Yoni Kempinski (L) and Eric Fingerhut (R)
Yoni Kempinski (L) and Eric Fingerhut (R)Moshe Biton

Eric Fingerhut, president of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), is expected to attend the Israel National News Jerusalem Conference in New York on June 4. "This is a conference that reaches a very broad group, and is unique in that it voices the voices of organizations that support and work in Israel, but do not have strong ties in the United States. Therefore, this is a beneficial opportunity for all parties."

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Fingerhut believes that the conference is just the prelude to a much broader move: "Our goal is for us to better understand the organizations that participate in the conference, visit them in their homes, in their community centers and in their synagogues, and really make sure that we understand the urgent issues correctly. The political disputes in Israel today are an example of this: I think both sides in the dispute were surprised by the intensity of the other side's emotions, and this reflects the fact that neither side really understands what is happening and what the other side's perceptions are. We have to make sure we understand what other parts of society think and believe differently than we do."

According to him, the protest in Israel against the judicial reform also affected the Jewish community in the United States. "This is the reason why in our organization, the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), we were involved in conversations with the leaders of the protests - both those who support the reform and those who oppose it - regarding the impact on North American Jewry. What happens in Israel affects us," he emphasizes. "People need to understand this. It affects the attitude and decision-making. Even if the parties do not necessarily change their minds, if they do not know and see the other side's opinio- they cannot understand it at all. Our job is to bring them the full angle and make the different voices heard."

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"Unexpectedly, the current situation in Israel actually strengthens the relationship between Israel and the United States", he added. "This period expresses our deep commitment to Israel at all levels. Although the last few months have been very challenging, no one is saying that we should withdraw from our involvement. On the contrary, everyone is saying that we should be even more involved in Israeli society. So I don't think that the situation harms relations, but rather strengthens them."