Diaspora Jewry and the State of Israel. Opinion

Israelis have elected their 120 representatives. Now it's time for Jews around the world vote in the World Zionist Congress elections.

Gael Grunewald, WZO ,

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The citizens of the State of Israel are once again in elections and find themselves heading to the polling stations for the third time within a year. At the same time as the elections to determine the Knesset and the members of the Israeli government, there will also be, just as fateful, elections for the World Zionist Congress. These elections are determined by the entire Jewish people, while in the Israeli elections only Israeli citizens vote. Jews from all over the world vote for the World Zionist Congress.

This is another way that connects the Diaspora Jewry to the State of Israel.

According to estimates in recent years, the total number of Jews worldwide totals 13 million, with approximately 41% of them living in Israel. Despite the great distance of the separation, there has always been a special relationship between Diaspora and Israeli Jewry. A deep connection spanning two thousand years connects every Jew everywhere to the core of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.

The establishment of the State of Israel has brought to fruition the 2000-year-old dream of returning to the Promised Homeland and revitalizing national sovereignty. Recognizing the central position of the State of Israel and its importance in Jewish life, many Diaspora Jews worked to establish the Land on a variety of levels. The most obvious and immediate task was to build a national home for the Jewish people. It was a mission that united all Jewish people, no matter where they were from.

Today, we can say that this mission has been successfully achieved. The People of Israel undoubtedly sit in their land. Demographic strengthening, military and economic strengthening and cultural development have made Israel the strongest Jewish community of the Jewish people. Despite the challenges and the lack of peace, we thank G-d that we have the privilege of witnessing the vision of salvation - a dream that even our grandparents did not believe could come true in such a short time.

Diaspora Jewry is also very successful. The very high proportion of Nobel laureates, and the material assets and the cultural and political influence of this Judaism opened doors to Jews all over the world that were closed to them for centuries. Paradoxically, this huge success has brought a new set of challenges to the unity of the Jewish people.

The State of Israel is not just the state of the people living here, but the state of every single Jew. The Jewish identity of Israel has great significance for its relationship with the broader Jewish people. The responsibility of the Jewish State for Diaspora Jewry is reflected in the Declaration of Independence. And the “Basic Law” that was passed in the previous Knesset, whether fully loved or not, gives a constitutional expression of this brave connection. A law that declares Israel’s responsibility for the welfare of Diaspora Jews and fosters the relationship between the State of Israel and Diaspora Jews.

In recent years, we have witnessed a shift in the center of gravity and responsibility between the Diaspora and Israel. With the majority of Jews living in Israel, the responsibility for the future of the Jewish people rests with the State of Israel.

The national institutions, founded by Herzl even before the establishment of the State, are faithful exactly to this connection. The World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency, JNF, and Keren Hayesod work with Jewish communities throughout the globe and assist them in a variety of ways: Combating anti-Semitism, assistance with funding to deepen Jewish identity, Zionist emissaries, programs for students visiting Israel for the first time, and more.

In addition, within the national institutions, the Settlement Division works to strengthen and consolidate Jewish settlement in the Golan, the Galilee, the Negev, and Judea and Samaria.

If in the past the Jewish people were united in fulfilling the goal of establishing a state for the Jewish people, today, the Jewish people feel secure enough in the State of Israel and are free to deal with fundamental issues of identity and nationalism. Reform versus Orthodox, the settlement of the Land versus the displacement of settlements, and the state of all its citizens versus a Jewish state. In the constant and ongoing dialogue that exists between Israeli and Diaspora Jewry, these issues are taking up more and more space. Now, leftist, progressive, and reformist parties are looking for a hold on the national institutions, through which they intend to influence the path of the State of Israel and the future of the Jewish people.

Understanding the complex realities we live in, the Mizrachi World Movement has consolidated Orthodox organizations into one large and powerful list running in the World Zionist Congress elections. It is a party committed to continuing to strengthen ties with Diaspora Jewry and deepen Jewish identity among the various communities.

Today, approximately six million Jews live in the United States. Six million people have the right to choose the design of the national institutions. Unfortunately, in the last elections held five years ago, less than one percent voted - only 50,000 men and women. This number indicates, among other things, the loosening of the deep and historical connection that exists between the people sitting in Zion and the people in exile. Strengthening this relationship is a personal mission of everyone. Each of us has a relative or friend overseas. We must not let the geographical distance sever the deep connection between the People and its Land, and the Jew and his homeland. This is the meaning of mutual guarantee, and it is our duty as Israelis, our duty as Jews. Call today and ask them to vote for the Orthodox Israel Coalition, slate #4, vote Torah. Once every five years, they are given the opportunity to influence the future of the Jewish people in the Diaspora and the future of the settlements in Israel.

Gael Grunewald is the Head of Growth and Development Division of the World Zionist Organization (WZO).