie explained to them, the Law of Return is the main and most vital connection between Jewsn and the State of Israel.In a conversation with Ynet, Rabbi Yoffie explained, “The State of Israel is not the country of Israelis. If so, then I have no connection with the country. What connects me is the fact that this is the country of the Jews. This is the essential point. Zionism is a movement for Jews. Whoever doesn’t understand this has no idea what the State of Israel is.”
Damaging this essential value, he claimed, damages the country and its security: “There is nothing in the world more important to the State of Israel than good relations with America. This is the top-most value. Only here can we help defend the country and ensure its future. There is no chance that these relations continue to be strong without American Jews.””We are a force in both parties, and they know it. The moment Israel becomes less important to Jews and it is felt in Washington, this will affect relations between the US and Israel,” Yoffie explained. He admitted that his generation is committed to Israel, but warned that we do not have the young Jewish generation in our back pocket. “Whoever thinks that he can pass a law that my Judaism is not Judaism is risking a harsh response,” he said.