'The Jewish people experienced a quiet disaster'

Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett announces that he will add NIS 50 million for a program aiming to strengthen Diaspora Jewry.

Tzvi Lev,

Naftali Bennett speaks at party faction meeting
Naftali Bennett speaks at party faction meeting
Miriam Alster, Flash 90

Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett addressed Israel's increasingly tenuous relationship with world Jewry in his Jewish Homer faction meeting on Monday and vowed to drastically increase funding for a program that aims to strengthen Jewish identity on American college campuses.

Bennett's comments came in the wake of a media storm that erupted after deputy Foreign Minister Tzippy Hotovely said last week that American Jews "live comfortable lives" and that "they don't send their children to the army", comments for which she later apologized for.

"The State of Israel is a special state. It is also the state of its citizens, but it is also the state of world Jewry. As such, the prime minister should be not only a government of Israeli citizens but actually the leader of the Jewish people. As Minister of the Diaspora, I also work very hard to maintain this special bond between us and our brothers and sisters in the world" said Bennett.

"I hereby announce that we are adding about NIS 50 million to that initiative and will also accept the [financial] participation of our friends in the rest of the world in order to increase the scope of our programs We are connecting students in hundreds of campuses around the world to the State of Israel and Judaism."

According to Bennett, the Jewish people "have experienced a quiet disaster, a consistent disaster of mass assimilation around the world," which he vowed to change by maintaining a connection between Diaspora Jewry and the State of Israel. "I am the chairman of Taglit-Birthright Israel, which brings tens of thousands of young people to the State of Israel each year," said Bennett.

"I myself have relatives who are not Orthodox, some of whom are Reform. Unfortunately, some of them are no longer Jewish. The situation abroad is very different from the situation here, we have to be alert to the fact that we can not only look from our point of view, it's a very sensitive area from an ideological point of view, but we have to go through it for the future of the Jewish people."

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