Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevich (Blue and White) spoke at the Knesset plenum Monday about the importance of maintaining ties with Diaspora Jewry during the coronavirus crisis.
"The coronavirus has not let up anywhere in the world, nor on the Jewish communities of the world. There are dozens of communities throughout the world which are now engaged in a critical struggle against the coronavirus. Communities have closed, synagogues closed, schools have closed. All these communities are facing an existential crisis," Yankelevich said.
The minister asked: "Where are we, as an Israeli society, for our brethren in the diaspora? We now have to raise the flag and say 'we are there for you.' The State of Israel has an obligation to the Jewish people in this critical time, when the Jewish communities are in distress. We should be there for them."
"Every day I meet heads of communities, heads of federations, even if it is through ZOOM, and the catastrophe is tremendous. It is precisely now that we have to say that it is our obligation, it is our duty to stand as a Jewish society for our brethren in the diaspora and say 'we are with you.' We need to understand that this is a result of our strength. We are not only the 7 million Jews of the State of Israel, we are the 8+7 in the world and we don't understand it," she said.
Yankelevich excoriated several of her colleagues in the Knesset for divisive rhetoric. "The easiest thing to do is to argue. The easiest thing to do is to fight. We are here for all the Jews, for all the Jewish communities around the world. Let's make a list of 10 things we have in common and then we can talk about what divides us. The coronavirus has brought us to the point where all the communities in the world are in a really difficult situation. We face a historic moment. Let's talk about our common values, our past, our history and our heritage."
"We are in the midst of a tragic event. There are Jewish communities around the world in danger of going under. Communities are closed. Their rabbis have died. Schools are closed. And you are busy arguing here. You should be concentrating on what is uniting, not on what is dividing," the Diaspora Affairs Minister concluded.